Review: Yamaha DXR Series Powered Speakers & DXS Series Powered Subwoofers

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DXR and DXS Series components comprise a compact yet powerful, versatile and affordable powered loudspeaker system. 

This past March, I reviewed Yamaha Pro Audio’s DSR Series of portable PA components. To oversimplify, they were ideal: great sounding and notably overbuilt in a very good way. Yet, even though reasonably priced, the reality is that Yamaha’s premium portable PA is still a budget-buster for many discriminating DIY music professionals; sure — they want it, but it’s just beyond their loudspeaker budget. 

Yamaha then shipped me two DXR8 two-way powered loudspeakers and a DXS12 powered subwoofer. Now I can declare that this tight little kit with an overall 2,000W of continuous power is the best portable PA “tool” I’ve used in some time, even in a market full of worthy loudspeaker options. 

Features 

The dual DXR8 and DXS12 kit is comprised of components from two new Yamaha portable PA product lines, DXR Series Powered Speakers and DXS Series Powered Subwoofers. The DXR Series offers two-way, bi-amplified, bass-reflex type loudspeakers ranging from the smallest DXR8 (with eight-inch LF speaker) to the largest DXR15 (with 15-inch LF speaker) with 10- and 12-inch LF speaker models in the middle (DXR10 and DXR12, respectively), each with a one-inch throat compression HF driver and a total 700W of Class D continuous power (600W LF/100W HF). The DXS Series offers two subwoofer options, the aforementioned DXS12 with 12-inch LF speaker or the DXS15 with 15-inch LF speaker; both offer 600W of Class D continuous power. 

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I/O is comprehensive: inputs include balanced Mic/Line XLR with XLR thru-put on channel 1, two separate unbalanced, quarter-inch line inputs (L and R) on channel two, and two unbalanced stereo RCA inputs on channel 3; each channel has its own corresponding level pot. 

Built-in D-Contour and D-XSub digital processing — via 24-bit, 48kHz AD/DA — allows adjustments within the following fixed EQ parameters: FOH/Main (significantly boosts HF and slightly boosts HF) and Monitor (significantly cuts LF and slightly boosts HF) for the loudspeakers; and Boost (significantly boosts a tight, punchy LF range) and Xtended-LF (slightly boosts a broader, fuller LF range) for the subwoofer. DXS subwoofers offer a polarity inversion switch, too. DXR and DXS Series components also feature a 100Hz/120Hz HPF and 80Hz, 100Hz, and 120Hz LPF (24dB per oct.), respectively. All DXR/DXS Series components include clip limit circuitry for speaker protection.

The DXR8, a completely capable main loudspeaker, is under 30 lbs., and the DXS12 subwoofer is just over 70lbs. Measurements are as follows: the DXR8 is 11” x 18” x 11” and the DXS12 is 15-5/8” x 22-1/8” x 23-3/8”. 

In Use

Starting where all portable PA evaluations should — with some good old load-in/load-out —this DXR/DXS Series system was immediately impressive. Its compact cabinetry is easy to hold and carry; the DXR8 and DXS12 cabinets aren’t exactly “lightweight”— they just lack any wasted interior space, making the most of your vehicle’s precious cargo space. This three-piece PA requires two trips for one person to load into the average club gig. 

I used the DXR/DXS rig in many configurations, including rehearsals, a DJ rig for an outdoor event, acoustic music reinforcement in a medium-sized reverberant venue, full band “side-fill/stage lows” monitors within a larger sound reinforcement system, and several times as the main PA for high SPL rock/R&B outdoor performances. 

The DXR8’s small size and high power make them the perfect affordable side-fill speaker. As L/R side-fills on ear-level stands, I heard nary a complaint about monitor levels, even as shows progressed (and musicians onstage amps become louder and louder); the DXR8s are perfectly voiced for driving loud vocals, guitars, and other midrange instruments with clarity and a notable overall lack of harshness. 

As main speakers, the DXR8 and DXS12 were seamlessly plugged into setups where the normal main monitor would at least feature a two-way cabinet with 12-inch LF speakers. For one high SPL/outdoor gig, the big low-mids of a Les Paul/Mesa Boogie Mark 5 rhythm guitar were simply too much for otherwise-great main speakers from another powered speaker manufacturer; as distortion/PA speaker breakup was audible, all involved were concerned that the mains wouldn’t last to complete the show. After assuring the band that the DXR8 had almost the same power specs as their preferred main, we swapped them from their side-fill position to FOH, while the misbehaving speakers became side-fill. Three hours later, the show concluded without a hitch. 

Some powered speakers offer users more variable DSP, but Yamaha’s DXR/DXS Series keeps it simple, and I never longed for variable EQ parameters, for example; the D-Contour and D-XSub adjustments were consistently good enough for my needs. 

Summary

I must note that the last time I used such a small yet powerful and reasonably affordable powered loudspeaker system, it was Cerwin-Vega’s unique CVA (Cerwin Vega Active) Series, which I reviewed for Pro Audio Review back in July 2008 (http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/newbay/par_200807/index.php?startid=50). While I still believe Cerwin-Vega’s CVA Series to be among the best portable PA options available, this DXR/DXS rig is arguably better in some very attractive ways. To name a few, the DXR8 streets for $50 less than the comparable CVA-28, plus it offers more comprehensive I/O, overall more power and weighs less. The DXR Series’ numbingly simple-to-apply built-in DSP just makes the sound better with almost every application. And I alone can carry the DXS12 subwoofer for the average “trunk-to-stage” load-in without breaking a pre-gig sweat. Sold! 

BIO: Strother Bullins is the Editor of Pro Audio Review

Price: $829 and $1,049 list (DXR8 and DXS12, respectively)

Contact: Yamaha Pro Audio | http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/global/en/products/speakers/