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This article was originally published in issue #21
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Peavey practically invented the concept of the self-contained portable PA system when it introduced the original TriFlex system back in the late 1970s. The TriFlex immediately answered the prayers of gigging musicians and DJs who wanted a portable PA system that still packed enough punch for small to medium sized gigs, negating the necessity of lugging multiple subs and speaker cabinets, where the compact and self-contained TriFlex would do the job just as well if not better.
The current Peavey TriFlex II offers similar advantages, being compact enough to fit comfortably into a typical estate car or small van while still offering plenty of usable power. Solo performers, duos or bands who mainly use a PA to amplify vocals and perhaps add some extra spread to keyboard and guitar should find that the TriFlex II is ideal for a typical pub or medium sized club venues, although you will need an additional mixing desk to connect multiple sound sources directly to the system.
As its name suggests, the complete TriFlex system comprises three separate speakers: the single 15" low-end sub woofer is complimented by a pair of 10" mid/top satellite speakers whose modular design guarantees that all three enclosures fit neatly together for easy transportation.
Peavey’s reputation for roadworthiness is very much in evidence; the sub is constructed from 18mm MDF and finished in a tough black acrylic paint. A 16-gauge perforated steel speaker grill completes the sturdy look and the twin satellites similar paint job and steel speaker grills appear to be no less robust. The twin satellites also feature a 45° tilt, allowing one or both satellites to be used as a handy floor monitor should the need arise. The overall package also includes a pair of decent-quality 15’ speaker cables with 4-pin twist lock connectors for hooking the up satellites to the sub.
When the TriFlex is in transport mode, the twin satellite enclosures slot into moulded recesses on the front of the sub’s speaker grill and when the unit is fully assembled and tilted 90° upright it can be easily maneuvered using the sub’s built-in casters. The whole system weighs 66.4 kilos (146lbs) but one person can still easily wheel the TriFlex, probably only requiring a little assistance when the time comes to lift the complete TriFlex rig in and out of the car.
In the absence of any bolts or clips to lock the satellites in place, a nylon cover fits over the whole affair and helps to prevent the satellites from detaching from the base whilst the system is in transit. The cover also includes pockets for Peavey’s own PP1 speaker stands - which are available separately - but the TriFlex’ satellites built-in adaptors will allow the satellites to mount on any standard 13/8" speaker poles.
The sub houses the systems electronics, protected from vibration in their own sub-enclosure, and when the TriFlex is set up the controls are protected from accidental damage thanks to a recessed panel on the top. The sub’s three built-in power amps split the unit’s output into 500 Watts (peak) for the sub and 250 Watts (peak) for the satellites, which translates into plenty of juice for small to medium-sized venues.
The TriFlex’s impressive projection is evident in the system’s powerful low end thump, which might cause some concern for the sub’s lone 15" woofer were it not for Peavey’s proprietary DDT (Distortion Detection technology) circuitry; an automatic limiter that detects when the power amp is about to hit a potentially speaker damaging peak and kicks in for a fraction of a second to prevent the drivers from being overloaded. You can't hear the DDT circuit working, indeed you shouldn’t hear any discernible distortion or limiting at all, but it nevertheless plays an important role in helping the TriFlex to maintain its clean and accurate sound reproduction.
Used in conjunction with an iPod plugged directly into the sub’s stereo RCA jacks, the TriFlex’s top end did begin to sound a bit shrill when the system was really cranked-up but most typical circumstances will dictate that the sound source will be fed through some form of mixing console or preamp where the frequencies can be adjusted accordingly. That said; the sub does contain a pair of rotary controls for adjusting the system’s overall master volume and balancing the sub’s output level against the satellites.
The Peavey TriFlex II is powerful enough to comfortably amplify pre-recorded music - we're talking a typical party/pub/bar/small club, rather than a 500-plus capacity super club – and live bands who usually use the PA to give their vocal and backline a little more oomph, will similarly find that the TriFlex II will offer more clout than a typical all-in-one system. If the idea of having three speakers seems a bit lopsided, by the way, bear in mind that bass frequencies are non-directional - bass radiates everywhere, regardless of where the sub is positioned - whereas the mid/tops need to be firing out toward the audience.
If you are playing a gig with a high stage, ideally place the sub on the floor and mount the satellites on poles high enough so that the audience can hear them clearly.
As Peavey's products always seem to do, the TriFlex II delivers a huge bang for your buck and has that indefinable feel about it that says it will just go on performing well for ever. We're impressed!
Check out the full review inc. video of the Peavey TriFlex PA System featured in Issue 21 of Guitar Interactive Magazine.