With a name like Kosmos and control monikers like “Quake” and “Thud,” I had previously dismissed the original Peavey Kosmos as some kind of a marketing gimmick. That is, until I saw a Kosmos in the rack of my friend, who is a system engineer for one of the country’s elite sound providers, and I started to think otherwise.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, installation
Key Features: Sub-harmonic enhancement and high-frequency spatialization & enhancement
Contact: Peavey Electronics at 601-483-5365, Web Site.
He spends his days surrounded by VerTec line arrays, I-Tech amps, Midas consoles, Lake EQ processing and loads of other high-dollar gear. And there, nestled among the Klark-Teknik, BSS and Lexicon gear was the relatively inexpensive Kosmos. “Surely this is a joke,” I thought to myself, but he said the Kosmos was a “secret weapon” that he used frequently.
Then, I worked a show with a popular singer/songwriter who used a Kosmos on his acoustic guitar’s low string (which had a separate output since he used a six-piece under-saddle pickup) creating a deep powerful bass sound. Based on these two compelling exposures, I had no choice but to consider this product for some serious evaluation – despite the goofy names.
The Kosmos Pro works as both a low-frequency energy enhancement tool and a stereo spatial enhancer. The unit consumes one rack-space and has a variety of front panel controls. “Quake” is a subharmonic synthesizer, “Thud” is a low frequency sculpture tool, “Xpanse” is a high-frequency/stereo image enhancer while “Stratos” is a dynamic high-frequency effect. There is also a bypass button, a switchable (input or output) LED display and pots for both input and output. New to the Kosmos Pro is S/PDIF I/O. The unit also has a switch that removes the sub-bass content from the main outputs and directs it to a balanced 1/4-inch plug with separate attenuation.
The Quake control affects a synthesized signal that is generated one octave below the input source. Coupled to the Quake is the Dynamics control, which is the lord over the Quake’s envelope release time. You can go from a tight, fast-tracking sound to a loose thunder. The output frequency range of the process can then be shifted higher or lower using the “Sub-Terranean” shift switch. The subharmonic activity is monitored and indicated by a light and the output level is adjustable.
There is another low frequency process on the Kosmos called “Thud.” Thud injects signal an octave above the Quake content which, if my powers of deduction serve me right, would be in the range of the original incoming signal. However, the Thud process has a tuning switch that can remove some of the higher bass frequencies too. It should also be noted that the Quake and Thud processes are phase-synced so they manipulate both waveform and amplitude in a complimentary way.
High frequencies and stereo image can be manipulated with the Kosmos’ three atmospheric controls (Xpanse, Barometrics, and Stratos), which are claimed to give increased separation and clarity. Xpanse is a group of stereo filters that work with the Barometrics control to provide phase and frequency manipulation. The Stratos control is purported to add a high frequency harmonic sheen.
My first use of the Kosmos was exclusively on subwoofer duty. Located downstream of the speaker processing (crossover), I fed the Kosmos a signal of 90Hz and below (necessitated by the fact that the Kosmos’ crossover is fixed at 90 Hz) and I used the unit’s subwoofer output. Generally, this would only include kick drum, bass, keys and CD playback since I limit the LF content of other channels with high-pass filters and channel EQ. By dialing in a modest amount of Quake (be careful, it gets ugly when overused) and keeping the Dynamics controls tight, I noticed a very intense deepening of the kick drum. However, it wasn’t until I brought in a little of the Thud control and engaged the Deeper switch, that my horn-loaded 4 x 15-inch subs began to tickle my internal organs in a new and exciting way. The PA’s low end was more impressive than I had ever heard. I must say that it was very impressive and I wasn’t the only one who noticed the Kosmos’ enhancement. However, it should also be noted that my sub amps, which had previously had ample headroom in most operating conditions, were now flirting with self-limiting. The low-frequency sound of the Kosmos became addictive very quickly and I started entertaining thoughts of beefier power amps to facilitate such an addiction. My only qualm with the Kosmos was I wish it had a variable crossover point for the subwoofer outputs.
Later, at a popular local Folk Music Festival, I used the Kosmos in “full-range” mode upstream of the speaker processing. By using judicious amounts of Xpanse and Stratos, I was able to increase the overall definition of voices and acoustic guitars whilst still maintaining some of the previously mentioned low-end depth. However, when one low-voiced singer spoke between songs, I noticed some unwanted rumble despite my Midas console’s high-pass filter being engaged. A little more channel EQ tweaking and a reduction in the Quake mode seemed to resolve the situation.
The Peavey Kosmos Pro is a very impressive piece of equipment. It can add significant seismic power to your PA if used appropriately. Like many pro audio products, if not used judiciously, it can become a detriment to the sonic landscape or even damage system components. This begs the question – if this product is best used by professional operators, why would Peavey adorn the unit with a $669 price tag and goofy names that would seem to entice the amateur/musician crowd? Silly names aside, the Kosmos Pro is very cool and should be staying in my rack for quite some time!