"The S600 performed like a pair of studio reference monitors; the bass was tight and full, the highs were clear and aesthetic, and the midrange was blissfully accurate for a PA system. I could hear the breath coming through the sax solo" – Kevin Gault
The S600B StageMate™ is designed as a complete grab-and-go PA system using advanced speaker array technology. The smooth, linear sound carries far distances without the need for excessive volume close to the speaker. The coverage is up to twice that of conventional cabinets, and with less feedback.
The system is easily expanded to stereo operation with the matching S648 speakers. For more demanding live and dance music, connect the Line Out XLR to powered subwoofers or connect directly to the house PA system.
The S600B has the option to run on it’s internal rechargeable 12V battery allowing it to be used in remote locations as well as mobile applications.
The 6-channel mixer is capable of receiving up to 11 different sources simultaneously. A variety of inputs includes Bluetooth® connectivity for audio playback, four XLR microphone inputs, high-impedance instrument inputs, stereo line input, 1/8” input for portable devices, and an optional UHF wireless mic/ or instrument receiver, which plugs directly into the accessory bay. Built in Echo, Reverb, and Chorus with Reverb effects add extra dimension to live performances.
HOW DOES CDD™ (Constant Delivery Dispersion) speaker array technology WORK?
When the listener is close, sound is heard from only one or two speakers lowering the volume heard. As the distance from the speakers increases, the sound is heard from all speakers working together. The arrangement of the speakers directs the sound waves to travel in a tighter pattern, which increases there output by a factor of two times compared to a conventional single speaker source. For increased distance coverage, an S648 extension cabinet can be stacked on top of the S600B.
Output Power: 2x 200W @ 4 Ohms total, Int. speaker power 150W @ 8 Ohms
Frequency Response: 60Hz-18kHz
Speaker Configuration: four 3.5”MF/HF, 8” Neodymium LF, 8 Ohms/200W
Sensitivity: 93dB 1W/1M, 90dB 1W/2M, max SPL 118dB @ 300W pk. (int.)
Coverage: Horizontal: 110 deg. Vertical: 40 deg.
Enclosure: Russian Baltic Birch
Finish: Black Duratec™ coating
Grill: Black powder coated steel
Input Impedance: 1/4” (Ch.1&2): 100K Ohms or Hi-Z switch: 500K Ohms
XLR: 2.2K Ohms, Stereo Inputs (Ch.5&6): 22K Ohms
Gain switch: +20dB (Ch. 1-4)
Phantom Power: +48V, switchable for Mics 3&4
Tone Controls: HI: 8.5kHz, +/-12dB
MID: 800Hz, +/-12dB
LOW: 70Hz, +/-12dB
Direct Out: Variable OFF to +4dBu, DC isolated, 100 Ohm gnd lift
DSP Effects: Variable settings for Delay, Reverb, Chorus
Protection: speaker, thermal, over current, under voltage
Power Amp topology: Class D
Power Supply topology: High frequency switch mode
AC Power Requirements: 90 to 250VAC 50/60 Hz, 100VA
DC Battery Charge Input : 12-15VDC, 2A (car battery voltage with C12VDC cord)
Dimensions: 9.7”W x 11.5”D x17.25”H (246 x 292 x 438mm)
Mounting/Transport: top and bottom pole cups, integrated handle
Weight : 25.5 lbs. (11.6 kgs)
Warranty: One year parts and labor
UX600: Wireless Mic/Instrument Receiver
CB601: padded bag w/wheels, CV600: vinyl cover
SS20, SS15: pole stands,
SS3: stacking pole
B600: replacement battery for S600B
C12VDC: charging cable for 12V vehicle outlet
S648 Extension Speaker
S610B Battery powered 10-inch subwoofer
"I have one of the first S600Bs shipped. I use it at a weekly open mic I host in an art gallery. The room already has great acoustics, and with the S600B I am able to make sure that even the people just outside the back door hear the same thing as the people in the front row. I consistently receive compliments on the sound. Last week one of the singer/songwriters said that I had him spoiled and he did not even want to go to other open mics. In case you reacted to the idea of an open mic with thoughts of an evening of, at best, mediocre music, let me assure you that the talent level at the open mics in Long Beach is well above average. Last week another one of the performers was a friend who spends half of his time in Argentina where he records for Sony South America. He did not stand out as better than most of the other singers there, but he was very favorably impressed by the sound. BTW, no, I do not stand behind the S600B and mix everything. I run the mics and instruments through an XP800, out the monitor jack. I have used the S600B in a number of other venues including places with strange shaped rooms (e.g., a long triangle and an L shape) with results that were far better tan anyone expected. I know at least one friend bought an S600B after performing through mine, and others have expressed interest. Love your products. Keep up the good work. " – Geo. McCaliip
BC Sound and Event - Carmel, IN
We have had about a month to explore our new S600B Stagemate system and thought it would be helpful to those considering this solution to have a bit more of a review to help in their decision making. We’ll probably post a series of articles about the S600 system as we get more real-world experience with it and continue to expand it.
First, it would probably be helpful to put this early review into context with what we do. BC Sound and Event is a small audio production company based in Carmel, IN. We are highly specialized on production for small events and the performing arts. Dance performances, music recitals, and civic events are our core business.
We have been looking for a compact, self-powered PA solution for some time, and the introduction of the S600B caught our attention. Finally this January we decided to go ahead and invest in the S600B-2 stereo package (S600B, S648 extension cab, stands and cables).
Let’s get this out of the way up front, the S600 series is a great sounding ultra-portable PA. It will not sound like you expect when you first hear it, this small system has a very different sonic signature to it than similarly sized solutions. The S600 has much better midrange projection and coverage across a wide audience area. Unlike other solutions out there, the 8” here is not carrying the critical 1k-6k range, this is being handled by the array of 3 ½” drivers. The arrangement of this array gives this box relatively seamless horizontal coverage of about 100 degrees, much more consistent than cone and horn combos can offer.
In PA terms you could consider the S600/S648 a short throw, wide dispersion box. I wouldn’t want to ask it to reach back more than about 75’, and only then if I was stacking the boxes (that extra vertical length gives the array a bit more reach). The nice thing is that one box (or a pair of stacked boxes) will cover a stage-width audience area from just one side, something we sometimes need to accommodate.
What about the Bass?
So let’s set some expectations here: there is no 8” two-way professional PA enclosure on the market today that gives 15” low frequency performance. The reason is physics: it takes a certain amount of cone area (or air mass in the case of horns and bandpass boxes) to generate lots of low frequency information in larger spaces.
The S600 delivers LF output comparable to other 8” solutions on the market, such as the Alto TX8 and the Stagepass with 8” speakers. In the nearfield (15 feet or so in front of the enclosure) you have relatively full sound with appreciable low end down below 60hz. Once you move out a bit this naturally drops off, as the LF output is less directional than the mid/hi array so the relative level decreases faster. At 30 feet I would say it sounds like these roll off below about 75hz. What is there is warm, accurate bass, these are not artificially boomy or plasticky sounding (I’m looking at you, Samson).
You can definitely get high quality music playback through the S600 series for a wide variety of applications. If you’re looking at these as a portable DJ solution, though, you’re going to want a sub.
*Update* the S610B sub has just been released, we ordered ours yesterday and will provide a field report on it as soon as we can. This should satisfy any situation where we need that extra bottom octave. Oh, and its on sale for only $527!
Very good, significantly better than the entry level stuff out there. Solid wood cabinets, great tough finish, i/o jacks are all well mounted, and knobs don’t feel like the shaft will snap if you sneeze at the wrong time. Worlds ahead of the Expedition and American Audio GO series.
Here I have to put out there that while I use them, I’m just not a huge fan of plastic enclosures. Do they work? Sure. Can you make decent sounding ones? Sure. Most of them, though, sound like plastic boxes. I applaud Carvin for choosing to make the S600 series with real, professional wood enclosures. They definitely sound the better for it!
Features and Performance
Any all-in one PA solution is a balance of features and compromises. Here again I have to applaud the design team at Carvin for making a number of really intelligent choices:
• Line inputs – we have two stereo line inputs, one is a pair of ¼” inputs and the other is Bluetooth-1/8”. We love this, as it allows you to have separate inputs for keys/synth and music playback, saving you from having to stack those on one input.
• Basic LF/HF eq on the line ins. I’m surprised how many manufacturers omit even basic eq on the line inputs meant for music. Whywouldn’t you want eq on these?
• Essential Digital EFX. Ok, so this is one of the most basic digital effects I’ve ever encountered, but it works, it sounds ok, and it is there. It means one more box I don’t have to bring to fast paced performance events.
• Configurable Line Out. This is a huge feature for me. I’m often asked to drop a line to the broadcast or video guys, and being able to switch this to a constant level output with its own level control is a great feature. Likewise, the option to have it come straight off the main bus is great too for driving a sub or a secondary powered system.
• HiZ Switch. When these first started appearing on small mixers I thought why bother, I’ll just use a DI box. However, since that time having an instant internal instrument DI has saved me several times. Again, one less extra box to keep track of at fast paced gigs.
• USB port. Now, you’re thinking, why do I need to charge my phone with my PA system? Well, let’s say you’re providing background music at an outdoor wedding. An old iPod Touch and the S600B is everything you need. The USB power means you can ensure your iPod keeps on running. Or for me, I plug in a Goal Zero LED light that Is on a bendable wand and I have instant mixer light.
*Update* I forgot to include Bluetooth in this review. Now, I know that we pro audio guys hate Bluetooth. Really, it is finicky, it really doesn't sound that great, and dropouts always happen at the worst possible moments. However, my clients, dance instructors and music teachers, *love* Bluetooth. So therefore I have to list it as a smart choice that makes the S600 more marketable (both to sell and to rent).
Now, for what is one of the most surprising things to me about this diminutive PA system. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Class D power amps give us unprecedented power with little size, weight, and heat. The S600B’s internal stereo power amp is self-configuring to mono or stereo use, and can easily drive three 8 ohm extension speakers. This thing pushes way past its weight. I’ve connected the S648 and two other small 8ohm PA cabs to this and it feels like there is power to spare. To me, anyway, this is amazing when I think back to the 150lb racks of Peavey CS800s we used to lug around to every summer fair in the US.
Battery Power – the Ace card
So now, the reason most of us are coming to the S600 party: integral battery power. Put it this way: there is no other truly professional small PA system on the market today that has integral battery power. Everything else out there feels like a cheap consumer product compared to the S600.
Yes, the internal battery works great, and at comfortably loud levels with a single S648 attached it easily lasts three hours. And, this is my favorite part, Carvin has just released what I think is the first ever pro sound sub with an integral battery. There is simply nothing else out there that can match the possibilities that an S600B-2 package with the sub can offer.
*The battery+inverter debate* I have a read a lot of posts promoting the idea of powering a small PA with a 12v marine battery and AC inverter. No argument that it can be done. Would I do it? No way. Fire codes, liability insurance, and client perception are all reasons I would not use a homebrew 12v+AC solution. There are commercial solutions that can do this, the Goal Zero YETI 1250 is an example, but they are relatively expensive. More important to me is the fact that I can swoop in with an S600 system and get it set up and running in 5 minutes, no need to hassle with external power of any kind.
*Extending running time* That said, Thank You Carvin for putting a standard 12v input on the S600B and S610B. What I can, and will, do is use my UL listed Black&Decker 12v jump pack as a DC extender, letting me do all day events with no AC. No need for a finicky AC inverter and no fear of the fire marshal as it has a sealed battery.
S600B vs. –
Expedition Series. I have used the Expedition series speakers for events and I don’t personally find them to be attractive for professional use. They are boxy sounding, all have artificial sounding bass, and the build quality makes them squarely prosumer devices.
MiPro. Widely used in education institutions, the MiPro battery powered PA solutions work and are built well, but they are obscenely expensive and don’t sound anything like the Carvin.
American Audio GO series. I’ve seen these talked up by several popular mobile DJs. When I checked them out I thought they sounded like big Bluetooth speakers, and the build quality was again not very inspiring in terms of something that would last for years.
Stagepass. Popular portable PA solutions from Yamaha, the Stagepass is a powered mixer + speakers solution. They sound pretty good, but I find the S600 to have better coverage, plus for my use I prefer the integral mixer. Also the Stagepass series offers no battery power option.
Mackie Freeplay - a nice, great sounding boom box. If I showed up to a gig with one, my client would send me packing. Enough said!
Conclusion and Notes
In short, if you’re considering the Carvin S600B series and are on the fence because of a lack of reviews, I can wholeheartedly recommend them based on our experience so far. I know a lot of people are of the opinion that it is expensive for “what it is”. I disagree, I think it is a great bargain for what it offers, and you can’t compare it based on price to the other battery powered options out there; there is simply no comparison. When compared to the Mackie Reach or entry level Bose L series, the Carvin holds its own and is competitively priced.
We hope you find this short review helpful. We’ll add to as we gain more field time with the S600B and especially after we have a chance to blow some dust around with the new S610B subwoofer!
Bill Collinson, Owner
BC Sound and Event
Note: This is a real world review based on our personal opinions. We are not affiliated with nor have we received any promotional consideration from the great guys at Carvin Audio. We do love Carvin and are happy to buy from an American original in the pro audio industry!
I used the S600B-2 system (that’s one S600B and the extension speaker) this morning in a city park at a band shell and the sound was fantastic. The system filled the area quite well and people loved it…and that was on battery power. I was pushing the system pretty good for a solo guitar...I could see people enjoying the music a good 75 yards away. The battery lasted exactly 2 hours…just what I was going to play. This unit just happens to be voiced extremely well for my solo guitar and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks so much for this product.