Peavey SP12M Review. Multi-Purpose PA Speaker / Wedge Monitor.
Peavey’s new SP Series speakers are a range of high power passive loudspeakers for clients requiring high performance sound from speakers driven by external amplification.
There are six models in the SP Series; 2 full range/front of house speakers (SP2, SP4), 2 subwoofers (SP118, SP218) and 2 x wedge monitor speakers (SP12M and SP15M), although the SP12M and SP15M could be considered ‘multi-purpose’ speakers.
Power handling, SPL specifications, and sound quality place them in the ‘professional products’ bracket, but without the high price tags of more ‘esoteric products’.
Speaking of high end ‘esoteric’ touring speaker enclosures, deep inside, I’ve always had a bit of a mistrust of them. I think it stems mainly from a speaker comparison test I did when I was in the speaker building business some years ago. We gathered together a range of products to compare to one of our own models. Some in similar price brackets and market sectors, some from lower down the price scale, but we really wanted to pit our product against some of the really big names. The sort of names associated with high end touring.
We’d spend a great deal of time designing, listening, measuring and testing our product and we really wanted to put it up against some quality product.
A pair of such items we manage to borrow were from two large American PA manufacturing companies. Probably the biggest names in touring loudspeaker enclosures at the time. Similar in concept, size and weight to our own. The list price of both products were somewhere north of £2000 each. Back in the early/mid nineties.
Our findings were staggering. The high end pro boxes were terrible. In every department. They were inefficient. Their response was uneven and coloured. The listening panel thought they sounded dreadful, and on top of it all they were massively heavy with a heavyweight price tag to match. In fact, for the purposes of the test, we got some entry-level enclosures. You know the sort of things , piezo tweeters, pressed steel chassis. I’m pretty sure they were Carlsbro Alpha Series. Whilst they probably didn’t have the power handling specs of the ‘pro’ product, they were more efficient, had flatter response and sounded a good deal more pleasing then the ‘pro’ products.
So I was more than a little interested when Peavey approached us with a high powered, high spec passive loudspeaker product to match the sort of performance claims made by high end touring product but without the ‘esoteric’ price tag.
Another area I have mis-givings for is the active/powered PA speaker / monitor. Particularly at the lower end of the market. So it was refreshing to have a product to test a high powered passive wedge that I could put a high quality, high spec power amplifier upstream of and take a listen. You can read some of my thoughts on passive versus active loudspeaker systems in these two following blog posts:
Active Versus Passive Speakers. On The Noizeworks Live Sound Technical Blog. And:
My more recent exploits as a sound man have been as a monitor engineer, so I was particularly keen to check out the SP12M wedge monitor. So here goes….
Peavey SP12M Stage Monitor / PA Speaker Product Description:
The SP12M is a high powered 2 way passive wedge monitor or front of house speaker using a 12″ low/mid woofer and 1″ mid/high compression driver. The major specs are 500 watt power handling (RMS), 98db efficiency with a max SPL of 125db continuous. Frequency response is 108hz – 14khz, low frequency -10db point is 77hz, and nominal impedance of the system is 8 ohms. Net weight is 23.13 kgs.
Although the product title has an ‘M’ on the end which usually denotes monitor speaker, the SP12M is equipped with a tripod stand mount adaptor, so it can also be used as a front-of-house speaker mounted on a stand.
Black Widow Woofer:
The high power handling of this Peavey wedge monitor is derived from it’s high powered 12″ low/mid frequency unit. This is a unit from the Peavey Black Widow range of rivers and is a 1208-8 HE SF BWX. It has a very large 4″ voice coil and a ‘field servicable basket’ This means that the cone, voice coil and speaker chassis (basket) are a single unit. So the magnet assembly can simply be removed and fitted to a new cone/coil/chassis assembly. So a ‘recone’ of the unit can be carried out within minutes rather than hours.
I doubt you would find another 4″ voice coil woofer with a cast aluminium chassis in any other monitor even close to this price range.
High, and high/mid frequencies are reproduced by an RX22 1″ compression driver mounted on a CH-3R 90 x 40 degree horn.
The system includes a passive crossover network for use from a single amplifier channel. There is no bi-amping provision as standard, so you can’t bi-amp the wedge, a provision that is available on some other high end wedges. If you really wanted to, you could get inside, do some re-wiring and bypass the network for bi-amp operation.
Crossover network components include high power polypropylene capacitors and high current coils. All SP Series speakers are equipped with Peavey’s ‘Sound Guard’ HF protection which protects the compression driver against accidental short/medium term overload.
The input panel has 2 x 1/4″ jack and 1 x 4 pole speaker connector, or ‘speakon’ type. So if you want to wire another speaker in parallel you will need a jack – jack or jack – speakon type cable. I have to say this is not ideal. First of all jack connectors on speakers limit the gauge of speaker cable you can use which seems really strange on a speaker with this level of power handling. Whilst the provision of one 4 pole speakon type connector is fine, it does make ‘daisy chaining’ rather awkward. I would have much preferred 2 x speakon type connectors.
The enclosure itself is manufactured from hardwood panel and is finished with Peavey#s ‘Hammerhead’ polyurea finish. Time is the only real test for loudspeaker finishes so it’s difficult to measure how hardwearing this is, but on initial inspection it’s certainly attractive and seems quite ‘thick’
The speaker is fitted with a heavy duty full steel grille with previously mentioned stand mount fitting (top hat).
The SP12M weight is 23.13 kgs. Not the lightest, but not the heaviest in it’s category. Given that the woofer employs a large ferro type magnet assembly to move the large voice coil, this is actually reasonably light weight.
Peavey SP12M On Test:
So I set up the Sp12M in my demo/testing area. An SM58 dynamic mic, through a Yamaha TF3 mixing console, and then via a RM6044 power amplifier. The monitor was initially set up in it’s 30% angle position with the horn on the outside..
I began by exploring the point at which the system began to feedback and gradually use the graphic output EQ on the TF3 to ‘ring out’ the system. I took out 2 – 4 dbs in a few bands around 8-12 khz. That seemed to give me plenty of system gain and a pretty powerful vocal sound with plenty of bass and warmth. In fact, I was a little bit surprised at how much bass there was from a box that had a -3db low frequency cutoff at around 108hz. I felt the low/mid frequencies sounded a little ‘lumpy’ so I did a bit of work around the 200-300hz area and things started to sound really good. Loads of gain, deafeningly loud, but smooth, controlled and detailed. Ideal for ‘rock n’ roll’ type stage monitoring.
How do I minimise feedback from speakers?: The Noizeworks Technical Blog: Practical Tips on Minimising Feedback and Maximising Gain.
After achieving a loud but pleasing vocal sound I started listening to some CD tracks fed through the same EQ settings and they sounded pretty magnificent. London Grammar’s ‘Hey Now’ was warm and smooth. Plenty of bass response, especially from a compact 12″ system. My dem area has a concrete floor, but on a wooden stage this may need to be rolled off a little.
Switching the wedge over to the 45% angle seemed to reduce the bass response a little. Not sure why. Still plenty of it. I didn’t need to make any huge EQ changes. When switching to this angle, the badge moves to the top of the speaker and is upside down. Not very aesthetically pleasing, so I decided to find out if the grill was symmetrical and could be switched around. I’m happy to say it can, so whichever monitor position you’re using the badge can be at the bottom of the grill and the right way up via the six screws that hold the grill in place. Images below show the system without it’s grill and then replace with the badge in the correct position.
Once I was happy with it’s performance as a wedge monitor I went on to compare the SP12M with some alternative speaker systems. Given the frequency response specifications, I was rather expecting it to be a little bass light but this didn’t seem to be the case. It certainly matched and bettered the performance of all my equivalent 12″ systems and got pretty close to a couple of 15″ boxes I had. So the bass was plentiful smooth and controlled.
I think it’s fair to say that the mid/high characteristics are very ‘focused’ around the vocal area and this is no bad thing. One or two other boxes definitely had more ‘fizz’ and ‘sparkle’ at the top end, but this tended to kind of dilute the vocal response and things did sound a bit ‘splashy’ The SP12M was much more ‘centred’ around the vocal area. In that area it left the other boxes standing, so for vocal monitoring and as a front-of-house box primarily for vocals, it works a treat.
For anyone looking for a high powered, professional pair of stage wedge monitors for touring rigs playing larger venues, or for permanent use in larger venues, and you have around £1000 available rather than £4000 for a pair of more ‘esoteric’ brand products, then I would take a look at these boxes.
Also for sound professionals and hire companies looking for versatile, high powered wedges that can also be used as effective front of house speakers on tripods or above a pair of subs.
The quick and easy serviceability of the woofers in the unlikely event you have a problem is a bonus.
Combined with the right power amplifier, they deliver a combination of power handling, efficiency and transparent sound.
The only real drawback is the connector panel that only offers a single 4 pole type speaker connector which means you will need either a jack – jack or jack – Speakon cable if you need to ‘parallel’ two speakers to a single amplifier channel.
The Noizeworks Peavey SP12M Monitor Listing:
Get a monitor system that will outperform any similar priced active system, offer more flexibility, and still be lightweight and easily manageable. Choose from a pair of SP12M or SP15M monitor speakers, then add power amplifier, processors and case options if required.
Information on Peavey SP Series on Peavey’s Website:
This blog post is presented in an informal manner for general information. I accept no responsibility for circumstances arising from this information or the inability to interpret it.
This blog post was written by Simon Thompson. Owner and MD of The Noizeworks live sound equipment emporium.