Mini Line Array

Eddie Sehmel

Freshman
Jan 9, 2014
5
0
0
Good Day,

I need to get a better understanding on sound systems ans mini line array systems. i have been spending loads of money on different speakers, amps, crossovers, compression drivers, mixers ext. and i'm just not getting the sound quality or the volume that i would like to get out of the systems.

we do everything from small functions and weddings, where 15" does the job all the way to bike rally and small stage event like setups where we combine all the speakers for that extra volume.

I am in need of a system where i can use 2 or 4 of the speakers for smaller events, but combined can power a small stage. i have been looking at different line array options but simply do not understand the basics of how it works. By this i mean, standing in front of a line array you have that powerful in your face clarity at a volume that makes you want more. in my mind more speakers and power delivers more volume., but how and why will a line array with 8" and 6.5" be better than a 2 way 15" should you have the same amount of speakers. will 2 x 2x8" line array with 2x18" bass give me better sound than 2x 15" 2 way + 2 18" bass ?
 

Max Warasila

Graduate
Feb 20, 2013
1,135
36
48
Richmond, VA
Re: Mini Line Array

Good Day,

I need to get a better understanding on sound systems ans mini line array systems. i have been spending loads of money on different speakers, amps, crossovers, compression drivers, mixers ext. and i'm just not getting the sound quality or the volume that i would like to get out of the systems.

we do everything from small functions and weddings, where 15" does the job all the way to bike rally and small stage event like setups where we combine all the speakers for that extra volume.

I am in need of a system where i can use 2 or 4 of the speakers for smaller events, but combined can power a small stage. i have been looking at different line array options but simply do not understand the basics of how it works. By this i mean, standing in front of a line array you have that powerful in your face clarity at a volume that makes you want more. in my mind more speakers and power delivers more volume., but how and why will a line array with 8" and 6.5" be better than a 2 way 15" should you have the same amount of speakers. will 2 x 2x8" line array with 2x18" bass give me better sound than 2x 15" 2 way + 2 18" bass ?
With only two speakers, that doesn't qualify as a "line array." The theoretical idea behind line arrays is that (assuming your line array is infinitely long), you will have a cylindrical wavefront rather than a spherical one, causing a 3dB loss in sound rather than a 6dB loss with point sources.

In the real world, however, what makes a line array useful is variable coverage control, lower distortion in drivers due to proper coupling, etc. For this to occur properly, you need a certain amount of length, and some serious knowledge of how to deploy one correctly, because there's a bit of crazy physics between all the interacting parts which can be difficult to understand and work with. Not to mention, for anything below the HF range, pattern control in the vertical axis requires a longer line array, similar to the way that lower pattern control in horns requires a bigger horn- simply because of the size of the waves.

Also, more boxes does not immediately mean louder sound. All it means is more sound coming from more sources- which can work for or against you. To get them to work correctly, they are going to have to be able to work together, by "coupling," something I don't really have the knowledge to explain much further. Just don't assume that more boxes is going to get you louder sound. In many cases, a single, louder source is going to be better than many smaller, coupled sources - simply because getting the smaller sources to couple perfectly is near impossible, especially without computer modeling and excessive forethought. The only exception is usually subs, because they are simple enough to array (at least when compared to dozens of HF sources).

Point and case here- I'd work on getting some systems that you can use at your big events, but you can somehow dumb down for your smaller events. I can't speak for him, but there are a few threads on here where Evan Kirkendall has mentioned a few things he does that I feel seem to work. IIRC, he has a bigger mains system that works well for him, which has a monitor side powered mostly be PRX612M (or maybe 615M, can't recall; will edit for clarity when I know). Now, he's never explicitly stated this, but I'd assume that some of those PRX units get some serious small event use where all you need is a pair of tops or sub/top combos. He also has built his own subs that can be used in a variety of ways, once again, applicable in arrays for the bigger rig, but usable by itself on the smaller gigs.

Maybe I'm totally wrong on how he implements his systems, but if I were him, I'd probably do something like that. He's also a killer tech regardless of his gear, so that probably puts him ahead regardless.

Best of luck!
 

TJ Cornish

Graduate
Jan 13, 2011
1,263
0
0
St. Paul, MN
Re: Mini Line Array

Good Day,

I need to get a better understanding on sound systems ans mini line array systems. i have been spending loads of money on different speakers, amps, crossovers, compression drivers, mixers ext. and i'm just not getting the sound quality or the volume that i would like to get out of the systems.

we do everything from small functions and weddings, where 15" does the job all the way to bike rally and small stage event like setups where we combine all the speakers for that extra volume.

I am in need of a system where i can use 2 or 4 of the speakers for smaller events, but combined can power a small stage. i have been looking at different line array options but simply do not understand the basics of how it works. By this i mean, standing in front of a line array you have that powerful in your face clarity at a volume that makes you want more. in my mind more speakers and power delivers more volume., but how and why will a line array with 8" and 6.5" be better than a 2 way 15" should you have the same amount of speakers. will 2 x 2x8" line array with 2x18" bass give me better sound than 2x 15" 2 way + 2 18" bass ?
Driver size means almost nothing. If you are building your own cabs or piecemealing a bunch of stuff together, you will continue to have sound quality problems, and these will get worse with more boxes - not better.

Because sound moves so slow, multiple sources actually interfere with each other, and this compromises sound quality. With intelligent engineering and deployment, the deficiencies of this interference can be minimized, but the best possible sound quality comes from a point-source - not a line array.

To understand this, you have much reading and study ahead of you. The Cliff's Notes version is this:
- You will have better results using fewer speakers to do the job. If this means you need to get louder speakers, then do that. It may or may not make sense to try to use the same gear for both small and large events.
- Sound quality comes from minimizing the bad sound - on stage, room interactions, speaker non-linearity, etc. - and maximizing the good sound. It is very difficult to design a good-sounding and good-performing speaker. Buying quality gear will trump DIY unless you're VERY smart.
- Please, PLEASE disabuse yourself from the notion that a line array is the right answer for you at this point. The cost, logistics, and knowledge to do this right are not trivial.

Your best bet if you really want to learn how to do this is to crew for an existing sound company that you can learn from. One of the great skills a person can develop is learning from other people's experience - both the good and the bad. Spend someone else's money instead of your own. :) That, and stick around Soundforums.net. There are a lot of VERY smart people here that are willing to help.
 
Last edited:

Jeff Babcock

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
973
7
18
Ontario, Canada
jeffbabcock.org
Re: Mini Line Array

I am in need of a system where i can use 2 or 4 of the speakers for smaller events, but combined can power a small stage.
This issue of scalability is a classic problem. There is really no solution that perfectly scales from tiny to big shows that well.

If you can define what you mean by "small stage", that would be helpful. If "small stage" to you is an outdoor show for 1500 people on an SL100 stage, that is a VERY different thing from an indoor stage in an average sized club for instance.

There are options available so long as you don't need to scale TOO much.

Please define what your budget would be for such a system, and how big the system really needs to scale.



This thread should probably be moved to JV
 

Eddie Sehmel

Freshman
Jan 9, 2014
5
0
0
Re: Mini Line Array

Let me start by thanking all of you for your responses.

I have added some pictures to try and better explaine the picture I have in mind with the hopes of it working the way I would like it too.

there has been a few companies launching smaller line array systems that had me thinking for some time now.

The idea is to replace my system fully with one of those options. Sending a DJ out with 4 arrays and 2 bins for a wedding and when the need combining all the line array for the larger functions.

the stage sizes I have been dealing with has recently gone from putting sound up for 2000 to 20000. I will mostly be catering for 2000 to about 5000 and 2-3 time a year need to setup for +/- 18000.

The idea was to get 12 dual 10" line array top drivers and 8 dual 18" bass drivers.

Any recommendations will help at this stage. As I don't want to be spending the money and then find it still doesn't deliver.

I was once told turning a big system down is easier than turning a small system up and there for the line speaker hunt.
 

Attachments

Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,925
30
48
Wichita KS USA
Re: Mini Line Array

Let me start by thanking all of you for your responses.

I have added some pictures to try and better explaine the picture I have in mind with the hopes of it working the way I would like it too.

there has been a few companies launching smaller line array systems that had me thinking for some time now.

The idea is to replace my system fully with one of those options. Sending a DJ out with 4 arrays and 2 bins for a wedding and when the need combining all the line array for the larger functions.

the stage sizes I have been dealing with has recently gone from putting sound up for 2000 to 20000. I will mostly be catering for 2000 to about 5000 and 2-3 time a year need to setup for +/- 18000.

The idea was to get 12 dual 10" line array top drivers and 8 dual 18" bass drivers.

Any recommendations will help at this stage. As I don't want to be spending the money and then find it still doesn't deliver.

I was once told turning a big system down is easier than turning a small system up and there for the line speaker hunt.
Doing sound for 20,000 pax is different by an order of magnitude from doing sound for even 5,000.

The surface area and geometry of the audience plane(s) determines how many line array elements you need; the SPL requirement is met by selecting the model that makes that much noise (with some headroom, hopefully). Putting up more small, lower output boxes will not yield a significant increase in SPL although a longer line is always beneficial from a pattern control POV.

Vertical arrays are very different from the conventional "point source" speakers you've been using (whatever they are). They are but 1 tool in the box, however, and are unforgiving of mis-deployment. It's much easier to have a bad sounding vertical system than one might think. Once you get outside the vaunted world of national and international touring providers, I'd say that at least half the line arrays I hear are set up wrong. "Wrong" ranges from something simple and easy to overlook, like the EQ setting on an RCF HDL20a or DBTech T4/T8, to mis-pinning the angles within the arrays resulting in VERY different L/R coverage and tonality.

Constant-curvature arrays like JBLs VRX (QSC, EAW and others have similar products) are one trick ponies... either they're exactly what you need to cover the audience or they're a ridiculous compromise that would be better addressed with point source boxes or a more articulate vertical array.

I responded to a similar topic at PSW. The poster has a limited number of JBL SRX speakers, now discontinued, and he's considering a move similar to yours. Read it here: DB Technologies VS Aero 8A

Getting back to the business side for a moment, what issues do you have with your current speaker systems? Do you feel there is a genuine competitive disadvantage at this time, or is this "speaker envy?" Do you do mostly DJ'd events or do you have a mix of live bands, talking heads, etc? What size of audience areas and attendance comprise say, 80% of your work? I ask because excess capacity is infinitely expensive, and in order to justify having money sitting on the shop floor 11 months a year that capacity needs to make some serious profit when it's used. I suggest owning gear that goes out all the time. When you need a bigger rig you hire in "stacks and racks" from a larger firm, particularly since you need this only a couple times a year. At any rate, will these new, shiny toys allow you to charge existing clients a higher fee? Will they allow you to work more gigs on the same day? Will buying a new speaker system gain you entree to clients or events that you can't get any other way? Do you have the staff, training and experience to pull this off?

Just some things to think about...
 

jonthomas

Freshman
Jan 26, 2013
8
0
0
Re: Mini Line Array

2000-20000 is way beyond a JV discussion. What is your current system and how much do you plan to invest?
 

Ivan Beaver

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,300
9
0
Atlanta GA area
Re: Mini Line Array

Small/mini and 'line array" simply do not belong together in the same sentence.

Just do MINIMAL research into how a "line array" works, basic theory behind it and it should be quite evident that the issues are.

The people who are making "mini line arrays" are simply banking (and laughing all the way to the bank) on the fact that most users of sound systems have NO idea how or why a line array works and what the limitations are.

Of course you could say the same thing for most users of other "so called" point source (which ALMOST ALL products that carry the name ARE NOT!!!!).

So much of our industry simply caters to people who are looking for "popular" ideas and have no idea of the basic principals behind how they work.

HEY this is popular-lets sell some-----------------
 

Jeff Babcock

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
973
7
18
Ontario, Canada
jeffbabcock.org
Re: Mini Line Array

I will mostly be catering for 2000 to about 5000 and 2-3 time a year need to setup for +/- 18000.

OK, that's a far cry from the "small stages" comment you made earlier.

I would suggest that if you only need a BIG rig 2-3 times a year then there is absolutely no reason to own it.

One strategy to think about might be finding companies in your region who have the same boxes that you purchase so that you can simply rent more boxes and more power when you need it. This may limit your purchase options to larger format boxes that will be harder to deploy, but will also possibly allow you to earn some cross rental income as well.

Find out what the providers in your region are carrying.

You're suggesting 6 boxes per side of a dual 10" line array cab. Let's say something along the lines of a KF730 for instance. For 5000 people, depending on genre, that might be a little light, depending on expectations, but an array like that won't scale up enough for a 20000 person gig. You'd need to be looking at larger format boxes with pretty beefy HF output.

You realize a rig like this is likely going to cost you at least 100K as a STARTING POINT, right?
 
Re: Mini Line Array

Ed, Enough for a 20000 person gig.... What have you been using so far to cover 2k,5k,18k people, or are you looking to get into this ballpark? What type of program are you putting into the rig, edm, Dj, live band? Do you plan to acquire the infrastructure to support this rig, lifts, motors, scaffolding, array towers, a/c cabling, feeder, distribution... There's ALOT more to providing a pa system, than bringing some speakers and power amps. I'm sure you know this, but I'm sure you haven't thought that all of what I just mentioned can cost as much, or more than the pa system itself. So I hope you got a big wallet in your big boy pants. You're new here and wide eyed to the wonderful world of audio and that's awesome... Best of luck my friend, stay tuned for the wide ride. To comment on your ideas above...(12 cabs and 8subs, I hope you mean PER SIDE). I have 12 eaw 730 (6 per side) over 8 eaw sb1000 subs(4 per side), and I cross my fingers every time the band hits the stage for 1000-1500 people that she holds together....
 

Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,925
30
48
Wichita KS USA
Re: Mini Line Array

OK, that's a far cry from the "small stages" comment you made earlier.

I would suggest that if you only need a BIG rig 2-3 times a year then there is absolutely no reason to own it.

One strategy to think about might be finding companies in your region who have the same boxes that you purchase so that you can simply rent more boxes and more power when you need it. This may limit your purchase options to larger format boxes that will be harder to deploy, but will also possibly allow you to earn some cross rental income as well.

Find out what the providers in your region are carrying.

You're suggesting 6 boxes per side of a dual 10" line array cab. Let's say something along the lines of a KF730 for instance. For 5000 people, depending on genre, that might be a little light, depending on expectations, but an array like that won't scale up enough for a 20000 person gig. You'd need to be looking at larger format boxes with pretty beefy HF output.

You realize a rig like this is likely going to cost you at least 100K as a STARTING POINT, right?
For 20,000 people you will need.... well, it depends on what Eddie is doing and how the audience is laid out. If he's doing things that are not full-tilt boogie rock bands or EDM festivals things get cheaper but not by a huge amount. For a "conventional" concert rig my guess is that by the time you own the rigging & chain motors, electrical distribution for rigging & stage & PA, speakers, amps, racks, cases, cabling, consoles, microphones & DIs, snakes w/ multiple fan outs, all the accessories plus tents and human comfort stuff and the trailers to transport it all, you're looking at between US$1m - $1.5million.

$100k can get Eddie a nice rig, though, if he's buying to cover an area that holds 1000 people and develops the system chops to wring the last dB out of it without releasing the magic smoke...
 

Eddie Sehmel

Freshman
Jan 9, 2014
5
0
0
Re: Mini Line Array

Gentleman, again a big thank you.

I have 7 DJ's running around every weekend trying to cover all the small events. I supply the equipment, I trained them all to deliver the same standard service that took my DJ hobby to the next level over the last 3 years. So if the larger systems is scattered out over many gings but available when needed was kinda the idea,

i played 2000 people with custom speakers if I can call it that. It started out as a hybrid 15" single. I killed 4 in their first 6 hours so I replaced the LF drivers with Titan's that peak at 1200w, 3" voice coil and I hade them on a 1000w 24h clip test to make sure they don't die on me or try to kill my amps. I replaced the compression drivers with B3 2" and Titan 2way crossovers as the hybrids exploded. I have been unable to kill any speakers since then. So I combine 8 a side and 4 dual 18" also now custom a side. After eq and compression I crossover and run 1 amp a set. 1000w to each 15 and 2000w to each 18.

The volume is there but the mid vocal clarity I have herd from line array is what's missing. With the first 20000 gig unexpected. I clipped my way out of it.

we mostly setup for a rock band and DJ.
 

Chris Nixon

Junior
Jul 23, 2012
299
0
0
Northern Ireland
Re: Mini Line Array

i played 2000 people with custom speakers if I can call it that.

The volume is there but the mid vocal clarity I have herd from line array is what's missing.
It's most likely not because they were line arrays, but because it was good quality equipment designed by manufacturers that really know what they're doing and spent a lot on R&D. Nexo S12 sounds a lot better than a Mackie 450, but not because it's a line array, a Nexo PS15 is also a lot better than the Mackie.

Chris
 

Ivan Beaver

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,300
9
0
Atlanta GA area
Re: Mini Line Array

The volume is there but the mid vocal clarity I have herd from line array is what's missing. With the first 20000 gig unexpected. I clipped my way out of it.

we mostly setup for a rock band and DJ.
Probably one of the reasons for the lack of vocal clarity is all the interference you have between the different boxes.

Changing drivers or crossovers is not going to fix that.

And when you just start "swapping drivers and crossover" it is a good guess that while they may not blow up-the overall sound quality may be lower.

This is because the new parts were not designed to work together-in amplitude-phase etc. So the overall response of the cabinet may be getting worse. And then when you simply add more cabinets to get it louder-the problem start to compound.

So while more cabinets may be "louder" they do not sound as good as a single cabinet.
 

Eddie Sehmel

Freshman
Jan 9, 2014
5
0
0
Re: Mini Line Array

image.jpgimage.jpg
The boxes are all the same, all the same crossovers, comp drivers and LF drivers. One of our local suppliers has just offered to setup DB tech DVA t8 in both the smaller and array setups. I'll be listening to 2 t8 and 2 DVA s20 for the smaller functions and and 12 t8 and 6 dva s20 for the stage setups to get an idea of the sound. They seem to be confident that it'll do the job. I'll let you know.

Thanks
 

Jeff Babcock

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
973
7
18
Ontario, Canada
jeffbabcock.org
Re: Mini Line Array

For 20,000 people you will need.... well, it depends on what Eddie is doing and how the audience is laid out. If he's doing things that are not full-tilt boogie rock bands or EDM festivals things get cheaper but not by a huge amount. For a "conventional" concert rig my guess is that by the time you own the rigging & chain motors, electrical distribution for rigging & stage & PA, speakers, amps, racks, cases, cabling, consoles, microphones & DIs, snakes w/ multiple fan outs, all the accessories plus tents and human comfort stuff and the trailers to transport it all, you're looking at between US$1m - $1.5million.

$100k can get Eddie a nice rig, though, if he's buying to cover an area that holds 1000 people and develops the system chops to wring the last dB out of it without releasing the magic smoke...

Tim, to be clear, I was suggesting 100K as a starting point for a 5000 person gig just for speakers and amps. Probably used.... I have seen used KF730 rigs with SB1000's sell in that range. And that's still very conservative. What works for some shows for 5000 people might only be enough for 1000 at a higher output gig.

Totally agreed on your comments on the costs you discuss above.....