Side by Side: All-in-One PAs

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Side by Side: All-in-One PAs

May 5, 2014 8:10 AM, By Chriss Scherer

hile radio remotes have evolved and embraced IP audio and other newer technologies, there are still certain basic needs for a live appearance. One of those needs is delivering audio to the live audience. The days of setting up a boombox to play the station feed are behind us, mainly because there is some audio delay in the chain somewhere.

Having a portable PA on site provides a better way to deliver the audio to cover an area, and the PA offers greater flexibility at the remote site. If an over-the-air feed is used, it can easily be fed into the PA. Otherwise, take a feed from the backhaul from the remote connection (without the IFB of course). Better yet, feed the mix-minus into the PA as well as the local audio sources and avoid any chance of odd effects from audio delay. With a mic feeding the PA directly, the local talent can also talk to the listeners attending the event.

While good-sounding audio at the remote site is important, the portable PA becomes yet another piece of equipment to load/unload and set up. With this, there''s a compromise between quality sound and sufficient volume without requiring a heavy hauler to get the PA in place. For the lineup this month, we looked at systems that use a single-box approach. There are lots of combo systems that break down into a mixer/amp head and two speakers. These are good systems, but when physical size is an issue, and with less technical staff handling setup, an all-in-one has certain convenience benefits.

All these units can be mounted on a standard speaker pole to get them above the heads of a crowd. Many of them can operate on batteries as well, which is convenient if shore power is limited. Other offered features include on-board audio effects and the ability to link or expand units for greater coverage.

Alesis Transactive Wireless

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With a built-in telescoping handle, this portable PA can easily be wheeled in place. It features a 1/4�/XLR mic/line input, a 1/4� instrument input, a 3.5mm stereo TS input, and audio can be streamed to the amp via Bluetooth. It has a recessed dock to hold a tablet, and a USB port to charge or power a device. It has an 8� woofer and 1� compression tweeter. It can operate on ac or internal batteries (up to 50 hours). It has a 35mm socket on the bottom to support the unit on a speaker stand.

Anchor Audio Go Getter

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Weighing 23lbs., Go Getter can be mounted on a standard speaker stand and can operate from its internal battery for up to eight hours. It has a 6.5� woven fiber woofer and a high-output horn tweeter. The mixer on the back has two mic inputs (combo XLR/TRS jacks), a 3.5mm and 1/4� stereo line input, a line output, and a speaker output. An LED indicates the battery charging and remaining power. The unit produces 75W on ac power and 50W on dc power. The mixer has a built-in limiter to prevent overloads. Options include a CD/MP3 player with USB and SD card slots, and up to two wireless mic receivers.

Line 6 StageSource L2t

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This slender amp has an integral speaker stand receptacle at the bottom. The mixer includes two mic/instrument inputs on combo XLR/TRS jacks. The inputs have a switchable pad, three-band EQ, feedback suppression, modulation effect (doubling) and reverb. There is a control to adjust the acoustic modeling for an acoustic guitar input. There is also a line input (combo XLR/TRS) and an auxiliary input (RCA). Multiple units can be linked with the Loop Thru and Mix Out jacks, or via the L6 Link jacks (for other Line 6 products). It has a 10� woofer and 1� tweeter. The cabinet can be laid on its side and angled using the handle or the kickstand. It stands 23.75� h � 12.25� w � 12.25� d and weighs 39lbs. It operates on ac power.

Powerwerks PW100T

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With four 4.5� speakers and high-frequency driver, the PW100T stands 28� tall, 7.5� wide, 6.5� deep, and delivers 100W of output power. It weighs 23lbs. The built-in three-channel mixer supports two mic- or line-in channels and one stereo line-in channel. The mic inputs include phantom power. Each channel has two-band EQ. A Powerlink connection (in and out) allows multiple units to be linked for greater coverage and additional inputs. The Powerlink output can also be used to feed another sound system or used as a line output. There is also a subwoofer output. (The PW112S subwoofer is also available.) The cabinet features a built-in stand adapter. Frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz.

Roland BA-330

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This all-in-one system has stereo speakers and a built-in mixer/amp. It has two mic/instrument inputs (XLR and TRS), two stereo line inputs (TRS), and aux in (3.5mm TRS and RCA), line output, and a stereo link output to connect to another BA-330 or a separate amplifier. There''s a two-band EQ on the output. It operates on 12Vdc (external supply) or internal battery power (8xAA). It features a built-in feedback eliminator and stereo effects for reverb and delay. A footswitch can enable or bypass the effects. A slot on top holds a media player for playback. It measures 16.375� w � 14� d � 20� h and weighs 30lbs.

Samson XP40i

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This PA features a 6� woofer and 1� high frequency driver powered by a 40W class D amplifier. It has a combo XLR/TRS mic/instrument input on channel 1, a 3.5mm TRS line and 1/4� instrument inputs on channel 2, and a level control for the internal 30-pin iPod dock. A two-band EQ adjusts the output mix. A 1/4� jack links two units together for added inputs or stereo setup. There is a speaker stand pole-mount receptacle on the bottom. The unit is powered by 18Vdc via an external power supply or via the internal gel cell batteries. The XP40iw adds a wireless mic.

Scherer is a contract engineer and recording engineer in Kansas City, and former editor of Radio magazine.

May 2014

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