Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #48
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Peavey's decision to take ribbon speaker technology out on the road marks a new stage in an old technology which has been made possible by the use of advanced materials and engineering. Is the sound as good as we'd hope for given ribbon's reputation?
Smooth and transparent sound
Useful power levels
5 year warranty
None at all
Peavey's decision to take ribbon speaker technology out on the road marks a new stage in an old technology which has been made possible by the use of advanced materials and engineering. Is the sound as good as we'd hope for given ribbon's reputation? Bob Thomas finds out.
Peavey Electronics built its high reputation on the supply of high-quality, highly-reliable, cost-effective PA and musical amplification equipment for working musicians. Although those ranges are not all that Peavey manufactures these days, that ethos remains part of its DNA, a fact that is amply illustrated by one of the company’s latest products, the RBN 112 powered loudspeaker.
As you might have already guessed from its model number, this two-way, active PA loudspeaker features a proprietary 120mm, aluminium composite ribbon high-frequency driver alongside a more conventional Peavey twin magnet, twin voice coil 12” neodymium Scorpion bass driver. Crossed over at 2kHz, amplification is 250W on the treble ribbon and 500W on the Scorpion bass, delivering a true 1000W peak power and a frequency response of 59Hz-20kHz. DSP circuitry, operating at a sampling rate of 96kHz and featuring a monochrome LCD screen with rotary encoder, takes care of crossover duties, preset selection, graphic EQ and can display input and power amplifier levels. The RBN has two XLR/TRS combination inputs, each with individual level control and mic and line level switches. A global ground lift switch is provided to help in alleviating any ground loop problems. Input 2 is also equipped with a mini-TRS jack, allowing the connection of portable media playback devices. There are two outputs, one switchable between the onboard mix and a direct output from Channel 1 and the other supplying a low-passed output for connection to a subwoofer.
The RBN 112’s cabinet is injection moulded, with internal ribs and braces and a textured finish. Instead of a 'power on' indicator, the ribbon is illuminated by blue LEDs and can be clearly seen through the metal grill and its cloth backing.
Peavey’s long experience in portable PA systems can be seen in the facilities offered by the DSP circuitry. When no DSP function is selected, the LCD screen displays the current input level and, if the signal level is high enough to potentially cause the power amplifiers to clip, the activation of Peavey’s DDT (Distortion Detection Technique) which activates compression to avoid clipping. Unfortunately, there is no way to check input levels with the power amplifiers muted, which can be an issue in some circumstances. The first menu item is Configuration, in which you can select whether or not the RBN is being used with a subwoofer (in which case a sub-menu appears allowing you to select the crossover frequency for the RBN 112’s subwoofer out) and Location, where you can select between Pole Mount (the default), Flown or Floor Monitor positions. From there you can then select a programme-specific EQ to match the RBN 112 to the material that it is reproducing – EDM, Voice, DJ, Rock etc.
The DSP also allows you to select Bass Enhancement, to add in up to 150 milliseconds of delay to the RBN 112’s output to time-align your system if necessary, to switch in and operate the onboard nine-band graphic EQ, to reverse polarity (often useful in a monitor application) and to display power amplifier levels and temperature.
The ribbon tweeter itself is not exactly new technology, having been around in studios for decades and appearing in some very high end professional PA systems over the years, but this is the first time that I’ve come across one in a portable PA system designed for the working musician/DJ. Since ribbons have extremely low mass, they are extremely responsive, delivering a clear and transparent high-end. In the case of the RBN 112, the combination of ribbon on the high-end and the 12” Scorpion bass driver produces an impressively smooth, transparent, dynamic and articulate sonic performance across the full frequency range. Its programme-specific pre-sets are well-chosen and very effective overall. With a 130dB maximum peak SPL available from its internal power amplifiers, there’s more than enough power available to reproduce transients cleanly, which contributes to the dynamic and articulate quality of its performance.
Although not exactly a budget priced loudspeaker, to my mind the RBN 112’s performance level more than justifies its cost and I can envisage it attracting attention from a wide range of potential users.
If you’re in the market for a high-quality portable powered loudspeaker in this price range, the Peavey RBN 112 should very definitely be on your audition list, so do make sure to give it a listen at your local Peavey dealer.