Roundup: Active PA Systems for Musicians

Self-Powered Loudspeakers for Any Touring Scenario
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The world of powered P.A.s is vast, with systems designed for almost every situation you can think of, from highly portable units for a solo performer or lecturer to large systems designed for touring groups and various sized venues. Some product lines are modular, where individual loudspeakers provide enough inputs for a soloist or small group, but with expandability to accommodate more complex situations. Keep that in mind because, even if you are shopping for something for your own musical performances, often the system will get drafted into use at a school or your house of worship, as well as in non-musical events. Make the right purchase and you’ll get a lifetime of use from your system.

In this roundup, we focus on active (also called powered) loudspeakers. Some products, particularly the all-in-on systems, provide everything you need so you can carry as little gear with you as possible to a gig. Such setups accept multiple input types, so you can leave the external mixer at home. Additionally, many of the loudspeakers can double as floor monitors, with angled cases that aim the sound upward when set horizontally on the ground.

Although most of the companies featured here also offer passive models, powered floor monitors, and/or systems that combine a powered mixer with passive cabinets, these products are beyond the scope of this roundup. Acoustic guitar amps, which have both an instrument input (typically, for an acoustic guitar) and a mic input, are also not included here.

DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS

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With so many products available, it can be hard to pick the right one. Start by determining your input requirements. Singer/songwriters who play live can often get by with a single powered loudspeaker if it has the right connections, whereas a DJ or band may want a pair of cabinets and perhaps a subwoofer or two, depending on the venue sizes they play.

Common features include combo jacks that accept XLR mic input as well as 1/4” line or instrument feeds, basic EQ controls to tune the speaker’s frequency response, and perhaps onboard DSP. Many have an output or thru jack for connecting multiple speakers together.

Manufactures often offer several speaker lines utilizing the same drivers and cabinet. While this allows companies to hit the price targets consumers tend to prefer, to the buyer it means that each model will have a different frequency range that is, to some degree, dependent on the size of the low-frequency driver. Often, an entire line will have the same wattage rating and I/O features, but with different cabinet and speaker configurations aimed at specific price points. Once you figure out your input requirements and potential audience or venue size, it becomes easier to choose the model that suits your needs and budget. And as with all transducers, price does not necessarily indicate audio quality, so we recommend that you test the systems on your wish list whenever possible.

Unless otherwise noted, street prices are quoted throughout the article.

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BOSE

The systems by Bose are a great example of all-inone, plug-and-play setups. The L1 systems feature vertical arrays of speakers that provide 180 degrees of horizontal dispersion, allowing you to reach a wider part of the room while allowing the other musicians to hear the amplified sound without adding monitors. The P.A.s break down into easily transportable pieces—the power stand (which has the connection points), the cylindrical loudspeaker array (two parts), and the bass module. You can use two L1 systems in a stereo setup by adding an external mixer and feeding the left and right channels to individual L1 inputs. Each system has a port for connecting the T1 ToneMatch module ($499), which provides a mixer with three mic combo-jack inputs, a pair of 1/4" inputs, and effects. In some cases, the T1 ToneMatch unit is included, or it can be added to the system later.

The 2-channel L1 Compact system ($999), designed for more intimate settings, can be set up to full height (with six speakers in the array) or in a collapsed position for tabletop use. It includes an XLR mic input for channel 1 (with treble and bass controls) and several input choices for channel 2—a pair of RCA jacks, a stereo 3.5mm input, and a 1/4" jack that accepts TS (instrument-level) and TRS (linelevel) signals. Each channel has individual input level controls and provides a single ToneMatch preset, one for the mic and one for an acoustic guitar input.

Bose designed the L1 Model 1S system with B1 bass ($1,799.95 MSRP) to handle audiences of up to 300 people, utilizing a tower with an array of 12 drivers. This system has one audio input with a trim control. To increase the input count, add a T1 ToneMatch module or get it as part of a package in the L1 Model 1S system with B1 bass and ToneMatch Audio System ($2,298.95 MSRP). Two B1 bass modules can be interconnected and stacked for increased low end, or you could purchase the L1 Model 1S system with the larger B2 bass module ($1,999.95 MSRP).

The L1 Model II system with B2 bass ($2,699) has 24 speakers in its line array and one input in the base module. It is designed for audiences up to 500 people and situations that have strong lowfrequency content, such as groups using an electric or acoustic bass or kick drum, as well as DJ setups. The system is available with the ToneMatch module for $3,198.

ELECTRO-VOICE

With a long track record in the pro-sound business, EV offers high-powered systems at a variety of price points. Three of its most recent lines include the ZLX Series, the EKX Series, and ETX Series.

The ZLX line comprises 1,000W, 2-way loudspeakers with Class D amplification in a lightweight enclosure. The ZLX-12P ($399) and ZLX- 15P ($499) have 12" and 15" LF drivers, respectively. The I/O includes two mic/line combo inputs, a 3.5mm stereo aux input, and an XLR output. These speakers have built-in DSP, controlled with a single knob, that lets you set high and low EQ, subwoofer crossover, and other parameters. Choose one of the factory presets (Live, Music, Speech, Club) to fine-tune the speakers to your performance situation and placement (pole-mounted, floor monitor, hanging). This system is designed to work with the 700W ELX-118P ($799) powered subwoofer.

The speakers in the EKX line provide 1,500W of Class D power in wood cabinets and include two mic/line combo inputs, a stereo pair of RCA jacks, and an XLR output jack. They also include EV’s QuickSmart DSP that, with its 1-knob interface, offers four factory presets (Live, Music, Speech, Club) and five user-editable presets, plus 3-band EQ, metering, and more. The powered models include the EKX-12P ($799) with 12" woofer and EKX-15P ($899) with 15” woofer.

The EKX-12SP ($899) and EKX-18SP ($999) are subs with 12" and 15" woofers, respectively. These 1,300W Class D systems include QuickSmart DSP control as well as Cardioid Control Technology, which focuses the output forward towards the audience.

For larger venues and audiences, the ETX Series powered loudspeakers provide 2,000W and include six models with woofers that match the model number in diameter inches—ETX-10P ($1,099), ETX-12P ($1,199), ETX-15P ($1,299), ETX-35P ($1,499) 3-way loudspeaker, ETX-15SP ($1,399) sub and ETX-18SP ($1,499) sub. This modular approach lets you tailor the ETX system to the exact requirements of your room or touring situation. The speakers include DSP control with presets, EQ, limiting, and other functions.

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FENDER AUDIO

Fender Passport Conference Fender’s self-contained P.A. systems feature molded- plastic speakers that attach to the main amplifier/ mixer. This makes the system surprisingly lightweight and, with the built-in handle, very portable considering the number of features it offers. For example, each speaker has a built-in storage compartment for cables and accessories. The Passport line has three models—Passport Conference, Passport Event, and Passport Venue—that step you up from small to large audiences while adding greater input connectivity.

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The smallest in the line is the Passport Conference ($399), a Class D, 175W system based around a 5-channel powered mixer and two speakers, each with a pair of 5.25" woofers. Channels 1 through 3 provide XLR and 1/4" inputs with individual tone and volume controls, as well as a 20dB pad for each channel. Channel 4/5 is for stereo input and offers a 3.5mm line-input jack, separate 1/4" left and right inputs, and shared volume and tone controls. The mixer also provides a master volume control and a 3.5mm stereo headphone/line-out jack with its own volume knob. The system comes with a pair of speaker cables, a handheld dynamic mic with accessories, and an XLR cable. It’s a basic system designed to get you up and running right away, while providing enough inputs for additional band members and stereo playback.

Passport Event ($699) presents a significant step up in features and is designed for larger ensembles playing house concerts, coffee houses, and small clubs. This 375W, Class D system has four XLR mic input channels and one instrument/ line-level 1/4" input, each with individual controls for volume (with 20dB pad), bass, treble, and reverb send. Channel 6/7 has the same controls but offers a pair of 1/4" jacks, a stereo line input on a 3.5mm jack, and the ability to receive stereo audio wirelessly from your mobile device over Bluetooth.

In addition to the 3.5mm headphone jack and level control, the Passport Event’s mixer has mono and sub outputs on 1/4" jacks. The master volume knob has an accompanying meter showing output level. A dynamic mic and cables are part of the package.

The top of the Fender Audio portable P.A. line is the Passport Venue ($999 street), a 10-channel, 600W system that is designed to handle larger venues and is adaptable for bands or DJs (especially when you pair it with the PS-512 powered subwoofer). Here you get four phantom-powered XLR inputs (with pads), a pair of switchable 1/4" line- and instrument-level inputs, and two stereo channels (two 1/4" and one stereo 3.5mm input), all with separate controls for volume, bass, treble, and reverb send. The main volume, metering, and output selection are the same as on the Passport Event.

However, the Passport Venue has a couple of distinguishing features. It has controls for the digital reverb effect—Time and Tone—and two algorithms to choose from. Next, there is a master output Tone knob. But the most interesting feature is a USB port that can be used for file playback or for recording the main stereo output; that’s very handy!

Fender also offers a line-array P.A. called the Expo System ($899), an exceptionally portable system made up of two pieces. The speaker array provides a 120-degree dispersion pattern using eight 3” drivers and a 1" compression driver. The sub has two 6.5" low-frequency drivers, with controls for main and sub outputs. The input selection includes a pair of combo connectors (XLR and 1/4" TRS) and a pair of RCA jacks, as well as XLR outputs for expanding the system. Padded protective bags for each of the two sections are available.

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FISHMAN

The SA220 Solo Performance System provides, you guessed it, 220W from a single-stand, Class D bi-amplified line array. On the front panel of this 2-channel, 25lb system you will find the instrument and mic inputs (with phantom power and separate 10dB pads) with a separate 3-band EQ on each channel. Phase switches on each channel, in conjunction with individual anti-feedback notchfilter knobs, help control feedback issues. The digital reverb has four settings and each channel has a reverb level control. The mute switch next to the master volume control cuts the main inputs but allows you to hear music sent to the rear-panel stereo aux input (which has a front-panel level control) from a mobile device. The array has six 4" drivers and a 1" soft-dome tweeter.

Fishman SA220 On the rear panel of this unique system you’ll find an effects loop for each channel, with 1/4" jacks, a pre-EQ DI output on XLR jacks for each channel in case you want to send your signal to an external P.A. system, and a post-effects Mix DI XLR output. In order to connect two SA220 systems together, monitor I/O is included on XLR jacks. Other handy features include a tuner output for channel 1, a footswitch input to mute either channel, and a Tweeter Level control (-6dB to 0dB range).

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The SA220 ships with a speaker stand and a padded bag with wheels, making this a complete system that is ready to rock and roll for solo artists and duos.

HK AUDIO

The Lucas Nano 300 ($699) matches a pair of 3.5"satellite speakers with an 8" sub to create a 2.1 speaker system offering 230W of Class D power. The satellites latch onto the sub for easy schlepping.

The sub includes a 3-channel mixer. Input 1 has a switchable mic/line combo jack and a contour/ filter knob that boosts the high and low frequencies while cutting mids. Input 2 has a pair of combo jacks that accept instrument- or line-level signals and a contour control. Input 3 is for stereo line-level signals, with a 3.5mm stereo input, a pair of RCA inputs, and a contour knob.

The system can be used in mono by stacking both satellites on the adjustable pole (sold separately in the $129 Lucas Nano Add-On package) that fits into the subwoofer, or in stereo by setting the second satellite on a separate stand. The link function lets you connect an additional Lukas Nano 300 system. The pair of balanced 1/4" outputs is configurable as a stereo-mix recording output or as a Thru for channel 2.

HK Audio’s Elements is a modular line-array system that allows you to mix and match parts to create a powerful and clean portable P.A. system to meet various needs. HK’s proprietary EConnect technology puts the audio and electrical connections that go between the speakers and the Class D amps within the poles. Here, the Passive speaker arrays are stacked onto these poles, which are set into the power amp or powered sub. (For more details, see our review in the October 2011 issue.)

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HARBINGER

The VaRi Series is Harbinger’s 2-way, 600W, Class D powered-P.A. line featuring the V2112 ($229) 12" and the V2115 ($249) 15". These budget-priced loudspeakers have a 3-channel mixer with a mic/line input using XLR and TRS 1/4" jacks, a line-level input with XLR and two RCA jacks, a stereo aux input on 3.5mm jack, 2-band EQ, and a master level control. A +4 XLR output and clip indicator complete the scene. The VaRi speakers can be pole mounted or set on the floor for use as monitor wedges.

JBL

The company’s all-in-one 160W personal P.A. is the EON206P ($449), a 6-channel suitcase-style system in which the speaker pair attaches to the amplifier for enhanced portability. The system provides a generous number of inputs including two mic/line channels (with combo jacks, 2-band EQ, gain, and reverb), two channels with 1/4" and RCA jacks (with gain), and a stereo input on a 3.5mm jack. Additional monitor outputs with a separate volume control let you send the stereo mix to another destination. Each 2-way speaker has a 6.5" woofer, and everything is housed in rugged, lightweight plastic.

Other products in the highly affordable 1,000W EON600 line, which utilizes the company’s latest waveguide technology, include the EON610 ($399), EON612 ($449), and EON615 ($499) featuring 10", 12", and 15" LF drivers, respectively. These 2-way, active bass-reflex speakers include two combo mic/ line inputs, master volume, a Thru connector, and four selectable modes that tune the speaker response to common applications—Main, Monitor, Sub, and Speech. New to the system is Bluetooth connectivity via iOS and Android apps that give you control over master volume, preset functionality, and DSP, such as parametric EQ and high and low shelving.

The next step up is the 1,500W PRX series, featuring seven powered speakers—PRX710 ($749), PRX712 ($849), PRX715 ($949), PRX725 ($1,299) dual-15" 2-way, PRX735 ($1,299) 3-way, and two subs PRX715XLF ($1,149) and PRX718XLF ($1,399), with 15" and 18" speakers, respectively. The 2-channel mixer on the main speakers includes a pair of mic/line combo inputs with level control and ground lift, as well as two RCA inputs. A Thru jack and EQ switch (Main/Monitor) complete the feature set.

Moving up to 2,000W, the SRX800 Series adds configurable DSP and HiQnet Network capabilities for a completely pro-level system. In addition to the SRX812P ($1,299), SRX815P ($1,399), SRX835P ($1,599), the series includes the SRX- 818SP ($1,599) and SRX828SP ($1,999) subwoofers. The main speakers have two combo input channels, each with a direct output XLR jack. There’s also a Mix output (XLR) and Ethernet port for networking. You navigate the LCD screen with a single encoder and button to select presets and various controls. The DSP includes two seconds of delay, parametric EQs, signal generators, and 50 user presets.

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MACKIE

With a solid live-sound legacy, Mackie has a range of powered P.A. systems to cover a wide variety of budgets. One of the needs the company most recently addressed is a stereo system that is light and portable enough to use anywhere, even outdoors away from a power source. The FreePlay ($399) is a 300W stereo system with a 4-channel mixer that can be powered by AC or battery (lithium-ion or 8 D cells). The rear panel has a pair of mic/line/instrument-level inputs on combo jacks and a 3.5mm aux input for stereo audio playback. You can also stream stereo audio to the channel wirelessly over Bluetooth.

Mackie DLM8 Mackie offers the FreePlay Connect app, allowing you to set the overall mix and EQ settings (flat, DJ, Solo, Voice), as well as control the P.A.’s onboard effects processor (two reverbs, two delays) from your iOS device. The system includes the Feedback Destroyer, so you can maximize your volume without repercussions.

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FreePlay provides one-knob control over several parameters. Select the input channel you want to work on using the dedicate buttons and use the knob to set its input level and effects send, or set the main output level by pressing the Main button. The rear panel includes a 1/4" TRS monitor output that provides a mono-summed signal for use with an external powered speaker or subwoofer.

Additional personal P.A. options are Mackie’s DLM8 ($699) and DLM12 ($849), with full-range 8" and 12" drivers, respectively, and the DLM12S ($999) subwoofer, all of which provide 2,000W of power. The DLM8 and DLM12 use Mackie’s TruSource coaxial system and DSP processing, similar to what you’ll find in the company’s HD series, where the 1.75" tweeter is set in the center of low-frequency driver. This results in a significant reduction in weight and size for Class D loudspeakers with this much power. The 2-channel systems have combo jacks (mic, line, instrument) and RCA inputs, Feedback Destroyer circuitry, and a digital mixer offering 3-band EQ and 16 channel effects (including reverb, delay, and chorus).

In Mackie’s SRM line, the SRM150 ($249) is a personal-size P.A. that offers two mic/line combo inputs with individual level controls and phantom power, a stereo channel with RCA jacks, 3-band EQ, and an instrument input switch for channel one. The back panel includes line input and thru jacks. With its 5.25" speaker and Class D amp, the SRM150 is rated at 150W.

The SRM line also includes an affordable range of larger powered loudspeakers, each with a 2-channel mixer (mic/line on combo jacks plus stereo RCA inputs with individual gain controls), a switchable Channel 1/mix Thru XLR jack, a Feedback Destroyer switch, and a mode selector (Solo, DJ, Monitor, PA). The models include the SRM350 ($399) with 10" driver, SRM450 ($499) with 12" driver, SRM550 ($599) with 12” driver, SRM650 ($699) with 15" driver, and the SRM750 ($1,199) with two 15" drivers. The subwoofers in the line include the SRM1801 ($799) 18" subwoofer for the SRM350 and SRM450, as well as the SRM1850 ($899) 18" sub and SRM2850 ($1,599) dual 18" subwoofer. All of the subs have stereo XLR inputs and highpass and full-range outs.

Thump is a recent addition to Mackie’s line of powered loudspeakers, providing a lightweight and affordable option for musicians and DJs. With Class D amplification rated at 1000W, Thump12 ($299) has a 12" driver and Thump15 ($349), a 15" driver. The speakers have a mic/line input with level control, 3-band EQ (with sweepable mid), and protective limiting. The Thru XLR jack provides parallel output to connect additional loudspeakers. Thump18S ($599) is the 18" compatible, active subwoofer, with two XLR inputs, pairs of XLR full-range and highpass outputs, a phase button, level control, and a pole cup.

For maximum coverage and highest audio definition from a Mackie loudspeaker, check out the six models in the modular HD series—HD1221 ($799) with 12" driver, HD1521 ($999) with 15" driver, HD1531 ($1,249) 3-way system with 15" driver, the HDA ($1,799) 2-way 12" horizontal array, the HD1501 ($899) 1,200W 15" sub and HD1801 ($999) 1,600W sub. Utilizing EAW-designed transducers and birch cabinets, these systems can be pole-mounted, stacked or rigged up to match the type of venue or performance situation they’re used in. The speakers have internal DSP that is used for acoustic-correction processing, and all but the subs and HDA have onboard 3-band EQ with a sweepable mid control. The HDA has a loop output and 3-setting voicing switch. The HD’s system works well for touring bands or installed use.

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LINE 6

With its StageSource active loudspeakers, Line 6 jumped into the P.A. world whole-hog with a uniquely designed system that harnesses the company’s unique DSP technology. Currently available are the L3t ($999) and L3M ($899), 1,400W tri-amplified loudspeakers with two 10" low-frequency drivers, and the L2t ($849) and L2m ($749), which push 800W each and have single 10" low-frequency drivers. These loudspeakers can be used on their own or networked using the company’s L6 Link system, discussed below.

Line 6 StageSource On the side of the StageSource L2t and L3t is a 2-channel digital mixer featuring 3-band EQ (with sweepable mid), a vocal doubler/modulation processor and digital reverb on each channel, as well as feedback suppression overall. Using combo inputs, the mixer accepts mic, line, and instrument input, with individual gain controls and pad buttons. It also offers Variax modeling, which you can use when you plug in an acoustic guitar with a piezo pickup. The knob controls the amount of modeled guitar-body resonance—sweet!

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The rear panel on all of the StageSource loudspeakers includes a mic/line combo input, a stereo aux input on RCA jacks, Loop Thru and Mix outputs, and a feedback suppression button. However, several other things make the StageSource system unique. The Speaker Mode selector, which revoices the loudspeaker depending on how it’s being used, includes Reference/P.A., Playback, Floor monitor, Keyboards, Acoustic guitar, and Electric guitar settings. However, the loudspeakers have a built-in accelerometer and pole-mount sensors that automatically read the cabinet’s orientation.

The StageSource speakers also have L6 Link input and output/thru connectors. L6 Link is Line 6’s proprietary digital protocol that allows their products to talk to each other. For example, you can connect another StageSource speaker and it’ll recognize that it’s there and automatically configure the two as a stereo system. Connect the StageSource L3s ($1,199) 1,200W powered sub, which has two 12" drivers, and it recognizes the connection and resets the crossover point. Of course, you can also network in the StageScape M20d digital mixer to control it all. Consequently, by daisy-chaining the speakers using XLR cables connected to the L6 ports, the intelligent networking lets you to scale StageSource from a one-speaker setup for a solo performer to a system that will handle an entire band.

Musysic MU-P15BLMUSYSIC

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Among this company’s many live-sound products are two systems that provide all-in-one functionality aimed at performers and DJs in small venues. The MU-P15BL ($199) is a 500W bi-amped loudspeaker with a 15" LF driver built into an ABS enclosure. In addition to a pair of mic and line inputs, 2-band EQ, and RCA jacks, the system provides stereo playback via Bluetooth, SD card, or USB stick. Transport controls include Play, Pause, Stop, Repeat, and Track Skip. It even includes an FM radio.

The MU-15PAb ($249) is a 400W system with 15" driver that includes two VHF wireless handheld mics with rechargeable batteries. It also offers Bluetooth, USB, and SD playback capabilities, as well as an FM radio. This model has an XLR mic input, a 1/4" instrument input, RCA line inputs, and a 5-band graphic EQ. The system is housed in an ABS enclosure with clips to hold the mics.

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PEAVEY

Providing solid performance at reasonable prices for decades, Peavey has wide range of P.A. products. For example, the 400W PV115D ($299) and 800W PV215D ($499) house one and two 15" drivers, respectively. Using Class D amplification, these products offer a single mic/ line input with level control, a Contour button, and 1/4" Link output. Pair either of these with the PV118D ($499) active subwoofer with 18" speaker to increase your low-end capabilities.

The PVX line is aggressively priced, with molded plastic enclosures and significant power, rated at 400W of continuous power. The line includes the PVXp10 ($329), the PVXp12 ($349), the PVXp15 ($399), and the PVXp Sub ($599) with a 15" woofer. The mains have a single combo input with level control, contour button, and XLR and 1/4" TRS Thru ports. Pole-mount them or use them as floor monitors. Either way, they’re designed to hold up to abuse.

PRESONUS

The StudioLive AI Series builds on the company’s CoActual driver technology (coaxial 8" midrange and 1.75" compression drivers with DSP tuning) and adds networking, DSP customization, and remote control capabilities. The three full-range, 2,000W models include the triamped StudioLive 312AI ($1,249) with 12" woofer, the triamped StudioLive 315AI ($1,449) with 15" woofer, and the quad-amped StudioLive 328AI ($1,349) with two 8" woofers. The StudioLive 18sAI ($1,499) is the 18" subwoofer providing 1,000W.

The StudioLive P.A. range loudspeakers are WiFi- and Ethernet-enabled: Multiple speakers can be networked over either protocol. The company’s iPad app can then be used to control the entire system, including adjusting the DSP in each unit, such as the graphic and parametric EQs or time delay.

The speakers have an XLR mic input, a 1/4" TRS line input, an XLR mix output, and a lowcut set at 100 Hz. The DSP modes include Normal, LBR source, Floor-monitor, and a User mode. Each speaker has a USB port, an Ethernet Control port, and Network switches. The pole mount on the 312AI and 328AI includes a 10-degree downward tilt.

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QSC K8QSC

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Considering their weight and size, QSC’s 1,000W K Series loudspeakers pack a lot of punch, but with plenty of clarity. The K8 ($649), K10 ($699), and K12 ($799) utilize Class D power amps and have 8", 10", and 12" low-frequency drivers, respectively. Each speaker has two input channels: Channel A accepts mic and line input (via a combo jack), channel B line-level input only (with combo jack and RCA pair). Each channel has separate XLR outputs, and a Mix output XLR jack is also included. High-frequency and low-frequency switches let you fine tune the response, as well as add the KSub 12" subwoofer ($1,079), which has a polarity switch and Normal and Deep modes.

The company’s KW Series puts K Series technology in lightweight birch cabinets. These 1,000W models include the KW122 ($1,099) with 12" driver, the KW152 ($1,199) with 15" driver, and the KW153 ($1,439) 3-way system with 15" woofer and 6.5" mid-frequency driver. The KW181 ($1,399) is a 1,000W sub with an 18" speaker.

SAMSON

Samson has plenty of P.A. products to choose from, starting with the Expedition Express ($199), a budget priced all-in-one system with a 3-channel mixer and a 6" woofer. In addition to a mic/line combo input, you get a 1/4" line in and a stereo channel with a 3.5mm input and Bluetooth connectivity. A 2-band EQ is also present. The system can be run for 8 hours on its rechargeable batter or powered via AC. Mic, cable, and AC adapter are included.

Samson RSX112 The Expedition XP106w ($299) comes with a wireless mic and has a 4-channel mixer that is Bluetooth- enabled and offers mic, line, and instrument inputs. The 100W system has a 6" driver and can run from the rechargeable battery. Included is the Samson Stage XPD1 USB Digital Wireless mic system.

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The Live! 612 ($349 street) is a 300W, 2-way speaker with a 12" LF driver. The rear panel offers two mic/line inputs, 2-band EQ, and an extension output with a Mix/Thru switch.

Samson’s Expedition XP112A ($219) and XP115A ($269) are 500W loudspeakers with 12" and 15" drivers, respectively. Each unit has a mix/line combo input with level control, a Contour button, and a link output for chaining speakers. They’re designed for pole mounting or use as floor wedges.

The 1,600W, Class D RSX series includes the RSX 112A ($529) with 12" driver and RSX115A ($599) with 15" driver featuring a 2-channel mixer in each with mic/line combo jacks, a Mix output, and three DSP settings—Flat, Loudness, and Speech. Powerful and rugged, these can also be used as floor monitors.

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YAMAHA

The highly affordable MSR100 ($399 MSRP) is an active 2-way, 100W loudspeaker with three inputs: a switchable mic/line XLR input and two 1/4" inputs, all with individual input-level knobs. It also features a 2-band EQ, a master level control, and a 1/4" Link output for connecting additional loudspeakers.

Yamaha DBR15 The loudspeakers in the DBR Series are designed to be rugged yet lightweight and portable. The loudspeakers feature Class D amplifiers and provide two inputs—channel 1 is switchable for mic and line input, and channel 2 accepts line-level only—with individual level controls and combo connectors (and a pair of RCA jacks on input 2). The XLR output can pass channel 1 through or a mix of both channels. In addition to a highpass filter that provides two cutoff frequencies, these loudspeakers have a Contour switch that sets high- and low-end EQ curves to match the usage: one for mains/pole mounting and the other when the speaker is used as a floor monitor.

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DBR Series loudspeakers are available in three sizes—the DBR10 ($529 MSRP) with a 10" driver and 700W, the DBR12, ($659 MSRP) with a 12"driver and the DBR15 ($899 MSRP) with a 15" driver, the latter two offering 1,000W each.

The 2-way loudspeakers in the DXR Series, on the other hand, are rated to have 1,100W of power. Each model has a 3-channel mixer, as well as an angled pole-mount socket that can aim the cabinet slightly downward. The model numbers reflect the size of the low-frequency drivers—DXR8 ($829 MSRP), DXR10 ($899 MSRP), DXR12 ($1,049 MSRP), and DXR15 ($1,199 MSRP).

The DXR loudspeakers have a switchable mic/line input with a combo jack and Thru connector, 1/4" line inputs on channel 2, and RCA inputs for channel 3. In addition to the highpass filter and Contour control, you get a Link output for connecting other DXR speakers with a button that determines if the link is mono or stereo. The DXS12 ($1,049) is the active 12" subwoofer designed for this line.

Yamaha’s next step up in performance and price is the high-definition line, the DSR Series, which is designed for pro-level touring or install. Again, the model number reflects the size of the LF driver in inches—DSR112 ($1,349 MSRP), DSR115 ($1,499 MSRP), DSR215 ($1,799 MSRP) with two 15" drivers, and the DSR118W ($1,499 MSRP) powered sub. Each speaker cabinet offers a single channel with XLR and 1/4" jacks, a line/ mic switch with level control, a Thru jack (XLR), switchable HPF, and D-Contour, a multiband dynamic processor. The DSR112 is angled so that it can be used as a floor monitor.