Powered Speakers Level setting? Need help...

Status
Not open for further replies.

dj Vecchio

New Member
Hello every 1
I have a question that is bothering me. :confused: I have noticed that when i pop in to see or meet new Djs at different events I
noticed that they set the volume on there powered speakes at half volume... Why?
The few people I have asked this question to have no real answer other than this is what i have always do.
I personally run my qsc powered amp that i use for my passive speakers at full volume. Are there huge
differences between powered speakers and old fashion amps, so to speak that require you to only run the volume at half volume?
I run my amp at full volume to get the maximum output from that amp and to nit work it so hard.
I have run it this way for many years and NEVER had any issues with the amps i have used.
I would appreciate it if any 1 here has some input as to how they run there powered speakers and WHY.

thanks alot peeps
 

Mark Evans

Mobile Beat Moderator
Staff member
Great question. I run mine at half and always have because that is what I was told. I imagine it is because of the crossover and electronics but I will leave it up to the gear heads to give us the correct answer. I know that on my Mackies I have 2 settings in back, 1 for mic, and 1 for line.
 

digitalphantoms

New Member
For me, it depends on where "unity" or zero is at on the powered speaker. For example, on my SXA360's, unity is in fact at the physical 1/2 point on the knob, and there is a little indent in the actual mechanism to confirm you are there. It all comes down to gain structures in your rig. You want to allow for the best gain structure and the best signal to noise situations. With out getting into a bunch of technical garb, it all depends on how "hot" the input is on the powered speaker and how "hot" the output is on mixer you are using too.

Search this board for gain structures and you will find a lot of great suggestions on setting up gain structures. having a balanced gain structure will allow for the best performance with the most headroom, and the best signal to noise situation for your particular setup. Sometimes to achieve this means might mean having your gains on your speakers set to the "wide-open" mark.

I know on my QSC amps, I had to always run the gains on the amps wide open because the input impedance level on the QSC's were either 10k or 20k ohms which is a very high impedance input in my opinion.
 

Conanski

Active Member
As Randy alluded to above "half volume" on a powered speaker isn't really half way it's the unity position which means it's neither attenuating or boosting the input signal and this is the position that will allow best signal to noise ratio and full output when the rest of the electronics upstream of the speakers is setup properly. The corresponding position on a dedicated power amplifier is fully clockwise or wide open, but you will find that if you correctly calibrate all the gain stages(trim pots, faders) on you mixer and source for best signal to noise ratio you may not be able to raise the amp gains past about 1/2 way before it begins to indicate clipping.
To calibrate your system for maximum signal to noise ratio start by disconnecting the speakers and tuning all gains on the system down to minimum, then bring up the output level on your source to maximum.. if it even has a control for that.. a laptop will but CD/Media players often don't. Then go to the input trim on your mixer and turn it up until the signal is just below the red on the meters when monitoring that channel, note that the control position doesn't matter it's only the signal level you're concerned with and also that tone controls should be set to flat(no boost or cut). Then bring the channel fader to unity if indicated or 80% of travel, and then bring the master fader up so the levels are just below the red on the meters, and lastly bring the amp gains up until the clipping lights just start to flicker. Other inputs are calibrated the same as in the first 2 steps.. you just need to ensure the source output is maxed and input to the mixer is optimized with the trim control, and also remember to check and adjust the trim if you apply EQ to a channel or if a track has significantly different recording level. Now you can reduce the master fader to 0 and connect the speakers, the system is now considered calibrated and should deliver best signal to noise ratio.
There are situations where you would want the amp gains at max however, if the amp is located away from the operator where there is danger that somebody could suddenly crank up the gains and put the whole system into clipping for example. In this case you don't have much choice, overall you will hear increased noise(hiss) from the speakers and the mixer will have to be calibrated accordingly with much lower gain settings on the master but it's better to be safe than have a situation where the speakers can be destroyed.
 
Last edited:

DJ Jonny T

New Member
When I used passive Peavey SP speakers & subs, with Peavey CS4080 power amps I have the power all the way up. Now that I use all QSC powered speakers and subs, everything is set at 12:00 as that is where they recommend for the most ideal results. I've tried boosting beyond that and I don't like it and won't do it again. I've tried running below that for more quiet settings and I don't like that either - turn down the source is better.
 

dj Vecchio

New Member
Hey Paul
thanks for the input but i am a little lost still...
I guess from what u are saying is that the powered speakers a built to be run at the half way setting, so to speak as compared to the older style powered amp.
I have another question if u dont mind...
"bring up the output level on your source to maximum.. " I take it this implies to the computers output if i am using a computer software program or are u talking about both the program volume as well? I have the coputer volume at about 90 % and the virtual DJ progam master volume up all the way.
I do use a powered amp (just so you know what i am using)


thank you again
 

bill_smith

MobileBeat Moderator
Staff member
The owners manual for the Mackies is very specific to set at 12 noon, or they overheat. the theory surrounding that is exactly as Paul has posted with a very excelletn overview of what unity is. I imagine that most powered speakers are the same.

When you go past unity, you overdrive, and overheat(on the Mackies).
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
ditto on what the others said :)
and
I personally run my qsc powered amp that i use for my passive speakers at full volume. Are there huge
differences between powered speakers and old fashion amps, so to speak that require you to only run the volume at half volume?
I think it would also depend on your amplifier, and speakers, and how well they were matched.
Todays modern amplifiers have tons of protection circuitry built in, so its a lot harder to blow your speakers up..
for example, it was usually recommended to have an amplifier that was twice the RMS power of your speakers or close to their 'program' power..
the more headroom you had, the better
IE: if your speakers were 400 watt program, then a 500 watt/per channel amp was a good match.. (and still is I would think)
but if you were running then amp inputs at full volume, and it was connected to a pro mixer (+4 dbu) then I would have to assume you would be really pushing the speakers to the edge (unless you barely touched the gains of the mixer)


long story longer..
I rarely ran my amplifier(s) more then 3/4 'volume'.

P.S. most of the powered speakers have preprocessing built in.. so runnning it at full gain, is kinda like turning the gain of an active crossover all the way up, which in turn is connected to an amplifier that already has its gain at max.. not needed..
 

Conanski

Active Member
Hey Paul
thanks for the input but i am a little lost still...
I guess from what u are saying is that the powered speakers a built to be run at the half way setting, so to speak as compared to the older style powered amp
Yep that's right. In most situations 1/2 way or the unity position(there is often a little detent you can feel as you sweep the control knob that makes it easy to find) is all you'll ever need.



I have another question if u dont mind...
"bring up the output level on your source to maximum.. " I take it this implies to the computers output if i am using a computer software program or are u talking about both the program volume as well? I have the coputer volume at about 90 % and the virtual DJ progam master volume up all the way.
On computers yes bring all media control levels up to maximum for both the DJ program and the desktop controls.
 

bb

Well-Known Member
For loud events I run my K and KLA series at 3/4 and never have a heat issue. For low volume events I run them 1/2 up.
 

dboomer

Member
I would appreciate it if any 1 here has some input as to how they run there powered speakers and WHY.
Where you set the "sensitivity" control depends on the device that is driving the speaker. The control is not meant to be used as a "volume" control but rather as a gain matching control. The volume should be controlled from your mixer. The position of the sensitivity control does not change the maximum power that your speaker is capable of. If the sending unit (your mixer) is capable you may very well achieve full power at the speakers even if the control is turned up only a tiny amount.

Basically you use the sensitivity control to calibrate your speakers to your mixer so that the meters on your mixer are also the meters on your speakers. IOW when you are in the red on your mixer you should also be just turning on the clip limiter LED on your speakers. If your speakers are hitting the clip limiter before your mixer is hitting the red then you have added extra noise to your system usually in the form of hiss.

In almost all cases . . . you should never run with your amp/speaker controls all the way on. Most power mixers can overdrive amps by 12-18 dB, so you should run the sensitivity controls turned down by the same 12-18 dB.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top