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EV ZLX-12p vs. EV SXA360 and review

Discussion in 'Tools Of The Trade' started by digitalphantoms, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Ok guys, haven't posted a review in a while so I thought I would get in a partial review really quick tonight.

    Electro-voice ZLX-12p review and comparison the SXA360.

    This was done in a controlled environment not in a live setting.

    ZLX-12p | SXA360
    ______________________
    First audible
    frequency at 50 feet
    at unity input levels
    46hz | 32HZ

    random frequencies
    selected 50 feet on
    axis.
    100hz 84.3db 85.7db
    500hz 89.1db 90.6db
    1.8khz 86.5db 87.2db

    max spl taken
    at 50 feet with
    signal sweep 50hz
    to 10khz 101.5db 102.8db


    Ok, lets talk about features and perception.
    First of all, I like the look and setup of the ZLX better. They are both about the same weight. pole mount is centered on axis of the speaker of the ZLX. (i hated the off axis setup of the SX series). The handles on the ZLX make it a true winner for ascetics and mobile use and mounting although I do not like the only side handle on the left side of the speaker, because I am right handed and its easier to pole mount a speaker with the handle on the right IMO. The grill and hardware of the ZLX appear to be superior in build quality to the SX, HOWEVER the ABS plastic cabinet of the SXA360 is far more dense and stronger I believe then the composite build of the ZLX. In fact I was surprised to find the amount of "cabinet flex" as I like to call it in the ZLX. It is known that anytime the cabinet in a speaker system "moves" you loose efficiency of the structure, therefore output. I give the build quality of the SXA360 cabinet a much better rating. The LED on the front of the ZLX and the fact that you can turn it off or select it for use as a limit indicator makes the look of the cabinet and functionality better compared to the SXA360.

    The ZLX cabinets cannot be stacked on a vertical plane. So don't plan on using them in multiples in stacks. The sx series you could and there is a reason for that I will get to in a little bit. However, note that if one wanted to turn the ZLX cabinets on their side (not in the 50 degree monitor position) but truly on its side that you can actually stack them on a horizontal plane almost like a line array.

    Overall sound perception wise, I still like the SXA360 better. The stats show better performance too. HOWEVER, let it be known that off axis the ZLX shined a bit better because of the wider dispersion. (90 degrees compared to the 65 of the SX series). The ZLX sounded MUCH more harsh driven into clipping. The amount of processing and DSP on the ZLX would have led me to believe that it would have done a better job controlling the intentional overloading. But it did not.

    That takes me to the DSP on the ZLX (this is the first thing most people talk about). It gives you a wide range of setup options and I am not going to highlight them now because you can watch any youtube video and see this over and over again. However the ZLX wins in terms of functionality for DJ's and small live performances because of the DSP and input options. As well as a larger horizontal coverage. two 1/4 xlr combo jacks and a 3.5mm stereo in. Then you have independent control over each input AND a system volume control too. A built in mixer. NOW for the SXA360, this wins for bigger and larger setups for multiple reasons. It's constant 65x65 degree dispersion making use in multiples and arrays far better. It also only has one input.

    However, since you cannot buy the sxa360 anymore I am choosing to not give a ton of info on that. My purpose was to compare EV apples to apples from generation to generation of speakers. Something not many have done.

    The other thing to keep in mind. Price point. I could buy two of the ZLX cabinets per one of the SXA's. So that makes it an overall winner hands down.

    The price point is amazing for what you get. I hope this helps folks. Please shoot me any questions you might have.
     
  2. BillESC

    BillESC Member

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    Nicely done Randy.

    I've added the ZLX15P's to my rental inventory and am quite happy with the decision.
     
  3. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Bill, Thank you I really appreciate that. I am going to gig two of them with a pair of SBA760's for this weekend wedding reception and see how they do in a live situation. THEN, i am going to use 6 of them for stage monitors for a band coming to town the weekend after. We will see afterwards how they do.
     
  4. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    OK gentlemen. Here is the recap after this weekends use of 6 ZLX 12P'S for stage monitors only. They provided monitor mixes for the Jesse Dee band. A very well known band from Boston.

    >they look the part - they look sharp on stage and do well on their 50 degree monitor wedge feet.
    >they are just as easy to connect to our system as any other powered monitor
    >I pre-set each wedge with the DSP location to "monitor". I was excited to see if we were going to get a much better starting point for EQ with this setting as normally we struggle with having way too much 500hz and below in the wedges.
    >I quickly found out that the monitor setting in the DSP was NOT it. We started our sound check and my backline monitor mix guy quickly called me away from the FOH mix to trouble shoot. I immediately noticed the vocal mix sounding totally hollow and empty. I had to put the DSP setting back to pole. The naturalness came back.
    >Because these have a wider dispersion angle then the past few monitor wedges we used we had to be careful where placement was. I found more feedback being introduced into the system then with previous wedges. HOWEVER, once we got the locations tweaked I found MORE headroom in the system and I think this was because it was a more even sound on stage. The aux mixes didn't have to be as loud as in the past because it covered better perhaps? So this allowed for considerable more headroom over the FOH mix, especially on vocals which was of course awesome.

    I am doing a fireworks show with 4 of them wednesday so we will see what kind of coverage I get out of 4 of them covering a football size parking lot FULL of people.

    I was going to attach pictures, but i don't have time to resize every picture before uploading it. REASON number 412 why the facebook forums are becoming more popular. EASE OF USE!
     
  5. Conanski

    Conanski Active Member

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    That's not surprising, the old SXa's are 350w RMS boxes(the LF amp essentially determines the max output potential of the whole box) while the ZLX are rated 1000w AES(as best I can tell) which is roughly equal to 250w RMS.
    AES power is defied as a pink noise signal with 6db crest factor, so while these boxes may be capable of similar peak SPLs the ZLX will run out of headroom on bass heavy material quicker. But that said they are lighter and arguably better looking with the full coverage grill so what's not to like.
     
  6. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Paul,
    Thanks for the comment. I agree that they look much sexier, aesthetics are great, love the handle locations, have more input options etc.

    I also found that the compression driver on the ZLX is inferior as well. The SXA's had the good ol' DH1 compression driver which a great driver. The top end runs out of headroom much before the low end.

    I did a large outdoor firework show with two of the ZLX's up on a 12 foot crank lift and I was very surprised to find that they did a great job filling the area. (about a football size area) i purposely set them up for failure thinking that two of them would not be enough, but found because they have a larger coverage angle that you just don't need as much output. The other thing I was shocked about is that this was the first time I ran them without a sub and they actually have a better output of lower frequencies then the SXA's did. I left there scratching my head. I can't figure out why.

    As you said, they are under powered, I found that they actually don't produce much if anything below 60hz (the sxa's could easily dip down to 40hz) and the ZLX cabinets seem to experience a lot of "cabinet flex" when you are pushing them on the lower notes. I also found that I did not reach clipping on the lower stuff as fast as I did on the higher frequencies.

    So EV must have pulled off some interesting engineering on these. They REALLY fit the need of the average DJ I believe. You cannot beat the price point. I don't think you can beat these cabinets for weddings and small parties. What do we see in MANY situations? The average lower end DJ will show up with two powered 12" speakers on sticks for many of their events. I would actually be more likely to do an event without a sub with the ZLX then with the SXA due to the more bass output.

    However, I am not sure how these cabinets would do in multiples in an array type setup. Because of the wider dispersion I think they might suffer from comb filtering and phase issues.
     
  7. DJSTEVEZ

    DJSTEVEZ DJ Emeritus

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    I have to say I find this thread to be like an on going adventure story...and I'm waiting with baited breath for the next installment!
    Just don't inexplicably go to black as an ending ;-) -Z-
     
  8. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Steve you crack me up. I have another wedding with the ZLX coming up this Saturday. So inevitably I will have another "adventure" to add to the story. I decided to test these zlx for a solid month on several different events before I decide to pull the trigger on them. I currently have 6 cabinets in total.

    Out of the 6 the only flaw I have found, is that one of the consistently does not provide output when powered on. (it will show the input signal present and also show that it is sending the output, but nothing in the output source. The odd thing is that if you are to turn the gains all the way up you can actually hear a little of the system noise come through. So the amp is working, it's just the DSP not allowing a signal to go through I suppose. I turn it off and turn in back on and it works every time. So we shall see.
     
  9. Conanski

    Conanski Active Member

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    Oh that's interesting... and here's a possible explanation. From what I can tell these boxes have a single channel amp in them they are not biamped, so when pushed you'll hear distortion in the highs first just like you would with a passive speaker/amp combo. As a result it may be that the compression driver in these boxes is more failure prone than it is in other powered speakers.. time will tell I guess. So far I have only seen low frequency drivers blow in powered speakers but those are bi-amped boxes and in those the high freq amp is often big enough that it almost never gets pushed into clipping.

    Yeah I have seen similar things in very large rooms and outdoors, sometimes removing all the reflections and interference walls create is a good thing. I'm currently trying to sell some of the lower powered boxes I own and the ZLX is right at the top of the list as a replacement so I have been reading all reviews I can find.
     
  10. BillESC

    BillESC Member

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    I provided sound for James Justin & Co. on the 4th. Mains were ZLX-15P's and monitors were EX-10's. Got rave reviews.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Looks good Bill! love the small compact setup! You used ex 10's for monitors? aren't those almost better then the ZLX's for mains?

    Paul, are you talking about getting rid of your Thump speakers for the ZLX? If so, I think that is a hell of an upgrade.

    For the compression drivers, you can tell they are just not as efficient as the DH1's. They are smaller and cannot throw as far either. BUT, for wedding DJ's, or smaller events they are perfect. I was just used to grabbing 6-8 of my SXA360's and 6-8 SBA 760's and go and do a decent size outdoor event with a thousand people. I could then take a couple of the same SXA's to my wedding the next weekend, or use them as stage monitors, etc. They were well suited for all events. I think the ZLX series was specifically designed for DJ's and smaller live performances and cannot be used in multiples for larger events. Which is fine. They are priced right, work excellent for the application they are designed for.

    Oh more thing, the ZLX's mic pre-amps do NOT have phantom power... so if you are trying to use a condenser mic directly on the input's you would have to throw it through a mixer first. Not really a big deal, I don't know many people that would even try this anyway.
     
  12. BillESC

    BillESC Member

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    Most certainly but I was looking to impress the band, not the audience...
     
  13. Conanski

    Conanski Active Member

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    Yeah.. everything is an upgrade from Thumps :) I mean I love how light they are and they actually sound very decent.. they just don't get very loud. I have an SXa250 here right now that I'm fixing for a customer of mine(DJ blew the woofer) and it easily out classes the Thumps even though it has roughly the same power.
     
  14. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Paul,
    I like the sound of the SXA250 a lot. It has the same amp module as the SXA100, but since it is a wooden cabinet and a 15" driver it has a really nice sound. Again, not even close to the SXA360. I wish they would have built the SXA360 in a 15" version. If they would have thrown the SXA360 amp in the SX500 cabinet it would have been a winner for sure. However, they now have the ZXA5 which stomps anything in its size and price range.

    I have never been a fan of the Thumps. they sound really harsh when pushed hard. So hopefully the ZLX are a big improvement for you.
     
  15. Conanski

    Conanski Active Member

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    Sold my Thumps on Wednesday... picked up some ZLX-12p's yesterday. My local dealer has a bunch of different brands in stock so I had a listen to a few just to see. First up were the new Behringer B112D's, these things are the only "1000w" speaker that costs less than the EVs so I had to compare. Man are those things small.. we're talking 15% smaller than the EV's in all dimensions. Soundwise... they get loud but otherwise sound like a $260 speaker meaning.. OK but nothing remarkable... pretty much just like the Thumps with more power. The sales guy also said they get harsh when pushed which is the same complaint I have about my B512DSP's so maybe this is a bit of a Behringer trait. From there we switched right over to the ZLXs and oh yeah.. night and day difference. Very sweet high end detail and surprising bass output even in the standard "Music" setting. And yeah I see what you mean by cabinet flex it's pretty obvious on the flat side opposite the handle, but it doesn't seem to hold them back much they still crank it out. Then just for giggles I had him hook up the ELX112p's and what do ya know...they sounded pretty much identical. We couldn't crank the speakers too much with other customers in the showroom so maybe it just comes down to maximum output potential between these boxes, but my initial impression is that the ZLX sounds like a more expensive box than it's price would suggest. When I got them home I had opportunity to further explore the features and try out some familiar music and the first thing I noticed when hooking them up were the locking XLR connectors. I have had issues with cables falling out of connectors on the Behringers in particular, so right there before you even turn the box on there is a little device that makes it feel like you're dealing with professional equipment. Now if we could just get them to switch the AC connections to Powercon. To much to ask in a $400 speaker??.. maybe.. at least they included nice long IEC cables.. those things have got to be about 10' long so they won't be pulling on the socket with an extension attached and there is enough cable to strap it neatly to the stand.. thumbs up on that. So then on to some music, played a bunch of different things from original CD that I know is well mastered, nice detail on vocals and high hat cymbals.. mid-bass a little muddy on some tracks but I have heard this with my other speakers so I think it's the recording not the speaker, and switching to the Live preset cleared that up. I then pushed them to see what they can do and they get pretty loud running fullrange and sound better than my Berry's doing it.. no surprise. But most of the time these will be deployed with subs so I engaged the sub setting at 80hz and found that there was at least 6db more output before "limiter" began flashing in the display and at that point these things were seriously loud. I'll have to drag out a sub and try them together another time, but it appears I may finally have some powered tops that can keep up with my subs(SRM1801).
    Overall I'm thrilled with these things so far, they look and sound very good and are real easy to handle so we may have a winner on our hands.. outstanding value for the money IMO. Paulie Likes. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  16. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Paul,
    I am glad that you like them. I am finding that I might have been over critical and possibly was asking too much of the cabinets at first hence why I was so quick to say they maybe were not as good as EV's reputation had hoped to make them. HOWEVER, I just finished yet another wedding with two of them and one SBA760 and I can't get over how their even dispersion makes such a better overall sound AND you don't have to get them as loud. What I think I have found today that I am not too fond of, is that the pole mount seems to be off the vertical axis because of the different shaped side the cabinet actually tends to lean toward the "heavier" side a bit on a stand. This is easily corrected if you have a stand that has one adjustable leg, but not so easy on standard stands. Not sure why EV didn't catch this....

    Here is what else I am finding (similar to your finding) they actually get to clipping on the low to mid bass very quickly i'd say around 125-175 hz best guess. Which is no surprise as it's a 12" cabinet.

    Paul did you find that the high's may not be as intelligible as some of your other cabinets? I seem too miss "crispiness" I had with the SXA360's. I could always tone that down with EQ, but I actually find myself gaining some of the high frequencies on these ZLX, which I have never done on any cabinet before from EV.

    Overall, I am still very impressed. Looking to add 6 more of them for a total of 12 on my side. My business partner will likely pick up 12 of them too. Unless he goes the KV2 route.
     
  17. Conanski

    Conanski Active Member

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    Funny you mention this.. I noticed one of mine didn't quite sit straight on the stand, tightening the set screw seems to help a bit and overall it's not too much of a lean. I have seen this with other speakers as well... this past weekend at the wedding I was doing uplighting for the DJ had some big Yorkville NX750p on stands and one of them had a serious list to one side, compared to that the tilt I'm seeing with the ZLX's is no real concern, I have addressed this in the past with some strategically placed gaffers tape on the stand tip.

    I haven't had these long enough to really compare them but first impressions are that the high end is very good, if I have a chance to tomorrow I may do a few more comparisons. One thing I have noticed in the past is the venue you're in can have a significant impact on the highs, in some rooms I find myself boosting them and then at the next gig I have to flatten the EQ again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  18. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    Paul, the zlx have vertical ridges in the pole socket. I found that black zip ties slid up in the grooves allows a great fix to the problem while also not getting the gaffers tape stuck to your stand. Just thought I would share. Keep us informed on your additional findings. Interested in knowing your thoughts and experiences
     
  19. Conanski

    Conanski Active Member

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    Had the new Z's out on their maiden voyage this past weekend.. which turned out to be more of a baptism by fire but they performed admirably. Event was a fundraiser with a live band with guest singers and the ZLXs got mains duty over subs at FOH in a medium sized restaurant.. maybe ~200 guests. I didn't mix I just did the setup and then rode shotgun and ran lighting which was just as well because both the band and guest singers were all south asian and I didn't understand a word of it. The band was great and so were the singers but the BE was pushing the vocal levels towards the end of it and audibly clipping the desk(A&H Mixwiz 3) which made me cringe so I had to back the levels out a couple times.. seems he was a button twiddler that just couldn't leave well enough alone and had to keep turning things up. But the ZLX's took it in stride and are no worse for wear, still sound great and damn... these things get loud, I gotta say I was impressed and so was the event organizer, the system got great reviews and the dance floor was packed all night so it would seem the event was a hugh success.

    On Sunday I checked everything out and had a chance to compare the ZLXs to the B512s I have and
    man... that was not pretty. I never thought much of the Berrys sound but next to the Z's they are positively horrid.. and they weigh a ton so I think I'm gonna unload them next.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  20. digitalphantoms

    digitalphantoms New Member

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    did the drum kit go through the mains as well? did you have subs? Glad everything worked out well. thanks for the report and the picture.

    I have 4 or 6 ZLX's going out on a relay this friday/saturday. This is a football stadium with a full track around it. Not sure if I am going to take 4 or 6 yet. We will see how they do for that. Outdoor gig 24 hours straight, in the 95 degree heat and they will be out in the sun all day. Then I am going to take 8 of them for FOH (with subs of course) on a Samantha Crain /Band for about 1000 people. We shall see how they do...
     

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