LD Systems DAVE 18 G3 – Subwoofer & Satellites – a series of tests published in Pro Sound & Light.

LD Systems is no stranger to us: recently, we have had several opportunities to test some devices from this German brand. In my opinion, this is due to the fact that LD Systems introduces a number of products to the market which attract a great deal of interest. One of their trump cards is their price, and I would even go so far as to say that many devices from LD Systems provide benefits that are outstanding for this price level.
LD Systems DAVE 18 G3 – Subwoofer & Satellites - a series of tests published in Pro Sound & Light.
Here is an excellent question, which we can use to start this new test: Is LD Systems going to continue with this trend? Just because some of their products have been very successful, we cannot automatically assume that all their products have the same high quality level. Perhaps we can find a slip-up, a black sheep… who knows?

The concept of the Dave series is as simple as it is brilliant: mainly because these devices are limited to the bare essentials, and because at this time, no other brand offers similar solutions. Brilliant, because it is in fact a kind of hybrid system, which I think succeeds in combining benefits of passive and active loudspeakers. And it works so well that these systems are very much en vogue.

A Dave set always consists of an active subwoofer in combination with passive satellite speakers. All necessary electronic elements are located in the subwoofer: an amplifier for the built-in subwoofer, an amplifier for the satellites, a limiter, an effects processor, a crossover … everything you need!

I use the term “hybrid”, as it is a combination of active (the sub) and passive (the satellite) elements. One of the great advantages, as I see it, is that you can leave the heavy amplifier on the ground. The satellites, however, are very light, their handling is very simple and they would be able to withstand a few rain drops. But if you expose the electronics of an active device to the vagaries of the weather, then…
LD Systems DAVE 18 G3
Now I don’t want to start any discussion on the use of active and passive solutions. There are different opinions on this in any case. And, in order to avoid such discussions, it seems to me that a hybrid set like this one will be a great solution. There are also some smaller, very convenient sets, as you may be aware: we have previously tested two models in this series. Since then, LD Systems has already updated the Dave series twice and has expanded it each time.

The concept is exactly the same, only the technology is more advanced … The Dave series now includes five models: the Dave 10 G3, 12 G3, 15 G3, 18 G3 and 8 XS. As is often the case, the number in each designation refers to the diameter of the subwoofer.

Today, we will test the latest version, the 18 G3. The subwoofer module therefore includes an 18 inch woofer and a 4 inch coil. The satellites are equipped with a coaxial combination with 10 inch/1 inch. The dispersion angle is 75° x 75°. The speakers are controlled by the modules of the 1200 watts (4800 watts peak) class D amplifier. LD Systems does not specify the power of the sub and satellites separately.

The amplifiers are equipped with a switching power supply which is controlled by a processor (DSP). And not just any kind! Indeed, the Dave 18 G3 uses an LECC processor, and these letters indicate: limiter, equalizer, compressor and crossover. We learned about this new generation of processors at the MAUI 44 test and had nothing to complain about!

The Dave 18 G3 looks classic, elegant and simple. This is also the reason why it instils confidence… The satellites are very easy to transport due to their low weight. Due to this fact, we like to rely on the single recessed handle that is inserted at the top, towards the rear.

However, this is not comfortable for shorter people, when they have to hoist the speaker system onto the stand; this almost requires muscle training! Talking about the subwoofer: it has two handles and their ergonomic shape is particularly well designed. And this is also necessary, because it would not be fair to say that it is a featherweight …

The subwoofer also has an M2O stand flange on the top, where you place or screw a truss for any satellites. The satellites have an adapter for a stand, patented by Adam Hall, which is used to adjust the angle of the speaker. In practice, this means that you can tilt it by18 degrees, upward and downward, and this can prove to be very useful.
LD Systems DAVE 18 G3
It is very easy to connect the satellites: you just need to connect them with a cable to the Speakon sockets. Each satellite has a single Speakon socket (yes, I know that Speakon is a protected brand name, so I would have to say in this case “Speakon compatible”…). I think it is a good thing if you can connect the satellites to each other: so that you can operate, for example, four satellites on the same amplifier; this seems to me to be an interesting possibility.

However the amplifier is unfortunately not intended for that. The satellites have an impedance of 4 ohms, and we must therefore be satisfied with that. Of course, you can always expand the system, but basically the Dave sets are designed to work with a single subwoofer and two satellites, which in themselves represent a complete stereo system.

The subwoofer (actually its amplifier) is provided with a combo connector (jack & XLR) for line inputs, plus an additional input in the RCA standard. However, the outputs are only available as XLR. On the back towards the bottom, you will find two Speakon compatible outputs for the satellites. You must first set the general volume (for the satellites) and then adjust the intensity of the subwoofer in order to achieve a satisfactory balance. It should be noted that the subwoofer has a phase switch.

This Dave set has a special feature: indeed, it is a fine example of… a wolf in sheep’s clothing! If you look at the set, it doesn’t look too flash: the dimensions and weight of the satellites are both rather reduced, while the price suggests that it belongs to a “lower” or at least an “average” category. Therefore, you may jump to the wrong conclusions… because you need to listen to the Dave set before you can make a fair assessment!
LD Systems DAVE 18 G3
It reminds me of the previous Dave sets we received … and by the way, this special feature is specific to all products from LD Systems: all look very nice and are rather small… but when it comes to the sound, they are rather… grand! And when I heard the Dave 18 G3, I immediately gained a positive impression.

The satellites are quite convincing, especially at the level of acoustic details: their sound is extremely clean, the sound density is good and might even be considered a bit “toned down”. But in a good ratio! In fact, some comparable systems with coaxial speakers often appear aggressive. In the present case however, there is absolutely no sign of aggressiveness: all the instruments are located in the correct position in the stereo sound and the two satellites have the ability to perfectly fill the room with the music they broadcast. This has to do with the purity of the phases, produced by the coaxial design of the subwoofer and tweeters of the satellites.
LD Systems DAVE 18 G3
These very “musical” satellites are joined by a great subwoofer: believe me, it is really impressive! It produces dark sounds of a beautiful depth, allowing it to amply complement the sound in the low frequencies. Thus, we want to express that, in the bass area, the system reaches exactly the sound pressure level that so many people are looking for today.

The flip side of the coin: the frequency range is rather limited. As a result, the dynamics of the bass is not always on the same level, especially in musical genres where the bass is expected to “sing” rather than “knock”. But that is not necessarily a problem: the imposing character of the sound is much more important for a “modern” sound! Maybe it’s a coincidence, but this could be one of the special features of the system.

If you want to, it is still possible to reduce the “knocking” of the bass through a graphic equalizer. But let’s be honest, whoever buys such a system, buys it mainly because of the “modern” playback of the bass.
LD Systems DAVE 18 G3

I find particularly impressive numbers in the specifications. Our set aims to provide a maximum of (constant) 124 dB, which appears to be good and even plausible for a system of moderate proportions (especially with the satellites). The peak values, as announced by LD Systems, should go up to 135 dB. That seems a little exaggerated to me, but I have little interest in these figures “on paper”: clearly, what counts is the actual performance in practice. The impression that you personally gain…

Considered from this point of view, I can confirm that everything is excellent: this system is beyond any reproach! I even expected the satellites to be a little behind, but my testing setup has shown that this is not the case at all, at a higher volume. These speakers have a remarkably high performance, no aggressive sounds can be heard: for this reason, the frequency is not distorted, up to the time at which the limiter carefully restricts the highs.

From this point of view, the subwoofer can also “compete in the same league”: it performs its role admirably, if you push it to its last resorts. In these moments, the sound pressure level of the highs and bass remains nicely dry! Of course, our set is not designed for major events, you have to remain realistic. But if you compare its performance with its dimensions, you really can’t complain!

Our set costs around 1,500 euros, incl. VAT. For two satellites and a subwoofer just as powerful, equipped with all of the electronic systems that you need, I think the price is justified, if not even attractive. From an acoustic point of view, this set “sounds” much better to my ears than the price suggests. It is not outstanding, but at least it is a very good system. Quality is still affordable, LD Systems has now demonstrated that on a number of occasions! ++++LD Systems DAVE 18 G3
In my opinion, LD Systems shows that true miracles can sometimes hide behind simplicity. This Dave set has a simple appearance and is very easy to use. But the technology behind it provides a very high level of quality that is state of the art. You may notice that this set has been designed down to the smallest details. This seems logical, since with LD Systems, the differences with the previous series are not always obvious, but are still clearly recognisable in terms of the technology deployed.

Finally, I can say that this Dave 18 G3 set provides an excellent performance! It is undeniably above average in its category thanks to its strong performance in deep bass, enhanced by soft and detailed highs. The subwoofer produces an impressive sound pressure, which perfectly corresponds to the wishes of many people, who are looking for an impressive bass – in short, a sound that “pins you against the wall”. The price is good and the workmanship as well. What a great device!

– excellent performances
– the sound
– power
– the quality of the effect processor
– the impressive sound pressure level of the bass

– impossible to connect the satellites to one another, but in any case this stereo system is complete –
– for some music genres, the bass sound pressure is maybe a bit too loud.


Source: Pro Sound & Light magazine 12/2014

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