Entertainers, performers, sound companies and houses of worship are constantly looking for the best possible onstage monitor. As an answer, Apogee Sound has created the FS-2.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound
Key Features: 12″ low-frequency driver, 2″ high-frequency horn driver; 126 dB continuous level; max out with 132 dB sound pressure level at one meter
Contact:Apogee Sound at 707-778-8887
+ Sound quality
+ Quality construction of enclosure
+ Low stage profile
+ Connections on both sides of monitor
– Must purchase processor
– Longer signal path with processor
The Score: A well-designed and great sounding monitor system.
The Apogee Sound FS-2 ($2,043) floor monitor is a small-profile wedge that measures 22.5″ wide, 13.6″ high and 19.25″ deep. As dense as the enclosure feels, it only weighs 55 lb. The surface of the cabinet is coated with a durable, epoxy-based resin.
Inside the solid enclosure are two components: an Apogee 12″ low-frequency driver and an Apogee 2″ high-frequency horn driver. The horn driver is mounted to a polyurethane 40 degree x 60 degree vertical horn flare. Four small ports symmetrically surround the 12″ driver. Frequency response of the two drivers covers 50 Hz to 19 kHz +/-3 dB.
According to Apogee, the FS-2 handles 126 dB of continuous level and maxes out with 132 dB of sound pressure level at one meter. Input is via a pair of Neutrik NL-4 connectors, flush-mounted on each end of the monitor. This is a nice touch that keeps the audience from seeing the performer through rows of monitors and cables.
The processor is a two-channel, two-rack-space unit. All XLR inputs and outputs are balanced connections. There is a pair of Neutrik NL-4 connectors for each set of A and B channel outputs from the front panel.
This processor also includes what Apogee calls Positive Amplifier Return (PAR) circuits to protect drivers from harm. Small recessed screws are available to set up a user preset for custom limiting, depending on wattage and type of amplifier used. XLR input and loop-through jacks on the front panel permit input from any console.
Individual ground lift switches split the input and thru XLR jacks. A pair of level knobs for Channel A and Channel B control the individual level control for the NL-4 outputs on the front panel. Two dual-color LEDs monitor the HF and LF PAR circuits within the status area on the front panel. These LEDs also monitor the limiting circuit. They turn red to remind the operator to adjust gain before driver damage occurs.
The low- and high-frequency return banana jacks, AC and outputs to the amplifier are at the back. Power voltage is selectable for European or U.S. AC standards, 220/240 V or 100/120 V respectively.
At a recent event, at the historic Great Southern Theater, I enlisted the help of the David Grisman Quintet to test this new monitor wedge. Setup took some time – the FS-2 cannot be used without the Apogee Sound P-FS2-RV processor. This processor controls amplification, crossover points, limiting, box equalization and driver protection. Banana jacks on the rear of the processor take the amplifier outputs from two channels of a selected amplifier.
Console XLR output for monitor mix two was plugged into the Channel A input of the processor. Inputs for the amplifier come from the rear panel of the P-FS2-RV. These are split by the LF (low) output and a HF (high) output, which run to the respective HF and LF inputs of the amplifier. The last connection made was joining the NL-4 cable to the speaker output on the front panel of the processor. Simply, the Apogee processor becomes the last device in the signal chain before amplification.
Grisman’s monitor layout called for five independent monitor mixes. Enrique Coria, the quintet’s acoustic guitar player, gladly allowed the Apogee wedge to be used among the four other matching monitors. The other four wedges were proprietary Live Technologies biamped wedges that use 1″ HF driver and a 12″ LF bass driver. The guitar player required only his guitar in the Apogee wedge. This allowed for a good comparison from the other wedges.
Prior to the band showing up, CDs and a Shure SM 58 were used to match up the gains (drivers and overall) to the other monitors onstage. The processor appeared to lower gain compared to other monitors on stage. This could be from the processor or possibly the different ohm rating on the Apogee drivers.
The theater has a few frequency peaks between 100 Hz and 160 Hz that were removed from all the wedges on stage, including the FS-2. This was done from the 31-band graphic equalizers inserted on each mix out of the console. I noticed first the ability of the monitor and processor to sum the two drivers, making them sound like one.
The sound seemed to radiate from the floor rather than the enclosure in front of my feet. I heard no buzzes or overtones from the enclosure during setup or during the concert. The pattern on the horn was tight and controlled and kept the sounds in front of the monitor, as opposed to throwing it all over the stage.
The microphones used on the acoustic guitar were a Neumann KM85 and a Shure SM81, which were placed about 2′ from the wedge. The Neumann had a slight 1 kHz presence peak that was removed from the 31-band EQ. With two very sensitive microphones so close to the wedge, a few dips from 2.5 kHz to 5 kHz cured any feedback problems at high volume levels.
After the show Coria commented that the wedge sounded “better than most of the wedges [he had] used during the entire winter tour.” He also commented that it “was not overly bright (like all the other monitors he had used) and made my guitar sound round and full.”
I had to concur with him after listening over his shoulder during the soundcheck. Not only does this wedge look great onstage with its superlow profile, but it sounds delicious.
The amplification used was a Crown Macro-Tech 1200. Apogee recommends at least 400 W/channel at 8 ohms or 600 W at 4 ohms for absolute performance from the FS-2.
I have been a fan of Apogee products since first hearing the large-venue AE-5 speaker in a nearby theater. The products are constructed and designed at a top-notch level and show it in the field.