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Trip McNealy 03-26-2014 03:28 AM

Sub for live sound
Hey guys, I'm looking to upgrade from my Roland KC-550 (which has been great so far for small gigs with my Roland V-drums) and I'm relegating that back to my home studio. So moving forward, I'd like to get some more firepower out there for my live sound while remaining relatively compact and value-conscious. I'd say it's a 80/20 split of our gigs where I use acoustic/electronic drums, so I'm not looking to spend a ton of money on a high-end set of speakers. However, lately I've had the need to mic up my acoustic kick for some of our indoor medium sized gigs (we bring our own PA system which is basically two Bose L1 systems for just vocals and acoustic guitar) to get some OOMPH out of it so I figure I should get a dedicated powered/active sub where I can use it for that as well as for the Vdrums when it's all-electric. (Let's save the discussion on a comparable/matching 8-12" powered speaker for later.)

Can anyone recommend any of the following powered subs for my kick drum. I realize 18"s would be best overall but for space saving and the fact we don't play ear-bleedingly loud I am preferring 12 or 15" subs:

- Electro-Voice EV ZXA1-Sub (12")
- Electro-Voice ELX118P (18")
- Yamaha DXS12 or DXS15 sub (12 or 15")
- QSC KSub (dual 12")
- JBL PRX 715XLF (15")
- ?? Something else ??

Also as a side question, if I mic up my acoustic kick with my Audix D6, can I just run that straight to the input on the powered sub and use the Gain/Level/Volume on it or do I need to use a little mixer along with it? Thanks!

The SunDog 03-26-2014 03:57 AM

Re: Sub for live sound
I have a pair of Mackie HD 1801 actiive subs. They sound insane but they are huge and weigh110 lbs each (which isn't bad for 1600w). The HD 1501 has excellent ratings and is much smaller and lighter. Any brand will be good just get the best quality you can afford. I advise against 12", they just don't move enough air as the big boys. Lastly, it will spoil you, if you get one, pretty soon you'll want two and then you'll never want play without them.

Trip McNealy 03-26-2014 05:44 AM

Re: Sub for live sound
I heard the 1801's are good and on the contrary have seen poor reviews on the HD1501.

I also read these are pretty good for the price

JBL EON 518S Powered Sub
Cerwin-Vega CVA-115 Powered Subwoofer (although it weighs almost 100lbs!)

The SunDog 03-26-2014 06:42 AM

Re: Sub for live sound
I think all the brands make good powered subs. Wattage is important. More power will let amp work more efficiently and stay cooler. To the HD 1501, the only bad reviews I've seen were about the amps needing repair. I've read only positives about their sound. Whatever you get be sure and post your thoughts. I interested to know how a 15" sounds.

Trip McNealy 03-27-2014 03:35 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
I think I've narrowed it down a little further to these guys, still checking out some reviews and such.


Cerwin-Vega CVA-115

brentcn 03-27-2014 04:26 PM

Re: Sub for live sound

Originally Posted by Trip McNealy (Post 1244507)

Also as a side question, if I mic up my acoustic kick with my Audix D6, can I just run that straight to the input on the powered sub and use the Gain/Level/Volume on it or do I need to use a little mixer along with it? Thanks!

This isn't a side question, but the issue entirely! First, any mic plugged directly into a sub isn't going to sound great, especially if the sub has a built-in crossover that can't be bypassed (for example, it may only produce frequencies below, say 250Hz). In such a case, you might get some thump out of your bass drum, but that will be it -- no clarity or definition, because there won't be any high end or midrange.

Secondly, a sub isn't designed to accept a mic as its input. On a powered sub, even though the input jack is an XLR, it's meant for a line-level signal (i.e. the output of a mixer) and not a mic-level signal. Even if it works, sound quality will be compromised.

Thirdly, even if you do get the mic's signal to the sub, it will probably be out of control and feed back. The bass drum will ring out too long if there isn't considerable muffling against both heads. Most bass drums require some reduction in the midrange with an EQ, to get rid of muddiness in the signal.

So, connecting the mic to a small mixer (with an EQ), and then the mixer to a powered 15" speaker, is really your best bet. An alternative is to get an in-line EQ pad like this, which EQ's the sound like this. Then, connect to a powered speaker that is designed to accept a mic input. Since you can't apply a noise gate (since you wouldn't be using a mixer) to the signal, be ready to use some muffling in the drum, in case the signal rings out too long.

The SunDog 03-27-2014 05:12 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Brentcn, this is good advice. A mixer for sure,but I was under the impression that you a gigging band with a PA. If necessary you can plug straight into a powered sub, I've done it, it won't feed back , you can set the gain level on the sub, but it will not be loud. The signal needs to pass through a pre amp in order to achieve a true gain level. Also Brentcn is correct about the crossover, it is built in to these active subs. They are intended to be used with main speakers to get the best results.

Trip McNealy 03-27-2014 05:35 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Thanks much for the advice so far! you always can learn something new! :-)

Ok, so I already know my Audix D6 at least does some initial mud scooping so the KickPad wouldn't totally be necessary.. and come to think of it, I'm eventually going to run into a gig or three where I need to mic up my toms and snare, so I will probably get a small 4-channel mixer anyhow (like a small Mackie or something). So that'll give me the line level and EQ'ing you suggest I should have.

So that bring me to the next question then based upon what you guys suggested - if I have to choose ONE speaker item to take on the gig would I be better off getting a fully powered PA speaker like a Yamaha DXR15 or a QSC K12 or should I still spring for the powered sub, to handle my kick?

brentcn 03-27-2014 06:04 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Go with the speaker. You'll have much more control over the tone and volume, and you may end up using it for other things down the road (vocal monitor, etc.). For a small gig, you'll get plenty of thump from a 15" woofer (whether or not the box it's in says "sub" or not).

EDIT: If space is not a concern, go with the Yamaha, because it's a 15" speaker (and not a 12").

Trip McNealy 03-27-2014 07:03 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Cool thanks. Yes, I could probably find a good use when I use my Roland Vdrums live too!

Same recommendation applies with the powered speaker - I should use a small mixer in conjunction rather than plugging directly into the back of it?

The SunDog 03-27-2014 07:27 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Ok Trips,now your starting to confuse me. If you are building a sound system then you need full range speakers and a mixer. Sound system 101. Sound source (ie. voice,drum,etc.) Goes into the mic, the mic sends the sound to the mixer, the mixer sends the sound to the speakers, and the speakers send the sound to the audience. The different types of speakers are designed to work with different frequencies. To start you need a mixer and a pair of full range speakers. 12" speakers will not make your bass drum sound very good, but they will make the singer sound good, and vice-versa for the sub.

Trip McNealy 03-27-2014 08:26 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Building a sound system, I get it.. We can move past that :-)

If this helps you (and anyone else) understand: currently in my cover band (playing classic to modern rock and pop) we have singer w/ acoustic rhythm guitar + bass player + lead guitar + me on drums.

For the past 4-5 years we play the local bar circuit, which can range on any given night from 20 to 200 people.. not much larger than that. During this entire time, I have never mic'd up my kit b/c we really don't play terribly loud and in some places, we are so tight up on stage or wherever the place puts the bands that there is literally no room for me to put extra speakers for my drums and mic them. Our PA consists of two Bose L1 systems that ONLY the vocals mics and acoustic guitar go through. We bring that system everywhere - the bars in my area don't have PAs, and the ones that do admittedly say their house PA system sucks royally. The singer/bassist setup the PA and we run it ourselves, we have no soundman ever.

20% or less of those gigs on the small side, I bring out my Roland Vdrums which I use my Roland KC-550 keyboard amp for. It's been decent so far with that rig. Could it be a little tiny bit better or louder, sure.

I'll admit once in a blue moon I whack the deuce out of my kick drum and floor tom b/c those low frequencies don't make it out very far from the stage and I get frustrated. Hence I'm looking to augment my kit with something portable and non-obstructive on stage.. Just to give a LITTLE BIT more of drum presence. I'm not looking to shake the buildings down or be louder than the rest of my band. In fact if I do, I'm sure I'll hear it from the bass player (HAHAHA). Couple this situation with the fact that we are starting to play more outdoor gigs and larger places, I could use some firepower finally. I've convinced the band that I AT LEAST need to mic my kick drum if I had to choose one drum when we play indoors.

I fully realize the most optimal setup (esp. for the outdoor gigs and large backyard parties, etc) will require a full-fledged system with tops and sub, but for now I just want something I can use when I need it, whether for my acoustic or electronic drums.

At this point, after following this thread and researching out on the 'net, that I've convinced myself a Yamaha DXR 15 and Behringer XENYX 1002B mixer will fit the bill FOR NOW. At a later time when more funds and need become available, I'll augment it with a powered subwoofer.

I hope this helps a little more now and if you have any other suggestions they are welcome :-)

The SunDog 03-27-2014 10:44 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Ok now I can see what your cooking with. We're in the same kitchen, I'm just frying bigger fish than you. In that case I am back on the sub with a small PA recommendation. Make your kick sound like a recording and move a little air. It won't be too loud, just turn it up to where it fits in the mix nicely. You'll love it, especialliy with the D6.

brentcn 03-28-2014 06:07 AM

Re: Sub for live sound

Originally Posted by Trip McNealy (Post 1245038)
Cool thanks. Yes, I could probably find a good use when I use my Roland Vdrums live too!

Same recommendation applies with the powered speaker - I should use a small mixer in conjunction rather than plugging directly into the back of it?

Use the Earthworks in-line kick EQ thing if you're plugging directly into the powered speaker. You're right, the D6 is already scooped in the mids and boosted in the lows, but check the schematics -- it's not scooped that much (which is good, in case, for example, you want to do more surgical EQ after recording). If you use a mixer, you'll just end up EQ'ing the same sort of additional midrange scoop and low end boost.

drum4fun27302 03-28-2014 11:57 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
If the band already has a pa just add 1 18 power sub with the bypass on so it only takes 250 Hz and lower. It will boost everyone's bass and you'll be able to remove bass from the msin speaker witch will make them work more efficiently.

Mongrel 03-30-2014 07:57 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
I was using a hybrid kit for awhile and had my e-kick and toms running through a Mackie DFX-8 and into two 12" powered speakers. It was plenty for what I needed and you can put a little "bite" into the kick using full-frequency speakers. Had great attack in other words...

jornthedrummer 03-30-2014 08:15 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
QSC181KW or JBL PRX718XLF is the industry standard. You won't go wrong with those.



bonzolead 03-31-2014 05:10 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
EV ELX118, Electro Voice 700w 18"sub. I personally like EV over JBL I own both..lol


Trip McNealy 03-31-2014 05:23 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
Excellent, thanks again for the info.

Time to go web shopping now lol.

One last semi-related question - if I use a mixer in conjunction with powered speaker and my drum mic, what's a good starting point on the levels? There's gonna be Level/Volume on the speaker, Gain on the mixer, Level on the mixer, and then Master Volume on mixer... Should I set some of them midway and then slowly bring up the Master? Is that the best way of doing it?

The SunDog 03-31-2014 06:31 PM

Re: Sub for live sound
It's pretty simple. There's a gain knob on the speaker and one on every channel of the mixer. Set the one on the speaker at 50% (you can play with this setting later, the main thing is that the limit light is not flashing when you play). On the mixer, all gain settings on zero, channel volume on zero, main mix on zero, all EQ settings are at 50%. Mic the drum and plug into a channel, start playing. While playing adjust the gain on your channel up until you see the peak light start to flash, turn it down just until peak light no longer occurs. Turn the main mix up to the line. At your channel volume is still at zero, next to the fader find the button labeled main mix and press it. You are ready to adjust the channel volume. At this point turn it up slowly until you have a loud clear signal. Now you can EQ the mixer to get more of your desired sound. Best of luck and keep us posted.

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