As any of you who have ben following along for a while know, the folks at HAS Productions in Las Vegas have been hosting a big speaker shootout at the Star of the Desert Arena in Primm on the Nevada/California Line for a few years now. It has taken an ungodly amount of time for us to get reporting on this up and out there but here ya go. First, some input from HAS owner Larry Hall and some followup from operations guru Jay Easley. The pic above is him in between the VUE Crew from the 2013 shootout #1.
Here we go…
So, third time around… Who showed up?
DAS: Aero 40, Aero 20, LX218s (flown) UX221a powered 2X21 subs stacked
Alcons: LR7,7B & BQ211 Subwoofer
Montarbo: RA16,Mul1818 Subone
Electro-Voice: x1,x2 and x12 sub
RCF: HDL20a, TT33, TT56 Sub
Adamson: S10 & S19 sub
VUE Audiotechnik: AL8,Al4,HS28
K-Array: NO Show!
Midas was kind enough to loan us a ProX for the helm. Yup…. Its all that.
This year I will start with the 2 brands I had little to no info on going into this.
Alcons: I have heard some talk about but never really have seen or heard them in action. Was extremely impressed with the sexy smooth sound of the ribbon tweeter. I have always liked the boxes on the market with the ribbons, but have always seen/heard them shrivel up and die at higher SPL.
These didn’t seem to have that issue. They stepped up, loud and clear.
Was very impressed with both systems. Dave Rahn only had 2 single 21 inch subs with him, the low-end was weak for the demo, but surprisingly enough with just the two drivers on the ground low end was present at FOH (about 120ft) Dave was also unable to get a full system for the shootout, as you can tell Alcons was a little light on the box count. Still this PA did great!
Montarbo: Here is a brand no one on the room had heard of. Lee Pepper who is the rep came in and flew his small Ra1 ground stacked his horn loaded MUL1818 subs, turned it on, time aligned, and BAM! Good sounding pa. I liked the minimal effort he needed to put into the system.
Good SPL from the small and the subs hit hard. I am not a fan of BIG horn subs, typically one BIG note, these? Well, yes basically a 45z box, but did that 45 as well as anyone could ask. My single complaint about this system is that so much thought went into making a very compact top box that sounded good, and got pretty damn loud, but , the subs..YIKES!! HUGE! SUPER HUGE! Kind of contradicted the smallness of the top. At that point why bother?
DAS: They ALWAYS bring it. Nothing like a manufacturer hungry to make an impact in this industry. DAS aero 40 may be the best box they have EVER made. Loud,clear, and rigging that is so killer, I have noticed MUCH more “popular” brand re-released their flagship box with almost the exact rigging…So? DAS chose my little event to show off the new UX221 sub as well. They flew some
LX218s behind the Aero 40s, and stacked (cardioid style) the double 21s. The fullness of the system was pretty sick. My only complaint about the set up is red lights. I noticed that pretty much all of the subs where either in limit or clip through out the demo. The good news is they where crushing and the limit was pretty soft and not audible.
The Aero 20 is simply a smaller packaged version of the Aero 40, sounded good. Same killer rigging….DAS was nice enough a few months ago to send us an Aero40 rig to use on some shows. So we know this PA very well, and like it VERY much. DAS has a rock star PA here, I hope a rock star FOH guy will give them a shot at the title.
RCF: Another company that always brings it. I say shoot out they say “on our way” This year they brought TT33,HDL20a,TT56 Subs and Sub8006as (double 18s). All powered. One thing I have said year after year about RCF, they know how to do powered PA’s. Unlike other powered brands that tend to have enough gas to get loud with nothing left in the tank, RCF boxes get loud, and can get louder. Again, another manufacture that has a box for all sizes and needs, RCF cleans house in the b market, much like DAS, they just need one “big” tour to get them on the map. The TT56 may be the best double 21 on the market. There are a few high profile tours using this box, calling it their “secret weapon” Perhaps this is how some bigger brands with lessor quality products keep selling crap?? A guy goes to a big show, sees big brand PA, hears big sound, assumes it is coming from that big brand PA….SHAZAM! He buys the big brand pa, while RCF was hidden under the stage doing the heavy lifting…..Things that make you go…WTF? The TT36, is truly a box you can throw up, turn on and do a show. The tuning is right out of the cardboard box sounds killer. Hey!
While I am on cardboard boxes,WHY? do the speaker manufacturers ship their big pas in cardboard?? What a pain to deal with!! Butterflies….Larry..Focus…
The HDL is a very interesting box. I have owned these in the past, killer little plastic 2 way line array, one step above an entry level system. The rub? These are actually on small tours, big rental companies all the way down to the little guys own these. WORK HORSE!
Lots of people secretly love this pa, but thats part of the problem with our industry. Sound guys say, “Ya I totally dig it, but I can’t use it!! What would my buddies think??” LAME
Electro-Voice: Ok. X1 sounds ok, throws ok, is priced ok. I see this box being big in churches and small regional companies. I may like it better if I had never heard the X2.
HOLY ARE YOU SURE THAT IS A 2 WAY BOX BATMAN??
SPL is crazy on this PA. How does it sound Larry??
I have heard this box a few times and have had the pleasure of mixing on it twice. Stunning may not be a big enough word to describe this PA. So what’s wrong with it Larry? EV used the same box and same rigging on the X1. This is kinda lame. I get it. It saves EV money, so it saves us money. Cut one box, use one set of rigging. What if I buy both boxes and have some dummy house guy that doesn’t know they are two diff boxes? Suddenly I have this..”Why does that sound like that?” Moment. I think it also cheapens the coolness of the x2.
But hey, what do I know? The only thing that may be cooler than the X2 , is the X12 sub. EV says it’s the most powerful sub they have ever built. Its sorta SICK, and not one note sick either, extremely musical. LOVE the X2 X12 combo.
Adamson: Mick and the boys…No not that Mick, Mick from Adamson came in with a KILLER little combo. The S10 and S119 is small, but KILLER PA. The 119 sub is extremely intense. I love how powerful this package was, loved how far it threw, its rigging was killer. Adamson makes killer PA’s. The high freq in the S10 was super smooth even at shred your ear levels. This was probably the sleeper pa of the day. I don’t think anyone was expecting all of that. In fact I am hard pressed to find a negative with this system. Adamson makes killer PA’s, with legit, well thought turn key packages.
This brings me to…
VUE: I will keep this super short. For me last year VUE owned the shootout. We bought over 100 boxes a few weeks after the shootout last year. There ya go. I’ll let Jay tell you about those boxes.
My top picks (in no order) were VUE, Adamson, RCF, and DAS.
VUE – The AL8 continues to impress all who hear it. The HS28 is just such great ‘all around’ powered sub, its really hard to beat. We have had the VUE rig for just over a year now and when I hear it, I understand why Larry bought so many. It really does just work every day and sounds great. We own over 100 boxes…. that’s a testament to how much we like it.
DAS – Carlos and crew showed very well. The Aero systems really sound good and the subs can hit hard. The rigging is really functional and makes putting the PA in the air fast and efficient. When I hear the DAS, I get a smile on my face. It sounds really good, rigs great, and they are good people. Go listen to it again…blindly if you must, but give it a shot because their sh*t sounds really good. (Mic drops in the background)
Adamson – I really wanted to not like this PA because Larry has a love affair with everything that Adamson does (and only for that reason so I could say…shut up Larry). Unfortunately the PA sounded really good. My long time friend and fellow ‘port’ enthusiast Mick Whelan brought out a very compact system that surprised us all. To say that we had the look of amazement on our face when we heard what was coming out of the little box is an understatement. I started singing O Canada out loud when I heard this system. What can I say…it rocks…period.
RCF – Another brand that still needs to get its due. RCF sounds killer. The rig makes dinner, sops it up with a biscuit, and then does the dishes…oh and it sounds badass too. Rigging is quick; power is high, crystal clear and in your face. I really like the RCF stuff and am very happy that one of our clients (Fremont Street Experience) has updated their stages to RCF. Its fun to mix on every single time. I hear a rumor that new large format is eminent…. standing by
The other players all sounded very good but the above were the ones that put the smile on my face the most.