Pros: Portable, easy to assemble and break down, easy to mix
Cons: None to speak of
A close friend of mine recently announced that he would be running for election to the state senate from our district here in west Tennessee. I agreed to help him in his efforts, and being a musician, one of my duties that I agreed to take on was to provide live music at his fundraisers and other functions. My sound system is the one that my band uses for live gigs, so it's large, bulky and has a whole lot of power. It also requires numerous people to set it up, and it's just not the system that I wanted to use to do the one-man, laid back gigs that I had agreed to do. I was looking for something extremely portable and easy to set up that would accommodate one microphone and an acoustic guitar. I also wanted something that offered uncomplicated mixing features because I wanted a simple, straight ahead acoustic sound.
I went to the Bandstand in Jackson, Tennessee, where I've done business for many years, and conferred with my friend Chuck McGill. I told Chuck what I wanted and he suggested the Peavey Escort, a 150 watt powered mixer. He didn't have one in stock, but he ordered two on the spot and they arrived four days later. After trying the system out at the store, I saw that it was exactly what I needed and made the purchase right on the spot.
The Peavey Escort is basically a sound system that is self-contained and stores all of the components in a case that looks a little bit like a sarcophagus or a cocoon. Here's a list of the features of the Peavey Escort, straight from the booklet that accompanied the system:
Convenient package with luggage-style wheels
Two-way speaker system with 10" woofer and piezoelectric horn
Five channel powered mixer
Four XLR mic inputs with 15 V phantom power
Two stereo line inputs
60 mm faders
High quality digital reverb
150 watts output power (75 watts per channel) with DDT
Variable-speed cooling fan
Five band graphic equalizer with FLS
Two folding speaker stands
Folding mixer stands
One PVi cardioid dynamic microphone with cable
Two 25' speaker cables
Storage compartments for microphones, cables and accessories.
The unit opens by unlocking four latches (two on each side) and removing the speakers, which actually form the top of the storage package. The mixing board makes up the bottom of the storage package, and all cables, stands and accessories are stored in cavities in the mixing board. The mixing board itself sits up on a folding stand that's about waist high, and the controls are very accessible and easy to see. The speaker stands are unfolded very easily and the speakers are light enough that it's very easy for one person to place them on the stands. After you get the mixing board and speakers set up, it's a matter of plugging in the power cord and the speaker cords and your system is set up.
I used the Peavey Escort for the first time this past Thursday night at a fundraiser held at the home of a former governor of Tennessee. The event was held outside and I would guess there were around 200 or so people in attendance. My role was basically to provide background music while the attendees chatted and met the candidate. Getting a good mix was important, and avoiding nasty feedback was first and foremost in my plans.
I'm not much on amps and sound equipment--I just basically know where to plug it it and my bandmates usually handle the rest. I was a little concerned about having the sole responsibility of handling the mix, but the Peavey Escort was very easy to work with, even for someone as technologically challenged as me. The most important feature of the system was the FLS (feedback locating system) which is part of the five-band graphic equalizer. When I was setting the mix and got feedback, the FLS showed me exactly where the problem was with a flashing light. I made the necessary adjustment and bye-bye feedback.
The Peavey Escort didn't require a lot of tweaking for me to get the sound I was after. My microphone was clear, clean and crisp, and my acoustic guitar sounded mellow and rich. I think that the Peavey Escort might have a slight bias towards brilliance when you run an acoustic guitar through it, but I adjusted the on board EQ on my Gibson Songwriter Deluxe and got exactly what I needed.
The Peavey Escort really delivered for me, and I look forward to using it again at the next fundraiser or political get-together. It took about five minutes to set it up, and about the same time to break it down and store it. When packed, the unit fits perfectly in the back of my Jeep. The portability of the system is perfect, and the sound it generates is just what I was looking for when I bought it.
For small functions, intimate clubs, and other similar gigs, I think that the Peavey Escort is really a neat little system. It's not going to perform like a $5,000 system, but it does well enough for what its built for, and you don't have to have a group of roadies to set it up, tweak the mix and break it down.
I paid $650 for the Peavey Escort and I think it's a great bargain. It fills the niche that I was looking for and suits my purposes perfectly.
Thanks for reading.