Review: LD Systems Maui G3
These third-gen stick PAs stand up to a round of Mark Woods’ tests.
LD Systems is the pro audio division of the German-based Adam Hall Group, with a portfolio of products covering most areas of live event technology, including small- to medium-sized PA systems, lighting, hardware and accessories. The original G2 Maui systems have been around for some 10 years and played a role in LD earning a place alongside the more established pro brands.
The G3 systems might supercede G2 but the concept is the same – a portable column system that’s easy to transport and set up with the benefits of line array technology. Compared to point source speakers, a line array’s pattern control throws the sound further by narrowing the vertical dispersion, concentrating the sound on the audience area. Less sound is thrown towards the ceiling thereby reducing room reflections and overall reverberation. The new Maui 11 G3 and Maui 28 G3 systems are aimed mainly at DJs and musicians but they’d also be ideal for corporate/presentation or educational applications.
GEN THREE TOUR
The changes to the G3 Series begin with an aesthetic re-alignment of the column, it’s been moved forward and now sits flush with the front of the sub giving the system a more streamlined look. The sub cabinet is constructed from birch plywood and is finished in a glossy textured polyurea surface. The edges of the top of the sub cabinet and the side of the steel grille on the front are nicely beveled. Moving the column to the front of the cab has also made room for a recessed handle right in the middle of the sub cabinet where it’s easy to grab and the weight is evenly distributed.
The two column pieces feel solid and have some weight in them (~12kg) but they’re not unduly heavy, and recessed handles on the top and bottom make carrying them easy. Made from painted aluminium, they have a different finish to the sub cabinet but they don’t look mismatched — the wraparound steel grille across the front of the columns and the sub gives it visual continuity. The narrower grille pieces on the back of the columns are a nice touch. Attaching the columns to the sub is done by lining up the four metal prongs with the holes in the top of the sub, the 14-pin signal socket mates automatically when the column is in place. The lower column of the smaller Maui 11 G3 has no speakers — it’s there as a spacer, looks the same but is noticeably lighter than the column pieces with drivers.
NEED TO KNOW
LD Systems Maui G3
Compact Column PA Systems
The Maui 28 G3 uses a single 12-inch sub, upgraded from the 2 x eight-inch drivers in the G2 Series and weighs in at a manageable 23.5kg. The Maui 11 G3 has 2 x eight-inch woofers, up from 2 x 6.5-inch for the G2 and is a little lighter at 20.5kg. The power amps, crossovers and processing are all built into the sub cabinets making for a neat and complete package. Power is up to 1030W RMS for the 28 G3 and 730W RMS for the 11 G3.
Sub output is close to omni-directional on its own but can also benefit from dispersion control if a second Maui sub is used. Placed besides the first and turned around to face backwards, with Cardioid mode selected by the switch on the control panel, the combined subs’ dispersion becomes cardioid, greatly reducing the amount of low frequencies behind the speakers and on the stage.
These column systems offer several advantages over point source systems. Firstly, the ease of transport and setting up compared to point source speakers on stands or on poles above separate subs is significant in terms of time taken and expertise required. The Maui G3 speakers could not be easier to set up and require no prior knowledge beyond correctly identifying the input socket, and that’s made easier by both the current models of Maui 11 G3 and 28 G3 having deliberately limited connection options.
On the back of the sub cabinets there are two XLR inputs, two XLR thru outputs and a Sub out. A single knob controls the Main (column) level and another controls the Sub level, that could be handy if the sub didn’t need to be so prominent (spoken word, for example) but I found they both wanted to stay on the same setting for a balanced overall sound.
The Sub out is for connecting follower subs. One button links the Bluetooth receiver and another switches the Sub cardioid mode. That’s all there is but that should be enough for DJs or bands that use their own mixer. There’s no option for mic level inputs but presenters could connect their wireless receivers.
The combination of high power, good quality drivers and the phase plugs deliver a sound that is surprisingly coherent and quite point-source-like if used as a main PA
EASY TO LIKE
The Maui G3s are easy to like. Music playback is a speciality and small- to medium-sized DJ gigs can be covered with one column system. You can use two and that enables stereo but the wide dispersion and line array throw means you don’t need two units in the way you might with a two-way horn-loaded cab. If you are only using one column, the stereo input gets summed to mono so you won’t lose any content.
I used a single Maui 28 G3 with a DJ in a room with about 100 people and found I didn’t miss a second speaker at all. The Limit light was just flashing on peaks and the system sounded great with a full low end and a clear midrange that’s not harsh or overly bitey. The high frequencies from the tweeters add some pleasing sparkle although they tend to emphasise sibilants up close, and seem to fade before the mids and lows as you move away from the speakers. There are three different dispersions going on at the same time with the low, mids and highs all coming from different types of speakers but you don’t notice unless you try.
Next was an afternoon at the local footy club with the Maui 28 G3 in BGM mode. This was a bigger room and the club didn’t want it too loud but the level had to be halfway up to be heard over the convivial hubbub. It’s interesting how you could hear the music on the other side of the room but blokes were still holding a conversation right in front of the column.
We had a youth event at the Theatre Royal on a Sunday afternoon and set up the Maui 28 G3 system in the courtyard outside. Live microphones are demanding compared to music playback, the peaks often sort gear out, and in the past I’ve found that to be a weakness of column systems — they don’t like to be hit hard with the abundance of low-mids you get from loud vocals, but the Maui 28 G3 had me re-thinking my preconceptions. The combination of high power, good quality drivers and the phase plugs deliver a sound that is surprisingly coherent and quite point-source-like if used as a main PA. The limit light comes on fairly easily if you’re watching it but you wouldn’t know from listening only, the DynX DSP does its thing transparently.
Performing in front of the column looks like a fun place to be, the sound is all around you and while It doesn’t have the sharp bite of point-source speakers, the column is clear, resistant to feedback and loud enough for most acts. Add some effects and it’s like you’re half on stage, half out the front.
I think I covered off most of the use-cases for this PA but that’s the advantage of a high quality portable column loudspeaker, you’ll find other applications as you go. Great for a music rehearsal room; events, such as wedding receptions (speeches one minute, DJ set the next); other hospitality settings…
The LD Maui G3 systems are competitively priced and offer good value given their performance. There are smaller/cheaper column systems that may work depending on the application but the Maui G3 systems are powerful enough for a whole band in a medium-sized room, without separate foldback, or a presentation in a big space. Quality parts and solid design should make them reliable. They come with a two-year factory warranty. The LD Maui systems deliver all the advantages of a small line array in an efficient and modern design.