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Old June 29th, 2004, 04:21 AM   #1
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External speakers for video projection

We are in the business of showing film projections, mostly to school kids, and I'm looking for advice on speakers. Ideally, I'd like something small that could plug into the projector (unless there's better advice). Any help on brands, etc would be appreciated.
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Old June 29th, 2004, 09:55 AM   #2
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How many people are you generally presenting to and what size is the room? Do you have a budget in mind? Do you want to maintain stereo separation by using two speakers or would one larger speaker suffice for the material you're presenting?
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Old June 29th, 2004, 10:33 AM   #3
 
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Most any of the smaller self-powered speaks are great for this, we travel with the M-Audio SP5B's which are now discontinued. However, the replacement is the same size, sounds good if you're not looking to blow anyone's hair back. With a sub, most any system is easy to get fairly loud with compressed audio.
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Old June 29th, 2004, 12:26 PM   #4
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Our audiences will vary, but generally we're talking about less than 100 people. The size of the rooms are about 60 square feet. Except when we do outdoors stuff, so I guess we're looking for some flexibility, too. Budget wise, well, if I could keep it around $500, then we're doing ok.
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Old June 29th, 2004, 01:17 PM   #5
 
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Outdoor is a whole different tiger, but for indoor, the M-Audio speaks would work great. Our VASST systems consist of the M-Audio in rooms that hold 80 to 100 people or so, and they've been perfect. We have Pelikan cases cut to fit them, and fly all over the world with them.
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Old June 29th, 2004, 03:12 PM   #6
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Lope, can you let us know how large of an area you need to cover outdoors (this talks to power requirements... roughly) and if you need stereo or can live with a single speaker (lets you get more on your budget). Also, does your outdoor requirements need the PA to be weather resistant? And, will you always have access to AC power, or will you need battery powered PA's (you give up a lot going with battery at this price point)?
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Old June 29th, 2004, 09:55 PM   #7
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To give you an idea of capability, I'll tell you about my PA system which I do use for sound with my videos:

Mackie 406M (monophonic) powered mixer - 250 watts with 2 ouput channels both driven from the mono source. The mixer will accept stereo inputs and it just mixes them. Bought it used for $300.

Yamaha 15" speakers with a horn for highs. Didn't pay much for them, about $600 or so for the pair.

I can probably drive sound to 500 people outdoors with this setup. I ued it for a Memorial day event and you would have thought the band and the bugle player were present instead of recorded. I'd do better with an additional 2 speakers at the rear just to reduce the peak SPLs at the front.

For large indoor venues, I use this system with no problems. In a theater, it is overkill except for very low bass. Still pretty credible though.

If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably buy the 12" Yamahas. As they are a lot smaller and lighter.

For small indoor groups or just a couple of people outdoors, I have a small self-powered speaker with a 2 watt amp. Must be very efficient, the speaker, because I can play to quite a few people. Runs from a wall-wart or from 6 AA batteries (20 hours) This is a Roland MicroCube that I purchased during the lunch break at a VASST training session. Cost about $125.

Those M-Audios that Douglas uses are very good when used with the subwoofer.
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Old June 29th, 2004, 10:41 PM   #8
 
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Mike, That Roland Microcube is a really sweet little amp. We ended up using one on a VASST presentation because the folks in the back of the room couldn't hear one of the presenters, and a Microcube was being used in the room next to ours for a music group from Bolivia. They rented it for 40.00 for the day. I really liked it.
With today's efficiencies, smaller speaks are greater than ever before. Built in amps make it so much more simple to set up, haul around, etc.
On another subject, in my main room, we just moved in the Mackie 626 system for surround. We'd been using the 624's, and had a chance to move these bigger speaks in. DANG!!!! wish I'd done this a year past. The sweet spot grew from about 2' to about 5'. It's wonderful. If you ever have the chance to hear these, go for it.
Our room is fairly tuned and absorbed, so reflections are in the right place and aren't found where they shouldn't be. But the room has never made me this giddy before. (I know, I got OT..)
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Old June 30th, 2004, 01:50 AM   #9
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The Microcube IS a great little amp... in the vein of all the current outcropping of small low wattage guitar amps. Remember, with guitar amps, the signal is EQ’d with the mids boosted to make the guitar signal sound “pleasing”, i.e. to make guitar guys (like me) say, “Wow! I really dig that amp’s tone!” Though, I think that thing has COSM, so it might have a flatter EQ setting using its DSP.

A better bet, if you’re looking for alternative amplification other than a PA system AND you REALLY want to save money, is to pick up one or two used Roland KC-100 keyboard amp(s). It’s a 60W amp with a 12” woofer and tweeter. It has inputs at line, 1/4" Low/Hi-Z for guitar, and an XLR for mic level in. I think I remember someone running a CD player in it, so you maybe able to get the audio outs from your video device to pump into the amp, albeit monophonically. It’ll reproduce close to full range similar to a PA. Watch out if you really need to crank it, though. As speaker breaks up with the thing cranked up. I’ve heard guitars, keyboards, and vocals pumped through this thing in various venues, and it works fine. I don’t dig its guitar tone, but that’s not what it’s really designed for anyways. You can probably find it for $100-150 nowadays, in decent condition. I just checked on eBay and there’s a cosmetically beat up one going for less than a C-bill. These things are pretty indestructible, so I would guess that if that guy says it’s working fine, it’s workin’ fine. If you’re still thinking about a guitar amp, check out the 10W Marshall amp. I believe you can find it around $50-75 now. It’s 10W instead of 2W and it has a 6.5” speaker instead of 5”… but at these numbers, it’s like comparing a Corolla with a Sentra (no offense to Corolla or Sentra owners). :-)

All in all, though, you’re probably better off in the long run with a “proper” PA setup, instead of messing around with these alternatives. Mike has a good setup. Maybe a slim version of his would be a possibility?

Good luck!
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Old June 30th, 2004, 05:52 AM   #10
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I want to thank you guys. Good advice all around. My last question pertains to the fact that we're using a Toshiba tlp-s10 lcd projector - the amps will be able to hook up into that? As far as the outdoors venues go, well, we're winging it. Sometimes 20 people show up and sometimes its 200 (we're working in rural villages in Gabon - and a/v stuff seems cool and new to these audiences). Based on what I've read, i'm picking up the m-audio sp-5b, and now I want to pick up a microcube amp to experiment with, if it won't be a problem to attach it to the projector. (We have two teams in two separate locations). If things work out as I hope, we'll look at a more complete pa system next year.
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Old June 30th, 2004, 05:59 AM   #11
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One last thing, then we're off to the forest... in Gabon, the electricity is 220v. And I wanted to know the difference in sound quality between the roland microcube and, say, altec lansing atp3 computer speakers.
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Old June 30th, 2004, 03:10 PM   #12
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Douglas, maybe you can answer this better than I, but I would think it may be difficult for the M-Audio SP5B to project across 200 people adequately outdoors. Lope, you have to remember that outdoors, you don't have room boundaries to reinforce your sound. Bass frequencies will sound especially lean due to lack of modal buildups. Then again, if you're going to be treking around the forests of West Africa, maybe lighter is better, eh?
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Old July 1st, 2004, 09:02 AM   #13
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I've been pondering this very question. I've been
considering the Mackie 824 as an affordable choice,

http://www.mackie.com/products/hr824/index.html

and the Dynaudio BM-15a as a speaker that can
also serve as an excellent studio monitor.

http://www.bayviewproaudio.com/dynaudio_bm15a.html

If you're going to Africa, know that choice gear can have a problem with
being 'lost' in customs. Beware.

A cheap (and I mean cheap) alternative are Yamaha computer
speakers. We have some YST-M15s here.
They don't sound bad and cost like $50 for a pair. $20 on Ebay.
You could string out several pairs to cover a decent area. If they
are lost you'll not suffer too badly. If you need something larger,
you may be able to rent them for peanuts. A friend who's done
lots of sound work in Africa tells me that you can rent an ADAT studio for
something crazy like $15 a DAY?!
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Old July 1st, 2004, 09:10 AM   #14
 
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<<<-- Originally posted by Harris Ueng : Douglas, maybe you can answer this better than I, but I would think it may be difficult for the M-Audio SP5B to project across 200 people adequately outdoors. Lope, you have to remember that outdoors, you don't have room boundaries to reinforce your sound. Bass frequencies will sound especially lean due to lack of modal buildups. Then again, if you're going to be treking around the forests of West Africa, maybe lighter is better, eh? -->>>

Of course the SP5B won't work well in a situation of outdoors, 200 people and have any SPL. The original post has gone from a 60 foot room with less than 100 people and occasional outdoors to over 200 people in the wilds of Afrika. Somewhere in there, I guess I got lost. Only Lope can decide what's going to work in terms of balancing carried weight vs numbers of people attending.
Regarding the Altec computer speaks vs the microcube....it's not even a contest. The Microcube would eat those for lunch.
I'd consider carrying a small system and renting to supplement if necessary.
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Old July 1st, 2004, 07:56 PM   #15
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If I had a space and weight restriction, I think I'd try for 4 small speakers for the the high end, placed at the 4 corners of the venue and then go for one pretty hefty sub.

I have a 10 inch Velodyne sub for my theater system that is capable of driving passive stereo speakers. It will thump your chest in even a fair sized room. It has an adjustable crossover and volume controls. One could slave 2 speakers a side off of it if you wanted.

I don't think it is powerful enough to do 100 people outdoors but the next step up might.

Sounds like the guests won't really have any mental reference point against which to compare your system. So you should be able to get away with a bit less than you would in the U.S.

For a tropical environment, I'd be very careful what you select or you could find the local fauna and flora chewing the speakers to pieces. Maybe outdoor speakers would be a good insurance policy. Get good connectors and cables and then get a spare set too.

All that said and I've got to tell you that I have a little 20 watt battery-powered PA system that I bought from Radio Shack. It was priced at $39 (demo unit) and I couldn't resist. It even has a wireless receiver built in so if I bought their $80 wireless microphone, I'd have a full system. But it is quite good. I've used it in parades to drive one side of the street from the bed of a semi-trailer. Very intelligable if not exactly high-fi.

BTW, the MicroCube has a microphone setting so the typical electric guitar response curve isn't present when you use that setting.
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