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Author Topic: When to use line array or not?  (Read 33562 times)

Richard Penrose

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When to use line array or not?
« on: May 14, 2015, 03:22:02 am »

Hi,

Quite a few of the sound companies I know use line array systems and I'm wondering when you would use a line array system over a standard two/three way top speaker over sub/s?
What are the advantages / disadvantages of using line array systems over standard systems?
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 06:17:01 am »

Hi,

Quite a few of the sound companies I know use line array systems and I'm wondering when you would use a line array system over a standard two/three way top speaker over sub/s?
What are the advantages / disadvantages of using line array systems over standard systems?
WARNING-Sarcastic answers follow:

You use a line array---

1:  When you want to be "cool and hip"

2: When you want to spend more money

3:  When you want to block sight lines

4: When you want a different freq response at each seat

5: When you want the sound "be blowing in the wind"

6: When you don't want the sound to carry far (especially outdoors)

7: When you like the top end to be "all mushed together" without detail

8: When you want to deal with more cables and more amplifiers and a larger distro system

9: When you want all sorts of "spurious lobes" shooting out all over the place-front and back

10: When you want to use a larger truck to transport the gear-and pay more for gas.

OK-I'll stop now before I say something that will get me trouble------------

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Keith Broughton

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 06:34:29 am »

WARNING-Sarcastic answers follow:


OK-I'll stop now before I say something that will get me trouble------------
I think you are past that point by now  ;D


As with any tool, it may not be the right solution for a given situation. A lot of people, who don't really understand how line arrays work, see that they are the must-have-flavour-of -the- month and want them even if they are not the correct solution.
If a 3 way top over sub will work for the gig, use it.
If you are looking to purchase a system, consider carefully some of the items Ivan mentioned in his "sarcastic" but grain of truth reply as to trucking and cost as well as sonic performance.
There are great, cost effective solutions that are not line array and may work just fine for your applications.
A line array system has certain benefits but, as with most things, there are compromises and costs.
What compromises are you willing to make and what would really do the jobs you have?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2015, 08:00:37 am »

Hi,

Quite a few of the sound companies I know use line array systems and I'm wondering when you would use a line array system over a standard two/three way top speaker over sub/s?
What are the advantages / disadvantages of using line array systems over standard systems?

I see it as an expensive way to get average or less results.

Most of the time these "dash" arrays are used because the firm has a big investment that needs to pay out and "line" arrays are cool.  Never mind that a dash is not a line...

For the money, a dash array is 50% to 100% more money than a premium conventional loudspeaker.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2015, 10:18:30 am »

Horizontal arrays of cabinets are out.  But you need to be loud, so stack cabinets vertically.  Either way you get basically the same result.

In theory, a line source has some good attributes.  Realizing them in practical hardware is another thing.  Tossing together a bunch of horizontal cabinets seldom achieves the desired result.  Stacking up 4-8 cabinets will not create a full range (above the sub crossover) line source and basically is a narrower way of getting a bunch of drivers (and associated SPL) into a venue.
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Ray Aberle

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2015, 10:45:17 am »

Hi,

Quite a few of the sound companies I know use line array systems and I'm wondering when you would use a line array system over a standard two/three way top speaker over sub/s?
What are the advantages / disadvantages of using line array systems over standard systems?

(Remembering that the OP isn't looking to purchase a line array, just asking about the selection criteria)

As Keith alluded to, it's another "Tool In The Tool Box." Line arrays aren't a "one-system-to-meet-all-needs" sound solution, and to think so is silly.

What Tim mentioned- if you're not going to do it right (As he'll say, a "Dash Array" is NOT the same as a "Line Array") then you'd be better off using a good point source rig.

However, sometimes a new company (or even an established one) sees line arrays as a way to get new business, and increase billing to old clients, and will go whole hog into one and skip the good, utility point source rig that would fit in the middle of what their old system does and what this new system does. Now, they're either trying to charge too much for that old system to fit the needs of these in-between gigs, or they're sending out the line array package for not enough money (or it's overkill for the gig it's on!) -- neither of which is good for long term business health and (honestly, more importantly) a quality show.

You'll find lots of posts on here regarding deployment of line array systems-- the manufacturers (I use JBL, so it's JBL Line Array Calculator) all provide deployment and prediction software. So, it SHOULD be super easy to set up a good sounding system-- but there are still idiots out there who ignore or don't even use the tools they are given to do their job right.

Another consideration is deployment time: Rigging and flying a 12-box VerTec rig as opposed to a flown PS system of 12-16 boxes? I do appreciate VerTecs/line array boxes with the integral rigging hardware; motor up, pin, motor up, pin, wham bam.

One final thought: Sometimes it's the client who decides. The venue might be JUST FINE with a point source package, but the client is HELL BENT on spending the extra money and having a line array. At that point, take the damn check and call it a day.  ;)

-Ray
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Tim Weaver

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2015, 12:58:53 pm »

Most production companies I know use line array to fulfill riders and keep in business.

They would use mayonnaise jars if that was what was on the rider and they could charge for it.

You have to remember. These are sound COMPANIES. Not the "cool guy sound club". They need to make money in order to keep the doors open and right now traditional trap arrays aren't making money. Not because they don't work. Because they are not requested on riders.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2015, 01:08:36 pm »

I'll agree with the rests of the posts. There are MANY times where line arrays are deployed where a simple trap rig would have done just as good of a job, or better for a fraction of the price.  Now, there are times where the array has its place, and is justified, but when you see ground stacked arrays for groups of 200 people in a banquet room, you know that it's completely unnecessary.  But, it looks cool, so that's what gets deployed. 

The thing is, it's MUCH harder to get an array to sound good versus a single box.  A lot of people buy the arrays because of the cool factor and then completely screw deployment.  I don't have any line array gear myself, but there have been many times where I've come in with far less gear and made it sound WAY better than those with the fancy toys they don't know how to use.  Unfortunately, some clients listen with their eyes instead of their ears and keep booking the guys that bring in more boxes.  It can be quite frustrating.

I'm wondering if there is a market to create line array facades that I could hide a trap box inside and pretend it's an array.  That would be fun.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2015, 01:19:30 pm »

 I think it's a perfect place to use a product like Danley's SBH or the SLS 8695 cabinet.

You tell clients it's "just like a bose stick" and it is "line array" all while actually doing a good job.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2015, 04:44:07 pm »

I think it's a perfect place to use a product like Danley's SBH or the SLS 8695 cabinet.

You tell clients it's "just like a bose stick" and it is "line array" all while actually doing a good job.
And just to clarify-the Danley SBH series ARE NOT LINE ARRAYS OR LINE SOURCES.  They just look like them from the outside.

They measure and behave like LARGE horns-(hence the same Skinny Big Horn)

Here is an explanation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8cX5Xs_vZg

So they have the same freq response with respect to distance.  Ie the balance of hi to low stays the same and doesn't change as you walk away.
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A complex question is easily answered by a simple-easy to understand WRONG answer!

Ivan Beaver
Danley Sound Labs

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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: When to use line array or not?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2015, 04:44:07 pm »


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