The first week of September saw Italian loudspeaker manufacturer K-array performing a string of pro audio training and demo events in Malaysia and Singapore. Beginning in Kuala Lumpur and hosted by its distributor, Nextrend, a two-day K-academy was attended by distribution partners from neighboring Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and a select few of their clients.
“We have held several audio technical training seminars like this in APAC region because we are committed to educating our clients, existing and potential, about our unique products and innovative technologies,” said presenter Daniele Mochi, K-array’s project consultant, “and we will continue doing so on a global scale.”
Joined onsite by K-array’s director of sales APAC, Marc Vincent, and customer service manager Daniel Strassera, Mochi’s detailed explanations of K-array’s Pure Array Technology (PAT), Electronic Beam Steering (EBS) and Slim Array Technology (SAT), paired with in-depth examples of system design and setup, including the manufacturer’s dedicated software solutions, as well as EASE Focus, provided plenty of tips and tricks for both portable and installed applications.
"Learning about K-array’s specific FIR filter optimization and beam steering capabilities will prove to be very useful for audio technicians and future projects,” confirmed Tran Quang Huy, technical sales and A/V project consultant of Bac Dau Group in Vietnam.
A stage and a wide variety of K-array products set up by Nextrend let attendees experience the systems hands on and, of course, listen to them:
"Learning about K-array’s specific FIR filter optimization and beam steering capabilities will prove to be very useful for audio technicians and future projects,” confirmed Tran Quang Huy, technical sales and A/V project consultant of Bac Dau Group in Vietnam.
The third day in KL was K-day, attended by more than 70 people from the local industry, enjoying product demos with recorded material, as well as a live band on stage, again moderated by the K-array team.
The K-array trio then travelled on to Singapore, where its distributor, Loud Technologies Asia (LTA), had set up for a K-Day. Approximately 60 local consultants, SIs, rental houses and venue personnel participated in technology presentations and demos of K-array Lizards, Vypers, Anakondas, Pythons, Dragons and more.
"We’re very happy with the turnout," said LTA’s president Colin Quek about attendance. "We look forward to equipping more venues with K-array, which proves to be perfect for our market here."
"The achievements of this week are clearly showing that, with Nextrend and LTA, we have the right partners,’ concluded Vincent. "We are ultimately thankful for their support and engagement towards their clients and K-array."
The famed Salone dei 500 of Palazzo Vecchio has long held great importance for the city of Florence. Measuring 54 meters long, 23 meters wide, and 18 meters high, it is the largest and most important room in terms of artistic and historic value in the old place and the largest room in Italy made for a civil power palace.
Originally built during the Renaissance to host meetings for representatives of the democratic government of the Florentine Republic, or the Great Council of 500, the Salone dei 500 has changed overtime to accommodate every owner of the palace, transforming from a hall commemorating important battles with artworks to be commissioned by the two greatest Florentine artists of the time, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to the boardroom of the Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, where he received ambassadors and gave audience to the people.
Richly decorated and wildly popular, the Salone dei 500 has remained incredibly relevant through modern times by hosting private large-scale events including the filming of director Ron Howards’ movie adaptation of the Dan Brown novel, Inferno, starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones as well as hosting its world premier.
With the sheer number of events held in the hall, organizers saw the need for a fixed audio system with the ability to adapt to the different occasions. The audio installation required optimal coverage of the Salon di 500, keeping the visual impact as low as possible. Given their discreetness and powerful throw as well as their Florentine connection, K-array audio solutions was the obvious choice.
The biggest challenge the hall poses is that it is very reverberant. The large frescoed walls, the very high ceilings and lack of specific acoustic treatment are inclined to abruptly reflect the sound. And with traditional speakers, they tend to distribute the sound in all directions, resulting in a great deal of energy sent to the walls and ceiling. To avoid the resulting reflections, which creates a sort of rumble sound and greatly damages the intelligibility inside the room, integrators Expomeeting proposed a portable line array speaker system composed of 8 Kobra-KK102 loudspeakers and 2 Thunder-KMT18 subwoofers.
Composed of closely-spaced, full-range sound sources, the Kobra line arrays boast Pure Array Technology (PAT). With no crossover and no reflex, a perfect phase response is achieved in both the near and far fields, making these columns the perfect solution to cover long distances, like in the hall, uniformly. The portable columns are able focus the sound beam on the vertical plane, meaning the sound energy concentrates along the axis of the diffuser and the narrow vertical coverage minimizes the sound spill towards the ceiling and the floor increasing the intelligibility.
“This behavior is all the more accentuated as the column is long which is why we proposed to install two 3-meter columns on each side of the stage. This configuration not only minimizes reverb, but also effectively covers the entire salon, despite its 50m in length,” explained K-array product specialist and system designer, Daniele Mochi.
To ensure sufficient sound pressure at lower frequencies, the two 18” subwoofers were added which also served as support for the column speakers. The amplifier inside the subwoofers also allows the passive columns to be piloted, making the installation extremely easy and functional.
And for proper monitoring for guest speakers or performers on the stage, two additional Kobra-KK102 line array speakers were installed vertically behind the main system.
"All parties were quite pleased with the installation. The integrators felt the column arrays are the perfect setup for the room,” says Mochi. “And the Kobras meet all the clients requirements needed to make the installation a success.”
With over 35 years industry expertise, K-array’s Product Specialist, Klaus Hausherr is the Italian manufacturer’s go-to man for all things live sound. His vast audio knowledge and friendly demeanor have made him an in-demand sound engineer also among industry peers, accumulating an impressive list of international artists with whom he has collaborated like Santana, Bon Jovi, Vasco Rossi, Shakira, Sting and many others. Here, Hausherr gives us a bit of insight into his journey through live sound.
Not surprisingly, Hausherr’s start in the pro audio industry began as most: for the love of music: “I have always had a strong passion for music which was my biggest motivator to work in this industry. I began as a DJ in 1972 and loved connecting with the audience on such a personal level. It was when I started sound engineering at a Club Valtur resort in Greece that I began to develop a stronger interest in the technology aspect of it all and that’s when I transitioned from artist to engineer.
“In the 80s I moved on from working in resorts and took a job with a small rental company in Rome. I was put in charge of engineering local concerts in town squares, pretty basic work. But with every show, my passion grew and so did the industry’s trust in me. I was hired by larger rental companies which meant bigger artists. I went from working with relatively unknowns to more famous Italian artists like Umberto Tozzi, Renato Zero, Antonello Venditti and Pino Daniele.”
Yet it wasn’t until 1992 when Hausherr hit the biggest turning point in his career. He was brought on as monitor engineer for an Eros Ramazzotti world tour. After about 2 months of tuning and rehearsals, he was fired. And in a rather cruel way: “They told me a was a Serie B sound engineer!”
Serie B is the lower-division soccer league in Italy and the phrase is used as an insult in this sport-crazed country. Even decades later, his incredulousness is difficult to hide although he retells the story hesitantly so as not to offend those involved at the time. He chalks it up to part of his journey because it obviously didn’t stop there.
Hausherr felt the doors close on him in Italy so as a necessity he sought refuge in Switzerland, his birthplace, and contemplated his next move. “Honestly, I wanted to get out of the world of live sound, change career paths completely even, but it was a bit unrealistic given my background so I settled working for a local rental company. I didn’t have much experience in the commercial aspects of the industry, but it was a welcomed change.”
But soon enough Hausherr found his way back to live music. “The owner of the company approached me to work at Out in the Green festival where Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel and Rod Stewart were headlining. I was worried I would be disgusted all over again by the tension and stress that I was used to working FOH, but he convinced me that it would be different, that I could run a smaller second stage by myself. And he was right; there was such a calmness and professionalism. I did everything – monitoring, instrument setup, system tuning – and when the festival was over after three days, a colleague looked at me and said ‘Wow, that was impressive’. The moral of the story is that I had to accept that this was my true calling.”
That very next week, Hausherr picked up where he left off in the world of live sound, working at open-air festivals popular in the warmer months in Switzerland and throughout Europe. After a packed summer, he was put in contact with a bigger rental company that had a strong partnership with Clair Brothers. Hausherr was immediately brought on board and it was at this time that he collected an impressive list of artists with whom he collaborated, working shows and festivals in Europe and throughout the world. He was even presented with the opportunity to dispel his critics from the notorious Serie B incident when he was working as sound engineer for Santana. He was brought face-to-face with those who just a year earlier thought he wasn’t up to par and they demanded to know what he was doing there, shocked to see him behind the console. True to his character, Hausherr thought the better of a snarky comeback and just smiled and waved.
By 1998, Hausherr finally made his way back to Italy. Tired of the tour life and looking for more time with his family, Italian band Litfiba requested his expertise for their national tour. With his industry credibility and international visibility, he was able to find his place once again in Italian live sound, touring annually with Vasco Rossi and Ligabue.
It was during this time Klaus had his “fatal encounter” with K-array. He came to the offices in Florence with little expectations and ended up connecting on a more personal level. “It wasn’t the sound quality of the products that impressed me, although it was absolutely evident. I really connected with the passion the company had and it immediately felt right.”
Hasherr taps into that jargon when he starts talking about the technology in live sound the he benefits from the most: “The best part of a show is definitely the system setup. I really enjoy the projection and simulation phase, using the speakers’ software to tune the system to adapt to the venue. And when I have a K-array system, it gets even better. The Electronic Beam Steering gives me control of the sound distribution and I can cover the audience area uniformly. When the sound is very defined and precise, the sound engineer is happy. If the sound engineer is happy, then everyone from the artists to the audience is happy.”
“As a FOH, your best equipment is a good console connected to a good PA and, of course, a band with good musicians. If I had to choose a PA, it would be the Firenze-KH8 followed by the Firenze-KH7. They are powerful, yet very precise with high-definition sound. You really don’t see speakers that compact but their slim design (Slim Array Technology) allows sound to exit instantly without resonance for clean and exceptionally clear sound. An excellent result, especially with a talented artist performing.”
And while his career might have been varied, it's apparent Hausherr’s journey hasn't strayed from his original objective when he talks about what being an FOH means to him still using passion as his biggest motivator.
“A sound engineer is obviously someone who is very knowledgeable, but who loves music, has good taste and also a good ear for sound.”
K-array's next generation touring system, Firenze has now distinguished itself across to stages at the 2017 Isle of Wight Festival. Teams working on both the Hard Rock and Jack Rocks stages confirmed that the K-array systems facilitated a speedy setup process and helped combat challenging on-site noise conditions.
"Once again, the easy-rigging, space-conscious and consistent performance of the K-array technology proved to be an important asset throughout the event, freeing the engineers up to concentrate on getting the best possible mixes for what was a diverse roll-call of artists on both stages,” says Dave Wooster of UK K-array distributor 2B Heard.
Starsailor frontman James Walsh was one of the established acts appearing on the outdoor Hard Rock stage alongside more up-and-coming names such as My Girl The River, Germein Sisters and The Novatones. Providing the core of the system on this stage were just six Firenze-KH8 panels per side. Low-end extension was courtesy of four Firenze-KS8 subwoofers per side, while five Dragon-KX12 front fills were also deployed.
“It really took no time at all from setting the system up – itself a quick process – to getting great results and knowing that we would be able to deliver excellent sound for the many acts playing the stage over the course of the festival’s three days,” says Hard Rock stage FOH engineer Christian Lewis, who also mixed on a Firenze system for Diversity’s recent UK tour, including the aforementioned O2 show. “Part of the appeal of the Firenze system is how quick it is to use, from unloading to rigging and then tuning.”
Previously described by Lewis as the “next step in the evolution of speaker systems”, the Firenze KH8 dismisses the limitations of more traditional touring solutions with its incorporation of Slim Array Technology (SAT). Based on an innovative flat panel design that enables optimum directivity via Electronic Beam Steering (EBS), each self-powered IP45-rated enclosure houses 16 neodymium transducers (eight 8-inch for LF, eight 4-inch for MF and four 1.4-inch high frequency compression drivers). Panels are anchored in pre-cabled groups of three for rapid rigging and deployment, while entire systems are flown in a straight line with the option to precisely tilt individual panels as required.
On board each panel is an IP65-rated electronics module delivering eight channels of Powersoft DSP and amplification, utilising the Armonia platform for system EQ and control, and providing 2,000W of power on each output. System optimisation to suit the venue can be achieved using AFMG’s EASE Focus software, which also forms the control interface for the creation of all required FIR algorithms. Additionally, all of the Powersoft amplifier modules are IP-addressable, paving the way for quick and seamless configuration updates. The result is a system that suits every environment, no matter how challenging.
“The location of the stage near to a busy thoroughfare as well as typical festival noise regulations meant that we faced challenges that had to be accommodated throughout the event,” says Lewis. “But I am glad to say that we were able to achieve dynamic, impactful audio for all of the artists that appeared.”
Similar to the KH8, the self-powered, mid-high Firenze-KH7 line array speaker employs Slim Array Technology, and features a quartet of 12” coaxial Neodymium magnet woofers, providing multiple setups, including both vertical and horizontal use. Designed to be able to cover everything “from Bach to rock” – including the rock acts who graced the Jack Rocks stage – the KH7 offers auto configuration, Electronic Beam Steering and Firenze’s characteristic quick setup and ease of use.
“I do a lot of gigs where the PA has to be like the opposite of a well-mannered Victorian child: heard but not seen,” says Trotter. “The JD Rocks stage was housed in a small marquee with close sides and a low roof, which meant that the bands' backline and stage spill was extremely loud, and I was impressed that a box as visually discreet as the KH7 could keep up.”
With around 60,000 fans making the trip to Newport for this year’s Isle of Wight Festival, the 2017 event was another successful instalment in the long history of this iconic musical extravaganza. It was also a powerful demonstration of why K-array’s Firenze is likely to appear at many more festivals to come.
“The performance of the SAT at the Isle of Wight Festival underlines the fact that it is more than capable of coping with the time-poor expectation-heavy requirements of a busy festival site,” said Wooster. “I think it’s safe to say that we can look forward to both the KH8 and KH7 systems popping up on more festival specs during the months ahead.”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on tour is not an unfamiliar occurrence. After all, the legendary band has been on the road since it was established in 1976 and has since been considered one of the most successful and long-running American rock groups in history. This year’s tour, however, has a different air to it: not only are the Heartbreakers commemorating their 40th anniversary, but 2017 is expected to be the last year the group will tour on such a large scale.
With the additional pressure to mark these milestones, touring sound reinforcement powerhouse Sound Image was called upon for their services. And when it came to designing the front fill element of the customized electro-acoustic system, president Dave Shadoan and touring director Mike Sprague didn’t spare any effort in finding a speaker with a small visual impact, but with high power handling. The solution also had to be expandable and arrayable.
After conducting auditions of numerous systems under the guidance of the band’s long-time sound engineer Robert Scovill, SI selected K-array’s 12” coaxial loudspeaker, Dragon-KX12 proposed by K-array America as it matched expectations and beyond of a nearfield solution for the touring audio system.
We were quite pleased that we were given the opportunity to be considered for the Tom Petty tour front fills,” explains Josh Radin, Sales Director at K-array America, of his choice speaker.
“The tour wanted a touring system that could provide high SPL, handle hard-hitting rock music and yet not throw so far into the audience that it would interfere with the main audio system. Also, rear rejection was important as the front fills would be right in front of where Tom Petty and his band would be standing."
The compact line array element features an asymmetric 100° by 30° horn with an adjustable orientation and delivers a continuous SPL of 127 dB - perfect for when high pressure is needed close to the source.
“During the extensive testing, the KX12 excelled on all fronts and defeated some very respected and high performing systems from other manufacturers,” continues Radin.
“I think everyone who witnessed the test was impressed with the KX12’s clarity and musical presentation. Of course, since sight lines for the audience were a very important factor, the KX12’s low profile helped win the day and the demo.”
Now as the tour draws to a close and the most of the final farewells have been made, the client is assured more than ever that the right choice was made during testing.
“K-array provided an extremely elegant solution to a challenging situation for the tour. We needed a product that was flexible and very easily deployed,” explained Tom Petty FOH, Robert Scovill.
“The product also needed to be high powered and full-range but at the same time offer a very small visual foot print in that the boxes would be positioned and working in very close proximity to audience members. K-array simply met all the criteria. I’ve been thrilled with the results."
We’re excited to announce our live Wikipedia page. The informative site includes company history, a list of product lines and a summary of our unique technology. The page will be continuously updated to create a more robust directory of information and reference photos for the industry as well as the general public.
When we first set out to create a page on the online encyclopedia, our idea was to be included in the short list of pro audio manufacturers who are active on Wikipedia. Many online editors contributed content to the published article shifting our approach to now consider the platform as another forum to engage the market and to actively seek the perspectives of our peers on how K-array affects the industry. We’d like to invite you not only to check out the page, but to edit it based on your experiences using the appropriate process and becoming an editor.
We look forward to seeing how the page will develop and ask that you continue to check back periodically.
The limited real estate options on Hong Kong Island can make life challenging for acoustic consultants and systems integrators (see our report on the Pro Audio Market in APAC). Clubs, bars and restaurants need ingenious solutions, not only when it comes to creative interiors but also in providing a sound system for small footprints and low ceilings. And the two often go hand in hand. These systems need to be unobtrusive, blending into the décor while delivering the decibels needed to power up the dance floor or the intelligibility to operate as a sophisticated background in a fine dining environment.
K-array systems are finding increasing applications in such premises, and a recent rash of installations has broken out in some of the island’s newest eateries. Iron Fairies, the latest fantastical creation from Australian designer Ashley Sutton, is one such establishment. Sutton has drawn on his experience in iron ore mining to come up with a unique interior, recreating a Victorian foundry in iron, timber, brick and leather complete with 10,000 preserved butterflies suspended from the ceiling, and some hand-cast iron fairies for good measure.
“The original sound system, intended to reproduce soft lounge music came as part of the design package,” explains K-array’s APAC sales manager, Marc Vincent. "However, the growing popularity of this underground bar has turned it into a club featuring top Hong Kong DJs and live bands.”
This shift in purpose saw the installation of a new K-array system this April into the small venue, to provide the high SPLs at short distances required for DJ and live performances. The installation, carried out by local A/V consultancy V Group, consists of a main L-R system of Axle-KR802 systems per side, each consisting of three Dragon-KX12 coaxial line array elements mounted above a Thunder-KMT218 18-inch subwoofer by mean of an extendable pole and stacking hardware.
“The low ceiling configuration didn’t provide enough space for any vertical arraying,” continues Vincent. “The KRX802 allowed us to mount all six compact KX12 speakers horizontally. The two dual 18-inch active subwoofers were easily hidden under bridges leading to the private rooms. These unobtrusive horizontal arrays are able to fill the Iron Fairies space with a powerful and even coverage.”
Two further KX12s bolster audio levels at the left and right side of the room, while six Turtle-KRM33P low-profile wedge monitors act as passive fills for each of the six private rooms, all powered by a Kommander-KA84 quad amp. On stage, five Frog-Is FP8 8-inch two-way active monitors are being used, four for live acts and one for DJs.
“The discreetness of our speakers really proved crucial to the success of this installation. Not only were the owners incredibly pleased with the results, they even ordered K-array systems for other venues they run that have similar aesthetic concerns,” concluded Vincent.
After focusing all his attention to growing the success of K-array in the Asia-Pacific pro audio market, our President of Sales and Marketing – APAC, Marc Vincent, discusses the challenges and opportunities K-array faces in the region.
When K-array amicably separated from Sennheiser on August 1, 2015, it put the Italian manufacturer in an exciting position to generate new global growth but with an admittedly large gap to fill. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, the German corporate giant covered China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Maldives, Nepal and Mauritius.
With much work to be done for a region that is around half the world’s surface, half the world’s population, the world’s second and third largest economies (Japan and China) and the world’s two most populous countries (China and India), Marc could have easily taken a far more straightforward path to see out his career reaping the rewards of his earlier efforts with Sennheiser.
“That’s not for me,” he counters. “I have never looked back. I am too busy looking to the future. When there is no action, I get bored. And we have a lot to do!”
What benefits have you experienced after focusing solely on APAC?
When I start a project such as this I have bundles of energy and need to consider every opportunity to stimulate a demand. As the business activity increases, the team picks up a similar drive – there is a passion and energy when you have the right team in place. You have to do a lot at first, but if you bring in people who endorse the same beliefs, the combined horsepower takes over and further energy is added as new talent comes on board. My ambition is to get to take things to the point where I am becoming useless while the team is fully functioning.
What distinctive characteristics does the APAC market have in terms of pro audio?
In Asia-Pacific, there is a constant energy here. It is young and flourishing with a direct focus on premium clients. This “fast energy” is very inviting and opens business up to creativity and endless possibilities.
What is the biggest challenge in the APAC pro audio market? The biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge that we face is that while the market is relatively young, there is a certain old-school way of thinking and a lack of understanding. It’s typical for distributors to want to just sell as many boxes given the sheer size of the region while leaving integrators with the task of installing a lot of speakers in ill-suited arrangements that interfere with the performance of the system. We need to break this cycle. With our advanced technology, we need to take a different approach.
It is our responsibility to demonstrate that implementation is just as important as performance. A perfect example would be the Luce Della Vita nightclub in Shanghai. The entire club was the audience area, consisting of a 30 x 26-meter dance floor with almost 10m-high ceilings. The owners, who have several other clubs, were used to hanging dozens of two-way speakers wherever it was convenient to create a large sound. Many would be shooting in the same direction but at different distances creating unintentional delay. It took me 3 months to convince them to use a four-point setup using our Firenze-KH8s. Only two flat panels were hung in each corner and individually angled to cover the entire club. They were blown away with how much sound the system produced using fewer speakers! I demonstrated less is more.
The design was so successful that our dealers emulated that setup in several other top nightclubs creating a standard for these types of venues.
What advantages does K-array have to infiltrate the pro audio market?
We have been very selective when choosing business partners that are ready to invest in K-array products. We simply do not partner with just anyone because they want to invest in the product. They have to have a very good understanding of the technology as well as share the same drive and passion as we have at K-array. However, given the different verticals that our products infiltrate and the market offers, you rarely find one distributor that can successfully cover the entire geographical market. So we have to rely on, not just one, but a network of trusted partners.
Which is why it is crucial to educate and train them and, in turn, the industry on how to use our audio solutions. To teach them and not just to sell them. It’s a matter of understanding the product and its uniqueness.
For example, I have two Vyper-KV50s paired with two Piccolo subwoofers on my terrace. Recently, I had a client come over for cava and after hearing this impressive sound system fully covering over 60 sqm while utilizing very few elements, he signed up to employ K-array in his 15 new restaurants.
"I believe in our innovative qualities and our synergies with other products. K-array is both a great fit and a premium product for APAC. And I look forward to the on-going achievements of our amazing partners and K-array in the region."
Dynamo Camp is a recreational therapy camp, the first of its kind in Italy, specially structured to host ailing children in who are in therapy or in the post-hospitalization period, free of charge for holidays and/or a relaxation period.
Located in the heart of Tuscany, the program consists of a wide range of fun, creative and expressive activities, structured on the basis of the recreational therapy model. Given its generosity and approach oriented to the solution of social needs, the Dynamo Camp is very esteemed to the public and business partners alike, which is why K-array is very honored to be chosen to provide an audio system.
Integrator Maurizio Carresi worked closely with Italian distributor Exhibo and K-array product specialist Daniele Mochi to provide clear, spoken word in the form of an audio system capable of being relocated to the many different areas in the vast campus, such as the cafeteria, the gym, or even outside when the organization engages in outdoor events. The first location the system was to be setup however, was the conference room.
When the team entered the room, they immediately realized the big challenge they faced. With more than 6s of reverberation time, the intelligibility was so poor that it was hard to understand each other when talking a couple of meters apart. In fact, the room had absolutely no acoustic treatment and the vaulted ceiling only exacerbated reverberations.
In order to boost the intelligibility, the best conference room audio system in these cases is one that avoids sending sound towards the ceiling which is why K-array’s Pure Array Technology (PAT) line array elements were the only possible solution. A 2-meter long PAT column has a dispersion angle of less than 5 degrees on the vertical plane, than the amount of energy sent towards the ceiling is minimal.
The team decided upon a hybrid portable speaker system using the heads of a Pinnacle-KR202 and the bottoms of a Pinnacle-KR102 meaning one Thunder-KMT12 self-powered subwoofer per side driving two Kobra-KK102 loudspeakers per side. This is because the smaller 12” portable subwoofer speaker has enough power to drive the audio system and is more appropriate for spoken word and perfect for the conference room.
“When we switched on the system in front of the client and we started talking into a microphone, he couldn’t believe the words were so clear. Having strongly reduced the reflections from the ceiling, listening to the speaker was finally a pleasure.”
Maurizio Carresi, integrator
Photo credit: Colin Hart
Setting a new precedent for touring sound in one of the world’s most famous venues, K-array's Firenze-KH8 touring system recently covered London’s O2 Arena with a core front of house setup of just nine KH8 loudspeakers per side.
Prensenting an opportunity for Firenze to demonstrate its capabilities in such a prestigious indoor setting, the event was described by Sam Nankivell, of UK distributor 2B Heard, as
“representing change in the industry, in one of the most iconic live performance venues in the world, where systems are tried and tested. There’s no better place for this system.”
The Firenze system arrived at the O2 as part of a 10-date UK arena tour by street dance troupe Diversity, staged by Production North with Audiotech Services supplying the audio and video rigs. Upon arrival at the O2, the system immediately impressed local crew members more used to a longer, more challenging setup.
“It’s a lot quicker to rig than we’re used to,” enthused Stage Miracles local crew member, John Cuckston, who appreciated the time savings associated with flying the Firenze-KH8 line arrays in a straight hang rather than curved. His colleague, Joe Hales, added, “It took maybe 10 minutes to get out of the truck and then 10 minutes to fly – it’s brilliant!”
The Firenze system was used throughout the arena tour, performing in venues including Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, the Manchester Arena, Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena and more. But it was at the O2 that the audio system – compact enough to occupy less than half of a truck for the entire tour – demonstrated its ability to confound expectations and impress in a world-class arena.
“The last time I mixed front of house in the O2, I was running 18 boxes per side,” said Diversity front of house engineer, Christian Lewis. “This arena-sized touring system is occupying less than half of a truck. It sounds as good as any other system I’ve used. In fact because of the shallow box design the response is instant and there’s plenty of top end. It’s all there.” Indeed, regardless of volume, the dynamics remain constant.
The loudspeaker eliminates the limitations of older, larger touring audio solutions. Based on an innovative flat panel design that enables optimum directivity via Electronic Beam Steering (EBS), each self-powered IP45-rated enclosure houses 16 neodymium transducers (eight 8-inch for LF, eight 4-inch for MF and four 1.4-inch high frequency compression drivers). The line arrays are anchored in pre-cabled groups of three for extremely fast rigging and deployment, while entire systems are flown in a straight line, with the option to precisely tilt panels as required.
Included in each panel is an IP65-rated electronics module delivering eight channels of Powersoft DSP and amplification, utilising the Armonia platform for system EQ and control, and providing 2,000W of power on each output. System optimization to suit the venue can be achieved in minutes using AFMG’s EASE Focus software, which also forms the control interface for the creation of all required FIR algorithms, ensuring quick and simple operation over a single, trusted platform. Additionally, all of the Powersoft amplifier modules are IP addressable, enabling quick and seamless configuration updates.
These features combine to form K-array’s unique technology Slim Array Technology (SAT) – quick to deploy, virtually invisible when flown, and powerful enough to meet even the most challenging of environments.
For Diversity at the O2, for which the upper balcony of the arena was blocked, the system comprised nine Firenze-KH8 panels per side plus side-hangs of two Firenze-KH7 elements per side, each containing four 12-inch coaxial drivers with rotating waveguides. On stage, two side fills included Pinnacle-KR802 portable systems, while eight hard-to-spot Mugello-KH2 loudspeakers lined the edge of the stage as front fills. A total of 12 Firenze-KS8 subs provided low frequency support on the ground. Had the full arena been in use, only three additional KH8 loudspeakers per side would have been required.
At front of house during setup was System Tech Sergey Becker.
“The flat panel loudspeakers are all progressively down-tilted at 2-degrees, but the angling only provides minimal adjustment – regardless of how the system is deployed, the software will sort out the coverage,” he explained. “In terms of the venue’s acoustic challenges, the system minimizes reflections and gives a lot of direct sound, and that helps a lot. But I think the biggest advantage is the system’s physical size and the ease of rigging, which is amazing. It’s all pre-cabled and I can actually fly it on my own. It’s impressive, the size and the power you get out of it.”
“When you hear the Firenze system, you realise its designed, first and foremost, to sound fantastic,” added Nankivell. “Taking 20 minutes from unloading the system to flying it provides a real wow factor, but it was conceived to deliver excellent sound reproduction, and that’s precisely what it does.”
Standing at front of house, Christian Lewis agreed.
When everyone moved from using point source clusters to line arrays, it was a big difference, but people got used to that change,” he reasoned. “Now it feels like this is the next step in the evolution of speaker systems.”