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Predicting Array Performance: Hanging The PA Right The First Time

Taking the guesswork out of seeing where your sound is going

By Bruce Main April 11, 2012

Screenshot of the LARA/Integral Acoustics program the author discusses in this article.

Back in the good old days predicting the performance of a group of loudspeakers was a hit and miss proposition. We tried to hit all the people and miss the walls. We were happy if we had enough devices to point a transducer everywhere that needed coverage and enough power to make it good and loud.

Complex interactions between devices operating in the same bandwidth, fine level adjustments for individual devices and precise flying angles were the least of our worries. And even if we were worried about such things, we didn’t have the tools to deal with them.

Then came the digital revolution. With the advent of abundant computer horsepower, remote amplifier control and DSP, our capacity to exercise control over sound system parameters took quantum leaps. At the same time, improvements in test equipment allowed manufacturers to give us meaningful data on the performance of the loudspeakers we were driving.

This data combined with the processing power of the modern personal computer made it possible to actually (GASP!) predict the performance of an array before it was hung. Mark IV Audio (read: Electro-Voice, Klark Teknik, Midas and Altec Lansing) was one of the first companies to bring some of these tools to the masses—the AcoustaCADD program was an early example of sound system modeling software.

They also developed a program called Hang Ten to help Electro-Voice MT-4 owners figure out where to attach flying straps to get the boxes to array properly. And anyone who has herked MT-4s around knows that experimenting with different configurations in the real world just wasn’t that much fun.

Later EV produced a program called ArrayShow, which was extremely useful for demonstrating the summing and cancellation between adjacent cabinets hung or stacked in close proximity.

Bose also had its Modeler software. But these products were manufacturer specific, which limited their usefulness.

The next breakthrough came with the introduction of EASE. Although EASE has a distribution agreement with Renkus-Heinz, its loudspeaker database is an unrestricted club. Anyone can join by testing their loudspeakers in a specific manner and submitting the data in the proper form.

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About Bruce

Bruce Main
Bruce Main

Systems Engineer
Bruce has been a systems engineer and front of house mixer for more than 35 years, and has also built, owned and operated recording studios, and designed and installed sound systems.


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