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PSNEurope’s review of 2015 – part two: Small change

Was 2015 more than just another chapter in the unstoppable rise of Ulrich Bernhard Behringer? Jon Chapple thinks so

A trend first noted by PSNEurope late last year, the proliferation of compact – or ‘baby’ – line-array systems has continued into 2015, with new systems such as the Electro-Voice X-Line, Coda Audio AiRAY and Meyer Sound LEOPARD flying the flag for sound reinforcement with a smaller footprint than at any time in recent memory.

While every manufacturer is marketing its own solution differently – Nexo’s new M28 module continues its Scale Through Modularity (STM) ‘building-block’ approach towards building a speaker rig, while Martin Audio’s sales pitch for the MLA Mini naturally revolves around its famous Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) technology; Meyer Sound, meanwhile, highlights how an array of six LEOPARD modules can be flown using a half-ton motor, and Coda claims to have invented a whole “new category in line-array systems” with the high-output AiRAY – all have similar advantages: allowing smaller venues to benefit from line-array technology and PA companies to make significant savings (in manpower, truck space, etc.) without compromising on sound.

According to Coda Audio’s Paul Ward, with AiRAY (pictured at its launch in July) the company specifically “wanted to make something that was relevant to the current market situation” and “sympathetic to the guys who are [going to be] using it”. Jon Sager of JBL Professional, which introduced the dual-6.5” VT886 in 2010, says that JBL found that “there were potentially many new users due to [its compact solutions’] size and more cost-effective price point”.

Taking a slightly different approach was K-array, whose ultra-slim Firenze KH8 touring system – demoed in the UK for the first time at the Barbican Centre in January – marries a peak output of 145dB SPL with a flat profile less than a foot deep. (Individual speakers can be independently tilted within the totally straight enclosure.) Firenze is, says K-array product specialist manager Francesco Maffei, “smaller than our competitors, but at the same time louder…”

Read part one of PSNEurope‘s review of year here.