#1
So I'm transitioning into using my amp sim more than the actual guitar amp (XXX212) so I am looking for a powered PA speaker but I don't know anything about them.

The prices seem to vary all over the place and from what I've been told, there isn't much less than $300 worth buying so what is everyone's opinions on PA speakers in the $3-600 range for small band playing? Is that the right price range for something decent?

The portability of a PA speaker vs. the 212 is a big plus to me. That thing is heavy.
#2
There's a huge variance in weights and prices for a basic powered speaker with a 12" woofer (for example). There's also a large variance in the way that wattage is portrayed (RMS/program/peak). 400W RMS / 800W program / 1600W peak are often the same internal amplification, but marketing will often pick the higher number to position their product against the competition.

A Carvin PM12A has a 400W RMS amplifier built in, weighs just under 30 lbs, has a "mini-mixer" on the back for direct-in instruments or vocal mike, and costs $319. A version with a 15" woofer (PM15A) is just $20 more and weighs about 8 lbs more (38 lbs).

http://carvinaudio.com/collections/pm-series-active-passive-lightweight-molded-speakers/products/pm12a-molded-2-way-12-inch-powered-loudspeaker-monitor

A nominally similar MeyerSound setup will be seriously more expensive and definitely heavier. 77 lbs, 550W RMS, 12" woofer, etc., will run you nearly $3000 on the *used* market. Good stuff if you've got the bucks.
Last edited by dspellman at Aug 28, 2016,
#3
We've been using a pair of Peavey powered speakers for our PA for about the past 6 months or so, they work really well. The only problem we had was the first time we tried to use them, way too much bass, sounded like we were trying to be a rap band...found out we had to set the Graphic EQ on back of the speakers flat, (everything in the middle) the EQ was already set at the PA board. After that they work great, sound very good. Also pulling the power amp out of the PA rack made it a lot less weight to lug around.

For guitar I don't know, but we've used them for monitors as well, when the venue provided the PA, (their main speakers powered too) and those worked great as well. Different brands, their entire PA except with our board, so we didn't have to fiddle with their EQ settings, already had it set for our band. In both cases we have been very pleased with the sound and performance of the powered speakers. The powered Peavey set is also about the same weight as the non powered older ones we were using.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#4
We love those things. I tend to like these major brands listed and have not had as good luck with Peavey or Behringer.

Carvins are pretty good at an attractive price point with max SPL about 124db. We use these with my car club as an announcement PA. $319+ shipping

EV ZLX12p is a little smoother hifi sounding, a little louder (126db) and a little more $$. We use these as monitor wedges. $399

JBL Eon 612 (126db) is very close to the ZLX12P in terms of sound, weight and price. $429

EV ELX 112p is totally pro with the best response and damn loud (132db) $599

QSC K12 (131db) great powered speakers, a little heavier, big $$$ at $799

How important is smooth natural hifi sound? How much do you want to spend? How loud do you need to go? When shopping, ignore useless specs like output watts, and pay attention to max rated SPL, weight, and frequency response curves.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Aug 28, 2016,
#5
I'm thinking of doing the same thing, using a powered PA speaker instead of the guitar amp. Only I don't have a 4x12. I have a 1x8 and instead of buying a bigger one, I'm hoping to use an amp sim and a powered PA speaker that will let me also have vocals on another channel with a little mini mixer.

At the moment, I'm using a Tech 21 Character series "Liverpool" SansAmp pedal. I understand Tech 21 claims it facilitates plugging a guitar (or bass) directly into a PA in lieu of micing an amp cabinet. That is why they call it "sans amp." I assume the OP is using a similar amp sim.

First, I would like to understand more about what the amp sim actually does. I understand a guitar amp generally doesn't have a tweeter. So perhaps the biggest difference between a guitar amp and cabinet or combo and a PA speaker is the PA speaker is primarily a lot more responsive to and reinforces the higher frequency harmonics. Secondarily, the guitar amp typically features a preamp that is more compressive and options to overdrive a tube and distort the signal, or simulate such an effect. The Character pedals also address this aspect with features claimed to effectively simulate specific popular guitar amps and their range of tones.

Pedals have contended in the market for a long time now to offer the tone and effects guitarist seek after. More recently, digital modeling has promised to offer an even wider variety of more accurate simulations. In this respect, the SansAmp Character Series doesn't really offer anything novel. The Character features may mean that a guitarist won't need another overdrive, crunch or fuzz pedal, but that's the same promise of the fifth, seventh, and ninth pedal on every guitarist's board.

So what is possibly unique about the SansAmp pedals is the feature that allows one to use a PA in lieu of an guitar amp. But is there really any more to that than just a high-cut or low-pass filter to block harmonics going into the tweeter?

If my guitar tone is coming pre-distorted and all fx'ed up from a multi-fx or pedal board into what is essentially a clean-amp setting, do I really get anything from the SansAmp other than the high-cut effect to tame harmonics that a guitar cabinet wouldn't respond to as much as a 2-way PA speaker?

Considering that the amp sims are intended to replace a mic'd amp cabinet, we'll assume the output signal is similar to that which the microphone and preamp on its channel would send to the mix. A general FoH PA would reproduce this signal according to its design which is going to vary with a wide variety of factors, but focusing on just a single speaker used as a monitor we could consider how this would differ from a guitar cabinet on stage.

The placement of the monitor would matter a great deal to what the guitarist and others hear. A sealed enclosure 2-way PA speaker is usually a lot more directive than an open-back guitar cabinet. Assuming we're talking relatively inexpensive (sub $1000, probably sub $500) PA speakers, it will probably have a 12" woofer and a horn-loaded tweeter crossed over around 1.8 to 2kHz. I believe 12" woofers start becoming fairly directive (beamed) above 1200Hz, and 15" at an even lower frequency. This dispersion characteristic is one of the reasons for 3-way speakers, because they maintain wide coverage in the midrange while still being highly sensitive and therefore efficient. It's also possible with more expensive speakers with more capable tweeters to have lower crossover frequencies.

It may be that directivity in a stage monitor compared to an open-backed guitar cabinet is a good thing, but maybe not if the PA speaker is also intended to cover the audience in lieu of additional FoH speakers. This is actually how I want to use it myself -- as a personal PA. I don't need a full-on FoH PA, but I'm reluctant to combine vocals on a guitar cabinet. As a personal PA, a wide dispersion pattern could be valuable. Most powered monitors and low-end PA speakers don't have that. They're narrow.

It may be that a 10" PA speaker is better for guitar monitoring than a 12". It might not be intuitive since we usually go to 12" speakers in guitar cabinets. I think the justification for the popularity of 12" for guitar is because of the bass response. Keep in mind however that that bass response is due to the greater efficiency of the 12" at low frequencies. Sensitivity in guitar speakers is critical. That's how those 30W amps get so loud. But a 10" PA speaker can do bass just as well if you drive it with a lot more power, which is what PA speakers typically handle. Many inexpensive bi-amped speakers have LF amps rated for 350W continuous. They will produce plenty of bass.

If we conclude the 10" PA speaker won't be lacking bass response, we can recognize their potential advantage over a 12" PA speaker in horizontal coverage. They're likely to be as much as 10 degrees wider. Remember the 12" guitar speakers come in a cabinet that is totally different than a 12" PA speaker. Also bear in mind this is with the speaker upright. Laying it down as a floor wedge means you probably end up with only 60 degrees horizontal coverage. Again, this could be fine if you just need a monitor and you stand still. If you move away from the axis of your monitor, it will fade fast. If you're hoping to use it as a single source for a small gig, you'll want it upright.

I don't mean to over emphasize the dispersion characteristics. I'm just trying to think this through. I've been using my SansAmp Character pedal with my PA and can tell you that the result certainly depends on the PA's frequency response.

At the moment I have 15" two-ways, and two 2x18" subs, with like 2000W. This is just what I happen to have, it is not something I designed. With the subs on, the guitar just thunders. It's just a gee-whiz thing. Playing on a 15" two-way alone is ok. RTA shows what you might expect -- the speaker is deficient in mid-range. It dips from 250Hz up to the crossover frequency. Another way of thinking about this is the bass is too heavy below 250Hz. On the 15" two-way, bass probably needs to be cut from 60Hz to 250Hz. Maybe another, better brand will be flatter, but flat is a tall order for a 15" woofer and a 1" tweeter.

Needless to say, that midbass and midrange is where guitar happens. We have to assume a processor intended to send a signal from a guitar pickup into a PA speaker and simulate a guitar amp, is going to simulate the guitar amp's speakers. But it will have to produce its result based on some kind of assumption about what the PA speaker's response curve is like. While they might assume you're working with a "typical" PA speaker, and provide some EQ control to adjust for small differences, I would think the farther from flat our PA speaker is, the harder it is going to be to get it right. Considering that amp sims are also intended for recording, I don't think they're going to tailor the response for anything far from flat.

I've only considered a couple of points, but I think the conclusion is to consider a 10" two-way, or if going 12" or 15", consider a 3-way. The bass response from 12" and 15" PA speakers could result in boomy guitar tone you'll have to tame with EQ. The directivity of powered monitors is also something to consider based on your intended use.
Last edited by colabnoti at Aug 29, 2016,
#6
colabnoti

You're overthinking.
Last edited by dspellman at Aug 29, 2016,
#7
Quote by colabnoti
If my guitar tone is coming pre-distorted and all fx'ed up from a multi-fx or pedal board into what is essentially a clean-amp setting, do I really get anything from the SansAmp other than the high-cut effect to tame harmonics that a guitar cabinet wouldn't respond to as much as a 2-way PA speaker?

A good modeller also models the speaker cab. Newer stuff like the AxeFX, Helix, Amplifire, etc allow you to load in cab impulses from third party sources. There's more to it than simply eq'ing the signal, I don't know what Sansamp does. Google "Impulse responses."
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#8
My point was that a great deal of modeling is independent of the equipment used for output. There's tons of modeling options out there from cheap digital practice amps to high-end rack processors. VOX sells an amplug that "models" or simulates an AC30 in your headphones. My Fender Mustang has a model for a '59 Bassman in the 1x8 combo. Modeling or simulating is processing a signal to make it similar to the signal that would have come from another source that has some desirable quality that we want to emulate. But in order for the final output to achieve the desired results, the shape of the signal has to take into consideration the output device.

If the output is simply tracks on a DAW, we can't hear them. Will they come out some studio monitors? or the speakers on my smartphone? The result of the models on my Mustang 1 are limited by the 1x8 output. They might sound better with another cabinet, but they could also be tailored specifically for the 1x8.

I have an acoustic simulator pedal. I plugged a strat into it and fed the signal to my PA. It was incredibly tinny. The acoustic sim was intended to be plugged into a guitar amp, so it over-emphasizes the treble frequencies in anticipation of the cabinets relatively weak response. On a flatter PA, it sounds harsh.

So beyond modeling the preamps, power amps, speakers and cabinets, how is the signal processed in anticipation of the output device? Does the processing take into consideration that I might have subs that are less than -3dB all the way down to 20Hz? and monitors that are flat out to 24kHz? Are the sims tailored for recording tracks or are they practical for typical 2-way PA speakers? You can't send the same signal to both and say they both sound just like a good model of an AC30.
Last edited by colabnoti at Aug 29, 2016,
#9
FRFR is FRFR
You are definitely ovethinking it.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#10
Quote by dspellman
colabnoti

You're overthinking.



^^^ Way way way overthinking this.
Take your favorite track from your favorite band and play it through good quality headphones or stereo reference speakers. Now run that same track through your guitar amp. Which one do you like better? A good powered wedge will sound much closer to the headphones (accurate reproduction). DMFX are designed to work best through a powered wedge, not a guitar amp. Trust your ears.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY