The first gig was just a warm-up, this time we took the Cerwin Vega Active system out on a much larger gig—how did it do?

If you missed the first part in thise series of reviews (which includes a description of the system and it’s features) you might want to GO BACK to go back for a refresher.


James D’Arrigo is a Las Vegas horn player who works all kinds of gigs and is a regular contributor to the L2P Network. He had a gig last weekend (11/7) at a big wine-tasting event. This is a twice a year event put on by the family who owns the biggest chain of liquor stores in the Las Vegas Valley. I did not know much about the gig except that James was working with a fabulous singer by the name of Mark Giovi and the it was at a ballroom in the Hilton.

I got there with what should have been plenty of time but by the time I got security to show me where to go and how to get there I was already behind and–of course–no one from the band was there to help. I did have my lovely wife/roadie/bandmate/L2P art director to lend as much of a hand as she could and to take video. (Yes, a video review is in the works.)

On thing we did not talk about in part one is the compactness of the system in relation to its power. I drive a PT Cruiser and after removing the back seats I was able to get two subs, four top boxes, speaker stands, tons of cable, a snake, a good-sized SKB mic case, an Allen & Heath Zed R16 mixer and a rack with an effects processor and a couple of compressors in it into the car. Oh and a tool box and my computer. And a dolly that folds flat. I think that’s it.

It took us about an hour to get the system into the ballroom and set up so we could run some “canned” music through it to make sure everything was working. At that point, musicians started trickling in but, as they started arriving (10 minutes AFTER the time we had agreed on for sound check) all we had time for was a quick line check and I had to dial the sound in during the first songs. The band helped out by starting with an instrumental (Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good”) which allowed me some time to futz with the band inputs before bringing in the vocals. Mark was joined by another great set of pipes belonging to Mary Williams.


About this ballroom—it is a huge cavernous space originally,I am told, built for Elvis when he performed at the Hilton back when it was the International. I am not exaggerating on the huge thing. According to the hotel’s director of casino marketing, it is a whopping 32,000 square feet with the ceiling at least 20 feet up.

So how did the Cerwin-Vega System do in a room this large? I was nothing short of stunned at how well this small system covered this huge room with 3000 people in it. The band was audible at the furthest point from the stage about 150 ft away. They were dance floor loud 70 ft out and there were people bopping to the music 100 feet away. I have worked with a lot of systems and i have never seen anything put out that kind of clear SPL in such a small package. Color me VERY impressed.