12" vs 15"

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rfielder

New Member
....now THAT is a subject line that would fit into many other forums as well....

My question - how to choose between tops with 12" drivers vs tops with 15" drivers.

My intented set up - two tops and a sub, with a second sub or larger subs added when needed.

It has always been my impression that a larger speaker will push more air, therefore be louder and likely sound better.

However, recent experiences, and discussions here at ProDJ, are forcing me to reconsider this.

The experience - renting various pieces of equipment as part of research before deciding what to buy. All is Yorkville equipment, since I am close to a Long & McQuade store, and they are very inexpensive to rent from, and they are part of the Yorkville empire. I am not stuck on buying Yorkville, but this gives me opportunity to compare apples to apples.

I have rented the following speakers: NX600 15" 600W passive, NX750P, 15" 750W powered, NX550P, 12" 550W powered, and NX300, 12" 350W passive. Amps have been the MP6d (160W x 2 @ 8ohms), M810, and M1610 (600w x 2 @ 8ohms).

So far, the best sounding setup was with the NX550P's, hooked to a Numark PPD9000. The worst was the NX300 hooked to a M810 (half the power of the M1610).

The two 15" tops were OK, but not as nice at the NX550P setup.

I used to own Yorkville Y150 speakers, an Yorkville AP2020 amp, and a Yorkville LS200P sub, which was a sweet setup and did a lot of work. I am looking both to create a much better sound, and maybe save some weight on the speakers - the Y150's are 62 pounds, and at the end of an evening, that just seems to be getting heavier to lift down as the years go by....<smile>

Chat here has also indicated that a lot of 12" drivers can give a better sound quality than other 15" drivers.

OK, sound quality aside, how does one choose between 12" and 15" tops?

Do you save the 15's for huge rooms or outdoor work? Are 12" sufficient for most crowds in most rooms - from long narrow legion halls to huge gyms? Add a couple more 12's as needed?

If a 12" and a 15" both have the same SPL rating, and assuming the ratings were done in the same way, so they are directly comparable, does it mean that both speakers are equally loud? And will sound the same when standing 50 feet away?
 

Bob Dietrich

Active Member
It depends on many factors really...I've heard 12" speakers outperform 15" and visa-versa. All things being equal (which is rarely the case) the advantage of the 15" speaker is the ability to usually have a better bass response...more extension with more authority if you will. If used stand alone the 15" would seem to be the better unit.

If you use this main cabinet as part of a biamped system by integrating a subwoofer, much of the advantage of the 15" speaker is lost on this application as you will ideally be using a crossover to make a good blend point with your subwoofer...usually at 100Hz or higher meaning in most cases the 12" speaker will be just as capable performance wise, less expensive, smaller & lighter.

Personally, unless it's a spoken word event or one that has no dancing I will always use a subwoofer system regardless of how many people are present...it just plain sounds better!

One final thought...I've seen 2 operators in the last 2 weeks that ran a biamped system with subwoofers, yet was still running their top cabinets full range...I found both systems to have a great deal of "mud" in the 70Hz to 120Hz range...overall sounding poor while negating the advantages of using a crossover and properly biamping.
 

rfielder

New Member
JMA_Entertainment said:
The only thing I will say about the 12" and 15" is that the 15" will give you better low end response.
Thanks for the comment!

Are you referring to sounds that fall into the domain of the sub (~120Hz and lower), or to sounds from ~120Hz up to the crossover point in the top?

Since I will always be using them with a sub, would that be an advantage?
 

rfielder

New Member
Bob Dietrich said:
It depends on many factors really...I've heard 12" speakers outperform 15" and visa-versa.
Bob:

Thanks for your comments!

Understood. That is why I stated that all else is equal. I think it is true to say that a high quality 12" will outperform an el cheapo 15". That is not the issue here - when I buy, I will be considering mostly from the same line.

They will always be used with a sub for music. If voice only, drop the sub, but that is very rare for me. I just find music with a sub to be better balanced, usually with the sub turned down to balance the sound, not to give thump.

If going 12" gives a better sound than a 15", and equal carrying power, it might even be possible to buy a higher quality 12" by spending the amount the 15" would have cost.....

Bob Dietrich said:
One final thought...I've seen 2 operators in the last 2 weeks that ran a biamped system with subwoofers, yet was still running their top cabinets full range...I found both systems to have a great deal of "mud" in the 70Hz to 120Hz range...overall sounding poor while negating the advantages of using a crossover and properly biamping.
Why use a crossover if you don't use it? <grin>

Having two different types of speakers overlaping can't help but sound like crap. Makes about as much sense as setting the crossover on the sub at 80Hz and the crossover on the top at 120Hz. That might even sound better - bad music sounds worse than dead air! <grin>
 

bjojade

New Member
You also have to look at the rest of the speaker. Often times, units with a 12" driver versus their 15" siblings will also have a smaller horn in them. That will make a difference.
 

Conanski

Active Member
rfielder said:
Since I will always be using them with a sub, would that be an advantage?
If this is you intended use, then go for the 12's. They do mids better than a 15, as you have heard yourself, are lighter and more compact, and should put out equal SPL. You are not giving up anything.. I would pick the 12 regardless.. I don't like 15+horn combos, period. Now if we start talking 3 way cabs that's a different story.. but these are bigger still.
 

NickyB

Gear and Equipment Moderator
I think I'll dive into this mix. I've always been a strong advocate for modular systems and firmly believe in picking a make/model and sticking with it. This provides consistency in the sound yet allows the flexibility to perform for a variety of events of different sizes.

I currently use a pair of EV SXa-360 12" tops at 500w rms per cabinet: 350w rms on the 12", 150w rms on the horn. I say let the size and average age of your audience be your gauge. Generally if I'm under 100 people, I'll use just the two tops. From 100-200, I'll add one EV SBa-750 15" sub. I do have a pair of 750's but if the music I'm required to play will be 'bass intensive' (like a lot of hip-hop and raggae) I'll swap the EV 15" subs out for B52 Act-18's (I've got two powered "P" models). If the crowds get larger, I'll add a second pair of EV tops.

When it comes to the venue... worst case scenario is a "cube", i.e. equal length and width with a high ceiling. This is an acoustical nightmare and willl require a good EQ job. For longer rectangular rooms, always try to play across the short dimension to attain an even distribution of sound. If you get a lot of 'slapback' you're too loud! Playing the length of a room creates other problems....people up front dancing to one beat, people in the back dancing are listening to an echo off the back wall and are usually out of sync. In this scenario you'd be better off either crossing your sound field or using a secondary set of speakers with a delay to time align the sound.

NickyB
 

classactparty

New Member
If you're using a sub, why kill your back with lifting 15s?

One thing, though, that was not mentioned. 12" tops often have smaller horns than 15" tops. Bigger horns usually project better.

To be honest though, unless you have a strong roadie with you at most shows, I would opt to save my back and go with some quality 12s.

BTW, I think the Yorkville Elites fit into that category.
 

rfielder

New Member
bjojade said:
You also have to look at the rest of the speaker. Often times, units with a 12" driver versus their 15" siblings will also have a smaller horn in them. That will make a difference.
Thanks - that is a good point!

I also see enclosure with three speakers are far more common with 15" drivers than 12". For example, Yorkville has several three way cabinets with 15" drivers, but I can find only one three way with a 12" driver.

Not that I am looking at a three way enclosure, just noticing that there are differences in what you may get with a 15" speaker vs a 12" speaker......
 

rfielder

New Member
classactparty said:
If you're using a sub, why kill your back with lifting 15s?
Because you can get the NX600 15" 600w passive that weights less than most 12" unit, and does sound good. If that is a better investment than a 12" unit, it won't kill my back.

classactparty said:
BTW, I think the Yorkville Elites fit into that category.
The Elite series has one 12" unit, the E12 400 watt unit. They have a lot more 15" units.

They also have the E210, which is 600 watt with dual 10" speakers. Same 128 SPL as the E12, and most others in this price range. I find this a rather interesting unit, something I might have a closer look at. At 52 pounds, I might wish for less, but that is acceptable.
 

Arthur

Active Member
RCF has a 12" with a 2" compression driver and matching horn. I think it's the 322A.

For passives JBL's custom shop can make you a 12 with a 2" for not "outrageous" money.

Don't forget the EAW LA 212. Maybe not! That horn is conical, it probably won't give the throw your lookng for.
 

jjsound

New Member
I have said it here before. With a sub the 12 inch wins for me.

The comparison I performed actually had "all things being equal", same source, amps and subs. I was able to instantly switch between 12s and 15s. I did not have to turn down the amp, walk up to switch the cables behind the speakers, return to the mixer and turn them up again.

I took the feed from the mid/high output of my DriveRack 260 into a sound reinforcement mixer that I could instantly send the signal between two amps and thier respective top speaker at the push of a button.

I prefer the 12s and subs over 15s and subs.
 

Arthur

Active Member
John,

That 260 you're using, are you controlling it with a pc? Are you using the Auto gain feature?

How's it working out?

Don't mean to hijack! You can PM me if you'd like.
 

jjsound

New Member
>That 260 you're using, are you controlling it with a pc?<
I use it with a PC or front panel. The PC is slightly easier but the instructions really S**K!. They have promised a new manual for three years. I think they are just blowing smoke.

>Are you using the Auto gain feature?<
No. I feel auto gain is only for a speech PA or a background music system. Not appropriate for DJ use. I also do not use the enhancer or sub-harmonic generator. Good speakers negate the need for those distortion generators.

>How's it working out?<
I would not do a gig without it. If the 260 is too spendy for you consider the Behringer UltraDrive before the DriveRack PA. The DRPA is dangerous. The DRPA is a stereo unit. The others are dual mono. Much more flexible.

John
 

Arthur

Active Member
I'm using the drpa now. You're right! You have to shut the amps down first of else. I'm actually only using it now for the feedback rejection.

Since I went with the Nexo PS10 system with controller, that unit is doing everything I need.

I know the thread was about 12's vs 15's but I went with this Nexo system with two 10's and a 15 sub with controller that will simply blow your mind. If you ever have the chance to listen to them, check them out. Spl's of 129 for the tops and 134 for the sub!
 

MusicSantaCruz

New Member
JMA_Entertainment said:
The only thing I will say about the 12" and 15" is that the 15" will give you better low end response.
eeeehhhhh....no.

I've seen this discussion so many times in so many forms but it really comes down to this: There are so many factors that determine how a speaker will perform; size is only one little detail. For instance, my LAB subs use (2) 12" drivers and they will outperform double 18" frontloaded boxes all day long.

-Chris
 

rfielder

New Member
MusicSantaCruz said:
I've seen this discussion so many times in so many forms but it really comes down to this: There are so many factors that determine how a speaker will perform; size is only one little detail. For instance, my LAB subs use (2) 12" drivers and they will outperform double 18" frontloaded boxes all day long.
Chris:

For the sake of this discussion, the question is - if all else is equal, how to choose between 12" and 15" tops.

I recognize that a good 12" unit will outperform an el cheapo 15", but that is not the topic here. Same quality, even same manufacturer and model, etc, etc - how do you decide? What is the functional difference?

It has been pointed out that a 15" cabinet usually has a larger horn, which can make a difference.

It has been pointed out that a 15" has better low end, but that is not relevant, since I always use a sub. As long as the sub is matched to the top, and the crossover is set properly, of course.
 
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