OHM BRS-12A3, BRS-12 & BRT-10 System
The first time I ever saw an OHM speaker was in a nightclub in the middle of Oldham, pushed under a bench seat. Near the dancefloor there was another that clubbers used as a table for their drinks. As you can imagine it had been battered, but still sounded awesome despite the fact the club owners clearly didn’t care about the upkeep of their audio. Twenty years later, here I am reviewing one of OHM’s latest systems, and it’s a right bobby dazzler!
OHM isn’t, perhaps, the most high profile audio brand, although they’ve been around for quite a while, operating from their Manchester base for 40 years in fact. The company manufactures a wide range of different systems to suit a huge number of applications: from small, ceiling systems to high-end stadium and touring rigs. There’s literally a product for everyone in the OHM range, and one of their very latest systems has just arrived at my gig tonight.
The system itself doesn’t actually have a name. It’s basically a selection of OHM products that work well together. At the heart of the setup I’m road testing is the BRS-12A3, a 3-channel active ultra-compact 12” subwoofer. This is an all-in-one box that not only packs in the amplification to power itself, but also has the potential to feed another passive subwoofer as well as a pair of mid/high satellites. For the review I tested a BRS-12, which is basically the same as the BRS-12A3 but passive, alongside a pair of BRT-10 passive 10” top boxes.
I’ll be honest, using a system like this does mean you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket. If the sub goes down you’re in deep murky waters with no way out. Which means you’ll also need to carry around an amp as backup, such as one of the models from OHM’s Delta series, developed in collaboration with amp powerhouse MC2. My own preference, if purchasing a system like this, would be to get an extra BRS-12A3 instead of the passive BRS-12, just for that extra redundancy. It will increase the price but brings many advantages to the table, including the peace of mind that if one BRS-12A3 were to fail, the other would keep the music playing. This would also provide enough amplification to power four tops and two passive subs, allowing the flexiblity to scale up in the future.
The BRS-12A3 itself is an incredibly compact, single 12” active subwoofer. Inside you’ve got a custom, UK-made, long-excursion 12” driver. This works really well giving you an exceptionally low frequency response down to 33Hz and a max SPL of 129dB. You’ve also got two 1000W Class D amplifiers to power three channels. One is split between the internal driver and the feed for the external sub (BRS-12), and the other delivers 500W RMS at 4ohms each to two separate satellite outputs (for the BRT-10s).
The whole amp module is super intelligent too, featuring a small touch-screen LCD so you can keep an eye on what’s happening inside and adjust the DSP and limiter settings as you see fit. That’s not all; a USB connector also allows you to control the whole system from your laptop through OHM’s Pro-A-Sync software, which is available as a free download from their website (for both Windows PC and Mac). From there you can monitor and adjust every aspect of the system without having to get down on your knees to look at the LCD display. It’s really quite remarkable to be honest and very easy to use.
The most noticeable thing about the BRS-12A3 when you see it in the flesh is that it’s only just over 30cm in height, which makes it super-portable, perfect for the working mobile DJ. It’s got integrated handles that allow you to pick up the unit regardless of the orientation it happens to be in and, at just 25kg, you won’t need to put any hours in down at the local gym to move it about. When you consider what’s inside, as well as the fact it’s made out of birch ply too, this size and weight really is pretty mind-blowing!
Juice comes from a powerCON TRUE1 connector and there is also a pass-through socket, so you can stack another unit on top and power that too. Audio input is via a pair of XLRs, while XLR Link sockets are also provided for each channel to allow daisy-chaining to additional active speakers or amps. Output is via a pair of 4-way speakON connectors. The Channel A output is just for one satellite, while Channel B carries both the output for the passive sub and second satellite via one cable. This allows for a neat setup where a single cable runs from the active BRS-12A3 to the passive BRS-12, while the second satellite then connects to a dedicated output socket on the back of the BRS-12.
That’s pretty much all there is to say about the BRS-12A3 and BRS-12, which are both solidly-built, aesthetically-pleasing and nicely compact. Oh, the final thing worth mentioning is that they are also available in white too, which will make those DJs who like the ‘all white’ rig look happy.
Let’s move on to the tops, the BRT-10s. These are based on a single 10” driver paired with a 1” compression horn all wrapped up in a matching birch-ply box (also available in white) with a very Hi-Fi-esque look about them. You can mount them on poles using the integrated top hat or OHM also supplies a myriad of other different mounting options to suit various applications. On the back it’s pretty simple, just a pair of 4-pole speakON connectors so you can run them full-range if you like or just output mid-top from the subwoofer through the DSP.
You get a pretty standard 90/60 dispersion and a max SPL of around 128dB. Weight wise, they come in at just over 21kg, which, when you consider is just 4KG lighter than the active sub and 2KG lighter than the passive sub, seems a little on the chunky side. These clearly have been helping themselves to a bit too much buffet (like me) but all of that is forgotten once you connect them up and step on the audio gas.
This is one of those systems where you can’t help but go and stand out at the front and listen, because it really is that good. Acoustic instruments, and vocals in particular, are very well voiced and sound natural and accurate. For house music, I’ll be honest, once I opened the taps I did find that bass was unexpectedly shy but once I had dialed in a bit more through the software, I got a very big sound that didn’t match the physical size of the cabinets I was playing through. There’s definitely some wizardry going on somewhere!
If you don’t want to go down the passive road, OHM do offer an active version of the BRT-10, as well as other smaller and larger cabinets in the range. So, if you fancy 8” tops and 15” or 18” subwoofers, OHM have a comprehensive product range to suit your needs.
To wrap up, I was incredibly impressed by this system – which is available from DJ retailers across the UK – and would highly recommend anyone to consider it as an option if they are looking to renew their sound soon. Although, as I said earlier, if I were spending my money I would seriously consider ditching the passive sub and getting another BRS-12A3 purely for the extra peace of mind that comes through two sets of amps.
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music, insure your gear today and save 10% off your quote - from just £22.50 a year.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 97, Pages 62-66.