Proper Settings for Active Loudspeakers

When active loudspeakers came out, it was a great thing.  No more big, bulky, or heavy amp racks.  No more big and expensive speaker cabling.  You just ran a balanced XLR line between the mixer and speaker, plugged the speaker into an AC outlet and you were ready to go.  The only adjustment you had was a volume knob and some first gen active loudspeakers didn’t even have that.  Just the site of that glowing blue LED on the front was awesome (unless that Corporate client made you cover it up because it was a distraction).  Like many things, it needed more.  More options, more buttons, more inputs, and the list goes on.  This is great for the user, if they know what all the buttons do.

Lately, I have been to many environments where active loudspeakers were being used and it sounded bad.  How could this be?  You just plug a cable into the speaker.  The Manufacture of said loudspeaker has taken all the guess work out and fine-tuned the box and amplifier to sound its best.  So, me being the tech nerd that I am, I take a look at the settings on the active loudspeakers and sure enough, something is plugged into the wrong spot or a button is engaged (or not engaged) that should or shouldn’t be.

So what are the proper settings for an Active Loudspeaker?  Let’s take a look.  There are basically two types of loudspeakers.  A full-range loudspeaker, which could be a two-way or three-way box, and a sub loudspeaker, which usually has one or two woofers, ranging from 10” to 18”.

Let’s look at the Full Range Speaker.  I am using an Electro-Voice Live X ELX112P as myfirst example. 

Let’s look at the settings for a sub-woofer.  I am using a Mackie HD1801 as my example.