Power to the people

Line-arrays have radically transformed the industry's approach to live concert production over the past 15 years. S&S takes a look at some of the best line-arrays to emerge in recent times.
Analysis, Content management
QSC's WideLine ILA array.
QSC's WideLine ILA array.

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Line-arrays have radically transformed the industry's approach to live concert production over the past 15 years. S&S takes a look at some of the best line-arrays to emerge in recent times.

JBL

Introduced to market in 2000, JBL's Vertec line-array model range has gone on to become one of the company's best sellers.

Vertec is a three-way enclosure system that was conceived and designed as a direct rival to L-Acoustics' all-conquering V-DOSC line-array. Vertec arrays have been used at a number of high-profile events in recent times including Live Earth gigs in Brazil and the US.

Boasting a high-output and a compact form, the array benefits from a number of proprietary technologies, including JBL's RBI (radiation boundary integrator), an innovative acoustic element, which is designed to integrate the midrange and high frequency waveforms in a multi-way system, audibly and measurably improving the box's coverage and frequency response characteristics.

Each Vertec enclosure includes two 15in low frequency transducers, four 8in mid-frequency transducers and three compression drivers coupled to JBL's high frequency waveguide. The enclosure is constructed from composite materials with aluminium baffle braces for maximum inertial grounding. When stacked length-ways, JBL claims the enclosures will fit two-high in most standard tour transportation configurations.

JBL recently updated two stalwarts of the Vertec range. The compact VT4887A full range high directivity line array element and the accompanying VT4881A single 18in arrayable subwoofer supersede the VT4887 and VT4881 respectively.

The VT4887A boasts an extended low-frequency response to 55 Hz thanks to the inclusion of an eight-inch woofer. JBL claims an additional 2dB of output and one-third octave of low-frequency extension is available compared to the VT4887. The model also incorporates an optimised mid/high frequency network and high frequency elements.

Weighing around 30kg, the VT4887A is suitable for use in multi-box arrays, as a downfill element in main arrays, or as extended-range fill speaker. Dual NL-8 and NL-4 input connectors provide connectivity options. Preconfigured to accept a JBL Drive-Pack amp module, the VT4887A enclosure includes standard mechanical and electrical fittings to receive the DP-2 electronics package.

Middle East distributors: Gajria (Bahrain); Audio Technology (Egpyt); Gi Rho Ma (Jordan); Romco Trading (Kuwait); AudioPro (Lebanon); Tunes Trading (Oman); Techno Q (Qatar); Halwani AV (KSA); GSL Professional (UAE); BIG (Oman).

QSC Audio

California-based QSC Audio is renowned for developing quality line-arrays.

The company's WideLine systems are versatile in that they can be ground stacked or flown, with or without subwoofers.

The latest addition to its WideLine range is the compact WideLine-8.

The WideLine-8 includes the full-range WL3082 and WL212-sw subwoofer, offers 140-degree horizontal coverage and an integrated rigging system that handles arrays of up to 12 boxes.

The tri-amped WL3082 measures 20in x 9in and has an operable range of 68Hz-20kHz. Two high-powered, 8in drivers with neodymium magnets are included, one of which extends into the midrange to insure that horizontal dispersion control is maintained at the crossover point.

High frequencies come from a 3in neodymium compression driver coupled to the company's 140-degree multiple aperture diffraction waveguide.

Extending nearly to the top and bottom of the enclosure, the waveguide exit creates a continuous acoustical source with minimal discontinuities between adjacent elements.

The extremely low profile of the WL212-sw sub (less than 15in) makes it a great choice for installed and portable use under a stage or in other restricted spaces.

The fourth order bandpass design matches the width of the WideLine-8 elements allowing it to be flown inline with or behind a WideLine-8 array.

The enclosure is constructed of Baltic birch plywood and coated in an environmentally friendly, waterborne polymer finish that is field repairable. To keep the weight to a minimum and prevent rust, suspension fittings are made of aluminum.

A simple four-point suspension system combined with lightweight, compact size and excellent handling ergonomics mean that an individual can easily deploy the array. A single AF3082-L array frame suspends up to 12 line-array elements or up to 12 line-array elements plus four subwoofers. The WideLine-8 system is equally at home flown or stacked.

Middle East distributors: Philippe Photo Trade (Egypt); Adawliah Universal Electric (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia); Technosound (Lebanon); AVL Technologies (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain).

L-Acoustics

Legendary French loudspeaker manufacturer L-Acoustics has gone head-to-head with archrival JBL for dominance of the large-scale line-array sector for much of the past decade.

The company has achieved massive success with its V-DOSC system, which is widely recognised as a benchmark in large-scale line array installations, particularly for outdoor applications.

Since its introduction in 1993, the V-DOSC system has spawned a number of iterations, not to mention rival designs that have sought inspiration from the array's curved configuration. L-Acoustics says the design follows the principles of 'Wavefront Sculpture Technology' (WST).

A turnkey V-DOSC system consists of V-DOSC elements, dedicated rigging, SB218 subwoofers, dV-DOSC fill enclosures, digital signal processors with proprietary OEM factory presets, V-DOSC amplifier racks and associated loudspeaker plus signal distribution cabling are included. A proprietary return snake system including panels and multicore is also available.

V-DOSC's 90-degree horizontal coverage and coplanar symmetry provides excellent stereo imaging in left-right configurations while WST flexibility allows the designer to cover virtually any room geometry.

The unique attenuation properties of V-DOSC (3dB reduction in SPL with doubling of distance) are obtained through cylindrical wave generation, plus proper focus of the system.

Nearfield extension is an associated benefit that helps maintain tonal balance with distance while extending the critical distance in a given venue. L-Acoustics claims this ensures the array provides improved fidelity and excellent intelligibility even under reverberant acoustic conditions.

As a full range three-way system, V-DOSC can be used in corporate, classical or theatrical productions without subwoofers.

For touring applications, the addition of SB218 subwoofers is recommended, making V-DOSC highly suited for sound reinforcement in theatre, arena, stadium or outdoor festival applications.

The company's KUDO and KIVA line-arrays also deserve mention. The KUDO quad-amplified active three-way enclosure boasts eight WST speakers systems in one; and four adjustable polar patterns.

The KIVA line source array features two 6.5-inch drivers in a bass-reflex tuned enclosure and a HF 1.5-inch diaphragm compression driver coupled to a DOSC waveguide for HF reproduction. The passive crossover network uses second-order filters with built-in phase compensation.

Middle East distributor: Venuetech (UAE)

Meyer Sound

Meyer Sound's Milo high-power curvilinear array is a compact and light-weight self-contained, four-way system. Milo delivers 140dB SPL peak output with impressive flat phase and frequency response. It contains three dedicated high frequency transducers that extend its operating range to 18 kHz.

Milo is the same width as the M3D-sub directional subwoofer, which affords seamless configuration of combined Milo/M3D-sub arrays for extended low-frequency bandwidth and headroom. The combination also inlcudes Meyer Sound's proprietary low-frequency directional control, which steers bass energy away from areas behind the array. Milo can be paired with the M3D line array for very large venue applications, or transition to MICA compact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers for near field coverage where appropriate.

Middle East distributors: Modern Touch (Egypt); Moon Stores (Bahrain); Technosound (Lebanon); Qatar Vision (Qatar); Meyer Sound Labs (Oman, UAE, Jordan, KSA).

Electro-Voice

EV's (Electro-Voice) X-Line Very Compact (VC) is one of the latest additions to its range of line-arrays. It offers two principal system choices for different applications: the ultra-compact single eight-inch XLE and the slightly larger, more powerful, double eight-inch XLD. Each full-range line-array element features two ND2S compression drivers for maximum high-frequency headroom. Both systems can be combined with the matching XS212 bass cabinet for low-frequency extension.

The XLD281 is a three-way design using CCT (Coverage Control Technology ) to control horizontal coverage to 250 Hz. It uses an eight-inch neodymium LF transducer, an eight-inch neodymium LF/MB transducer, and two ND2S neodymium, two-inch voice coil compression drivers, combined through two Hydra plane wave generators into a 120° x 10° waveguide.

The XLE181 boasts one 8-inch neodymium LF transducer and the same dual HF section. The XS212 bass cabinet has an identical footprint and compatible rigging as the XLD281, and thus can be flown separately or integrated into arrays.

The system is designed to be driven and controlled using EV's Dx38 digital signal processor and CP3000S precision series compact amplifier, or alternatively EV's remote amplifiers P3000RL and P1200RL controlled via IRIS (Intelligent Remote Integrated Supervision) software.

Middle East distributors: NMK Electronics (UAE); Alpha Audio (Egpyt); Musallam Music (Jordan); HIFI Service (Lebanon).

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