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30 l November 2013

livereport Summit meeting FRANCE

Rumours about K2, ‘the next big thing’ from L-Acoustics, have been circulating among high-end PA companies since the summer. Time for a sneak peek, then. Or should that be ‘peak’?

THE CLOUDS are lifting and K2 is in sight at last. The team at L-Acoustics has designed a system that has the “DNA of K1” – hugely successful since its 2008 launch – and the form factor of the legendary V-DOSC. K2 is not officially launched until 2014, but a couple of the big rental houses have already set out to explore its potential. Florent Bernard (FB), L-Acoustics’ director of application/touring, and Stéphane Ecalle, director or marketing, gave PSNEurope the view from base camp.

The K2 system is more than just a rumour then… SE: The rumour is confirmed! Actually, three European companies are already partnering L-Acoustics in our K2 pilot phase: SSE (UK),

Stéphane Ecalle, director of marketing

Black Box Music (Germany) and Concept Even in France. They have been deploying K2 in the field, either as a main system or as a complement to their K1 rigs. The pilot phase will end in November, with a significant amount of field experience being accumulated. K2 has received outstanding comments from engineers and owners: we’re thrilled with this green light for the market introduction. A production phase will ramp-up this December to address selected markets, while the worldwide launch will follow around Prolight + Sound time in March 2014.

K2: standing tall but weighing less

How does the K2 system slot into your product range? FB: K2 is positioned for similar applications as V-DOSC, typically productions with audiences of anything up to a headcount of 20,000. K2 delivers exactly the same max SPL and bandwidth as V-DOSC; it’s pretty logical that K2 will be replacing V-DOSC in our product line, with V-DOSC taking a well- deserved retirement after 22 years of loyal service! We will, of course, continue providing after-sales service to our V-DOSC customers for the foreseeable future. From a genetic standpoint, K2 has more of a K1 DNA

Florent Bernard, applications & touring

transplant into a 12” format enclosure…but with increased operational flexibility.

What separates K1 and K2 systems? FB: Since its introduction in the fall of 2008, the K1/K1-SB package has been optimised for very large scale events. This narrow market encompasses arena tours, stadium productions and large greenfield festivals. SE: From a business standpoint, there is a very high financial commitment required for a sound company to service this market with one or multiple K1 systems: the standard K1 stadium kit comprises more than a hundred K enclosures, plus SB28 subwoofers, racks and accessories. Considering the seven-figure euro investment at stake, the K1 market is by itself a selective one. Nearly 50 Rental Network agents around the world have chosen K1 over the course of the last five years and the system is recognised today as one of the top rider-friendly systems. But beside the “small world”

of “big K1”, there is a wider group of top companies and venues which operate in a very demanding market segment with an audience size of up to 20,000. These rental and fixed installation owners have basically the same needs as K1

owners: they are exposed to demanding productions with top technical requirements; [they need a] rider- friendly system; and any investment needs to be secured with high stock rotation and a sizeable resale value later on. FB: From an application standpoint, rental houses will seek the K1 benchmark sonic signature to deliver the best performance to their own clients. Moreover, the package needs to be adapted in size, rationalised for transport and with an extremely flexible deployment. This is where K2 comes in.

What was L-Acoustics’ design plan here? FB: First, the acoustic performance had to be absolutely in line with K1, with a max SPL positioned 3dB below its sibling and a bandwidth equivalent to K1. This determined the 12” format and the choice of drivers which can match the standard of K1. Secondly, the vertical

coverage had to be stretched to accommodate shorter throws and audiences with high tiers or balconies. The good news is that a 12” trapezoidal format allows twice the K1 maximum splay angle for a value of 10˚ versus 5˚. SE: Next, we wanted to offer a lightweight system for medium-sized events or installations. The system needs to fit the rigging limitations in certain buildings. Also, for productions where temporary structures are deployed, the sound companies have to minimise their dimensioning and therefore prefer aluminium and/or foldable systems against steel. FB: Another feature we were looking for was adjustable horizontal directivity. System

engineers need to sector

the audience zones in the

horizontal plane to reduce the overlaps between mains and fills to get an even

SPL coverage and optimised intelligibility. With accurate control of the horizontal directivity, the sound designer can focus the acoustic energy onto the audience. So in outdoor situations, says, the noise exposure of sensitive neighbourhoods is drastically reduced, as experienced during the pilot phase in the UK when SSE Audio deployed its K1/K2 system in Hyde Park, a notoriously difficult site for sound control. The measurements taken on-site confirmed that we were perfectly in line with noise regulations. Now, this ‘acoustic steering’ is accomplished in the vertical plane by L-Acoustics WST sources. (WST, or Wavefront Sculpture Technology, asre the principles behind line array design first proposed by Christian Heil and colleagues in 1993.) Horizontally, though, no manufacturer offers a line source system capable of

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