Welcome! If this is your first visit, you will need to register to participate.

DO NOT use symbols in usernames. Doing so will result in an inability to sign in & post!

If you cannot sign in or post, please visit our vBulletin Talk section for answers to vBulletin related FAQs.


No announcement yet.

Once and for all PA/Monitors

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Once and for all PA/Monitors


    So, you have an edrum kit and can't figure out how to best amplify the thing. This first post in this thread should answer most of the basic questions about what works best and provide links to the more detailed discussions that have taken place over the years. The second post will list by brand and model a variety of options that have been covered at one time or another here.

    Yes, this is a daunting subject but what we've tried to do is put the best information in one location. We're not covering items like seperate PA amps, powered mixers, sub-woofers (except by reference), in-ear monitoring (IEM) or the nuances of live sound (unbalanced vs balanced signals or how to route signals for example). Rather, this should get you in the ballpark when it comes to picking the correct components for your specific needs. Lots of things to choose from! Let's get started.

    General Considerations

    First, make a distinction between a PA speaker and a monitor. Now, in many cases, they can used as both but some manufacturers make dedicated monitors that are fine for YOUR ability to hear but won't cut it as an amp for your audience to hear or even as a generic stage amp for other bandmates to hear. I'll try to differentiate between the two where appropriate. Keep in mind that any PA speaker will be more than adequate as a monitor. In fact, in many cases, you can look at a lower-wattage version of many speakers that will serve as an adequate monitor.

    Second, whatever you get needs to reproduce the highs, lows and other qualities of electronic drums. Depending on a few things, amplification choices come down to:
    • Specifically designed edrum amp (powered speaker).
    • Keyboard amp (powered speaker).
    • PA amp (powered speaker).
    • Bass amp (powered speaker).
    • Guitar amp (powered speaker).
    The last two are not recommended. Guitar amps just suck as edrum amps and while a bass amp will do in a pinch, you lose all the highs.

    Of the remaining three (edrum, keyboard, PA amps--unless otherwise specified, assume anything that says "amp" is referring to a "powered speaker"), all have their pros and cons. Keyboard amps are often a good entry point because of cost, ease of use or a fellow band member already has one. What's more, many edrummers find that a keyboard amp/sub-woofer combo offers the best overall sound. If you prefer to not have a sub-woofer, look at powered PA speakers that have a 15" speaker. 12" speakers typically don't provide enough low end. Some might but most don't. Lastly, a dedicated edrum amp (like Roland's TDA-700) offers everything in one package but as you'll see, cost and weight are mitigating factors with this approach if you plan on gigging. When in doubt, at least one specification to look at on any given powered speaker is the frequency response. If you're concerned about low end, look for a the lowest frequency response number you can find amongst the models in quiestion but keep in mind that that's not always a great predictor of how a speaker will sound. Remember, what is "right" is very much an individual preference.

    Third, consider portability, particularly if you're regularly gigging and expected to provide much of your own PA. You already have enough edrum crap to lug and setup, believe me, having to move one or two 60+ pound speakers is no fun.

    Related to second and third, you'll have to decide if you want passive speakers (1-2) powered by any kind of amp, or powered speakers. While passive speakers *can* cost less, you need to take into account the cost of the amp that's driving them. And for most applications, you'll need at least 150w. Sure, some of us get by on little 15w keyboard amps for practice and rehearsal in small spaces but if you want to really reproduce your sound, you'll need wattage to throw at the audience...not to mention to compete with the guitar player. Most of what will be discussed here will center around powered speakers.

    Fourth, reliability. Time for a quick Behringer digression. If you've been playing music for even the smallest amount of time, you've either seen or heard of Behringer equipment. They offer items that are feature rich and prices which seriously undercut everybody else. There's a reason for that. Their build quality is uneven. If you search here in vdrums, you'll see plenty of stories about how Behringer products crap out in a fairly short amount of time. Others have had no problems. One trend is apparent: almost anything Behringer that's a powered amp or speaker will blow on you at levels other brands easily handle. There's a reason you won't see lengthy threads in here about how someone's JBL Eon 15 system blew up. You will see those threads on Behringer products. Now, if all you plan on doing is playing in one or two places for rehearsal purposes, and at something less than ear bleeding levels, take a look at Behringer products. If you treat them like fragile china, chances are, they'll be fine. Even then, it can be a crap shoot. So, if you plan on gigging and banging around equipment, save yourself some money and endless frustration and look to other brands for your PA/Monitor solutions. Okay, end of Behringer digression.

    Fifth, cost. Many of the models listed will cost you at least $4-500 a pop and there's a tendency amongst edrummers to want to have two speakers so as to take advantage of the stereo sound of the kit. For many, if all you want to do is hear yourself at home outside of the headphones, spending a grand on what is basically a monitoring solution is a bit much. That's where you should look at the lower-powered speakers in a particular brand's line. Or go with a personal monitoring system.

    Incredibly Useful Discussions
    A bazillion opinions on your "amp of choice":

    A great discussion on two of the oft-recommended amp solutions, the JBL Eon 15 and the Mackie SRM450:
    You'll find references to other possible speakers and discussion on how to fix audio problems like humms and hisses.

    Another thread on the same subject:

    One more:

    Discussion about the pros and cons of JBL and Mackie speakers:

    A head-to-head comparison on the Roland KC-550 and the Peavey KB4:

    A side-by-side comparison of the JBL Eon 15 G2, Mackie SRM450, Roland KC550 and Roland PM-30:

    One drummer's monitoring setup for his entire band:
    Even if you don't do this, you'll learn quite a bit about how to do it and most likely can find suitable substitute (read, cheaper) components to do the same thing, only less loud.

    A discussion on dB Technologies and Mackie speakers in PA and monitor modes:

    An explanation of the basic audio issues that will help you understand why speakers sound the way they do plus some great DIY links if you want to build your own cabinets:

    Now that you've digested years of experience and opinions, the next post will give you a list of components as well as some discussion.

    Last edited by grog; 12-04-08, 10:35 AM.
    TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro

  • #2
    When looking at this list, remember each model often has a "little brother" that might work and cost less. Power and the ability to provide bass goes down with each "smaller" speaker you use.

    Brands and Models to Consider

    TransActive Drummer (Powered Edrum Amp) . Budget ($200) personal amp/monitor. (http://www.alesis.com/transactivedrummer) Close in specs and performance to the Roland PM-10 and the Simmons DA50. Lots of inquiries about it here but no actual users. 50w, 10" woofer.

    32C Sona (Powered Keyboard Speaker) . A niche brand, this is comparable price wise with others at $650 (http://www.proaudiosolutions.com/product-p/sona32c.htm) but like many other keyboard amps, comes highly recommended for use with edrums with sufficient low-end to avoid using a sub-woofer. 250w, 15" woofer, 43 lbs.

    L1 Personal Amplication System (Powered Personal Monitor). Full details at https://www.vdrums.com/node/20454. Moronically expensive...like all Bose products.

    KB Series (Powered Keyboard Speaker). These are no longer made. If you can pick one up, literally cuz they weigh a ton, they come highly recommended.

    LM12A or LM15A (Powered PA Speaker). The "A" means powered. You can get these unpowered as well if you have a a seperate amplifier or powered mixer. The difference in the models is the size of the woofer and output. (http://www.carvinguitars.com/lm/).

    Crate no longer makes powered keyboard speakers but you'll see many references to them. You can still pick up KXB-50s used on ebay and something like the 50 or the older KX-80 would make a decent personal monitor. Older Crate keyboard amps have the KX moniker, so if you see a KX-80 or KX-100, they're keyboard amps. The KX-100 could be used as your amp for house sound when combined with a sub but again, this is a used option.

    dB Technologies
    dB415M (Powered PA Speaker). A helpful discussion: https://www.vdrums.com/node/13485. Although that model is no longer made, the Opera Live 405 series is the equivalent with 15" woofer. The Opera Live 402 is the 12" version. Michael Render uses the older 405s as monitors.

    Basic Line 200 and 400 (Powered PA Speaker). Both utilize a 12" woofer, the difference is output (400w vs 200w). Think of these as potential monitors although the company also make dedicated monitors.

    RMC Audio used to carry dbTech equipment but no longer. Go to the website (www.dbtechnologies.com) to see how you can get these in the states.

    Eon 15 (Powered PA Speaker). No longer made, they were JBL's first generation PA speaker.

    Eon 15 G2 (Powered PA Speaker). The second generation of this PA speaker. 15" woofer, 300w, lots of input options, 46 lbs. $5-600. Low end frequency response of 39Hz which shows you the "on paper" difference between this and a powered speaker with a 12" woofer. For a helpful discussion on the Eons: https://www.vdrums.com/node/26868. This model, along with the Mackie SRM450, is one of the most recommended edrum audio options in vdrums.

    SRX Series (Passive PA Speaker). SRX712M: 12" 800w 2-way, 33 lbs; SRX715 15" 800w 2-way, 48 lbs). These are very expensive, the 712M is $815, the 715 is $1260.

    Kempton Audio
    GT12A (Powered PA Speaker). This is a dual use speaker (PA and monitor), it has as 12" woofer, 37.5 lbs, 250w. It's at the lower end of the price spectrum ($300-350) for a powered speaker with its capability. A number of vdrum members have recommended it. RMC carries these (www.rmcaudio.com).

    KSC Series (Passive PA Speaker). The various models in this line are dual use speakers (PA and monitor) and are quite affordable. A 15" cabinet runs just over $100. One thread https://www.vdrums.com/node/55287 outlines one use for them when combined with a modest subwoofer. Full specs and where to buy: (http://www.kustom.com/product_family...ilyID=83&Tab=0).

    SRM450 (Powered PA Speaker). One of the most referenced PA speakers on Vdrums. It only has XLR inputs so you'd need an adaptor. The venerable 450 model has been discontinued but it's been replaced by the SRM450v2, a lighter version (40 lbs). Considering that the original weighed 51 pounds, that's improvement. 12" woofer so it's low end frequency response is around the same as the Kempton GT12A (50-55Hz). I've found these on the web for as low as $605 but the standard price is $750.

    SRM350 (Powered PA Speaker). Like the 450 only with a 10" woofer and less power. Standard price is $600.
    General details from Mackie on the SRM: http://www.mackie.com/products/SRM450v2/.

    KB3/KB4/KB5 (Powered Keyboard Speaker). A review of the KB4 as an edrum amp can be found at http://www.edrumming.com/reviewpost/...hp?product=51; for a dissenting view: https://www.vdrums.com/node/32921. The KB4 weighs a ton (82 lbs; the KB5 weights 94 lbs) like most Peavey equipment but comes with a built-in handle and casters to ease movement. The difference is in output (60w for the KB3, 75w for the KB4, 150w for the KB5) and speaker arrangement (the KB3 has a single 12" woofer, the KB4 has a 15" woofer while the KB5 has two 10" woofers). Some people don't think the KB4 has enough mid and high end--that doesn't seem to be an issue with the KB5 which also retains the low end of the KB4. Prices: KB3: $300; KB4: $400; KB5: $540.

    KB 100 (Powered Keyboard Speaker). No longer made but owned by many. Our very own gingerbaker says his Peavey KB/A keyboard amp is fantastic on mids and highs, much better than the JBLs. He uses a KB/A 100 with a sub woofer. More specific details at: https://www.vdrums.com/node/9192. You can pick up KB100s on ebay for next to nothing. Combined with a decent sub-woofer and you're likely to have a credible edrum amp system for around $300 for small venues.
    Next to the Mackie and JBL models, Peavey is the next brand with active useage experience amongst vdrums members.

    K10 and K-Sub (Powered PA Speaker and sub-woofer). The few reviews here of the K10 with or without the S-Sub have been uniformly positive. Generally, QSC gets rave reviews which is understandable given their equipment is pricier than others. Price for this rig is $1700. The K10 weights just 32 lbs while the K-Sub weighs 74 lbs. One discussion: https://www.vdrums.com/node/55034.

    ART 312A & 315A (Powered PA Speaker). The usual 12"/15" woofer and power differences between the two models. Both models weigh 44 lbs. Prices have dropped in recent years so check around. The few people who have em, love em. One discussion: https://www.vdrums.com/node/18651 and an update:http://vdrums.com/forum/showthread.p...008#post579008 .

    PM-3 (Powered Personal Monitor). No longer made.

    PM-03 (Powered Personal Monitor) http://vdrums.com/forum/showthread.p...w-Roland-PM-03 and http://vdrums.com/forum/showthread.p...500#post577500

    PM-10 (Powered Personal Monitor). Single cabinet, this is a "dedicated" edrum monitor. 30w, 10" woofer. $275. According to Michael Render, it's underpowered and anemic. In his words, "no articulated lows, no crisp sizzle. I would look into a keyboard amp before getting this thing."

    PM-30 (Powered Personal Monitor). One cabinet with two 4" satellite speakers that mount on your rack, this is a "dedicated edrum monitor" with more oomph than the PM-10. 200w, 12" woofer, 2.1-channel system. $695. Michael Render reports that the PM-30 works best as a personal monitor but not a stage monitor.

    TDA-700 (Powered Edrum Speaker). A dedicated edrum speaker, the only one made. A nice 3-channel, 240w system with 15" woofer but weighs a ton (114 lbs) and is expensive at $895. Like the Peavey tanks, it has casters that make it easy to roll around but if you ever have to lift the thing. No longer made. Too costly to ship but if you can pick one up locally via craigslist.

    KC-550 (Powered Keyboard Speaker). There are many reports scattered around vdrums, most are positive but a fair number say it needs to be used in conjunction with a sub-woofer despite its 15" woofer. 180w, 64 lbs (has casters). Is designed to work with Roland's KCW-1 powered sub but any other powered sub would do. One report using a passive sub going thru an amp: https://www.vdrums.com/node/59836.

    KC-880 (Powered Keyboard Speaker). This will do everything and you might not even need a powered sub-woofer. It's an able replacement for the KC-550 and the TDA-700. If money and weight were no object...http://www.rolandus.com/products/pro...?ProductId=990.

    SA-300 (Powered Stage Speaker). Designed as a lightweight, do-it-all PA, it can act as a replacement for any of the other Roland items. Some have expressed concern about it's ability to handle the low end https://www.vdrums.com/node/13701 and unfortunately, nobody here at vdrums has had any direct experience with it. Full details from Roland:http://www.roland.com/products/en/SA-300/index.html.

    DA200S (Powered Personal Monitor). Another "dedicated" edrum monitor and is the rough equivalent of the Roland PM-10. 12" woofer, 50w, 100w, 57 lbs. $300. Simmons gear, in general, has a mediocre reputation in vdrums, however, those here who have it like it. Moreover, online user reviews rate it pretty solid although like most monitors of it's kind, it's good for smaller, low volume venues. https://www.vdrums.com/node/51632

    TH-15A (Powered PA Speaker). $350. 15" woofer, 2-channel. 180w. 36 lbs. Built by Mackie. Reviews here are very mixed. For the positive ones: https://www.vdrums.com/node/33302, https://www.vdrums.com/node/30630, https://www.vdrums.com/node/32314, https://www.vdrums.com/node/54525. Now the negative ones: https://www.vdrums.com/node/33274 and .

    K4 (Powered Keyboard Speaker). $850-1160. 12" woofer, two 4.5" mids, two 2.5" tweets, 3-channel. 300w. 57 lbs. On paper, it has a surprisngly low frequency response for a cabinet built around a 12" speaker (down to 20Hz). One very positive review https://www.vdrums.com/node/54776. More general info and specs:http://keyboards-midi.musiciansfrien...FRBx5Qod8EKDAQ. Shop around, you can find these for as little as $850 and even Amazon carries them for $900.

    BR or S Series (Passive PA Speaker). These are dual use cabinets PA or monitoring. Models currently are BR12, BR15 (or 12M and 15M for monitors, the only difference is the cabinet). The S112V and S115V and the monitor versions (SM12V or SM15V) are similar. The difference within each series is in the woofer size. These passive cabinets work fine as monitors with the 12" woofers and can be used as PA speakers with the 15" woofers (the difference in low end with these is actually quite pronounced). The S Series weigh up to 60 lbs, the others in the 40s.

    MSR 250 and 400 (Powered PA Speaker). Both have small woofers relative to their power output (10"/250w for the 250, 12"/400w for the 400) but in most other ways, compare well with the Mackies. The 250 would be fine as a monitor. The few reports on vdrums about the 400 indicate that while it has great sound, it lacks somewhat in low end and when compared side-by-side with a Mackie SRM450.

    MS100DR (Powered Personal Monitor). Another "dedicated" edrum monitor, this one's the equivalent of Roland's PM-30. Two small satellite speakers and a 100w sub. The sub weighs 66.5 lbs. Price: $629. Like the Roland, it's not considered loud enough in many gigging environments.
    Last edited by grog; 05-24-12, 12:25 PM.
    TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro


    • #3
      Grog. You are The Man.

      Really nice job and kudos to you for helping out the Vdrum community!
      Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance


      • #4
        Great post man!

        'lectric drumma
        Roland TD-20, Hart Dynamics 7.6, 2 x PD-7, extra PD-7 and Hart Snare laying around, Vic Firth Dave Weckl signature sticks, Axis A-longboards double pedal, Sony MDR-CD780 headphones and not enough inputs.


        • #5

          An EXCELLENT comprehensive post. Hopefully this will clear up many of the questions people have regarding on-stage monitoring.

          I can only imagine how much time you spent compiling all of this useful info.

          I should point out, though, you may want to change some of the info you included about JBL powered speakers. I only mention this to avoid any potential confusion for those ready to purchase.

          To my knowledge, there is no such thing as a "powered SRX series speaker". I have used the two you included (the 712M floor wedge, and the 715 trap-box) EXTENSIVELY... They are two fantastic sounding, light weight, PASSIVE speakers.

          The powered offerings from JBL are the JRX and PRX series.
          *TDW-20* KD-8 w/Iron Cobra single, PD-125, PD-80R, VH-11, PD-8(X3), CY-12R/C, CY-8(X2), older MDS-6 rack with additional lower crossbar for support, Roc 'n' Soc Nitro, ATH-M50 and MDR-7506

          Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think...


          • #6
            But Grog, you didn't answer, "what amp should I buy?"

            Great post. A bunch of hard work that is truly appreciated.


            • #7

              Great job Scott... thanks for taking the time!
              website | youtube | facebook | group | newsletter | message | recommendations


              • #8


                • #9
                  The JBL entry has now been corrected.

                  At the risk of turning this into the monster that the headphone sticky eventually became, this will be a good spot to post any experiences with other brands and models.

                  Last edited by grog; 12-03-08, 06:35 PM.
                  TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro


                  • #10

                    Thanks so much for a needed read. In a couple of months I'll be back home from an Afghanistan deployment and will be in the market to buy an amp for my newly acquired TD-8. I had read about the Behringers being a good buy and had my mind set on getting the Eurolive B215, but I don't to end up buying a lemon. By the way, what is up with the ridiculous looking dots on the forehead? Is there some sort of v-drum cult that I'm not aware of?!
                    '94 Tama Starclassic maple 24" & 22" bass drums, 10",12",13",14" 16" toms, 20" Tama gong bass, 8" & 10" Tama concert toms, 14" Ludwig timbale, Pearl quarter toms, various snares and A Zildjian cymbals....
                    Roland TD-9 module, 2 PD-105s, 2 PD-85's, 1 PD-120, CY-15R, VH-11, 2 CY-12 cymbals, 2 KD-7 kicks, TE3.2 Hart Pro snare and DW/Tama hardware.


                    • #11
                      Kudo to Grog!
                      My compact kit.


                      • #12

                        I hope you don't mind I post a question in your thread.

                        The market is flooded with cheap 5.1 home theatre speakers. Many AV reviews say all of them have ok low and high responses but suffer from weak midrange. That got me thinking. They may be mediocre for AV diehards. But isn't that a good match for e-drums which emits mainly extreme low and extreme high frequencies? (I'm talking about practice/rehearsal in a small space.)

                        Pluto mentioned in another thread he uses and is happy with Logitech Z-2300 (a 2.1 speaker) which has aveage RMS 200w. I think it goes for USD$100-200? 200w sounds about right for e-drum. If it works out, that's very good for value. Does anyone have any experience with these?

                        EDIT: Found this brief review of Z-2300 tested on TD-9.
                        Last edited by sciomako; 12-04-08, 05:17 AM.
                        My compact kit.


                        • #13
                          Themplayahz: First, get home safe and thanks for your service. Second, the green dot's was just me being silly during a previous Rock Boat cruise.

                          sciomako: Thanks for the link to the review. It's always helpful to have more reviews. Now, as for using a home audio system for what is, in effect, a pro audio system, it's not recommended. There have been some discussions in amp/monitoring threads on this subject--I didn't include them since they're considered to not be robust enough for edrum requirements. Now, Some Day Grey has posted his experiences, at least briefly, with a home setup. The general consensus is that home audio systems distort the sound very easily and, more importantly, can be easily damaged in the process.

                          TD-12, DTX502, SD1000, EZDrummer, Diamond Drum 12" snare, S1000 toms/cymbals/kick, PCY10/100/135/155, CY-5/14, Hart Ride, Hart Acupad 8" kick, Epedal Pro II, Concept 1 pads/cymbals, SD1000 & Roland V Sessions racks, PD-7, Kit Toy 10" splash, DMPad ride, SamplePad, PerformancePad Pro


                          • #14
                            One speaker that I'm curious about that was not mentioned is the Peavey PR15p (the powered version). Can anyone comment on that? I found a few references to it doing a search but nothing with any real world comparisons to the JBL or other equivalents.


                            • #15
                              JbL EON 15 G2

                              just for those who CAN'T figure out the url that Grog referenced for the JBLs, it is http://www.vdrums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=32438

                              Great work, man, really impressive! Thanks...i read through the thread a couple of times, even though i have no immediate use for it, but i learned a lot...
                              TD9+6v with Diamond Electronic pads, and cowbell.
                              ATH-50m headphones, VEX packs
                              not to mention keyboards, guitars, basses, and cats