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What is important to you in a PA speaker?

andreasmaaan

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#1
Hi all,

I know this is a home audio forum, but my current area of interest is PA as I’m in the process of designing and prototyping a range of speakers aimed at the higher end of the PA market.

At this stage, I have four models in the pipeline:
  • 12” 2-way with horn loaded compression driver
  • 15” 2-way with horn loaded compression driver
  • 18” bass reflex sub
  • 21” bass reflex sub
I’d be interested to hear from other members with any ideas about what features or qualities are important to them in a PA speaker. Please interpret that as broadly as you like!

Many thanks for your help :)

Andreas
 

Krunok

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#2
I can think of 3 important things from my perspective (in that order of importance):

1. ability to reproduce speech as clean/recognizable as possible
2. ability to play music in a "reasonably" good SQ
3. abilty to blend into ambient

Placement also tends to be important in large areas as echo may occur with multiple speakers which usually significantly lower ability to recognise speech and SQ in general.
 

Soniclife

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#3
As a music listener, low distortion / no driver breakup to way beyond their expected volume limit, because they will be overdriven.
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #5
Thanks for the replies :)

@Soniclife low distortion and linearity at high SPL are fundamental goals for sure, thanks. Compressors and limiters are also built into the DSP between xover and amps to prevent against extreme abuse.

3. abilty to blend into ambient
@Krunok could you explain this part in a bit more detail pls?

For the two tops (12” and 15”), do ppl have opinions on preferred directivity patterns?

The prototypes are 90 horizontal x 60 vertical (with good horizontal control down to around 600-800Hz).

And would full-range constant directivity for a top be a significant advantage in anyone’s view?

Finally, I’d be interested to know whether ppl believe aesthetics to be important in a PA speaker? My first instinct is to say no, but then I also believe that some companies have used a distinctive aesthetic very much to their advantage (eg Funktion-One).
 
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#6
Since you’re here asking audiophiles, accuracy and sound quality is tops – i.e. hi-fi sound.

Might look at QSC’s active speakers as a bare-minimum reference.

I have a buddy who’s a guitar player and singer, and my wife and I went to one of his gigs this past summer. He was using a single active QSC speaker.

Typically I can easily find something wrong with a PA speaker: raspy or “spitty” highs, exaggerated sibilance, midrange honk, you name it.

It occurred to me several days after the gig that I had given no thought to the PA speaker. It had not even been in my mind. IOW, it sounded so good that it just did its job without calling attention to even an audiophile listener.

Beyond that, I assume you know that reliability is a drop-dead requirement for any kind of quality pro-audio equipment.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #7
Might look at QSC’s active speakers as a bare-minimum reference.
QSC makes great speakers, nice that you heard one and agree :)

Beyond that, I assume you know that reliability is a drop-dead requirement for any kind of quality pro-audio equipment.
Yes, and although reliability is something I can (mostly) control, I do fear that trust in our ongoing existence and ability to service products long-term will be huge obstacles as a start-up.
 

Krunok

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#8
@Krunok could you explain this part in a bit more detail pls?
I meant not to stick out esthetically. Maybe you shuold consider wall/ceiling built-in variants. I've been to italy for summer holidays. You can hear PA speakers but you have trouble finding where they are as they are perfectly blended into ambient.
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #9
I meant not to stick out esthetically. Maybe you shuold consider wall/ceiling built-in variants. I've been to italy for summer holidays. You can hear PA speakers but you have trouble finding where they are as they are perfectly blended into ambient.
Ah I see, thanks. Was thinking at first it had something to do with ambient music, now I get it :)
 

Thomas savage

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#10
I ment indestructible not indescribable ha ha .. Iv edited it.

They get a ton of abuse, if they can fit well in a regular flight box so folks don’t have to pay for custom ones I could imagine that might be a advantage .
 

Don Hills

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#11
Sound quality to aim for... won't fit in a flight case though. (The sub is a 20 ft shipping container... it is its own flight case.)

Without the sub:
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #12
I ment indestructible not indescribable ha ha .. Iv edited it.

They get a ton of abuse, if they can fit well in a regular flight box so folks don’t have to pay for custom ones I could imagine that might be a advantage .
Hahaha thanks @Thomas savage. Thought you’d gone all subjective on us for a second but was willing to believe :)

FWIW I’m attempting to make them close to indestructible through using a combination of high quality components (Pascal and B&C) and carefully calibrated compression and limiting in the DSP.
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #13
Sound quality to aim for... won't fit in a flight case though. (The sub is a 20 ft shipping container... it is its own flight case.)

Without the sub:
Haha I’m a big fan of Danley but am aiming for a different market here :)
 

JJB70

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#14
Others have pointed out all the important bits, but one which is well worth considering if your design is intended to be portable for use at various venues is lightness and ease of handling. Compatible with standard PA speaker stands is essential. I regularly set up speakers for events and it makes a difference to set up speakers that can be handled reasonably easily and don't induce hernias. Tough build quality is a must, the sort of tough plastics that would probably be a kiss of death for a home speaker on account of looking cheap can be ideal for PA speakers. Balanced inputs are a must, the choice of XLR and balanced 1/4" jack is a nice to have. Good power handling to pump the volume up loud.
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #15
Others have pointed out all the important bits, but one which is well worth considering if your design is intended to be portable for use at various venues is lightness and ease of handling. Compatible with standard PA speaker stands is essential. I regularly set up speakers for events and it makes a difference to set up speakers that can be handled reasonably easily and don't induce hernias. Tough build quality is a must, the sort of tough plastics that would probably be a kiss of death for a home speaker on account of looking cheap can be ideal for PA speakers. Balanced inputs are a must, the choice of XLR and balanced 1/4" jack is a nice to have. Good power handling to pump the volume up loud.
Thanks @JJB70 :) Unfortunately I’m limited to XLR input only, without designing a new input PCB - I have an electrical engineering consulting but circuit design and production is beyond my means at this stage.

Good to know re the stand connectors, and yes these are standard top hats on the prototypes, with M10 suspension points.

Unfortunately these won’t be too lightweight though, as the cabs are 15mm birch ply. We downgraded from 18mm + bitumen lining in the earlier prototype though... The 12” 2-way will weigh in at about 30kg. Still too heavy do you think?
 

JJB70

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#16
As long as you have XLR that's the important one. On weight, these speakers do tend to be pretty heavy and 30Kg isn't unusual. If the weight is what it is then I don't think it'd harm sales, but I do think lightweight would be a bonus in making set up and take down easier. The set up I use is mainly HK speakers, I'm not sure that I've ever seen HK speakers in the home audio/hi-fi segment but they're a well respected speaker for PA use. You could do a lot worse than look at their catalogue to do some benchmarking I think.
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #17
As long as you have XLR that's the important one. On weight, these speakers do tend to be pretty heavy and 30Kg isn't unusual. If the weight is what it is then I don't think it'd harm sales, but I do think lightweight would be a bonus in making set up and take down easier. The set up I use is mainly HK speakers, I'm not sure that I've ever seen HK speakers in the home audio/hi-fi segment but they're a well respected speaker for PA use. You could do a lot worse than look at their catalogue to do some benchmarking I think.
Thanks again. Yeh, HK is very much on the radar, both in terms of models/specs and prices. Much appreciate your input :)
 

hege

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#18
Basic PA features are not rocket science, so not going there, but personally I've been wondering why there aren't many "networked" speakers around, especially in the lower classes. Everything is digital/DSP these days, even mixers/sources, so why isn't ethernet/AES used more? Each speaker should have individual EQ/crossover settings etc easily remotely set. The hifist in me groans having to go multiple DA/AD stages for no reason. Management boxes like Driverack, DCX2496 are so last season. ;)
 
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andreasmaaan

andreasmaaan

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Thread Starter #19
Basic PA features are not rocket science, so not going there, but personally I've been wondering why there aren't many "networked" speakers around, especially in the lower classes. Everything is digital/DSP these days, even mixers/sources, so why isn't ethernet/AES used more? Each speaker should have individual EQ/crossover settings etc easily remotely set. The hifist in me groans having to go multiple DA/AD stages for no reason. Management boxes like Driverack, DCX2496 are so last season. ;)
Thanks, this is helpful too :)

The DSP we’re using here is WiFi controllable by the end user, enabling EQ and delay via a smartphone app. However, it’s not possible to send networked audio via WiFi. For audio signal, analogue XLR input is the only option.

How does that sound? And how important would AES input be to you?
 
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hege

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#20
Thanks, this is helpful too :)

The DSP we’re using here is WiFi controllable by the end user, enabling EQ and delay via a smartphone app. However, it’s not possible to send networked audio via WiFi. For audio signal, analogue XLR input is the only option.

How does that sound? And how important would AES input be to you?
Sounds cool.

Of course it depends on the price, but if AES would be available it would certainly draw me in that direction.
 
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