Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Gefen Announces The New High Definition 1080p HDMI Scaler
The new scaler from improves multi-display system performance with switchable digital audio inputs
Gefen has announced the availability of an ideal solution for integrating audio/video systems using displays with different native resolutions.
The Gefen ToolBox HD 1080p Scaler will automatically scale up or down any high definition signal to meet the maximum resolution supported by the connected HDTV display.
When used in an installation with more than one display in the room, such as in digital signage or home theater, it allows 1080p resolutions to be viewed on displays with 1080p full HD capability, while scaling the lower resolution display to its maximum resolution.
For example, when sending a hi-def signal to four displays, one display may support 720p maximum resolution, while the other three displays support 1080p full HD.
Previously, installers would have to set the source to 720p, the lowest common resolution among all four displays, to ensure a seamless distribution.
But when the HD 1080p Scaler is connected to the 720p display, it will accept a 1080p input and downscale it to 720p, while all other displays receive 1080p full HD.
In a home entertainment scenario, you might have a 720p projector and 1080p display both connected to the same audio/video source.
In this case, the HD 1080p Scaler can be connected to the projector to automatically downscale the signal to 720p, while the display will receive a full HD signal.
All video resolutions can also be manually scaled up or down to accommodate any type or size display using HDMI.
Three switchable digital audio inputs and outputs support coax, optical and HDMI devices.
You can input coax or optical audio and bypass the HDMI audio or output it as HDMI audio; you can input HDMI audio and output it as coax, optical and HDMI.
All three audio outputs are live. Users select their audio using the menu button, RS-232 or IR remote.
Monday, May 09, 2011
L-Acoustics K1/KUDO The Latest Addition To The Redline Enterprises Inventory
The new K1 system already has a busy summer schedule, including the world’s biggest AIDS charity event in Vienna, Life Ball.
Redline Enterprises of Austria has announced the purchase of an L-Acoustics K1/KUDO system consisting of 48 K1s and 36 KUDO WST line source cabinets, 24 K1-SB and 24 SB28 subwoofers and 18 LA-RAK with 54 LA8 amplified controllers.
This is the first K1 system in the Austrian market.
“The reason we bought the K1 system was the quality and its high international standard,” says Jack Langer, CEO of Redline.
“Our new L-Acoustics K1 system will push our company to a much higher level. Apart from the sound capabilities of the system, we particularly like the handling of the rigging as well as the digital network integration.”
Adds L-Acoustics trainer Sherif el Barbari, who carried out training, “Yet again another highly professional provider, who’s already been using L- Acoustics products including V-DOSC and DV-DOSC, has made the step to the top level of large scale sound reinforcement.”
“During the three training days in Vienna, I was happy to work with a group of experienced engineers who are responsible for designing and operating the biggest shows in Austria.”
“All attendants proved to have a thorough understanding of WST and it was a pleasure to introduce them to the newest guidelines and improvements of K1, and how to benefit most when using the systems in their future applications.”
Redline’s new K1 system has a busy summer ahead. First up is the world’s biggest AIDS charity event in Vienna, Life Ball, with special guest Janet Jackson, which is being broadcast live to TV. It will also be used at the Konzert Für Europa classical concert at the Castle Schönbrunn, Vienna, featuring the Austrian Philharmonic Orchestra before an audience of 150,000; also a live TV broadcast.
Other major events for Redline’s K1 are Austrian rock festivals Nova Rock and Frequency.
Renkus-Heinz Iconyx The Choice Of St Michaelis Church
The church in Hamburg's open central hall is surrounded by acoustically complex areas, making Iconyx an ideal choice.
Hamburg’s iconic St Michaelis church was recently outfitted with one of Europe’s largest Iconyx digital beam steering systems.
Churches and cathedrals often pose challenges for acousticians and sound system designers, but few surpass the architectural complexity of the cavernous St Michaelis, originally built in 1750.
Its interior is ornate Baroque at its most florid. White painted walls are endowed with gilded ornamentation and its architecture, advanced for its time, supports a soaring roof without columns.
Destroyed by fire in 1906, then rebuilt virtually brick for brick, it has an important role in German culture, regularly hosting televised services, most recently a memorial service for Loki Schmidt, wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in November 2010.
Emphasizing the importance of the pulpit in Protestant churches, where the sermon is central to worship, the visitor handbook notes the ceiling of the marble pulpit was designed to reflect sound downward towards the congregation.
It adds: “In those days sermons lasted one to two hours…we can understand why, in the days before microphones, so many clergy complained about problems with their vocal chords.”
Those issues have now been eliminated by the new Renkus-Heinz Iconyx system, accompanied by a variety of Sennheiser wireless and Neumann wired microphones.
St Michaelis’ open central hall is surrounded by acoustically complex areas including tall, deep balconies that recede into semicircular cupolas, in some areas out of direct sight of the pulpit. A cupola on the north side houses an electronic organ and tiered choir stalls.
Across the hall tiered balcony seating rakes back some 15 metres. Sermon intelligibility in these areas, and in the deep under-balcony areas, was poor.
Roland Bruder, IT and Technology manager for St Michaelis Church, comments: “The old sound system wasn’t specialised enough for our demands, which means the spoken word. Three systems were presented to the church community and they chose the system proposed by ASC.”
The Hamburg branch of ASC (Amptown System Company) handled the installation with sales and marketing manager Dierk Elwart and project managers Rüdiger Aue and Jörn Wehmeyer in charge.
Elwart explains: “We demonstrated Iconyx loudspeakers in the church, and the effectiveness of the digital beam steering convinced the church community.”
“It’s ideal for this huge, complex room shape with recesses and balconies and a very long reverberation time, because you need to focus the sound very exactly into each area.
“This solution provided that focusing ability, and delivers high power from architecturally discrete and color-matched loudspeakers.”
A total of 17 Iconyx columns was installed, with a pair of IC16s either side on the ground floor level with the pulpit, a further pair of IC16s for the sides and a delay pair of IC8s, all digitally steerable. Upstairs, digitally steerable IC24s flank the archway of the altar, forming the main balcony system, supplemented by a mechanically steerable IC7 stack either side for the rear balcony, a further pair of IC7s for the balconies’ outer areas, and finally two more IC7s on marble pillars to cover two upper level balconies.
Audio routing is handled by a BSS Soundweb London with analogue audio distribution to the loudspeakers, while system control has been intentionally simplified to a basic, custom designed control panel for use by non-technical staff.
Concludes Elwart: “The toughest thing in doing a system like this is waiting for feedback from the public. And there’s been no feedback at all, which is precisely the response we were hoping for.”
Friday, May 06, 2011
On Stage Audio Purchases 54-Box Martin Audio MLA Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array System
OSA joins North Carolina-based Special Event Services as key North American members in the growing MLA worldwide network
Martin Audio and On Stage Audio (“OSA”) have announced OSA’s purchase of a 54-box Martin Audio MLA Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array system.
With this purchase, OSA joins North Carolina-based Special Event Services (“SES”) as key North American members in the growing MLA worldwide network. OSA plans to station its MLA system across both its Chicago and Las Vegas facilities.
“OSA and MLA are a perfect fit,” says Mark Graham, LOUD’s CEO “Show after show, the MLA has drawn enthusiastic attention from the pro audio community and audience members alike. By delivering an unprecedented level of coverage, consistency, and fidelity through its true generation-2 technology, MLA has reset the standard, and expectations, above legacy live sound equipment.
“And true to their first-to-move strategy, Mario (Educate, OSA president and owner) and Jim Risgin (vice president) immediately saw the potential that MLA offered them to reinforce OSA’s reputation as the premier technology provider for their discerning clientele.”
“At OSA we’re always on the lookout for technology to enable us to deliver increasingly clear and focused messages that meet our clients’ audience expectations,” explains Risgin. “With MLA we will be able to deliver frequency response, SPL consistency, and sonic quality never before achievable with traditional line array technology – across any type of venue – and set an entirely new standard of performance for OSA customers.”
Jim Risgin of On Stage Audio.
MLA features multi-cellular format has six individual cells in each enclosure, each with its own DSP and amplification. With up to 24 enclosures, each MLA array has up to 144 cells—too great a number to optimize manually, or by ear. Instead, Martin Audio’s proprietary Display2 system design software automatically calculates FIR DSP filters for each cell and a redundant-ring audio network (U-NET) downloads the settings into each array enclosure. Martin’s VU-NET software provides real-time control and monitoring of the system.
MLA delivers a frequency response and SPL consistency never before achievable; a very high system output (140dB peak, per cabinet @1m); Automatic optimization of the array, both physically (splay angles) and electronically (DSP); Computer control and monitoring of the entire system, and total control of sound system balance for engineers and sound technicians.
MLA is fully integrated, with Class D amplification, DSP and U-NET digital audio network built into each enclosure. MLA complete systems are ready-to-use, with MLA, MLD and MLX enclosures, flying hardware, software, cabling and training all supplied. All ancillary items — from tablet PC and Merlin controller to network interconnects and mains distro — are also included in the complete system package. This ensures full compatibility worldwide, down to cabling and accessories.
Additional features include 90- by 7.5-degree dispersion; a compact size (1136mm wide x 372mm high x 675mm deep), one-box-fits-all (festivals to theaters) application range and a global voltage, power factor corrected power supply.
MLA’s compact size and very high output allows it to be shipped using smaller trucks, offering considerable savings and reduced carbon footprint. The system also includes the MLX powered, flyable subwoofer capable of an unprecedented peak output of 150 dB at 1m; MLD downfill cabinet, and Merlin 4-in/10-out system controller and network hub. Audio input is via analog, AES3 or U-NET.
On Stage Audio Website
Martin Audio Website
Live Sound At Tammany Hall In NYC: A System Designed To Fit A Unique Space
A system designed to fit a unique performance space.
Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Tammany Hall is a new music venue that’s quickly established itself as a formidable player on the local scene, hosting live performances every weekend and on select weeknights.
Named for the political machine that played a major role in New York City politics for more than 150 years, the venue delivers music on three floors: a main room at street level, an upstairs balcony, and a lounge located on the lower level.
Formerly occupied by long-time club The Annex, new ownership, which also runs popular live venues such as Crash Mansion and BLVD NYC, has completely transformed the space with an all-new interior design, a process topped by a new sound reinforcement system designed and installed by PBell Sound of Queens, headed by owner Paul Bell.
“Because the owners have other club locations, they understand the value of a quality sound system,” explains Bell.
The stage can be outfitted with as many as four Turbosound wedges.
“At the same time they were interested in repurposing some of the high-end gear they had on hand from other locations – so I created a system that used the best of both worlds, new and otherwise.”
Covering The Space
The main room at Tammany Hall, with a capacity of more than 300, has a 30-foot long stage in one corner, opposite a formidable bar that runs the length of the room.
Plenty of standing room is provided around the stage, with a seating area in the back half of the room parallel to the bar. Because of the stage size and is location, bands typically perform facing the standing area rather than the main bar and seating area.
As a result, Bell’s design has dual McCauley ID3.115-53 full-range loudspeakers for stage mains, flown left and right, to cover most of the house.
But to bolster coverage to patrons standing near the stage, a McCauley ID2.112- 65 full-range loudspeaker was added, flown horizontally near the entrance of the main room and receiving a mono, slightly delayed feed.
Although the upper balcony receives a fair amount of output from the main system, Bell bolstered this with two EAW SM200 monitors, mounted upside-down on the ceiling above the upper lip of the balcony.
A view of the layout of the main floor of Tammany hall from the balcony.
At the rear of the main floor listening area, a bit of boost is supplied by two EAW J8 compact loudspeakers, mounted left and right on the back wall and delayed in relation to the output of the mains.
Two Turbosound TSW-218 subwoofers are tucked under the stage, delivering plenty of low end while not occupying valuable audience real estate.
Stage monitoring is provided by up to four Turbosound TDX-15M wedges that can be placed where needed.
The power amplification and digital signal processing for this diverse slate of loudspeakers comes from a surprisingly small footprint based at the house mix position.
An Ashly Audio Protea ne24.24M modular DSP provides input conditioning, signal routing, and loudspeaker conditioning for the stage system, including all monitor and distributed signals.
Bell configured it for 8-in to accommodate the bus architecture of the house Yamaha LS9-16 digital console and 12-out to match the needed amplifier channels.
“I use the Ashly ne24.24M in almost all of my designs,” Bell notes. “I love that the input and output count is completely modular so that I can scale it to the needs of a particular project without wasting money on unused channels.”
An Ashly 2-channel KLR-4000 amplifier drives the pair of ID3.115-53 main loudspeakers, while a KLR-3200 handles the ID2.112-65.
The recently introduced KLR Series, featuring Switch Mode power supplies, presents an efficient, lightweight and accurate option for sound reinforcement applications.
“I’ve been really impressed with the new KLR amplifiers,” adds Bell. “They can run all night without a problem and provide tons of clean power.”
Two Crown Audio Macro-Tech MA2400 amplifiers are reserved to drive the stage monitors, with a single Crown MA3600 capable of driving both Turbo subwoofers. And, an AB Systems 6300 powers both sets of balcony- and rear-fill loudspeakers.
Perspective of the lounge, which largely hosts DJs in addition to offering a feed from the main system at select times.
The system mix/control position is in a small booth carved out of the wall, fronted by a large opening that allows the engineers to clearly hear the house system.
As noted, it’s home to a 32-channel Yamaha LS9-16 that also provides most of the effects processing, including gates, compression and EQ. The compact console fits well within the tight quarters, in addition to being light enough to be moved by one person when necessary.
“The booth is very, very small - you probably can’t even get two people in there at the same time,” Bell says. “The LS9 has a small footprint, and besides, it’s a console that virtually every guest engineer is familiar with, making it a perfect ‘fit’.”
A USB memory-drive recorder/player is also available at this location for capturing live recordings as well as playback of background music.
Out Of The Way
The lower level, meanwhile, is served by its own discrete system, usually offering house music spun by DJs.
Ashly components again were the choice for the system backbone, with an LX-308B stereo 8-channel line level mixer that accommodate all sources, as well as facilitating a feed from the house system when wanted.
The main system’s Ashly Protea DSP along with KLR Series and Crown Macro- Tech amplifiers.
Ashly KLR Series amplifiers, this time two KLR-2000s, drive four McCauley AC28 subwoofers that split into groups of two located to the left and right of the DJ booth.
“They really rock the system,” Bell says of the subs. “The room is small, so we pretty much put them anywhere we could fit them while still being out of the way. It sounds fantastic.”
Dual EAW MK2364 2-way loudspeakers are positioned above the bar for primary coverage, with additional emphasis at the dance floor provided by two EAW JF8 loudspeakers flown to the left and right of the DJ stage.
Two more EAW MK2364s are hung to the left and right of the triple-door entrance to the secondary lounge seating area, with all of these components powered by a single AB 6400 amplifier.
“The owners are very pleased with the new system. We repurposed some still-viable equipment and added new key components that really pulled it all together,” Bell concludes.
“The club is really taking off, and I have to think that the sound systems have something to do with that success.”
Julie McLean Clark is a writer and marketing consultant who has worked in the pro audio industry for more than 15 years.
Acid Test: Up Close And Personal With The Focal CMS 40 Monitors
By all indications, these monitors should to be of interest to mobile studio owners or or those with limited production space. How did they sound? Read on!
Focal is known for their top-range speakers with undeniable qualities but, unfortunately, not for affordability.
That’s why the manufacturer decided to launch a more affordable series a couple of years ago.
It included two models, the CMS 65 and the CMS 50 equipped with 6.5” and 5” woofers respectively. A subwoofer is also available for brown noise fans.
Both models received a warm response from users, so now Focal recently launched an even smaller and less expensive speaker that benefits from all the qualities of its big brothers. The big question is did they succeed?
Small but Powerful
When we were unpacking the speakers, the first thing that surprised us was the very compact size of the CMS 40: 9.39” x 6.14” x 6.10” and about 12 lb.
In other words, these speakers are very small and can be easily transported — which is good news, particularly considering they provide the same high manufacturing quality as their big brothers.
On the other hand, they are also quite heavy — the price to pay for good quality manufacturing, I guess…
You get the same reinforced and damped aluminum housing, black powdered paint and protection grills for both drivers: a 4” woofer made out of a polyglass membrane and an aluminum/magnesium reversed-dome tweeter.
Once you comfortably set up the speakers, you can remove the protection grills and fix the tweeter phase plugs. According to the manufacturer, this improves their response.
Since Focal is generous with accessories, you’ll also find a decoupling table stand and four rubber feet in the box, as well as two height-adjustable spikes to tilt the speakers forward or backward, or even to the sides!
It’s important to mention that all CMS are magnetically shielded so you can easily place them next to a cathode screen monitor.
Regarding speaker position, Focal advises the user to keep at least 1.3 ft from the CMS 40. The rear-panel fixing points allow you to mount them on a wall or any other support.
The rear vertical connections allow you to mount the speaker directly against the wall, which is acoustically possible since the bass reflex housing is front ported.
A very good feature for home studio owners who work in a “closet.” You can use the CMS vertically, horizontally or upside down in order to keep the tweeters at the same height as your ears.
In short, the small CMS is adaptable to almost any environment — a great asset. The manufacturer states that this speaker is not very sensible to the critical acoustic environments of non-optimized rooms!
Settings and Features
Let’s start with some good points: the power on/off switch and the volume control (-66 dB to 0 dB) are conveniently placed on the front panel, where you also have power and clip LEDs.
On the rear panel you’ll find a balanced XLR input (10 kOhm), an unbalanced RCA input (47 kOhm) and the power socket.
You can set the input level to +4dBu, -10dBV or 0dB.
Adjusting the speakers’ response is very simple with two filters: a low shelve (0 Hz - 450 Hz) with -/+2 dB amplification/attenuation and a high shelve (4.5 kHz -20 kHz).
The frequency response stated by the manufacturer is 60 Hz to 28 kHz (-/+3 dB). Two integrated amps of 25 watts each (one per transducer) deliver 97 dB as maximum SPL level (@ 1 m).
Unlike the CMS 50 and CMS 65, the CMS 40 has no real low-cut filter so you’ll have to set the cutoff directly on the subwoofer (the CMS Sub for instance!) at approx. 60 Hz.
However, we tested the monitors without a subwoofer since we had already tested it with the CMS 50 earlier this year.
Monitor controls. Click to enlarge.
Let’s listen to the sound…
Sound and Mix
We compared the CMS 40 with three other monitor speakers: M-Audio DMS 1, Tannoy Reveal 601A and ADAM A3X. We listened to well-known songs and used the speakers in several home-studio situations (mixdown, recording, etc.).
From the very first notes we were pleasantly surprised by the amazingly powerful and well-balanced sound coming from these small boxes.
The low-end is far from ridiculous and we even had to check several times that the sound was actually coming from the CMS 40, rather than from a bigger monitor speaker in the studio. The small Focals show no mercy when mixing down thanks to some very present and detailed mids.
Unlike many small-sized monitor speakers, the small Focals have no hollow response, which makes them seem a bit dull in the beginning. Actually, the sound is very well balanced and the middles are not masked by the high frequencies.
The low-frequency response is much more limited than on 8” speakers, but it goes down deep enough and stays clear all the time. We noticed no masking effects (which usually make a mix sound blurry and unintelligible).
The CMS 40 revealed some details, especially on vocals, we couldn’t notice with other speakers. Very good! Moreover, our final mixes with the CMS 40 translated very nice and well-balanced into other sound systems, with no ugly surprises.
You’ll probably have the feeling that the frequency response of these speakers is narrower — they certainly have less low-end and high-end than other monitors we’ve reviewed.
But behind this feeling, there is the fact that the CMS 40 is often straighter: don’t be taken in by the hollow sound of other models!
If you listen carefully to speakers that seem to sound better, you’ll notice that some details are missing in the mid frequency range.
Generally speaking, the CMS 40 have a better dynamic response than other models we’ve reviewed: certain signals really cut through the mix, providing a more authentic depth feel.
Another good thing is that the sweet spot of this model is pretty wide so you can move around in your room without too many surprises. What’s more, the speakers seem to not be affected by the (sometimes bad) room acoustics.
Now it’s time to listen to our first song —Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”— and compare the ADAM A3X ($600/pair) with the Focal CMS 40 ($800/pair).
They have almost the same size and, besides, Audiofanzine will publish a full review of the ADAM A3X in the coming weeks.
Cash’s voice sounds closer to the listener with the Focals, but the guitar sounds brighter with the ADAMs.
The overall mix is more hollow with the A3X, while high-mids are more accurate with the CMS 40. The depth of Cash’s voice gets a bit lost with the ADAMs.
Although you’ll have the impression that the CMS 40 sound “boxy,” at first, in the end they seem more linear than the ADAM.
Let’s go on with “Angel” from Massive Attack. The monster bass in this song reveals that the ADAMs can deliver a wider lower end, however the bass does sound more precise and has a more “intelligible” attack with the CMS 40.
It might be that the ADAMs low-end tends to mask or blur certain frequencies.
The drum kick sounds dryer with the CMS, it has no resonance at all and you can only hear its attack. The electric guitars in the middle of the song sound a bit more like a “bee nest” with the ADAMs.
We switch to Raconteurs’ “Consolers of the Lonely,” a song with vintage-sounding guitars and very powerful drums.
The bass drum sound seems to be less controlled and a bit softer with the ADAMs, while the Focals reveal a very dynamic response and produce punchy transients.
Rear panel connections. Click to enlarge.
Sibilants of vocals cut through with the A3X and the Focals emphasize the mid frequencies of the guitars.
The latter seem to have a more linear and controlled response. In comparison, the ADAMs mid range seems to be way back.
Next we listened to Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl.” During the soft intro both monitors have quite the same response, but as soon as Michael’s voice comes in, we noticed a lack of low-mids with the ADAMs.
Regarding details in the mix (like reverb decays) both speakers sound alike while the Focal scores higher on stereo imaging.
The ADAMs have more “air” but the stereo image seems overemphasized and the high frequencies are way too upfront.
With Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” the Focal show their lack of low frequencies so that the bass guitar and the resonance of the toms stay in the background.
On the other hand, the different guitar tracks are easily identifiable. The hi-hat sound is very different with both speakers: the ADAMs have a much brighter sound. Altogether, both models do a very good job with this song.
On Gorillaz’s “Feel Good,” the drum kick is drier with the Focals, while the megaphone effect of Damon Albarn’s voice seems a bit exaggerated with the ADAMs.
The bass sounds more “boomy” with the ADAMs and it is less intelligible than with the Focals.
And what about the double bass on “Walk on the wild side”? The resonance of the instrument is not audible with the CMS 40, you can only hear the strings!
Lou’s vocals seem closer and more present with the Focals. On the other hand, the snare drum cuts better through with the ADAMs.
On Miles Davis’ “Seven steps to heaven,” the double bass seems shier with the Focals but the trumpet sounds smoother and warmer than with the A3X.
The ride cymbal has a sharper attack with the CMS; in general, dynamic response and transients are more faithful.
With the ADAMs, the attack of the double-bass notes is a bit inhibited by the resonance of the body, which is not the case with the CMS 40. But the sound of the instrument’s body is almost inaudible with the Focals!
On “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” the brass sound is tinier with the ADAMs and we noticed the same basic differences as on the other songs.
Kettledrums have more depth with the ADAMs, while the Focals reproduce almost only the sound of the skin.
Focal brought to market a very surprising compact speaker to extend their CMS range, whose previous models were very appealing.
The CMS 40 is no exception with its irreproachable manufacturing quality, plentiful accessories and remarkably well-balanced sound.
Considering its 4” woofer, the CMS 40 delivers a clear and dry low-end and very present and analytic mids.
The high-frequency response is also good, just like the CMS 65 and CMS 50. We noticed that the sound is less hollow than with other speakers and that the CMS 40 sound more linear than the ADAM A3X, even if the frequency response of the ADAMs is wider in the low and high ends of the spectrum.
The CMS 40’s do a very good job when mixing and they reveal details you could miss with other speakers.
We had no surprises listening to our mixes through other speaker systems, which is a very good point.
Moreover, the CMS 40 has a wide sweet spot and can be used in a room with poor acoustic properties.
At $800/pair, this monitor speakers are highly recommended for mobile studio owners or people working in a very small room who want to buy a well-built and faithful speaker pair.
Well balanced sound
Limited but precise low frequency response
Sturdiness and manufacturing quality
Adjustable spikes, removable grills and decoupling table stand
Very compact size
On/off switch and volume control on the front panel
No 1/4” jack input
For more audio/sound related content and resources, go to Audiofanzine.
The Battle Of Powered vs. Passive Speakers For Church Sound
There are numerous reasons why nobody is wrong. In the end, it just boils down to your individual requirements.
One of the most common questions heard from churches is whether they should purchase powered speakers and subs, or use passive (unpowered) speakers with amplifiers.
This is, of course, entirely dependent on the situation.
Just a few of the questions we ask in return are:
“Will the system be portable or installed?”
“Will the connections on the installed speakers be easily accessible?”
“Will the people using the portable system be able to lift the speakers?”
“Where is electricity more readily available?”
“Is there an air-conditioned spot close to the where the amplifiers will be?”
...and so many more.
The long and short (or the “light and heavy”) of it is that you need to think about your application. I personally love using powered speakers for portable church systems, since there are fewer cables to lug around, and I’m strong enough to manhandle the speakers on and off poles.
I’ve seen portable setups become semi-installed setups because the people using the system were not able to move the speakers.
I tend to prefer the use of passive speakers for installation, but there are many cases where powered speakers are much more practical.
Here are some of the pros and cons of powered vs passive for your consideration:
Predictable: the amplifier is matched to the speakers, and the factory has tested it.
Negates the need for an additional equipment rack for amplifiers. All components are in one convenient package. They can be connected directly to a mixer or sound source.
Greatly reduces audio quality & level loss over longer cable distances, due to the differences between balanced audio wire and speaker wire.
Portable powered speakers require more lifting power. Installed powered speakers require additional rigging and support in the room.
Often the amplifier is tuned to the speaker, so little to no equalization is necessary.
In powered speaker installations, amplifier service must be done at speaker location.
Simple setup and easier to understand for people unfamiliar with sound systems.
Flexible: allows for potential upgrades without replacing both the amp and speaker.
More gear to keep up with, and the amplifier must be located relatively close to the speaker.
More potential for signal loss over long distance, but gets signal from standard speaker wires rather than needing both XLR and power.
Lighter weight, simpler to rig in an installation, and easier to lift for portable systems.
The amplifier needs to be matched to the speaker for proper sound quality and volume.
Service of the amplifier or speaker is more straightforward. The amplifier is easily accessible, and either component can be exchanged for a temporary one.
Traditional method, so more people will be familiar with the setup.
Hopefully you are now armed with a little more knowledge, so now here’s a little help for your decision making.
First, if you are working with a consultant or A/V installation company, describe your situation and concerns and see what they would recommend.
They work with this gear day in and out, and are used to dealing with the benefits and drawbacks of powered and passive speakers.
Prioritize your requirements and desires. Even if you feel a powered speaker is better for your portable system, it’s not a good choice if you or the person using it can’t lift it or move it.
On the other hand, you may be slightly uncomfortable with the concept of powered speakers, but if there’s no good location for an amp rack and the speakers would be reasonably accessible, powered speakers may be a better installation choice.
If either powered or passive speakers would meet your requirements, then see which type satisfies more of your desires.
Finally, if you’re still struggling with the decision, and you’ve done your due diligence on choosing the best option for your church, then pray and let God do his part.
Most importantly, try not to stress! Just pray and go as you feel led.
Mark Helms is a Systems Designer and Certified Church Consultant for Church Audio Video.
Church Audio Video specializes in the design, installation and support of high-quality and affordable custom audio, video, lighting, broadcast and control systems for worship facilities. For more information, visit their website.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
RCF Digitally Steerable Vertical Line Arrays The Choice Of Saint Mark’s Basilica
A new audio system was required by the historic site which totaled more than forty loudspeakers.
At Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, a true treasure of history, art and faith visited every year by at least 1.5-2 million people from all over the world, an extensive new RCF sound reinforcement system was recently installed, with forty loudspeaker enclosures that include no less than ten of the new VSA 2050 digitally steerable vertical line arrays.
Many of the countless tourists visiting this marvelous example of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture also take part in the religious ceremonies held inside, so the audio system had to meet various requirements, as is explained by Marco Mazzon, founder of the company of the same name, based in Meolo (Venice), which installed the system:
“The brief I got from the client was above all to ensure a considerable increase in intelligibility and flexible control of the various sectors - there are approximately thirty microphones used by officiates and singers in seven different zones of the church.”
As he had detailed knowledge of the Basilica and its logistics, Mazzon designed the signal management system, whereas, for the actual acoustic design, he contacted RCF’s dedicated in-house division, in the person of Francesco Venturi, who presented a detailed report and acoustic simulation documentation along with the definitive design.
The main problem to be solved consisted in the different sound coverage required from the system (ranging from a few meters to thirty), which had to ensure considerable spl as well as extremely even distribution, achieving better intelligibility without increasing the reverberation problems typical of this type of location.
Due to the building’s architectural classification, each array had to have a color that ensured it was almost invisible.
“The VSA systems provide the ideal solution to both these aspects, thanks to their remarkable sound pressure and precision and a ‘custom’ finish, which solved the aesthetic problems.”
The ten VSA 2050 arrays cover the “congregation” zone of the Basilica and are mounted on the church’s impressive columns, forming a main sound front made up of six systems covering the front area of the naves and the transept, while the other four are mounted twenty metres further forward and appropriately delayed, to cover the rear portion of the naves.
Two compact RCF MR 33WT enclosures installed below the ambos optimize the coverage of the first rows of worshippers.
Thanks to the its powerful DSP circuit, connected directly digitally to the twenty Class D 50W amplifiers, the VSA 2050 processes the audio signal fed to each of its twenty loudspeakers to control their vertical dispersion, driving them with the necessary power for ensuring excellent dynamics and addressing the appropriate area to be covered.
Various other types of RCF enclosures were installed in the Basilica, both indoors and outside: seventeen two-way passive loudspeaker columns (versions CS 6940 and 6520) are installed in other seven zones if the huge church, including the entire area of the presbytery and the Pala d’Oro (the high altar’s splendid retable), the Baptistery, the chapel of St. Isidore and the narthex.
Three MR33T “service” enclosures are positioned at the two organs (as monitors for the organists) and in the vestry.
On particularly important occasions, six H6045 fiberglass multi-cell long-throw exponential horn speakers, each fitted with four D5076 drivers, are mounted outside the basilica with special fast-lock hardware and cover the entire square.
When installation work was completed, RCF technicians took a series of measurements to ensure that the system’s performance perfectly achieved the acoustic objectives set by the client.
On Sunday, 8th of May at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, the Pope will host the third Assembly of the Church of the Patriarchate of Venice arranged for the closure of the Pastoral Visit of the Patriarch and his main collaborators of the different parishes.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Church Sound Files: Isolating Instruments In Innovative Ways
Like many things in live sound, some isolation techniques are filled with compromises, but that's still better than doing nothing at all.
For our Good Friday/Easter stage set up, we really change things up from our normal set up.
Instead of the band being clustered in the middle of the stage, we opened them way up, and spread them out on varied height platforms all across the stage.
We did this because a key point of our Good Friday service centers around a very powerful dance during Lead Me To The Cross. It’s a good look, but it does create some problems.
We normally don’t have both woodwinds and percussion together on a normal weekend, but we do for Good Friday. Logistics dictate that percussion be right next to winds.
In the past, we’ve gotten away with it, but this year our winds player has changed up his micing, and with the addition of three toms at percussion, we had some issues.
When the percussionist laid into the toms, it actually started clipping the input on the winds player’s rig; and he was supposed to be playing sax at that point!
As seen from the Sax platform
This problem was aggravated by the fact that the percussion platform is a foot higher than the winds platform, putting the toms right at mic level.
This problem came up during rehearsal the night before the service, so we couldn’t re-configure. So we had to improvise. We have a giant, 6’ high drum shield that we don’t use that often (though we were using it around the Leslie cabinet), as well as some other, shorter shields.
We pulled two sections of the 6’ shield and found that they fit perfectly in place between the two platforms. However, since we didn’t have enough room to Z-fold it, it wouldn’t stay up. We tried one of our stage stands, but we didn’t have room for that either.
As seen from the Percussion platform.
Someone hit on the idea of pulling a few panels off the short stands and using them as “wings.” Since the shields are made by the same manufacturer, the hinges are compatible.
As you can see from the pictures, we used two short sections to fold onto the percussion platform, which added enough stability to hold it in place. Some quick testing showed it seemed to work pretty well, so we went with it.
I spoke to our winds player between rehearsal and the first service and asked him if it was better. His answer surprised me; he said, “It’s not better, it completely solved it!” So I guess that was a win.
Click to enlarge.
We did find that it effected the toms a little bit, since we were not close-mic’ing them. We wanted those to sound a little more distant, so I had an X-Y mic set up about a foot over the toms.
The shield created a bit of phasing and slightly effected the tone, but it was a trade off worth making.
If we had more time, I may have added some absorption to try to tame that, but we were under the gun.
Like many things in live sound, this was a compromise. However, I think the end result was better than had we done nothing at all.
So how about you? What creative means have you used to isolate instruments onstage? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!
Mike Sessler is the Technical Director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 20 years and is the author of the blog, Church Tech Arts . He also hosts a weekly podcast called Church Tech Weekly on the TechArtsNetwork.
JBL Loudspeakers The Choice Of IMS Audio/Visual In Supporting Presidential Town Hall Meeting
IMS supplied JBL VERTEC, VRX and SRX loudspeakers for President Obama’s town hall meeting in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.
President Barack Obama held a recent town hall meeting at Gamesa Technology Corporation in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.
The town hall meeting addressed a variety of issues, while focusing largely on reducing foreign oil imports and creating jobs for the future.
A high-profile contract for Garnett Valley-based IMS Audio/Visual, the rental company provided a variety of JBL Professional loudspeakers for live sound reinforcement including VERTEC DP Series line arrays supported by VRX and SRX Series systems.
For the meeting, IMS Audio/Visual deployed left/right main arrays, each containing five JBL VERTEC VT4887ADP-DA compact powered line array elements with JBL DrivePack technology.
For out fill, IMS provided four VRX932LAP constant curvature loudspeakers per side, as well as two SRX712M stage monitors. Signal processing, control and monitoring for the entire system was accomplished via a dbx DriveRack 4800 Loudspeaker Management System and HiQnet System Architect software.
Managing this event was a challenge for Chris Leonard, Director of Audio for IMS. Creating the perfect audio environment in the 100 x 700-foot steel and concrete venue with 70-foot ceilings was difficult enough, but to make all audio reinforcement equipment visually discreet while suspending no temporary equipment over the President or his security team posed the greatest challenge.
“We had to hang them high and aim nearly straight down over the crowd, but the VERTEC line arrays are designed for this type of application. The system was easy to set up and sounded great,” said Leonard. “The entire event was a tremendous success.”
Deploying HARMAN equipment for an event of this nature was an easy decision for Leonard. “HARMAN gear is always reliable and provides the best audio quality,” Leonard continued.
“I love the JBL VERTEC DPDA input modules, which allow for AES digital audio input with analog backup. We can also quickly set rotary-encoder switches on the JBL DrivePacks as we set up to pre-stage the arrays and individual boxes without having to make sure the amplifiers’ IP addresses are coordinated.”
“Utilizing HiQnet, we were able to fine-tune the entire rig wirelessly with a tablet computer.”
A video of President Obama’s speech is available here.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
In Profile: Jerry Harvey IEM Pioneer & Mix Engineer
Creating quality tools for his peers.
Since Jerry Harvey’s career as the “go to” guy for innovative in-ear monitoring solutions first took off in 1995, it’s fair to say his schedule has often demanded that he cover a lot of ground in a very, short time.
To do it efficiently, he made the decision to take off himself – literally – returning to one of his first loves, flying, in 2004.
“I started flying as a teenager, but I scared myself when I was 17,” he notes. “I was landing my first solo when a squall came up and a gust of wind blew me off the runway.”
“I tore the nose wheel off the plane, did a prop strike and almost flipped the plane. That was my last attempt for 30 years.”
Like his flight training, Harvey’s career as one of the driving forces in the research, development and implementation of IEM technology was also interrupted, though far more briefly.
But his ability to get back in the air after a potentially fatal accident – and back in business after being ousted from Ultimate Ears in 2007 – says a great deal about the reserves of discipline that have enabled the 50-year-old engineer and entrepreneur to make his latest venture, JH Audio, such a resounding success.
Then again, his approach to business and life, informed by his motto - “go for it - you either rock or you suck”- is far from timid.
“That’s pretty much how I live. I want to compete. I want to do my job the best that I can; to have the best mix, to be on top of my technology mixing live, and to be the first to market with new in-ear technology.”
So far, so good. With some 50,000-plus hours behind the desk as a monitor engineer and a passion for continuously pushing in ear technology forward, it’s fair to say Harvey’s life’s work has been leading the market in making music sound better for the people making the music in the first place.
A Couple Of Things
Born and raised in St. Louis, Harvey first started mixing at age 16. “I don’t know if I would have called myself an engineer,” he says, laughing.
“I was making sound come out of PA boxes, but I was pretty atrocious.” In fact, that was what drew the attention of Harvey’s first mentor, Ed Bigger, whose advice later became Harvey’s motto.
“Ed was one of Bob Heil’s guys back in the day, and he came up to me and said, ‘kid, I come in here every Wednesday and you’re killing me. Can I show you a couple of things?”
Bigger’s tutoring paid off, and local demand for Harvey’s services increased, but he still wasn’t making a great living. In fact, he was considering changing careers when a chance meeting prompted him to put his motto to the test.
“I sat down at this little bar on Laclede’s Landing after a Van Halen’s ‘1984’ show and in comes Dave Roth with his entourage, and he sits down on the barstool next to me. We never said a word about music, but I thought that was a sign, so I decided to move to LA.”
Two years later, after cutting his teeth with King Kobra and others, Harvey attracted the attention of Roth’s production manager.
“We were moving Dave’s office, I was young, and wanted a job, so I busted my butt.”
“And he said, ‘hey, what do you do?’ I said I’m a sound guy, and he said, ‘I don’t need a sound guy; can you tune a bass guitar?’ I said absolutely, so there I was, working for David Lee Roth.”
On Roth’s 1987 “Skyscraper” tour, Harvey was unofficially adopted by the TASCO crew, and that association led to a gig as monitor engineer for one of the openers on The Cult’s “Sonic Temple” tour.
Soon enough he was mixing monitors full time; first for Roth and a variety of TASCO’s other rock clients, including KISS.
Later, after A1 Audio bought TASCO, he continued to work with A1 clients such as k.d. lang, Engelbert Humperdinck, Louis Miguel and others.
“Front of house was the glamour gig, but once they put me on monitors I never left. If you were good, you could work as much as you wanted to.” Clearly, he wanted to work a lot, and between 1985 and 2003, averaged 300 days a year behind the desk.
Thing To Maintain
For a monitor engineer, Harvey says, a good bedside manner is key to being able to deal one on one with artists and meet their needs.
Sometimes, however – either because of technological limitations or a lack of communication – it’s a difficult thing to maintain. Such was the case with Gene Simmons during an early 1990s KISS tour.
“In Gene’s defense, the gear couldn’t do what he was expecting, and I couldn’t make it, so I caught a lot of grief.” To cope, he found himself a “sub” – a life-size cardboard cutout of drag car racer Big Daddy Don Garlits he’d liberated from a service station, disguised with a baseball hat, KISS tour shirt, and a “sharpied” beard like his own.
“When Gene would come over and yell at me, I’d set the cutout up beside the desk, walk off and cool down. The rest of the band knew but because of a black scrim in front of the desk and the way the light was set, Gene didn’t.”
Eventually, their working relationship smoothed out and Big Daddy could be retired. “Gene came over to me one day and said, ‘Jerry, why don’t you take the information that I’m giving you and do something with it? And I said, ‘Gene, you’re not giving me information, you’re giving me grief, and not once will you tell me what the problem is.
“That night he came stomping across the stage and I thought, ‘here we go’, but he leaned down and said, ‘Jerry, my vocal is muffled, can you brighten it up? And I was like, ‘I can do that.’ He walked back, smiled at me, and from then on we had communication.”
A Big Change
In 1995, on his first tour with Van Halen, Harvey found himself challenged again, this time by a purely technological problem that would alter his career dramatically.
“They wanted to put Alex on in-ears, to prevent any potential hearing loss, but at that time there were really two companies that did in ears and the earpieces were an afterthought. Neither cut it, and Alex looked at me and said, ‘you want to keep mixing this thing? Make the earpieces sound presentable, or find a better earpiece.’ He wasn’t rude, but he was curt. They were the highest profile client I’d worked for and I needed that gig, so I started researching.”
Six months later, he had a working prototype. “I’d sit at my console with a Klark Teknik DN6000 analyzer, an Earthworks mic and modeling clay, testing components.
We found the high frequency driver, but I couldn’t find anything for lows that wouldn’t crap out when you put a kick drum through it.” Eventually, Rick Zanardo, Harvey’s contact at Knowles Acoustics, found a fix in the company’s “balanced armature graveyard.”
“It was actually for a pacemaker,” Harvey says, “designed to emit a 140 dB tone to tell you the pacemaker was about to give you a zap, so have a seat.”
“I built a high-pass circuit and a little crossover network and that became the first twoway in ear monitor, and the first to make Alex happy.”
After making a sale to Van Halen openers Skid Row – six earpieces at $500 apiece – it didn’t take long for the light bulb to go on and for Harvey to launch his first company, Ultimate Ears, later that year.
Looking to find additional outlets for his talent and product, he cold-called Shure during a stopover in Chicago on a k.d. lang tour, kicking off a relationship that led to the design of the Shure E3 and E5 while also lending credibility to his own fledgling company.
For more than a decade, Harvey continuously improved his original product, designing over a dozen successful consumer earpieces and all of UE’s pro offerings.
Ultimately, he also released the company’s first 3-way earpiece, the UE-11, shortly before being forced out in 2007 by co-owner/ex-wife Mindy and a third party investor.
Jerry as a fledgling mix engineer in 1981.
When his relationship with UE began to go south, Harvey and his current wife, Brittany, retreated to a lakefront property in Lake of the Ozarks to regroup.
While there, they discovered their newborn daughter, Katie, had a rare genetic disease and relocated again; first to Harvey’s hometown to be close to the local children’s hospital, and then, in 2008, to Orlando, a hub for hearing aid manufacturers, where Harvey could find trained technicians to aid in the manufacture of new products he’d designed for the aviation market.
Prevented from getting back into the pro audio business immediately by a non-compete clause, he took time to plot a path for the future.
“I knew I couldn’t live on my old products, I had to come out and push the technology forward.” Since launching the JH Audio music line in 2009 with the innovative JH13 Pro, featuring dual lows, mids, highs joined by an integrated 3-way crossover, that’s exactly what he’s done.
Previously, the dilemma was that anything he built could be reverse engineered by competitors, but no longer.
“They can mimic them, but they can’t get the components. We’re the only ones who have access to them. There were only 12 components in the JH13, but I called it the ‘13’ because I thought it would be lucky,” he laughs.
It was. Prior to attending a 2-day Head.fi meet in LA in May 2009 to demo the JH13, very few people knew Harvey was back in business. But just 10 days later JH Audio found itself with over $250,000 worth of orders from all over the globe.
Since then JH Audio has grown exponentially, adding products like the JH16 and a line of 3-way DSP hardwired belt packs; attracting A-list artists including Kenny Chesney, Disturbed, Keith Urban, and T-Pain, along with major theatrical companies like Blue Man and Cirque Du Soleil, as well as consumer audiophiles in droves.
Still, JH Audio remains a small, service-oriented company. “We have an 800-square-foot office and a 1,200-square-foot lab.”
It’s very much a family affair,” he adds, with his wife and co-owner Brittany serving as CFO/artist relations, and his eldest daughter Jaime in the role of COO.
Members of the UE team are also coming back, attracted by both JH Audio’s products and the culture of the company. In saying that, Harvey stresses, he’s not gloating, and nor is he bitter about his departure from UE, just immensely proud of JH Audio.
Now, more than ever, Harvey’s business philosophy is based on his longstanding motto. “It’s true rock and roll. We run this place like a touring crew – we don’t micro manage. We want to build the best fitting and best sounding product.”
“Our lab people want them to look like jewelry when they go out the door. I’m an engineer. I build tools for my peers and I still mix about eight to 12 weeks a year, because if I haven’t been out and been one of the beta testers, I can’t sell it.”
Job Title: Co-founder/product designer/artist relations for JH Audio
Location: Apopka, FL
Years in the Business: 34
Favorite Tools: My Smaart rig and the JH16 Pro
Worked With: King Kobra, The Cult, Engelbert Humperdinck, Louis Miguel, David Lee Roth, Van Halen, k.d. lang, KISS, Linkin Park, Glee, TASCO, Ultimate Ears, Shure, JH Audio
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.
L-Acoustics KARA The Choice Of Wheel Of Fortune New Orleans Taping
L-Acoustics enclosures were also used for the Orlando taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Production Resource Group’s (PRG) Los Angeles office reports that it recently deployed an L-Acoustics KARA System for a location taping of the popular television game show Wheel of Fortune in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Over the course of three days in mid-April, Wheel of Fortune taped 15 episodes-enough for three weeks of broadcasts-before an audience of nearly 3,000 people in Hall J of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
For sound reinforcement, PRG flew an LCR system of three arrays each comprised of ten KARA enclosures, with LF provided by a total of eight SB18 flown four per side. Out-fill areas were addressed by a pair of 12XT enclosures, while another two of the coaxials were located on the set for stage announce.
The delay system consisted of two hangs of nine dV-DOSC positioned 110 feet out into the room. All L-Acoustics enclosures were powered by LA series amplified processors.
“When we go on location, we carry everything in with us,” says PRG Audio System Design/FOH Mixer Bill Daly who has handled all of Wheel of Fortune’s remote tapings for the past 15 years.
“To transform the host environment into a full television studio, we have seven trucks of sets and draping, six lighting trucks, and a full 53-foot semi trailer solely dedicated to sound equipment—it’s quite a production.
“I’ve typically specified dV-DOSC for Wheel in the past, but this time we had the opportunity to fly our new KARA arrays and I was extremely pleased with their performance.”
“The distribution of sound throughout the hall was extremely even, and I felt that KARA’s sound was smoother with better high-end coverage off-axis than our previous setup. Everyone that commented to me said they really enjoyed the listening experience.”
Just two weeks prior to the Wheel of Fortune tapings, Daly and PRG successfully used the same KARA enclosures at Universal CityWalk in Orlando to record two episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in front of a crowd of more than 5,000.
In addition to the KARAs on the main stage, PRG set up a V-DOSC/dV-DOSC side stage for the show’s musical guests, which included Duran Duran and Kelly Clarkson.
Real World Gear: Column & Line Source Architectural Loudspeakers
The characteristics of line source columns – wide horizontal coverage, minimal vertical coverage above and below the enclosure and coherent sound in the vocal range – are all attractive for intelligible sound reinforcement in reverberant public spaces
Mention column loudspeakers to grumpy old sound men and Shure’s Vocal Master immediately springs to mind, as every ’70s band used it. Line sources have been around for a half-century.
For portable sound applications, audiences tend to be small. Installed systems are often employed in reverberant public spaces – houses of worship, auditoriums and passenger terminals – predominately for public address.
The characteristics of line source columns – wide horizontal coverage, minimal vertical coverage above and below the enclosure and coherent sound in the vocal range – are all attractive features for these kinds of venues.
Driver spacing determines the highest frequency at which a column of identical drivers acts as a line source, while the height of the column determines the lowest frequency with directivity. As with modular line arrays, a short system might efficiently throw the midrange, but leave a puddle of low-frequency mud behind the enclosure.
Inexpensive column speakers remain popular because they offer a compromise solution to installers who need efficiency in the vocal range combined with even coverage and a skinny profile that makes them acceptable on the walls of public assembly spaces.
Investigations into line source coupling behavior and pattern control tell us that loudspeaker cones exhibit coupling behavior up to a frequency whose wavelength is half the distance between adjacent acoustic centers.
Another old sound guy image is the column of JBL 2123 10-inch midrange drivers in Clair S4 cabinets. With their frames squared off to provide closer coupling, their acoustic centers could be placed 9.5 inches apart, providing coupling to 800 Hz.
In architectural columns 6.5-inch diameter cones, when tightly-spaced, will couple up to about 1,000 Hz. Four-inch cones couple to about 1,600 Hz and 2-inch cones to 3,300 Hz.
Above these frequencies top and bottom lobes appear in the polar response, however restricting the high frequency response of some of the cones can reduce lobing. This can be achieved with passive filters in the cabinet, or with active filters used in DSP-driven steerable columns.
A specialized version of the line source column is called “digitally steerable” with individual amplification, delay and equalization for each driver, allowing the column’s vertical coverage to be tilted down (or up) and focused for short or long throws, though its horizontal coverage remains fixed.
The advantage is that a column speaker can be placed flat on a wall, while its coverage can be tailored to a specific listening area. One advantage to digital steering is that the entire coverage pattern can oriented downwards. Mechanically tilting a passive array adjusts the farthest coverage, while leaving the coverage towards its sides near the original height.
The venerable Shure Vocal Master (click to enlarge)
More demanding applications, such as music, require both greater bandwidth and dynamic range, leading to two-way designs that incorporate separate high-frequency transducers in addition to the column of tightly spaced speaker cones.
In modular line array enclosures, compression drivers are mounted onto “isophasic” manifolds that convert sound from their round opening into a tall, thin opening whose output is in phase along its entire height.
Columns lack both the budget or depth for this, so high-frequency drivers in 2-way column speakers are reproduced by a few closely coupled HF drivers, since their height only needs to be a few inches, or by the use of magnetic planar or “ribbon” drivers, which provide the required in-phase output in a tall, thin HF driver.
It’s common for line source columns to be combined as multiple cabinets to achieve better performance as taller systems for bigger rooms. Longer columns provide pattern control reaching to lower frequencies. A nine foot column can provide control to 125 Hz, so combining three 3-foot columns can increase low frequency performance.
As with miniature line arrays, some systems have companion LF columns which employ long-excursion small-format woofers to extend pattern control to lower frequencies.
Alternately, traditional subwoofers can supplement a column’s LF response.
Take our Gallery Tour of the latest column and line source loudspeakers on the market.
Community Loudspeakers The Choice In Ashford University Upgrade
Community R-Series loudspeakers were selected for their intelligibility and sound projection capabilities.
The campus of Ashford University has seen many changes throughout its long history.
First established as a girls’ boarding school in 1893, the school turned its focus to higher learning in 1918 and became Mount St. Clare Junior College.
Over the next five decades, several buildings and facilities were added to the campus, and in 2005 the college was purchased by Bridgeport Education, Inc., and became Ashford University, kicking off a new round of expansions.
In late 2010, Bridgeport acquired 128 acres of land from the nearby Clinton Country Club. Approximately 30 acres were slated for the University’s new $4.6 million Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
The recently completed first phase of the complex includes temporary bleacher seating for 500, with future plans to build a 10,000-seat stadium around the field.
An integral part of the new Athletic Complex is a state-of-the-art sound system designed to cover the entire playing field, as well as the future stadium area. The system is based around Community Professional’s R-Series weather-resistant loudspeakers.
As Mark Van Hoosier of Davenport, IA-based Electronic Communications Systems (ECS) explains, the design challenge was to provide voice reinforcement for a 10,000-seat stadium, as well as controlling that sound to minimize reflections into neighboring residential areas.
“We chose Community’s R-Series for their exceptional intelligibility and well defined sound projection capabilities,” says Van Hoosier. “Of course, being an outdoor venue, weather resistance was another critical factor.”
The system includes two Community R2-694Z loudspeakers for short-throw coverage, and two R6-51 loudspeakers for long-range.
Since this phase of the construction included no physical buildings, the assembly was mounted atop a 65 foot pole at the near end of the field. Rigging for the speakers was provided by Hadley, MA-based Polar Focus.
Amplification for the system is courtesy of Crown CTs-Series power amps, with signal processing covered by BSS London BLU-800 systems. The system also includes Shure ULXP wireless systems, with inputs at the 50 yard line on either side of the field connected to the main equipment rack by fiber optics.
In addition to a highly compressed schedule, the project’s challenges also included severe weather that made installation and aiming of the loudspeakers even more difficult.
Van Hoosier gives exceptionally high marks to Community’s engineering and technical support, as well as A/V design consultants KJWW, of Cedar Rapids, IA, and adds that the client is exceptionally pleased with the results.
“We’ve received many positive comments, both from the University and the general public about the quality of sound at the venue.”
EAW Line Arrays, Subwoofers Support The Sound of Philadelphia International Festival Of The Arts
First-time arts extravaganza took over stages, museums and public spaces in Philadelphia from April 7 through May 1, featuring 31 commissions, 135 events and more than 140 arts partners
Inspired by Paris one century ago, the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) 2011 is a month-long cultural celebration that began April 7, bringing together the worlds of dance, music, visual arts, theater, film and literature.
The PIFA 2011 events take place across several Center City locations. “Styling a Second Empire: A Light and Sound Experience,” located adjacent to Philadelphia’s historic City Hall, is an outdoor visual experience that included a soundtrack delivered by EAW line arrays.
Saben Shawhan, senior A/V systems consultant with Philadelphia consulting firm Metropolitan Acoustics, LLC, designed the audio system, and Starlite Productions of Moorestown, New Jersey, provided technical and logistical support.
The system incorporates two line array stacks, each comprised of four EAW KF740 three-way line array modules plus two EAW SB1002 dual 18-inch subwoofers. EAW FB174 flybar/ground stack frames support each cluster.
Six Lab.gruppen FP 14000 amplifiers power the line arrays and subwoofers, which are managed by two EAW UX8800 4-channel digital signal processors. A Lab.gruppen NLB 60E NomadLink bridge and network controller, along with a Crestron CP2e and TPS-6x touch panel, handle automated power sequencing and scheduling of the three nightly show times. An EAW DX1208 DSP matrix mixer routes signals within the system.
“They’re lighting up the first five blocks down South Broad Street from City Hall,” explains Shawhan, who was engaged by architectural lighting designer Alfred Borden, principal at The Lighting Practice. “They contacted us to help with the sound design and also to help with synchronizing the audio with the lighting, which we’re doing with time code and a flash-based audio player.”
The options for positioning the EAW loudspeakers were restricted by the National Historical Landmark status of Philadelphia’s City Hall, which at one time was the tallest habitable building – and is still the second tallest masonry building – in the world.
“There was no possibility of getting rigging points,” Shawhan reports. “They wouldn’t even let us put a steel cable around a column or open certain windows. The only location that all of the City Hall entities would approve was the 700 level roof, and it’s 127 feet about street level.”
Starlite Productions, with the help of the students and project interns, had to push all of the equipment down three long hallways, up a freight elevator and then carry everything up three flights of stairs just to get to the approved location on the roof of City Hall. “Then they had to assemble the ground stacks, safety them off and get cable to each location,” Shawhan recalls.
Students at University of Arts in Philadelphia, which is just down the street from City Hall, have generated the audio and lighting content for displays that are positioned on various buildings along south Broad Street.
“It’s a one-hour block that runs three times nightly from sundown to about midnight each night for the six-week period,” says Shawhan. The stereo soundtrack of original music is being played from a Tascam HS-8 flash-based eight-track player that is also producing time code.
The time code is then fed into a Strand Light Palette VL console, to provide synchronization between the audio and visual systems. The Crestron system provides basic on/off control, level and routing control for the show. It also automates the three nightly show times so that it can run daily without an operator.
Shawhan utilized the EAW Resolution loudspeaker prediction software program when designing the system. “The coverage is really good from about 300 feet back from City Hall out to about 1000 feet, then airborne absorption takes over,” he reveals. “At the 300-foot mark in the middle of South Broad St. we’re at about 86 dBA. Back at 1,200 feet it’s at 80 dBA – and that’s with the speaker clusters 127 feet off the ground and only four boxes a side.”
For more information, please visit http://www.eaw.com