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Hot Spots & other tiny stage monitors?


JeffLearman

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Can anyone recommend decent CHEAP small powered stage monitors? Ideal sound and bass response aren't necessary; SPL, low price, and size/portability are. Used would be great.

 

Lately I'm playing in a band that "rehearses" live in a small sports pub with a tiny stage: no room for my usual rig. Fortunately, the PA is stellar, with QSC D10's for monitors, but no personal monitor (again, no room -- the monitors are on poles in front of the stage). So I'd like a pair of small monitors to put on top of my NE2 (which sits above my CP4).

 

I tried using my little Bose Lifestyle powered speakers and frankly, it worked great, but the Bose aren't quite loud enough when the band gets exuberant, as they sometimes do. I'm guessing the Bose are about 100 dB SPL level at 1m, which is about how far away they are. In the crescendos I was pushing the Bose a bit more than I'm happy with. For now they'll do, but I'm thinking about an upgrade.

 

I see the Galaxy Audio HotSpot PA6S and they look like they'd be great (if a bit big), but at $360 each, a pair is not in the budget, and I don't see any used or I'd go for it. Galaxy has a smaller product too, the Nano, but it looks like it wouldn't be quite loud enough.

 

I'm looking for something within $500 for a pair.

 

Has anyone heard the Nady PM200A? Again, a bit bigger package than I want, but fits the budget and if the specs don't lie, plenty loud enough.

 

Behringer B205D?

 

The Bose are 9 1/2" x 6" x 6" and I'd really like to stick close to that. All the others above are closer to 12" x 7" x 7".

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Thanks!

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I used this for awhile. It worked great until the day it didn't, which is the rap against them. If you don't mind the crap shoot, it's a good little unit for the price (with mic-stand adapter in the butt-end for ease of positioning). You could get two of them for exactly your budget.

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SRM150?adpos=1o1&creative=55678058761&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CPX9r_eZ58QCFYGUfgodJh4A_g

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...TC Electronics VoiceSolo FX150 is a great unit, but over your budget. Worth considering, though, it's a fantastic piece of gear.

 

Are you sure you need two? ;)

Completely agree. I was in a 4 piece blues band recently and we got four of these speakers and they were great. We got the model with the 'break-out' boxes, (stereo line and mic ins) which meant you could cascade all four units together with vocals and instruments from all four players in each monitor. Worked great at any reasonable volume level for club gigs. We only needed one each, no need for two.

 

Looking at mine now, model designation is TC Helicon VoiceSolo VSM-300XT.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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I see the Galaxy Audio HotSpot PA6S and they look like they'd be great (if a bit big), but at $360 each, a pair is not in the budget, and I don't see any used or I'd go for it.

 

A long time ago, I played with a Carribean party band and was forced to use the HotSpot as monitor. Terrible, terrible. I don't think it was the same model, but the experience was enough to never make me look at another HotSpot ever again. Also, Musician's Friend sells them for $299, but that is still too much for what it is, IMO.

 

Behringer B205D?

 

The Bose are 9 1/2" x 6" x 6" and I'd really like to stick close to that. All the others above are closer to 12" x 7" x 7".

 

My Behringer B208D is a little bigger, but if the 205 sounds similar, I'd say go for it. Mine is not the greatest, but for the money it can't be beat. In some ways I like it better than my ZLX12P.

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Jeff, I used a behringer 205D for a long time, used to run the thing so loud it smelled like an HO trainset, and mixed 2 keyboards through the onboard mixer, then sent it to front of house. The thing I liked about it was no horn, so it didn't get honky. I had it on a mic stand right behind my keyboard. Front of house guys would take a feed right from the back of it. They don't have much bass, naturally, but I would get enough spillover from front of house. I'm in construction, so I hook up an Ipod to it nowadays and use it as a job radio, you can hear it over powersaws. The only reason I stopped using it is I needed to provide my own amplification as we started doing more restaurants where we just ran vocals through the pa, so I went to self powered EV's. But it still gets hooked up on festival gigs now and then where it's quick setup situations. I'd recommend them with no hesitation over hotspots. Another friend uses two for stereo on his sk1, and another friend showed up at a blues jam and ran his digital piano through that alone, not as a monitor but as his only source of amplification. I was amazed but you could hear the thing with two blues juniored guitar guys going, not quite up front in the mix but it was there. That was asking too much of the thing though.
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Thanks for the feedback, folks. Thought I'd replied earlier but I must have misclicked or something.

 

After last practice, I see the Nord barely has room for the Bose, so most of the suggestions (including my own) are out unless I can figure a way to rig a pair of mic stands on my 18880 + 18881. (I guess I should have got the 18882 instead; that'd give me more options.)

 

 

How handy are you?

 

CLONK

Well, there's an interesting idea! Got an amplifier you'd mate with that, to fit in the cabinet? I doubt that I could make a wood cabinet small enough for that plus amp, and I wouldn't know where to begin with plastic.

 

I've certainly replaced plenty of those Bose drivers in my old 802's. So I guess I can just plan to replace the ones in the Lifestyle speakers if they fail. That's a much better price than the typical $49 from Bose (which I never paid, finding them from cannibalized speakers on ebay.)

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A long time ago, I played with a Carribean party band and was forced to use the HotSpot as monitor. Terrible, terrible. I don't think it was the same model, but the experience was enough to never make me look at another HotSpot ever again.
Thanks, very helpful.
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How handy are you?

 

CLONK

Well, there's an interesting idea! Got an amplifier you'd mate with that, to fit in the cabinet? I doubt that I could make a wood cabinet small enough for that plus amp, and I wouldn't know where to begin with plastic.

 

I've certainly replaced plenty of those Bose drivers in my old 802's. So I guess I can just plan to replace the ones in the Lifestyle speakers if they fail. That's a much better price than the typical $49 from Bose (which I never paid, finding them from cannibalized speakers on ebay.)

 

The biggest issue is that those Bose drivers are 1 Ohm. Most amp modules are only good down to 4 Ohm, so you'd need at least 4 drivers in series. That said, click around the parts express site that those drivers are on - there are a number of amp modules. Unfortunately, by the time you add a power supply, they start getting a bit pricey and bulky. If it were me, I'd make them passive and just bring a separate amp - of course that increases your footprint, but it can be stashed out of the way somewhere.

 

I haven't done this, but have thought about it. In lieu of wood, you could form a block of styrofoam with a hot knife into the shape you want, then cover with carbon fiber composition or fiberglass. When dry, remove the styrofoam, clean it up, add hardware, etc. Metal inserts could be molded in to accept screws.

 

 

Oh, and years ago....early 90s....I used a hot spot knockoff from a company called Ross. They were passable.....not real loud, but OK.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Yeah, I know about the 1 ohm. They're wired in series, in the 802's. They also assume an EQ'd signal; they don't try to be flat like most self-respecting speakers. If I were making a DIY I wouldn't bother with the Bose drivers. Too many quirks.

 

I also don't think I'll bother with a DIY if it doesn't meet my goals, which is to be self-contained. The last thing I want is more gear to fuss with than necessary. (Yeah, I know: give up on stereo and that reduces that problem!)

 

Looking at the K&M 18882 tiers, I see I could attach a stick to the bottom of each speaker that would slip into those slots (with an offset so they only sink down to the desired height); I'd leave the stick attached to the speakers in transit. That would allow the bigger monitors and would probably be pretty sweet. Too bad I went with the 18881, as that adds about $100 to the price tag.

 

I like your composite form idea!

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OK, since I'm such a nice guy (and since I like doing this sort of thing, it's an excellent way to procrastinate doing real work), I continued to look at options and came up with a rough design for you.

 

There is one caveat I'll discuss in a minute regarding the amplifier section, but for now, the design is a pair of monitors each containing (2) 5" full range PA speakers rated for a frequency response of 90Hz-15kHz. (the galaxy speakers are 150Hz-18kHz).

 

First the components and cost:

 

4x 5" full range @ $17.25 ea = $69 for all 4 drivers

1x 100W/ch amp board @ $34.90

1x 350W power supply @ $59.50

 

Net total $163.40/pair, plus materials....more on that to follow, but depending on construction, at least wood, carbon fiber, or fiberglass, hardware, connectors, possibly filter components (more on that below), probably grills, maybe mic stand adapters? Figure anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on which way you choose to go with the design. Either way, you could easily do this for $200-$250/pr plus labor.

 

So I figured these would be horizontal with 2 rectangular ports. So as you look at them left to right.... port|driver|driver|port, where the ports would be 3/4" wide x 5" tall. See below for more details.

 

Here's the technical stuff regarding box design and the resulting speaker performance:

 

http://www.elzeonline.com/mpforum/2x5mon.jpg

 

Some of the red traces are a little hard to see, but in a nutshell, EACH speaker would have a max SPL of 118dB down to about 90Hz. You have a slight 3dB boost just above 100Hz, probably closer to 150Hz.

 

So the dimensions and volume for the enclosure shown are INTERNAL volume, not counting the drivers and port volume. Depending on the thickness of the materials you use to construct the cabinets, you are looking at slightly larger than around 14"x6.5"x8" not counting amplifier.

 

Now the amplifier. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options for low cost MONO block amp boards and power supplies tend to be bulky and expensive. The most economical is to by a stereo amp board and one power supply. You could mount it in one of the speakers and interconnect them with a speaker cable, but you run into issues in that one speaker would need to be larger to accommodate the amp and power supply. I had a thought that you could house the amp and supply in a 3rd (well ventilated) box with the same face dimensions as the speakers, just thick enough (maybe 4") to house the amp and supply. Include detachable hinges, latches, and a handle, and make it so the 2 speakers clamp onto it (amp mod in the middle) for one convenient package. Run your stereo feed to the amp mod, and 2 speaker cables to the speakers. Since the amp mod would likely be around 6x14x4, you could easily just stand it up in the middle under your stand (4"x14" footprint) and run a pair of maybe 6' speaker cables.

 

One final thing. The amp specifications are at 6 Ohms and the min impedance is 4 Ohms. Technically you're safe since the DC resistance of the speakers in parallel is 3.9 Ohms and it's higher across the entire audible range. BUT, if it were me, I'd include a Non-Polarized Electrolytic Capacitor in each enclosure sized to roll off (6dB/Oct) below 90Hz since it's unusable below that anyway. That does a few things - keeps the impedance well within the comfortable range for the amp, helps prevent any damaging low frequencies to the drivers, prevents the amp from wasting horsepower on the frequencies the speakers can't do anything with anyway. A pair of capacitors of that size is cheap insurance.

 

Enjoy, and don't say I never gave you anything. :)

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Don't read this yet....

 

By the time I read "Don't read this yet...", I'd already read it. :blush:

 

Look again.....you ain't read nothin' yet!!!!

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Some interesting electronics, all right! Dan, that supply unit is interesting. I've been waiting for units (or PCBs) to arrive with these types of main specs (well, honestly, higher specs, but it's cool) for at least decades, so I'll check if that is available in Europe at the moment as well (Conrad, etc.).

 

About the small PA speakers and the switched amplifier, I have doubts, but it's for monitoring live, huh? Than I suppose the harmonic distortion should be ok, but remember that using a switched (class D) amplifier, even one with reasonable supply rejection, on a switched supply (I will have too kook at more specs to see how well stabilized this one is) is asking for certain types of trouble, so it may take some testing and additional engineering, unless those units were meant to be used together, and you don't expect too much High Fidelity.

 

Speaker units look high power, but of course are small, and the paper cone-edge makes me think they might sound screechy instead of warm. The bass reflex small enclosure option should get mentioned that probably that leads to a lot of harmonic and (T)IM distortion. And not necessarily the kind you might be used to from "live" equipment that has these properties designed in according to certain norms. For a fun project: sure, but think about the possible magnetic field lines from those magnets.

 

I did a bi-amped medium size (turned out a bit bigger than Dan's suggestion, and potentially less power), but that was for monitoring in high quality. There are some nice modules (as I recall Elector did them) with "normal" class B type amp chips on them that might sound a lot better when you put twice 36 volts with a few hundred watt on them. Also, Dayton (as many other) has cheap tweeters that you could want to add!

 

A small remark about the bipolar Cs: sure you can save some power at the output (could also be done by the input coupling capacitor) but those bipolars will influence signal quality, and if you cut frequencies too high, you'll loose touch with the transients you might want somehow to hear, and the damping of your (probably rather high) pressure waves in the small boxes will be much less.

 

T.

 

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Wow! Thanks!

 

(But, what have you done for me LATELY? ;) )

 

This is way cool, though as I said, 12" is too big to sit atop the Electro, so I'd need to jury-rig some sort of mount. Any chance of a design using a single driver instead? I certainly don't need 118 dB SPL; I'm confident that 110 would be plenty, and I bet even 106 would probably be ample. (Too bad I lost my SPL meter. Seems like it's time to get a new one.)

 

I like the idea of hinging everything together for a neat package. The bigger issue would be that a volume control would be harder to reach but I think I could manage that. (I like having separate monitor volume versus volume I'm sending to FOH.)

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Theo, this was not intended to be Hi-Fi. The design criteria were high output from very small speakers in a live sound environment over an adequate frequency range, and on a VERY small budget. As you know, this type of design is all about balancing trade-offs.....you can't have it all, physics won't allow it, If you're interested, sometime I can share some of my more High Fidelity ideas, but they are far too expensive, as well as too large for this application.

 

 

Jeff, yes you could go down to one driver each and have good volume in the mid/high end. Max acoustic power will drop in the low end. The other challenge is that most of these amplifier boards are optimized for 4 ohm loads (in fact this was one of the few I found that seemed to be optimized for 6 ohms). So an 8 ohm load will mean not much power out of the amp board without really "over-sizing" it sort of. Not a big deal for the board itself, but possibly means having to go with a larger more expensive power supply.

 

I'll check out a single driver solution for you, since I haven't done anything for you LATELY. :D

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Theo, thanks for your input. We definitely don't need audiophile quality here, proof of which is that the Bose are working nearly well enough; I just need a bit more volume.

 

BTW, checking for specs on the Bose, I see they're rated at 30W, and IIRC those drivers in 802 enclosures are 91 dB SPL at 1w/1m (not very efficient as live drivers go). If so, and if we ignore the difference in cabinet, that means that the Bose are theoretically about 105 dB SPL.

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Thanks Dan! Less bass power isn't a big issue, it just means I'll need to guess (more) at what I'm sending on the low end but I've used this gear enough that I think I can fly by wire in that regard. Plus I don't believe in stepping on the bass player anyway, so while I like a full and beefy sound, I have no need for subwoofers. I always roll off the bass as it is, with my 12" wedges.

 

I saw that these max at 6 Ohms. I also noted that they're rated at 10% THD (!!!) Fortunately the specs at 78W->6 hms for 1%THD are well within the ballpark here. The difference in volume between 78W and 100W is barely detectable.

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So taking a look at it, you can basically cut my design above in half in terms of size with just one driver each and get the same response. Use a single 5"x1/2" rectangular port about 3-1/8" long. The main impact is on Max Acoustic Power. From the graph below, you can see that at 50W of power into the driver (represented by the dotted line specifying thermal limit), you could fart out the cone in the 150Hz range. But even so, you could get 112dB out of it across the board.

 

http://www.elzeonline.com/mpforum/MaxSPL.jpg

 

The amp still looks like a good fit....80W per channel at 10% distortion. They don't give the 1% distortion spec at 8 Ohms, but I'm guessing it would be around the 50W I'm figuring on for my calculations.

 

So with that design, maybe everything could clamp together like this for transport:

 

http://www.elzeonline.com/mpforum/box.jpg

 

The price per driver goes up slightly for just 2, but not much. With all the hardware, jacks, etc, you could probably get it done for around $200....not a huge amount of risk to try it out, other than your time.

 

You could always use a stereo volume pedal for monitor volume control.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Outside the box....

 

Small stereo mixer. I use a Yamaha MG102c bolted to a rack shelf. You could get something smaller. One channel accepts outputs from the main bus of my keyboard mixer. Another channel receives my monitor send. Then mixer's phones output goes to either a set of buds or a set of cans. You can still run powered speakers if your band mates need you to. The disadvantage is you are wired in because I don't run wireless so no crazy keytar action.

 

$50 for small mixer.

$100 for something like Shure SE215s or just use an old set of cans.

 

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Thanks! Now if only I could have a couple free weekends, but we're busy getting a house ready for sale. Sigh.

 

CEB, no crazy keytar action for me either. Thanks for the explanation, makes sense. IEMs might be the sensible way to go. In my case I'd use a small stereo line mixer like a Rolls MX28. I hate being tethered, though; I might just go wireless on the IEMs. I'd be tempted to go for the Etymotics that are only $75. I might need to put a mic on one guitarist (the other I should be able to hear clearly regardless!)

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