When you’re on the hunt for a new PA system in a well-stocked retail store, you’re likely to find yourself barraged by, what sometimes feels like never ending walls of speaker boxes, with limitless options to choose from.
Don’t get us wrong, having options is fantastic and it gives you a great opportunity to have a good listen to a wide variety of speakers, but it can be overwhelming for some. As individuals we all hear sound differently and most likely require different features from a speaker box , and like individuals every speaker has its own flavour and set of features to offer. Some keep it simple and what you see is what you get whilst others give you some more in-depth control to tailor your speaker’s response to better suit your tastes and needs. We recently had the opportunity to check out a few different options at a well-stocked music retailer. We’re going to take a dive into the key features of three speakers we had a listen to. JBL, Yamaha and QSC each have great offerings, but what are the differences?
JBL EON 600 Series
JBL aren’t exactly new to the game of speaker boxes. For a company that started over 70 years ago and essentially birthed the portable powered speaker box market, they continue to innovate and create fantastic new speaker products that are distributed all around the world.
The EON range of speakers have been around since the mid 90’s and has gone through many re designs, with each successor being a step up from the last. The EON600 series bring a more modern, sleek looking speaker into the EON family. There are three top boxes in the range, 10”, 12” and 15” (plus an 18” sub) boasting SPL ratings of 124dB, 126dB and 127dB SPL respectively. They weigh in at 11.79kg, 14.96kg and 17.69kg as noted, so definitely not backbreaking.
They boast a two-channel mixer on the back panel, with individual gain control for each of the combi inputs and a separate master volume pot. An XLR thru for easy daisy chaining of multiple speakers is included and four preset buttons are available too. But, as we discovered, the EON600 series has some other tricks up its proverbial sleeve. There is Bluetooth connectivity available but to those thinking “Great! I can stream my music” nope, it’s far better and more sophisticated than that. Once paired to an iOS or android device using the “Free” EON Connect app, you can control up to four EON600 speakers at a time. Each has the ability to change any of the four aforementioned presets remotely, apply speaker delay for larger configurations where time alignment is required and here’s where it gets really cool, apply three band fully parametric EQ (plus low and high shelves) to each speaker. Then you can save these settings to each individual speaker and copy settings across to the next speaker in your system. The powerful control of these speakers is impressive. They sound great on their main preset definitely, but having the ability to EQ them to taste is a lot of fun.
Yamaha DBR Series
Yamaha is a brand name most will be familiar with. Crossing a wide variety of musical instrument categories as well as audio, the Yamaha DBR range have been a solid staple in music retail stores since their release in 2014.
There are three speakers to choose from, a 10”, 12” or 15”, SPL ratings of 129dB, 131dB and 132dB and weighing in at 10.5kg, 15.8kg and 19.3kg respectively. These speakers have plenty of punch and will comfortably fill a small room. The simple back panel layout gives you two inputs, with channel 2 giving you the option of a combi jack or RCA for connecting consumer line level sources. The XLR thru gives you the options to select just channel 1 of a combination of both channels to be sent to another speaker, a nice touch. There are two HPF options and three DSP D-contour setting available, FOH, monitor or OFF, each optimized for different applications and speaker placement. These speakers give solid all-round performance, punchy bottom end (enhanced when the FOH setting is engaged). The simple settings offered will suit those who require a straight forward speaker solution without needing any extra bells and whistles.
QSC CP Series
QSC started 50 years ago, initially as a guitar amp manufacturer. Dropping this product category to focus on power amps and then later PA speakers, QSC have become well known for their K line of portable powered speakers and have recently released their entry level CP series.
The CP series offers 8” and 12” speakers both in compact enclosures, SPL ratings of 124dB and 126dB and weights of 9.5kg and 13.7kg respectively. On the back panel you’re greeted with a two-channel mixer. Channel 1 is a combi jack connector at line level, channel 2 offers selectable mic/line level on a combi jack or 3.5mm aux input. There’s a post gain mix output for daisy chaining speakers together too, however it would have been nice to have the option of line/mic level selection on both channels. As far as DSP goes there are six selectable contours to choose from depending on your application and desired frequency response. The speakers offer solid low end, with the 8” model holding up well for its size.
The speakers we’ve looked at in this feature comparison/shootout offer up pretty similar specs. They each have their individual flavours and varying levels of DSP control. The JBL’s and Yamaha’s sit at very similar price points and both offering 5-year warranty within Australia. The QSC models sit at a little higher price point and offer a 3-year warranty. As we mentioned at the start of this article, we all hear sound differently and we don’t want to enter the subjective realm of how we thought these speakers sounded too much, so we recommend going into a store and having a listen for yourselves. If you can, listen to some music you’re really familiar with, dig deep into features and what you require for your given applications. You should walk out the door happy and excited to get your new speakers cranking at the nearest opportunity.