Danley Sound Labs may not have as recognizable a brand name as some manufacturers, but the Georgia-based company is a respected name in unique design of loudspeaker systems. Tom Danley has established a reputation through his horn-loaded marvels masquerading as speaker boxes. Now he has refined his speaker system to create the SH-50.
The SH-50 is like little that has come before. At first glance, it appears to be a trapezoidal speaker cabinet. In reality, it is a full-range, horn-loaded speaker system incorporating several components in a rather unique arrangement. The complement of components is not all that different from some other designs, but the location of its components is. First, there are two 12-inch woofers facing each other in a “manifold” or angled style, located behind an internal baffle with strategic cutouts. Then, there are four five-inch cone-loaded midrange devices arranged around the dual 12-inch woofers in a circular pattern, also somewhat angular to each other. Topping off the list of components is a one-inch driver, loaded compression style, on the main horn flare of the internal baffle.
The one-inch driver is quite unusual in itself: it is of small stature and loaded to a large flare — an odd match. For a “normal” box, generally speaking, small drivers are loaded to small horns, with the higher frequencies collecting to the center of the horn; the horn provides a loading, or impedance, to the driver. Large horns coupled to small drivers usually equal almost no impedance to the driver at lower frequencies, thus allowing unbridled amounts of power to the driver, usually resulting in damaged or blown drivers. Danley has conquered these issues in the SH50 (and more on that in the ‘In Use’ part of the review).
One thing interesting about the SH-50 is that it is a passive system. In these days of over processed audio, it is unusual to find a passive three-way box with an overall impedance of 6 ohms that will be used in the pro audio circles.
The SH-50’s enclosure is nothing unusual from the outside: a black box with a nice-looking perforated metal grille. The box measures 28-inches wide by 28-inches tall at its mouth and 22.5-inches to the rear of the box in depth. It offers a 50x50-degree rotational horn. The total package is a stout little Baltic Birch box weighing in at 140 lbs. Connectors — a pair of Neutrik NL4 in parallel — are located on the rear panel.
Concert and installation
Passive three-way, horn-loaded loudspeaker; two 12-inch woofers; four five-inch cone-loaded midrange speakers; a one-inch driver
$3,925; $5,595 (powered version with built-in DSP)
Danley Sound Labs | 770-535-0204 | www.danleysoundlabs.com
- Radiant sound
- Unique design
- Highly array-able
- None Noted
Is there something above 10?Danley recommends 800 watts RMS input for 129 dB continuous output. Sensitivity is rated at 100 dB (1W/1m) at 100 Hz. It has an operational spectrum of 50 Hz - 18 kHz.
From prior experience with Danley products I knew two things: Danley speakers would be audio anomalies, and they would sound incredible. I was not disproven either way.
The first test I put them through was as front fills for an outdoor show that featured country music legends Asleep at the Wheel. The first thing about the SH-50 that leapt right out at me was its incredible vocal clarity. The attack of the midrange in the percussion, keys, guitars and, most notably, vocals was pure ear candy. I was further impressed to find a manufacturer that rates its cabinet realistically at a 50 Hz useable bottom frequency, and actually delivers that quality of frequency from two 12-inch cones at some pretty amazing distances. The FOH position was about 150 feet from edge-of-stage, and the Danleys on stage were at an even elevation plane from center-of-box to my ears.
Walking the house during soundcheck I discovered another interesting feature of the SH-50: its highs are radiated in the same coverage pattern as the bulk of the midrange frequencies, thus providing a very even dispersion of 1 kHz and higher frequencies.
Another test I was anticipating was being able to hear how the SH-50 pair performed when placed in a side-by-side configuration. We all expect 50-degree wide horns to argue with each other, thus creating dropout zones. None of that happened. I have never heard two speaker cabinets function so seamlessly and flawlessly together. This tells me that the possibilities for wider arrays could very well be emerging, allowing four, six or eight of the SH-50 cabinets to be placed side by side.
Using the SH-50 pair at several other shows, I continued to be amazed at its clarity and depth. Component time alignment is pure perfection, if not magical. Its clarity is unmatched, and the components feel as though they all radiate from the exact time/plane location. Tom Danley surpasses even his own previous designs with these speakers. You want to be the first guy on your block to have these.