For many years Peavey has manufactured affordable, time-tested musical items. They have, in the past few years, ventured into the installation market, in addition to their current presence in the portable systems market, by introducing a new line of product called the Architectural Acoustics line. This product is one of those Architectural Acoustics items, called the Freq-Out.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, installation systems
Key Features: 16 filters; automatic detection and operation; multiple frequency operation
Price: Depends on installation
Contact: Peavey at 601-483-5376, Web Site.
As the name might indicate, the Freq-Out is a frequency control device specifically designed to control feedback. This product might be a little more at home in the installation market, but it can provide feedback suppression in any portable system setting as well.
The Freq-Out offers a series of 16 filters, designed to recognize the difference between musical program/intended content and actual feedback. Feedback is essentially an over-sensitivity between any combination of input microphone, speaker system, room acoustics and operator difficulty. The Freq-Out incorporates an internal spectrum analyzer that recognizes acute volumes of frequencies, or groups of frequencies, and reduces the output gain of those frequencies automatically.
The Freq-Out is a one-rack-space device with a clean layout. The signal volume is represented by a pair of signal present and clip LEDs, flanked by bypass, reset and “Wide” buttons. Bypass will eliminate the Freq-Out from the signal path, reset will clear the filter actions, and the Wide button expands the bandwidth of the given filters. There is also a “Panic” mode, which as the name might imply, reacts quickly and drastically to loud or extreme feedback.
On the far side of the Peavey unit is a series of red LEDs numbered 1 through 16, each indicating the presence of a filter being engaged. The filters are arranged into “Fixed” and “Dynamic” groups, with the fixed filters being numbered 9 through16 and the dynamic filter numbered 1 through 8. All of the filters blink while searching and dealing with a problem frequency, and go to a continuous “On” mode once the situation is rectified. After you are satisfied with the operation of a given filter or group of filters, you can depress the Lock button, thus keeping that filter configuration and keeping the Freq-Out from taking on any additional frequency searches.
The rear panel is equally succinct, offering an IEC-type, three-prong power inlet, a power rocker switch and a rotary voltage selector. In the center of the rear panel is a pair of switches that determine the start up preferences of the Freq-Out. The first switch allows you to disengage the front panel controls, supporting the concept that installed processors should not be “helped” or “adjusted” by less than knowledgeable “engineers.” The second switch distinguishes the memory during startup, allowing the unit to be in preprogrammed mode, or engaging the last new setting placed into memory. The input and output are XLR-type connectors.
I used the Freq-Out at several county fairs in the Desert Southwest, ranging from simple family stages, to national and regional talent. I decided to employ the Freq-Out in simpler settings initially, but keeping a good old 1/3-octave graphic EQ nearby, just in case. I placed the input of the Peavey unit directly after the output of a small mixer’s aux output, thus using it for monitor control in a relatively low-SPL situation on a “family” stage, with primarily playback and limited microphone inputs.
I began what was essentially a microphone ringing out process by bringing up the rotary volume controls on the channel auxes until feedback began to occur. The first filter engaged relatively quickly, and, as I increased the volume, the dynamic filter section kicked in and responded to the challenge. I continued with more volume from other channels until all the filters were engaged (all the red LEDs lit up). The entire process took only a minute.
Okay, fine… On to bigger systems, with bigger problems. I later applied the Freq-Out to a band setting, and engaged it the same way. With many more microphones in use, and much higher SPL, the Peavey unit responded well, but there were times that the device ran out of filter availabilities, and I had to rely on an outboard graphic EQ to solve our feedback suppression problems.
The Peavey Freq-Out is fine for many applications, but there is no substitute for a trained/experienced audio technician, armed with the proper tools, including good graphic or parametric equalizers. In a more corporate setting, where speeches are being delivered through rackmounted mixers and ceiling speakers, the Peavey Freq-Out is right at home. It has the ability to recognize frequency sensitivities fairly quickly and painlessly with little or no technical assistance from personnel.
In a larger venue with more volume and equipment, the Freq-Out is a valuable assistant for maintaining a limited number of frequency situations, but the need for a qualified technician goes up exponentially with addition of microphones, input sources and volumes. In the proper environment, the Peavey Freq-Out is an excellent tool to assist in feedback suppression.
Soundcraft Spirit Notepad and Folio mixers; Shure SM58, 57, Audix OM6 microphones; JBL Eon 15 powered speakers; dbx 1231 graphic EQ.