By Steve McDonald, Airlie Beach Music, published in CX 175.
Steve McDonald is the CEO of Queensland’s Airlie Beach Music Centre, the largest supplier of pro audio and AV equipment in The Whitsundays. In addition to an extensive rental inventory for dry hire, Airlie Beach Music Centre also provide production and installation services, as well as sales.
At Airlie Beach Music Centre, we hire, sell, and recommend all of the models in dBTechnologies’ ES series of portable column PAs, but the ES 1203 is the model we both sell and use most often. They are usually hired out to cover musical duos and trios in local venues, extending out to the west and on the nearby islands. They go out on a lot of corporate gigs, as they have excellent clarity for speech along with solid low end ‘thump’ for presentations. They’re also known to handle smaller band and DJ gigs, and weddings.
I find the ES 1203 really shines in its low-mid and bass performance. While the official dBTechnolgies specs say the dual 12” sub crosses over at 160Hz, we’ve found it performs considerably higher than that, up to around 315Hz, which is also much higher than comparable systems. That’s important, because the thing most engineers dislike about portable column PAs is that they’re often lacking in low-mid, losing performance with acoustic guitars and big vocal registers. With the sub working harder, the top boxes don’t have to extend down so far.
While the ES 1203 can be considered to be a little more expensive than some of its rivals, I find it provides better low end and full frequency output. A single ES 1203 system is more than capable of handling a show in a very large pub with a very loud crowd.
One of the unique things about the ES 1203 is that the top boxes can be taken apart and run remotely from the sub, creating a true stereo system; that isn’t something many of its competitors can do. Running in normal column mode is very easy; a speaker cable comes out of the sub and you connect as normal, with an optional cable cover available for aesthetics.
dBTechnologies ES 1203 – The Specs
- Tri-amped stereo system with two full-range tops and one subwoofer
- Frequency Response [-10dB]: 35 – 20.000 Hz
- Max SPL: 132 dB
- MF – HF: 8×4” Neodymium drivers
- LF: 2X12″
- Directivity: 97×60°
- Amp Technology: Digipro G4, Class D
- Power Amp Peak: 2400 W
- 1x OLED Display with rotary encoder w/button
- 1x USB port (service data)
- Power Supply: Full range with PFC
- Controller: DSP 56 Bit
- Converter AD/DA: 24 Bit/48 Hz
- Limiter: Peak, RMS, Thermal
- Crossover Frequency: LF-MF160 Hz
- Digital Steering: Up/Down/Far
- Input Channels: 1x Mic/Instrument Combo (XLR/Jack), 2x Mic/Line Combo (XLR/Jack), 1x Bluetooth receiver
- Mix Output: 1x XLR balanced output
- Pole Mount: 36 mm (M20 Thread)
- Top box dimensions: Width 110 mm, Height 460 mm, Depth 160 mm
- Sub Dimensions: Width 360 mm, Height, 680 mm, Depth 545 mm
- Top box weight: 3.3 kg
- Subwoofer weight: 29.3 kg