Kustom DWN-PS510 Speaker System Reviews 4

Paid $264.13 new out of box (typically sells for $399 [March 2005]), from a pawn shop in Los Angeles County. . . . I was looking for a compact P.A. system that would sound great in very small venues such as house parties, or for practice; yet be able to handle small clubs. The DWN-PS510 got my attention because, unlike other compact P.A. systems, it was touted as providing wide (270-degree) dispersion -- eliminating hot spots in the listening field and the need for monitor speakers.

The DWN-PS510, in short, delivered as promised! . . . In particular, I was looking for a system that would functional well with my Roland V-Drums -- a system that would allow the drum kit to sound more life-like in small venues, as if the sound was emanating from the kit, not so much from the speakers. Since most P.A.'s utilize cabinets with all drivers mounted on the same front panel of a given cabinet, projecting sound in one direction with the sweet spot of the listening field limited to approximately 90 degrees dispersion, the sound sometimes can seem disconnected from the instruments. The system's omni-directional projection from two satellites and a subwoofer, none of which directly project toward the audience, provides listeners with a fairly even listening field from all around and within the ensemble. This is very pleasant when the audience is very close to the performers (I first used the system at a house party in which the audience was as close as six feet from the band), and the system worked well at low to medium-high volumes. Monitors not needed as advertised. . . . Given that the satellites use small (5 1/4" I believe) drivers, I was expecting a gap in midrange reproduction. When the system's set up as described in the manual (see "don't like" section), there's a striking amount of midrange available -- not robust, but it's there. This system sounds a bit over-EQ's toward the high and low ends, but for such a compact system, my expectations were more than met soundwise. Keyboards sound crisp and clear across the frequency range, and drums sound very good -- no kick-drum distortion thanks to the 200-watt subwoofer, and the cymbals and snare really crack! Toms are punchy because of the slight bias toward bottom and top -- and this certainly beats mushy any day of the week! In fact, the bass reproduction from the DWN-PS510 is better than that of the Fender Passport PD-250 Deluxe in my opinion! I don't know if I'd play extremely hard rock or metal through this system at extreme volume; but then again, it would look silly next to a stack of 4x12 guitar cabinets, so common sense says it's designed for more general-purpose musical applications. . . . There's no perfect portable P.A. system. Even well-thought out systems like Fender's Passport series require you to purchase and carry separate stands and monitors. Go to Kustom's website (www.kustom.com) to see how the satellites, stands, cords (and if you'd like a couple microphones) pack up into a single-lightweight dufflebag. SET-UP NOTES: I power my DWN-PS510 with a Carvin DCM150 (75 watts per channel), and when convenient run a line feed from the mixer to a Roland KC-150 keyboard amp for midrange fill-in.

Getting so much out of a small package certainly requires some planning, attention to detail and tinkering. In order to maximize output and frequency range from the subwoofer, you must follow the manual's advice and place the subwoofer's port facing toward a wall or other large surface perpendicular to the sub's output (I haven't tried these ideas, but perhaps the side of a large enclosure / cabinet or firing toward the floor standing on spacers). Otherwise, you'll get bass, but it won't be as full-range and rich as you'd like. I also found that using both of the Carvin DCM150's channels significantly degraded the bass output (this phenonmenon is described in the DWN-PAS510's manual) and caused the amp to overpeak and shut down. Tweaked the EQ and level settings on all devices to no avail. I eventually ran the system in mono and got proper results. Seemed to be a lot of headroom with the system set at less than half it's maximum level. . . . Unlike Kustom's Profile One, or the Fender Passport portable P.A. systems, you must purchase separate amplification and mixing components. An entry- to mid-level powered mixer would do fine. This actually lets you have flexibility in working with different components to maximize the system's sound. The subwoofer has a built in crossover, and so you plug your amp's output(s) into the subwoofer which in turn has outs for the satellites -- no need for multi (3 or more)-channel or multiple amps. I'm using rack components because I'm eventually going to experiment with a BBE Sonic Maximizer or Behringer Ultrafex EX3200 to see if I can upgrade the quality of the output even more without adding additional cabinets or combo amps to fill in the sound (which defeat the purpose of having a portable P.A.). I want to stress that I'm satisfied with the system's sound without additional reinforcement, but some reinforcement would make good sound overall (and excellent sound considering this is a portable P.A. system) even better! . . . As for portability, yes, one person can tote the entire DWN-PS510 system from car to stage (or vice versa) in one trip. But you'll still need to make another trip for the amp and mixer. In any case, I don't think anyone's truly come up with a one-trip portable P.A. system yet. I'm going to see if there's some well-built rollaway luggage available in which I can pack the sub and my amp / mixer rack case.

The satellites are built for portability, not roadworthiness. They're molded from quality plastic, however, and the grills are metal. I recommend picking up each satellite with both hands to avoid compressing the grill, or risking dropping the speaker. The light-duty stands custom designed for the satellites (stands come with the system) have drawn criticism from reviewers on other sites, but I find that since the satellites are very light in weight, the stands suit them fine. The sub seems to be ruggedly built (I believe it's heavier than all the other components combined), and comes with its own protective cover for transport. Good-quality medium-gauge speaker cables (for connecting the satellites to the sub) also come with the system.

Wide dispersion, full-range sound make for one of the most pleasant overall listening experiences available in a P.A. system of any size! Before buying a compact / portable P.A. system, try this one out -- if you can find one, that is (as of this review's date, this is a relatively new offering from Kustom). . . . If Kustom, or another manufacturer, developed a similar wide-dispersion P.A. system with larger / additional satellites reaching deeper into the midrange (say, 8" drivers), for it's size and intended applications, such a system could be almost perfect. . . . As it is, if you're playing the types of small venues (e.g. bars, small- to medium-sized weddings and other group events, small clubs, in the living room, in the garage) that host the vast majority of musicians and DJs, then this may be the best P.A. for your purposes.

PasadenaMinstrel rated this unit 4 on 2005-03-22.

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