Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #24
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Whoever hit on the idea of making a powered wedge enclosure that can also double as a FOH (front of house) speaker is a bit of an unsung hero. The obvious benefit of these multi-purpose cabs is that they allow musicians far more flexibility than traditional wedges, which makes them a good value for money choice. You can use them as monitors for gigs or switch them to FOH duties when all you need is a small enclosure - say at rehearsals or more intimate gigs. They are also extremely useful as stand-ins. Should a main FOH speaker fail at a gig, you can press a versatile monitor into main duty in a matter of minutes.
Proel's WD12a is aimed at use in smaller venues but the first thing that strikes you about it is that this enclosure’s imposing build quality wouldn’t look out of place on a big concert stage. Constructed from laminated plywood and finished in tough looking black scratch-resistant paint, the WD12a weighs a robust but manageable 33lbs (15kg) with a large steel speaker grill as its centerpiece that practically begs for a lead guitarist to plant their foot on it whilst ripping into a soaring lead break!
As a wedge monitor the WD12a feels like a very practical design, with the controls mounted in a recessed side panel/grab handle on one side of the enclosure. The simple control layout includes a rotary master volume adjacent to a combi-jack input and an XLR Link that allows the wedge to interface with a separate powered enclosure when the wedge is employed as part of a full PA system.
A Monitor/FOH switch toggles the voicing of the enclosure between two presets that Proel says are configured to allow the wedge to operate at its optimum performance depending upon whether it is being used as a floor monitor or an FOH enclosure. In use there is actually very little discernible difference in sound between the two modes, apart from a subtle bass roll off when the enclosure is in monitor mode. One positive side is that if the enclosure’s voice switch is incorrectly set, the results won't have a catastrophic effect on your overall sound apart from a slight lack of bass if you happen to have monitor mode engaged when the enclosure is mounted on a speaker pole.
One slight compromise presented by this otherwise fairly neat design is the speaker pole mount. Located on the opposite side of the wedge from the control panel, the speaker pole mount places the control panel on top of the enclosure when the wedge is tipped on its side and used as a FOH of house speaker. It's not the most practical design, but I suppose FOH duties aren't intended to be its main application.
In terms of its power rating, the WD12a is rated at 700 Watts peak and 350 Watts continuous via a 300 Watt Class D amplifier that powers the single 12-inch sub-woofer and a separate 50 Watt class AB that drives the 1” high frequency compression driver. There is onboard analogue processing at work, too, so it's a good, modern and quite sophisticated design with speaker protection as standard.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, the 'coaxial' tag in the Proel's name refers to a method whereby both a woofer (LF speaker) and tweeter (HF speaker) are arranged so that, in effect, the tweeter sits in the centre of the woofer. The advantage is that both lows and highs emanate from the same axis, so giving a more even coverage wherever you happen to be listening. Also, because the two speakers occupy just the physical space taken up by the woofer, the whole cabinet can be a lot smaller than if two drivers had to be housed side by side.
Employed as a single wedge, I found sound a little raw and unrefined but in real terms there is plenty of clean headroom which enables this enclosure to serve as a powerful standalone monitor wedge or FOH speaker. The WD12a’s slightly odd control panel placement notwithstanding, this is a convincing wedge monitor that looks like it can withstand some pretty heavy use. For band use, we'd say it would work well for vocals and guitars and that it's a neat, well priced monitor that could find itself being used a lot due to its versatility.