By Geoff Lissaman

I tried to look at the whole picture, not just “the box”.  I.e. Not just how the box sounded but how fast it went up/down; as turnkey PA, how good was the rest of the package, etc. 

RCF

Overall they left the worst impression of any brand there as it took them a long time (hours vs. minutes) to get their boxes in the air.  They also seemed to be messing around with software updates (which dragged their set up time out even longer) which to me on a “show site” is a huge turn-off.   Thus having mostly lost interest in their boxes before even listening to them, sonically they did nothing to bring my interest back. Both their boxes sounded passable at mid volume levels, both kind of fell apart when pushed to the edge.  The edge, while not in the stupid loud range, seemed loud enough for most uses.  Both boxes however seemed to be rather omni-directional and were very noticeably louder behind the rig then any other brands tested.  

DAS

They actually did a decent job of increasing my interest in their product.  They had put some effort into the packaging and the rig did not sound bad.  Being ex-Harman, to me it sounded “old school” in that I was reminded of early factory Vertec tunings.  Passable, but not all it can be. Overall, they kind of just left me with a budget big PA feel but one or two steps behind other players there.  In the end, no matter how good a car the new Hyundai Mercedes clone actually is I’d still by a used Merc and I now have the same feeling about this DAS PA.  I’m sure it drives fine, but if I were shopping on a budget I think I’d go looking for a used 4889 or VDOSC rig first.

EV

Great package, great (and skilled) people sent for demo, 10-year-old box.  A totally dialed-in old box, however and while it showed its age at times, it certainly did not embarrass itself.  The EV package was the first up, tuned very quickly, had the best cases etc. and after 10 years of tweaks and upgrades was as, or more dialed-in than anything else there.  The PA itself sounded fine but other (newer) systems outdid them sonically in most if not all “categories” I was listening for.  End result is to me, EV won everything but the shootout itself as newer PAs pushed passed in SPL, Tone, Clarity, etc.

EAW

While not as polished a package as other PAs there, the 740 rig sonically did great and became the standard that others were judged against.  Two systems I thought were a touch smoother at mid SPL levels, one when the gas was pushed to the floor.  730s however sounded barky at any volume and was surprised at how different the voicing of the two boxes actually was.  I liked the 740, I did not like the 730.  The EAW subs ate everything else in room.  Biggest downside to the EAW rig was they seem to have given up on it.  As good as it sounded they did not miss a chance to plug their new flagship, Anya, and left me wondering why I was bothering to listen to 740s.  EAW did greatly benefit from having the only factory guy on site who did not seem afraid of a mic or thrown off by the delay from standing in front of a big PA at the other end of a big empty room.

Turbosound

Why are they not blue?  Flashline was certainly the loudest PA tested but I’m not a fan of the tuning or the subs.  It was a nice package however and the mids and upper mids sounded very musical. I’d like to hear it again once they have the “American” presets dialed in. Overall I got the impression that it was a new, but very solid foundation, just a bit out of control.  Flexline sounded a bit more dialed-in but also left me thinking there is much more potential there.  They need to be blue.

VUE

No package at all to speak of. Amps showed up in cardboard boxes.  I asked why they did not have a case for them and was told that they just arrived.  I, of course, responded with “and you did not know they were coming?”.  The boxes had cases but of the cheap, melt-in-the-truck variety so nothing turnkey about the package and next to EVs world of well-thought-out and bullet-proof R&R racks, VUE was almost laughable.  Software was functional but feature set and UI were very early rev’s and I think “ruff” is a good word.  

The (EX) Driverack product manager in me was crying inside when I asked about grouping etc. and things like the cheap Netgear switch home-running each amp was sad (data in but no through to daisy chain on amps).  Packaging, or total lack thereof aside, this was my favorite sounding box and both the 4 and the 8 had the same voicing.  As much as I think VUE wanted the 8 to be able to hold it’s own vs. the bigger arrays there it did not come close in SPL and all but jumped out of the air and ran back to the truck when pushed hard.  VUE openly admitted this was the first time they’d heard this many of their boxes together so I think the tuning will continue to get better but certainly a very solid start.  

I don’t think the 8 or 4 will ever do a room this size no matter how many you put up, but in the right situation I think both will be excellent.  Love to see a bigger box from them with the same voicing and a much better thought-out and put-together package.  Software was functional but not even in the same game as what is being offered from many others on so many levels.  In a world were PAs like MLA and Anya are getting smarter and smarter … VUE had a great sounding little box. 

So winners to my ears:

Loudest before totally falling apart sonically: 

1)Turbo Flashline

2) EAW 740

Best Sub:

1) EAW SB2000 

2) VUE (might have shined even more, but was dialed down to not overpower tops)

Best Sounding at “comfortable” mix volume

1) VUE

2) XLC/Flashline/740 all very close.  XLC the most balanced tuning.  Flashline the smoothest mids/highs.  740 not as polished as XLC or as smooth up top as Flashline but an energy and dynamic range that really stood out.

Best Turnkey Package:

1) EV

2) Turbo

Freelance mix/system engineer and production manager Geoff Lissaman is at home navigating the politics of both “the show” and corporate audio giants. In addition to gig ranging from rock to country to lucha libre he was a “the dbx guy” at Harman for the touring industry for more than a decade.

Shootout At the Speaker Corral

 

Jimmy Jam’s Good bad and Ugly

 

The Devil’s GBU

 

DaveTennant’s Subbage GBU

 

Larry’s GBU

 

The Final Word. What Did i Buy?