Please help me pick a pair of PA speakers for a music practice room!
October 16, 2012 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Please help me pick a pair of PA speakers for a music practice room!

What I've got to power the speakers:

A 90's-era Crown Com-Tech 800 solid state power amp

What I want to put through the speakers:

- Alesis DM6 compact electronic drumset -- this the "Costco special" available for like $280 right now

- Boss SP-303 Dr. Sample sampler

- Vocals (2 Shure SM57 microphones)

- Laptop soundz


I'll put everything through a Behringer Xenyx 802 8-input mixer and then into the power amp.

The only thing that won't be coming out of the speakers is my guitars.

Mostly this will be for pretty low-volume practice but it would be nice if these speakers would let me play a little show if there's an occasion.

I'd like to spend maybe $200-$300 on the speakers.

Thanks for reading!


Output power rating for the amp, from the manual:

Dual mode (with both channels driven):
490 watts into 4 ohms.
305 watts into 8 ohms.
460 watts with 70 volt output.

Bridge-Mono mode:
975 watts into 8 ohms.
610 watts into 16 ohms.
920 watts in 70 volt mode (140 volt output).

Parallel-Mono mode:
965 watts into 2 ohms.
610 watts into 4 ohms.
915 watts with 70 volt output
posted by The Minotaur to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
Assuming you want new ones, a pair of one of the less expensive unpowered Behringer models maybe? With PA speakers you get what you pay for, and $2-300 a pair is seriously nothing, but those would probably be serviceable for what you plan to use them for.
posted by treblemaker at 11:12 PM on October 16, 2012

With that mixer you could run out directly to some powered speakers without the need for the power amp. In that case you needn't worry about ohms or impedance. I use a behringer mixer like yours and hit active behringer speakers, and have used that at gigs as well. A new pair of actives start about $200 each, but at least you would have an additional shopping possibility if you went that route. I use Eurolive 12" and have been quite happy
posted by l2p at 11:40 PM on October 16, 2012

First, you can ignore the 70-volt power ratings. 70-volt systems are, basically, lots of small low wattage speakers run off the same amp, like ceiling speakers in a store, so not really relevant to what you're gonna use the amp for.

In order to keep your life un-complicated, you should also ignore the bridge-mono and parallel-mono ratings and not use the amp in those modes - especially because for older Crown amps the set-up is a little weird. Running as a standard stereo amp is your best KISS option.

Given what you want to put through it, you'll probably want a speaker with a 15" woofer in it, for better bass response, although a 12" might work.

Seconding treblemaker that $2-300 for a pair of speakers ($100-$150 each) is really really really low - so low that you're kind of in a "beggars can't be choosers" situation. If that's your budget, than Behringer is probably your best bet. Doing a little browsing on the Guitar Center website, everything else in that price range (Gemini, Nady, Phonic, Kustom) is just junk.

If you're able to bump up to $2-300 per speaker ($4-600 for the pair), you have a lot more options, including powered speakers, and I would then look at Mackie, Yamaha, JBL & Peavey, which are IME all brands more reliable (especially long-term) than Behringer.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:01 AM on October 17, 2012

For really cheap PA speakers I've always thought PA systems are a good deal - I've known several people who use carvin PA systems for club dates.

There are two main areas of concern for PA speakers - overall sound quality and bass response. If you want to play dance music through them you will need 12" or 15" drivers - but for vocals and general music listening 10" speakers are fine. In your situation it sounds like you want everything going through the speakers - that is a lot more challenging. Most bands try to only put the vocals through the speakers in order to help them cut through. Putting drums and vocals and synths through the same speakers. . . I agree you might want to put a little bit more money into it as well as step up to larger drivers for the bass drum and bass parts. If you have a guitar center or pro audio store around, buy things there and check them out to see how they will work in real life - but they might not have decent cheap speakers in stock.
posted by ianhattwick at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2012

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the responses. I guess I'll have to increase my budget. I was hoping that because I had the power amp already I could get decent un-powered speakers for less money than the powered kind, but it sounds like that's not the case.

Or maybe I'll just build some cabinets ... but that's an entirely different AskMe question!
posted by The Minotaur at 12:01 AM on October 18, 2012

So what about maybe one of these and one of these? Would that work with my amp?

posted by The Minotaur at 12:11 AM on October 18, 2012

Your amp doesn't have enough power to run these cabinets.

The general rule of thumb is that you want your amp to be at least slightly more powerful than the "program", "RMS", "average", or "constant" power rating of the speakers. (Different companies use different terms.) This ensures that you will get full output out of the speakers without running the amplifier into clip, which is bad for the amp and the speakers.

Example: the PV215 you linked to has a rating of 700 watts program, 1400 watts peak, and is a 4 ohm cab. So you would want an amp that's rated for somewhere between 800 to 2000 watts at 4 ohms.

Selecting another Peavey cab just as an example, you should think more along the lines of two PV115s. Your amp is still "technically" underpowered, but there's enough flex in manufacturers' published specs that you should be OK.

Which brings up another point - I get the appeal of having a sub for extra low end, but in practical terms you should actually go with 2 hi-mid cabinets. You'll get more volume for the important "musical" parts of your music (chords, vocals, melodies) without having to run the amp as hard. You can always buy subs & another amp later, or even rent them if you have a gig where you need more "oomph" in the low end.

I could get decent un-powered speakers for less money than the powered kind, but it sounds like that's not the case.

Well, I mean, you can get decent unpowered speakers for less than the powered kind (the powered version of the PV115 is $299.99, the unpowered is $229.99, for example) - the point was more that $150 per speaker is not really enough for decent speakers period.

Finally, I notice that you provided Amazon links. Maybe that was just the most convenient link you found, but keep in mind that PA speakers aren't particularly light. The PV115 is 52 pounds unpacked, 64 pounds packed for shipping. Keep shipping charges in mind if you're planning on ordering online - these charges can easily offset or even exceed whatever savings on the price of the product you're supposedly getting. Buying from a local store might actually be cheaper. And it's also possible a local store will have some used speakers that you could get for a good price.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:08 AM on October 18, 2012

Really, really helpful -- thanks soundguy99!
posted by The Minotaur at 12:27 PM on October 18, 2012

Follow-up post: I ended up buying a pair of Peavey PV115s gently used on craigslist for $295. Very satisfied. Thanks again everyone!
posted by The Minotaur at 8:14 AM on October 25, 2012

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