FBT ProMaxX 114a
When it comes to DJ PA, there’s one brand out there right now that seems to dominate the discussion in the realm of online DJ communities and Facebook groups and that brand is FBT. So, when one of their most popular product ranges, the ProMaxX series, was recently given a makeover I was first in line to try the new offering. But is it a notable upgrade or just a cosmetic update? Let’s find out…
For those of you who have never heard of FBT (yes, I think it’s possible that there could be one or two), let me give you a quick history lesson. Firstly, they’ve been around a while, over 50 years in fact, and in that time they have designed, manufactured, and built a huge number of audio products. All the magic happens in Italy, in a dedicated factory that houses the entire operation. In short, they have experience in creating awesome products with that familiar Italian flair and eye for detail.
For this review I tried out the ProMaxX 114a, which is the new revision of one of FBT’s most popular products, the 14a. The original has been incredibly popular in the mobile DJ market for many years, and for very good reason. With its unique 14” woofer, it offers a compromise between the low frequency power and sheer bulk of 15” cabs, and the increased mid-range detail and portability of 12” speakers. The compact cabinet delivers a magnificent, well-rounded sound with a very high SPL and plenty of bottom end without the need to carry additional subs for parties of up to 150 people.
One of the very first things you notice about the new design is the full face grille on the front fitted above black acoustic cloth. This now brings the PromaxX series in line with other FBT speakers such as those found in the popular Xlite, XPro, and Mitus ranges. In my opinion, this makes for a far more stylish finish than a traditional design such as the HiMaxx or Evo2MaxX, also from FBT.
In terms of physical size, the new revision is pretty much the same as its predecessor, however it shaves just over 1kg from its weight, coming in at just 17.4kg. It has the same convenient handles positioned on the sides and top, as well as the same angled body shape to allow its use as a floor wedge in a live PA situation. Existing 14a covers even fit the new 114a perfectly, however it’s when you look inside and around the back that you find a heap of notable differences.
Inside the original you would have found 600w low frequency and 300w high frequency class-D amplifiers powering the B&C woofer and compression drivers. In the new version this has changed to a 700w class-D for the LF and a 200w Class-H for HF. The big bonus here is that the amps are now perfectly aligned for their application, resulting in a more efficient cabinet.
Around the back, the first thing that you notice is that FBT has moved from the simple set of DSP pre-sets found across most of its range in the past to an advanced digital panel that provides access to a menu-driven system for selecting DSP options. The small backlit screen is very easy to navigate and shows a ton of useful information such as what pre-set you’re on, the system volume, the high-pass filter setting, etc. Six speaker response pre-sets can be selected via the menu: Original, Vocal, DJ, Touring, Loudness and Warm. After trying them all extensively, I settled on the DJ setting, which offers a very powerful bass response, for the evening party where I tried out a pair of 114a speakers in a live gig environment.
There’s also a location setting, that you can now access via the menu screen, which gives you the ability to optimise the sound based on how you are using the speaker. The available options are Pole, Monitor, Wall, and Array. This is a fantastic feature, I feel, especially if you need to switch between using the cabinet as a main PA and floor wedge for different purposes.
Finally, two user-defined pre-sets are also available. These can be easily programmed with a speaker response configuration, location, hi-pass on/off, gain setting, and more, for easy recall during event setup. Again, this could prove really useful if you use these cabinets in different configurations.
In terms of connections, there’s a standard IEC power input socket with on/off switch alongside a combination ¼” jack / XLR input and an XLR Output for connecting a separate sub or second speaker. You’ll also notice the addition of an RCA stereo input, with its own volume control, which allows the direct connection of an MP3 player or laptop, for example. This now makes the PromaxX 114a perfect for use in a standalone background music application. What’s more, adding a microphone to the input XLR and selecting MIC on the DSP menu allows you to bring a microphone into the mix, which is definitely a major system enhancement!
There are three new models in the ProMaxX range. In addition to the 14” cabinet that I tried out, there are also 10” and 12” options. If you’re considering using them on their own, there’s no physical difference in size between the 12” and 14” so the 14” is the best one to go for. If you plan to use them with subs, or if your average party size is less than 100 people, you may want to consider the 10” units alongside one of FBT’s new Subline 112SA powered sub units that have just hit the market.
It’s very clear in my mind that the FBT team thought long and hard about the design when they updated the PromaxX series. This was already a very versatile collection of cabinets; compact, lightweight, and insanely powerful on the road. The new revisions are all that and much more!
Well done FBT, not only for a worthwhile update but for also listening to the market; top marks.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 83, Pages 78-79.