Protecting the PA

Modern sound reinforcement equipment is constantly evolving and advancing in terms of capability and functionality.
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Modern sound reinforcement equipment is constantly evolving and advancing in terms of capability and functionality.

EV Sound System Protection Technologies

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Modern sound reinforcement equipment is constantly evolving and advancing in terms of capability and functionality. New methods and techniques are continuously being brought to market, and operators are able to experiment with some truly awe-inspiring new tools.

So, let’s look at a few unique issues that can arise within the context of a complete system, along with some unique solutions we’ve developed at Electro-Voice to tackle them.

Dealing with “Hot ” Outputs

Loudspeaker protection starts with the basics: setting gain stages properly. If an output source (such as a mixing console) is capable of generating more voltage than the input device (such as a DSP) can handle, then it is possible to clip the input stage of that device. Should that happen, the system-protection battle may already be lost, and DSP limiters will not be able to fully protect the system.

To help alleviate the problem, products such as the DC-One and Dx46 incorporate a user-switchable -6 dB analog pad placed before the A/D converter on the inputs, to prevent clipping the input stage and to allow the device to both operate cleanly and provide maximum performance.

Optimized Loudspeaker Settings

While Electro-Voice has decades of experience in the design of cutting-edge passive components, modern PA systems, such as line arrays, require more advanced active processing. These electronics optimize system performance and protection, helping your equipment sound better and last longer.

To this end, Electro-Voice spends countless hours designing, listening, measuring and testing both its acoustic and electronic system components. The result is information on how these components can be used together holistically for maximum effect and ease of operation. DSP parameters include EQ, crossover, delay and limiter settings; advanced processing, such as FIR-Drive filters, may be also used to even further enhance performance.

These files are distributed in a common file format, which means a user can download a loudspeaker setting file from EV’s website and expect consistency. Whether the next gig will use a Dx46, NetMax N8000 or Tour Grade amplifiers with RCM-26 modules, the same file can be used and the performance will be the same.

Ensure Proper Line-Array Aiming

Sound folk frequently joke that the first rule in setting up a PA is to “point the loud part at the people.” This resonates with the old adage, “It’s funny because it’s true”—particularly when it comes to line arrays.

The ability to tailor the vertical coverage pattern of a line array is a huge benefit, but if aimed improperly, lack of proper acoustic coverage may cause a user to apply excessive gain or EQ in an attempt to compensate for these issues.

All Electro-Voice line-array products can be extensively modeled using the LAPS or EVADA software. These tools provide critical information about the configuration and performance of a given line-array system in a particular venue, and allow the operator to ensure that all details of the system performance are accounted for and optimized.

The Right Limiters for the Job

Transducers are vulnerable to different kinds of failures, but these most commonly fall into two categories: mechanical or thermal. While peak limiters can protect the transducer from sudden voltage peaks that can cause mechanical damage, overdriving the system can still result in excessive long-term power being applied to the transducers, which can result in a thermal failure.

Electro-Voice’s extensive research into transducer, amplifier and DSP technology has led to the creation of a highly advanced peak limiter as well as a groundbreaking long-term limiter technology. The Peak Anticipation (PA) Limiter and Thermal Energy Management and Protection (TEMP) Limiter can be found in all of Electro-Voice’s FIR-Drive DSP products (Tour Grade series amps with optional RCM-26 modules, the NetMax system controller and the Dx46 loudspeaker processor), and provide the ultimate protection package for transducers, all while maintaining clean and transparent audio.


As a manufacturer and designer of all the elements of a sound reinforcement signal path, Electro-Voice is keenly aware of how devices operate together as a system and has spent much time researching and developing new tools and technologies to keep the show going, helping to ensure joy and elation from both the audience and the crew.

Ethan Wetzell works as product manager, Electro-Voice Signal Processing.