Building a cost-effective band system, or looking to boost the performance of an aging one? Italy's Proel says its brand new active powered V Series is aimed directly at the current big sellers in the entry-level market. Tim Slater gets to grips with the powerful 15" version.
Proel, one of Italy's leading PA manufacturers, has taken a long hard look at the entry-level offerings of its rivals and has come up with the new V series as an alternative. They don't name names, of course, but the obvious rivals would include Mackie's Thump range and the widely sold Alto brand. So how well does the V Series stand up in comparison?
Powered cabinets tend to vary quite considerably in terms of features. Some are virtually self-contained PA systems in their own right whilst others are clearly designed to operate at their best by forming part of a larger system comprising at least two mid/top speakers and quite possibly a pair of low-end subs too.
The Proel V15A occupies something of a middle point between the two. It is certainly quite stylish looking; the moulded polypropylene enclosure sports a typically racy Italian flare with plenty of sweeping curves and angular edges that actually perform a practical function. Flip the enclosure over onto one side and lay it down at your feet and you have convenient powered wedge monitor, but the enclosure also tilts back slightly when stood upright on its base, which still allows the user to employ the V15A as a close proximity monitor while saving on floor space.
The cabinet does feel a little awkward to transport. The moulded carrying handle on the top is superb but the two moulded recesses that form grab handles as part of the moulded enclosure are not quite so easy to get to grips with. Moulded enclosures are generally awkward to move about anyway; the combination of weight - rendered a necessity by the internal power amplifier and its attendant cooling mechanism (in this case a grill on the rear panel rather than a bulky heatsink) - and the ungainly shape doesn’t lend itself to easy manual lifting. With that in mind the V15A can also be used as part of a permanent or semi-permanent installation. The speaker pole mount on the base is complimented by a pair of M10 mounting points for mounting the enclosure on a wall or trussing as part of a ‘flown’ system.
One design feature Proel stresses is that the onboard Class D amplifier has been built into a sealed aluminium box accessed from the rear of the enclosure. The company says it has done this both to protect them from the inevitable knocks and bumps speakers receive when being shifted around, but also so that, in the event of a fault developing, they will be quick and easy to fix. For a band on the road this could prove extremely useful.
The combi input accepts XLR or standard jack inputs with a switch that adjusts the input gain between Line level and Mic level presets. With 600 Watts of power the V15A has plenty of headroom to cut through the hubbub of a typical small club session and an XLR Link output connects the V15A to external speakers whenever circumstances demand a bit more grunt out front!
A built-in two-band rotary EQ features a High pot with 6dB boost and 8HZ cut and a Low control that boosts the bass frequencies to a maximum of 6dB whilst also offering a maximum of 90hz bass roll off, which should help to control the artificially boosted low end resonance that can occur when using wedge monitors at floor level or on hollow stages.
A peak indicator/power status LED can be assigned to either the rear panel or the front of the enclosure but to the V15A’s credit we couldn’t get the peak indicator to light up as a warning to back off the volume, even when we drove the speaker very hard. The built-in clip limiter is obviously doing its job.
The V15A has a tight punchy sound and plenty of power. The 15" woofer has no shortage of clout, although the top end frequencies did border on the harsh until we used the EQ controls to tame it down to a more pleasant level. This isn't to be wondered at in this price range and is clearly a function of cost, Proel's more up-market Flash range, for example, has a notably smooth performance but these are compromises that have to be made when buy a less expensive system - and the key question is how do they compare? To our ears, better than the obvious competition in terms of sound quality and power handling - so much so that we have given them the extra half star that we award when a product is not only good but also good value for money.