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  1. #1

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    Default High Quality PA Speakers??

    OK, so here's an odd question. I'm not an audiophile, though I pride myself on being a musician with a good ear. I recently bought a pair of R-50's to go with my Denon, and I am delighted with the sound, especially at the price I paid! Wonderful!

    So now as a piano player, I'm finally finding the time to start gigging, and am setting up my digital keyboards and am looking for PA gear. All of the PA gear that's out there seems oriented toward high power, and not much toward the subtleties of music.

    So what would be the pros and cons of using one or two pair of R-50's with a subwoofer, fed by a powered mixer (PA amp) say in the range of 200-400 watts? Based on my experience at home, I would expect a far more musical sound than would be possible with the routine PA speakers offered. I could easily see setting up two pair of R-50's on stands, and bring along a couple of subwoofers.

    Can anyone suggest why this would be a bad idea or a good idea?

    Thanks,

    Caine

  2. #2

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    As a fellow gigging musician (guitar), there's a lot of factors that come into play that immediately come to my mind. First, are you playing solo or in a band? Most home speakers aren't really sturdy enough to hold up to gigging and moving around. Plus, especially for keyboards, it's better to have more power than you may need, as long as it's easy enough to tote around.

    Plus, amplifying instruments and vocals for live performance is quite different than amplifying pre-recorded and mixed musical programming, so the demands on an amp and speaker are different. A lot of those subtleties you love are not just the result of the musicians, but the actual mix...a mix made in a controlled sound studio... even 'live' albums are later mixed for release. If you had those same musicians play live through your home audio speakers, things would be quite different.

    You don't really have control over room acoustics or background noise in a gig, so basing your choices on what you like when listening critically to your own system in a relatively controlled listening space isn't a very safe bet. Many guitarists (and other musicians) I know fall in love with their amplifier/speaker set-up and effects when listening to it by itself, but are invariably disappointed and bewildered when they can't get their sound playing live, so they settle on something else (again, tested alone), and go through the same thing again on the next gig. Bass frequencies can suddenly disappear or be overwhelmed by the bass player...audience and furniture diffuses the sounds...or you're placed so close to your speakers (or above/aside) that you can't really hear all of what it's putting out. It takes a lot of players a while to understand the variables in terms of conflicting sound characteristics of various noisy live environments, or the dynamics of playing with other amplified musicians and a drummer. Without a good PA system and sound mixer, it ends up being up to the musician to 'play the room'.

    There have been countless times that I'm immediately not thrilled with my amp's tone at the start of a given gig in a given room, but by now I can guage as to whether I can at least be heard without blowing the doors off the place (my amp is a 1967 Fender Deluxe Reverb...25 tube watts through a 12" speaker). It can be a struggle just to be heard, and a lot of times players end up turning their volume up, which just adds to the noise and confusion...rather than playing with better dynamics to give space and definition.

    I think a good place to start is by looking at dedicated keyboard amplifier combos (keyboard equivalent of a guitar amp) that have a good direct line out for playing through a house PA system if available. There's plenty to choose from with good power, and an amp/speaker cab combo is a heck of a lot easier to carry around than a separate amp and speakers/sub. Try looking into musicians' discussion sites, there's a lot of info from some very helpful folks...just like here!
    Last edited by Whadyasay; 01-13-2005 at 02:46 AM.
    Polk LSi9 Mains, Polk LSIC Center, Polk RT25i Surrounds, Polk M3II Rear Surround, SVS PB10-ISD Sub, Denon AVR 2809 (as digital pre/pro only), Sony BDP-S350, Oppo DV-981HD, Cambridge Audio Azur 540C (CD), Marantz MM9000 5-ch amp, Outlaw ICBM, Panasonic th-42PX85u HDTV, Behringer BFD Pro, Monster Power HTS 2600 Conditioner

  3. #3

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    Lots of food for thought in your post, Whadyasay. I'm primarily a piano player/ singer, and for the near term I expect to be playing quiet music in small venues. I suspec that will quickly turn into a small band playing cocktail music, just to get some experience. But eventually I hope to be playing more in the way of original songs in a min-concert settig. I have a Yamah P-90 digital piano that would be my main instrument for the moment.

    By not just going the "conventional" route I was hoping to avoid the non-musical sound I hear so many places once the voume gets cranked up. Volume and distortion always seem to be the solution when musicality and taste are in short supply! Rest assured, I have no problem boogying at high volume when it's called for, I just want it to be clean and open, with solid bass, not over whelming bass.

    I had assumed I would go the route of a modest PA system, and run my keyboard and vocals through that. (a 15" and a horn for example) I Figrued that would provide some flexibility that a keyboard amp might not have, namely lots of channels for when other vocalists are available and so on.

    I notice a trend in guitar amplifiers, even bass amplifiers, to utilize lots of smaller speakers. I saw a bass amp yesterday that had 8 8" speakers in a single cabinet... and some of these setups were then paired with a single 15". So it seemed to reinforce what I was thinking of doing. But I get your points about durability once you start throwing the stuff around.

    I really appreciate your reply, and will be interested to see if you or others have more to add. Thanks for writing!

    Caine

  4. #4

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    What ever you do keep this in mind, those R50 are meant for sound reproduction, not sound production as prosound speaker is. You may not want to use the R50 because they would not really be well meant for it, but if can get it to work, more power to you, just a thought...

  5. #5

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    Only home speaker I can think of that could pass as a PA speaker would be the retire Klipch Chorus... simply LOUD but is still very clear....
    www.Vr3Mods.com ///// www.Version3Audio.com

    "No, that's silly talk. Dude, you can't possibly be this audio dumb so quit the act." - Doro

  6. #6

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    Thanks, all.

    You've persuaded me to abandon the train of thought and "go conventional." Now on to find something appropriate...

    Caine

  7. #7

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    Use a good pro tube amp and some nice efficient speakers and you will be in heaven. Something like a Marshall rack mount would be perfect.

    Something like this.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...775942550&rd=1

    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  8. #8

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    Check into a Mackie powered PA speaker. They sound very good. Peace.
    Mark Wellman ><>

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

  9. #9

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    See, just a PA system isn't quite the ticket for all scenarios. The thing about keyboard amps is that, in general, they are voiced for keyboards, as opposed to, say, full-range music or vocals. You'll have more control over eq and tone settings on the kb amp, and most kb amps have a direct line out, which will plug in to a PA, but more importantly, will feed out from the keyboard amp's preamp. Granted, many keybards already have a direct output onboard, for the purpose of pluggin into a PA, so something on the order of Mark's suggestion would work. Companies like Mackie and JBL do make powered monitors in which you can plug in both a keyboard and a mic for live performance, but I still think a dedicated kb amp combo will give you greater tonal control for a variety of rooms. As a guitarist, I always keep a very long guitar cable handy so that I can stand out in the listening area and make a quick sound check from the listening area prior to starting the gig, if there's no sound mixer working the PA. Albeit more difficult to do as a keyboardist.
    Polk LSi9 Mains, Polk LSIC Center, Polk RT25i Surrounds, Polk M3II Rear Surround, SVS PB10-ISD Sub, Denon AVR 2809 (as digital pre/pro only), Sony BDP-S350, Oppo DV-981HD, Cambridge Audio Azur 540C (CD), Marantz MM9000 5-ch amp, Outlaw ICBM, Panasonic th-42PX85u HDTV, Behringer BFD Pro, Monster Power HTS 2600 Conditioner

  10. #10

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    I agree with Sid, take a look at some of the Klipsch. We had a pair of the Chorus in our band hall in college, and they produced clear sound at very high Volumes...
    Main HT
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