Advice needed about Speakers

soundlady

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Oct 19, 2007
I've been quality and price comparing speakers and just wanted some opinions from people who use them daily. I have not decided to go with active or passive, yet because I still am not convinced that active sounds as good. I will be doing mostly outside events for up to 1000 people so I need a lot of good sound with not a lot of cabinets.
What would your opinion be and why?
 

avkid

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Active is almost always better for the following reasons:
almost all needed processing is already inside
no need to worry about amp matching
smaller than an amp and speaker(packing wise)
quicker set up

How much do you have to spend?
I can get you in touch with a company that makes one of the best powered speakers on the market if your budget is high enough.
 

TimmyP1955

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I like to talk area size as opposed to number of people, as 1000 people can require very different things depending upon the area to be covered. However, I'd estimate that the system a friend is using this weekend at a Contemporary Christian retreat would do the job:

4x Yorkville U15 speakers
4x Peavey QW218
6x Crown XTi4000 power amplifiers.

You should be able to pick these items up for around $14,000. Then there's a rack, speaker cables, power cables, mics, mic cables, mixer, monitors, more amps, ....... Expect to spend another $14k on these items.
 

avkid

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2 Powered Subs
4 Tops

$24k

I used two tops and one sub on a softball field and had great results.
 

SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
There are lots of configuration issues to look at

You say outside, 1000 people. What kind of music, how large an area, is it a permanent install, is it always in the same location, what does staging look like

If you give us more information you will get a better range of choices

Sharyn
 

soundlady

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Oct 19, 2007
Okay... Here's the deal...
This setup would be for acoustic music... I went and listened to all kinds of systems- both powered and passive and found that for acoustic music, passive has a warmer fuller sound... Our theory on acoustic: Flat and true as possible--- I don't want to have to eq the speakers to get what I want to hear... I know it's gonna sound surprising, but I like the way EV eliminator series sounds... I'm thinking of 1 single 15" two way, 1 18" sub, and 1 Dual
15" two way on each side of stage. I can always add another dual on each side for the size of crowd or area dispersion. What I'm confused about now, is how much power is needed. Do I run 1 amp for subs, 1 for singles, and 1 for duals-- subs=400w program,8ohm, singles=350w program,8ohm, duals=600w program,4ohm. I would like the best quality at a mid money budget. What are your ideas?
Thanks for all your advice-- I enjoy talking to road worthy people.
 

museav

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Okay... Here's the deal...
This setup would be for acoustic music... I went and listened to all kinds of systems- both powered and passive and found that for acoustic music, passive has a warmer fuller sound...
That probably has more to do with the setup and listening environment than with the speakers. In many cases the speakers are the same, the active versions just incorporate the required signal processing and amplification that would normally be provided externally for the passsive versions. If you are listening in stores just keep in mind that what you hear in an outdoor environment may sound very different.

Our theory on acoustic: Flat and true as possible--- I don't want to have to eq the speakers to get what I want to hear...
But you may want to EQ to make up for high frequency loss outdoors, off axis response, interference of other noise sources, etc. Again, a speaker that sounds one way in a store (and make sure there is no processing applied) may sound quite different in a larger, outdoor venue.

I'm thinking of 1 single 15" two way, 1 18" sub, and 1 Dual
15" two way on each side of stage. I can always add another dual on each side for the size of crowd or area dispersion.
How did you arrive at this arrangement? Why do you feel that both a single and dual 15" are required? If you need wider coverage than just one speaker can provide, then do the speakers array (work together) well or are they really intended more to work alone than as part of a multiple speaker array? If you use two speakers to cover the same area that may sound worse than using just one due to the interactions between speakers. If you are going to always use subs, I would tend to avoid dual 15" mains and even consider single 12" mains. The only real advantage to many dual 15" mains is typically if you will use them without subs.

What I'm confused about now, is how much power is needed. Do I run 1 amp for subs, 1 for singles, and 1 for duals-- subs=400w program,8ohm, singles=350w program,8ohm, duals=600w program,4ohm.
That all depends on the speakers and how you run the system. You are probably either going to run a single line to the subs and use their internal crossover to feed the mains or you are going to have to invest in an outboard crossover or even better, a speaker processing system that also incorporates limiters, EQ, delays, etc. to help protect your investment and get the most out of it. You also may want to consider the sensitivity or output of the speakers, you may have to provide a lot more power to one speaker to match the output of the others. So the specifics of the application, speakers and the system configuration will drive this and there is no good answer without knowing more.


I would like the best quality at a mid money budget. What are your ideas?
What is roughly your idea of "mid money"? And don't forget that you likely need to purchase not only the speakers and amps, but also an amp rack, speaker cables, interconnect cables, power cords, maybe speaker stands, etc. Those items can add up.

The point is to keep in mind the actual application and that you are putting together a system. What really matters is how the system performs, not just how individual components sound in an often totally different environment. Unless you are familiar with audio systems and their operation and want to spend the necessary time at each event, then simpler is often better. It is often better to have a simpler system that you are comfortable with and can use effectively.
 

avkid

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I know it's gonna sound surprising, but I like the way EV eliminator series sounds...
Hmmm..that's curious because almost everyone else hates them.
The subs are a notorious "one note wonder".
It has been suggested that one of the subs be gutted and filled with sandbags to be used as a speaker stand.
 

David Ashton

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perth W Australia
On a purely practical note, active speakers have heat sinks on them.If you are working in full sun the heat sink becomes a solar collector and the unit overheats and trips.An amp rack can be hidden somewhere shady but speakers have to go where you need them and of course they are lighter.While you can patch around a problem with a passive system you're a bit limited with actives and the potential for earth loop hums can be increased with active systems.As you might guess I used to like them but now I've gone right off them after a couple of embarrassing concerts with amps dropping in and out and people wondering what "the idiot on the sound desk is doing".
 

avkid

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Unless they are poorly designed the heat sink should not be sticking out.
Extremely well designed actives don't need an external heat sink.
 

David Ashton

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I'm just pointing out that putting all your amplifiers in black boxes and leaving them in full sun for several hours can be problematic.
 

herr_highbrau

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Active is almost always better for the following reasons:
almost all needed processing is already inside
no need to worry about amp matching
smaller than an amp and speaker(packing wise)
quicker set up

How much do you have to spend?
I can get you in touch with a company that makes one of the best powered speakers on the market if your budget is high enough.
I dunno if things are different over in the states, but in the UK we use these terms.

"Active" speakers are speakers that are driven by more than one channel of an amplifier (eg high driven by one channel and mid by another)

"Passive" speakers have an internal crossover that sorts out the frequencies inside the box, and have nothing powered inside them.

"Powered" speakers have the amplifier built into them, and you run the signal to them.

Just so we avoid confusion :)
 

avkid

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I dunno if things are different over in the states, but in the UK we use these terms.
"Active" speakers are speakers that are driven by more than one channel of an amplifier (eg high driven by one channel and mid by another)
"Passive" speakers have an internal crossover that sorts out the frequencies inside the box, and have nothing powered inside them.
"Powered" speakers have the amplifier built into them, and you run the signal to them.
Just so we avoid confusion :)
Passive- it requires an external amplifier(when referring to a loudspeaker enclosure that is)
Active- requires no external amplification, you feed it AC or DC(in a few cases) and signal
Your "active" is our Bi-amp
 

museav

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I don't think "active" and "passive" have such set definitions and still seem to get used different ways by different people, especially in marketing. The problem is that we are actually referring to two separate factors; the form of the crossover, which may or may not actually be part of the speaker, and whether the amplification is internal or external to the speaker. The use of "passive" and "active" leads to situations like describing things such as passive speakers with active crossovers, which is actually defining two devices. Even more confusing get to be unpowered three-way speakers that are run bi-amped as they they are both active and passive in regards to the crossover.

When describing speakers it seems to make sense to actually define the internal amplification (powered or unpowered), physical speaker design (full range, two-way, three-way) and mode of operation (full range, bi-amp, tri-amp). Only then have you defined how the crossover(s) and amplification relate to the speaker.
 

jkowtko

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I'm curious as to who calls bi-amplication "Active"? I've never heard the term used that way. B&W, for example, a renowned British loudspeaker company, also uses the standard terms "bi-wire" and "bi-amp". (I owned a pair of 804s for several years, by the way, beautiful speakers ...)
 

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