passive v active speakers for gigging band

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This topic contains 57 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of dpdan dpdan 6 years, 9 months ago.

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    Profile photo of gilly

    Ah Dick not you too being so pedantic. Ye all know what I meant. Generally speaking a 400W PA speaker will have a higher SPL output than a 150W PA speaker, so come on stop being so picky :-). I just wasn’t sure what level of sound (and therefore wattage of speakers as SPL is related to input power in watts) would be required for gigging in pubs and clubs etc. That’s it, end of!

    Btw thanks Bob and Alrod for your encouraging and helpful replies. Cheers.

    Profile photo of Dick Rees
    Dick Rees

    Not pedantic, just correct. A lot of people follow and read these postings, so by couching your question in improper or ill-used terms does not help them, especially when you’re (mis-) using such terms.

    Additionally, it would be germain to speaker choice discussions to consider pattern/pattern control:frequency, multi-functionality such as doubling as monitors (wedge angle), possible use with sub, internal crossover (powered) and more.

    Simply throwing out a single (spurious) spec does not serve anyone well…unless the various pedants point out the fallacy of the OP and offer up the proper parameters for making such choices. But if it’s just a pub band and none of the proper info matters, then the actual choice doesn’t matter either.

    Profile photo of MJCElectronics

    Additionally, it would be germain to speaker choice discussions to consider pattern/pattern control:frequency, multi-functionality such as doubling as monitors (wedge angle), possible use with sub, internal crossover (powered) and more.

    In the words of Sherriff Buford T. Justice… “The god damn Germans got nothin’ to do with it”
    Sorry Dick, couldn’t resist, I fully agree with everything you’ve said.

    I also agree as suggested earlier that PSW may be a better place for this discussion as these forums are specifically for A & H equipment which seems to be lacking from the proposed system.
    If you do post a “how many watts” question over there though be prepared for many more responses in a similar vein and maybe a few with considerably less tact as to put it bluntly, you’re asking the wrong question.

    Profile photo of gilly

    Ah guys this is getting out of hand and starting to annoy me now.
    I initially asked for opinion as to whether passive or active PA would suit best for this type of use as a band starting out.
    If you don’t have any valuable input then ignore the post and move onto a post that interests you and to which you may have some input.
    Stop trying to complicate things and trying to put people down for asking a question. That is so ignorant.
    How would you like it if I start going through your posts and picking out terms (like wattage) that were not phrased perfectly, which I could easily do if I wanted to be picky.
    Stop this now and be helpful, if you can, if not don’t comment.

    Profile photo of gilly

    I am not asking the ‘wrong’ question, but it sure looks like I’m asking some wrong ‘answerers’ …
    Knowing what ballpark power (in watts) will be required for pub type venues (as opposed to a large concert hall type venue) gets us started and narrows down what size PA’s to begin looking at.
    After that, yes I agree, you need to look at other various parameters to arrive at a suitable system.
    The same goes for my job as an electrical design engineer, If we are looking at sizing/selecting an electrical sump pump for a certain size room, you might know from experience that you will need around a 1000W motor. This is the mechanical output power you require. Now there are various types of motors from different manufacturers that have different efficiencies and therefore higher or lower electrical input power which will determine the size of switchgear you then have to install and eventually you would then narrow your search down to getting the correct pump and switchgear for your particular application. But you need to start somewhere.
    Same sort of thing with the PA system.

    Have a look at suggested power ratings offered by a leading PA systems manufacturer, posed from very similar question : How much power do I need ?
    I suppose they are wrong too…..

    Total amplifier power required in various applications
    • Folk music in a coffee shop with 50 seats: 25 to 250 W
    • Folk music in a medium-size auditorium, club or house of worship with 150 to 250 seats: 95 to 250 W
    • Folk music at a small outdoor festival (50 feet from speaker to audience): 250 W
    • Pop or jazz music in a medium-size auditorium. club or house of worship with 150 to 250 seats: 250 to 750 W
    • Pop or jazz music in a 2000-seat concert hall: 400 to 1,200 W
    • Rock music in a medium-size auditorium, club or house of worship with 150 to 250 seats: At least 1,500 W
    • Rock music at a small outdoor festival (50 feet from speaker to audience): At least 1,000 to 3,000 W
    • Rock or heavy metal music in a stadium, arena or ampitheater (100 to 300 feet from speaker to audience): At least 4,000 to 15,000 W

    Peace ……

    Profile photo of MJCElectronics

    Yeah the active/passive question has kinda got clouded by the ‘ole watts issue.
    Watts alone get you nowhere without other data such as sensitivity, peak SPL etc as has already been pointed out. It’s just one part of a more complex equation.
    To use your motor analogy, watts only tells part of the story, once you take RPM, torque etc. into account one 1000W motor is not the same as another. Every part of the equation needs to be taken into consideration to come to an answer as to if your chosen speaker (and amp if passive) will perform how you’d like it to, watts alone won’t cut it.
    We’re trying to help by getting people away from the mistaken idea that watts = loudness or volume, it just aint so.
    I have a pair of QSC K8 active speakers that are rated at 1000W each, by your table above I’d be able to do a medium sized auditorium or small outdoor festival with those alone but if I tried that I’d be firmly into the realms of “not enough rig for the gig”.
    They’re nice speakers and go incredibly loud for their size but they’re not right for a full on rock band even in a small venue if you’ve got Animal on the drums and a guitarist who goes to 11, in spite of being “2000W”.

    That table comes from an article on the Crown website which if read in full, references some of the other required characteristics of a speaker/amp system in the assumptions listed prior to the table. Don’t take the table as gospel, it relies on the assumptions which may or may not be correct for your situation. Again it’s just one part of the equation, all parts of which must be evaluated to get an answer. The article in it’s entirety should give you a pretty good idea of how to work things out.
    More important tables come further down where it talks about distance from source to listener and desired SPL.

    If I was buying afresh I’d go active every time for your application.
    The manufacturer should have done all of the hard work with built in DSP, limiters, even the dreaded watts are sorted for you.
    All you need do is pick a box that goes loud enough for you and is of sufficient quality for your budget.

    Extra cabling is a non-issue, you’ll gain with easier to handle cables plus no amp rack to lug around and cable up.

    The Yamaha DSR112 seems to be flavour of the month right now, Nexo technology in a Yamaha package.
    Haven’t heard them myself but they’re getting a lot of good reviews.

    Profile photo of MJCElectronics

    Sorry, still banging on about watts…..

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that whilst watts ARE important, that figure is where you end up not where you start.
    Begin with the other criteria, how loud (SPL), what area are you trying to cover etc. and make your speaker selection based on those. Forget watts at that point, only once you have those criteria defined can you take values like speaker sensitivity, peak SPL, speaker impedance etc and plug those into the equations that will allow you to calculate the watts required to achieve the desired result.

    Easier still pick active speakers based on those initial criteria and forget about watts altogether until you need to speak to people who really don’t have a clue, then telling them your tiny K8s are 2k gives them a warm fuzzy feeling, you know the truth and they walk away happy 😀

    Profile photo of gilly

    Thanks for your ‘input’ MJ
    Re your points above though, i already know this (as i have illutrated) but as I keep saying, you have to start somewhere in trying to figure out what size speakers to use. I do not fully agree with your “mistaken idea that watts = loudness or volume, it just aint so”. It isn’t the only part but if an amp is driving a speaker and the input power is 2000W its gonna be LOUD, unless you have a completely useless and in-efficient or damaged speaker. In general, most PA speakers have a sensitivity ranging from around 95 – 110 dB/W/m so the larger the wattage handling figure the more SPL output you will get…….

    Profile photo of Alrod

    Dick, here is a bit of friendly advice… Let the word “Dick” become known as your name and not an attribute. I could easily criticize your post(s). You are not using proper grammar in all cases. I could also criticize how you are failing miserably in your attempt to come across as some sort of intellectual on a mixer forum (really?) I am not impressed in the least. The OP’s original post is titled “passive v active speakers for a gigging band”. In this context, anyone with entry level knowledge of PA system concepts would know what is meant by “watt”, “W”, or “wattage” regardless of which term is used. That is common sense. In fact, even the “Pros” interchange those terms all the time. At any rate, you are beginning to come across as a cowardly keyboard warrior. Those blokes who like to hide behind keyboards and start trouble for no apparent reason. “Troll” is another term used. That is a bad reputation to have on any forum. From a forum perspective, that is bad for A&H business. It adds no value, and can quite possibly scare off potential customers. What I do if I feel a particular post is not worth my time or effort, is I simply ignore it. That said, if the OP’s question bothers you, move along and let others who are willing help him. Time is a precious thing to waste.

    Profile photo of gilly

    My local Sound/PA dealer has proposed the following system:

    1 Yamaha MG16XU 16-channel mixing desk c/w FX & USB
    2 Yamaha DBR15 15″ biamped PA speakers (465W continuosu, 1000W peak)
    1 Ultimate Support Jamstand tripod speaker stands (pair)

    The price comes to just over the budget the lads have. I think your proposed Yamaha DSR112 and Bob’s proposed Yamaha MSR400 would be better but probably above their budget (which is €1600)

    Profile photo of Andreas

    yeah, Yamaha Magic with 456W continuous output power along with 74W power consumption on the input (I know the number is to be taken by eight, just couldn’t resist)… 😉
    If I were that band I’d start with some borrowed gear to see how that fits to music, venues, practice, target audience, transportation, handling, storage etc. If that’s the dealer recommendation, he probably has something similar to try and if it fits and the band decides to buy it, no cost for renting. If it does not fit in either direction you may have spent some bucks for experience but then you know better about your needs.
    I’m really wondering why nobody asks for the type of music and which parts of the band need amplification. That’ll be the key fact in my opinion.
    If only vocals and acoustic guitars need to be amplified, the DBRs are probably overkill. If they intend to amplify the drumset (to have a nice punch from the kickdrum) as well, an additional subwoofer has likely to be added to the list. But then they’re probably too loud for small locations and will encounter feedback trouble when using the PA for monitoring as well.
    Same whether you go active or really decide to go passive (with crossover, separate amp for subs along with all the cabling).

    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob

    The MSRs are magic as well – but they do deliver a decent wallop.

    If even they are out of budget then I’d seriously suggest finding gear to borrow… Or revising the budget…

    Profile photo of Dick Rees
    Dick Rees

    MG’s are VERY bottom of the barrel, very poor EQ and generally dark as in “M” for “Mud”.

    There are many mixers in that price range that are sonically clearer. In fact, just about every other mixer in that price range is a better choice.

    I would avoid 15″ speakers and go with a pair of powered 12’s, something that will mate up with subs in the same line, system crossovers built into the boxes. That way if a sub or two loom in the future you’re ready to plug and play with no tech hassle.

    I would again encourage you to stop with the “watts” thing and focus on usable SPL and coverage. Something with 90 degree or a tad wider coverage would be good and they should be able to do 125dB long term with peak power output of 130dB. That’ll allow for some headroom so you won’t have to run everything full-out to be heard.

    Tripod stands definitely. Get the speakers well over the punters heads if the ceiling height allows.

    Around here, rental companies sell off their stock annually after the first of the year and there are good deals on 1-2 year old cabs in good shape for great prices. It’s a seasonal/business thing.

    Here’s the usual take on driver size:

    15’s are heavier, bulkier and less clear than 12’s. I have lots of both and the 15’s basically sit until someone needs to rent big wedges. 12’s are less heavy, generally clearer sounding and take up less packing space. There are also a lot of folks using powered 10″ tops from the QSC K series.

    Buy good used rather than bottom line cheap new. Do not buy from a “music store”.

    Profile photo of mervaka

    Just to clarify my previous post, I was referring to the use of the term “wattage” in place of “power.”

    I still feel that these forums should be reserved for discussion of A&H products, and my post was intended to raise the issue and dissuade further threads from being created in future. If OT discussion is to be welcomed, then I’d like to see a forum section provided. Consider this a feature request.

    Profile photo of gilly

    Thanks guys for your ‘feedback’. I will say it to the lads about considering hiring the gear at first and see what fits and what doesn’t. Or buy good used 2nd hand gear rather than new cheaper gear. Worth considering ok. I hear you re 12″,i reckon they would be ample. And will see how much you can get some used MSR.
    In place of the MG16 desk what would you recommend?

    This post got a bit sidetracked, at one stage i almost forgot ‘watt’ my original query was ??

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