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Studiomaster KMX Vision 15

Article from The Mix, June 1995

Gutsy PA speakers

It may not be big enough for a roadie to hide behind, but Studiomaster's new KMX Vision 15 PA speaker is a full-range enclosure to satisfy the demands of any guitar hero. Nigel Lord enters the lion's den...

Strange isn't it, how so many musicians who daily surround themselves with sophisticated hi-tech equipment suddenly start getting jumpy when confronted by PA gear, with its heavy-duty carrying handles and protective corners? Most of the stuff doesn't even come with an instruction manual worth the name, yet its effect on the average MIDI buff or programmer leaves you wondering if they'd know which end to point at the audience.

Fortunately — or perhaps unfortunately — there's no shortage of small PA companies around who, for a small fee, will happily set you up with a PA system, and then sit behind the mixing desk all night to make sure nothing remotely listenable comes out of the speakers.

With the move towards full-range speaker cabinets, however, it's become much easier to maintain control over your live sound through the use of small, high-powered systems that are quickly set up and easily transported. More importantly, these systems are quite affordable, and make it feasible for a band to operate its own PA — at least for small to medium-size gigs.

Out of the box

Studiomaster's new Vision system is case in point. Based around a powered mixing desk offering 8, 12 or 16 channels and capable of delivering 350 watts per channel into 4 ohms, it offers a choice of three speaker cabinets — either a 12" or a 15" low-frequency driver with a 7" x 5" high-frequency horn, and a bass bin.

If you haven't been involved in live performance over the past decade or so, you may not be aware that the move has been away from separate cabinets handling bass, middle and treble, and towards single full-range enclosures which may be stacked together to provide greater power handling.

Some rail against this, clinging to the idea that sound should be split up into frequency bands, and reproduced separately. But even they would have to admit that anyone who regularly has to load their gear in and out of pubs, clubs and small halls, and isn't familiar with the finer points of public address technology would be better off using full-range enclosures.

Of course, the sound is still divided up; it's just that this takes place within the cabinet, using a crossover system optimised for use with the drivers. In the case of the KMX cabinets, crossover takes place at 7.5kHz (for both the 12" and 15" enclosures) within an overall frequency response of 55Hz — 17kHz (12") and 50Hz — 17kHz (15").

Each cabinet comes in a choice of 4 or 8 ohms load impedance, and is designed for use with amplifiers rated up to 350 watts RMS. Now if Studiomaster are the kind of company I think they are, this probably means that the drivers themselves are rated well in excess of 400 watts RMS, so that there is a comfortable power handling margin to absorb any higher signal peaks, or the effects of sustained full-power operation. If so, one can only applaud their decision to quote the specification in this way. Many companies would have been tempted to quote the maximum handling capacity of their drivers, and leave it for the user to decide on the power rating of the amplifier.

With an SPL figure of 120dB for both the 12" and 15" cabinets, and a quoted sensitivity of 96dB (12") and 98dB (15"), the efficiency of both cabinets is pretty impressive too. Often overlooked in the quest for greater power handling, how much sound energy you can expect to get out of a speaker relative to how much electrical energy you put in, is clearly of great importance when every decibel counts — as it usually does with compact systems.

The KMXs look rather sedate in their charcoal grey and black livery, with mesh grilles and integral carrying handles. Connections are via Speakon and standard jack sockets — the latter should only be made with the amplifier switched off and using an insulated-cover plug.

"Without so much as a rattle, the KMX speakers translate 700 watts of electrical power into effortless acoustic energy"

One can't reasonably complain about Studiomaster giving you a choice of connections, but personally, I think it's time jack sockets were completely removed from speakers, especially high-power cabinets such as this. Their tendency to short-circuit when a plug is inserted, and their limited electrical contact area makes them quite unsuitable for power audio applications (Studiomaster do strongly advise the use of Speakons rather than jacks in the KMX's literature — Ed).

Cabinet shuffle

For review purposes, Studiomaster supplied a Vision Powerhouse mixer-amp, and it was this combination I first put to the test. Having lived through an era when 50 watts seemed impressive for a 12" driver, I am, by nature, slightly incredulous of the power handling claims of speaker manufacturers, 350 watts from an enclosure housing only a one 15" driver seems like an awful lot.

But, when you see the LED ladders just touching the red and smaller items of furniture begin to slowly make their way across the room, even a sceptic has to believe — especially as you're faced with a huge, uncompromising wall of sound. Without so much as a rattle, the KMX speakers translate around 700 watts worth of electrical power into effortless acoustic energy.

Luckily, my test site was a small hall I regularly use for trying out ideas for live performance, so I was able to conduct tests over a period of two hours or more, without causing a nuisance to anyone. Ear damage was another problem altogether.

To assess their audio performance, I decided to run them with an old Crown amp that has long been a favourite of mine, having been used with a variety of speaker systems over the years.

Though less powerful than the Vision desk. I was still able to drive the speakers to the point where problems would be revealed if they were there. They weren't. The sound was, if anything, slighter warmer, but remained virtually disortion-free and impossible to muddy up, even at full power.

My sole concern was a slight lack of detail in the upper frequencies — detail I had got used to from my Peavey HiSys cabinets — but this would be hardly noticeable in most situations. In any case, I found it fairly easy to compensate for, when reconnecting the Vision desk and tweaking the EQ controls.


PA speakers don't really have to do much in life; just sit on the edge of a stage and ensure the audience hears everything you play. But that doesn't stop many of them making heavy weather of it. With any compact enclosure there are going to be tradeoffs. With the Vision KMX 15, these appear to be remarkably few. If you're currently investigating what's available in small PAs, you couldn't overlook the Studiomaster system and sleep easy in your bed.

The essentials...

Prices inc VAT: Vision 15 - £362, Vision 12 - £282, Bass bins - £264 (each). Vision Powerhouse 8 mixeramp - £1174, Rackmount - £58.50, Crossover - £76.37

More from: Studiomaster, (Contact Details)

Spec check

Frequency response 50Hz - 17kHz
Power handling For amplifiers up to 350 watts RMS
Crossover frequency 7.5kHz
Sensitivity 98dB @ 1W/metre
Max SPL 120 dB
Impedance 4 or 8 ohms
Dimensions (mm) 468 (W) x 380 (D) x 690 (H)
Weight 25kg

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Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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The Mix - Jun 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Control Room

Gear in this article:

Monitors/Speakers > Studiomaster > KMX Vision 15

Gear Tags:

PA Speaker

Review by Nigel Lord

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