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This article was originally published in issue #41
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The Peavey Electronics Corporation has, over the years, been at the forefront of providing musicians with reliable, cost-effective PA systems. The company’s SP1 passive loudspeakers, released in 1975, were game-changers back then with their woofer plus horn driver set-up. Nowadays, the full-range, two-way, horn plus woofer configuration is the most popular portable PA format and, coupled with advances in technology and in material science, has given musicians access to high levels of audio performance at unprecedentedly attractive prices.
Peavey’s PA products have proved popular over the years and the release of the Dark Matter series of active, DSP-equipped enclosures brings that company right up to date. The Dark Matter range is made up of the two-way, DM112 and DM115 full-range loudspeakers and the DM115 and DM118 subwoofers. For this review Peavey provided us with a pair of the 1x12” plus horn DM112 and the 1x15” DM115 sub.
The DM112’s enclosure follows the present day fashion for a lightweight, injection moulded, steel-gridded trapezoidal form factor with three handles (top and either side) and an integral 'top hat' stand mount. The handles and cabinet profile make positioning the DM112 as a floor monitor as easy as placing it on a speaker stand.
The DX14 compression driver (which features a 1.4” titanium diaphragm) sits in a Peavey exclusive 110°(H) x 80°(V) “Quadratic Throat” constant-directivity waveguide. The DX14 is driven by a 250W (peak) amplifier and its companion 12” woofer sits on the receiving end of 410W(peak) of amplifier power, giving the DM112 a total peak output potential of 610W. The amplifier section’s power supply might be regarded as a bit “old school” in that it is linear rather than switch-mode, but this route does have the apparent advantage of being potentially more reliable in the long run. The amplifiers themselves are analogue, which necessitates the inclusion of fan-driven forced cooling to keep them within their operating temperatures.
Input, output and DSP control sit on a minimalistic rear-mounted panel. The input socket is a balanced ¼” TRS jack/XLR combination connector with ground lift. A rotary Gain control takes care of the DM112’s overall volume, its fully clockwise position giving an input sensitivity of 0.39V (-6dB) for full output. With the mic/line switch in the Line position, input is described as being of 'medium impedance'. The Mic position brings in 20dB more gain and, because there is no phantom power, you’re restricted to using dynamic or battery-powered electret condenser microphones. The balanced XLR Thru output carries a full-range copy of the input signal and is intended to connect to another DM112 or as a feed to a powered subwoofer - such as the DM115 Sub - although normally you’d be feeding the DM112 from the high-pass outputs of the DM115, rather than the reverse.
The DM112’s DSP facilities are provided by Peavey’s Advanced Digital Signal Processing (ADSP) system, which features an LCD display screen and a push-to-access rotary encoder. This DSP system not only handles driver limiting and crossover frequency, but also is in charge delivering the driver EQ that is designed to match the DM112 to various basic types of music being played in order to improve the perceived accuracy of the reproduction of that music. This onboard DSP runs at 24bit/96kHz sampling frequency and its internal processing is 64bit double precision - all of which simply means that it is highly accurate and delivers very high quality.
The DSP system provides for 32 recallable presets and allows you to adjust bass and treble, delay and phase of any of the nine factory slots and to store the results in any of the 23 user locations. This isn’t as limiting as it might seem as the factory presets have their shelving bass and treble EQs set at differing corner frequencies and experimenting with these will give you a wide range of options. It would have been useful if Peavey had included the parameter values of the factory presets in the manual, but getting the results I wanted was a quick and easy process.
Peavey DM115 Sub
The DM115 Sub is probably as heavy and cumbersome as the DM112 is light and manoeuvrable. A good sub is always a solid piece of kit and, with its solidly-built, vented enclosure, 15” driver and 800W (peak) amplifier, the DM115 is no exception to the rule.
As with the DM112, the DM115 Sub’s inputs, output and controls reside on a rear-mounted panel. The single input is on a balanced TRS/XLR combi connector identical to that of the DM112 and the Thru full-range output comes courtesy of a similarly identical balanced XLR. In contrast to the DM112, the DM115 Sub carries two further balanced XLR outputs that carry a high-passed signal whose lower limit can be continuously varied from 90Hz up to 180Hz using the DM115 Sub’s Crossover control. The level and polarity of both this signal and of the DM115 Sub itself are set by the Level control and its associated Polarity reverse switch.
This high-passed signal intended for connection to active satellite loudspeakers such as the DM112 and, to make life simple, the DM115 Sub is supplied with a speaker pole that screws into a threaded receptacle to provide a mount for a DM112, DM115, or similar, active loudspeaker.
The final knob on the DM115 Sub regulates the amount of bass enhancement delivered by Peavey’s Kosmos-C circuitry. This feature provides the capability to add bass harmonics to the output signal in order to enhance the perception of deep bass being delivered by the DM115 Sub.
Setting up the DM112 is quick and intuitive process that involves little more than plugging it in, switching it on and recalling a factory preset. On power-up the DM112 defaults to the last-used preset so, if you’ve created a preset at your last gig and saved it, that’s what you’ll get when you next switch on.
Creating a user preset is a simple enough as, once you’ve pressed the ADSP’s encoder you’ve got access to all the variable parameters and, having worked your way through them, the Save option arrives automatically.
Sound-wise, the DM112 performs very well indeed and can certainly deliver a high SPL from its 660 Watts of peak power. I didn’t have available every genre that the factory presets provide for, but presets for those that I did sounded excellent and I was particularly impressed by the amount of bass that the EDM setting delivered, from which I can conclude that the Dynamic Bass Boost function seems to work well.
Similarly the DM115 Sub delivers the level of performance that you’d expect from a sub of its size and power. Having a variable crossover frequency can be particularly useful in venues or situations where you may want to adjust the signal frequency spectrum going to the satellite speakers. The Kosmos-C bass enhancement added a very impressive perceived depth and power to the sub’s sonic output and brings on-board a facility that I’ve previously only come across (and used) in a piece of external hardware.