The burgeoning availability of mini line arrays necessarily compels manufacturers to seek out greater points of difference to retain their competitive edge. Logically enough, then, many were at pains to highlight specific USPs during their conversations with PSNEurope. (For part two of this three-part feature, click here.)
Martin Audio’s MLA Mini (pictured) sales pitch, for example, naturally revolves around the MLA technology, whereby “the user specifies exactly what SPL and frequency responses is required throughout the audience, and DISPLAY 2.1 intelligent software controls each individual LF and HF cell in the array to produce that result,” says . Elsewhere, the “system linearity and ability to translate audio signals accurately” of Meyer Sound’s LYON mean that “sports arenas and retail environments can now be assured that any pre-produced materials mixed in a studio will translate accurately when reproduced to a large audience,” notes Jenks.
Giner highlights the “hassle-free, very portable” characteristics of DAS’s Aero 8A compact line array, while JBL’s Sager draws attention to the “very user-friendly and extremely easy to deploy” rigging hardware of products like the JBL VRX928LA (pictured, right, at Soka University's Performing Arts Centre in California, US). And while the directivity capabilities of Outline’s EIDOS 265 make it suitable for a host of small/medium venues, Ward says that Coda has consistently paid attention to the “weight of the box, ease of rigging, the groundstack-ability of the box using the same fly hardware… I think we have really zeroed in on the details, providing the customer with a very flexible tool.”
As for where very compact systems go from here… Well, there will be more or less emphasis on DSP control depending on who you believe – definitely less if you favour Ward’s argument, which states there has been too much focus on DSP to obtain results: “We believe you have to get the product working to the best of its ability from a transducer level, then apply DSP technology to enhance the performance – as opposed to using DSP technology to make the performance.”
Sager, meanwhile, believes that “it is likely we will see more complex self-powered systems capable of steering and elaborate tuning to meet specific performance needs”.
Whatever happens, though, it’s clear that the mini line array has a vibrant future. This baby is not just alive – it’s alive and kicking.
The Hive Partnership and its AV rental division, London Speaker Hire (LSH), recently purchased four pole-mountable Martin Audio Mini enclosures (plus MSX mini sub power plant) to cover each side of the stage. Since the investment, they have deployed the system for a number of live applications that have repeatedly underlined the practicality and cost benefits of compact systems.
“Where you would traditionally need to use a flown line array in certain smaller venues, nearly all current systems are so large that they are impractical,” says LSH director Grant Turner. “With the MLA Mini we are spoilt for choice. The compact footprint means we can have a two-man set-up on certain events whereas we would have needed double that. This in itself is an immediate cost-saving towards ROI.”
Live projects at which LSH has deployed the system include a two-day creative trade show at London’s County Hall, Le Book, where bands performed in the Rotunda in front of an audience of approximately 500. There was considerable praise from acts appearing at the event, with video DJ mashup group The Video Geeks subsequently asking to hire the system itself. “The [group] loved the MLA Mini paired with the large modular video panel screen we supplied, and commented in particular on the amount of low-end,” says Turner.