Simmons goes low

When we first heard the Simmons new generation monitors, starting with the DA2012B, we were struck (almost physically) by the low-end boom. And that has been maintained in the latest DA2100 Series drum amps.

The bass performance was noted in Scott Holder’s evaluation as “the punchiest low end of any monitor” he’s reviewed.

So, what’s the last thing you’d expect from Simmons? Yes, a dedicated subwoofer.

But that hasn’t stopped the company from releasing its DAS12S Drum Amplifier Subwoofer for an even more bone-rattling electronic drums experience.

At the heart of the DAS12S is a 12” sub driver – no bigger than the main unit in the top-of-the-range DA2112, but capable of 400 W RMS and 130 dB (compared to the 2112’s 350 W/126 dB output).


Setting up

The 12S is designed to augment the bottom end of any monitor, but it is optimised to work with a pair of Simmons DA2100 series amps and their Smart Stereo set-up. There are actually two inputs on the sub, so you could also take a feed from any other source, such as the main mixer. However, this is a bit tricky as there are no separate volume controls for Inputs 1 and 2, nor can you adjust the crossover frequency for each input.

The next step is setting the level switch and you can raise or lower the level to match the output of your source (either +4 or -10).

The real magic happens in the crossover control. Here, you dial in the sub to the monitors it is augmenting. So, if you’re using a DA2110, you’d select the 10”/80 Hz setting, or the 8”/90 Hz setting for the DA2108. Alternatively, you can use your ears to choose a setting – anywhere up to Full-Range Output, which disables the crossover and boosts pretty much everything it receives.

There’s a phase switch which lets you flip the phase to match the polarity of your amp and you use that in conjunction with the Time Aligning Delay to keep the thumps in time with the rest of the sounds.

Finally, there’s a volume knob that lets you crank it up to the 130 dB Max SPL output.


In action

The first observation is that you’ll get a workout moving the DA12S around. It’s a hefty piece of gear, weighing in at 20 Kg and, despite the “side handles for easy handling in transport”, it takes some effort to shift.

Set-up is pretty easy once you understand the Simmons routing design – and the jacks take both XLR and TRS connectors.

Dialling in is also easy and intuitive, even if you’ve never worked with a sub before. The adjustable crossover is especially powerful and simple to understand, especially if you are pairing the 12S with a Simmons sibling speaker. But if you’re in doubt, start with Full-Range and dial it back until it “feels” right.

Similarly, operation of the level switch is logical – if the LED flashes red, the level is too high and you just turn it down. If it sounds too thin, turn it to +4.

And the Phase and Time Aligning Delay controls are just as straightforward – if the sub thump doesn’t align with the bass from the master speaker, it’s easy to line them up.

I tested the sub with a couple of different modules, taking a stereo feed from the drum brains into the DA2110.

As our previous reviews noted, Simmons amps are not shy when it comes to bass. Adding the 12S had an immediate impact. The thump of the bass drum and floor toms was significantly enhanced, even at low volume levels on the amp. Turned all the way up, the doof-doof was even more pronounced, but still impressively clean.

Where the sub really comes into its own is with smaller drum amps and monitors. I hooked it up to a Mackie SRM150 compact active PA, a popular buskers’ powered monitor.

The addition of the DA12S transformed the Mackie, which is noticeably inadequate at the low end, into a fairly respectable practice drum monitor. I got plenty of grunt with the 8”/90 Hz setting, but when I cranked it to full range, it produced real drum presence – even with the volume turned down quite low.


Bottom line

I was surprised by Simmons’ decision to extend the drum amp range with a sub, particularly because the low-end performance of the DA2100 series was one of its unique advantages over its competitors.

For most uses, the amps pump out plenty of bass and it’s hard to imagine when you’d need an extra sub, except perhaps for seriously loud live performance situations.

Needless to say, the DA12S delivers in spades – heaps of clean low-end thump which can be tailored to your needs.

Where the DA12S really shines, however, is when it’s paired with less capable monitors. Even a puny 150 W,120 dB portable PA is transformed into a decent drum amp when coupled with the Simmons sub. I would imagine that the Roland, Yamaha and KAT drum amps would benefit even more. But the $400 price tag makes it an expensive add-on to a drum amp, especially considering that you could pick up a very capable DA2112 – with plenty of bass response – for $350.

For those using a DA2100 series rig in a Smart Stereo set-up, there’s no doubt the sub brings extra presence and low-end body to the sound stage. It may be overkill for some, but I’m sure plenty of bands will enjoy the bass reinforcement and the thumping feeling on stage.



Driver: Premium 12” high temperature sub driver

Output: 400 W  RMS, 1,000 W Peak, 130 dB Max SPL

Input: 2 x ¼” TRS

Adjustments: Time Aligning Delay, Level, Crossover Frequency

Street price: $400


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