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March 2013 l 47


livefeature


ALTHOUGH TRADITIONALLY the larger PA systems have been the most popular and powerful, the past year or so has certainly seen a trend in smaller footprint, versatile, lightweight boxes; and in many cases, these smaller enclosures often pack at least the same punch as their larger predecessors. So why is this now the case?


Well, according to Coda Audio’s Mick Anderson, PA systems now have to be “tools that will maintain their position in status and income”. “Whether it’s a one-off


festival or a tour, the contraction of disposable income has hit all global markets,” he insists. “Risks involved and costs are now equally enormous, so you can’t turn round like you could 20 years ago and expect major cities to sell out everywhere. Just to make it viable, the trend is now smaller-format, high power and high quality.” Coda’s large-format line array is the LA12, which has been available for four years, and will likely be used in a number of summer festivals in Germany, Denmark and the UK. ViRAY, however, is Coda’s


newest system, and since its launch in October 2012, it’s gone global: Ambion GmbH committed early to ViRAY and now has more than 100 cabinets; Adlib tested the system in the field before purchasing a number of units; Danish rental house DPA is also on board; and it’s even reached the Far East, too. Not bad progress in just a few months. “ViRAY has really taken off,


which is fantastic. It’s not that large-format won’t ‘never be here’, but what was ‘the big league’ is now a kind of ‘mid- term league’, and it’s crammed with all of the major players,” he says. “Our message is that technology does count, and ViRAY delivers almost HD-like, high power, uncompromised audio. It’s very refreshing that our industry has responded so creatively and positively after the financial crisis of 2008 – there are now many flexible systems in smaller packages.” L-Acoustics is always


prevalent at festivals, and although KARA is its latest baby, at the top of the pile in terms of large-scale PA is still K1. Adopters of the system across Europe include


Coming through L-Acoustics’ K1 system: a firm festival favourite loud and clear


With a number of manufacturers launching new flagship PA systems in the last 12 months, which rental companies have bought which systems and why? And with festival season approaching, what’s going to be on those riders? Paul Watsonreports...


“It’s very refreshing that our industry has


responded so creatively and positively after the financial crisis of 2008 – there are now many


flexible systems in smaller packages”


Denmark’s Nordic Rentals and Moto Rentals; Dushow in France; Germany’s Blackbox Music and SATIS&FY; and SSE and Britannia Row in the UK. “K1 was a massive success for


us last year, so we see no reason to change that as our main system for the festivals this season,” insists SSE Audio director, Yan


Mick Anderson, Coda Audio


Stile, whose company owns 100 K1 boxes. “We always keep an eye out for new products, but K1 is still very current and it’s a favourite of a lot of engineers. It’s also absolutely the system on the riders, so it still has a lot of life in it yet.” Britannia Row’s Bryan Grant freely admits that in terms of PA


systems,”‘the newer stuff keeps getting better”, but he also believes that these improvements come in increments, rather than in quantum leaps. “I’m not sure there is any ‘bad’


PA system out there anymore, but we have taken on [L-Acoustics] K1, which we continue to expand, and it’s doing really well,” he says. “Though having said that, we haven’t got rid of any of our [L-Acoustics] V-DOSC systems as they are also in such high demand. I have a couple of customers who actually prefer it to K1 because they know what it can do and what they can do with it, so their attitude is, ‘why change it?’” JBL’s new flagship, the full-


size, three-way VTX system, is another which has been adopted by a number of rental


companies, the first of which was ‘equipment bank’ AED, which now has 200 units. VTX debuted on last year’s


Lenny Kravitz world tour, and now Sirius in Germany and GMB Productions in Poland have made significant purchases; and there are a plethora of boxes making waves around the world including 50 in South Africa, 60 in Dubai, and 48 in Nigeria. “We chose to purchase the JBL V24 because I think JBL is a company that has it spot on for the future,” insists AED CEO, Glenn Roggeman. “It has always been known as the best component builder, and today, thanks to Paul Bauman [JBL Professional’s senior manager, tour sound], they not only have the components, but also the speaker boxes to make a terrific system.”


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