The old active speaker chestnut

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The old active speaker chestnut

Post by Nigel Austen »

Potentially one of the most done to death subjects but I would value the opinion of anyone willing to chip in .
I am thinking about changing from 2 Dynacord A115 passives , hooked to an Allen and Heath Zed 16FX and a Lab Gruppen IPD2400,
to a pair of active Dynacord A115A's (I already own 1 and love it) and the same Allen and heath Zed16FX.

I'm a small ceilidh band, usually 4 of us (violin, guitar, accordion through built in mics and a mic for the caller to shout at the guests through) , and we play to audiences of 30 up to 150 occasionally but most commonly 80-90 guest in typical function room, village hall, small outdoors space sometimes, school halls etc.

My reasons: less to set up , less to transport in my car, less to store at home, good resilience (if one active broke down I could get through a gig ok and if mixer died I carry an AER Domino which could act as mixer for 4 piece with signal going out to same active speakers).

My question: Am I missing any downsides to this change (apart losing money on the amp and speakers I bought about 4 years ago ) . Would this small active system be easily extendable if I did a bigger barn dance event e.g a Burns Night for 300 ? I think the powered A115's would be loud enough but again grateful for any considered opinions, even unconsidered ones welcome . Cheers Nigel
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by shufflebeat »

A band I work with went from EV 12"s over EV 15"s (Driverack + Yamaha cp2000 amps) to Dynacord a112s over Dynacord a118s. The speakers are not dissimilar so a reasonable comparison.

It's not usually a major issue but cabling can be an added complication I could sometimes do without. I miss carrying and laying a single Speakon cable.

With the new setup carrying and setting up crossover and amps is a task avoided. This is not applicable in your situation but iirc that LG amp is pretty light so you're not saving yourself much actual effort by going active.

Sound level/quality is better but not amazingly so, just sounds a bit tighter and brighter

I've since swapped the a112s for my Yamaha dxr12s which are slightly less detailed in the top end but feel like they have more headroom before struggling. Dynacords are now monitors.

When one of the Dynacords developed a problem It had to be sent off to be repaired which took at least 3 weeks and would have cost a significant amount if we hadn't caught the end of the warranty period by the skin of our teeth.

It may be that the space you're saving on carrying the amp is taken up with extra mains cables.

For me I'd want to be clear what problem I'm trying to solve and how much of the appeal is novelty.

If you do decide to go active you may find that either Dynacord a112s or Yamaha dxr12s rather than 15s are more suited to your lineup and achieve more clarity for less volume. Worth an explore at least.
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by Mike Stranks »

Yup! I agree with shufflebeat... I've used the passive and active options in about equal measure...

If you have a Class D amp then weight is not an issue for the poweramp... if you go active then you'll need to be running audio and power lines...

I think it often comes down to personal preference... no clear 'winner' IMO.

If it ain't broke... :)
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by Wonks »

if you want to go active and be able to play to a bigger crowd, then I'd go for a different choice of active speaker. Unless you want to cover a physically much wider area, so you have speakers pointing out to the sides as well as to the front, then adding another pair of speakers the same, all pointing forwards, doesn't work very well. You only get a small increase (3dB) in the maximum SPL created, and you get comb filtering problems which can spoil the sound. You really are better off using a pair of more powerful speakers.

The only other way to increase volume is to add a sub or subs, but as you don't appear to have bass or drums (normally at least), then you really don't have the low frequencies that sub(s) would normally relieve the tops of, allowing them more power for the mids and treble.

Those active Dynacords peak at 124dB, and by changing speaker supplier to say Yamaha and say a DXR12, for a similar budget, you get a speaker that peaks at 134dB SPL. 10dB is a big increase in volume and would certainly be enough for 300 people. Beyond that, your problem is the reach of sound, as 300 people dancing need a lot more room than 300 people listening to a band. You'd then really need a line array system, but unless you end up playing much bigger dances all the time, then it's best (and cheapest) to hire-in for any significant events.

For comparison, the passive Dynacords peak at 129dB SPL (the active version could do with a bigger internal amp as the speakers will be the same) and your current power amp is big enough to drive them to that level. But the DXR12s peak at 5dB louder, which is a noticeable increase.

Step up to the Yamaha DZR12 and not only do you get an even louder speaker (139db peak SPL), but the frequency response goes lower (at 39Hz) than the 15" Dynacords (the DXR12 is 52Hz vs the 15" Dynacord's 50Hz, but both Yamahas go to 20kHz, whereas the Dynacord is 17kHz). The sound quality is better as well. At 21.4kg, it is also slightly lighter than the 22.5kg Dynacord. Plus the Yamahas have a 7 year warranty (provided you register them with Yamaha).

Coverage would suffer, but a single louder speaker would still be more than loud enough for almost all your gigs should a speaker have a problem.

Obviously the DZR costs significantly more than the DXR and Dynacord, but you'd get great speakers that would always have plenty of power to spare, even for the bigger gigs, so it's never going to sound strained and there will be plenty of headroom left so the caller can be heard over the music.

There are quite a few other very good, louder speakers around, like the QSCs, but it obviously it does depend on what your budget will stretch to. But if you can invest now for the future and those bigger gigs, you shouldn't ever need to upgrade the system.
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by Nigel Austen »

Really grateful for suggestions as ever - very attracted to the DZR solution , definitely have been times when we've felt underpowered or turned up too high for our rig .
We are a slightly unusual instrumentation having no bass or drums , and although I think Subs are just not worth it for us ,any richness in the lower frequencies especially for guitar and accordion lefthand , are valuable .
Could I ask , if I went for the DZR12 option rather than the DZR15 would I be losing anything much in lower end or noticeable power ? It feels like going for either DZR puts us up quite a notch in loudness terms . Thanks again everyone.
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by Wonks »

Max SPL of both DZRs is the same. They have the same amp inside. The 12 goes down to 39Hz compared to 34Hz for the 15, but that is still well below the lowest accordion bass note. A lot of subs don't go as low! The 15s are considerably more expensive as well, so without hearing them together, I’d personally choose the 12s over the 15s.
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by Nigel Austen »

Wonks , much appreciated - a friend made a similar observation - given storage and transport savings is a big part of why I want to change I think you present a no briner vis 12 Vs 15 .
Thanks again for the advice
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Re: The old active speaker chestnut

Post by dickiefunk »

I have a pair of DXR15's which I have successfully used at an outdoor event for 320+ people. The DXR15's offer a lot of performance for their price and have been 100% reliable over the 9+ years I've had them.
I have had the DZR12's here and I did a comparison with these between the DXR15's and found they had a strange distortion issue. Apparently this has been resolved in the recent versions but can't confirm this for definite. The DZR12 can go louder at the expense of higher hiss levels. Also whilst the bass response is quoted at 39hz, this is at the expense of higher port noise. I the end I stuck with the DZR15's.

If I were to look to upgrade my DXR15's without increasing the weight, the RCF HDM45a and new 945a would be top of my list!
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