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Real World Gear: Column Loudspeakers

Column array loudspeaker principles as well as a round-up of numerous recent models from around the industry to serve as a starting point for more detailed research.

Line source (column) loudspeakers have been around for well over a half century, but they’ve gained in popularity over the past decade because they offer a solution for applications calling for efficiency combined with even coverage from a very slim, unobtrusive physical profile.

The characteristics of line source loudspeakers – wide horizontal coverage, minimal vertical coverage above and below the enclosure and coherent sound in the vocal range – are all attractive features, particularly in highly reverberant environments. Driver spacing determines the highest frequency at which a column of identical drivers acts as a line source, while the length of the column determines the directivity of the lowest frequencies.

Column loudspeakers with 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, 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.

It’s common for 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 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. Renkus-Heinz continues to focus extensively on this technology, as evidenced by the IC-Live X Series consisting of two combinable, steerable-array modules, the ICL-X and ICL-XL, joined by the ICL-XS and ICL-X-118S matching subwoofers.

Applications requiring additional bandwidth and dynamic range have led to 2-way designs that incorporate separate high-frequency transducers in addition to the column of tightly spaced loudspeaker cones. Some systems have companion LF columns that employ long-excursion small-format woofers to extend pattern control to lower frequencies. Alternately, traditional subwoofers can supplement a column’s LF response.

In addition, some models are expressly designed for portable applications, usually paired with compact subwoofers. Lately, we’ve seen more columns packaged with dedicated subs that house amplification and DSP as well as providing a base for mounting into one cohesive unit.

Enjoy this Real World Gear look at the latest line source loudspeaker models.

Enhanced Listing

Renkus-Heinz ICLive X

The culmination of over a decade of experience in steerable line arrays, the ICLive X Series is the latest evolution of the medium-format, steerable line array. The ICLive X module can be arrayed up to 12 tall or can be used in combination with the ICLive XL, allowing taller, more directional arrays to be constructed at a reasonable cost.

RHAON II beam steering and control via Ethernet are standard, and Dante audio-over-Ethernet is available as an option. Digital beam steering puts ICLive X’s output on the audience and away from walls and ceilings. The series benefits from the full range of RHAON II beam-steering, including conventional and uni-beams, moveable beam centers and multiple beams, each individually adjustable for aiming, opening angle and level.

Multi-channel class D digital amplifiers with integral DSP engines control every array element with programmable precision. High-current audiophile output stages power each individual lightweight, efficient transducer in the array.

Technology Focus: A proprietary Acoustic Source Multiplier (ASM) waveguide allows the high-frequency section to be coaxially mounted in front of the low-frequency section to create a coaxial driver arrangement that delivers a consistent and symmetrical array of both HF and LF along the entire length of the array, allowing the freedom to choose any acoustic center available.

Of Note: In addition to beam steering, the onboard DSP provides 12 total filters of parametric EQ (eight fully parametric, high and low shelf & high and low pass filters) as well as up to 170 milliseconds of delay.

Key Specifications:
Model: ICL-XL
Type: Digitally steerable
Drivers, LF: 4 x 8-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 4 x 19-mm high-frequency drivers (mounted coaxially)
Frequency Range: 80 Hz – 18 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, vertical adjustable (steerable down to 750 Hz)
Power: Self-powered (8 x amplifier channels, each with DSP)
Weight: 70 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 38.5 x 10.5 x 13.4 in
Mounting: M10 UMH points; M10 nutplate for pole adapter; R-HANG array hardware; W-WALL-ICX wall-mount bracket

Standard Listings

1 SOUND Towers Series

Design: Cardioid line array with Clarity Technology high frequency
Drivers, LF: 3 x rear-facing 4-in drivers
Drivers, MF: 4 x 4-in mid/bass drivers
Drivers, HF: 4 x 1.5-in coaxially mounted compression drivers
Frequency Range: 100 Hz – 18 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, 5 degrees top and bottom
Power: 800 watts (front) + 400 watts (rear) continuous, 400 watts + 200 watts (AES)
Weight: 22 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 17.7 x 6.3 x 9.5 in
Mounting: Proprietary rigging elements and fly bars for 0, +3 and -3 degrees, plus 14 M6 points


Design: True line array utilizing the K-array Pure Array Technology
Drivers: 8 x 2-in ferrite magnet woofers
Frequency Range: 160 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 90 degrees horizontal, 10 degrees vertical
Power: 100 watts rated power (200 watts peak), 16- to 64-ohm impedance (selectable)
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 23.3 x 2.4 x 2.8 in
Mounting: GF WALL adjustable mounting bracket

d&b audiotechnik 24C

Type: Column (2-way)
Drivers, LF: 6 x 4-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 6 x 1.1-in dome tweeters mounted in vertical horn array
Frequency Range: 110 Hz – 17 kHz
Dispersion: 90 x 20 degrees; vertical aiming of LF/MF beam is -5 degrees; vertical adjustment of HF section is 0 to -14 degrees
Power: d&b D Series amplification
Weight: 19.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 39.4 x 4.9 x 4.9 in
Mounting: Adjustable wall-mount brackets


Type: 2-way active column
Components, LF: 4 x 6-in woofers
Components, HF: 1 x 2.5-in compression driver on custom waveguide
Frequency Range: 65 Hz – 20 Hz
Dispersion: 100 degrees horizontal, 30 degrees vertical
Power: Self-powered (class D amplification), DSP
Weight: 58.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 41.5 x 7.9 x 10.7 in
Mounting: Pole-mount, flypoints, stackable
Also: NXL 44-A, NXL 32-A

Martin Audio O-Line

Type: 2-way micro-line array (deployed in multiples of 4 modules)
Drivers, LF: 2 x 3.5-in cone drivers (1 module)
Drivers, HF: 5 x .55-in dome tweeters (1 module)
Frequency Range: 85 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 100 degrees horizontal, 5 degrees vertical (1 module)
Power: 50/200 watts (AES/peak); recommended 100-200 watts into 16 ohms (1 module)
Weight: 7.9 pounds (1 module)
Size (h x w x d): 4.5 x 9.7 x 7.8 in (1 module; 4 modules: 18-in height)
Mounting: Captive inter-connecting bracket assembly (0- to 5-degree angles); 6 x M8 flypoints; optional brackets

Q-SYS AcousticDesign AD-S162T

Type: Column surface-mount
Drivers, Full Range: 16 x 2.5-in drivers
Frequency Range: 200 Hz – 17 kHz
Dispersion: 150 degrees horizontal, 30 or 15 degrees variable vertical
Power: 240 watts at 8 ohms, also includes low-saturation 70/100-volt transformers
Weight: 26 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 45.8 x 5.2 x 5 in
Mounting: Wall pan/tilt bracket
Also: AD-S802T

Innovox SLA-Micro

Type: Frequency-shaded column (2-way)
Drivers, LF/MF: 8 x 2-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 4 x 20-mm in array configuration
Frequency Range: 200 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, 25 degrees vertical
Power: 150 watts long term (AES-2)
Weight: 9.3 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 31.5 x 2.7 x 2.1 in
Mounting: Six 1/4-20 threaded points on back and endcaps (slotted yoke bracket included)
Also: SLA-4.1

Electro-Voice EVOLVE 30M

Type: Column array and subwoofer
Components: 6 x 2.8-in drivers in array; 10-inch woofer in sub
Frequency Range: 45 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal x 40 degrees vertical
Power: Self-powered, maximum of 500 watts to array and 500 watts to sub
Weight: 44 pounds (array, sub and pole)
Size (h x w x d): Array – 24.4 x 3.7 x 6.2 in; sub – 17.6 x 13.1 x 17 in
Mounting: Supplied with pole to mount array above sub


Design: 2-way
LF Drivers: 6 x 6-in woofers (1.7-in voice coil)
HF Drivers: 30 x 19 mm dome tweeters
Frequency Range: 65 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, adaptive vertical
Power: Onboard class D amplification – 6 x 250 watts LF, 30 x 75 watts HF
Weight: 70 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 38.2 x 9.4 x 9.3 in
Mounting: 28 flytrack mounting points provide connection with a variety of EAW and third-party accessories

Meyer Sound Cal 64

Type: Digitally steerable
Drivers, LF: 16 x 4-in cones
Drivers, HF: 48 x 20 mm tweeters
Frequency Range: 100 Hz – 16 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, vertical variable from 5 to 30 degrees
Power: Self-powered, 64 amplifier channels (1 channel per driver)
Weight: 124 pounds (with mounting hardware)
Size (h x w x d): 87.7 x 7.7 x 9.9 in
Mounting: Adjustable wall-mount brackets (included)
Also: CAL 32, CAL 96

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