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The Origins

Ever since Electro-Voice launched the Evolve 50 speaker line, the entire DJ community went bonkers for these sexy column arrays. And it’s not because they were the first column speakers out there; manufacturers from LD systems, Turbosound, JBL, Bose and others have had their offerings out for a couple years now. But EV is one of the most respected brands out there in the Mobile DJ community, and their offering of the Evolve 50 is nothing short of a home run. As a mobile DJ looking for awesome sound and lightweight portability, it dosen’t get much better than this.

This is going to be a personally subjective article, based off the norms that I anticipate at a typical venue. I try to be as unbiased as possible, but reviews like this rely heavily on my own ear and personal preference.

The Use Case

Before we kick things off we need to define the parameters and why I selected what I did in the first place. First I knew I was going to need something portable and generally lightweight in mind. Here in the Hudson Valley I work at a mix of traditional venues, farms, barns, tents, and other unique locations. Most of the time I can roll my equipment into a venue with my Rock and Roller R12 cart, but there are times I have grass, gravel, or stairs in my way so the ability to carry could not be ignored in my selection.

Most of my wedding crowds max out at around 150 people, with the one or two “big weddings” of 200-250 people. So in general I don’t need anything overly massive to playback to the crowd. While it would be nice to have massive subs and cabs, from a practical perspective it would cause an issue in the times I need to hand carry things, and frankly in all but the extreme cases having that powerful of a setup would be overkill.

At the time I made my first major speaker investment I was driving around a Golf GTI for my gigs, so fitting something inside the hatch was paramount. I tested a number of units out there, all with their pluses and minuses and in the end I had settled on a compromise of size, price, sound, and weight; the Yamaha DXR8 top cabinet and the DXS12 subs.

My Volkswagen GTI packed to the hilt with DJ equipment.

Even though I’ve upgraded the transportation to a Town and Country minivan I still desire a lightweight and portable solution to cover the 30-or-so weddings I do a year. So while I could step up to a massive one or two 18″ subs, larger tops, and the like, the fact of the matter is that I am not trying to injure myself for setups and breakdowns. There are times I still have to climb stairs or navigate around gravel or grass. And I am always looking to reduce time of my setups and breakdowns unless there is a massive gain in some area.

So an interesting battle of the speakers emerges from the house of Paris Creative. My trusty cabs-over-subs which I have used for three years versus an impressive column array that hit the scene in 2017.

In This Corner: Yamaha

So first let’s state what my choice of the Yamaha DXR8 top cabinet and the Yamaha DXS12 subwoofers are not. These are not the type of speakers you go to a school dance of 500 people with. But what the combination’s purpose is for is to rock that 150 person crowd without breaking a sweat.

So now let’s state what they are; IMO the best speaker setup in it’s class. The DXR8 has quite a small footprint, especially for the quality of sound that it produces, has more than ample power to rock a crowd of 150 people, pushing the upper limits at 175-180 guests. And these speakers are a featherweight at just under 30 lbs for the top cabinets and at just under 73 lbs on the subs, so you can carry them without being bit by a spider or being subjected to gamma radiation.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t mention  I had a custom cable created to pair up power and XLR connectors to both the top cabs and subs. A lot of time has been saved in the setup and breakdown just with something as simple as a custom cable.

A custom XLR and Power cable created by NFLX.

For years this combination delivered for my events and I think I can comfortably say that the Yamaha’s are one of the more underrated solutions out there. And with an unmatched 7 year warranty, you really cannot go wrong with this choice.

Across The Ring: EV

Time changes everything, and this is no different in the world of PA systems. New technologies, evolving concepts, and a company devoted to working in the space can produce some amazing products. And this is where we get the Evolve 50 line. Column speakers configurations are not new with companies like Bose, Maui, and others creating some great solutions. But with EV tossing their hat into the arena the DJ community went bonkers over it, and for good reason. EV is arguably a great brand for the mobile DJ community with a proven lineup over the years.

So for me there is a lot of shared concepts the intrigued me about the Evolve 50s; lightweight, reported tremendous sound quality, a similar power output rating as the Yamaha’s. These intrigued me quite a bit the past few months and with a Christmas surprise I found myself the owner of a pair.

While there are similar concepts, the Evolve 50s completely redefine the whole idea of a compact setup. Starting with the top column array, the Evolve 50s clock in a smidgen over 10 lbs. That is a 66% reduction in weight over the already light DXR8 top cab. And given that EV designed the sub pole to carry the power and sound to the array setting up literally takes seconds.

Looking down below the 12″ sub is absolutely impressive. While it does not beat the DXS12 in pure SPL (127 dB vs. 131 dB) it more than makes up for it in it’s “a kid can lift it” lightweight frame. Comparing size, the Evolve 50 sub sheds 35% of spacial volume over the DXS12, an already diminutive subwoofer. Looking at them side by side it’s just astonishing how so much sound can come from a small box.

Comparing the DXS12 sub with the Evolve 50 sub

Tale Of The Tape

The EV so far ticks every element of the use case for a mobile DJ, but in the end it comes down to how does it sound in comparison. As part of my A/B comparison test I tried to keep things as neutral as possible. The following initial settings were applied.

0db gain on the outputs of both speakers
120 Hz crossover on the Yamaha’s
200 Hz crossover on the Evovle 50s (default)
No DSP adjustments on either speaker
Mono output via Serato and a Rane 62 into my Soundcraft Ui16
Microphone recorder input level adjusted to just below clipping

Now it should be noted that the EV speakers are just a louder speaker than the Yamaha’s out of the box. I decided on the first comparison to not adjust the volume to match because I wanted a “all things being equal” representation. On the third comparison I did adjust the Yamaha’s to my typical venue setting of +2db on the subs and tops, and setting the DSP curve to “boost” along with some EQ adjustments.

In my personal opinion, out of the box and even with adjustments to the Yamahas, the Evolve 50s just have a much fuller sound. Also, almost certainly because of the column design and the fact that the crossover comes in at 200 Hz, it just has this appearance that the sound comes from the entirety of the array where there is far more audible separation with the Yamahas. While EQing and adjusting DSP for the Yamaha’s made the comparison a bit closer, I cannot deny that the Evolve 50s just are a better sounding speaker.

One place that the Yamahas has an advantage is at the bottom end rumble. There is more punch just from simple physics; a bigger box produces a bigger sound. But in order to maximize the sounds you have to EQ and adjust the DSP.

But even with those adjustments, the fullness of the Evolve 50s has a more desirable range of sound. If you need overwhelming bass you would be better off bringing a 18 sub to the party like the EV ETX-18SP with a deafening 135 SPL of output, but 130 pounds it’s not a lightweight.

Conclusion

I am so thoroughly impressed with the EV Evolve 50 speakers. The amount of rich sound that is produced from such a small footprint is just astounding. This is not to say that the Yamahas are somehow a poor speaker. On the contrary, in the price range they sound amazing and are an absolute workhorse. But there is no question the Evolve 50s are going to become my primary event speaker.

Author - Lou Paris

Author Biography: Lou Paris of Paris Creative

Lou Paris has been DJing since 1988 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres and became a wedding DJ in 2012. Coincidentally, Lou is also a successful 20+ year IT professional and has merged many technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Lou's background.