Can this small PA system defy the laws of physics and produce a big sound?
Item: LD Curv 500 ES PA System
Price: $1099 (US), £829 (UK)
Our Rating: 3/5
At A Glance: LD System’s Curv 500 ES is a extremely compact PA system designed for smaller groups or solo musicians. It features a 10” bass speaker that powers four interlocking satellites – which containing one 4” and three 1” drivers. The satellite speakers can be split into pairs for stereo operation; all powered from a single subwoofer – you can even add additional satellite speakers if required up to 4 on each side. There are two microphone/hi-Z inputs, a stereo line-in and the ability to connect a device via Bluetooth. Each input has its own level control, and the microphone inputs also have a basic 2-band EQ and reverb level (there are 16 different effects to choose from).
High Notes: The Curv 500 ES sounds great and is easy to set up. The onboard EQ and reverb is reasonable enough for live use and the Bluetooth connectivity is really useful for putting on background music with your smartphone between sets. Due to the modular nature of the system, there is a great range of add-on options available such as additional satellite speakers, bass speakers, wall mounts and ceiling mounts; making it suitable for a wide range of applications including fixed installations. There are also some nicely designed carry cases, including a transport trolley for the bass speaker, that help you keep everything protected and make things easier when you are moving from gig to gig.
Off Pitch: The Curv 500 ES is not the loudest system you could buy for the money, and is more suited to smaller venues or presentations. You can buy the Curv 500 PS – which is essentially two sets linked together, and is capable of filling larger venues; however this also costs close to double the price of the ES system and puts it in direct competition with some much more powerful systems on the market. There is also no low-cut on the mic channels, which can make the system slightly prone to popping sounds from plosives.
VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: The compact nature of the Curv 500 ES is quite impressive and especially useful if you do not have a large car to get to gigs in. When testing the system out I even managed to fit the system in the boot of a 2-seater convertible, which is something that would be impossible with most PA systems. The sound quality is also rather impressive, with it producing a full and detailed sound, and the onboard mixer and effects makes setting up really easy. Overall, the biggest drawback I found with the 500 ES is the volume capable by the system. From the quoted SPL levels I expected to be able to get a bit more volume out of it before hitting its internal limiter, however in reality it is only suitable for venues of up to around 50 people. I also found it seemed to fill the room better in a stereo configuration, which means paying an additional £100 for the stand, cable and mounting bracket. In contrast, for the same money, there are much louder options available if size is not your primary concern (including speakers in LD’s MAUI range). Ultimately the Curv 500 ES is a nice sounding system that can easily fit into the boot of a small car and is well suited to solo musicians or duos playing in small venues; however its price/performance ratio feels slightly compromised by its compact size and there are probably better options available for the same (or less) money for gigging musicians.
Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.ld-systems.com/en/series/curv-500-series/