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Loudspeaker types

Paul C

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Looking for some basic advice and most posts I've read are a bit too specific.

Last night at 'dress' for local Village Christmas Show I blew my speakers. Have organised loans for the show but need to start looking for replacements. We only do one or two shows a year and no official budget. Sound is mixture of music backing for song/dance and lots of sound effects. So far we haven't had to mike anyone so all sound is 'known'. I use Multiplay into USB external sound unit and now a Sony TA-VE910 AV amp that gives 150+150 dynamic into 8ohms and 220+220 into 4ohms - I think the upgrade from Teac 30+30 was too much for the Wharfdale Glendale kits my Dad made in early 70's!!

So I'll be scouring EBay looking for speakers close to home (Taunton) to avoid shipping but should I be looking for 'hifi' speakers which I know a bit about (from the old days) or 'disco/PA' speakers which I know nothing about.

Hall seats 64 if full, 16ft wide by about 48ft long and speakers are on steel brackets on side walls front of stage about 6'6" higher than stage which is 2' high so top almost up to new suspended ceiling.

Any suggestions gratefully received

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To be fair, you can't really use the old hi-fi v disco/PA distinction any longer - things have changed. Back in the seventies, loudspeakers with extended high frequency responses were damn tricky things to make and 'hi-fi' wanted treble = the sizzly bits at the top madam, just listen how clear those cymbals come across. The alternative was the new disco craze where volume was the key. They too wanted treble, but then this meant horrible piezo tweeters that could manage the frequencies but were as subtle as a buzz saw!


Things changed again with the advent of more contemporary 'dance' music in the 80s with synth bass that CD could handle, but records (aka vinyl to those younger members) couldn't. People started making compression drivers with horns and quality took a big jump.


Now we have some pro audio speakers that to the hi-fi fan of the 70s would sound excellent - AND they can handle enormous amounts of power, volume wise. Home hi-fi has split into 'normal' and 'audiophile' (or audiophool) as we sometimes term them on here - who have golden ears and can hear a cricket chirp in the middle of the 1812!


If you need loudspeakers now, the real decision is volume required and how much bass do you need? Cheap rubbish disco stuff still survives, you hear them at wedding receptions all the time - and they still have piezo tweeters! However, move up a bit in price and they start to sound quite er, hi-fi - in terms of quality and pleasantness of reproduction.


The current trend seems to be powered loudspeakers - just feed line level audio and mains into them and they work. However, most also have a traditional separate amp version too. If you want deeper bass, add a dedicated bass cabinet. I suspect the best advice for you would be to find a dealer who has a few different systems in stock of the PA kind, and take with you a CD you know well, and ask them to play it. Some you will hate, some you will like. Buy the ones that sound best. You could buy a pair of hi-fi speakers. No real problem with that, BUT they will be designed to use the room to help their sound - many use the rear wall to help the bass response. Quite a bit of your outlay is on what they look like. They're very often designed with rather un-flat frequency responses to massage the music a little. This won't help feedback in a live situation very much - and finally, hi-fi speakers are just not tough enough to survive idiots unplugging microphones and generating a huge BANG through the system. Our products take it better.

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