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Power Amp or Powered Speakers?

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by RCDVS, May 18, 2017.

  1. RCDVS

    RCDVS Member

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    We are a non-profit community theatre building our sound system. We are happy with our board and wireless mics but would like opinions on using a power amp and passive speakers (and which speakers) or powered speakers (and which ones). We play in a small venue with 150 seats the seating area is about 45 feet by 75 feet. Any and all questions, thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks!
     
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Will it be convenient for you to route power to your speaker locations?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  3. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    It would be helpful to know your budget.
     
  4. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    It is really more of a preference, especially in a smaller space like yours. There are great powered speakers, and there are great non powered speakers. You should focus more on the make and model of the speaker, and where they will be located to be sure the coverage and quality of sound is appropriate for the venue. The cabling becomes less of an issue.

    Will these be preminantly located, or set up for each show, then taken down? Budget? Are you just running vocals and effects through them, or an entire pit band? Will they be mounted / rigged, or on floor stands?

    ~Dave
     
  5. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

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    I've got a black box space that measures 50x70'. We use six QSC K12 powered speakers for most of our shows. Shows that happen in there are a mix of recorded music, small pit band, and vocals. I'm really happy with the sound quality over a pretty broad range of uses. Six is probably overkill but it allows excellent coverage without having to push levels too high. I do have easy access to power in multiple locations so even periodic re-configuring isn't a big deal. I like that I can easily pull one or two down to use in other spaces or for other purposes when the black box isn't being used. They are extremely flexible little beasts.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  6. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    The Yamaha DBR series of powered speakers gets a lot of love as being good multipurpose units as well.
     
  7. RCDVS

    RCDVS Member

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    Wow, great feedback and questions. We are currently focused on non-musical productions so voice quality is most important. However we are just completing our first musical (Smoke on the Mountain) having sold out (150 seats per) five of our seven shows.
    Routing power is not a problem.
    We have about $1000 to spend at this time.
    We perform in a multi-use space so speakers are temporarily mounted on stands on either side of the stage.
    The space is flat floor, bare, hard surfaces, about 16:9 aspect ratio rectangle with about a 20' ceiling, also flat. It's an old mid-century modern elementary school built in 1949.
     
  8. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Powered speakers have some advantages in that the crossover, equalization, driver time alignment and driver protection can be much more sophisticated than what can be done in a passive network. It's a lot harder to damage a driver when both driver excursion and thermal conditions are protected.

    A $500 speaker, either active or passive, isn't likely to be much better than what you have now. I would wait for a bigger budget, more like $2500, which will give you many good choices.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  9. BobHealey

    BobHealey Active Member

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    What do you currently have for speakers/amps? What's between the console and the speakers for processing? What don't you like about the current setup?
     
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  10. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    If you do not have amps and the racks to put them in then go with powered. i have had good luck with Electro Voice ELX they look to fit you budget
     
    Joel - Studio 52 likes this.
  11. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Guess I'm old school, but I do not like powered speakers on smaller portable systems! Could be because I spent so many years servicing them. There are applications where they make sense, and the OP's may be one of them since the system is not moved, but here are my reasons for not liking them:
    1) Twice as many wires to run, tape, carpet, etc.
    2) Heavier to lift up on speaker stands.
    3) If amp -or- speaker fails, you lose both.
    4) Amp is subjected to a LOT of vibration.
    5) Better chance of picking up a ground loop if plugged local.
    For me, an amp in a Gator case with XLR in / NL4's out only needs one power cord and doesn't have to be lifted up on a stand ;)
     
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  12. TimmyP1955

    TimmyP1955 Active Member

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    If they are appropriate for your room (coverage pattern and output capability), the DSR and even the DXR are quite nice.
     
  13. StradivariusBone

    StradivariusBone Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    This reason alone makes me not really like them all that much. If it's a permanent install and you can have a designed source of power with a proper ground at the point where your speakers will be placed then it makes sense. I've gotten into some headaches with powered speakers and weird electrical solutions and if I don't have an iso transformer handy it's a pain.
     
  14. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Ground loops will still happen if you have a power amp rack near the stage. If speaker cables are long and not adequately sized, then you lose damping factor. Every method has it's pluses and minuses.

    As for ground loops, most of them can be cured by simply dropping the shield connection at one end, provided the connection is balanced (as it should be).
     
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  15. Chris Pflieger

    Chris Pflieger Member

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    I'd rather have a passive speaker stolen than an active one.
     

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