Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers
Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris
Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.
Bogen, a veteran player in the outdoor arena, soldiers on with the SPT15A re-entrant horn loudspeaker. With a built-in rotary impedance selector switch, the unitallows the installer to easily tap five distinct power levels on both 25V and 70V constant-voltage lines. The SPT15A also boasts all-metal weatherproof construction and a simple mounting design coupled with a field-replaceable diaphragm. For football fields, warehouses, and transportation terminals, the SPT15A is a natural choice to deliver clear speech over a larger area.
Best known for indoor transducers, Bose offers its top-line model 251 Environmental outdoor loudspeaker with an unusually wide sound field for improved stereo imaging in patio and restaurant applications. Termed “Articulated Array,” the Bose design uses twin mid/high drivers positioned across the face of a mineral-and-glass-filled cabinet to maximize the stereo coverage area. A separate 5.25in. woofer is mounted to a multichambered enclosure for extended low-frequency response from a modest-sized box. Hardy color-mated weather-resistant brackets and hardware complete the white or black package.
Venerable consumer oriented manufacturer Boston Acoustics has some solid offerings for the contractor market in the form of its SoundWare series of unusually shaped indoor/outdoor loudspeakers. The polyhedron design allows the diminutive (roughly 7in. per side) modules to be placed on a countertop, mounted to a wall, or tucked into a corner thanks to the included articulated mounting bracket. SoundWare loudspeakers are also noteworthy due to the myriad color choices offered and run the gamut from bamboo to espresso to red in addition to industry-standard white and black. For aesthetically sensitive environments such as museums, art galleries, and upscale bars, the geometrically interesting and multihued SoundWare modules are an excellent solution.
Cerwin-Vega's new Structural Design Series (SDS) is the company's first foray into outdoor music playback systems. The SDS-525 features a 5.25in. co-polymer woofer and a 1in. Mylar dome tweeter inside a durable resin cabinet. A unique dual-purpose adjustable bracket uses a removable circular adapter to attach the loudspeaker to a standard threaded rod capable of up to 60 degrees of tilt in ceiling mode as well as offering direct wall mounting when the adapter is removed. Cerwin-Vega's extensive club experience led the designers to focus on heat dissipation as a means to long-term survivability, so the SDS-525 sports flow-through cooling to prevent overheating of the drive elements. In all, the engineering team's initial outdoor effort is commendable and the product performs well in its intended environment.
A discussion of outdoor loudspeakers would not be complete without the inclusion of Community. From the original WET Series (Weather Environmental Technology) to the ubiquitous horn-loaded R Series, Community has a long history of supporting outside sound. The company's new WET Series II updates the initial line with reworked crossover networks for better response linearity and restyled enclosures featuring improved cosmetics and full-face grilles. Enclosures ordered in white now have matching stainless steel grilles as well as white bezels, gland nuts, and cabling. By improving the line's performance and appearance, Community has kept the WET Series at the forefront of weather-resistant loudspeaker technology.
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