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Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements. 3/01/2009 7:00 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.




Niles Audio PS6Si

Niles Audio PS6Si

Weather, in all its variables, can wreak havoc on loudspeakers. Intense heat weakens enclosures, while frigid temperatures combine with moisture to destroy drivers at their seams. Over time, metal rusts and fabric rots, eventually leaving the transducer unable to perform its task. However, manufacturers have recently introduced a new generation of loudspeakers able to withstand the worst of Mother Nature's fury. From water-resistant circuitry to innovative inert materials, today's outdoor loudspeakers are better able to endure the onslaught of wind and rain than their predecessors.

Outdoor loudspeakers fall into several categories based on foreground or background use, intended exposure levels, and need for concealment. Patio and alcove loudspeakers are typically mounted under a protective roof area, meaning they need only be weather-resistant, not weatherproof. Made of plastic or aluminum and with their drivers angled down and away from water, patio loudspeakers can deliver relatively wideband response for low-level background music in restaurants, hotels, and theme parks. True outdoor environment transducers must bear the force of weather extremes and are thus less likely to perform at hi-fi standards, but with enough quality to be sonically acceptable. In addition to traditional metal-horn loudspeakers, newly developed plastic models have appeared on the scene. These molded enclosures can be formed to look like garden rocks or injected with color to blend into a grassy lawn. Foreground loudspeakers, for use in temporary outdoor concerts, are usually weatherized versions of a company's standard product with a few manufacturers specializing in robust, completely weatherproof enclosures designed for continuous outside duty. The products here, then, represent a cross-section of contractor-friendly background patio and decorative outdoor designs, along with a sampling of concert-ready foreground boxes and a look at some of the permanent weatherproof offerings.

EAW SMS4124

EAW SMS4124

OUTDOOR LOUD-SPEAKERS ON THE MARKET

Atlas Sound has introduced the ATS183GL8 garden loudspeaker with an innovative two-phase installation scheme. After selecting either a deep or shallow model, the contractor can install just the base with its removable protective cover and then return after the landscapers are finished to complete the project with the addition of the loudspeaker and transformer. By dividing the process in half, damage and theft are less of a concern, and the low-visibility green polyethylene enclosure provides pleasant-looking, long-term protection for the broadband 8in. coaxial loudspeaker.


Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.




Peavey Electronics Stadia III

Peavey Electronics Stadia III

Bogen, a veteran player in the outdoor arena, soldiers on with the SPT15A re-entrant horn loudspeaker. With a built-in rotary impedance selector switch, the unitallows the installer to easily tap five distinct power levels on both 25V and 70V constant-voltage lines. The SPT15A also boasts all-metal weatherproof construction and a simple mounting design coupled with a field-replaceable diaphragm. For football fields, warehouses, and transportation terminals, the SPT15A is a natural choice to deliver clear speech over a larger area.

Best known for indoor transducers, Bose offers its top-line model 251 Environmental outdoor loudspeaker with an unusually wide sound field for improved stereo imaging in patio and restaurant applications. Termed “Articulated Array,” the Bose design uses twin mid/high drivers positioned across the face of a mineral-and-glass-filled cabinet to maximize the stereo coverage area. A separate 5.25in. woofer is mounted to a multichambered enclosure for extended low-frequency response from a modest-sized box. Hardy color-mated weather-resistant brackets and hardware complete the white or black package.

Venerable consumer oriented manufacturer Boston Acoustics has some solid offerings for the contractor market in the form of its SoundWare series of unusually shaped indoor/outdoor loudspeakers. The polyhedron design allows the diminutive (roughly 7in. per side) modules to be placed on a countertop, mounted to a wall, or tucked into a corner thanks to the included articulated mounting bracket. SoundWare loudspeakers are also noteworthy due to the myriad color choices offered and run the gamut from bamboo to espresso to red in addition to industry-standard white and black. For aesthetically sensitive environments such as museums, art galleries, and upscale bars, the geometrically interesting and multihued SoundWare modules are an excellent solution.

QSC ISIS I-282H

QSC ISIS I-282H

Cerwin-Vega's new Structural Design Series (SDS) is the company's first foray into outdoor music playback systems. The SDS-525 features a 5.25in. co-polymer woofer and a 1in. Mylar dome tweeter inside a durable resin cabinet. A unique dual-purpose adjustable bracket uses a removable circular adapter to attach the loudspeaker to a standard threaded rod capable of up to 60 degrees of tilt in ceiling mode as well as offering direct wall mounting when the adapter is removed. Cerwin-Vega's extensive club experience led the designers to focus on heat dissipation as a means to long-term survivability, so the SDS-525 sports flow-through cooling to prevent overheating of the drive elements. In all, the engineering team's initial outdoor effort is commendable and the product performs well in its intended environment.

A discussion of outdoor loudspeakers would not be complete without the inclusion of Community. From the original WET Series (Weather Environmental Technology) to the ubiquitous horn-loaded R Series, Community has a long history of supporting outside sound. The company's new WET Series II updates the initial line with reworked crossover networks for better response linearity and restyled enclosures featuring improved cosmetics and full-face grilles. Enclosures ordered in white now have matching stainless steel grilles as well as white bezels, gland nuts, and cabling. By improving the line's performance and appearance, Community has kept the WET Series at the forefront of weather-resistant loudspeaker technology.


Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.




Sonance Mariner H20

Sonance Mariner H20

The Commercial Products line from EAW delivers big-box performance in a compact package. Drawing on the firm's decades of live sound experience, the SMS4124 contains a useful arrangement of four 4in. woofers to augment pattern control through driver coupling along with a trio of 2in. high-frequency drivers oriented to create a 120-degree horizontal spread. EAW's proprietary Clip-Fit uses a single Molex connector to create a two-step installation process where the mount can be placed on the wall during construction and the loudspeaker can be installed later, once the dust has settled, in a single motion.

The new Innovative family of products from Electro-Voice called EVI is the result of an intensive effort by the Bosch subsidiary's engineering team to rethink and re-imagine installation loudspeakers. With models ranging from small to large and with a groundbreaking modular approach, the Innovative series lives up to its name. For outdoor applications, the DEFCON-sounding level 3 variant offers a full fiberglass overlay of the wooden enclosure plus a stainless-steel grille and gland nut panel. The EVA model is a passive two-way multi-element array system featuring a two-boxes-in-one design and a stackable 90-degree-by-6-degree individual pattern layout scalable to useful line-array dimensions. A unique input panel accepts frequency-shading devices via manual plug-ins to keep the system passive in lieu of an active DSP method.

For ISP Technologies, the great outdoors beckon with a weather-resistant coating to the company's HDM series of self-powered loudspeakers. A rubberized polyurethane spray over Baltic Birch produces the necessary weather coverage, while the three-way active driver makeup remains the same — save for a weather-resistant woofer in place of the non-treated version. Both the HDM 115 main and the accompanying XMAX 115 subwoofer models are offered in the weatherized finish.

Soundtube SM500i

Soundtube SM500i

Known for its sleek designs and attention to concealment techniques, Klipsch Group company Jamo offers contractors the 660A in-wall indoor/outdoor loudspeaker system. With a 6.5in. woofer and 1.25in. dome tweeter tied to a refined crossover network, the response is credible while the installation procedure is simple and straightforward. A paintable grille and frame allow the 660A to blend into any environment, supported by the inclusion of a sheet of acoustically transparent foam in the packaging.

Renowned manufacturer JBL now offers a life-safety-certified outdoor loudspeaker with the introduction of the Control 25AV-LS, which is UL 1480 UUMW-listed. Certified for use in fire-alarm and emergency-communication systems, the loudspeaker is able to be used in schools, around swimming pools, and at public parks and facilities. The inclusion of an aluminum grille with polyester powder coating and an outer overlay for the input plate add to the loudspeaker's weather resistance, while JBL's patented InvisiBall mounting system continues to provide simple and secure installation.


Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.




Speco Technologies SP-RK65CB/T

Speco Technologies SP-RK65CB/T

By treating both the internal and external aspects of its weatherized enclosures, Martin Audio goes the extra step to ensure its AM10 loudspeaker survives any outdoor environment. Designed as a primary sound reinforcement for stadiums and arenas, the textured high-density polyurethane-coated AM10 employs a reflex-loaded 10in. woofer with a waterproof cone mated to a 1in. compression driver mounted on a 90-degree-by-50-degree CD horn. The galvanized steel grille is backed up by a water barrier, and the cabinet is oriented horizontally to prevent sightline obstructions.

With a decade's worth of experience selling the industry-standard OS10 line of indoor/outdoor loudspeakers, Niles Audio is certainly at home in the weatherized loudspeaker category. Now, with the introduction of the PS6Si stereo-input outdoor loudspeaker disguised as a terracotta planter, the company's reach extends to the garden. The PS6Si can accommodate a live plant while still providing dual-channel output through a 6.5in. dual voice-coil polypropylene woofer with a butyl rubber surround along with a pair of 1in. fluid-cooled tweeters tied to a waterproof input panel and burial-rated connection cables.

Though OAP does not stand for Outdoor Audio Products (it actually stands for O'Rouke Audio Products), it could since the plucky manufacturer offers almost all of its product lines in a weatherized version. With stainless-steel hardware, a waterproof mesh under the grille, and the company's proprietary roadcoat epoxy finish on exposed wood surfaces — plus clear Lexan over the input plate — OAP oudspeakers are sturdy enough to last for years in theme parks and sports venues. The company's premium PX-1060 coax design is capable of long-throw performance and is suited for use in stadiums and concert sheds. The weather-resistant option makes a solid choice when clarity and longevity are essential to success.

Tannoy Di5a

Tannoy Di5a

Direct-weather loudspeakers are a breed apart from weather-resistant designs thanks to a ground-up approach to environmental concerns. One Systems is a pioneer in the direct-weather field as witnessed by its 208CIM compact vertical array loudspeaker. With a focus on articulate delivery of the vocal range, the 208CIM is composed of two 8in. woofers with the top driver also incorporating a coaxially mounted large-format compression driver. In spite of its compact 19in. height, the 208CIM is capable of extended-duty high output in play-by-play announcement applications. With a copolymer-based enclosure, stainless-steel-and-aluminum hardware, a three-layer direct rain-shield grille, and weatherproof gland nut, the loudspeaker meets the stringent requirements of Mil-Spec 810 for moisture and sun survivability.

If the job calls for an outdoor loudspeaker inside a waterfall, OWI can meet the spec with its CW703 three-way 70V model. Sporting a glass-fiber-reinforced concrete enclosure, the CW703 grants hotel lobbies, restaurant waiting spaces, and outdoor shopping-mall common areas a refreshing combination of cascading water and full-range background music. With four taps up to 15W, the CW703, part of the firm's L.A. Rocker series, is scalable to the environment. Its hefty 200lb. weight ensures the waterfall stays in place regardless of the prevailing winds.


Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.




Yorkville C120

Yorkville C120

The Peavey Electronics Stadia III is the premier weatherized loudspeaker from the Mississippi-based manufacturer. In use across the sand- and salt-washed Caribbean, the Stadia III is built to handle weather extremes. With a 12in. neo-woofer and a titanium driver on a 60-degree-by-60-degree horn and a 400W program power rating, it is capable of full-range response in any situation. Twin sets of bracket-mount points, a poly-fabric covered grille, and useful loudspeaker protection circuitry complete the picture of a solid product from a reputable company.

Designed as a commercial background music loudspeaker with defined low-frequency response, the JD20XT from Penton Audio offers several creative details to make installation a snap and extend the useable performance level. An innovative tap selector accessible from the front panel allows post-installation volume adjustments without removal of the enclosure, and an angled side-in bracket can be mounted to a standard single-gang electrical box. Stainless-steel hardware completes the weatherized concept, making the JD20XT an excellent choice for discreet full-range music applications.

For the team at QSC Audio, “reliability” has been the watchword for decades. That conviction to product longevity continues in the firm's ISIS I-282H indoor/outdoor loudspeaker. Serving as a floor monitor or truss-mounted main loudspeaker, the I-282H is as versatile as it is functional, with a dual 8in. low-frequency complement coupled to a 1in. driver mounted to QSC's Advanced Directivity rotatable waveguide for accurate pattern control regardless of the enclosure's orientation. A powder-coated aluminum grille mates to the injection-molded enclosure to protect the weather-resistant drivers, while the included yoke mount allows wall mounting or monitor positioning with the removable rubber feet.

By combining four dynamic drivers in a single fiberglass enclosure, RCF's H6045 delivers a long-throw weatherproof solution for expansive outdoor venues. The classic multicellular horn approach is put to good use here to provide high efficiency in a compact, weatherproof enclosure with a standard U-mount bracket design.

Renkus-Heinz offers a weatherized treatment for its standard loudspeaker products, but the CDT500K is designed as a permanent outdoor solution. With a choice of patterns ranging from 90 degrees by 40 degrees for medium-throw environments down to 40 degrees by 40 degrees for long-throw situations, the CDT line is versatile enough to meet needs as diverse as soccer fields and carnivals. Thanks to the company's Complex Conic horns with coentrant drivers, driver alignment is a foregone conclusion, and pattern control is superb without the chance of introducing pattern flip. Sealed drivers and weather-resistant cones add to the CDT's long-term survivability.

The marine industry has tremendous experience dealing with the harshest climates, so it should come as no surprise Sonance's H2O, part of its Mariner line of outdoor loudspeakers, has durability at its core. Features such as the Protected Access Connection Terminal (PACT) give installers a third-hand assist via a built-in wire-entry grommet that holds the loudspeaker wire in place. A protective panel and external cover further keep moisture at bay from the enclosure's internal workings. Finally, the FastMount bracket system, with its one-step push-and-lock mounting scheme, makes installation a snap while retaining the ability to click-pivot the loudspeaker 180 degrees.


Technology Showcase: Outdoor Loudspeakers

Mar 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

Weather-resistant and weatherproof options to withstand the elements.




The Sound Advance FastMount series focuses, as its name implies, on ease of installation. The bracket simply snaps and locks into place, and removal is via a hidden release tab. The FMS line consists of three models with either a 5.25in., 6.50in., or 8in. polypropylene woofer mated to a 1in. polyurethane dome tweeter.

A mushroom-shaped loudspeaker with a 360-degree dispersion cone mounted in a ground-based housing is synonymous with the Soundtube name. The company's XT550 can be found in hundreds of theme parks, resort facilities, and hotels. The company's XT sequel, the XT850, is proving to be as good as the original. Soundtube's new surface-mount model, the SM500i, scores high marks for its patented BroadBeam dispersion technology, SpeedLever captured-ball mounting system, and speed-tap power-setting design. Robust construction is secured through the use of a powder-coated grille and a terminal weather boot.

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Rock loudspeakers often mount the transformer in a recessed area, forcing the installer into a contorted state to adjust the tap level. The Speco Technologies SP-RK65CB/T features an easily accessed transformer wattage dial and 70V/25V selector switch to aid installation time. Add in simple ground-securing loops and excellent weatherproofing techniques, and the SP-RK65CB/T shows itself worthy of consideration on any outdoor job.

The Tannoy Di Series takes advantage of the company's point-source ICT drive unit to eliminate the crossover and improve clarity. A mineral-loaded polypropylene cone with nitrile rubber surround is built to withstand harsh environs while the 90-degree conical dispersion pattern makes any orientation possible.

The military depends on Technomad loudspeakers, so their Mil-Spec rating is a given. The MP series feature one-piece color-through, self-draining molded cabinets, robust ceramic tweeters, and multiple threaded inserts for installation at any required angle. For direct-weather sites, the IP56-rated MP loudspeakers are a safe bet for long-term survivability.

For a modern approach to weatherproof commercial loudspeaker design, TOA Electronics offers the H-2WP. In place of a standard cube, the H-2WP delivers a stylish form with the added benefit of reduced soundwave reflections. The H-2WP mounts to a standard electrical box, and it can be rotated and aimed without altering the enclosure's external appearance. For convenience, the loudspeaker also mates to TOA's 900 series mixer/amplifiers.

Yorkville's C120 represents the weather-resistant part of the Canadian manufacturer's Coliseum Mini series. With specially treated drivers housed in a molded ABS plastic cabinet, the C120 delivers versatility in a rugged package. The tweeter can be swiveled, and a U-bracket is included for mounting ease. A three-tap 70V version, the C120/70, is also available.


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