Hands-On Review:Peavey PR Series PA Speakers
Light done right
By Alex Berkson
A week ago I caught one of my favorite regional bands, National TNT, at a bar in a town a few miles away. There was a good-sized crowd and they played great but I couldn’t help thinking the sound guy must’ve accidentally pressed the suck button. While the sound coming from the stage was incredible, the sound coming from the PA was tinny, weak, and dull, which meant the vocals took the heaviest hit. It was a bummer.
After the show I stepped up to talk to the singer, Ted, whom I casually know through a few mutual acquaintances. I was searching for a way to gently broach the subject of the sound when he beat me to the punch. "Man, our sound was horrible tonight."
"Ummm . . ." was all that came out of my mouth. I was afraid to confirm his assertion too quickly, but my hesitation was all the answer he needed.
"It’s these lousy speakers I rented for the gig. The rest of the equipment is ours, but our speakers crapped out on us last week, and we haven’t replaced them yet so we had to rent these for the gig." I looked over the console and rack gear and realized that the rest of their PA gear was pretty nice and the EQ looked right. It really was the speakers.
"The worst part is not only did the band have to pay to use these puny-sounding things, they’re also really heavy," Ted continued. "It was a pain to load them at home and then unload them and set them up here. I am not looking forward to taking them down."
The speakers did look big and heavy. Conventional speaker enclosure wisdom would lead you to believe they would sound pretty good. Large, solid enclosures with big drivers for a big, full sound, right? Well, in this case conventional wisdom would be wrong. Ted was clearly disgusted, so I changed the subject to some other news. We chatted for a bit and then went our separate ways.
Deliverance on my doorstep
The next day the National TNT fiasco was still fresh in my mind when the big brown truck dropped off several large packages on my front porch. Musician’s Friend had asked me to review some Peavey PA speakers and just a few days later, here they were: samples of the new neodymium-magnet-equipped PR Series. There were two sets of the PR 12 model: one passive, one active. Musician’s Friend carries three different PR models: the PR 10, PR 12, and PR 15, with a 10", 12", and 15" driver, respectively. Each of the models is available in a powered or passive version.
Each PR speaker has a molded high-impact polypropylene cabinet, a horn-mounted 1.4" titanium-diaphragm tweeter, molded handles, 1/4" jacks, a polemount, and a black powder-coated steel grille. The powered models have 270W biamplified power and Peavey’s DDT speaker protection as well. The horn is molded into the cabinets, so you essentially have a lightweight shell with only a few components loaded into it, which Peavey also keeps on the light side. The neodymium magnets Peavey recently started using for the speakers are half the size of traditional magnets but generate just as much movement for just as much sound. In the powered models, the Class H rail-switching power amps are ultralight as well, so you have a powered cab that probably weighs less than your power amp.
Heavyweight sound without the hernia
As I opened each box and lifted the speaker out, I immediately noticed how light each enclosure was. The passive PR 12 felt light as a cat and the powered PR 12P definitely wasn’t much heavier. I carried one in each hand the 500 feet out to my studio without breaking a sweat. Compared with hauling my three-year-old through the department store, the PR 12s were a piece of cake. In my studio I set up each pair using an A/B switcher and a power amp for the passive PR 12s. I noticed the I/O section for the powered speakers had a really cool three-channel mini mixer with an XLR/TRS combo jack for the first channel and independent level controls for all three.
I played one of my favorite CDs into this setup—Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips—taking time to switch between the passive and active speakers during key parts. Both sets handled the extreme crystalline highs, wall-shaking lows, and often complicated midrange with confidence. The sound through both sets was clear, balanced, smooth, and filled the room, putting out enough volume to easily handle most medium-large venues.
Which made me think of National TNT. I called up Ted and told him I was going to drop by the band’s rehearsal space with some speakers to check out. I took both sets over and the band ran through some songs. We used the powered units as monitors and used the passive ones as mains, and each setup sounded fantastic. The whole band loved them and three nights later they passed the live-performance acid test with flying colors too. National TNT ended up buying two sets of the PR 12Ps and ditching their power amp.
If you’re looking for lightweight, reliable, great-sounding loudspeakers, take the lead from me and National TNT–ignore conventional wisdom and put the Peavey PR series on your list.
Features & Specs:
Passive PR 12 features:
- 2-way passive system
- Ferrofluid-cooled 14XT compression driver
- 90°x40° constant directivity horn
- Premium Peavey-designed woofers
- 2-3/4" voice coil on woofer
- Tweeter protection
- Heavy-duty crossover
- Lightweight molded polypropylene enclosure
- Molded-in polemount
- 1/4" jacks
- 400W handling/800W peak
- 12" woofer
- 18-1/4"W x 24"H x 14-1/2"D
- 30 lbs.
Powered PR 12 features (all the above, plus):
- 270W biamplified (70W HF/200W LF)
- DDT speaker protection
- 3-channel input section
- XLR/TRS combo jack on channel 1
- 1/4" jacks on channels 2 & 3
- 12" woofer
- 18-1/4"W x 24"H x 14-1/2"D
- 39 lbs.