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PA Speaker(/Amp) Buying


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After my trials with the old PEC A900 / Citronic Conquest V9 power amp (see other thread), I'm thinking seriously about a replacement, but probably about replacing the speakers (which are pretty cheap and nasty) as well as the amp, both because it doesn't seem to make sense to spend much money on driving cheap speakers, and because it opens up many more options in terms of active speakers, sub+satellite and so on. Which was about the point that I realised I really don't know where to start, and need if not specific advice, guidance on how to make sense of the information manufacturers / sellers put out and where to start.

What I wrote myself as requirements:

Existing System

  • 2 x Qtxsound QT10 MDF boxes (10” woofer + piezo horn), 8 ohms each. Internet specs say Frequency response (-3dB) 60Hz – 18kHz, (-10dB) 50Hz – 20kHz, SPL @ 1W/1m 92dB
  • PEC Industries A900 (Citronic Conquest V9) power amp – 250W/channel into 8 ohms.
  • 2.1m tall speaker stands, 35mm tops, 25kg rated (I think).


Relatively modern christian worship band – Stuart Townend, Rend Collective, Robin Mark and so on. The aim is not to be stupid loud, but does need to be able to lead a 100+ congregation all joining in and singing.

Full band is 7 piece, all through PA to some extent. Guitars and bass have their own amps but small and primarily for them to hear.

  • 2 x Acoustic guitars (ish)
  • Keyboard
  • Electric bass
  • Flute
  • Cahon
  • Lead singer (stand mic) and 4 others sing on headset mics.


  • By car – the whole system, including mixer etc., needs to go in a biggish saloon (at the moment speakers are strapped on the back seat along with Yamaha 01V mixer in a flight case).
  • Loaded / unloaded by one (reasonably fit) person – nothing which needs a 2-person lift acceptable.
  • Wheels don’t help a lot because everything has to lift into vehicle (and potentially up stairs etc.)


  • Various churches and church halls. Building capacities probably 50 – 300 people (some larger), typical audience sizes 40-100 people.
  • One outdoor Christmas carols event per year (but the old kit could be kept on for that).
  • Rumbles of a summer outdoor band gig have never materialised.
  • All essentially one-off events with not a lot of set-up / system tuning time.


(Why do I want to replace/upgrade the existing kit).

  • Reliability issues with the (old) power amplifier.
  • It (mainly the amplifier) is heavy to lug around.
  • The sound quality isn’t brilliant – play a decent commercial recording and it is obvious the treble is harsh and sometimes buzzy, and the bass uncontrolled, with substantial resonant peaks (which can be EQed down to an extent, but adds hassle doing this in the mixer master EQ).
  • Note that “louder” isn’t part of why, although I wouldn’t want something significantly less capable. In bigger churches the existing kit can be pushed to pretty much full (peak) power.
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I'm assuming that I could do a reasonable amount better for a budget of £500, could maybe push to £1000 on a basis of not replacing again for a long time. Happy to consider robust second hand kit (although a little worried about the usable lifespan of anything digital/software).

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Active speakers! that way if you only want to take one, you take one and don't have to take one side of an amp you're not using. If you want to plug a microphone directly into one for a small welcome speech, you can and don't need to take the mixing desk. Plus all your cable is XLR so no messing about with Speakon/Jacks on the speaker side.

EV ZLX12P are our standard active speaker but also have some Alto TX310s as a smaller option. I'd probably look at a 12" eg a pair of Alto TX312 as a budget starting point if you are wanting to put guitar and keyboards through it, the 10"s might be okay if it were only vocals but they may struggle will full range. 

Are you keeping the 01V, or is the £500 just for speakers? You could go higher quality / more respected manufacturer / add a sub if needed if that's just for FOH PA - but Alto would be about comparable to what you're currently running - no offence but the QTX 10" is seriously budget so although others will come along and say Alto 12s" are terrible and you need HK or RCF - they're going to be about in line as the next step and realistically an upgrade I expect.

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I was also thinking a pair of ZLX12P's would work perfectly for this, great bang for the buck so to speak. They've just released a bluetooth version as well which if you're looking for versatility could be worth considering.

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The ZLX12P are at least into the category of predictable and repairable. The Alto stuff is ok, but build quality and spares availability is lesser than the EV stuff.

For the lineup discussed I suspect a sub with small top system might work better, and also require less lifting, but you won't get that in the budget.

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Thank you all. I had been thinking that active was the way to go (hence spending money on separate power amp not being a sensible idea), and the EV ZXL12P was one of the things I had spent some time reading reviews of (but I didn't know there was a G2 version). Interestingly Thomann have the first generation ZXL12P, the first generation ZXL12P + bluetooth, and the ZXL12P G2 all listed, with a fair price spread. I assume they have first generation stock to shift ...

The Alto TX312 is clearly fan cooled, where as the EV ZXL look like they might be passive cooled (being class D). Can anyone confirm this? Not having fans would be a plus for me when they end up on small space jobs where the fans on the old amp have been quite audible.

The other product I had seen was the Yamaha DBR12 - seems to be similar specifications to the EV ZXL12P and I would perceive as a higher level brand, but no experience to back that up. Any opinions or experience? On paper somewhat louder, but in practice does that matter?

My expectation is to eke out the Yamaha 01V mixer until I make the decision to get a Behringer XR18 (or something more compelling launches in that space). Smaller band lineups are being mixed on an XR12 (with extra mic preamps), but it doesn't have enough ins or auxes for the full band. I'm gradually convincing myself I can live with a glass-only mixer ... Similarly, bluetooth and direct mic inputs were not things I was really looking for as a feature - I was assuming bluetooth DI (which I've already got) plugged in if needed. I've also got a Behringer B205D personal monitor, which does the really minimalist jobs, so not sure how much I would use this on the "big rig".

I had also been reading reviews in the sub-plus-tops space, but either the subs are expensive or they are heavy (which I'm concerned about because I do often load and unload on my own). Clearly you get what you pay for (I note the smallest EV 12" active sub is under 20kg, but won't fit in the budget). There are some cheap systems but seem very low powered (and putting all the top amps in the sub makes it heavy).

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I rate quite a few of Thomann's The Box and Achat range very highly. There are a few duds in there, but the reviews should show you them pretty quickly. As bang for your buck goes, you won't do much better. My boxes from them are all smaller ones (2x6" is the largest and is an absolute gem) but i've mixed on their 12" passive boxes and been impressed. 
I also very much rate the EV and Yamaha suggestions above. Personally i've used the Yamaha DXR series and have found them to be fantastic. You may even find that the 10" versions meet your needs in most of those venues, especially if you pair them with a small sub. 


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I would concur with Chris that if they made a 10" version of the EV we would buy it... but depending on your lifting abilities the ZLX12 is at the larger end of a 12" box.

The ZLX doesn't have a fan as far as I can see, the TX310 I think has a fan I can't say I've heard it running - most of these active boxes I would expect the fan to be temperature controlled - so only comes on when it's needed - compared to an old school power amp fan that would whirr away and be more problematic.

You might get an Alto tops & subs system in your budget - I haven't actually had to repair our Altos at all yet but it is right we've had parts for our EVs and the power supplies / amp boards are easily available - we have actually had to replace a few parts in our EVs but we have ten of them (5 pairs) - and they get a horrendous life being ragged for discos, left out in the drizzle for outdoor uses etc - and they are all very early models where they have been upgrades and have been ragged this way since 2014 - so that doesn't mean they are weak as such ours just have a really, really hard life and we do have a quantity of them so it's probably about par for the course.

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Thanks again for input. There is an 8" EV now in the G2 series (Electro-Voice ZLX-8P G2), but not a 10".
Good to hear about parts availability for EV kit - in the long run this is what keeps kit working (along with lots of identical units to use as donors ... - they claim to have sold over 1 million units!).
Following Cedd's comments, "the box pro DSP 112" looks like a very loving tribute to some of the other designs we have looked at in terms of the back panel - but significantly cheaper and there is a 10" version of it "the box pro DSP 110". At that point there is the option for looking for a sub from the same source ...

Not looked at the Alto options with a sub yet.

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Posted (edited)


Manufacturer Model Supplier Price Qty Total Weight  
1 EV ZLX12P G1 https://www.thomann.de/gb/ev_zlx_12p.htm 379 2 758 16 kg  
2 EV ZLX12P G2 https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Lighting/Electro-Voice-ZLX-12P-G2-12-Active-PA-Speaker/66EZ 509 2 1018 15 kg  
3 Yamaha DBR12 https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Lighting/Yamaha-DBR12-12-Active-PA-Speaker/1387 434 2 868 16 kg  
4 Alto TX312 https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Lighting/Alto-Professional-TX312-700-Watt-Active-Speaker/3XU2 223 2 446 13 kg  
5 Alto TX312 https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Lighting/Alto-Professional-TX312-700-Watt-Active-Speaker/3XU2 223 2 446 13 kg  
  Alto TX212S https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Lighting/Alto-TX212S-12-Active-PA-Subwoofer/34ZN 379 1 379 20 kg 421mm x 403mm x 518mm
6 The box pro DSP 112 https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_dsp_112.htm 222 2 444 15 kg  
7 The box pro DSP 112 https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_dsp_112.htm 222 2 444 15 kg  
    DSP 18 Sub https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_dsp_18_sub.htm 389 1 389 39 kg 550 x 610 x 670 mm
8 The box pro DSP 112 https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_dsp_112.htm 222 2 444 15 kg  
    Pyrit 112 Sub A https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pyrit_112_sub_a.htm 368 1 368 24 kg 460 x 520 x 400 mm
9 The box pro DSP 112 https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_dsp_112.htm 222 2 444 15 kg  
  The box pro Achat 112 Sub A https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_achat_112_suba.htm 299 1 299 23 kg 450 x 380 x 456 mm
10 The box pro DSP 112 https://www.thomann.de/gb/the_box_pro_dsp_112.htm 222 2 444 15 kg  
  Alto TX212S https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Lighting/Alto-TX212S-12-Active-PA-Subwoofer/34ZN 379 1 379 20 kg 421mm x 403mm x 518mm
Edited by richardash1981
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Can't figure out how to type below the table.

These were some options I put together. A sub plus tops is an option with the Alto and the box pro ranges within the budget, although finding a physically acceptable (light enough and small) sub is rather harder (the cheapest sub, the Alto, is the lightest because the 12" EV sub is too expensive). How this would trade sound quality I don't know.

Is my option 10 with mixed manufactures even plausible, or a very bad idea? Detail on what the DSP in the box pro will do is very thin, but the manual says 80/100/120/150 Hz high pass, and the Alto sub will certainly do high-pass duties in the other direction.

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Generally speaking I probably wouldn't mix manufacturers, especially as the TX212S has sub settings for specific Alto top speakers, it may make sense to pair it with one of those.

In terms of high passing, I personally always use it in the sub, and don't apply it twice - although I have colleagues who do, I can't see the reason for applying a high-pass on the top cabinet as well as using the filtering on the sub - where the outputs will already have had the lows that the sub is covering removed.

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Regarding the Thomann subs, the Pyrit brand ones seem to be very well rated, especially the 2 x 12" active. Theres no reason why the 1 x 12" would not be equally good (for its size). If you are using 12" subs, theres no point using 12" mains. Get an 8", or 10" box for better system balance. WIll be especially noticable on vocals. I would look at the Achat 110, or DSX110. I prefer wooden cabinets over plastic ones, usually sound a little warmer.



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Thanks again for opinions and information. Having weighed the old power amp (which came in at 20kg) I'm wary of any single piece being heavier than that when I'm loading on my own, which makes find a sub (even 12") quite challenging, but I'll keep looking.

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