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12" speakers vs, 15" speakers for vokal

Advice please :-) I know 12" speakers work well for vocals, but I would like to know what I'm losing by using 15" insted of 12". Off course the speaker quality differs, but in general, why not 15"?

(About me; I'm a mix between baritone/tenor. Prefer microphones like the old akg condensator 5900 also EV Cardinal, but the EV doesent capture my top unless EQ'ed and added high. I am not fond off Sure mic's...   I like the big sound on my lows but also crisp clear sound om my highs.)
Thanks for advise


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    edited May 2014

    There is nothing wrong with 15" speakers, if they are of good quality, and they can move even more air in the low-frequency range than a 12".

    Typically, 12" speakers will go higher into the upper vocal range, but most speakers in the 12" and 15" size will be paired up with a high-frequency horn that handles ALL of the sound above about 1500 hz. so that becomes a null factor.  Without a horn being used, the 12" speaker probably does a better job of covering the vocal sound spectrum than a 15".

    For an even better sound, use a 3-way speaker combination that uses an 8" or 10" speaker for the midrange.  Mids can sound harsh coming from a horn.  A cone-style speaker has a smoother response in this range.  QSC makes a nice 3-way system that is self-powered (tri-amped), uses a 15" on the lows, a 6.5" speaker on the mids, and a horn for the highs.  Very nice, but costs about $1500 each.  Very, very high-quality sound from these.  



  • Thank you Bob :-)

    I should have mentioned that the speakers would be with horns.
    From your point of view do you experience a lot of sound difference on two way speakers 12" vs 15" conserning vocals?
    If so can you try to explane it to me? (15" more more air with better lows and 12" might give a better midrange.)

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346

    Mostly you will notice a difference if you are running instruments through those speakers as well as voices.

    15" speakers will carry more deep, low-frequency sound.  Bass guitar and Kick drum will sound boomier from 15's.  Many 15's will be rated for higher RMS power capabilities, so they may be less prone to blowout, depending on the program material you will run through them. Because 15" speakers have more square inches of area, each excursion of the speaker cone moves a greater quantity of air through the room.  We perceive the amplitude of sound by the pressure of the sound waves travelling from the speaker to our eardrums.  Bigger speakers generate higher amplitude air waves at lower frequencies than smaller speakers are capable of generating.

    12" speakers will sound a little "tighter" and favor the mid frequencies more, and have a little less Low end, and they could bottom out if you put too much bass guitar and kick drum in them.  They also may be rated for a little less RMS power than 15's.  You may actually prefer a "tighter" bass sound.  A lot of bass guitar rigs now use 10" speakers for a really "punchy" bass guitar sound.  I have a subwoofer for my bass drum that uses 10's.

    If we're just talking about vocals in your sound system, you won't hear much difference in similar-quality 12" and 15" speakers.

    Don't skimp on the quality of the Amps OR the Speakers if you want your vocals to sound good.

    I personally use QSC K-12 speakers for my main club sound system.  They are rated at 1000 watts RMS each (horn and speaker together) and sound killer. I can put them up on tripod stands by myself without any help.  That's why I like them the most.  High quality, high power, compact, and light weight.

    I have more than one system, that include 15's on the low end, and 18's too, but I have to move equipment a lot from gig-to-gig, so the 12" QSC's are the ones I now prefer. 

  • Thank you very much Bob :-)
  • yafalyafal Pro Posts: 17
    Hi! One more thing: if you choose 15 inches, be sure the driver that handles the mid/high frequencies is a 2 inch one. Every time I listen to a cabinet with the more common 15" paired with 1" driver, I can hear that the mids are not right, and the sound is harsher compared to the 15"/2". Also 12" and 2" are a great pair, more "transparent", if you wish. Hope it helps.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    edited June 2014

    Good Point, @yafal,

    If you use a horn with a 2" throat, it's also good if it is a long-throw horn.  The longer horns do extend down further into the upper midrange, and do have a less harsh, mellower sound.  They just come in larger cabinets, with bigger drivers.  The 15" speakers tend to not go as high into the midrange as a 10" or a 12", so you want a horn and driver that goes lower to cover that range, so as to not be deficient in the mids.

    The main reason for the importance here is the VOCALS reside primarily in this midrange area, and you don't want Harsh-sounding vocals from your new system.  We want the best, most pleasing sound from the vocals.

    Why spend all this time learning to sing and sound good, only to amplify it through a poor-quality sound system?




  • bigbrotherbigbrother Pro Posts: 104
    edited June 2014
    i can easily tell when the voice mics are on smaller speakers.
    the 10" small cone speakers are notorious.
    even the bose pa system with like (8) 4" drivers sound bad to me.

    I prefer large speakers.
    a 15" 1200w speaker will probably sound clearer at 500w than a 10" 600w speaker at 500 watts.

    never thought the speakers with 1" cones could be why many speaker systems sound harsh.


    have you ever heard a urei playback speaker system? they boast a 15" low, and a massive 15 mid range speaker.
    voice is just awesome on those.
  • yafalyafal Pro Posts: 17
    Oh, I fell in love with JBL many yeras ago. UREI is one of their companies. Not surprised you like them, they always deliver.

  • project_indigenousproject_indigenous Pro Posts: 24
    edited June 2014
    I want to say thanks to Yafal, Bigbrother and Highmtn.
    If anyone should have any more relevant information on the topic, please continue to leave comments. Thanks.
  • Some years ago I bought Turbosound Siena TSP 112AN
    I am very happy with them, good sound.
  • sjonrokz4usjonrokz4u 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,287
    Are you looking for something for a club rig or something just for practice? And as a note the smaller speakers move mechanically more efficient and faster. A lot of pro rig monitors are going to smaller speakers for this reason. A lot of great info in these posts
  • Got my Turbosunds, and they sound good, thanks Sjonrokz :-)
  • sjonrokz4usjonrokz4u 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,287
    I’m guessing you bought monitors. Which turbos did you get? If you got the nw c
  • sjonrokz4usjonrokz4u 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,287
    Sorry fat clumsy thumbs. I was trying to say if you got the new coaxial kind they’re great monitors but be careful with the low end going in to them
  • I use Turbosound TSP122-AN as monitor, but also as PA.;-) Makes it easier getting the "almost same" sound all round.
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