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Old February 12th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #1
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Portable speakers

I'm looking for portable power speakers for courtroom presentations off of laptop/projector. The company I work for provides all the equipment but the sound system is particular heavy to transport, a Fender Passport PD-250 Portable PA System http://www.amazon.com/Fender-Passport-Deluxe-PD-250-Portable/dp/B0002KZQ2Awhile nice, weighs in at 66 lbs! and its a little over kill. my last presentation I had the volume set to 1. I'm looking for a lighter substitute that will still provide enough volume and maintain similar level of sound quality as the current system.

My requirements are:
1) must be powered
2) reasonable weight. no more than 10-15lbs
3) durable and portable. no exposed speakers, or separate sub woofers
4) loud enough to fill a court room.

I'm play back voice so i don't think stereo is necessary. I had my eye on mono systems for simplicity sake

Roland CM-30 CUBE Active Monitor Speaker CM-30

Behringer B208D 2-Way Active Loud Speaker

Nady PM-200A 5" Active Nearfield Personal Stage PM-200A
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Old February 12th, 2011, 11:10 AM   #2
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Unfortunately no longer manufactured, the Fostex SPA11 is just about right for this (dual 5" self-powered). This little speaker is great in the vocal frequency range and a bit more, and can get pretty loud, considering its small size.

May be available for rental in your area, sometimes comes up on ebay, etc.

I'd add the Mackie SRM150 (single 5"), and the SRM350v2 (2-way 10") to your list. Some folks don't like Mackie, but this is one thing they do very well - small medium-quality powered speakers. I'd certainly take them over anything from Behringer or Nady.
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Old February 12th, 2011, 10:43 PM   #3
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I'm sorry I can't quote you any model numbers off the top of my head, but Fostex and Anchor are two companies that have some products that might suit your needs... I've used a several models of both brands at a large conference center and was always quite pleased with their performance.

Of course when you say "courtroom" that's pretty broad. I've been in a local magistrate's courtroom that seats about 50 people, and I've been in a federal district courtroom that probably seats 500. The latter would obviously need more playback moxie than the former.
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Old February 12th, 2011, 11:35 PM   #4
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I have used my Edirol MA-15D speakers for presentations in a large classroom; might be what you are looking for....apparently badged Roland now....
Roland MA-15D 4" 30W 2-Way Desktop Monitor MA-15DBKCW B&H
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Old February 13th, 2011, 03:53 AM   #5
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This is possibly heavier than you want but it's on wheels and really does the job. There's an iPod dock on the top, which makes it really flexible.

ION Blockrocker Portable PA with iPod Control Free Delivery : iPod : Maplin
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Old February 13th, 2011, 04:15 AM   #6
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Duplicate post sorry!
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Old February 13th, 2011, 10:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
I'm sorry I can't quote you any model numbers off the top of my head, but Fostex and Anchor are two companies that have some products that might suit your needs... I've used a several models of both brands at a large conference center and was always quite pleased with their performance.

Of course when you say "courtroom" that's pretty broad. I've been in a local magistrate's courtroom that seats about 50 people, and I've been in a federal district courtroom that probably seats 500. The latter would obviously need more playback moxie than the former.
They aren't huge but can have high ceilings. These are for minor civil cases for Connecticut. There is only the judge, reporters lawyer, jury and a handful of ppl watching and everyone is silent.

The speakers I listed don't impress me either but they look durable. I'd prefer a decent set of bookshelf monitors with 5-8 " woofers but they don't seem suited for portability.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #8
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Bookshelf "hi-fi" speakers would probably have slightly better fidelity, but only at the extreme high and low end of the frequency range. They're designed for music listening in a small room. Being somewhat an audio "purist" I hate to say this, but it's true: you don't need that fidelity for voice reproduction.

Most of the bookshelf speakers are at least 2-way systems. They typically cross over around 2kHz to 3kHz, which, incidentally, is bad for voice, because it's right in the middle of the articulation range.

Speakers designed for what you're doing -- portable PA -- won't sound quite as good. They may well have just a single driver, but it will be designed to cover the voice range easily. And portable PA speakers will probably be more efficient, and therefore hopefully smaller and lighter.

Some of the Anchor line were single-driver, but we could fill a 200-person meeting room -- with voice -- very nicely. The Fostex line tend to be a little higher fidelity, but that won't necessarily help you.

Besides, if you want a powered speaker, that pretty much rules out hi-fi type bookshelf speakers anyway.

I've got to admit that I've been "burned" a few times buying speakers without hearing them first. So, if at all possible, find a dealer that carries this kind of thing, and listen before making your final selection, just using our suggestions as a starting point.

-----

By the way, after reading your description of the room and occupants, this may not be as simple as I originally imagined. I'm thinking that you might want multiple speakers, depending on where people are sitting in the room.

Any speaker will be somewhat directional at the frequencies affecting voice articulation... that's just a matter of physics. So your speaker(s) should be facing toward the judge, and towards the jury, and toward the lawyers, and perhaps toward the spectators. In my mind, that might indicate you need a cluster of several small speakers, located as close as possible to each other, facing in the appropriate directions.

You may need to rethink your goal of 10 - 15 pounds, if that was a total weight. You might end up with three or four speakers, each weighing that much. Another advantage of having multiple powered speakers is redundancy: even if one of them dies on the day of the event, you will still have a few that are working, so you won't be blown out of the water.

Anyway, look at the bright side: assuming you charge for this service, three or four speakers will look more impressive, and you can bill accordingly. ;)
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Old February 13th, 2011, 10:35 AM   #9
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Don't US Courtrooms have a sound system or is that just on the TV? Could you not mic. up the laptop to their system?
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Old February 13th, 2011, 10:39 AM   #10
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Why mic it? Use a DI box. The fidelity will be infinitely better.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 10:56 AM   #11
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Sure, if the guy who runs the system will allow a direct feed. However, he's probably the Janitor ad a "jobsworth"!
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Old February 13th, 2011, 11:07 AM   #12
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Anchor Audio PB-30

Three pounds. Battery Powered. The basic unit is about $250 and will do everything you need.

Even comes in colors if you want to add a touch of flamboyance to your otherwise dull proceeding!.

Get a direct cord from your laptop/source to the line input and you'll be in business.

Good luck.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 11:30 AM   #13
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Do have a listen to the Mackie SRM150. It would work very well in that size room.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 05:20 PM   #14
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The biggest thing I'm trying to achieve is easy of transportation. The current setup is very difficult.
- 7' projector screen
- 5' bag with speaker stands
- laptop bag
- laptop bag (backup)
- bag for cables
- portable table
- PA system (speakers/amp) 66 lbs
- hard case for the projector

Just imagine pulling all the equipment out of an office building through several doors, out to snow filled city street to a car parked on the street, then to the court house with only metered street parking, up a flight of stairs, through security screening, more stairs and doors into a court room then setup, all by yourself. All that and you can never be late no matter what the circumstance or weather.

My ideal setup would for all the equipment to be in two storage containers stacked on a cart and a projector screen. You just don't have the time to make multiple trips.

I can see what your saying about a mono speaker not having wide enough angle of coverage. I wouldn't want more than two speakers because I'd be afraid of someone tripping over the wires. I saw the battery powered speakers but wouldn't want to have to remember to keep them charged. Many of the court rooms are out dated and don't have a PA system. Besides it would be too risky to rely on someone else's sound system. We aren't talking about a theater with a sound man. The setup is in the area in between the lawyers and the judge with the speakers and projector screen facing the jury who are off to one side.

I found some powered reference speakers with grills.

Roland MA-15D 4" 30W 2-Way Desktop Monitor

M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 - 20W 4" Two-Way
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Old February 13th, 2011, 05:38 PM   #15
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Pete,

I'm telling you get OUT of the stereo catalogs and concentrate on the established SOUND REINFORCEMENT companies. This is what they EXIST to do.

I mentioned Anchor Audio. Look at their web site. They have systems specifically designed for court room work. Their low end, battery powered systems are EXTREMELY portable. If you need more, consider the Councilman series. ONE speaker and the kind of MIC that you can set on a table and speak CLEARLY to a crowd all day long.

This path is NOT taking something designed for music and adapting it to human speach - it's DESIGNED for speech applications, so you'll get clarity, reach and intelligibility without compromise.

Don't adapt. Buy proven technology designed to do what you need to do.

My 2 cents.
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