Last month, L-Acoustics unveiled the Kara II – the follow-up to its best-selling Kara line – at the 2020 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. Featuring Panflex technology, Kara II is capable of covering any audience geometry: it can fit any design, offering coverage and SPL distribution with four different directivity patterns – 70° or 110° symmetrical and 90° asymmetrical, steering to either the left or right. In its 70° configuration, Kara II packs two dB more than in 110°. Existing Kara customers will also be able to upgrade their current kit with Panflex moving forward.
As for the product specification, the two-way active WST enclosure offers a bandwidth of (-10 dB): 55 Hz – 20 kHz ([KARA II_70]), while its maximum SPL totals 142 dB ([KARA II_70]). It weighs in at 26 kg/57 lb.
At the time of its launch, Christophe Combet, L-Acoustics director of sound system design, R&D, said: “Kara has been a perpetual best-seller for a reason. Its lightweight, diminutive form factor and strong, consistent SPL distribution make it the perfect tool for a plethora of events or permanent installs. When we introduced Panflex to the industry, our clients told us this was the only thing missing from Kara. We listened, and the new Kara II brings our medium-format line array into a new era of added directivity and improved polar stability.”
To find out more, we spoke to L-Acoustics product and technology outreach manager, Scott Sugden…
How long has Kara II been in development?
The R&D process began more than a year ago and will culminate in the launch of the install version of Kara II later this year. It makes so much sense to offer four-inone directivity, which allows the enclosure to custom-fit any audience geometry, so the whole project consisted of adding Panflex to both the touring and install versions of Kara. For the install version, we’ve re-engineered the enclosure specifically for this market to provide better mechanical strength and improved aesthetics.
What can you tell us about the R&D process behind it?
We kicked off the project with the basic tenet that we wanted to bring Panflex to our most popular loudspeaker. Panflex allows for one enclosure to have four different directivities: 110 or 70 degrees symmetric and 90 asymmetric left and right. We really wanted to bring Panflex to Kara in a way that allowed for owners of current Kara to upgrade their existing inventory, and this posed a few unique challenges. It took several iterations to get everything just right.
Now, Kara II not only has Panflex and the four different directivities, but we were also able to improve the output of the system by two dB and improve the polar response in 110 degree mode vs Kara. Kara already fulfilled the needs of a wide swathe of clients and projects. Adding Panflex gives exponentially more flexibility.
What does the new line add to L-Acoustics’ product portfolio?
As I mentioned before, Kara II takes pride of place in the variable curvature line array offering, adding two dB of SPL over the 110° fixed directivity version, and adding performance with the four-in-one directivity. What sets it apart from the competition? The main differentiator between L-Acoustics and the competition, and this is true for all of our enclosures, is our massive global rider acceptance. Add to that the fact that Kara II has market-leading SPL, now enhanced with two dB of SPL in its 70° configuration, and the fact that you’ve got four directivities in one enclosure, and you’ve got a powerhouse enclosure. But perhaps the biggest leading edge for Kara II are those 45,000 Kara already in constant use around the world. By just asking to be upgraded to Kara II, you’ve got a best-seller right out of the starting block.
What kind of application is it most suited to?
Pretty much any project requiring very long throw – Kara II reaches up to 100 metres. So any application demanding premium sound quality, long throw in a light weight and flexible enclosure would be a prime project for Kara II. Houses of worship, performing arts centres, stadiums, as well as both regional, national and international touring companies will look to Kara II to fit the bill.
Kara II also works as a companion to K2 and K1 both as downfill and infill. And since you can choose different directivities within one line array, you can work to any audience geometry. So for example, you can use the narrow 70° directivity at the top of the array for long throw, and set the wider, 110° directivity at the bottom for the widest possible coverage. The 90° asymmetric directivity is appropriate for applications where you need to avoid reflective surfaces on either side.
How has the market responded to the new product?
To be honest, the market has shown sustained appetite for Kara for the last decade, and that’s the best reaction that we can ask for already.
You can visit L-Acoustics at stand 7-X200 at ISE 2020.