DAS Road Series Powered Stage Wedges
I have a big ol’ soft spot for DAS Audio. Couple of reasons. One, a few important relationships with close friends that have direct DAS connections that have been a big part of the SPL and L2P networks success over the years, Second, I just don’t think they get the credit they deserve. They make some really excellent loudspeakers that are appropriate for all kinds of gigs. The stuff is road-worthy and can take a beating. It won’t break the bank. And it sounds as good or better than brands that cost twice as much or more.
Example: At the most recent TourLink conference, the DAS Aero 40A line array—(according to a number of people there with no skin in the game in terms of DAS or their marketing) slaughtered systems costing three times as much. Jason Decter, Blink 182 FOH, told me he was very surprised at the performance-vs-price ratio and the “out of box” flatness of the system. Jason was actually the engineer driving the rig for that demo.
While lots of attention was on the line arrays and various shootouts in the Southwest US, I got my hands on a pair of the Road Series wedges for some gigs around Las Vegas.
The Road Series is not new. Been out since 2011. But, as is typical for the Spanish speaker company, DAS has not received a lot of attention for what is a very good product. I got a pair of Road 15A boxes and used them on a half dozen gigs with three different bands, and every gig I did, the act asked about the monitors. As in “what are they”, “where can I get them” and “how much do they cost”
The Road 15A is a tough-paint covered Baltic Birch box loaded with a 15” neodymium low end driver powered by a 550 watt Class D amp and a neodymium compression driver with a titanium diaphragm powered by 220 Class D watts and driving a newly designed 40-degree vertical x 60-degree horizontal dispersion horn.
All of the connections are tucked into a cubby under the front edge where wayward feet won’t break or accidentally unplug. Connections are basic. A XLR/1/4” combo invite with an XLR pass-through and a Power-Con input and pass-through. Controls you ask….. just a mode switch for moving between monitor usage and speaker-on-a-stick gigs accomplished easily with the built in pole mount.
Grill is the now standard perforated steel and took my 200 lbs. standing on it without complaint.
A big change for DAS in the past few years has been a huge effort in developing their own FIR based DSP for their systems. While the stock Road series is not networkable to take advantage of the DASNet control software, the overall sound has benefited from the investment the company has made in developing the digital part of their products. And you can add the DASNet capability for about $250 street.
In addition to the 15A set, like the ones I used, there is a 12” based version called the Road 12A.
The first gigs I took them out on were your basic bar gigs. Overkill for a box like this with a number of fully professional grade features. But I am harder on gear at my own gigs than I am anywhere else. Because I am in a situation where I am performing and mixing both house and three or four monitor mixes, I just don’t have the time or bandwidth for anything less than “pretty damn close” to perfect. The 15As went from the H.A.S. Productions shop into my Chevy HHR and on to a gig the next day. I had never even plugged them in before I got to the venue.
Because everything is straightforward and simple, it took me exactly zero time to adjust anything for the new wedges. Laid them on their ends so I could get to the connectors easily, ran power and signal, switched ‘em on and placed them. This is an 8-piece band with a horn section and the two 15A wedges were the only two wedges on stage (keyboard player uses a hotspot and drummer plays to a click through in-ears). The DAS easily covered a three-piece horn section and three singers. It was literally the first gig I had ever done with this band where no one was bitching at me about not being able to hear. Sometimes overkill can be a good thing.
After a couple of my own gigs, I sent the Road 15As out with a popular Vegas classic rock band for a larger casino lounge gig. While the room was a lot larger, the stage was postage-stamp sized and the 15As are not what you would call “compact”. The four-piece band could barely fit on the stage. There was no way the monitors were getting up there with them. So the wedges went on the floor. While this what not an ideal situation, he still sought me out after to inquire about getting a pair for himself.
These are DAS’s pro wedges. And at $2200, they are priced right in the mid level in terms of price. Whilst you wont find them at Guitar Center, for a complete package of amplification, DSP, and ability to take heavy-duty wear and tear, this wedge simply outperforms many others in its class.
That puts the Road Series in the kind of “in-between” area that is either very difficult to navigate or can actually be a gold mine if it fills a hole that the market really wanted filled.
But this is where as sound guys/girls (as opposed to rental company owners) see our logic fall apart. It’s easy to go online and compare prices and say that the Road 15A is nearly as much money as something very rider-friendly like, say, an EAW Microwedge. And this is where the rental company owner’s match has to be a lot better. The wedges most of us would compare them to are A) not powered and B) most need a processor to not sound like ass. Add amps and processing and the other pro wedges come out costing nearly double and they are NOT plug and play. At least not in most cases.
So, the Road 15A is basically an all-in-one package for about the same retail price as other pro wedges for just the speaker component.
The Road 15A sounds good, for the gigs I was on it had plenty of power and it covered well without being too wide to control well. If I had three or four of these, I would stop pushing my band so hard to move to in-ears.
For local and regional providers and bands in a van at the higher end of that spectrum, the Road Series from DAS is a great combination of price and performance. You ought to check them out.