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Steerable speakers: nine solutions to increase user control

Aside from meeting the principal function of improving intelligibility, manufacturers are adding value with increased user control, connectivity options and networking.

Meyer Sound’s self-powered array cuts reverb

Meyer Sound’s CAL column array is a self-powered installation loudspeaker that improves vocal clarity in reverberant environments and is available in three models: CAL 32, 64 and 96.

CAL’s vertical beam can be angled up or down in 1° increments up to 30° to aim only at target coverage areas. Two of the CAL versions, 64 and 96, also include beam-splitting capabilities for applications where a balcony wall may cause undesired reflections.

Engineering detail and digital advances boost the performance of the loudspeaker with minimal spacing between each element. The high-frequency and low-frequency drivers are tightly packed in a biamped configuration and are individually amplified and processed.

CAL features inbuilt digital processing capabilities as a result of the involvement of the digital engineering team in conjunction with the loudspeaker team in the product’s development.

AVB inputs are also incorporated for the first time in a Meyer Sound loudspeaker. This means audio signals can be transmitted across an Ethernet network using the AVnu Alliance’s new AVB standards. Moreover, the user can have control of the loudspeaker beam angle, RMS monitoring and deliver the audio feeds over a single Ethernet cable.

TOA combines real-time simulations with DSP functionality

TOA’s SR-D8 active line array speaker can project sound waves to targeted areas with precision as well as processing both analogue and digital audio input. The SR-D8 harnesses eight built-in digital amplifiers and a single unit can manage 16 speakers (in up to four stacks) through the GUI-operated software.

The software provides control of mixing, DSP and enables real-time simulations that reduce the time required for designing systems and tuning their acoustic performance.

The speaker comes with a wealth of DSP functions, including gain, mute, compression, delay, auto-mixing, high/low pass filters, high/low shelving filters and a notch filter.

Equipped with two analogue audio input terminals and four digital audio input terminals for CobraNet connection, the speaker supports 6 x 2 matrix mixing. The Auto-mix function, which can be set for each input, enables users to prioritise selected inputs for broadcasting.

Users can also switch from one preset to another, either directly, using the GUI interface, or remotely, using a web browser and the control unit’s Ethernet connection.

The software enables quick and easy adjustment of settings, with a graph of the simulated sound pressure distribution providing a visual check of coverage areas according to the settings.

JBL delivers precise directivity control

The Intellivox HP-DS370 active beam shaping loudspeaker array from JBL combines high output, precise directivity control and low cost of ownership. It is designed to resolve intelligibility issues and can also provide musical reinforcement in reverberant spaces.

A single device has an output capability of 105dB at 30m, along with a frequency response to 18kHz. The horizontal dispersion is 100° and a typical throw is 50m, giving approximately 2,150sqm of coverage per unit.

The HP-DS370 has an efficient power supply and Class D amplification as well as being IP55 rated. It features 14 individual 6.5in loudspeakers arranged in accordance with JBL Intellivox’s patented algorithm, plus two coaxially mounted compression drivers for extended frequency response.

Community brings consistent beam width in modular column

Community Professional’s ENT-FR ENTASYS full-range column delivers line array performance in a compact weather-resistant package.

The column offers high output and high power handling capability. It has multiple low-frequency, mid-range and high-frequency drivers for consistent, lobe-free coverage, and delivers a uniform, constant vertical beam width.

Each column includes six low-frequency neodymium drivers, 18 midrange drivers (2.35in ) and six 7in long x 1in wide planar-coupled patent-pending Compact Ribbon Emulator (CRE) high-frequency elements. The ENTASYS line is designed to be modular, with multiple ENTASYS columns used to create extremely narrow focused vertical coverage into the last octave of typical human hearing before vertical off-axis beams begin to form. This helps to keep the sound focused and directed, and minimises unintended reflections from walls and other surfaces.

K-array’s compact speaker integrates remote control and DSP

K-array’s flagship Concert Series includes the KH2 self-powered medium-format speaker, which has a number of new features including on-board controls, plug-and-play capabilities and the ability to steer sound digitally.

The KH2 comprises two 8in neodymium magnet woofers with a 2.5in voice coil and two 1.4in compression drivers. The digital acoustic steering system delivers wide horizontal coverage and has integrated DSP and remote control through RS485 and USB connectivity.

The system also boasts an intelligent integration with a variety of accessories including various stacking and hanging positions; it is weather resistant and features integrated DSP along with multiple analogue and digital inputs. The Concert Series carries the signature compact-design Slim Array Technology and has a peak SPL of 136dB.

This flexible speaker can be used in medium-sized events, for touring sound reinforcement as well as theatres, arenas and concert halls.

Tannoy enhances steering control and usability

Tannoy’s QFlex 48 puts the emphasis on full-range beam steering with steering control of ±70°. The densely spaced transducers prevent the effects of aliasing and provide music reinforcement and high speech intelligibility levels. The BeamEngine user interface allows the designer to specify target areas through steering algorithms and the speaker range is further enhanced by “cutting-edge” DSP.

The loudspeaker can maintain even coverage and SPL across the listening plane by steering the beam away from reflective surfaces and is able to create an asymmetrical pattern, which allows similar SPLs in the near and far field.

The speaker is suitable for use in PA/VA systems, and also has AES connectivity.

The QFlex 48 has been weatherised, making it suited to outdoor or harsh environments. Key improvements on this front include Pilot Tone Detection capability, Sentinel SM1 System Monitor and certification to IP53 standards (IP54 is available as an option).

Dante networking and strong coverage from Pan Acoustics

The Pan Beam Series from Pan Acoustics is made up of three models, all offering strong coverage and speech intelligibility fit for a variety of applications including conference rooms, houses of worship and theatres. Options available include ambient noise detection, IP56/64, Powerline technology and Dante.

Pan Powerline technology provides the opportunity to use two-wire 100V or speaker cable systems to switch the passive speakers to versatile and slim active beam-steering column speakers.

The Dante option supports up to 192kHz sampling frequency, and the Pan Beam columns allow automatic priority switchover of two audio signals. It also provides a primary and secondary Dante port, which can be used in redundant or daisy-chain mode.

Aimline offers IP networking and 3D beam control

Aimline Audio’s ALX 8.0 uses Dante networking and features high SPL handling and networking-over-IP as well as both analogue and digital inputs. It includes multibeam 3D technology for horizontal and vertical beam control.

The full-range loudspeaker has a 3.5in transducer for low/mid and ribbon tweeters for high frequencies, each driven by a separate digital amplifier with its own DSP. Column elevation, focus distance, focus elevation and opening angle parameters can be set to determine the beam of each speaker. The system set-up is via user-friendly Windows software within a network and all columns are connected via a Cat5 cable for audio and network data handling.

Real-time control enables quick room set-up with plug-and-play capability, and the slim form factor offers more integration possibilities.

Active Audio provides tonal balance with reduced channels

The Active Audio StepArray SA250P with its Digital and Geometric Radiation Control (DGRC) technology reduces the number of DSP and amplification channels, making it more cost-effective with two columns or more.

The DGRC principle synthesises geometric and electronic arrays and reproduces a homogenous SPL and strong direct sound. The channel reduction offered by the technology has the advantage of making it possible to place the electronics outside the columns, which makes for easier installation and maintenance.

The speaker has been designed to reduce reverb in large rooms and its digitally controlled vertical directivity upgrades clarity of speech and music.

Although competitively priced, the StepArray also includes simple control software facilitating ease of use, and the performance of the column array is assured through consistent build quality and tonal balance.