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Author Topic: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?  (Read 1095 times)

davehinrich

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Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« on: February 17, 2021, 10:48:09 am »

  Hey all!  I'm looking for suggestions on line array boxes.  16 boxes should cover the space well, so just looking for a mix of musicality/SPL for regional acts.  They don't necessarily have to be rider friendly as this is an install for a private organization.  The space is a large auditorium with 60' ceilings and covering around 2500 seats on the lower level (national acts fly their own PA when needed to fill the entire auditorium which is about 5000 seats with the balcony).  One major caveat...  There is a strong potential that the organization wants ground stacks vs hangs for aesthetics/portablitliy.  I know this isn't what they're designed for, and I would strongly suggest against it, but greater powers are at play.  Another option is portable hangs which I will suggest.

 I've looked at the typical RCF HDL line, dB Technologies, and JBL offerings, just wondering if there are better options that I'm not thinking of.  I know I can find used higher end gear, BUT, that is off the table for the time being so I'm only looking for new stock.
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Nils Erickson

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2021, 01:11:49 pm »

As of friend of mine would say, "that is a lot of cheddar" to spend.  There are many brands and boxes that would do it. But I would say this first: find a capable company to make a real system design.  That is a fairly large space, and a tall ceiling.  Front fills and balcony fills will likely need to be considered and match your mains, so you will need a product line capable of doing that.  Further, look at a design with some predictive ability so you can know for sure how many boxes "should cover the space well".  That is too much money to spend without knowing with certainty.  If the "greater powers" are the people spending the money, they should be convinced to do the design work as the first step by someone experienced with the loudspeakers they are considering.

Ground stacks add nothing to aesthetics for sure, and can make many things more difficult in a space like you describe (sounds like you know this already).  But, I would argue that they are more difficult for portability as well.  It is easier to land a flown PA in carts than to unstack box by box. 

But of course, start at the system design level.  There is a theater here in SF (The Sydney Goldstein Theater) that has a large ground stack system that covers the floor and balcony.  I am not certain why it isn't flown, but my point is that it can work.  It is an exception for that type of space.

Hope that helps, and good luck.
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davehinrich

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2021, 02:11:27 pm »

As of friend of mine would say, "that is a lot of cheddar" to spend.  There are many brands and boxes that would do it. But I would say this first: find a capable company to make a real system design.  That is a fairly large space, and a tall ceiling.  Front fills and balcony fills will likely need to be considered and match your mains, so you will need a product line capable of doing that.  Further, look at a design with some predictive ability so you can know for sure how many boxes "should cover the space well".  That is too much money to spend without knowing with certainty.  If the "greater powers" are the people spending the money, they should be convinced to do the design work as the first step by someone experienced with the loudspeakers they are considering.

Ground stacks add nothing to aesthetics for sure, and can make many things more difficult in a space like you describe (sounds like you know this already).  But, I would argue that they are more difficult for portability as well.  It is easier to land a flown PA in carts than to unstack box by box. 

But of course, start at the system design level.  There is a theater here in SF (The Sydney Goldstein Theater) that has a large ground stack system that covers the floor and balcony.  I am not certain why it isn't flown, but my point is that it can work.  It is an exception for that type of space.

Hope that helps, and good luck.

  Hey Nils!  Yeah, they've had companies come in and design/quote multiple systems, however, those companies are lacking understanding of what the organization wants, and unfortunately, there are non-negotiables.  They've had quotes of $250K-$500K for audio only, with main hangs and front and side fills, but they disregard the non-negotiables.  One of those is aesthetics. Ever tried to do work on a house in a historic district?...  This is essentially the same, trying to outfit a PA for regional acts, but making it look as if nothing is there, but having a space not designed whatsoever with amplified sound in mind.  There is a pipe organ to deal with that is untouchable, and nowhere to "hide" any hangs.  The organization does not want to have the touring "look", which is what EVERYONE is quoting, because the national acts that come through bring their own PA anyways.  So, the task is daunting at best, but designing a system that covers only the main floor, while being virtually invisible, and appeasing those powers.  In a "normal" real world, I completely agree and would just have a local company design and outfit, but after multiple failed attempts from those companies to design a system that appeases the decision makers, the organization wants it done privately, which is why I'm involved.  I have a sound design/engineering background, but I'm not part of a production company, just a private consultant.  My goal is to find available products on the market that I can calculate in the space, and the 8 boxes per side is based on my initial findings/measurements.  So again, I'm just looking for ideas of products to check out.  Thanks for your response Nils!
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2021, 02:57:59 pm »

Have you looked into Danley? 
They have quite a range of install related products.
They are usually available for demos.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2021, 03:38:29 pm »

It's not negating what the organization wants more so than the organization wanting unrealistic results from an unrealistic request.

Ground stacking ANY line array based PA is going to limit you to 6 tops MAX. 6 tops does not a line array make, especially with a balcony in play.

To cover that many people, you MUST go up. And when you go up, you lose a little SPL to the added distance. So you need a REALLY stout PA to spank out the needed SPL.

Historic or not, physics don't give one flying F*%$k about you, your organization, or their aspirations. If they want to be a music venue, and they want to cater to regional acts, and do it properly, then you have to install a proper system in a way that will produce the desired results. Damn anything else. It's that companies name on the sales ticket and install notes. If it doesn't work, the name of the installer goes to shit along with the venue. Tie the hands of God and he can't/won't give you a miracle.

If you want a " portable " line array that can go in and out quickly, you can make that happen with just about any of them. Passive versions are probably more suited for quick in and out. The problem then becomes the wear and tear of taking it up and down, and having well-trained staff to deploy it. An 8 box hang can probably be deployed and ready to go in under an hour with two people if the points and motors are left in the sky. What's even better is that with flown arrays, you don't have to physically lift things. Ground stacked systems require a significant amount more effort.

If 3,4,5 or more companies give you pretty much the same design idea, it is probably because it follows best practices. I told a client once that they have more money than brains..... After he told me he doesn't care just make it happen. We ended up with a compromise that was realistic, and sensible for us both. Just because you have the money and want something, doesn't always mean you're going to get it. Especially if you're talking to me :) Money doesn't move me, and it doesn't move others all the time either. When my name is attached to something, it is going to be done right and with the utmost integrity. I think you have found a few other companies that run in that vein as well. If what you want doesn't align with reality, you are going to hear what you don't want to hear.

Truth be told, you will probably find someone who will do it the way the organization wants, and it will be done within budget even. The fear I have is that you may end up with less than stellar results in terms of coverage and quality of sound. Given what I have seen just in the couple posts you presented, I wouldn't even grace the organization with a quote, I would tell them exactly what I said here, your goals don't align with practical realities. Either do it right or don't do it at all. It is far cheaper to hire a company to come in and do what they have already been doing. They can write off the expense and it saves them an easy quarter milllion.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2021, 03:58:27 pm »

Hi Dave, touching on what Luke said, I'd first be asking the question "why" none of the hired installers proposed a system that meets the stakeholder's needs.  Were the non-negotiables not abundantly clear in the RFP and/or SOW?

$250k-$500k does not sound unrealistic knowing nothing further about the proposals.  What are the actual requirements for the project?  Starting with actual, verifiable requirements for the system design as a point of departure will help rule out what cannot be done and a reason why. 

Along those same lines, if you're acting as a consultant for the project, what are your contractual deliverables?  There's a big difference between opinion and a design/analysis done with numbers that drive prescription for a result.  That's magnified even greater if signing off on load ratings and whatnot.  Hope this helps!
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davehinrich

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2021, 04:28:18 pm »


Ground stacking ANY line array based PA is going to limit you to 6 tops MAX. 6 tops does not a line array make, especially with a balcony in play.


 
 You weren't listening...  The balcony is NOT in play.  ONLY the lower main level.  And, this isn't meant to be a "portable" system.  It will stay installed, except when national acts come through which is once or twice a year.  You can argue all you want, and again, I understand and AGREE with you that there's a right way to do it.  However, like I stated, the aesthetics with hangs is a non-negotiable for them.  End of story.  So, what's next?  Doing something outside the box.  Which is where I'm at.  I understand having a reputation to uphold, and I can appreciate that, but at the end of the day if you don't or won't do what the customer is going to be happy with, then you're screwed either way. 



Along those same lines, if you're acting as a consultant for the project, what are your contractual deliverables? 



  Essentially three things: creating a new RFP/design doc, evaluating responses from vendors, and providing support during the installation and training to make sure everything is installed as planned.

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John L Nobile

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2021, 04:31:24 pm »

Have you looked into Danley? 
They have quite a range of install related products.
They are usually available for demos.

I'm with Dave. Personally, I don't like the look of an array in a nice room. Danley's would be less money, take a smaller footprint, work well ground stacked and may be accepted as a hang by the powers that be. Question is whether bands coming through would accept Danley's on their rider.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2021, 04:52:09 pm »

Essentially three things: creating a new RFP/design doc, evaluating responses from vendors, and providing support during the installation and training to make sure everything is installed as planned.

Thanks Dave.  I would just make the needs of the stakeholders extremely clear in your RFP.  Aside from whatever your audio requirements are for SPL, coverage, etc, I'd expect to see statements such as:

- "the system shall be ground stacked"
- "the system shall not exceed a total weight of ABC applied over an area of XYZ"
- "the system shall be movable by two people within the constraints of OSHA guidelines XYZ for safe materials handling"
- "the system shall not encroach on sitelines ABC as seen in Figure/Exhibit 123"
...

I second the look at Danley but also agree with the potential lack of rider friendliness.  Obviously if you write the RFP too constraining you won't get any responses except from those only looking to make a quick dollar (which is where your role of evaluating the proposals comes in), but adding requirements such as that to your necessary specifications will at least help.  I just always try to keep in mind the notion that requirements should drive the design - not BE the design!  Hope this helps!
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Nils Erickson

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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2021, 07:05:58 pm »

Dave, I feel you.  I have heard this kind of thing many times.  I have also deployed my own rigs like this many times, and know it can get the job done.  I am certain many will chime in with the benefits of a point source solution- size, weight, cost, ease of deployment, and possibly sound quality too. Sure, ok.  That said, I have been happy to set up small stacked array systems many situations like this, especially when the floor is raked, or if you want to hit part of the balcony (sounds like that is not the case here).

Meeting your clients needs is obviously critically important too; and you can do this with design integrity.  Explain the pro's and cons, which it sounds like you have done.  Maybe a couple of systems could even be demo'd in the space so there are no surprises.

I would take a hard look at the d&b A series.  This is designed to do (in part) what you are talking about.  They have great design software, people are happy to see the brand on equipment lists, they are high powered in a smallish footprint.  They are deployable in a couple of different ways, and have a couple of models for different pattern control.  Plus, they will stack with good rigging hardware on a couple of V Subs on the wing of your stage, and be very stable at a decent trim height.  And, there is an entire line of similar sounding products for all of the fills and things you might require. (full disclosure, I am a d&b mobile dealer, and yes, I am biased.  Completely.)

I personally have many point source systems- Danley, JBL, d&b, EAW, and even Apogee.  And I have a couple of d&b line arrays (Q and T), that get flown and sometimes ground stacked.  Many of these options could work well for your client.  They work well for me, and I don't think it is so entirely black or white as it is often made out to be.  I just don't.  Haters gonna hate.  :)

Cheers and good luck Dave.


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Re: Best Sub $4k-$5K Line Array Boxes?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2021, 07:05:58 pm »


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