Having the opportunity to “road test” various pieces of someone else’s gear in actual venues with a real audience is about as close to an audio reality show as you could imagine. Over the years that I’ve been reviewing and evaluating gear, I’ve had several things fail on the first night out. As a result, the first night out with any new product is always when I tend to be most focused on anything that could signal a possible kaput. I learned long ago never to take something right from shipping box to road. Everything must put in a few hours run time in the studio first, often at performance levels or beyond.
(Note: Pix were shot before cables were properly tied up)
Now, Dawn Pro Audio may be unfamiliar to some, but they’ve actually been around for over forty years. Dawn Pro Audio was purchased by the Hanser Music Group (umbrella to such brands as B.C. Rich, Kustom, Spector Bass, and Diezel Amplification) some time ago, but reintroduced the brand last year with the T100 System.
So what do we have here? First, there’s the 200S sub woofer which doubles as floor stand. Next, there’s the full range T100 tower and a Ultimate Stands adjustable pole that brings the two together. There’s even the cable that connects the top and bottom units—an essential part that often shows up on the “not included” list. Theoretically, by separating the two speaker units, the full-range tower is free from having to reproduce any bass, so it can focus all it’s energy on reproducing the mid range and higher frequencies with greater clarity and sparkle.
Each T100 weighs just over 23 pounds—with the nicely formed handle on the top, you can carry ‘em both at once without breaking sweat. The build quality and materials appears to be top-shelf all the way. There’s nothing loose or rattly. Each T-100 tower has four 4” full range (65Hz-20kHz) speakers rated at 50W each, and a 1” Compression Driver with Neodymium magnet and Phenolic diaphragm. Peak power is rated at 200 watts, RMS at 100 watts. Around back there’s a three-channel mixer. Channels 1 and 2 have XLR mic and 1/4” TRS balanced line inputs. The third “aux” channels accepts a mini plug. The company has recently introduced a model with built-in Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. There are volume and tone controls for all three channels, an output for the subwoofer and a patch point for linking one system to the next.
The 200S powered sub has a 12” “Dawn Design” driver tuned to enforce the body thumping 35Hz-150Hz range. Just as in a prearranged marriage, it has been designed to mate perfectly with the Tower. Controls are limited to just a power switch and level control—what else do you need?
The first night out with the T100 system was a wedding reception with 135 guests in 51’ x 60’ ballroom with a 10’ ceiling—not a huge room, but not small either. While I could certainly see this system be used comfortably by a singer/songwriter, this particular event required my DJ/MC alter ego. The bride and groom had provided a fairly extensive lists of requests ranging from polkas to hard core headbangers. In the mix would be Top 40, Oldies, Rock, and even a bit of Reggae. I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate gig for this system’s first field test.
Usually with sub+tower systems, the signal runs from the mixer rack into the the sub, and then out to the tower. With the T100, the cable runs to the tower, then back down the pole to the sub, so instead of two cables coming down from the tower (AC Cable + signal) you have three. No biggie, but my preference is the former as there’s one less cable to hide.
As mentioned earlier, the system requires a balanced line with a 1/4” TRS plug from the mixer rack to the tower. Using an XLR connector (or XLR-1/4” combo) for both the mic and line would be a bit more convenient, being that it needs to be balanced. Prior to doing it their way, I tried running it with an unbalanced cable. The result was a noticeable, but not obtrusive, amount of hum. Without a balanced speaker cable handy, I simply used standard mic cables with Radio Shack’s A3F XLR to 1/4” adapter/transformers and all hum was gone.
For a starting point, all controls (levels and tone) on the back of the towers and subs were set in the straight up12 O’clock position. The room level was then fine tuned in with the master and channel gains on the mixer. At this level, the system could be heard anywhere in the room, yet it did not interfere with conversation at the tables. At the same time, the coverage on the dance floor was significantly stronger, with a solid, tight, organic thump from the subs and exceptional clarity. Being able to cover the room while focusing the sound on the dance floor is a big plus for this type of event, so no adjustments were required during the first 4 and half hours of the six hour event.
As for that last 90 minutes—when the crowd had thinned to a couple dozen die-hard rockers—the levels on all four of the powered loudspeakers were bumped to approximately 80% along with a substantial hike in the level of compression. It was time to learn if one of these speakers would finally yell “Uncle.” It didn’t happen. They all survived just fine.
So, for the first time out I have to give this system really good grades. It takes up very little space, it’s lightweight, easy to set-up and quite capable of rocking a room this size. Its a great choice for these shorter throw applications were you really need to keep the sound focused on the dance floor. What does it cost? According to the Dawn Pro Audio Web site, $730 per system, and while two of these may come up a bit short for larger, louder, ear buster events, you can link together as many systems as you need to a cover larger area. It’s nice to have those options.