By James Elizondo
All right, so here’s my 2 cents worth. As Larry has stated, I would be the one tasked with using whatever PA we would choose to buy. All of the other guys have given great and appropriate reviews so I will try not to duplicate what any one of them have said.
First off I will start buy saying that there was not one system there that I believe COULD NOT be used. everything that everyone brought was great in it’s own right. That being said I’ll start left to right and go down the list.
RCF TT33 W/TT56 Subs
I’ve had the opportunity to fly the RCF PA’s on a few occasions and have yet to be impressed with how they go up. The rigging tolerances are so tight that I have found it extremely hard to get the next set of boxes on when flying off of a cart. But nonetheless, the PA goes up in the air and once up looks nice. And we all know how important looks are.
I will agree with everyone else in that the PA is very loud behind it. No the most desirable trait to have for the sake of you monitor engineers. I did not find that the PA was the best at moderate levels but once you poured the coals to it I feel it really opened up and that was where is had its best showing.
The RDNET software is easy enough to use and very functional.
The TT56 sub is a beast great tone and impact but I would like to see it be about 3 dB louder. They seem to get just loud enough and that’s it. The onboard switches on the amp module are useful to set your rig up and get it dialed in for your particular situation.
The biggest drawback that I see is the lack of digital input in to speaker. In this day and age I find it hard to believe that a PA that is being marketed at that high of a caliber would be missing such an important feature.
End comments: slightly difficult to rig, very loud behind the PA, good software, If you need a loud little PA this one will do, could use a digital input
RCF TT55 W/TT56 sub
Not much different to say on this front. The systems are voiced very similar and the TT55 just seemed to be a bigger and louder version. The 55 is tied for my favorite large format box at the show. If RCF could figure out a way to make it quieter behind the rig it would’ve been my favorite. Also worth a mention that it was the smallest ‘large format’ box there and came in number 2 in the dB drags.
End comments: Again slightly difficult rigging, very loud behind the rig, good software, serious SPL from a small package, could use a digital input
DAS Aero 12 W/LX218 Sub:
This one was down near the bottom for me as far as sound quality. But in its defense it is a very affordable system and with a good set of ears it can be tuned to do what you need. In classic DAS fashion it is very easy to fly. For what it is it gets loud enough but the on board limiting is very harsh.
From a systems perspective, I like the limiting to be as transparent as possible. You know, work without letting me know they are there. This was not the case for the Aero 12. The LX218 sub also leaves a bit to be desired for me. It’s loud but I think that the added volume comes from the fact that sub plays up very high in the frequency range. I will hand DAS this, their cardioid setup did offer the best rear rejection out of everyone there.
End Comments: easy to fly, doesn’t require control software, great bang for the buck PA
DAS Aero 50 W/LX218 sub:
By far the biggest box there. Sounds great, DAS has continued to improve on the Aero 48 which on my opinion is a fantastic PA. Again at heavy SPL, the limiters are very aggressive. Software is easy to use in the fact that they use rebranded XTA controllers. Amp rack are very well thought out using rebranded MC2 amps.
End Comments: Very easy to fly, well known software, good packaging. All around a great PA. would’ve like to see it get a little louder before the limiters stifle it.
EV XLC W/Xsub
EV far and away sent the most polished crew. They had their rig up in minutes and helped unload the trucks full of everyone else’s gear. They were real class act. I was not disappointed in EV at all. there rig was very straight forward, flew out easy, got reasonably loud, the subs were nice, the software was nice and worked very well, the amps and the network interface was great. All around a very nice package.
EV has done very well over the last several years to make this rig grow with the times and still remain very user-friendly. I really don’t have much else to say about EV. Their rig was kinda under the radar. It went up, did it’s thing, and came down.
End Comments: very streamlined packaging, extremely easy to fly, good software, all around great product.
EAW KF740 W/SB2001
On this one I may be a little biased because it has been my rig for the last two years. Hands down my favorite PA and sub combo at the event. It travels well, flies with relative ease, the EAW Powercubes have power and headroom for days, the UNET network with the UX8800’s is very powerful and makes drive a breeze, EAW Resolution and Pilot software are very intuitive.
The SB2001’s were most definitely the class of the field when it came to subs and the KF740 was up around 3rd in the dB drags. The limiting is very transparent, when they start to come on they work without letting you know that they’re there. It’s a very small box for the amount of output that you get. The listening distance function that is available in Pilot allows you to contour the HF in the PA without having to go to the amp channels to try and shade it. I feel that it sounds equally as good at moderate levels as it does with the pedal all the way down.
End Comments: Small and powerful, easy transport, easy rigging, awesome power to weight ratio, network and software is intuitive but takes time to set up.
EAW KF730 W/SB2001
Nearly all of the attributes of the 740 carry down to the 730 except the voicing. All of the software is the same, rigging is the same, the rig still utilizes the Powercubes for amplification, but I will concede that the rig left some to be desired sonically. it was very boxy sounding. Although as with every other rig I think it was capable of holding its own in the venue.
End Comments: Small with acceptable output, easy rigging, powerful Resolution and Pilot software, Network and software is very powerful but takes time to setup.
VUE al8 W/HS28 sub:
As with most of the other reviews the VUE was definitely the best sounding at moderate levels. But for me, I never have to tech a show at moderate levels. The vast majority of our shows have the PA at full tilt boogie all night long. For this reason I wouldn’t score the al8 too high. I would rather sacrifice a little tone and have something with more bawlz. I can, for the most part, fix tone with an EQ. And not to beat a dead horse, the software was beta at best and didn’t seem to offer as much control as I would like. That being said they are also the newcomer and most of the stuff is untried. I was not impressed with the rig at all when we gave it the gas. When it comes to the sub it was very nice, warm, and round sounding. One of my favs in the bunch
End Comments: rigging was fairly easy, amazing tone at low levels, great sub, marginal software, does possess a bright future.
VUE al4 W/HS28 sub:
The same would go for the sub here so no reason to waste characters in the email!!. The VUE al4 was great. voice as close to identical as possible with the al8. I was blown away by this box. The output for its size was phenomenal. Who cares about rigging? The box was 15 pounds! Same woes with software. But For me this box may have been the surprise showing.
End Comments: Simply amazing, great sub, marginal software, if you have to do small corporate work this is THE box.
Turbosound Flexarray W/TFS900 Sub:
I’ve used this rig many times and have not often been disappointed in it. It’s small, so my output expectation was not high. That being said I was very impressed with it’s output. It’s not hard to rig, like most other brands it uses EASE 2 for aiming. The Sub is very One Note. Not impressed at all with the tone, but output, my lawd. I think the back wall of the arena is about 10 feet further back than before. As for control software, there is nothing sexier than Lake. And the packaging and travel was second to none out there.
End Comments: Very easy to use and flexible (hence the name), Industry standard software with Lake, sub has some tone challenges but all together not a bad package, packing and travel were the top of the heap.
Turbosound Flashline W/TFS900 Sub:
Again here, same goes with the sub. The Flashline however was the only 4-way top box there but that didn’t really matter so much to me. When it comes to raw SPL I have never stood in front of a louder PA than Flashline EVER!!!!!! It’s low and low mid sections are very run of mill, nothing super impressive there. But the HF was something to behold. The 3 1-inch drivers in the dendritic horn were a thing of beauty. Everyone else could learn a thing or two from Turbo on this one. The rig transports and flies very easily with only a couple of people. And damn it’s loud.
End Comments: Sub leaves some to be desired in tone but is loud as all get out, rig flys and transports well, software is second to none with the Lake interface. and all of the packaging down to the amp racks is very, very polished.
In the end you’ll see from me that all the rigs are passable and can be worked with. I am a very big fan of high SPL. It’s is a big struggle for me at a gig when the PA is not loud enough and I’m having to slap fingers all day to turn it down. For the most part you can make any modern PA sound the way that you want it to. Give me decent tone and big bawlz and I’m good to go.
Although I will take any PA and make it work to meet my needs if you need me to pick a winner then here it is. The KF740 is my hands down winner. And as I’ve mentioned the SB2001 was the class of the field. The 740 is an complete animal. Still my first choice of PA any day of the week.
James Elizondo is the lead mix/systems engineer and project manager for HAS Productions in Las Vegas, NV. He is also an intrepid gear reviewer for SPLNetwork.com and Live2PlayWorship.com, a die-hard motorhead, the father of three and the head of audio at the 4000+ member International Church of Las Vegas.