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Real World Gear: Two-Way Loudspeakers

The latest design trends and developments, the scope of applications, and a roundup of numerous recent models.

For decades, compact two-way loudspeakers have been a pillar of professional audio, capable of serving as mains, monitors, side fills, center fills, near fills, front fills and delays. In many cases they can be carried by a single person via convenient handles and quickly ground stacked, flown, or placed on a stand, where they’re capable of handling reinforcement all by themselves or joined by subwoofers in applications requiring additional low-end reinforcement.

Many of the enclosures are trapezoidal in shape, with some able to be put into tightly packed horizontal arrays and others better suited for “exploded” clusters. Still others can be stacked or flown into line and/or column arrays. Several offer a modified cabinet shape that also allows them to be placed on their side and used as floor monitors. And speaking of cabinets, they’re constructed of ABS/polymers/plastics as well as wood.

Increasingly, compact two-way loudspeakers are offered in self-powered versions (usually class D amplification) joined by digital signal processing. Many are also outfitted with facilities for further tailoring output to specific applications. Additional EQ control may be present, while others provide at least rudimentary mixing capability, with level controls, mic/line switches, and EQ on XLR or combo (XLR, 1/4-inch) inputs. More models will accept (Audinate) Dante digital audio input along with analog audio signal.

This genre of loudspeakers has also benefitted from advances in driver technology, signal processing, and amplification. Transducer innovations have in many cases trickled down from touring products. Many have lightweight magnetic structures using neodymium magnets, rugged cone and spider materials, and robust voice coil designs.

High-frequency horns are frequently rotatable and offer improved directivity. Larger format compression drivers deliver greater power handling capacity. Several designs are coaxial, another trend in this genre, along with incorporating 8- or 10-inch woofers as well as the traditional 12- and 15-inch models.

Our tour of recent models that follows is intended, by design, to present the “state of the market” in terms of options. But for each type of model presented here, understand that there are several similar models from the same and other sources, so further homework is strongly recommended.

Spotlight Listing

Adamson CS10P

The CS10p, a member of the recently introduced CS-Series, is a full-range intelligent loudspeaker that utilizes Adamson’s proprietary network platform, employing a redundant MILAN scheme with the ability to daisy-chain networked audio between multiple sources, an analog XLR input and output, as well as onboard DSP and amplification. All features of the loudspeaker are controlled and monitored through proprietary CS software.

Acoustically, the CS10p contains dual 10-inch Kevlar neodymium transducers and a 3-inch compression driver, loaded with either a 70- x 40-degree or a 100- x 50-degree waveguide, each rotatable by 90 degrees. The dipole arrangement of the cabinet results in a stable polar response, meaning the CS10p can be easily paired to increase horizontal coverage and overall output.

The cabinet construction uses marine grade birch plywood as well as aircraft grade steel and aluminum and is equipped with a male and female XLR connector, two etherCON connections and an in-and-through powerCON TRUE1 connection. The rigging system offers a wide variety of options.

The CS-Series brings the performance of the company’s S-Series loudspeakers into the networked realm with onboard amplification and DSP plus Milan-ready AVB connectivity joined by a suite of rack-mounted systems – including the CS Gateway, a 16 x 16 matrix with 16 channels of DSP – and dedicated software. They offer built-in network redundancy contained in a single cable to relay audio and control signal, as well as long-term viability as part of an IEEE standard.

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CS-Series loudspeakers are available as stand-alone products or as an upgrade to existing S-Series enclosures, offering the same form factors and compatible sonic signatures. The turnkey CS Upgrade Kit allows any existing S-Series cabinet to be converted to a CS model by removing four screws, connecting the CS Jackplate with the provided wiring connectors, and switching the front grille.

Dispersion (h x v): 70 x 40 or 100 x 50 degrees
Components: NH3 3-in diaphragm
compression driver, 2 x ND10-LM 10-in
Kevlar neodymium cone drivers
Frequency Response: 60 Hz – 18 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 139 dB
Power Handling: Accompanying power/DSP package includes 2-channel class D with 2,400 watts total output
Connectors: 2 x etherCON analog, 2 x XLR, powerCON TRUE1 network
Positioning/Rigging: Pole mount and integrated rigging system
Dimensions (h x w x d): 29.3 x 12.8 x 17.5 in
Weight: 66.2 lbs

Standard Listings

L-Acoustics X Series

Dispersion (h x v): 60 x 90 degrees, ellipsoidal
Components: 3-in neodymium compression driver, 12-in neodymium cone driver
Frequency Response:
59 Hz – 20 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 136 dB
Power Handling: Controlled and amplified by LA4X/LA8
Connectors: SpeakON (Both IN and LINK)
Positioning/Rigging: Pole mount, M10 threaded inserts, wide range of mounting accessories available
Dimensions (h x w x d): 19.5 x 16.9 x 14.8 in
Weight: 44.1 lbs

K-array Domino Series

Dispersion (h x v): 90 x 90 degrees
Components: 3-in compression driver, 2 x 10-in neodymium cones
Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 19 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 123 dB
Power Handling: 320 watts (Kommander-KA14, KA24 and KA84 amplifiers recommended)
Connectors: 4-pin Euroblock
Positioning/Rigging: Wall brackets included, wide range of mounting accessories offered
Dimensions (h x w x d): 19.7 x 11.1 x 5.9 in
Weight: 26.5 lbs

QSC K.2 Series

Dispersion: 75 degrees
Components: 1.4-in titanium compression driver, 12-in cone driver
Frequency Response:
45 Hz – 20 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 132 dB
Power Handling: Onboard amplifier provides 1,800 watts LF, 225 watts HF (both peak)
Connectors: Dual XLR-1/4-in combo (mic/line input and hi-z/line input), 3.5 mm TRS (stereo input), dual XLR/M (loop-thru output), and XLR/M (mix output)
Positioning/Rigging: Dual 2 M10 threaded inserts plus pull-back, 2-position pole mount
Dimensions (h x w x d): 23.7 x 14 x 13.8 in
Weight: 39 lbs

1 SOUND Panorama MS34

Dispersion (h x v): 100 degrees conical
Components: 4-in coaxial w/1-in compression driver, 2 x 4-in cones, 2 x 3.5-in cones (rear mounted)
Frequency Response: 95 Hz – 18 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 114 dB
Power Handling: 90 + 90 watts AES / 180 + 180 watts continuous at 16 ohms
Connectors: 2 x NL4
Positioning/Rigging: Two M6 points, U-bracket for wall, truss, mic stand, ceiling
Dimensions (h x w x d): 13.5 x 5.5 x 7.5 in
Weight: 9.4 lbs


Dispersion: 90 x 60 degrees (h x v)
Components: 1.4-in (4-in voice coil) neodymium compression driver, 15-in neodymium cone driver
Frequency Response: 45 Hz – 20 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 133 dB
Power Handling: Onboard class D amplifier provides 1,600 watts LF, 600 watts HF (both peak)
Connectors: PowerCon I/O
Positioning/Rigging: 4 M10 threaded inserts, pole mount
Dimensions (h x w x d): 28.1 x 17.4 x 15.6 in
Weight: 48.5 lbs
Notes: Includes FiRPHASE (advanced FIR filtering), a proprietary approach that minimizes phase distortion

d&b audiotechnik E12

Dispersion: 80 or 110 x 50 degrees (h x v), rotatable
Components: 1.3-in neodymium compression driver, 12-in neodymium cone driver
Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 18 kHz
Maximum SPL (peak): 134 dB
Power Handling: 300/1,600 watts (RMS/peak); several d&b amplifiers recommended
Connectors: Dual NLT4; optional 2 x EP5 or 2 x NL4
Positioning/Rigging: Pole mount, M10 threaded inserts, range of accessories
Dimensions (h x w x d): 22.8 x 13.8 x 13.2 in
Weight: 35 lbs
Notes: Amplifiers with DSP provide comprehensive management and more

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