LD Systems DAVE 15 G3 – Product review by futuremusic.es

The LD Systems DAVE 15 G3 is the third generation of the German manufacturer’s most powerful compact active sound system.
The LD Systems DAVE 15 G3 is configured according to the 2.1 principle, with one subwoofer and two satellites. It has a nominal output of 700 W and a type LD LECC DSP signal processor. This DSP includes optimized crossovers, equalizers, and limiters for bass, midrange, and treble. A compressor controls the subwoofer dynamics and increases the perceived sound pressure at low volumes.

The DAVE 15 G3 is a compact unit that can be transported in a car boot or delivery van and simultaneously a PA system with enough output for events in smaller halls. This makes it a very appealing choice for live broadcasts, DJ sessions, and multimedia presentations. The following tests are intended to investigate the function, design, and audio quality and determine whether this unit is well suited for applications of this kind.

The first impression

LD Systems opted for a design that simplifies transport, installation, and configuration: With the DAVE 15 G3, everything is housed in the central subwoofer – a reflection of the typical multimedia speaker systems for computers, apart from the differences in size, output, and quality, of course.

The subwoofer of the DAVE 15 G3 is a bass-reflex design with a 15″ woofer. This unit also houses the amplifier module, the power supply, and the connector panel. Thus mains power and the audio signals go into the subwoofer unit, and the two amplified outputs lead via Speakon cables to the satellites. Both satellites are passive speakers. An internal crossover distributes the signal frequencies to the two speakers, an 8″ driver and a “1” tweeter horn.

The outward appearance and construction of the LD Systems DAVE 15 G3 convey solidness and durability. A multiply framework with a structured black finish, the durable front grille, the solid controls, and the practical LD Systems Evolutive multiposition handles – with all of these details, the unit earns its “driver’s license”, i.e., the ruggedness and suitability for transport.

We used the attribute “compact” right from the start, but in the interest of honesty, we have to add that you can’t just carry around a system that weighs 60 kg in a backpack. On the other hand, you certainly don’t expect to whip the DAVE 15 G3’s peak output of 1400 W out of your pants pocket. Having set this straight, it should be emphasized that LS Systems has accomplished a remarkable feat of engineering in order to offer a speaker system that has both compact dimensions and an appealing design.

A common installation example

Our test situations matched the typical applications of the DAVE 15 G3: On the occasion of our trade show FM:expo in October 2013 at the Matadero in Madrid, we decided to conduct a practical test under realistic conditions. During transport, we ascertained three fundamentally important details: First, it is advisable to buy the dolly and protective cover offered with the LD Systems sound system. Secondly, the package does not include brackets or stands for the satellites. Such brackets, however, were very useful in nearly all installations and are simply a necessity. Thirdly, no one who purchases the DAVE 15 G3 should succumb to the temptation to scrimp on the length of the Speakon cables (which are not included in the package). We recommend buying cables that are at least ten metres long – even 15-metre cables definitely would not be overkill.

When it comes to placement and installation of the voluminous subwoofer, which is quasi the system “command centre”, the convenient Evolutive handles greatly simplify these tasks. Moreover, the satellites can be tilted using the mounting devices on their feet, thus permitting simple and appropriate fixation in three positions on the brackets used. Incidentally, the photos provided by LD Systems show the speakers mounted on a Y-shaped double stand. However, we used two tripod speaker stands from Proel. With two separate stands of this type, it possible to position the satellites far apart, which enhances channel separation and permits custom installation of the speaker system for good acoustic results depending on the location.

To install the system, the signal cables must also be connected to the panel on the rear of the subwoofer. There we find balanced connectors for XLR plugs and jack plugs as well as unbalanced RCA inputs – an elegant and functional solution for connecting any kind of equipment. Unlike other active PA systems, the DAVE 15 G5 has neither a mixer nor a microphone input. Users should take this into consideration depending on their application requirements, especially if they want to amplify multiple sound sources.

Additionally, the connector panel has two balanced, XLR-based outputs that reproduce the input signal (a very useful function, for example, for connecting monitors on stage. As you have surely already figured out, this is also where the Speakon outputs for the satellites are located. The connector panel also has four LEDS: They indicate power on, the presence of an input signal, activation of the limiter with extremely strong signals, and the auto-mute protection circuit that prevents anything worse from happening. In five minutes at the most, the sound system is connected and everything is under control.

The relative volumes between subwoofer and satellites can be adjusted using two separate knobs. We regard this control function, which is not exactly basic, as a way of setting the level depending on the combined signal strength of treble and midrange or the load via the bass and thus the subwoofer. The remaining switch is used to reverse the phase of the subwoofer.

The sound frequencies fill our hall

The FM:expo events that we used as practical tests for the LD Systems DAVE 15 G3 included a workshop on linguistic improvisation and creativity by Raúl Beatmac and a series of demos of various synthesizers and music software. Both events were held in a hall measuring approx. 100 m2, whereby an average of around 50 persons were in attendance at multiple demonstrations.

There, we had the opportunity to try out the sound system with a host of different sounds: male and female voices, beats dance with Ableton Live, the strident sound of a Theremin, various synthesizer patches, soloists on the Novation Bass Station II, bass lines from a Moog Voyager, the effects of a Korg MS-20 mini, and the sonic clouds of a KingKORG. It was clear to us that this represented an outstanding opportunity for a really tough test, a complete “stress test”, in a manner of speaking.

We always used external mixers, but set the knobs on the rear of the DAVE 15 G3 to a mix of 40% subwoofer and 60% satellites. In all demonstrations, the bass sound controlled and simultaneously very crisply defined and present. The sound was also very natural in the other frequency ranges: Mids with volume and crystal clear treble. Moreover, the amplifier output was more than sufficient for the occasions in question. Remember that we were operating in the middle control range, so there was definitely additional volume available if we had needed it.

With the standard speaker configuration – the subwoofer in the middle and the satellites more or less distant from one another depending on the conditions in the room – it is impossible to create ideal listening conditions. Instead, the sound should emanate from a common central point; this would promote natural sound propagation. But you have to put up with this inconvenience if you want to carry around your sound reinforcement potential in a practical, mobile, and compact package.

This imbalance in the distribution and propagation of the various frequency ranges decreases if you reduce the space between the satellites, but at the cost of a more diffuse stereo sound. In any case, the additional outputs that reproduce the input signal are fundamentally important in order to be able to provide the “primary user” of the DAVE 15 G3 (whether a DJ, musician, event moderator or whoever) with a pleasant listening experience with the help of additional monitors. Imagine sitting between the two satellites with the subwoofer right in front of you, or, worse yet: You are behind the speakers. Of course, this is clearly not the fault of the speakers we tested, but a general problem that artists experience with stage sound reinforcement.

Our impression after the practical test

The demos and workshops described were a success, thanks in no small part to the LD Systems DAVE 15 G3. Its audio performance is absolutely astounding for such a compact speaker system. Moreover, installation is simple and takes very little time to complete, since the Evolutive handles facilitate trouble free and secure gripping in all positions.

The internal LD LECC DSP signal processor offers security and is easy to use: You don’t have to be overly worried about the equipment configuration, but instead just adjust the level balance. If the signal should ever go crazy, the limiter and the protective auto-mute circuit take effect.

In terms of versatility, flexibility, and sound results (watt output and other performance features as well as audio quality and clarity), the DAVE 15 G3 is extremely impressive. What’s more, we haven’t even considered the relationship between equipment functions and price until now. It nearly goes without saying that Adam Hall, LD Systems’ parent company, is renowned for outstanding results in this regard. When one considers that the current list price of the DAVE 15 G3 is € 999 and discounts of 5% can be had depending on the particular deal, this speaker system enjoys advantages over competitors in the same performance and price class.

Such an affordable offer leaves a highly reasonable amount of leeway for acquiring the accessories that we find indispensible: LD Systems offers a transport cart (dolly) with a protective cover for € 119, and pairs of tripod stands can be found in stores at prices around € 70.

There DAVE G3 series also includes other models that have smaller subwoofers and lower amplifier outputs, but are also less expensive and offer all of the other advantages and functions, including ease of use and sound quality.

Recommended retail price: 999€

Special advantages

Compact and rugged construction with an elegant design and materials that stand up to use. Simple installation and easy operation thanks to the high-quality internal signal processor, impressive and controlled bass, even at low volume. Outstanding relationship between functions, performance, and price.


For mobile applications or permanently installed systems, the LD Systems DAVE 15 G3 represents a practical and affordable alternative for independent DJs and musicians who don’t want to spend a lot of money on their sound systems.

Additional information the DAVE15 G3 from LD Systems can be found at:

Futuremusic.es, Spain, February 2014