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Column Line Array Loudspeakers

Tried and true, the venerable column array is a design that many of us have cut our teeth on. While the modular, large-scale systems have been recently grabbing all of the headlines, column arrays have quietly made a resurgence.

Column Line Array Loudspeakers

Oct 10, 2012 2:43 PM,
By Mark Johnson

Alcons Audio QR36

Tried and true, the venerable column array is a design that many of us have cut our teeth on. While the modular, large-scale systems have been recently grabbing all of the headlines, column arrays have quietly made a resurgence. A staple product in school auditoriums and community centers in the 1960s and onward, advancements in technology have allowed these workman-like, blue-collar loudspeakers to fit into a variety of useful and interesting applications.

The behavior and advantages of a line source are well documented, starting in 1957 with Harry Olson who applied the concept of a line array to produce a system of vertically aligned drivers providing a coverage pattern that was wide horizontally and narrow vertically. The beauty and appeal of the line source is that you can get a rather well behaved loudspeaker, insofar as coverage is concerned, in a relatively small or low-profile enclosure.

One of the most popular column arrays was Shure’s Vocal Master, introduced at the NAMM show in 1968. Not only was it a popular touring system for the time, the Vocal Master was also installed into many schools and houses of worship, as well as in the London Palladium and the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center for use by acts such as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. As hinted at by the name, the strength of the Shure column array was reproducing frequencies in the vocal range. Also, since the length of the array influences the coverage angle at low frequencies, (longer provides more directional control) in the early days, practical sizes were limited in frequency response to the vocal region. Vocal intelligibility was and still is a main selling point, though some models offer auxiliary subwoofers or systems where the low frequency drivers have the ability to provide a more extended low end.

Bogen Communications SCW35

Another benefit of line array systems is that they exhibit only 3dB loss per doubling of distance versus 6dB of loss in a conventional loudspeaker system, which provides a system with increased throw distances and the variation between near and far field is minimized. That, coupled with the well-defined vertical coverage, made them a natural for installs requiring vocal amplification in potentially reverberant spaces. On the surface, many of the column arrays available today look just like the columns in the days of old. However, incremental advancements in loudspeaker driver technology—combined with self powering and DSP—matched with snazzy industrial design have delivered systems with far superior frequency response, better power handing, higher SPL, asymmetrical coverage, and more defined pattern control. Some models even provide adjustable and steerable pattern control. Let’s see what the market place has to offer. Also check out the manufacturers’ websites as there are often additional models, features, and accessories too numerous to include in this showcase.

The Alcons AudioQR36 modular two-way column loudspeaker comprises six 6.5in. neodymium low-frequency drivers and two 18in. pro-ribbon high-frequency drivers. The frequency response is 53Hz to 20kHz, and the nominal program SPL is 129dB. The system features coverage of 90 degree horizontal and the vertical dependent on the array length. A single module is 39.6in. tall, wide, and 9.3in. deep. Modules can be easily combined. In order to derive maximum performance from the system it is recommended that that it be used in conjunction with the ALC controller-amplifier.

Bose Panaray MA12

Employing 12 2.25in. drivers mounted in a powder-coated aluminum enclosure, the BosePanaray MA12 mid/high modular line array provides 145-degree horizontal coverage and a single MA12 module provides a vertical coverage of 20 degrees. The frequency response is 100Hz to 16kHz, though low frequency response can be extended with the addition of the MB4, MB12, or MB24 modular bass loudspeakers. The maximum peak SPL is 119dB.

A company steeped in the history of the commercial audio industry, Bogen CommunicationsSCW35 provides a maximum SPL of 105dB @ 1W input measures at 4ft. on axis. The frequency response is 70Hz to 16kHz with coverage of 25-degrees vertical and 120-degrees horizontal. Six 6in. drivers are mounted in an enclosure that is 42in. high x 9.5in. wide x 6in. deep.

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Column Line Array Loudspeakers

Oct 10, 2012 2:43 PM,
By Mark Johnson

Community Professional Loudspeakers Entasys ENT220

Community Professional LoudspeakersEntasys ENT220 two-way compact column array loudspeaker has a frequency response of 80Hz to 22kHz and a maximum peak output of 130dB SPL peak. The extruded paintable PVC enclosure houses 20 80mm low-frequency long-excursion mylar drivers and four, three-element Compact Ribbon Emulators. Vertical coverage is 15 degrees and horizontal coverage is 140 degrees. The system provides for 8Ω or 70V/100V operation.

Duran Audio Axys Intellevox Ivx-DS500

Featuring 32 4in. transducers, Duran Audio’s AXYS Intellivox-DS500 is one tall loudspeaker, standing less than 195in. tall. Digitally steerable and capable of synthesizing a 3D radiation pattern, the array is powered by 16 40W Class D amplifiers and using onboard DSP and DDS (Digital Directivity Synthesis). As such, the coverage pattern is 130-degrees horizontal with a variable vertical coverage. The frequency range is 130Hz to 10kHz and peak SPL is 100db.


The EAWLS832 employs eight 4in. woofers and three 1in. soft-dome tweeters mounted on a baffle with a slight convex arc. The coverage provided is 140 degrees horizontal x 20 degrees vertical with a frequency response of 200Hz to 20kHz. The calculated full range peak output is 126dB SPL. Designed for permanent install, connections are affected via a two-terminal barrier strip and six 1/4in., 20 threaded mounting points are integrated into the Baltic birch plywood enclosure.


At just a little more than 6.5ft., JBL’s new CBT 200LA-1 is tall. Comprising 32 2in. drivers in two modules, the system provides vertical pattern coverage that is switchable between 30 and 15 degrees with a symmetrical pattern or an asymmetrical progressive-gradient coverage that is narrower at the top and broader at the bottom of the array. The voicing is adjustable via a music/speech setting switch. The frequency range is 80Hz to 20kHz, and maximum SPL is 129dB (in speech mode and narrow vertical coverage).

K-Array KP52

The K-ArrayKP52 3D line array element variable beam speaker provides a variable vertical coverage selectable between “spot” (10 degrees) and “flood” (45 degrees). The horizontal coverage is 90 degrees. The weatherproof system can be used for outdoor applications. The frequency range is 100Hz to 20kHz with a maximum peak SPL of 128.

Meyer Sound CAL Column Array Loudspeaker

Meyer Sound’s CAL (Column Array Loudspeaker) is a self-powered system that offers vertical coverage that is variable from five to 30 degrees, with beam steerage up or down 30 degrees. The horizontal coverage is 120 degrees. The CAL 96 uses 24 4in. drivers and 72 20mm tweeters, each with their own Class D amplifier. The operating frequency range is 100Hz to 16 kHz, and the maximum peak SPL is 106dB.

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Column Line Array Loudspeakers

Oct 10, 2012 2:43 PM,
By Mark Johnson

Peavey Sanctuary Series SSE LA

The PeaveySanctuary Series SSE LA is a dual-radius curved line array with a dual coverage pattern (20-degree vertical, primary long throw, and 40-degree secondary short throw) comprised of 16 2in. neodymium drivers. The horizontal coverage patter is 130 degrees. An attenuation switch reduces the output of the short throw section. The frequency response is 174Hz to 18kHz with a maximum SPL of 122dB.

Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC Live ICL-FR

The Iconyx IC Live ICL-FR from Renkus-Heinz employs digital beam steering technology that provides vertical opening angles of 20, 25, and 30 degrees, and adjustable aiming angle of ± 30 degrees. Horizontal coverage above 3kHz is 120 degrees. Five 6.5in. cone drivers and three 1in. high-frequency titanium nitride compression drivers are powered by eight Class D amplifiers with integral DSP. The maximum SPL is 105dB peak and the frequency range is 80Hz to 20kHz.

RCF’s VSA 2050 features 20 3.5in. full-range drivers, each powered by its own 50W Class D power amplifier, all housed in an extruded aluminum enclosure. Onboard DSP allows the vertical coverage to be adjustable form 10 degrees to 30 degrees, and the vertical steering angle to be adjustable from 0 degrees to -40 degrees. Horizontal coverage is 130 degrees.

SLS PLS8695v2

From SLS Audio comes the self-powered, bi-amplified Model PLS8695v2 full range line source array column. Featuring eight 6.5in. woofers and nine PRD500 ribbon tweeters, maximum calculated SPL is 130dB, and the frequency response is 70Hz to 20,000Hz with a selectable 80Hz high pass filter. The horizontal coverage is 120 degrees.

Tannoy’s VLS 30 comprises 14 3.5in. woofers and 16 1in. metal-dome tweeters mounted in a 57.5in. tall extruded aluminum enclosure. The loudspeaker incorporates Focused Asymmetrical Shaping Technology (FAST) that provides asymmetrical vertical coverage. The horizontal coverage is 130 degrees. The peak output is 126dB SPL, and the frequency range is 90Hz to 35kHz.


TOA ElectronicsSR-H2 series features the L and S models, each with nine 2.8in. cone drivers. Both models feature 90-degree horizontal coverage. Vertical coverage for the L is equal to the height of the loudspeaker and the S provides vertical coverage of 20 degrees, using a hyper-clothoid concept curved array. The frequency response for the L is 80Hz to 18,000Hz versus 90Hz to 17,000Hz for the S.

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