I recently received a call that began with one of my favorite phrases: "Dan, there is a truck delivery for you." Before the truck left our lot, I was digging through a pallet of Community ENTASYS products, opening up the boxes and kicking the tires a bit while experiencing that Christmas morning feeling.
The ENTASYS line — more mix and match than one-size-fits-all — comes in black or white and consists of three primary components: full-range column, low-frequency column and a new line of Community subwoofers (dual 8-inch VLF208 and dual 12-inch VLF212) to round out the low end. The columns are superbly designed and constructed. Horizontal dispersion coverage for the column is fixed at 120 degrees with nominal vertical dispersion selectable between either 6 or 12 degrees. The vertical dispersion is adjustable via different-sized spacers that are shipped with the systems.
The full-range column is equipped with six 3.5-inch neodymium LF drivers, 18 2.35-inch midrange drivers, and 42 1-inch drivers, mounted on six Compact Ribbon Emulators and boasts a frequency range of 200 Hz-20 kHz. The low-frequency column, designed to help with low/mids ranging from 200 Hz-1.6 kHz has the same six 3.5-inch LF drivers but without the mid- and high-frequency drivers and with a passive crossover network. Each column is equipped at the bottom with connectivity for Banana (female), NL4 Speakon, and terminal strip; at the top of the cabinet is a recessed male banana connector designed to fit into the female of another column. This acts as a coupler for connecting two (or more) cabinets directly together.
Both cabs are 44.5 inches high, 5.5 inches wide and a little over 7 inches deep. The full-range column weighs in at 38.5 lbs., while the LF column is approximately one-third lighter, at 24 lbs. The back of each column has a machined aluminum extrusion that is notched to slide into the back of the speaker, held tight by four sets of Allen screws; this extrusion serves as the mounting point for all additional hardware.
On that machined aluminum extrusion are eight sets of rigging points. The primary means of holding the machined aluminum extrusion in place is a sturdy machined steel "endpin" that ships with each column and is attached to the bottom of the column assembly to safely support up to the weight of five columns. Three kits are available for the columns; a kit for flying, pan brackets to mount parallel to a structure, and a pan tilt bracket. A bracket for joining the cabinets together is also available. Assembly of these brackets is very straightforward as all hardware (including recessed screws and washer/bolt combinations) and easy-to-follow instructions are included with the columns.
Upon disassembling the grilles and taking a look under the hood, I was very impressed as the internal construction absolutely matched the quality of the external housings. It was a wall of speakers from top to bottom and is shipped with a slight arched curve from bottom to top to handle the vertical dispersion.
My only frustration with the system was that it is not portable which is completely by design. The ENTASYS line would be a great option for outdoor setups where the music is light and the speaking is heavy, such as camps and retreats, due to their durability, dispersion, and small footprint.
Rain, Sleet, Snow, or 70V
Community's add-on ENT-750T option, mounted to the input section of the column, enables the column to work with 70-volt systems.
One other great factoid about this line: The columns are weather-resistant. They do recommend mounting at a slight downward angle but would be perfect for mounting outside on columns or buildings. At our church, it seems like we have talked forever about a good-sounding system to feed our front-porch area, and ENTASYS would be a perfect fit. Their mounting options would allow us to place them high enough to be out of immediate sight but still utilizing their controlled dispersion pattern to reach just the areas we are aiming to cover.
After doing some initial listening and research, I landed with the ENTASYS in a new smaller worship room we are redesigning for our kids and smaller groups. The ultimate use of this room will be for video playback, live acoustic worship with some percussion, spoken word and an occasional program music playback. The small footprint of the columns would make them a great fit here, as the only mounting option for that room would be on the wall.
I used two of the full-range columns and added the VLF208, which provided plenty of beef for this application. This room is primarily drywall with some windows and new tile flooring, floor dimensions of 45 feet by 24 feet, and features a slanted ceiling across the width of the room from 10 feet to approximately 20 feet high: not an optimal acoustic space, and one that offers its own set of challenges. After doing some initial testing in the room, it was obvious I needed something that would hold a tight pattern to keep first reflections at a minimum from the sidewalls and ceiling — the ENTASYS shone brightly in these categories.
The design of the full-range column is such that there are no audible hot spots. In my application, its coverage was consistent from low/mids to highs, and no matter what I threw at it — spoken word, acoustic instruments or program music (re: my favorite play list) — the columns were incredibly musical, natural-sounding, and very easy to listen to. Even at higher decibels than we would realistically use for this space — I pushed levels to 84-90 dBa (with SPL meter in hand while walking the room) — the speakers never had a painful bite to the sound regardless of where I stood, even at close proximity to them. I did some temporary treatment of the back wall, which introduced some control of reflections to the room; the well-defined 120-degree horizontal dispersion pattern of the ENTASYS full-range cabs allowed me to continually adjust until the coverage area was ideal.
Acoustic instrumentation is clearly a perfect fit for these columns. Hand-played percussion took full advantage of the ENTASYS sub, while the columns quickly reacted and reproduced the transients from the strike of drum or strum of acoustic guitar. With a Shure SM58 in hand, with mic gain at a normal usable level (at the same aforementioned decibel level with no processing or EQ), I was able to walk all around the room, in front of and behind the columns, without even a hint of feedback. In fact, it wasn't until I stuck the SM58 about four inches directly in front of the column that I even heard any beginning trace of a squeal. This left me assured that whoever is using this space would have the needed headroom to be heard with the flexibility to easily roam the room.
In the right application, the ENTASYS line will not disappoint. ENTASYS' multiple mounting options and small footprint make it a great option for an installed situation similar to the one described above. ENTASYS is not designed, nor touted, to be an end-all, complete system for live, contemporary music. For intelligible speech coupled with a consistent translation of live acoustic or programmed music all in a controlled pattern, the ENTASYS should be on top of your solutions list.
Dan Wothke is the media director at Belmont Church in Nashville. He invites you to contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.