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Which direction to go with PA?


Here's the deal....I have what I would call very small club PA which was mainly used for acoustic gigs. The PA consists of a Mackie CFX16, 2-C300 Mackie passive 12" speakers, a mackie 1400i amp, (4) Yamaha club series monitors, stands, all the necessary mics & cables. I have played in an original band for years and the clubs that host original music typically provide sound systems. I am now starting a cover band and in that scene bands are usually required to provide sound reinforcement. Since I have most of a PA assembled I would rather finish it off instead of paying a sound guy a few hundred a show. I understand the hassel involved because I've done it before but I also know I'll get a return on my investment in 5 to 10 gigs.
My question is whether the Mackie 300's will suffice as mains assuming I power them with a good amp and then add an active sub or two? I can't help but look at those little things and wonder if they will put out enough sound for one of the larger clubs/bars that may hold a two or three hundred people? I've heard that if you are using subs then the mains are really supposed to be providing are the mids and highs, however, I'm not a live sound engineer so I'm questioning this setup. I do know the Mackie active subs and some others allow you to run the full range into the but then have high pass outs to the mains.
The other option is to spend that money on some good mains that are strong enough to provide the necessary low end. They would have to be since I wouldn't be able to afford new mains and new subs. If I go this route I'm thinking about some good active speakers like the QSC's, JBL PRX's or Mackie actives just so I'm jacking with more amps.
So what do you exprienced live sound guys think? Keep in mind the band will be a four piece playing rock. I want good sound quality with clear vocals but still want some low end. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
August 24, 2008 @04:21am
Dave Burris

Personally, I'm a JBL fan but not of their low-end series. The SRX and VRX series is where I would look.
August 24, 2008 @01:40pm

dittos on the JBL srx esp. duel 15" with 4" drivers . . buy an amp with power to spare . . bobby
August 24, 2008 @02:55pm

Unfortunately those speakers would more than blow my budget....especially once the power amp is factored in.
By the way, the Mackie 300's I have are the first generation which I think were only rated at 300 watts, not 600 like the new ones. I have $2,000 to work with so I need to stay in that budget. So the question is do i spend $2000 on good mains not use a sub or will my Mackie 300i's be sufficient to handle the mids/highs if I get a good sub?
August 24, 2008 @03:41pm

Are they just a little better than the JRX?
Also, I assume dual 15" JBL Cabs would not work well with a sub...right?
August 24, 2008 @04:20pm

I think that no matter how you cut it the SRX and MRX's will blow the budget once I factor in another amp to power them (and probably without the amp!). I'm all about quality stuff but I have budget limitations I'm dealing with. I would assume if I got the dual 15" then I probably don't need a sub, and JBL does have the JRX's which are affordable....I just don't know how good they sound. Anybody have any feedback on the JRX dual 15" speakers? I'm always weary of entry level stuff. I had a phase of just buying what was affordable only to learn you get what you pay for.
I'm still curious if anybody has any feedback on whether these 300 watt Mackie 300i's can do the job if I get one 18" sub like the Mackie or QSC and if a system like that can be made to sound good. I'm thinking that if I pass the high frequencies through the sub to the Mackies so that they aren't trying to handle any real low end they would be more efficient and could handle the mids and highs acceptably well in the typical cover band type venue (think sports bar).
Any opinions?
August 24, 2008 @07:06pm

Just because your old 300's are rated at 300w and the new versions are rated at 600w, doesn't mean that one is louder than the other. You need to look at their max SPL dB.
I'd look at Yorkville if you want bang for the buck as well as performance and a really great warranty.
August 24, 2008 @09:22pm

Thanks Corey. I know Yorkvilles are kind of a well kept secret. My old bass player from the band I just left had a small club PA and he had Yorkville mains. They were light weight and sounded good. I'll keep those in mind. Wish they had those at Guitar center. Guess I have to look for a distributer around the DFW area.
August 24, 2008 @10:52pm

I don't see why you can't get it done with the 300's and some subs. It may not be ideal, but in 300 (or less) seat venues it could work. You will want to get a crossover and set it up so the bass bins take all the low end off the 300's. One of our sales guys could help you sort out all the details.
August 25, 2008 @12:26pm

Don't a lot of the newer active subs have high pass outs that essentially works as a crossover? (full range signal into sub then high pass out to amp then speakers) Seems like a sub with this feature would negate the need for a crossover.
August 26, 2008 @12:28am

Yes, however, the crossover point is usually set at a fixed frequency. You can get adjustable frequency crossovers in subs, but then you're looking at RCF, db Technologies, etc.
An active external crossover gives you the flexibility to change the crossover point to suit the music program, size of space, etc.
August 26, 2008 @12:45am

Got it. I appreciate all the great advice. I'll leave you guys alone now and go figure this thing out. Just to confuse myself further I just found a pair of the QSC 15" three ways on craigslist in my hometown for $1,990. Assuming I can get them for $1,800 or so I might just do that. I read nothing but good reviews about the QSC speakers (all of them). Seems like a pair of these babies could handle my needs for now.
Thanks again for the help.
August 26, 2008 @11:50am