Review & Video: LD Dave 12 G3 Compact PA System

Review Summary:

A smart, compact design and offering excellent sound quality for the price, the Dave 12 G3 powered PA system could even be used as your home practise system too - a great all-rounder for small parties.

Dave 12 G3 Powered PA System
  • Dave 12 G3 Powered PA System
  • Rating: 4
  • From: LD Systems
  • Price: €675
  • Reviewed by:
  • On August 26, 2013
  • Last modified:February 13, 2014
ld-systems-dave-12-g3

The LD Systems Dave 12 G3 is versatile, good value and well built – great for smaller parties.

Review: LD Dave 12 G3 Compact PA System

Full LD Systems Dave 12 G3 Review: Recently we reviewed the excellent Cerwin Vega P Series PA system – four independently amplified boxes (two full range speakers and two subs). While packing a powerful punch, we noted that systems like that do so at a price and weight that counts them out for many DJs wanting their own rig. Not so the LD Dave G3 series, three compact and very affordable PA systems designed to be thrown in the back of a small car, be easy to set up and use, and still give enough volume for smaller gigs. If you play at parties, small pubs, bars, or intimate mobile gigs, and you’ve ever been tempted to take your home speakers, read on: this is what you should be doing instead.

First impressions

This is one of those PA systems where it “all happens” in the subwoofer, with two rather small “satellite” speakers designed to take their inputs via a cable each from the subwoofer. These satellites don’t have their own amplification, just passive crossovers to split the input signal between the two speakers they each contain, and thus they don’t have their own independent audio inputs at all. Thus the system is designed to always be used as a three-piece, which is why these satellites can be smaller (they only have to cope with the mid range and high frequencies, and only contain actual speakers) and conversely why the subwoofer is relatively bulky and heavy: Not only does it have to provide all the bass “punch” but it also contains the amplifier.

This has advantages and disadvantages: The main advantage is that it is really easy to set up, the main disadvantage being that unlike independently amplified solutions, you need to take all three “boxes” with you everywhere; there’s no option to take just the two satellites for very small gigs. This makes sense in this case, because they’d have to be bigger than they are anyway in order to deliver any kind of acceptable bass response on their own; that’s not what they’re designed for.

The look is pure traditional PA: plywood boxes with textured black paint, fine meshed grills, carry handles and a front-ported subwoofer. The weight and quality is good, especially for the price, and it’s certainly a step up from boomy, hollow-feeling (and sounding) plastic budget PAs.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that there are three models in the range, the 10, 12 and 15; we’re reviewing the middle model, the 12, here. Overall, it feels like you’re getting a lot more PA than you’ve got a right to expect for your money here; sure, it’s relatively compact, but it’s well made, well designed, and rather attractive, albeit in an utterly traditional kind of way.

Setting up

The system is supplied with just a power cable; the two satellites need to be connected to the subwoofer with Speakon cables (a type of PA system cable), which you’ll have to buy separately; bank on buying 2 x 5m cables as a minimum. It is really easy to carry / pick up, with comfortable handles and with the sub, ergonomic finger grips at two different angles to make it easy to be carried either by one person or by one person on each side. The three different angle settings on the satellites work well.

You’ll probably want to invest in speaker stands: The box shows the unit with a single pole coming out of the top of the subwoofer, which splits to hold the two satellites, swivelled apart to provide dispersion (this is an optional accessory). I would suggest for DJ use investing in two more conventional tripod stands would be a better bet, as you could then have more control over the placing of the three boxes depending on the dancefloor you’re wanting to cover.

Set-up involves plugging your source or sources into the available inputs, which are on a panel at the back of the subwoofer. There are L/R balanced combo jack/XLRs and unbalanced RCAs, meaning for instance that you could plug absolutely any DJ controller directly into it. Note it has no mic input and no internal mixer at all, so if you wanted to use microphones or mix more than two sources, you’d need a small PA mixer. Bank on $100-$150 if this is you.

LD Systems Dave Back

The back panel of the sub-woofer, which is where all the amplification takes place.

This panel also has the two Speakon sockets to plug the leads that head off to the satellites into, and twin balanced XLR outs, which feed the line-in (ie the same signal you plug into the unit) out to additional amplification/speakers, should that be required. This would easily allow you to plug a monitor in direct from here, should you wish.

Four small LEDs give you a status report; you’re shown power on/off, the presence of an input signal, a limiter, and a protect light. The limiter lights when you’re pushing too much power into it from your music source as a warning, and the protect light indicates the unit has self-muted to protect itself from damage.

In use

So after plugging literally two leads and the power in, and popping the speakers onto a pair of stands (just above head height is best folks!), you can attach your source, and switch everything the PA on. Took less than 10 minutes.

It is possible to adjust the “balance” between the subwoofer and top speakers, as there are independent subwoofer and main level controls, so you do have some control over the tone. This is useful if you’re not using an external mixer to EQ your room because it allows you to tweak the overall “flat” colour of the sound a little without resorting to using your DJ controller’s EQs. Note that there’s also a phase invert switch for the subwoofer, which may be useful in some circumstances; try it and trust your ears.

We first heard this PA at Musikmesse 2013, where a singer/guitarist was playing through it, and it blew us away for the size, even more so when we found out the price. Of course, amplified dance music is another thing entirely, so we were interested to see how it coped in DJ use. We used it open air on a terrace for about 60 people, tested with a variety of classic dance / pop (The Jacksons / Diana Ross) and current deep house / house (Jamie Jones, Disclosure), and with our own speaker stands (as we said, we reckon an essential extra purchase).

We found a nice sound balance / proportion to be main volume 75% and sub volume 50%. The sound is really crisp and clear, with a nice warm punch to the bass, especially at low “background” volumes the bass is perfectly balanced. The satellites could do with the option to add a bit more top end, but this can be compensated for on the mixer.

The “sweet spot” doesn’t seem to be very wide at all, so unless you are standing / dancing directly in between the two speakers you don’t get the crispness and full range of the satellites. Standing in the DJ position behind the speakers means the sound is pretty weak, as you lose any top-end definition, and so it’s definitely worth using a separate monitor speaker to save you having to “divert” one of the satellites to cover your DJ position. We plugged our monitor into the XLR line out on the LD sub as mentioned above, but most DJ controllers also have a second output you could use.

Overall, it was impressively loud for such a small system, and in the open air the bass had punch even standing six metres away from the sub. We only pushed the level to 75% in the test yet still got nowhere near testing the limiter and protections built in to the system!

It has crisp full sound which suited all different types of music, even someone singing “happy birthday” in Afrikaans! And again, the clarity and balance of the sub at low levels was fantastic. And as the subwoofer and satellites always “travel together”, this means you’re always going to get the same decent quality out of it if you don’t push it too hard.

As it has a digital signal processor (DSP), this means too that you don’t have to worry too much about setting it up for maximum effectiveness without damaging it: You just plug it in, set the subwoofer and main volumes to roughly equal, and play away. The unit will tell you when you’re pushing it too hard via the LEDs, and built-in compression will treat your audio indiscretions more kindly than if it wasn’t there.

Conclusion

We liked it a lot. Many DJs (semi-pros, part timers, serious hobby DJs) are never going to spend big on a PA, or play gigs where they need that kind of power. But as we always advise, taking your home speakers to absolutely any party at all, however much you think they are going to cope, is always a supremely bad idea. Enter the LD Dave G3 series. If the other two systems in the series are anything like the 12 model that we tested today, the three systems all offer an affordable, presentable and capable way of delivering decent sound for any small DJ event.

The LD Dave 12 G3 was easy to set up, pretty foolproof to use, simple to transport, and it sounded good. Such a PA will not only make you appear much more professional than were you to lug some studio monitors out with you, but for this price, it is really a no-brainer investment; your first couple of gigs could pay for it outright.

LD Systems Dave

Thanks to its great performance at low volumes, such a system could conceivably even double up as your home practice rig.

I would have liked to have seen the Speakon cables in the box, as you obviously need them to make it work, and you’ll need stands for the speakers (turning up with a PA and then balancing your speakers on chairs or tables is not practical, safe or professional), but for the price this is acceptable. With a lovely balanced sound through the whole frequency range, this may not carry the badge, or price tag of some of the more “desirable” PA systems, making it a clever choice for someone wanting to deliver big sound in a small and easily portable package, without breaking the bank.

I’d go as far as to say if you can only afford home monitors or a small PA system for the parties you’re aiming on playing at, you should seriously consider just blowing the cash on say the smaller LD Dave 10 G3, and using that as your studio/practice amplification as well as your playing out PA. As long as there’s room in your practice room for the relatively large subwoofer, you’d be on to a winner!

Product Summary

Review Summary:

A smart, compact design and offering excellent sound quality for the price, the Dave 12 G3 powered PA system could even be used as your home practise system too - a great all-rounder for small parties.

Dave 12 G3 Powered PA System
  • Dave 12 G3 Powered PA System
  • Rating: 4
  • From: LD Systems
  • Price: €675
  • Reviewed by:
  • On August 26, 2013
  • Last modified:February 13, 2014

Video review

Are you in the market for a small PA? Do you like the look of this system? Do you own it, or something similar? What would your recommendation be? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. King of Snake says:

    Phil,
    again an example of a great review!
    thanks for that.

    regards
    KoS

  2. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    No doubt some people are gonna be happy with this setup.

    I’d advise at least 2x 10m speakon cables though. 5m sounds like a lot, but usually you can’t go in a straight line from (in this case) sub to satellite. If only from a cosmetic point of few it pays to lay the cables to the side a bit. In which case losing 1 or 2m is nothing. Then when you have the speakers slightly above head height, there goes another 2m.

    And finally if you can’t put the sub in the middle (and as it is a sub it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the middle) but to one side of your dj stand for example, you are gonna come up short on the other side.

    The price difference between 5 and 10m cables is usually not double (connectors and labor putting them on are the most expensive part of any cable and you need two of them regardless of length) and although a bit bulkier, I can safely say that you’ll have a lot more use for the 10s than you would for the 5s. I was using 10s and even those came up short sometimes. Especially in wide and shallow rooms you want to space out the speakers a bit.

    Greetinx,
    C.

  3. QSC is the only sound I could endorse , two of the KW8s pack more punch , are very light , and are very easy to set up either w RCA or XLR,they even allow a 1/4 inch into the Male XLR for convenience if you are using a controller that does not have XLR out.

    Two of them will run you about 1,000
    US and they have 1000 watts in each

    No brainer. The subs on those little 8s have blown mackie 15s out the water.

    Nate

    • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

      I find it hard to subscribe to the “there is only one real solution” train of thought . As most posts here and on the forum show, there is rather a very large choice available.

      Add to that the fact that various situations demand various solutions and there is no “one solution” that fits everyone and everything.

      Also I have a bit of a problem with remarks like “blown out of the water”. It’s at best a highly subjective qualification.

      In your specific example, some of my first questions would be WHAT Mackie? Are you talking about the low end on a 15″ full range speaker or a 15″ sub? Are you talking about Mackie low end or high end speakers (I have the HD-Series and would gladly take any challenge with comparably spec’d PA systems)? Another question would be what setting did you do the comparison in? Was there even an A/B comparison, or are you comparing two systems in two different locations at two different times?

      I don’t mind people having their preferred or “pet” products/brands/solutions (I know I have a few :-), but it is not helpful to state that preference in a “this is really the best and everything else sucks” kind of way. Support your advice with clear arguments.

      As I said in my previous comment, I am sure there will be people that will be very happy with this setup. It’s not for me (I am one of those DJ’s that DID spend a substantial amount on his PA) and I have had some less than perfect moments with some early LD stuff, but that is not relevant anymore and certainly not in relation to this PA-set, so no reason for me to bring it up or put LD down.

      Everyone has to make his own decision based on good, solid arguments. The guys on DDJT try their best to give good, unbiased reviews of gear and software and succeed very well in that respect if you ask me.

      Greetinx,
      C.

      • Thanks chuck, you nailed it mate. First everyone has different versions of what they do/do not like, and some companies products start crap, but thats how they get better. Me, i want quality and im prepared to pay for it.

  4. Ahmed AlHaji says:

    Phil, I was wondering when it comes to the volume knobs.
    Is the 12 O’clock position 0 db or when it’s on the extreme right?

  5. Dj Lyts Out says:

    Im thinking aout gettin the 15 sub to use along with my behringer b315d’s

  6. I’d like to see what the “standardized specifications” are similar to DJ Forced Hand’s comparison in the Cerwin Vega review ( http://www.digitaldjtips.com/2013/06/cerwin-vega-p1500x-powered-pa-speakers-review-video/ ). How does this solution compare with a self-powered system (read as two or more speakers with or without the companion sub-woofer)?

    Compare:

    Two 12″ Mackie Thumps which you can pick up for $269.99 apiece ($539.98 before tax) on a popular music retailer’s site plus the subwoofer $599.99 (making the Mackie Thump solution $1,139 (plus tax).

    *OR*

    Two Electro-Voice ELX112 speakers for 299.99 apiece (call it $600 for the pair before tax) and the ELX-118SUB 18″ Subwoofer for $499 so the total would be $1,099 (before tax), again this system is totally modular.

    vs.

    The $1012.50 (translated to U.S. dollars using the 1:1.5 translation method) for this solution (granted, you have V.A.T. in Europe and that price may include V.A.T. … does it)?

    Note that the Mackie and Electro-Voice (among others) systems are completely modular (subwoofer not required to use the P.A. speakers), is it really worth it to save about $100 to be tied to dragging around all 3 speakers? Maybe, but wouldn’t you like the option NOT to… or maybe adding MORE speakers to the solution if you wanted to?

    • Aren’t you looking at the “passive” EV speakers? The active ELX 112p is 650 EUR each and the ELX 118p is 850 EUR. So that is about three times the price of a Dave 12G3 (700 EUR).

      • Indeed yes I was… sorry about that. Still, there are some pretty good deals you can pick up if you’re looking to go “Budget speakers.” Used is always an option (and if you’re looking for a set of speakers in this range, used will yield some pretty good results.

        Behringer, Harbinger and Gemini all make pretty good speakers at this level, but this isn’t a market that lacks a lot of offers. Make sure to pop into your local music shop to see what kind of deals they can make for you on used speakers, you might be surprised.

    • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

      I agree with your “less than optimal flexibility” opinion.

      Another thing to watch is that if something happens to your sub (or you forget it while packing in a hurry), you would be sh*t out of luck.

      Personally I would always opt for a full active setup with full range speakers that can be used without a sub in smaller settings too and if one of the components fails, still allows me to keep on playing.

      Having said that, at this price point and (according to Phil) pretty decent sound at a good level it seems like a very good option for people just getting in the game and wanting a PA of their own.

      Looking back, my first 2x 15″ full range setup was nice to have, but if I had to do it again, I would rather have rented better gear perfectly matched for the gig it was to be used for. Now I had a perfect system only part of the time, sometimes too big, occassionally too small.

      If you play out a lot (weekly with your own PA) then I would rent until I made me enough money (if you play every week that shouldn’t take two years :-p) to buy a high quality flexible setup of your own.

      My high end setup started with two Mackie HD1221s. If I needed bigger I still rented a full PA or just an extra sub.Then I bought a HD 18″ sub about a year and a half later, which I take to gigs about 60% of the time. And recently I bought some second-hand Mackie SRM450v2s which I can use when I have a bigger gig as side/back fills.

      Took me over 2 1/2 years to accumulate this setup, but now I am set for anything from small (30-50 people with just the 2 12′ full range) to medium (50-150 people adding single 18″ sub) to medium/large (150-300 people with a square setup with the 2 SRM450s added) gigs.

      There is so much stuff around and so many different venues and gigs, it’s a tough call to make the right decision.

      Greetinx,
      C.

      • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

        Oh, and I use the SRMs also for multi-room setups. Sometimes the venue will have more than one room, or there is a terrace when the weather is nice. Really good to have an extra set of full-range speakers for the occassion.

      • Garry R Wells says:

        I ran two Mackie HD1521s and one and also a HD1801 for a little over 9 months and had nothing but issues with them, Its nice to hear that someone is actually running a Mackie HD system and pleased with it…..the old SRMs are quality…..Anyone thinking of buying HD1221s HD1521s or HD1531s SHOULD CHECK ONLINE AND READ REVIEWS…..you will find more bad than good and its all down to reliability or the lack of it…avoid at all costs….i was lucky enough to get every penny back of the retailer due to the amount of times each unit was sent for repair…..and after careful consideration and a hell of a lot of testing i decided on the CERWIN VEGA P1500X AND P1800SX SUBs….SO I GOT TWO TOPS AND 2 SUBS FOR THE SAME AS I PAYED FOR THE 3 MACKIES AND I HAD CHANGE!! the clarity of the Mackie HDs is still slightly better than the CVs but as a full system…..the CVs are in a different league, and extremely reliable

  7. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    Man, I am getting old …

    Another word of advice I forgot to give. When you buy a PA (any kind) and you are not using flightcases to transport it in (which is usually always unless you have a really nice truck with lift), be prepared to buy decent covers. Make room in your budget for it.

    It keep your gear looking good and looks very professional.

    Especially wood cabinets will loose paint relatively quicly when handled on the road without covers. And you’ll end up patching up the chipped bits often.

    Good covers will cost you from 50-125 a piece, depending on the size of the speaker and the quality of the cover.

    Just something to keep in mind.

    Greetinx,
    C.

    • Speaker/flight case recommendations/links? :)

      • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

        Most known flightcase manufacturers will have flightcases for full range speakers. Usually they will fit two into one wheeled case. Pretty big cases, hence the need for a truck with ramp or lift lol

  8. Thanks for the heads up now I know what speakers to buy

  9. Okay so I haven’t read the usual caveat yet so I’m TOTALLY gonna nail it hear;)
    I believe a person needs to weight the cost vs how often you really use it as a P.A.
    And factor in wear.
    Hmmm renting sounds not bad at all if you’re a few times a year, and whilst you fight off the depreciation and upkeep, you can usually rent a p.a. LIGHTYEARS better than you can afford.

    However. If I was popping off small gigs weekly, yah, I’d consider the hell out of it;)

  10. Joe Doerling says:

    Reading this review it seems almost clear to me that this is a great set of speakers if you take you first steps in to the DJ world.
    What is not so transparent to me why the star rating is then not a little bit higher. If I am not mistaken the only criticism was around the lack of cables you would have to buy extra. But apart from that they almost seem to be perfect (with the target audience clearly described)
    I would probably have give 4,5 or even 5 stars then. Or did I miss something?

  11. One thing I have to say here is that although systems like this offer good bang for the buck, are quick & easy to set up. Please guys DONT FORGET….. if just one component fails with this setup you’re totally screwed! This actually happened to me last week at a house party. I use a PowerWorks setup (made by HK) very similar to this. The sub died on me at the very start of the night. All I can say is….. HECTIC!!!! The little 8/10″ speakers on their own are absolutely useless. Fortunately, my van was still packed from the night before, so I had a backup system. But without a backup, you’ll have a serious problem!!

  12. Nothing really different than B52′s Matrix series. I used them for a few years and then chose to go with a Yorkville LS701P and 2-EV ELX112P’s do the truck for small gigs now. ThisYorkville will shock you!

  13. Guys stay away from this system and this company. My system has failed twice yes twice with no fix.
    I echo the sentiment about modular systems where you have a single point of failure. Maybe other systems are more reliable but not this one

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