Hands-On Review:Peavey SP Series Speakers & CS Series Power Amps

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A duo designed for real-world performance

by Jimmy Mann


There is a common misconception among PA system manufacturers that sound system engineers care about the fidelity of their system more than anything else. The result of this misconception is that a lot of these companies spend a lot of money on ads and product placement contracts with magazines that wax thoughtfully on the high fidelity, incredible power, and response their system is capable of delivering. This type of product advertisement is enticing. So enticing that I even bought one of these systems (which shall remain nameless, for obvious reasons) several years ago when I was still wet behind the ears as a system engineer.


A killer mistake

It performed beautifully for a couple of weeks, but one night while I was running the board for a metal band the amp abruptly cut out. No crackle, no fade, no warning. Just gone. My jaw dropped just before I dove for the rack, scrambling to correct the problem. It was only a few minutes before the amp kicked back in but as everyone knows who has been in that situation, it seemed like an eternity.


The band was understandably upset. And to be honest, so was I. Mostly because I had been taken in by all the audio quality chatter surrounding the product, without asking or thinking about how it performed in the real world. After that experience, reliability and real world performance were placed slightly above audio integrity on my list of features to evaluate when checking out new gear.


Totally trustworthy performance
After some more experimenting and discussions with older and sometimes wiser sound engineers, I chose Peavey. Their  CS Series Power Amps and  SP series enclosures are a world-beating combination.


We're talking, after all, about a company that built a rock-solid reputation based almost entirely on its reliable sound reinforcement gear starting with the first systems they built back in the early '70s. Peavey's PA gear makes Lloyd's of London look shaky in comparison. 30 years of experience, that reputation is made. And it was made by developing their own technologies to deliver better performance based on field testing and laboratory benchmark tests.


The CS Series is an award-winning line of products that includes many exclusive technologies, and has more features than any other commercial amplifier series. They are full of smart design techniques, too. An example is the dual fan array that operates on a thermostat so that the fans kick in only when needed. Air is pulled in through the front of the unit, where the air is cooler, then flows out the sides and rear.


Full of smart ideas
Peavey has a huge portfolio of patented sound reinforcement technologies that make sure its gear outperforms anything else out there. One of the coolest technologies that Peavey's come up with is the patent-pending Turbo V Cooling, a heat sink engineered to provide the power transistors in Peavey  power amps with better cooling, ensuring a longer life span and protecting them from failure due to temperature fatigue.


Another fantastic innovation developed in the Peavey lab is the patented Distortion Detection Technique (DDT) which activates when the power amp reaches full power to prevent the power amp from being driven into clip. You not only get a cleaner signal, you're also protecting the speakers from damage due to power amp clipping.


Speaking of speakers...

Speaker protection is important, too, since the speakers are ultimately responsible for most of the transference of sound signals to the audience. But let's say, for example, that you blow a cone during sound check and don't have a backup unit to use. With the SP  Series


enclosures, you're covered, because they come loaded with Black Widow speakers which feature field-replaceable cone/basket assemblies. Replacing the cone is only a four-step process that involves swapping out the magnet structure from the back of the blown unit to the fresh one and then you're back in business. There's no shipping your enclosure back to the manufacturer, or buying an entirely new unit. It's a huge time and money saver.


Not that you'll have to worry too much about losing one of the Black Widows. They're incredibly tough and deliver great performance night after night. The cones are impregnated with Kevlar (you know, the stuff bulletproof vests are made from) for stellar strength and reliability, as well as fantastic sound performance. The Kevlar makes the cones stiffer than comparable paper cones which keeps the cone from deforming the voice coil. It also results in robust power-handling capabilities with less distortion than regular paper cones.


The Black Widow loudspeakers use extremely high-quality, state-of-the-art components like 4" edge-wound aluminum ribbon voice coils wound on a Kapton former for unbelievable efficiency and response. Peavey also builds large vents into their magnet structure for better cooling.


Like a trusted friend
Maybe after all these years of using Peavey gear, I'm a bit biased, but I believe very strongly that you leave the dance with the one who brought you to it. After being the beneficiary of Peavey's reliable, real-world performance and innovation, I know where I belong. Behind a Peavey rig, riding the faders, and getting all the "Great sound, man!" comments as people file out after a show. It's a pretty good place to be and I owe a lot to Peavey for getting me here.


Features & Specs:

CS Series Common Components & Specs.SP Series Common Components & Specs.
  • Stereo or mono
  • Less than 0.1% THD
  • Temp indicator
  • DDT&
  • 4 ohms mono
  • 8 ohms stereo
  • 2 dual-speed fans
  • Black Widow speakers
  • Ferrofluid cooled compression drivers
  • Titanium diaphragm equipped drivers
  • Sound Guard III driver protectio