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Compact Line-array Systems

Sep 29, 2010 12:00 PM, By Mark Johnson

Compact systems composed of 8in. or smaller low-/mid-frequency drivers.

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Alcons Audio LR16

Alcons Audio LR16

Everything old is new again. Look around and you'll see movie remakes and new car models that look like classic versions. And then there are line-array loudspeaker systems. The theory and the basic technology behind line arrays is old news; the implementation is today's news. Surely every old guy in audio has fond memories of Shure's Vocal Master or even the old Bogen column speakers. Fast-forward to the current implementation: individual cabinets with one or two LF/mid drivers, a mid/high arrangement of some kind, and then a high-frequency section, stacked or suspended to form a line array. For the high-frequency section, many of the systems employ some type of waveguide that was developed as the result of extensive R&D. And there are systems that offer digital steering of the beam.

The benefits of line arrays are well-defined coverage in both the horizontal and vertical planes and good coverage over distance. Line arrays exhibit a 3dB drop off per doubling of distance as opposed to the 6dB drop off of conventional point-source systems. Many of the manufacturers mentioned here also provide array calculating software to assist in determining coverage configuration for a particular venue, and all manufacturers provide some kind of rigging solution—some of which allow for ground stacking, suspending from above, or both. Most manufacturers also provide a companion subwoofer for low-frequency extension. Some models listed here are exclusively self-powered, some are conventionally amplified, and some provide the option of either.

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With a plethora of manufacturers designing systems, there is certainly no shortage of products or designs to choose from. For this article, we'll narrow the focus and concentrate on compact systems composed of 8in. or smaller low-/mid-frequency drivers. Only horizontal coverage is noted as the physical length of the array (number of individual elements), and curvature dictates the vertical coverage.

The Adamson Systems Engineering SpekTrix is a three-way active system that comprises two 8.5in. drivers (one LF and one MF) and a compression HF driver. Coverage for each element is 5 degrees vertical by 120 degrees horizontal. The frequency response is 80Hz to 18kHz, and the SPL is 129.8dB continuous with a 135.8dB peak.

The Alcons Audio LR16 is an active two-way system. The system features a RBN601 ribbon driver on a morpher wave-guide with 90-degree horizontal coverage. Its frequency response (±10dB) is 51Hz to 20kHz, and its peak SPL is 131dB low frequency and 135dB high frequency. The cabinet weighs 63.9lbs.

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