Real World Gear

Real World Gear: Column Loudspeaker Design Principles And Recent Models

Line source (column) loudspeakers have gained popularity for applications calling for efficiency and even coverage from an unobtrusive physical profile.

Line source (column) loudspeakers have been around for well over a half century, but they’ve gained in popularity over the past decade because they offer a solution for applications calling for efficiency combined with even coverage from a very slim, unobtrusive physical profile.

The characteristics of line source loudspeakers – wide horizontal coverage, minimal vertical coverage above and below the enclosure and coherent sound in the vocal range – are all attractive features, particularly in highly reverberant environments. Driver spacing determines the highest frequency at which a column of identical drivers acts as a line source, while the length of the column determines the directivity of the lowest frequencies.

As with modular line arrays, a short system might efficiently throw the midrange but leave a puddle of low-frequency mud behind the enclosure. Array theory tells us that sources exhibit coupling behavior up to a frequency whose wavelength is half the distance between adjacent acoustic centers.

Column loudspeakers with 6.5-inch diameter cones, when tightly spaced, will couple up to about 1,000 Hz. Four-inch cones couple to about 1,600 Hz, and 2-inch cones to 3,300 Hz. Above these frequencies, lobes appear in the polar response; however, restricting the high-frequency response of some of the cones can reduce lobing. This can be achieved with passive filters in the cabinet or with active filters.

It’s common for columns to be combined as multiple cabinets to achieve better performance as taller systems for bigger rooms. Longer columns provide pattern control reaching to lower frequencies. A specialized version of the line source column is called “digitally steerable,” with individual amplification, delay and equalization for each driver, allowing the column’s vertical coverage to be tilted down (or up) and focused for short or long throws.

Renkus-Heinz continues to focus extensively on this technology, as evidenced by the IC-Live X Series consisting of two combinable, steerable-array modules, the ICL-X and ICL-XL, joined by the ICL-XS and ICL-X-118S matching subwoofers. Of particular note in IC-Live X is the proprietary Acoustic Source Multiplier (ASM) waveguide that allows the high-frequency section to be coaxially mounted in front of the low-frequency section. This arrangement is designed to deliver a consistent and symmetrical array of both HF and LF along the length of the array, offering users the freedom to choose any acoustic center available.

Applications requiring additional bandwidth and dynamic range have led to 2-way designs that incorporate separate high-frequency transducers in addition to the column of tightly spaced loudspeaker cones. Some systems have companion LF columns that employ long-excursion small-format woofers to extend pattern control to lower frequencies. Alternately, traditional subwoofers can supplement a column’s LF response.

In addition, some models are expressly designed for portable applications, usually paired with compact subwoofers. Lately, we’ve seen more columns packaged with dedicated subs that house amplification and DSP as well as providing a base for mounting into one cohesive unit.

Enjoy this Real World Gear look at the latest line source loudspeaker models.

Renkus-Heinz ICLive X Series

The ICLive X Series from Renkus-Heinz represents an evolution of medium format digitally steerable line array systems, the culmination of more than 15 years of research and development to provide an integrated system that can truly meet the needs of almost any live sound environment.

At the heart of the ICLive X are eight channels of proprietary True Digital class D amplification, two high-sensitivity 8-inch low-frequency transducers, and six discrete 1-inch compression drivers. The compression drivers are loaded onto Renkus-Heinz’s new Acoustic Source Multiplier (ASM) waveguide, which increases the granularity of the high-frequency section, resulting in significantly improved steering control and greatly reduced lobing. Rugged yet nearly invisible array hardware supports up to 12 cabinets per array with a high safety factor.

ICLive X has been designed from the ground up to be the most scalable sound system ever created. Whether used in multi-cabinet arrays or as single loudspeakers, ICLive X maintains full steering control over the vertical dispersion, delivering precise coverage for any venue. In addition to this inherent scalability, a wide range of accessories help address the logistical concerns of storing, transporting, and deploying ICLive X systems, reducing overall cost of ownership over time. The narrow profile and straight-hang design minimize sight-line intrusions and reduce architectural aesthetic impact.

ICLive X has performance capabilities on par with the best competitive mid-sized line arrays with its compact form factor, simple hardware, comprehensive accessory packages, and inherent scalability.

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: ICLive X systems are just as well suited for fixed installation as they are for production applications. Optional recessed Phoenix Connector style input plates allow them to be wall mounted using dedicated Hinge-Kits.

OF NOTE: Two companion loudspeakers, the ICLive XL and the ICLive LX, let integrators achieve increased low-frequency directivity at lower overall system cost.

Type: Digitally steerable
Drivers, LF: 4 x 8-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 4 x 19-mm high-frequency drivers (mounted coaxially)
Frequency Range: 80 Hz – 18 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, vertical adjustable (steerable down to 750 Hz)
Power: Self-powered (8 x class D amplifier channels, each with DSP)
Weight: 70 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 38.5 x 10.5 x 13.4 in
Mounting: M10 UMH points; M10 nutplate for pole adapter: R-HANG array hardware. W-WALL-ICX wall-mount bracket

Yamaha Commercial Audio VXL1-16
Type: Column array
Components, Full-Range: 16 x 1.5-in drivers
Frequency Range: 73 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 170 degrees horizontal, 30/20 degrees vertical (adjustable)
Power: 80 watts at 12 ohms
Weight: 8.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 33.3 x 2.1 x 4.1 in
Mounting: Several brackets available, including 2-axis adjustment
Also: VXL1-8, VXL1-24, VXS1ML, VXS3S


d&b audiotechnik 24C
Type: Column (2-way)
Drivers, LF: 6 x 4-in
cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 6 x 1.1-in dome tweeters mounted in vertical horn array
Frequency Range: 110
Hz – 17 kHz
Dispersion: 90 x 20 degrees; vertical aiming of LF/MF beam: -5 degrees; vertical adjustment of HF section: 0 to -14 degrees
Power: d&b D Series amplification
Weight: 19.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 39.4 x 4.9 x 4.9 in
Mounting: Adjustable wall-mount brackets
Also: 16C and 24C-E


Type: 2-way active column
Components, LF: 4 x 6-in woofers
Components, HF: 1 x 2.5-in compression driver on custom waveguide
Frequency Range: 65 Hz – 20 Hz
Dispersion: 100 degrees horizontal, 30 degrees vertical
Power: Self-powered (class D amplification), DSP
Weight: 58.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 41.5 x 7.9 x 10.7 in
Mounting: Pole-mount, flypoints,stackable
Also: NXL 44-A, NXL 32-A


K-array Kayman-KY102
Type: Variable beam column
Drivers, Full Range: 8 x 4-inch (1.5-inch voice coil) cone drivers
Frequency Range: 110 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 90 degrees horizontal, 7 – 30 degrees vertical (selectable)
Power: 1,800 watts (maximum), 8-ohm/32-ohm
impedance (selectable)
Weight: 12.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 39.4 x 4.5 x
5.3 inches
Mounting: Floor stand, flybar, clamp, wall bracket, adapters for stage monitoring
Also: KMT18, KMT21, KMT218 (all subs)


QSC AcousticDesign AD-S162T
Type: Column surface-mount
Drivers, Full Range: 16 x 2.5-in drivers
Frequency Range: 200 Hz – 17 kHz
Dispersion: 150 degrees horizontal, 30 or 15 degrees variable vertical
Power: 240 watts at 8 ohms, also includes low-saturation 70/100-volt transformers
Weight: 26 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 45.8 x 5.2 x 5 in
Mounting: Wall pan/tilt bracket
Also: AD-S802T


Coda Audio CoRAY4
Type: Line source/column
Drivers, LF: 4 x 5-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 4 x 4-in planar wave drivers
Frequency Range: 80 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: Symmetrical 120 or 60 degrees, or asymmetrical 90 (60 + 30 degrees) horizontal, vertical is 12 degrees (1 degree up, 11 degrees down)
Power: Coda LINUS Series amplification recommended
Weight: 34.6 pounds
Size: 29.8 x 6 x 8.4 in
Mounting: CMS (Coda Mobile Suspension), M6 threaded points for use with optional U-bracket
Companion: CoRAY4L LF extension (4 x 5-in)


dBTechnologies INGENIA
Model: IG4T
Type: 2-way active line source
Drivers, LF: 4 x 6.5-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 1 x 1.4-in compression driver
Frequency Range: 88 Hz – 19.2 kHz
Dispersion: 110 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical (asymmetric +20/-70 degrees)
Power: Self-powered (class D) 900/1,800 watts (RMS/ peak), DSP and 48 kHz converters
Weight: 40 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 37.6 x 7.7 x 10.7 in
Mounting: Groundstack, wall-mount, flyware adapters
Also: IG3T, IG2T and IG1T; Sub 15H & Sub 18H


Martin Audio O-Line
Type: 2-way micro-line array (deployed in multiples of 4 modules)
Drivers, LF: 2 x 3.5-in cone drivers (1 module)
Drivers, HF: 5 x .55-in dome tweeters (1 module)
Frequency Range: 85 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 100 degrees horizontal, 5 degrees vertical (1 module)
Power: 50/200 watts (AES/peak); recommended 100-200 watts into 16 ohms (1
Weight: 7.9 pounds (1 module)
Size (h x w x d): 4.5 x 9.7 x 7.8 in
(1 module; 4 modules: 18-in height)
Mounting: Captive inter-connecting bracket assembly (0- to 5-degree angles);
6 x M8 flypoints; optional brackets


Bose Professional Panaray MA12EX
Type: Column (2-way)
Drivers: 12 x 2.25-in cones
Frequency Range: 75 Hz – 13 kHz
Dispersion: 160 degrees horizontal, 20 degrees vertical
Power: 150/600 watts power handling (longterm/peak)
Weight: 21 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 38.8 x 4.1 x 5.5 in
Mounting: 6 x M6 threaded inserts
Companion: MB4, MB12, and MB24 (subs)
Also: Panaray MA12 mid/high column


Alcons Audio QR24
Type: Ribbon column
Drivers, LF: 4 x 6.5-inch cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 2 x 12-inch ribbons
Frequency Range: 74 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: Choice of 80 or 110 degrees horizontal, vertical is array length dependant
Power: Alcons Sentinel3 controller amplifier recommended
Weight: 48 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 26 x 9.8 x 13.3 inches
Mounting: Fork/swivel bracket, standmount and flying hardware
Companion: QM24 LMF extension, QB363
LF extension


Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000
Type: Modular column (includes subwoofer)
Drivers, LF: 1 x 12-in cone driver in sub (supplied with unit)
Drivers, MF: 16 x 2.75-in cone drivers
Driver, HF: Horn-loaded super tweeter
Frequency Range: 45 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, adjustable vertical
Power: Self-powered, class D (via sub), 1,000 watts (maximum), onboard DSP and digital mixer
Weight: 67.7 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 81.2 x 16.5 x 19.7 in
Mounting: Column attaches to sub
Also: iP1000


Tannoy QFlex 48
Type: Digitally steerable
Drivers, LF: 16 x 4-in cones & 16 x 3-in cones
Drivers, HF: 16 x 1-in titanium domes
Frequency Range: 110 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 horizontal, +/- 70 degrees vertical
Power: Self-powered Class D w/Sharc DSP
Weight: 113.5 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 116.8 x 6.7 x 5.9 in
Mounting: Hinged brackets
Also: QFlex 8, 24, 32, 40 and 64


JBL Professional CBT 1000
Type: Coaxial column (proprietary Constant Beamwidth Technology)
Drivers, LF: 6 x 6.5-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 24 x 1-in tweeters
Frequency Range: 45 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: Variable horizontal (100, 130 and 160 degrees), adjustable vertical (4 “pattern up” and 4 “pattern down” angles)
Power: 1,500 watts (6,000 peak)
Weight: 54 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 40.2 x 9.9 x 13.6 in
Mounting: Pan/tilt bracket, 14 threaded points on back panel, 4 threaded points (each) on top and bottom
Companion: CBT 1000E extension (12 x 6.5-in, 24 x 1-in)
Also: CBT 50LA-1, CBT 70J-1, CBT 100LA-1, CBT 200LA-1


Meyer Sound Cal 64
Type: Digitally steerable
Drivers, LF: 16 x 4-in cones
Drivers, HF: 48 x 20 mm tweeters
Frequency Range: 100 Hz – 16 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, vertical variable from 5 to 30 degrees
Power: Self-powered, 64 amplifier channels (1 channel per driver)
Weight: 124 pounds (with mounting hardware)
Size (h x w x d): 87.7 x 7.7 x 9.9 in
Mounting: Adjustable wall-mount brackets (included)
Also: CAL 32, CAL 96


Type: 2-way line source
Components, LF: 6 x 4-in cone drivers
Components, HF: 4 x 1-in dome tweeters on a waveguide
Frequency Range: 130 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 100 degrees horizontal, 20 degrees vertical
Power: Self-powered (class D) 400/100 watts
RMS (LF/HF), DSP with 4 presets
Weight: 19.8 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 33.1 x 5.1 x 5.1 in
Mounting: Rapid latching system to combine units
Companion: CLA 208SA (sub)


Ramsdell Pro Audio LTA 8-6
Type: Column array
Drivers, LF: 8 x 6.5-in cones
Drivers, HF: 1 x 1.4-in compression driver
Frequency Range: 70 Hz – 17.5 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, 40 degrees vertical
Power: External amplification (1,000 watts RMS, 2,000 watts program)
Weight: 95 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 60 x 12 x 11 inches
Mounting: Optional flying hardware, stacking feet
Also: LTA Compact 12, 8 and 6; LTA 10-4


Community Professional ENTASYS-FR
Type: Column (3-way)
Drivers, LF: 6 x 3.5-in cone drivers
Drivers, MF: 18 x 2.35-in drivers
Drivers, HF: 42 x 1-in (planar-coupled Compact Ribbon Emulators)
Frequency Range: 200 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, 12 degrees vertical
Power: 600/1,500 watts (RMS/ program)
Weight: 40 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 44.5 x 5.5 x 7.4 in
Mounting: Integrated T-Bar mounting bracket; optional pan-tilt bracket, fly kit
Companion: ENTASYS-FR LF column, VLF Series
Also: ENTASYS 200


Innovox SLA-Micro
Type: Frequency-shaded column (2-way)
Drivers, LF/MF: 8 x 2-in cone drivers
Drivers, HF: 4 x 20-mm in array configuration
Frequency Range: 200 Hz – 20 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, 25 degrees vertical
Power: 150 watts long term (AES-2)
Weight: 9.3 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 31.5 x 2.7 x 2.1 in
Mounting: Six 1/4-20 threaded points on back and endcaps (slotted yoke bracket included)
Also: SLA-4.1


Verity Audio AC12.3P
Type: Arrayable/steerable column (2-way)
Drivers: 12 x 3-in fullrange cone drivers
Frequency Range: 90 Hz – 13 kHz
Dispersion: 120 degrees horizontal, configurable vertical
Power: 4 x 190-watt class D amplifier onboard
Weight: 50.7 pounds
Size (h x w x d): 40.2 x 5.9 x 12.2 in
Mounting: Suspension and coupling brackets available
Companion Sub: SUB136TP