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This article was originally published in issue #40
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Germany's LD Systems, part of the Adam Hall Group, has been around for a decade or so and has established itself as a major player in the MI and pro-audio markets worldwide. The Maui 5 column PA system is one of LD’s latest products and has recently gained the brand a 2016 IF Design Award for design excellence.
As you’ll have seen in the video, the Maui 5 is an extremely compact system physically, weighing in at only 11kg total, however size isn’t everything as it delivers 800 Watts at peak power, giving a maximum SPL of 120dB - which is very loud indeed!
The Maui 5 is made up of a three-piece column, the uppermost part of which contains the speaker array of 4x3” drivers and a subwoofer in an enclosure that contains the Class D amplification - two 100 Watt RMS amplifiers that drive the column array and the 8” woofer - plus a relatively basic four channel analogue mixer that allows you to balance the unit’s mic, line, instrument/mp3 and Bluetooth inputs, all of which can be used simultaneously. As with all array-based loudspeaker systems (no matter their size) digital signal processing (DSP) is used to control dispersion (coverage) patterns, suppress feedback and to protect the system. In the Maui’s case, LD Systems own proprietary LECC system (Limiter, Equaliser, Compressor, Crossover) takes care of those essential tasks.
Adding to its versatility, the Maui 5 also features Bluetooth connectivity, enabling you to stream audio to it wirelessly, enabling you to use a suitable mobile device to play not only tracks stored on it, but also those from web-based streaming services.
The Maui 5 is one of the easiest systems to set up that I’ve come across - put the subwoofer base in position, slot the three column elements - two spacers and the speaker array - together in the appropriate order, plug in the mains and signal leads and I, apparently, become your uncle. Joking aside, setting up the Maui 5 is, quite seriously, that simple.
The input setup has been pretty well thought out. The line inputs - those that you’d use if you were feeding the Maui 5 from a mixer - are a Stereo/Left Mono pair of XLRs. The stereo pair sums internally, which is useful if you’re only using one Maui 5. If you’re using two Maui 5 with a mixer for FOH, then you’d normally use the Left input on each and drive each one from your mixer’s LR stereo outputs. On the other hand, if you were using one as a monitor, you could plug the mixer monitor feed into the Line input and run a split from your instrument and/or vocal mic into their respective inputs and, using the Maui 5’s integral mixer, balance these and the Line together for a bit of “More Me” when necessary.
Alternatively, if you’re a solo artist using just one Maui 5, you can plug your microphone into the jack/XLR combi connector, guitar (or keyboard) and mp3 backing track player into these sockets and balance them up together. Doing this does expose one of the Maui 5’s shortcuts since, somewhat surprisingly, the instrument and mp3 inputs share a common level control, so you have to balance that pairing together using their own respective volume controls and think of the mixer’s level control as the master volume for the combination of the two sources.
Mind you, for many of us, the incorporation of a wireless Bluetooth input that has its own level control, more than makes up for the slight restriction on the instrument/mp3 input. Pairing is simply a matter of pressing the Maui 5’s Bluetooth Link button, and selecting the Maui 5 on your mobile device.
Once you’ve plugged everything in and start sound checking, you’ll appreciate the presence of the 100Hz high-pass filter on the microphone input, the Maui 5’s high-frequency shelving boost that will help compensate for an acoustically dull environment and its separate subwoofer and master level controls.
To keep you informed of its status, the Maui 5 carries indicator LEDs for Power On, Signal Present, Limit and Protect. For physical protection during transit, optional carrying bags are available for the subwoofer and for the column elements.
The LD Systems Maui 5 delivers a very good overall level of performance. Its two 200W RMS Class D amplifiers deliver a good response across a wide dynamic range, sounding both musical and punchy. The vented subwoofer’s 8” driver delivers a tight, fast bass with good articulation and the column’s four 3” mid/treble array manages to remain smooth and accurate even at high volume levels.
The tightly-controlled 20-degree vertical dispersion, coupled with its 120-degree horizontal dispersion, means that, although you have to take into account the fact that the mid/treble drivers need to sit at audience ear-level, the Maui 5 will cover a wide area quite comfortably.
To help in positioning the mid/treble array at the right height, you can set the Maui 5 up using only one spacer element in the speaker column. This also makes the unit much less visually intrusive and could be ideal in a small gig where your audience is seated or where you are simply providing background music at an event such as a wedding reception.