Product Review: Cerwin-Vega Rocks

In Web Articlesby tfwm

By Terry Wilhite


Active Line by Terry Wilhite offers a top speaker from this legendary bass provider

I believe all of us musicians are looking for that special “one up” on the next guy or group, whether we want to admit it or not. We’re always looking for a better sound or technique, something that will make heads turn, ears perk up and crowds stand to their feet.

And another thing all of us musical types have in common is the recognition that not everybody in the audience understands or even appreciates all the bells and whistles we employ on a stage to make our musical magic happen (this seems to be a chronic spouse disease). They can, however, hear or feel a difference when there is one, although they might not be able to put their finger on what is behind it.

My most recent, perfect “one up magic” is Cerwin-Vega’s active line, complete with powered subwoofers and the extremely impressive CVA-28, a 400-watt “top box” that when combined with an active sub, make the perfect combination.

Tim Dorwart, CEO of the Stanton Group (Stanton group is the owner of the Cerwin- Vega brand), and Dave Hetrick, Director of Worldwide Sales for the Stanton Group, afforded me the opportunity to test this system in multiple venues. I’m here to report that I’ve enjoyed every single second, in every single place, and I’ve spread the word about the new Cerwin-Vega Active Line both near and far.

Of course, Cerwin-Vega bass is legendary. In the 1970s, the company participated in what was called Sensurround technology that was developed in conjunction with Universal Studios. The system included multiple Cerwin-Vega folded horn subwoofers that were designed to create low frequency effects which simulated vibrations felt during an earthquake or battle scene. Sensurround was premiered in the 1974 movie “Earthquake”. (Ah, so that’s how we got the term “earthquake subs!) Now, for my favorite part of this story, Sensurround units were later dismantled due to the structural damage caused by the vibrations! I love it.

Well, thankfully, I didn’t create any structural damage anywhere I played with the Cerwin-Vega Active Line, but it definitely prompted some “Wow, what IS that system you’re using?” moments that made me smile.

Like I’ve told those curiosity seekers who have walked up after a performance, even if you’re not currently in the market for a complete system, you should consider the CVA-28, if you’re just looking for a superior keyboard amp or monitor.

The look of the CVA-28 will fool you because it’s not a big speaker but the innovative drivers provide tight bass and defined mid-range while the concentric compression driver configuration provides smooth high frequency performance for remarkable detail and imaging. A 400 watt RMS 800 watt peak 3-way integrated amplifier powers the CVA-28, resulting in low distortion and lots of volume.

You have the option of paint or carpet finish and there’s multiple fly points, so this unit is easy to hang. The speaker also has a bottom pole cup so that you can put it atop your subwoofer. You can plug a microphone or keyboard straight into the CVA-28 using XLR/F or balanced 1/4” TRS, and it has a sub-no sub switch. A XLR/M and 1/4” TRS output are available. For a podcast, I interviewed CV and KRK’s Dave Hetrick about how the incredible realism of the CVA-28 is achieved. For the record, Dave spent more than 15 years in Los Angeles as a sound engineer. He knows his business.

“When I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, PA’s were loud. They were inaccurate. They kind of got the point across, but they were anything but refined. As CV being the sister company to KRK, I saw this CV Active Line as being voiced to sound like a studio monitor, something that was really precise. I got really excited because the things I would record in my studio that were really accurate and sounded exactly how I like, I could take a CV Active System out live and I would get exactly the same thing, just louder.

Filling an auditorium with sound from a pair of CVA-28 is easy to do, but if you need more coverage, the system is scalable so you can easily add up to three speakers on a crossbar above each subwoofer. And as I mentioned, a
CVA-28 makes for a great personal amp or monitor too.

“My wife is a keyboard player. She carries the CVA-28 around as her keyboard amp. You can plug a mic straight into it, and it works great on its own,” Hetrick said.

The active line features three sizes of subwoofers. The CVA-115 is a compact active subwoofer that has 700-watts of continuous output and 1,400 watts of peak power; a 15 inch driver in a 12 inch cabinet footprint. Like its larger siblings, it features XLR and 1/4” TRS connectors and master/slave output connectors for daisy-chaining multiple CVA subwoofers.

The CVA-118 features an 18-inch active subwoofer in a 15-inch cabinet with 700-watts of power output, 1,400 peak, and the thumping CVA-121 uses the legendary Cerwin-Vega “Stroker(r) three spider technology” and includes 1,200 watts of continuous output and 2,400 watts peak, a 21-inch driver in an 18 cabinet footprint. All three models feature cast aluminum grills that double as a heat-sink to minimize power compression and optimize driver performance. They look sharp!

A four-position high-pass filter controls low-frequencies for top speakers and a completely variable low-pass filter provides detailed and accurate control of sub frequencies.What this means is that you can completely control your sound no matter whether you’re using top speakers from Cerwin-Vega or from another manufacturer.

While I had a pair of the CVA-115 subs, one was more than enough for the mid-size venues I played, including a fairly large auditorium and a basketball court-sized hall.

No doubt that the industry and users have steered toward active speakers. Stanton Group CEO Tim Dowart commented on that during my podcast.

“The market is shifting, looking for more powered speakers, rather than passive speakers, and packaging that’s flexible and easy to carry around, reliable and gives the musician a clean pallet in which to work with so that the speaker isn’t coloring the sound,” Dowart said.

In my opinion, anybody who needs the perfect sound reinforcement for a band or one-person gig has the perfect set up with the Cerwin-Vega Active Series which scores on every aspect from construction, portability to amazingly accurate sound. It’s sweet that you can get the perfect top speakers from the same company that for generations has been the legendary provider of subwoofers. Well done, CV.