Cerwin-Vega is well-known in the world of live sound, providing the oomph for many clubs, concerts, and theaters (remember Sensurround?) for many years. Now, as a member of the Gibson family of companies, they’re continuing this tradition—the P1000X speaker, on review here, is one of their latest offerings.
The P1000X is a powered two-way speaker, suitable for use in small-to-medium venues (clubs to small concert stages). It’s part of a family of three products—there’s also a larger sibling, the P1500X, and a matching subwoofer, the P1800SX. The model numbers refer to the woofer size—the P1000X’s is 10”, in a bass-reflex design, combined with a 1.75” high-frequency driver. It’s a compact speaker, measuring only 20.9” x 12.2” x 12.2”, and, at 38.5 lb, it’s got a solid, well-built feel. With those dimensions, it’s a breeze to transport and set up, making it perfect for DJs and musicians. Its size makes it suitable for both FOH use, and as an unobtrusive stage monitor (see below).
1000 watts of bi-amped power is provided by a Class D amp (an efficient amplifier design that provides high-wattage in a small package, ideal for compact powered speakers that need to play loud). Specs rate the ±3dB frequency response at 61Hz–20.6kHz, with a more extended +3/-10dB range of 51–22.5k. If you need deeper bass, its big brother extends the low end a bit, but if you like the P1000X’s convenient small size and portability, it could be coupled with the P1800SX sub, for the kind of low-end response that might be needed for medium-to-large clubs or DJ gigs.
High-frequency dispersion is 90° Horizontal x 65° Vertical. Orienting it vertically will provide the widest audience coverage without blasting the front rows, while if used horizontally as a performer’s spot monitor, the narrower “vertical” dispersion will throw less sound around the rest of the stage.
There are a number of options for setting it up. It can be hung—there are suspension points on the top handle, with pullback points on the rear, for adjusting the angle. On the bottom is a pole-mount, with a disc that can be tightened to prevent wobble when the speaker is mounted this way (given its heft, this is a nice feature)—if you couple it with the P1800SX sub, naturally, the sub can serve as the base. The speaker is wedge-shaped, with a cutout in one rear corner, which provides for a 45° angle when it’s used onstage as a floor monitor.
On the rear is a small mixer panel.
The P1000X has three inputs—1 & 2 are mic or line inputs, with the familiar combination XLR/TRS jacks, while input 3 consists of two 1/4” TS jacks, for stereo signals (naturally, they’re summed to mono—if you want to use the P1000X for stereo sound, you’ll need to hook up a pair, as I did for this review). There’s a volume knob and a signal/clip indicator for each input, and 1 & 2 also have mic/line selector switches. Below inputs 1 & 2 are their (XLR) direct outs, which are not affected by the volume knobs. Below input 3 is a master XLR Mix Output, which combines all three inputs, and follows the three input volume knobs, but is not affected by the Main Volume knob, to the right. The Main Volume can be controlled remotely, via a three-pin terminal connector just below, that can be wired to a distant control device (the signal is not passed through this, just a controlling voltage, which can be applied to multiple P1000Xs).
The Mix Output can be used to daisy-chain two or more P1000Xs, as a recording output, or as one of two ways to hook up a subwoofer. You could feed the signal from Mix Out to a sub, engaging the onboard HPF (see below), as an alternative to feeding the signal through the sub to the P1000X (using the sub’s crossover). This would be convenient in a situation where a sub might not always be installed or in use, making it easy to hook one up when needed with a single cable, without any re-cabling. The individual channel 1 & 2 outputs can be used to distribute individual signals, like sending different mics or instruments plugged into a P1000X (used for FOH) to additional units used as individual performers’ floor monitors.
On the right, above the Main Volume, are three indicators. The top one is just a power light; the middle one indicates when the on-board limiter is kicking in. This is a protection circuit, and is always in the signal path. It shouldn’t be flashing regularly—if it is, you need to reduce Main Volume, to prevent shutdown or potential damage to the speaker. The bottom light indicates that the P1000X has gone into protective shutdown (which you’ll have noticed since there’ll be no sound!)
Just above, there are four switches. The top two are frequency response adjustments. “Enhanced EQ” attenuates the mids, enhancing the bass & treble. This might be suitable for some DJ applications, when you’d want that extra push. “Vega Bass Boost” (a reference to Cerwin-Vega’s reputation for kickin’ bass) dynamically pumps up the low end, based on the speaker volume level, when the P1000X is used on its own. Below that is a Highpass Filter switch, which rolls off everything below 80 Hz. This is for when the speaker is paired with a subwoofer (although the P1800SX has its own crossover), and for that application, naturally, the Bass Boost should be off. The last (bottom) switch engages a second Limiter indicator light on the front panel, to make sure you’ll know if you’re pushing the speaker too hard, without having to go around to the back to check.
The obvious applications for this speaker would be DJ gigs and as main PA (with one or two subs) and Stage monitors in small-to-medium clubs and venues.
But, as a musician, my first thought was that they’d also make a great full-range stage system for a keyboard player, or even a guitarist. Quite a few guitarists nowadays use amp modelers, which model both the electronics and the distinctive speakers of the classic amps they emulate, and for the truest sound with these, you really need a full-range system (which can also better handle a quick switch to acoustic guitar). The P1000X, with its small size and high output, should be an ideal choice (interestingly, Gibson affirmed that there was a lot of interest in these speakers from musicians as well as engineers and DJs).
So, how do they sound? With both EQ switches (Enhanced EQ & Vega Bass) off, the P1000X has a nice, punchy sound, which should help it cut through the crowd. There’s a slight midrange emphasis, but the sound was clean and clear, and the high end was nicely detailed. Both the EQ options were more subtle than I’d expected. The Bass Boost added a little heft to the sound, but the bass wasn’t boomy or tubby, just deep. The Enhanced EQ did as promised, smoothed out the midrange for a more hi-fi sound, which I liked on full-range material. I assume these EQ options come at the expense of maximum output level, but at the volume I was running, it made little difference.
With vocal and acoustic guitar (obviously one of the primary intended uses, going by the manual), the speaker sounded good with the EQ in either position, it just came down to preference, and running an electric guitar/modeled amp combo through it confirmed my assumption, preserving the character of the different amps much more accurately than a standard guitar cabinet could have.
So, the P1000X is a welcome addition to Cerwin-Vega’s P-series. With or without the companion subwoofer, it’s a serious contender for any of the applications mentioned—I wish I’d had a loud, clean, compact speaker system like this back in my gigging days. If you’re in the market, it’s definitely worth a look.
Price: $699 (Street)
Pros: Clean, loud sound in a compact enclosure; useful features and hook-up options
Cons: Channel 3 L/R input jacks are unbalanced (TS) rather than balanced (TRS)