After spending three days with the crews and the boxes from these six companies, here are my impressions. I call it The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

By Larry Hall

You can find the same run down with some very different impressions from Dave Tennant, Geoff Lissaman, James Elizondo and Brad Bryan by clicking on the links below.

RCF

Products:

TT36

TT55

TT56

THE GOOD

Extreme SPL for their size/Weight. In fact, the TT55 was physically the smallest of the large format, and was in second place for SPL.

The TT36 took its “weight class” of Small to Mid size Line array for SPL as well.

Both systems had good overall tone, and fairly even coverage.  

They sounded average at 95 DB (our demo limit), but REALLY stepped up when we went to the SPL “dB Drag Race” portion of the demo. Lots of power, lots of head room. I would guess, these may be one of the best powered line arrays on the market. Sorry Meyer, but the RCF don’t really run out of gas when you push ‘em.

That sub. Just wow. The cardioid rear rejection was nothing special, but the forward SPL was very special.

THE BAD

At higher levels of SPL I found both box’s mid and low-mid seemed to be in a disagreement, Something in the “rock guitar” range was garbling the mids up. On a kind of good note, that frequency issue was consistent throughout the venue. Both boxes seemed to have it. This was barley noticeable, I had to point it out to Dave Tennant, and you did kinda need to “bend” your ear to hear it.  

The High Freq has a very average sound and gets a little “brittle” on the higher SPL

THE UGLY 

This PA rigs slow. I have worked with it four times now over the last couple years, and no matter how hard you try, it’s just slow. In RCF’s defense, I don’t think they have a legit demo rig. They rent back from RCF buyers to do these demos, so sometimes they don’t get the best prepped gear. But hey, they do give a little back to their rental partners… So that doesn’t suck.

On a personal note, I don’t like the In/Out on one side and the Powercon on the other side. No real way to keep it neat.  

DAS

Products:

Aero12a

Aero50

THE GOOD 

Aero50

Aero 50 was the second fastest to rig. Went up like a dream. Really only Carlos & one helper that had never flown the rig did it in just under 20 min.

The low-mid was very punchy while the mids were very warm, I found the highs a bit harsh in the 4K range.  

System had pretty good coverage overall, but you could find yourself walking and hearing a slight transition from box to box. Not as bad as Adamson Y10 or JBL Vertec on the transition between boxes, but for sure there.

The cardioid sub pattern was by far the best. In fact, we stood behind the DAS subs and had a conversation and only when we walked out front did we realize that the system was firing. So, good for you DAS. Monitor engineers are gonna love you.

THE BAD 

Aero 50

System limiting was WAY POOPY. When the rig hit limit, it was hard and harsh. Also, as good as the sub cardioid was, I found the subs overall to be, well, “Sub par.” Come on! Thats funny. Very week compared to the Aero 50.

THE GOOD 

Aero 12a

Having just hit 10,000 sold, I don’t think DAS really needs to worry about what I think about this box. The sales speak for themselves.But what the hell, I’ll go there anyway. 🙂

Again, rigging, FAST! FAST! FAST! This is what JBL wishes the VRX was. A non-constant-curvature, reasonably priced, 2-way, somewhere between small and mid-size box. Great bang for the buck.

THE BAD 

Aero 12a

Under powered. I will never understand speaker manufacturers that make powered boxes with just enough power to be dangerous but not enough to be effective. DAS could take a lesson from RCF on this. Clip lights for days every time I see this PA.  

HARSH and the low-mids were lacking. I don’t really know that this needs to be explained. Having said that, with enough boxes and an EQ all is well in the world.

THE UGLY 

The Aero 50 is HUGE. Just as its predecessor, the Aero 48, this box looks like a monkey dragging its knuckles on the ground. Look at the picture. This was in an arena! Well, that’s about all that was ugly.  🙂

EV

THE GOOD

EV guys never made any excuses or offered any stories about why their PA was or wasn’t performing well. There is no crying in baseball or in MY SPEAKER SHOOTOUTS. The EV guys let their PA do ALL of the talking for them. It was a pleasant change.

They hung it in 14 freaking minutes, helped unload three trucks of competitors’ gear, and loaned one competitor some speaker cable.  

PA was great! Sounded good, coverage was good, though it also had just a little of that box to box thing DAS had going on as well, just a little bit.

Very vocal-friendly and easy on the ears — even loud.

THE BAD

Not as loud as I hoped. Though average SPL for a mid size PA, I would say it was on the lower side of that “average” 

Bad 2: It’s old. Like 2004 old. Although EV has updated the drivers two or three times and updates the amps, I am afraid the perception is still “old”

THE UGLY 

Ground stack kit. WTF EV? Are you kidding me? I wont even talk about this. I will simply say we have a rule in our shop. The first one who bleeds buys lunch. There was so much blood from so many, I could eat for free for a year. LAME. I think it’s time to update the ground stack kit guys.

VUE

THE GOOD

If its all about sound and coverage, on a scale of 1-10, VUE is a 14…Roughly. 

Most people who came in to the demo where amused by the size, especially the al-4. When those rigs came up jaws dropped. The al-4s have the sound and almost the output of several two-way double-8 boxes on the market. I said it at the shoot out and I’ll say it again. I am getting David Copperfield to come over and help me locate the other 2 drivers in that box. No way what we ALL heard was real.

The al-8 was impressive, however a little closer to what you would expect from a small/med 3-way box. Coverage was as close to perfect as one could ask. Rigging looked easy, more on the rigging in the ugly, LOL.

The Subwoofer model? Came in a tight second place to EAWs SB2001 as far as tone and overall SPL. But for its size, it was a hands-down winner.  

THE BAD

As good as both systems where, they where not quite loud enough. Now, in VUEs defense, a couple points need to be made here.

1) We were in a 6500 seat arena. They had 16 of each model flown. They hit every seat they where focused on, even the nose-bleed seats. Just not loud enough. I heard a couple people faulting VUE for this at the event, and this is what I am thinking, you let me know if you agree. If we brought 16 K1 boxes into a room that needed 32-48, and pushed those 16 hard, is it not safe to assume that even the mighty K1 that seems to poop roses would falter as well? I think, Yes. Hmmm? No lightning striking me down? 

2)  VUE WAS the smallest systems in the shoot out. No one else had anything anywhere near as small as the al-4, and even the next closest 3-way box was bigger than the al-8.

THE UGLY

Watching Ken Berger, and Jeff Taylor rig the system. No really, it was pretty cute. Sorry guys, but it’s true. I wish I had video…  🙂 

When we decided to push all the systems to their max output, we let the manufactures decide when enough was enough. VUE & DAS should have quit about 3-4 dB sooner than they did.

EAW KF740

THE GOOD

Well I already own a good-sized rig. So I already like it a lot. This system was not capable of really fitting into a category. Much like the VUE al-4, the size and its abilities dictate two different things.  

 At 105 pounds, the 740 SCREAMS mid-sized box. But in the large-format SPL contest it came in at four out of four, but by ONE dB! So what say you? Is it an exceptional mid-sized box, or a light-duty full size box? 

Well… We ran it in both categories.  As a result, it was far and away the loudest “mid” size system, and fell short by a single dB for being tied for 3rd in the big PA SPL shoot out.

Coverage was exactly what I asked for, the sound of the system on a scale of 1-10, was an 8. Wasn’t perfect, but it was to my taste.

The SB2001. What can I say? Best investment I have ever made in a sub? OK. Even in the high SPL test, the 8 SB2001s had about 10 dB of head room. I am unaware of anyone else’s subs except Turbosound that could boast that. All of the powered subs where running out of gas for that 30 second high SPL test, SB2001s had way more to give.

THE BAD

Rigging. It took my best guy and Bernie Broderick about 25 minutes to rig. Making them the 3rd slowest. No Ken Berger and Jeff Taylor where not THE slowest.

Takes a lot of UX8800s to really use the 740s at it best. For example, a 16-over-8 package would require seven UX8800s. That’s an expense I found out about after we bought the rig. Yes, you can run a whole rig on one UX, but to get all the cool guy tricks, you need seven.

THE UGLY

Well… what say you, people? I cant really think of anything ugly to tell ya. 

KF730 

HATED IT. I have only heard four at a time before this event, we have used them for downfills and they seem to complement the 740s great in this regard. But as a standalone 16-box hang? Well, there was a lot of 400-1K, and a little of everything else. I think with more EQ time it can be made to sound good, I love the bi amp/3-way 16 Ohm idea, but not this box. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Turbosound

Flashline 

THE GOOD 

Loudest PA I have ever seen or heard… EVER. NO. REALLY. That’s coming from a guy who has been nicknamed LOUD LARRY. I don’t know that I would ever run this PA out of gas.  

Also the High freq? Perfect. Smooth even at insane volume levels. Coverage was on par with VUE and EAW, no strange vibes walking in and out of the boxes like with EV & DAS.

The turnkey packaging was also KILLER, sweet Turbo-badged racks with Turbo-badged Lab PLM 20k’s, flexible and simple I/O, stellar.  

THE BAD

HOLY 200 POUNDS BATMAN! 

The mids could use a little more in the DSP department. Not that they sucked, but they didn’t do anything that turned me on like the high freq.  

The Flashline sub. The good, bad and ugly can be summed up pretty quickly here. The loudest sub ever. The worst sounding sub ever. The biggest sub ever. You pick what’s good, bad and ugly about that. I would rather have a smaller, quieter sub that has better frequency response than just 40hz caving your face in. It reminded me of the Adamson T21, only louder. Again, I think this can be fixed with some DSP love.

Flex Array 

THE GOOD  

I didn’t care too much about this box going in. A buddy here in Vegas, Scott Fisher from The WAVE Sound, has some of these in a powered version, and well…..They make sound.

With that said, the non-powered version (Mr Fisher just switched his over) was pretty sweet sounding, a reasonable amount of SPL, more than the DAS Aero12, less than the RCF TT36 and EAW 730. But well-rounded. Smooth high frequency response.  

THE BAD  

Its a little heavy for a “mid” size box. Just under 100 pounds, compared to its company in the shoot out, I would still expect a little more output vs the weight.

THE UGLY

It’s a pretty sexy package, easy to rig great coverage. No ugly to report here.

Shootout At the Speaker Corral

 

Jimmy Jam’s Good bad and Ugly

 

Geoff Lissaman’s GBU

 

The Devil’s GBU

 

Dave Tennant’s Subbage GBU

 

The Final Word. What Did i Buy?

Originally posted 2013-09-02 07:22:07.