The use of line array speaker systems have shaped the sound of stages and festivals around the world since the late 1980s when they first commercially appeared. Always identifiable by their multi-piece curved structure, they are an imposing sight when in the classic flown configuration from a tower or rigging and have become a symbol to many that you’re at a serious live event.
The primary function of a line array is to focus the output sound into a very narrow pattern to avoid the wasted sound energy that comes from using standard speakers. An array is constructed of identical loudspeaker units mounted in a row and fed in-phase to create a singular line source. Used vertically, they give a narrow and defined output with a wide horizontal spread, which is perfect for arenas as it gets the sound across the audience rather than up into the ceiling or the open air.
Flyable Line Array
The iconic ‘flying banana’ shaped speaker stacks are seen at live events around the world. A line array is ideally suspended (flown) as this allows it the greatest angle advantage possible to ensure the longest audio reach and unobstructed sound projection.
Line array modules feature adjustable angles to tailor the output for the event size and location, and will be joined with subwoofer systems which can either be part of the flown stack, or left on the ground. Large systems often use both, with 12” or 15” mid to low bass units in the flown array, and subwoofer units of 18” or even 21” being ground stacked.
Arrays can be suspended in various ways, from truss rigging or winch towers, to permanent installation to structural points in a buildings ceiling. They make use of system-specific ‘fly bars’ which allow the array to be suspended safely and securely.
Ground Stack Line Array
When height limitations or lack of rigging doesn’t permit the array to be suspended, they will typically be stacked on top of the stage-mounted subwoofer units or on the stage itself using a ground stack framework.
The stacking of array systems is common and convenient for smaller venues, and they require less vertical dispersion to cover the audience space, which results in the stack being near straight rather than the curve of a flown system. This obviously has the benefit of full access to the speaker systems at all times without needing any specialist lifting equipment for setup or servicing, which greatly lowers time and expense, especially for a system that’s required to be mobile.
Array units are generally trapezoidal in design, and feature multiple mounting points for stacking or flying, with units such as the Amate Nitid range featuring a built-in rigging framework with locking and angle adjustment, negating the need for additional framing systems.
Active or Passive Line Array Speakers
Most brands of line array will offer the same speakers in both active or passive variants, and choosing between the two is partly down to personal preference, with the main decision being practicality and if it’s to be a touring rig or an installed audio system.
Active units now offer the reliability of Class-D amplification, which also allows an active stack with DSP (our Amate and Studiomaster systems) to self-monitor its thermal levels and signal clipping, and self-adjust to protect the speakers from damage.
An active array system offers the simplicity of being self-contained, requiring just an audio feed and power, which makes them hugely popular for small to medium venues looking for a plug-and-play solution.
Most large array systems, festival-sized or nightclub for example, will favour passive speakers over active ones. This removes any worries or possible issues that may arise with an active amp failing (rare, but it can happen), which is obviously extremely inconvenient if your array stack is suspended 60ft in the air during a live performance for example.
With passive, the only thing flown is speaker drivers, and at line array level these will be extremely over-engineered and highly unlikely to fail. All of the electronics, DSP, crossover management, and of course amplification, is at ground level, usually in racks for easy transport. This allows for fast troubleshooting, easy adjustment and forced cooling if required.
Like all sound systems, the level of capability, features and design specifics change from brand to brand and at different cost levels. We are pleased to offer our customers a selection from Studiomaster, Moose Sound, and are the UK distributor for Amate Audio.
Studiomaster Line Array Speaker Systems
We are thrilled to offer the superb V series of line array systems from Studiomaster, with the very latest in cabinet designs and innovative adjustable rigging built-in. These UK-designed array speaker systems offer incredible value for money, putting them well within reach of the non-professional customer.
Starting with the superb V5 active packages and V6 active array systems, these compact yet high-performance audio systems provide an ideal solution for modern church venues and local festivals, offering all the benefits of an array design while remaining easy to transport. They both feature the very latest Class-D amplifiers and full DSP signal and system management.
For larger stages or buildings, the V10 offers an increase in specifications, while its passive design allows for amplification and signal processing to be kept at ground level. We have built a selection of ready-to-go packages in the V5, V6 and V10 speaker systems, and all will produce incredible results, with the reliability and longevity that the Studiomaster brand is famous for.
Compact Line Arrays for Churches
Many modern churches and house of worship venues are using large ‘repurposed’ buildings such as old cinemas and bingo halls, which have huge capacity and the benefit (or problem) of very high ceilings.
A standard PA system will always struggle in these locations, as they simply aren’t designed to have the level of audio projection required. You can have the most expensive and powerful pair of PA speakers on the stage, but if they are firing into a hall that’s 40ft (12m) or higher, and the same in length, they simply aren’t going to cut it. They will sound fine for the front few rows, but will fast lose any volume and detail once you get any further into the space.
Our compact Studiomaster line array systems are designed exactly for these types of venues, giving your church sound system the power and definition at any distance or height that simply cant be matched using any other type of PA system.
Amate Audio Festival Line Array and PA Systems
From a local festival to a large stage show or touring event, we have line array audio systems from Studiomaster and Amate Audio that will provide you a level of performance that will surprise and impress.
Pre-packaged systems such as the Studiomaster V10 come with Amate amplification and signal processing, offering incredible value for money for both the end user and rental market. They are ultra-durable and designed to be used consistently at high output levels with no issues.
For larger festivals and touring productions, we work closely with the experts at Amate Audio in Barcelona, offering their decades of knowledge and in-house design and manufacture to provide you with some of the highest quality speaker systems and power amplification available today.
From the immense power and versatility of their Nitid range, to the almost absurd performance from the range topping Xcellence series, Amate Audio line array will offer a level of coverage, outright SPL levels, and complete networked system management that place them way ahead of the competition.
A line array speaker is a type of loudspeaker system commonly used in large venues or outdoor events to provide clear and uniform sound coverage over a wide area. It consists of multiple individual loudspeaker elements aligned vertically in an array format.
The curved arrangement allows for precise control and directionality of sound, minimising unwanted reflections and maximising the intelligibility and reach of the audio. Line array speakers are designed to deliver even sound distribution, high output levels, and improved clarity, making them suitable for concerts, stadiums, theatres, and other venues where consistent and powerful sound reinforcement is required.
The number of speakers needed depends on several factors, including the size and shape of the venue, the desired sound coverage, and the specific requirements of the event. It is typically determined by considering the audience area, the distance from the speakers to the farthest listeners, and the desired sound pressure level (SPL) required. It is recommended to consult with a knowledgeable audio professional or an acoustic engineer who can assess your specific needs and provide a more accurate estimate.
The height at which a line array speaker should be installed depends on various factors such as the venue’s size, the distance between the speakers and the audience, and the desired sound coverage. In general they are typically flown or suspended above the stage or performance area to achieve better sound dispersion and coverage, though are also highly effective in a ground stack arrangement.
The specific height will vary based on the venue’s acoustics and the manufacturer’s recommendations for the particular system being used. It is crucial to consult with a professional audio engineer or a manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the appropriate height for installing line array speakers in a specific venue to ensure optimal sound performance and coverage.
Line array speaker costs vary based on brand, model, specs, and features. They excel in professional audio for large venues, but are pricier than compact or consumer-grade options. Lower cost line array systems are becoming available, aimed at smaller venues that want the benefits of the design, and a system can be had for half the cost of a larger arena style array.
The distance between your array speakers depends hugely on factors like coverage requirements, venue size, audience area, and system used. Manufacturers’ guidelines for each specific array system will dictate optimal spacing for sound distribution. As with all professional PA systems, an array is operated in full-range mono, so spacing between speakers is primarily about the best coverage.
Line array speakers provide numerous benefits in professional audio applications. They offer improved sound coverage by distributing sound evenly across a wide area, thanks to multiple vertically aligned drivers. Line arrays also have extended reach and throw, making them suitable for large venues and outdoor events.
Their controlled vertical dispersion pattern enhances directivity and focus, optimising intelligibility and reducing interference. Line arrays are scalable and versatile, adaptable to different venues and events. Additionally, they offer an aesthetically pleasing setup, seamlessly integrating into the venue design. It’s crucial to consult with experts for optimal performance based on system, venue, and setup considerations.