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A System Engineer’s Observations On Wrangling A Really Big Sound Reinforcement Rig

When I opened the file however, I was in for a bit of a surprise. The inventory was 24 pages long. This was a boat load of audio gear.

Next, add some sub-bass to fatten it up. Arrays of 24 subs were stacked on the floor on each side of the stage. They were placed so as not to block sightlines from any of the near seating areas.

Ample fill loudspeakers were also dispersed throughout the sub bass arrays to add clarity to the areas directly in front of them.

So, do the math … including the front fill, the main system consisted of 184 Prism loudspeakers plus 48 Prism subs. Furthermore, we supplied a dozen under-hung enclosures to fill the seam between the front fill and the main array coverage.

Additionally, there were seven delay positions consisting of six T2 loudspeakers in each. They were placed specifically to deliver extra clarity and punch to the far reaches of the upper levels of the dome.

The amp racks and drive system were located at FOH just behind our consoles, and there were three rings of motors just to bring the cabling back from the loudspeakers to the center of the room. Including the motor electrics this was a tremendous amount of cable, and the center pick motor was actually a two-ton CM.

The T2 system was developed by MD Systems before they were purchased by Clair Brothers some years ago. This rig has been reworked several times since its inception and in my opinion worked really well in this delay application. It has some directional variability built in to the boxes, and a versatile rigging system that allowed us to focus their energy right where we wanted it.

Like the Prism system, T2s have benefited from the implementation of processing available in the Clair i/O, These crossovers are outstanding and have taken both of these mature system designs to the next level.

Through the years, many loudspeaker designs have come and gone. The widespread use of line array technology has been nothing short of a phenomenon in our industry. I love line arrays. Most of them sound great right out of the box. But in some applications there is no substitute for horsepower. When the bill calls for sheer volume and impact on an audience, I’ll take Prism any time. ‘When it’s time to rock the house … there is no substitute. That’s why after 20 years these systems still sell out during the concert season. Some guys won’t leave home without it.

With respect to the use of delay systems I’d like to mention a few more things. Due to the nature of the acts appearing at this show, the delay system was not a make-or-break element of the final results we achieved. With a different type of program they could have been everything.

While line arrays with their special projection characteristics and Prism with it’s massive speaker-face and raw power are able to provide plenty of SPL to the back of the audience, there comes a time when adding delay positions makes more sense than turning up the long-throw portion of the system When the program you are reinforcing is inherently quiet, an extra loudspeaker position physically closer to the listeners furthest away will give you better results,

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