“This rig is the perfect setup for a singer/songwriter performing in a small to medium sized venue”
My impressions of Samson as a company is that of a dynamic organisation with their ear close to the ground when it comes to filling the gap for decent quality audio gear at reasonable prices. They also tend to be rather innovative with their product lines, living proof of which is the popular Expedition 308i PA system. In fact the success of this product has lead to them introducing a slightly higher spec version, the XP510i, subject of this review. The package consists of a pair of 2-way speakers with 10-inch woofers and a 500 watt Class D powered mixer. On first inspection the XP510i is neat, concise and seems well thought out for an all-in-one portable PA system. It is perfectly suited to the market it is addressing with all the right features and some very smart innovations.
Firstly, a look at the powered mixer; the mixer houses a 500 watt (2 x 250 W) Class D amplifier equipped with a total of four line/mic stereo inputs complete with XLR and stereo jack connectors (plus phantom power for your mics), one channel with stereo jack ins, one with optional stereo jack in or RCA and one channel with just RCA which also doubles up as your iPod channel.
All channels include volume-gain rotaries as well as 2-band EQ. That’s a total of 7-channel inputs which is ideal for this configuration. The first four channels, with the mic/line inputs, also include the 24-bit DSP effects which are basically 10 reverbs. This is great for adding a bit of depth and ambiance to your vocals or possibly a guitar/keyboard etc. Each of the four channels can have the effect activated/ deactivated individually, however, there is a single master rotary to control the depth.
Likewise there is also only a single knob to select which of the 10 reverbs you wish to use. So one setting fits all is the name of the game with this option. Two additional nifty features include a monitor out channel with separate volume control and a set of RCA-outs for plugging in a recording device. Naturally there is a master volume out knob too. Master outputs are twin jack connectors.
Finally we have the iPod docking bay (iPhone fits perfectly too) to plug the device into. What’s particularly useful with this docking station as opposed to simply plugging a 2-to-1 cable into a channel of the mixer is that when docked, your iPod/iPhone will charge at the same time. All connections are found on top of the unit which is really handy and makes for easy access and plugging in.
The speakers each house a 10-inch woofer and a 1-inch titanium tweeter in a 60° x 90° horn. The plastic molded enclosures have a useful handle on top for carrying and are angled so they can be used as floor monitors too. They also have integrated 1-3/8-inch speaker stand mounts. But perhaps the most impressive feature of all with these cabinets is the clever portability in their design. You see one speaker houses the powered mixer (which can easily be disconnected, depending on your preference) whilst the other cabinet stores your speaker leads and mixer power cable.
But that’s not all folks… (!) Once you’ve stuck all your cables away and neatly put your mixer back in the cabinet (two easy to turn rotary plugs ensure the mixer fits snugly) the two speakers slide into each other making one package to carry weighing a paltry 22.6 kg’s (see fig below). This feature is amazing and means that the XP510i lives up to its name as a truly portable PA system.
The amp kicks out a maximum of 250 watts per channel so right off the bat you need to realise that this is not a massive system. Whilst Samson’s sales material claims the rig to be suitable for a “DJ entertaining 500 people at a large club,” that I’m afraid is slightly exaggerated although the overall delivery of the sound is adequate with good dispersion from the speakers.
If you’re after some bass best to place them on the floor or a solid raised surface as they are understandably lacking in some real presence when pole mounted. Overall though the sound is well balanced and there is a built in limiter on the mixer to avoid any nasty blow outs. This rig is the perfect setup for a singer/songwriter performing in a small to medium sized coffee shop or restaurant or for small band practice sessions. It of course will be ideal for presentations requiring integration of musical performance and speech which, incidentally, the mixer also has – a speech/music button to toggle between desired requirements.
There are aspects that really impress with the XP510i. Firstly it has been very well thought out in terms of portability and versatility. The fact that you can plug up to four mics in, or up to seven line inputs means that any average sized band can utilize this for intimate gigs or rehearsals.
However it’s the one or two man band setup that I think will be the most interested in this package. You can plug your mics in, plus have 2 or 3 guitars/keyboards plugged in, plus a sampler, drum machine or any playback device (iPod or otherwise) that you desire without the hassle of plugging in and out during performance. Add to that the useful reverbs and you’re pretty much set to play.
If you’re delivering your performance to an intimate crowd in the aforementioned environment then the XP510i could prove a really smart investment.
- Dual 2-way speaker enclosures, powered mixer with built-in 500 watt (2 x 250) Class D amplifier
- Packs up into a single portable unit that weighs just over 50 pounds
- 10-channel mixer with built-in iPod dock, four mic/line inputs, three stereo inputs and phantom power
- Custom 10-inch woofers in 2-way vented enclosures with 1-inch high frequency driver
- Ten studio-quality 24-bit digital effects
- Integrated 1-3/8-inch speaker stand mounts
- Enclosures tilt back for use as floor monitors
- Cables included
- Great all in one portable PA package
- All components fit into one unit for carrying/transport
- Versatile connectivity options
- Well built
- Good feature list on mixer
- Struggles a little at really high volume
- Single control of all FX
Also try out the XP 308i if you’re looking to save a few Rands. A slightly smaller rig (150 watts per channel) it contains all the same marvelous features except the onboard DSP effects and will adequately fulfill the one-man-band role too.
Suggested Retail price:
XP510i – R 8,995.00
XP308i R 6,995.00
Tel: 011-790.4600 | 031-534.6460 | 051-430.4455 | 021-555.1617
Written By : Dave Mac