Peavey RBN 112
Peavey is a brand that has a long association with the mobile DJ industry. When I first started out back in the early ‘90s the original HiSys passive cabs were a common choice for many jocks – as well as gigging musicians – due to their robust construction and decent sound quality. However, Peavey isn’t a company that has been historically known for innovation – certainly when it comes to DJ PA – rather as a producer of reliable workhorses. But that seems to be changing, and the company’s latest range of active boxes – the RBN Series – offers something different to everything else currently on the market.
While the RBN speakers may look like fairly standard moulded-plastic enclosures from the outside, they feature an internal component that is far from common. In place of the high frequency compression driver usually found in full-range PA cabs these models boast a 120mm ribbon driver. Usually only found in high-end studio monitors, ribbon drivers offer superior response, detail and dynamic range making for increased quality at the top end of the audio spectrum. For the RBN Series, Peavey’s engineers have developed a proprietary ribbon tweeter designed specifically for DJ and live performance use. Since this has been developed in-house by Peavey’s team, it won’t be appearing on any models outside of the Peavey range, therefore I was very keen to have the opportunity to try out a pair of RBN speakers for myself.
The RBN Series comprises two active full range speaker models, the RBN 110 (£890 SSP) and RBN 112 (£960 SSP). Both feature the proprietary ribbon driver; the RBN 110 pairs it with a 10” woofer, while the RBN 112 features a 12” low frequency cone. The RBN Series also includes two sub models which have been specifically designed for use with the RBN speakers. Dual 15” woofers have been incorporated into the RBN 215’s compact case (which has an SSP of £1385), while the RBN 118 (£1259 SSP) offers the option of an 18” woofer.
For this review I was supplied with a pair of RBN 112 enclosures and my first impressions of the cabinets were positive. With their matt black finish and subtly-rounded edges they have a feel of understated quality. They also feel extremely robust, thanks to their braced moulded enclosure design and thick metal front grille.
Paired with the unit’s unique ribbon driver is one of Peavey’s custom-manufactured Scorpion woofers. This features a 2.5” dual push/pull voice coil neodymium driver that, according to Peavey’s sales blurb, is designed to allow greater power handling with lower distortion and deliver overall improved performance over conventional loudspeaker designs. It also incorporates Peavey’s Ram Air Cooling system, which is designed to radiate heat away from the voice coil and speaker cone.
Power is provided by a purpose-built Class-D bi-amplification system that provides 500 watts (continuous) to the woofer and 250 watts to the tweeter, making for a total power output of 1500 watts (peak). This is fed by an onboard 96K DSP (Digital Signal Processor) which offers a variety of EQ options and other customisable settings.
Eager to put these innovative new speakers through their paces, as soon as I unboxed them I quickly set them up and turned on the power. It was at this moment that I came across my one and only criticism of the RBN 112s. There was a noticeable amount of amplifier noise (hiss), even before I connected up any source equipment, and this was compounded by fairly noisy fans. Now, obviously, as soon as I started to play music this became completely inaudible, however it’s a consideration if you also provide sound reinforcement for wedding ceremonies or speeches.
Despite these initial misgivings, when I connected up my DJ mixer and blasted out some ‘choons’ I have to say that I was impressed. The difference made by the ribbon driver is clearly audible, making for an impressive level of detail and clarity at high frequencies. The speakers also deliver a fantastic sound in the mid-range, bringing out the nuances in vocal performances highlighting musical textures often lost by portable PA speakers. If pushed to find a weakness, I’d have to say it was the low-end. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, just perhaps not quite on a par with the impressive high-frequency and mid-range reproduction.
I’d still say that a pair of these speakers would be more than adequate on their own for covering most of the types of room and sizes of crowd that the majority of a mobile DJs are faced with on a weekly basis. However, for large rooms, or if the client wants a ‘club feel’ for their event, the extra low frequency ‘oomph’ that will be added by either of the two RBN sub models may be required.
The full reviewed can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 85, Pages 70-72.