Hands-On Review:Electro-Voice SxA360 Powered Loudspeakers
Pristine full-range sound, compact convenience
By Ara Ajizian
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Electro-Voice has proven to be an innovative force in live sound technology. It goes far beyond music too—EV provides loudspeakers, amplifiers, and microphones for stadiums and other sports venues, broadcasting facilities, even movie theaters. The company’s reach into so many sonic markets is a testament to its understanding of sound. Already familiar with the exceptional quality of EV’s Sx Series of passive speakers, I was happy to accept the review assignment for the SxA360, a beefed-up, 1,000W biamplified version of the Sx300. I had plenty of ways lined up to put them to work, and that’s exactly what I did.
Having lugged my share of PA speakers, and knowing that powered speakers typically weigh much more than passive ones, I made sure to stretch out my back before loading up the pair of SxA360 speakers into my truck. I immediately noticed that I wasn’t struggling to lift them . . . they actually did qualify as lightweight! Lots of manufacturers label speakers as "lightweight" when they’ve got no business doing so, but at just 36 lb., the SxA360 certainly lives up to the tag.
The fully molded copolymer exterior has the same sleek, professional look of the Sx Series, complete with a powdercoated steel grille to protect the 12" LF driver. The molded-in high-frequency horn is driven by a 2" titanium-diaphragm driver and 500W peak-rated internal amplifier, while an additional 500W-peak amp drives the 12" woofer for clear distinction among the high, mid, and low frequencies. This separation is also aided by active crossover circuitry in each amp. Other sound-enhancing features include constant-directivity horn compensation, which ensures consistent, even sound from the high-frequency driver across the coverage area, and a limiter circuit to prevent clipping.
Playin' with the band
The first test I had lined up for the pair was with my improvisational noise-rock band, The Meh Project. Lately we’ve been holed up in our guitarist’s studio/rehearsal space writing and recording demos for our debut album, so there’s definitely a lot of auditory experimentation happening. Our "sonic wizard," Ron, recently purchased a Rocktron Prophesy II preamp/FX unit, but had yet to put together the power amp and cabinet, so we decided to hook him up to a single SxA360. Using the included feet, it was a snap to set it up floor monitor-style so it was at the same level as our amps.
Ron was a bit skeptical that a two-way loudspeaker would deliver the punch he needed for some of his presets. It only took a minute to alleviate his worry—the SxA360’s low-frequency amplifier and 12" woofer performed splendidly, broadcasting rich, round warmth on his clean patches and plenty of oomph for his grittier, distorted sounds. Even though it’s a two-way speaker, the midrange had superb clarity, while the 2" driver and molded horn produced sparkling highs. Ron commented that the speaker was voiced perfectly too; he had used headphones when creating his presets so all EQ settings were in the unit itself. The SxA360 reproduced them exactly as he intended without additional coloring.
Since it’s a small room, the other SxA360 was put on vocal duty. As soon as I started singing, the improvement was evident over the small passive speakers we typically use for vocals. Each word came through with outstanding articulation, and even though we were in tight quarters, there wasn’t any feedback. The SxA360s passed their first test with flying colors!
Now that they had proven themselves in a rehearsal environment, I wanted to try the SxA360s in a live setting. Each year a good friend has an outdoor party on his property to celebrate the arrival of spring. This year, in addition to asking my band to do a set, he wanted someone to play DJ as well, and I happily volunteered. We got there early and set up the band, miking everything through our mixer and running out to the Electro-Voice speakers. I also had my laptop hooked up to the mixer to pipe the party mix through when we weren’t playing. Everything sounded good at sound check; we hoped that everything would be loud enough for the 100 or so people expected for the event.
I got the afternoon started with a nice mix of tunes, mainly rock and hip-hop. The sound was incredibly crisp and balanced regardless of what I played, and I was impressed with the minimal amount of EQ-tweaking required on the mixer from song to song. The coverage area was broad for such compact speakers too, allowing everyone to hear the full range of sound throughout the yard. Another thing that jumped out at me was the huge bass response of the SxA360s. Any pro DJ looking for high-end sound with a fat bottom end would be well-served by them.
We rounded out the evening with a short set from the band, and it was very well received. Even with the entire band miked up, each instrument still had its own space in the mix, and the vocals came through with exceptional clarity. And with the level control set at about 60% of its maximum, there was still plenty of power available if needed.
A sound investment ... in sound!
Given their history and reputation, buying an Electro-Voice product isn’t exactly a gamble. With the SxA360 powered speakers, your investment will go that much further given their versatility. Thanks to top-notch components and amplifiers, as well as circuitry and design elements that maximize their sonic efficiency, they maintain outstanding sound quality whether you’re using them for speech, miking an entire band, or pumpin’ beats at a local club. Plus, they’re truly lightweight and can easily function as powered floor monitors with the included feet. If you’re looking for a high-quality, extremely functional set of powered speakers for your band or venue, look no further than the SxA360 from Electro-Voice.
Features & Specs
- Lightweight, compact design
- Dual 500W digital power amplifiers
- 350W RMS/500W peak LF amp
- 150W RMS/500W peak HF amp
- 12" woofer
- Class-leading 2" titanium-diaphragm HF driver
- 65° x 65° constant coverage horn
- 129dB maximum SPL
- Linear response reduces feedback
- Electronic crossover
- Constant directivity horn compensation
- Neutrik combo connectors
- Balanced XLR out
- Built-in polemount/suspension points
- Functions as floor monitor with included feet
- Made in USA