Whether it is a DJ/karaoke gig, live acoustic set or full-on/amped band show, I have used a wide array of speakers for my live mains over the years. I especially have run the gamut with portable powered PA gear, with the end result usually the same; there always seemed to be “something” missing in each new product I would use: power, clarity, build quality, breadth of frequency response, affordability, and so on.

Comparatively, I find the Peavey Impulse 12D just a little bit closer to the perfect overall portable powered live speaker. For someone who has always associated “loud” with “huge and heavy,” I am honestly surprised, because those latter two adjectives do not describe the Impulse 12D. Considering its whopping 1200W per cabinet, it’s compact and rather lightweight at 39 lbs.

Features

The Impulse 12D ($799 street) offers Peavey’s latest ribbon-driver technology combined with an older classic “standard,” a field-replaceable, 12-inch Black Widow speaker with dual voice coil, push-pull technology and a neodymium magnet. The HF driver — an exclusive design based on those used in Peavey Versarray professional tour/installation line arrays — provides 90-degree H x 30-degree V coverage.

Thanks to Peavey’s highwat tage / lowweight IPR power amplifier technology, the Impulse 12D produces 1200W per enclosure. IPR amplifiers are designed with a lightweight switch-mode power supply and a high-speed Class-D topology that, according to Peavey, “yields the highest audio resolution and efficiency available.” [PAR has previously field- and bench-tested Peavey’s IPR Series with impressive results. prosoundnetwork.com/article/Peavey-IPR-Series-IPR-1600-Amplifier/11871 — Ed.]

The 12D’s I/O includes two input channels and a line output, with combo XLR/quarterinch inputs, stereo RCA inputs, and installready Phoenix connections. Input channels 1 and 2 are mic/line source switchable with rotary gain pots. The 12D’s Auto-Off function automatically shuts off power after a period of no input signal. The XLR Line Out allows the user to chain multiple units, send input signal to another source, etc.

The DynaQ section offers tone controls including Bass Enhancer, an overall loudness boost; Music/Speech, an optimized EQ setting for each respective audio source; and Contour, an EQ curve specially conceived for program music. Also included is an empty module bay (approximately the same size as “500 Series”-style modules, yet entirely different), which allows for future expansion such as Wireless I/O, Delay/Time Adjustment, Mixer Expander, Ethernet I/O and other Peavey-designed modules.

The Impulse 12D is housed in a durable, polypropylene enclosure that includes a pole mount, three flying points and a tiltback design to facilitate use as a personal/stage monitor. Note that the Impulse 12D seems substantially more rugged in construction than most molded enclosures I’ve found in the realm of portable PA — and that’s a welcome find indeed.

In Use

For my first use of an Impulse 12D pair, I set them up as mains at a regular acoustic duo show. Most notably, the clarity of the Peaveys was fantastic. I found the 12D not quite as full-frequency (specifically lacking in low-end response) during our first set. During a break, I reached around to the Impulse 12D’s rear panel, pushed in the “bass enhancer” button and, for the rest of the night, heard that “umph” we originally were missing. [According to Peavey, “This is a trick of the ear due to the difference between ribbons and compression drivers. Ribbons emphasize clarity in the high frequencies and deliver the most pristine audio possible, and so they play a large role in how the overall sound is perceived. The Impulse 12D has a frequency response of 52 Hz to 20 kHz, providing ample low-end for most sound reinforcement applications, while the bass enhancer provides a specialized EQ curve that places more emphasis on the low frequencies, which some users may prefer in certain applications.” - Ed.]

For the next couple of shows, I tested one Impulse 12D as a stage monitor. On stage, the crystal clarity of our acoustic guitars and vocals was fantastic, and we only turned up those internal IPR amps half way.

For my final test, I used the pair without a mixer in a solo acoustic live act application. I plugged my wireless mic system into channel one of the right speaker, my acoustic guitar directly into channel two, then sent that simple two-input mix line out of the right speaker into channel one of the left speaker. I went on to perform an hour set at full power with complete clarity, full bass response and no distortion whatsoever.

The only negatives I will note in the 12D is a slightly audible noise floor that persisted in both speakers, no matter where I used them; if buying them, it would not be a deal-breaker, it’s just simply there. The speakers are slightly heavier than those of similar construction, a small price to pay for all the power and fidelity the 12D provides.

Summary

In the 12D, Peavey has done a fantastic job combining legendary Peavey durability; classic touches such as the Black Widow woofer; cutting-edge IPR amp technology, and the uniqueness of the ribbon driver. Combined, these create a rather big, clean sound. And with 1200W at your disposal, you can easily drift between coffee houses and smallto medium-sized clubs with half the size and weight of comparable PA systems.

Price: $1,149 list

Contact: Peavey | peavey.com

Joshua D. Garber is a Minneapolis/St. Paul-based musician, engineer and DJ/KJ with pro live music experience.