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4-piece cover band - PA thoughts


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Hi all,


I play in a 4-piece cover band, consisting of piano, bass, guitar and drums - all four of us sing in some form or another and play an eclectic mix of songs through the decades.


We've reached a point where we need to upgrade our aging passive PA / powered desk setup for something a little more modern. Though as it stands, I've had so much conflicting information visiting various in store places in the UK such as PMT and Andertons, I wanted to also try and do some research online. We self-mix and typically play a lot of small pub gigs throughout the year, and probably up to some 250 people venues for weddings here and there. For larger events, or outdoors in marquees, we've typically rented in the PA (usually pair of 15" tops and 18" subs) + engineer to do sound for us and I think we'll continue to do this if the venue or event requires it due to size. We're pretty sorted on the desk front, having gone down the X32 Rack route, but we're coming a little unstuck on whether to invest into a bigger set of speakers, or try utilise what we have...


We already own a small rehearsal space that has an installed pair of RCF ART710A MK4's (10" speakers) and a single 702AS II sub (12" subwoofer) - it works great in this space / small pubs, but until today, we've never taken these to a larger venue. In my opinion it feels like we'd be absolutely fine up to a typical 200 person space - we're not heavy rock, we like to keep vocals nice and prominent and really the subs to me add enough bottom to give that roundness. But has anyone any experience of running 2 x 10"s plus a single 12" sub for a band to a reasonable size room?

For us, this is the most cost effective route, as we have an older Yamaha DXR10 as a monitor, and could buy a second to then put these into our rehearsal space, making the RCF our 'gig rig'. We're also on IEMs now and have a couple of cheap Alto wedges if we ever need those, so not like we use the DXR10 either.

Everyone I have spoken to in person has always responded with a lot of 'sucking through teeth' about the route of 2 x 10s and 1 x 12 - and we're being told to consider whether we may want to look at 2 x 12s for tops and 2 x 15s for subs, then we have a modular system where we can bring the sub(s) as necessary that will also cover the lifetime of the band. We have the budget to do this and I'm not saying they're entirely incorrect and only out to sell us something, but I'm just debating whether people think we'd be running the RCF setup closer to capacity, and that we should invest in a more capable set of speakers that are slightly larger and would cover more options. Or are we crazy to spend the money when we've a perfectly capable setup in the RCFs we already have?

Any thoughts much appreciated!

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The two 10"s are probably plenty for your vocals and bit of backline reinforcement, I tend to prefer 10"s on tops for the extra clarity (probably achieved by having the crossover point outside of the main vocal intelligibility band around 1-3kHz)


You might want a bigger sub or two. Perhaps another 12" or a single 15" or 18". With a bigger sub and ensuring you high pass your tops, you should get plenty of volume without working the 10"s too hard.


The best method is to take it out on a gig and have a go, I don't think you'll be so short as to risk losing the gig. For comparison I've quite happily done metal bands mixed at 97ish dB on 4 10" tops and 2 18" subs in a 200 cap room.

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If you are happy with RCF quality then perhaps consider buying another 702 sub for the road, buying a used Yamaha 10 for the rehearsal space and to use the pair of Yammies as further reinforcement if you need them for marquee gigs etc? That ought to cover expansion well enough for your purposes.


I certainly wouldn't spend more just because I have it when RCF and/or Yamaha is perfectly good gigging kit.

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While not familiar with your subs, but as a happy RCF ART 7 series user (2 x 722, 4 x 710, 2x 705) I'd expect one 702 sub to run out of steam well before your (excellent) 710 tops.


Your tops should be OK - I've covered some decent sized events with just my 710s. The better 12" RCF tops (the previous ART 722 and the current ART 732) would give you more headroom, and do sound better with the larger voice coild HF driver, which enables the internal crossover frequency to be lower. But that's quite some cost if the current 710s will do the job.


Consider one or two decent 15" subs. But there's no point scaling up the subbage too much, as you end up crossing over into the territory where you'd normally contract out production.


As others have said, you're probably best off taking your current 710 & 702 system on the road to test it. Start with smaller venues and scale up until it runs out of steam. That way you'll know where you're short of headroom for your material and the venues, and you'll only be spending the money you actually need to. Practical experimentation is much more effective than sucking of teeth... Also, this helps keep your touring kit as compact as possible - while I love my 722s, I'll often take out the 710s as they're that much smaller/lighter.

Edited by Alec
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This is great, practical advice which is backing up my thought process!


I neglected to mention the horrendous passive system we're moving from, consisting of an old Behringer PMP6000 powered desk + ridiculously heavy/large Peavey 15" speakers which sound very muddy, even after getting a bit better with basic EQ on the desk. The sound has been 'OK' but the difference we've had in rehearsal with the RCF and a properly configured digital mixer has been night and day - the clarity is so much better, especially on vocals, and it feels like we can get a lot more from the tops than we ever did out of our current 'gig' kit. The additional aux outs have allowed us to go to a better monitor setup and that's made a huge difference to keeping ourselves and stage volume restrained. Still a LOT of learning and practice to go with the mixer though - mainly focusing on expanding knowledge around correct EQ and using our ears at each venue we go to.


Just the simplicity of going to a more compact / travel friendly bunch of kit is appealing - and in the meantime we continue to put budget aside for quality equipment or to expand things like the subs, as we're well aware you get what you pay for when it comes to live sound reinforcement (that and paying for expertise when required!)


I think we'll look to pickup another DXR10 to throw in the rehearsal room and take the RCF kit on the road to start and see how we go! Feel much happier knowing that I'm not crazy thinking that we can utilise what we have for probably 50-75% of the gigs we play (based on venue experience).


Thanks again!

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