If you have been searching for a pro-grade digital speaker processor, perhaps the Community DXP4800 is for you. With a minimum of fanfare and hype (as is their custom), the speaker manufacturer from Pennsylvania has delivered a powerful little package to facilitate system architecture and control.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, sound reinforcement, installation
Key Features: 4-in/8-out digital speaker processor with crossover, EQ, delay and limiting
Contact: Community Professional Loudspeakers at 610-876-3400, Web Site.
The DXP4800 ($2,325) has a single rack-space chassis that features a slew of pushbutton controls, a data wheel and a modest LCD screen on its front panel. In back, it has four ins and eight outs (all on XLR) and an RS232 port for external control. The unit can be fully matrixed with any input going to any output. The DXP4800 can facilitate stereo four-way, stereo three-way + mono two-way, four biamp mixes for monitors, or eight independent zones. Some of my uses included stereo two-way with an aux-fed subwoofer and stereo full range with delayed fills.
The DXP4800 utilizes a sampling rate of 96 kHz and it has a signal-to-noise ratio that is optimized at around 115 dB (un-weighted). The employed DSP is a true 32-bit (40-bit extended) floating point DSP (600 MFLOPS peak). Community claims that the floating point DSP prevents any induced noise introduced by the truncation error resulting from fixed-point calculations. With a DSP word length of 40-bit, it further increases the unit’s dynamic range, thus preserving the character of the original program material as much as possible.
Each input channel on the DXP4800 has adjustability for level (-40 dB to +15 dB in .25 dB increments), polarity, delay (up to 500ms displayed in ms, feet or meters), and a six-band fully parametric EQ. Each output channel has adjustment for level, polarity, EQ and delay (the same as inputs) as well as a full-service crossover, a limiter and source selection choices. The crossover can be a Linkwitz-Riley, Butterworth or Bessel, with cutoff frequencies adjustable at 1 Hz or 1/36 octave increments. Filter slopes can run up to 48 dB per octave (depending on sampling rate).
The DXP4800 comes with a software controller that allows remote operation and offers improved graphics. Additionally, customized programs can be named and stored (outside of the 30 that the unit can hold).
Over the course of six weeks, I had the opportunity to use the DXP4800 in a variety of speaker configurations while working with artists as varied as Latin Jazz greats Bobby Rodriguez and Alex Acuna to rocker Gary “US” Bonds and his band. At first, I only used the unit for minor EQ tweaks until I had the confidence to toss my current crossover out of the chain.
Had I chosen to leap into the fire on the first show, I would have had some great help in that endeavor. The system menu on the 4800 has a group of templates that can help you get a two, three or four-way setup loaded quickly. It also has a nifty little feature that lets you copy and paste channels. After setting up an input channel with my desired signal level, EQ, delay, etc, I simply hold down that button on the faceplate and press the input button next to it to deposit the same parameters there too. This is a major time saver.
By the second gig, I had stored patches for stereo two-way with an aux fed sub, stereo three-way, and full range. At the Gary “US” Bonds show, I used the DXP4800 to align the PA cabs with the sound of the backline emanating from the stage by using the delay function. I just selected the delay increment as feet and typed in the distance from the batter head on the kick drum to the FOH cabs. Another nice feature of this unit is its ability to temper the limiter threshold to your amp gain settings and speaker impedance — a nice touch. One of my favorite DXP4800 software features is the data page where all system parameters are listed on a spreadsheet. This is very handy for checking balance between channels.
Especially while operating in 96 kHz mode, I noticed a sonic cleanliness to the PA that was missing with my analog crossover. Even when working in familiar rooms, things seemed a bit less congested in the upper midrange, and high-end details were more noticeable on things like high-hat and acoustic guitars. Add this to the DXP4800’s ability to quickly and accurately configure a PA and you have a real winning combination.
My only quibble with this unit is that the accompanying literature seems very short on elaboration. In fact, there is no mention of the unit’s ability to temper the limiter threshold to amp/speaker configurations in the owner’s manual. Also, in a strange twist, it took me only minutes to figure out how to set-up, copy and paste input channels, yet it took me much longer to figure out how to name a program. A little more detail for both hardware and software operation would be a welcome addition.
I’ve really grown to like the DXP4800 during the course of this evaluation. It’s not flashy or sexy but it is a very competent piece that will make you wonder how you ever got by without it. Set-ups are easier and gigs sound better. With plentiful I/O, powerful EQ and crossovers as well as delays and much more, it is a wonderful complement to any sound system that is in need of such control.