The industry of live sound installations continues to advance with new and refined technologies. One area that has expanded is loudspeaker choices. The use of line arrays goes back quite a ways and is also known as column arrays. Of course, the form factor has evolved quite a bit. Nowadays, the use of line arrays are common practice, and a question comes up from time to time as I visit clients: Are line arrays more hype? Well, no, they are not. They are actually a very efficient system design. On the other hand, you also have the choice of point source systems, which typically use multiple single cabinets to accomplish the coverage needed for a given space. There are practical applications for both, and I am going to very briefly touch on this topic.
Line arrays (J arrays) in one fell swoop cover an audience space with an amazing amount of throw, control, and high SPL, typically used in large venues. However, there are smaller form line arrays for smaller spaces, so what was once a narrow market is now commonplace.
In a line array, with a high number of adjacent loudspeakers, more energy can be directed towards the audience. With each line array, a speaker’s output coverage is narrow vertically. When stacked closely together with others, you are able to focus and aim much more efficiently. If you are powering a line array properly, you can even drive the top speakers to shoot and cover a balcony, while the rest of the array can cover the main floor. Now with boxes that have varying horizontal coverage patterns available, it’s possible to completely cover a space very well with a line array system.
Column arrays are another variation of a line array that provide a linear vertical coverage with little vertical bleed and typically a wide horizontal coverage pattern.
A point source system then comes in handy if your room is shallow, oddly shaped, or doesn’t have the ceiling height needed to fly a tall line array. You are able to place speakers in specific locations to accomplish the needed coverage for the room. Point source systems still have their place in the market and are still widely used.
In the end, each room has its own demands and depending on how the space is intended to be used, will determine what style of loudspeaker system is installed – a line array or point source system. With proper use of a modeling program, a design-build firm can determine the best products for the application.
He specializes in:
Live sound engineering – FOH
Sound system design/consulting
Sales and Marketing
Field audio production
Music and video production
Presentations (speaking in front of groups)
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