Looking for some guidance from the venerable experts, but I'll apologise up front for what might become a rather long post with lots of questions... so sorry :-)
I play in a 7-piece Northern Soul band. We're not out every week, gigging about twice a month or so.
Lead vox (male)
Lead vox (female)
Additionally, four of us do backing vox.
We currentl play through a Yamaha powered analogue mixer and passive peavey 15" subs with whafedale 15" + horn tops. In sequence we run a 2x 31 band eq with feedback detection (not elimination though) and inline with two aux monitor sens e run a behringer feedback destroyer. For smaller gigs where we're not doing a full rig up, we just run keys, sax and vox through foh. The existing system is ok for small venues but begins to struggle once we hit a 150+ venue. At this point we have major feedback issues, we're bouncing off the limiters on the desk and, in my opinion, our sound is lacking. Everyone who has watched us has complimented the performance, but never the sound. The existing gear is about 15 years old and when purchased was far from top of the range.
As a result, I've been looking around at revised pa equipment with a view to trying to fulfil more of our needs across a wider variety of venues and gear which would help us justify a rellatively high gig fee for the wedding/corporate do's, after all, poeple don't expect you to turn out with clapped out tatty old gear if you're charging top dollar for the gig.
For the biggest gigs we'd likely still wet hire with a sound guy but I'm looking for a rig that is scalable enough and flexible enough to handle everything from a 50 capacity pub up to a 250-300 capacity wedding/corporate plus the ability to work a marquee.
I'll be honest and state that Line6 wasn't initially on my radar. My only experience with Line6 being my son's small guitar combo.
my plan is to buy a powered four box system, 2 subs + 2 tops, plus a mixer (current mixer is powered so not a perfect match to use with powered speakers.
Initially, I whittled a shortlist down to QSC K12+KSub, Yamaha DSR115+DSR118W or JBL PRX615+PRX618S-XLF and then set out to audition them.
Visited a dealer who had a pair of K12's which I must say really took me by surprise. It was here that the first mention of the M20D appeared, the store being quite complimentary of it, though the speakers weren't mentioned. Looking at it, I was disappointed with the number of XLR inputs... ruled it out initially because it has 2 less than we currently need.
Found myself a week later in a different dealer auditioning the QSC tops+subs against Yamaha tops+subs. With recorded music, the QSC were head and shoulder above the Yamaha's but as soon as we switched to a direct L+R desk output mix of the band, the QSC's fell away and Yamaha's burst into full song. So the QSC were ejected from my shortlist.
My next trip out was to a dealer who stocks Yamaha and Logic System. For the non UK readers, Logic System (LS) are hand manufactured in the UK and their speakers are widely regarded as some of the best you can get... we've played through hired rigs and they have all been (with one exception) LS. Not cheap though (approx 2x the price of Yamaha) so I was intrigued to see of I could discern the difference in a blind audition, once again with recorded music vs the same desk out recodings. Recorded, the LS were simply staggering, but with the desk mix, the Yamaha got a good deal closer, but still lacked clarity. Whether the difference was worth double the price, not sure.
So on to the Line6 aspects...
This latest dealer also mentioned the M20D. He's used one with his band and was extremely complimentary of it's ease of use/setup etc. Upon mentioning our lineup and xlr input requirements, he stressed re-assessing how we connect everything up. So, I've been doing some in-depth research and it does appear that the M20D is viable. I'm also looking at A&H QU-16 and PreSonus 16-4-2
My research into the desk has also opened up considering the L3 speakers too, though I've not yet been able to find anywhere locally where I can hear them in action.
The whole Line6Link and simplicity is verry appealing.
So here's me questions...
The 1/4" jack inputs on the M20D. Are they balanced TRS or unbalanced TS? This question detrmines whether the M20D is viable. Keys, sax radio mic and bass can go in on jacks if they're balanced.oops, found the answer now... balanced trs. But the apparent lack of full sound processing options/effects on these channels, whilst not a game changer, does have a negative impact.[/edit]
How durable is the M20D? Is the Line6 case for it a wise investment, or would I be better looking for a rigid flightcase for it?
Does the M20D fully remove the need for our inline EQ and feedback destroyer?
What is the build quality like on the L3 speakers? Do they compare well to other powered speakers at the same sort of price point?
Would it be advisable to purchase L3t tops rather than L3m's to have access to the mixers for failsafe if the desk happens to prove unreliable at any time? Or is that just buying features we don't really need? I must admit that having seen the suggestion raised on this forum, being able to rig all our mics direct into the L3t for smaller gigs without the stress of a full desk wireup seems appealing but even without the drums, guitar and bass through FOH, we sill need 8 inputs, 6 of which are mics.
The other subs I'm considering are all 18" bass reflex design. How does the twin 12" sub compare in larger venues?
Realistically, what size of venue would a pair of L3 tops and subs ( ie 2x tops + 2x subs) be capable of filling without bouncing off limiters etc? Would it struggle in a 50' x 25' marguee for example, or in a 300 capacity room?
How "out of the box" are the preset eq options for most inputs on the M20d? It's not me who does our sound, the guy who does it is pretty old school but gets easily stressed. The more ready to roll it is, the better as it means he can focus back on what's important and not be bogged down chasing the pesky feedback round whilst trying to keep the sound good.
Apologies for rambling on, but this is potentially a very big investment and I don't want to spend only to find that I've papered over cracks just for the sake of simplicity. Simplicity is great, but if it is at the expense of control, sound quality and flexibility then I'd sooner have a little less simplicity in exchange for a better quality sound in the larger venues we play.
Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide :-)