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Good PA system to use for mixing reference, home practice, and small gigs - with bass in mind
Old 30th November 2020
  #1
Good PA system to use for mixing reference, home practice, and small gigs - with bass in mind

Hey all. I'm new here!

I've been renting time at a practice space for $73 a month, but at this point I'm only using it to use the PA system as a reference for mixing my tracks and for songwriting purposes, so I realized I could just buy a PA system instead and pay for it in installments. My budget is basically $80 a month for a year, which amounts to about $1000, or possibly another $500ish if it's right.

I'd like to make this purchase with mixing and personal listening in mind, so I want a PA with decent frequency response, and that's loud enough to handle home practice and small venues. I have a small house so I'd like it to be relatively compact (maybe 10-12" speakers?).

Part of the reason I want this is to experience More bass when I'm mixing, so if I have to choose between two systems, one with fancier mains but less bass response or one with cheaper mains but with a subwoofer, I'd rather get the subwoofer. I'm willing to sacrifice a little bit of upper frequency quality for some added quality in bass. And hopefully the entire thing would be in the budget mentioned above.
(This post isn't to debate whether or not a PA system should be used as part of the mixing process as I've already determined it's beneficial for me. I have normal studio monitors as well.)

Thanks for the help!

Last edited by Influencer; 30th November 2020 at 09:52 PM.. Reason: Edited ‘feel the bass’ out
Old 30th November 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Pro Sound Guy's Avatar
 
1000 will not go far at all.
Consider going with used gear.
Market is saturated with it.
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
there ain't no medium-sized pa speakers covering the entire frequency range: for the lowest octaves, you need a subwoofer - also worth noting that many studio subs are going lower than most subs used for live sound.

but since you're talking about 'feeling' the bass, maybe you don't need to go very low but use a horn-loaded sub for a punchy feel in the lmf range...
Old 30th November 2020 | Show parent
  #4
I hadn’t even considered used gear, but I’m not surprised it’s saturated considering Covid. I just wanted to do monthly financing so there’s no change in my budget once I leave the practice space. And I’m willing to stretch the budget a bit. But I’ll look out for used stuff as well.

I probably shouldn’t have used the term ‘feel the bass’ since I do want it to be relatively accurate, as far as PA’s and my budget goes.

I’d be willing to get mains now and add a sub later If I couldn’t get anything decent with a sub in this price range.
Old 1st December 2020
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
What are your "normal" studio monitors and what do you consider to be "decent frequency response"?

This may be a bit of an eye opener for those that have never dipped a toe into the live sound racket but what you're asking for may not be possible at that price.. or even for ten times the money, much depends on the answers to the above questions.
PA speakers have always been designed to get loud first and foremost and to do that with control the frequency response is limited at both ends. Traditionally that meant a typical PA covers 50hz - 16khz flat, in recent decades that has improved to 40hz - 18khz and in some cases some highend sub systems are now capable of digging down into the low 30hz range but that usually involves spending cubic dollars.
In 10-12" pa speakers you can buy on a $1000 budget none of them will deliver any sub bass, they will only manage 60-70hz truely flat and the matching sub that will cost you another $1k will still only reach 50hz, but in a small studio room that system will generate more SPL than you will need and yes even some bass you can feel if you manage to position it so you're not listening in a bass null.
Old 1st December 2020 | Show parent
  #6
My normal monitors are some old Tannoy Actives, which are nothing special, but have served me well. My definition of a "decent frequency response" is almost certainly less sophisticated than most people here. I find the PA I use at the practice space is not super 'flat' (from what I can tell), but gives me a general idea of what my tunes will sound like on larger systems with lots of bass. This PA also helps me hear abrasive sibilances in vocals and can bring out some nasty spots in sustained distorted guitars, so it helps me de-ess and EQ.

As of now, I'm thinking about just getting a sub for now that I would use jointly for monitoring and for practicing/songwriting. I currently have some very crappy PA mains I can use with the sub for practice sessions until I settle on better mains.

I was looking at the Kali WS-12, which at 1000 Watts is marketed as in between a studio subwoofer and a PA sub. But I'm not sure how much tradeoff in quality there is compared to lower power studio subs at similar prices? It supposedly goes down to 23Hz, but has a drop off under 30Hz.

I was also looking at the PreSonus Tembler 10 studio sub, which is about $430 as now. I also found it bundled with Eris E4.5 HD monitors for $499 - even though I assume those are cheap monitors that I might just end up selling, that seems like a pretty good bundle deal.

Any thoughts on specific $1000-$2000 PA systems, or those two sub choices, would be welcome! This is kind of straying from the original topic at this point so I might make another thread in another section to discuss the subwoofers...
Old 1st December 2020
  #7
Lives for gear
 
JayTee4303's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
A typical small PA system is going to have you dialing in face shredding highs and mud, to make up for the roll offs. Probably some quacking ducks too.

I picked up a pair of Carvin LM-153s with the benefit of a 6 inch midrange driver, which gets rid of the "1k hole" in most two way tops.

I then got lucky with a JBL JRX18s sub, purchased solely by physical size. It fits in and fills in real nice.

I have a Crown X-4000 driving the tops, 1kW each, and a bridged Crest FA-2401 for the sub, around 1200 watts there.

It matches mixes pretty well with what I get from the control room. I'm happy with it.

It's loud. First time I hooked it up with these amps, everything was green and clean, so I... took it to unity.

Scared my roommate right on down the hall and into his room.


That was fun.

With a new dBx 123 crossover, and cables, I have around $2400 in it.

Mobile, the sub goes out with two JBL MRX 515s, and an amp rack with a Crown Xti-4002 and an XLS-2501, bridged. MUCH lighter amps.

I use a Driverack PA2, because for b8gger gigs I swap the single sub out for a pair of Vega Earthquakes, which require swapoing the,amps back and forth, and the Vega's have 6.7 foot horns, so needing delay.

It gets it done, but I have to be careful there as those amps are underpowered for that config.

Once we get back to making money, , a 6002 or 3501 will fix that up.
Old 1st December 2020 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Influencer View Post
I hadn’t even considered used gear, but I’m not surprised it’s saturated considering Covid. I just wanted to do monthly financing so there’s no change in my budget once I leave the practice space. And I’m willing to stretch the budget a bit. But I’ll look out for used stuff as well.

I probably shouldn’t have used the term ‘feel the bass’ since I do want it to be relatively accurate, as far as PA’s and my budget goes.

I’d be willing to get mains now and add a sub later If I couldn’t get anything decent with a sub in this price range.
new gear which fits your budget are the turbosound milan m12; they go relatively high in terms of spl and relatively low in terms of frequency - dunno of any affordable sub.
Old 1st December 2020 | Show parent
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
new gear which fits your budget are the turbosound milan m12; they go relatively high in terms of spl and relatively low in terms of frequency - dunno of any affordable sub.
That looks pretty perfect budget and size wise, I'll check them out. Maybe I'll get the Kali WS-12 sub for now, and then these are a contender for the mains.
Old 2nd December 2020
  #10
Gear Head
I love my KRK 10 S subwoofer for $400. Huge output for such a small package.

Big step up- Sam Ash has 15 inch RCF 705 on sale for $800. I have the 12 inch 702. Incredible punch!
Old 13th December 2020
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Sounds like you want more bass at home. You will probably have another year before you're allowed to play at venues again. So get a sub that fits at home with your studio monitors for now that will work for you later on as well. Save up and get nice mains when the day comes that concerts are allowed again. You won't need them in the meantime if you have studio monitors already. Get a DSP too and just send everything above 80 to the monitors and below to the subs. Then you can make those monitors go way loud and keep up with everything else safely. I use 2 Mackie HR824s and 4 JBL 2241Hs in my living room. With a driverack 260 xover at 80hz. Sounds great. Haven't blown them in 20 years now. I just leave the monitors at home and take the subs out for gigs with some meyer UPA-1Ps and driverack 260s.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Something to keep in mind is that subwoofers are far from reference quality in general. If you want to feel it, fine, but you can't trust them or how they will behave in your room, and expect the same low end to translate over other systems in other rooms. I rely largely on spectrum analyzers to judge the low end in my mixes, using a whatever 100W 12" JBL hifi subwoofer for feel. I can't imagine any benefits to mixing at PA levels at close range, but if it makes the process more enjoyable for you and you're able to compensate for their inequities, then fill your boots.

Ah, just checked out a couple of your tracks. Now I see why you want a high monitoring level for music creation pusposes! lol On the cheap I could see Alto SXM112A's being reasonable tops for the job since they're coaxial and I recall not having to EQ them much. They didn't hold up well at all as rental stock, but if you don't have idiots tossing them around they should serve you fine.

For a subwoofer the RCF Wweiss suggested would be amazing, on the cheap look for something from dBTechnologies, which seems to be an off-shoot of RCF. Frankly even recent Behringer subs are faring pretty well now that they're copping Turbosound techniques, just again, don't let idiots toss them around.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
I ended up going with the Kali WS-12 sub woofer. Besides an issue I'm having with its crossover noise, I think it sounds good. I decided it's a decent compromise between a studio and PA sub. And I totally understand it's more for feel than for pure accuracy. If I can find a way to switch the sub between my studio monitors and PA mains with the touch of a button, with individual crossover settings for both, I'd be golden. I haven't found any monitor controllers or external crossovers that can do this, though.

A quick google searched showed that the Alto SXM112A is a stage monitor. Is there a PA mains version, or do you just use the stage monitor version?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
I use my driverack 260 to switch back and forth between my mains, monitors and with and without subs in my studio area. Just make a separate program for each, wire it up and switch back and forth at will.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
I just looked into the driverack and will definitely consider it once I'm willing to spend the money. I wish it had just one more output, so you could connect 3 monitor pairs AND the sub. The Audient Nero would be a lot more intuitive to use though, if only they would add a crossover.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
I have a driverack 260 I have been using almost daily for 15 years now. Even all the display bits and LEDs still work. Don't be afraid to go used.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
My first mixing monitors were 15" sonic PA Speakers with a Crown XLS 1002 amp, with a stereo Yamaha 31band graphic EQ. That is/was my big speaker setup.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Going from a 260 to a 480 costs way more than just getting 2 Y cables and 2 260 models. I keep 3 DBX 260s in my rack. That does the trick for less than one 480 model. With better reliability.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
Using two of the 260's, I could do the 3 monitor pairs and the sub, but I would have to switch programs on both knobs to use the sub on everything, so it wouldn't be as intuitive for mixing, where I'm switching between them a lot. It's not that big of a deal though since it seems to be the only cheap, viable option.

It looks like the 480 is discontinued, but now there's a 4820, which is thousands of dollars..

I've been looking into the DBX 260 and am probably going to get one. There seems to be a lot of 'open box' models on the market right now that are only $300. It's probably a good time to buy since no one is buying them for live shows.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Influencer View Post
Using two of the 260's, I could do the 3 monitor pairs and the sub, but I would have to switch programs on both knobs to use the sub on everything, so it wouldn't be as intuitive for mixing, where I'm switching between them a lot. It's not that big of a deal though since it seems to be the only cheap, viable option.

It looks like the 480 is discontinued, but now there's a 4820, which is thousands of dollars..

I've been looking into the DBX 260 and am probably going to get one. There seems to be a lot of 'open box' models on the market right now that are only $300. It's probably a good time to buy since no one is buying them for live shows.
For the price of the two 260's, amps, amp racks, and speakers, you would be better off with powered speakers that have the cross-over built in and the phase aligned from tops to subs automatically IMO.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
The point of the 260 (one for now, with no rack) would be so I could use the same sub on both my main monitors and the PA, with individual crossover settings for both, and easily switch between them.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Influencer View Post
A quick google searched showed that the Alto SXM112A is a stage monitor. Is there a PA mains version, or do you just use the stage monitor version?
They have a pole mount on the side
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Influencer View Post
The point of the 260 (one for now, with no rack) would be so I could use the same sub on both my main monitors and the PA, with individual crossover settings for both, and easily switch between them.
Interesting, you could have output settings like this:
1/2: monitors
3: subwoofer with monitor crossover frequency going into sub left input
4: subwoofer with PA crossover frequency going into sub right input
5/6: PA

And just mute/unmute outputs to switch. I like it!
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
I was just going to give the sub its own output and use different programs for sub w/ monitor, sub without monitor, sub w/ PA, etc, but that’s a nice way to do it too.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AC2SPL View Post
They have a pole mount on the side
Oh, cool. I'm wondering if the lopsided shape of stage monitors typically ends up sacrificing sound quality/ space for more internals, at least versus similarly priced 'symmetrically' shaped speakers on the market, but looking at the page for the Alto SXM112A, they advertise the shape as helping sound quality by decreasing resonances. I'd love some opinions on this. I know I have to actually hear any given speaker, but at least speaking in generalities.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
He wants to be able to switch between sets of speakers and subs on the fly. Powered speakers don't help you there.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
With a budget of $1000 to $2000 for the stated purposes.

It is hard (arguably impossible) to make ANY PA at any price be a good reference source for recording purposes. Cheap speakers like Alto would be particularly bad I would think.

While I am certain I am going to be in the minority here, I would suggest getting a pair of DXR15's instead of Alto's over home-made subs and external processing.

For recording reference speakers on the cheap, maybe a good open ear flat response headphone set.
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Y'all haven't checked out his music. The PA is for music creation purposes. He wants a loud system to feel it as he composes. Then to dial in the mix he switches to studio monitors. Makes sense, and affordable PA speakers like the Altos will serve him well. Those SXM112A's are coaxial and pretty even in frequency response, kinda like a set of Equator D5's that can do 120dB.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Influencer View Post
Oh, cool. I'm wondering if the lopsided shape of stage monitors typically ends up sacrificing sound quality/ space for more internals, at least versus similarly priced 'symmetrically' shaped speakers on the market, but looking at the page for the Alto SXM112A, they advertise the shape as helping sound quality by decreasing resonances. I'd love some opinions on this. I know I have to actually hear any given speaker, but at least speaking in generalities.
They'll say whatever to overcome the fact that they're gonna look kinda weird on stands, but only from up close from the sides or back. As wood cabs go they're very easy to carry and as long as you've got subs to handle the low end you don't need bigger cabs. Definitely better off with lopsided wood cabs than symmetrical plastic.
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