Looking to beef up the bottom of your sound system without sending your wallet to the slaughterhouse? The Peavey SP118 subwoofer may be just what you are seeking.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound
Key Features: Front-loaded, vented enclosure; stand cup; Black Widow speaker
Price: $499 each
Contact: Peavey at 601-483-5365
The SP118s, along with Peavey’s entire SP line of enclosures, are touted as being the best-selling line of cabinets on the planet. Curious as to why these speakers are so popular, I gladly accepted the assignment of evaluating the SP118 subwoofer.
The SP118 ($499 each) is a front-loaded, vented enclosure that measures 33.5″ high, 21.1″ wide, 30″ deep and weighs 116.6 lb. The cabinet is made of 3/4″ OSB wood and is covered with black carpeting. There are eight plastic corners, four rubber feet, recessed handles, a stand cup, and a plastic-coated metal grille on the SP118 cabinet.
The stand cup is not actually a cup; rather, it is an orifice in the top of the cabinet featuring a tubular plastic sleeve that reaches several inches down into the enclosure. This allows the pole stand to pass all the way to the bottom of the enclosure for maximum strength and stability. A 3/4″ plywood slab in the bottom of the cabinet acts as a base for Peavey’s stand pole, which slides through the stand cup and supports a mid/high cabinet above it. The input plate on the SP118 features two parallel 1/4″ jacks.
The driver in the SP118 is Peavey’s 18″ Black Widow. This driver gives the SP118 a power handling capacity of 350 W continuous, impedance of 8 ohms and a frequency response of 48 Hz to 1 kHz.
As is my custom with live sound gear, I like to take a lengthy review period to check for endurance or reliability problems. In the case of the SP118, I used the 8-ohm pair I received for more than a dozen jobs over the course of a couple months. The jobs ranged from indoor venues such as hotel ballrooms and small clubs to outdoor events, including a party at a local Harley-Davidson dealer with a blues band and a crowd about 200 strong.
I used the SP118 in tandem with Peavey’s SP5G full range cabinets as well as some others for most of these gigs. I used two different power amps to run the subs – a QSC PLX3002 and a Carver PM1201, rated at 550 and 375 W per side into 8 ohms, respectively. I also used an active crossover with 24 dB/octave Linkwitz-Riley filters. My crossover points varied from venue to venue, but were generally between 120 and 150 Hz.
At Peavey’s suggestion, I acquired a pair of the company’s speaker poles for using a mid/high cabinet with the SP118. The poles are about six feet long and did not fit into any of my equipment cases. They work by simply slipping through the hole in the top of the cabinet and resting on the pad at the bottom of the SP118.
While this set-up worked well, I found the poles a real drag to tote around. I wonder why Peavey didn’t just put an actual cup in the top of the cabinet. Then, you could use a two or three foot pole to achieve proper height for the mid/high cabinets and still store them in a case. (According to Peavey, the company opted for the longer pole stand so it can pass through the entire cabinet, providing maximum stability and user safety.-Ed.)
On a similar note, the SP118s were actually easier to cart around than I expected. Although I wouldn’t recommend it, I could carry them short distances by placing the cabinet’s top against my chest and pulling it into my body with the handles. They were a breeze for two people to move.
The SP118s performed well in many situations. On a recent job, I was mixing a superb jump-swing outfit from Boston. They were in town supporting singer Toni Lynn Washington. The drummer had a large vintage Ludwig kick drum that was full of low-end punch. The Peaveys offered up great reproduction in the confines of a 300-seat hall.
While lurking around the cabinets during the gig, I noticed an absence of the rattles and unsavory resonances so prevalent in speakers at this price point. The SP118s had excellent dispersion and seemed to be well-tuned. Even when I disengaged the subsonic high-pass filters on the crossover, the subwoofers maintained their composure. I think this would have caused more trouble, however, had the system been operating at a higher SPL.
As for endurance, the SP118s never skipped a beat. They performed well even when stressed at outdoor events. They were dropped, dragged, stepped on and baked by the sun and the cabinets still look almost new, excluding a scuff or two.
The SP118s were a pleasure to use in all respects. They proved to be portable, reliable, sonically competent and at $499 each, truly affordable. They are very suitable for schools, churches, nightclubs and small to medium sound companies that are looking for a good deal on some bass cabinets.