With a thousand watts
via Class D amplification—the current standard for pro-grade full-range
portable PA enclosures—EV hits the market with a impressively built and well
featured 12-inch model in the new ZLX-12P.
Over the past couple of years,
I’ve had the pleasure to use and evaluate much of our market’s new portable PA
that falls in the full-range 1000 W/Class D category. In doing so, I’ve almost
as a rule requested 12-inch models from participating manufacturers; I find
they are the most flexible for gigging musicians and bands (as we generally
don’t know exactly what is needed until arriving at the venue). Mated with a
powered sub, a pair of 1000 W/Class D mains can most often cover any gig.
So, thanks to these
high-power/light weight products, the bar has been significantly raised on my
personal benchmarks. I no longer worry so much about whether such speakers have
enough power; I now search for models that provide the best overall fidelity,
with unique, job-easing features and a build quality that most closely
resembles touring-grade enclosures.
Having reviewed a previous
1000 W/Class D ZLX model from Electro-Voice, expectations were already high for
the new ZLX-12P, an approximately 35 lb. powered two-way featuring a 12-inch
woofer and 1.5-inch high-frequency titanium compression driver with a frequency
response of 65 Hz to 18 kHz, delivering 126 dB maximum SPL. In application, I
found this ZLX to be the best yet—with super-simple DSP built-in, accessible
from a rear panel push/rotary knob and LCD display, while comprehensive I/O and
build quality closely resemble strengths within EV’s pro touring gear. Best of
all, the ZLX-12P is available now at $399 street, each.
The ZLX-12P’s cabinet is built
of one of the best balances of polypropylene, steel and rubber I’ve seen in
portable PA. Angles are bolstered by the inclusion of smart rubber feet.
Carrying handles are well placed and ideally shaped from an ergonomic
perspective. Plus, the overall design is unique; there’s really nothing in the
design that says, “me, too.”
I/O includes two Neutrik combo
XLR/TRS inputs for mic/line input with adjacent rotary level adjustments; an
XLR output, passing the ZLX-12P’s two-channel mix to monitors or a subwoofer,
etc.; and a unique Aux In eighth-inch TRS stereo input—its signal appears on
Channel 1, summed to mono. As such, the ZLX-12P is a great multipurpose powered
The rotary knob next to the
ZLX-12P’s LCD screen acts as Master Volume and DSP control. Adjustable
parameters include Mode with Live, Speech, and Club EQ presets; Location with
Pole, Monitor and Bracket EQ presets; Treble (-10 dB to +10 dB); Bass (-10 dB
to +10 dB); Sub (a HPF with 80 Hz, 100 Hz, and 120 Hz settings); among a few
LCD screen contrast/brightness adjustments. I found both the Mode and Location
settings to be very well chosen and employed all successfully (except Bracket,
as I did not attempt an install application.
Finally, the obligatory
pole-mount came with strip-resistant brass threads, another indication that EV
truly understands gigging with portable PA; too often, I see corners cut here,
eventually resulting in stripped threads for what may be the most important
(and overlooked) physical feature of portable speakers: the quality of built-in
I swapped the ZLX-12P pair
into my normal gig rig for a couple of weekend club dates, handling main
monitor duties while paired with a smallish 600 W powered subwoofer—a standard
I’ve found works ideally with this particular venue and four-piece rock band.
The PA handled a relatively low-input setup: vocals, guitars, kick and
snare/hi-hat mic. First impressions came quick—in soundcheck for the first
date, the guitarist—unprompted while standing out front—commented how “full”
and “open” the ZLX-12P pair sounded. I agreed.
A week later, I employed a
single ZLX-12P on a very simple singer/songwriter coffeehouse gig, where
vocalists used only the EV’s built-in mixer with a mic (the great
feedback-resistant Electro-Voice PL80a supercardioid, my favorite affordable
handheld dynamic) and a DI input. Placed horizontal and set to the Location:
Monitor DSP preset, the ZLX-12P impressively served as both a monitor and a main
with a full, small room filling sound. One performer sang to prerecorded
material, thanks to the EV’s Aux In feature (and the performer’s iPhone). In
this application, the ZLX-12P’s feature set allowed it to be the only “live
gear” on the stage—clean, impressive and efficient.
Electro-Voice further bolsters
their reputation in the portable PA market with these extensions to the ZLX
Series. Again, I must stress that the ZLX-12P is $399 street. For the
money, it’s hard to beat.
Price: $399 street
Contact: Electro-Voice | http://www.electro-voice.com