The Benefits of HT/1510 Line Arrays
Those following the remarkable onslaught of REL’s Line Arrays in forging a new definition of spatial full-scale reproduction in high end 2-channel systems may still not grasp the benefits of this technology in theatre applications.
As I write this, several hundred audio professionals were invited to hear what all the shouting is about at a special event in Orlando, Florida. They were there to be exposed to the latest techniques and products by one of the world’s largest consumer electronics retailers. Finally, able to hear a system using KEF’s Blades driven by a Levinson electronics stack with 300- watt monoblocks, all carried along by a line array of REL No.25’s participants were amazed when they discovered that the line array concept was not about bass tom foolery, but instead opened up multi-dimensional audio – Left/Right/Up/Down/Forward/Backward. Instead of big, booming bass dominating all, they heard a system with a full 9’ (2.75m) of height that was staccato/machine-gun fast with delineation in all 6 axes that turned a converted boardroom into what sounded like a medium-sized live concert venue.
Elsewhere, attendees were treated to a masters class in theatre bass with a parallel system featuring some of Bowers and Wilkins latest offerings and a Marantz processor/Classé featuring some of Bowers and Wilkins latest offerings and a Marantz processor/Classée amplifier stacks coupled with a REL 15” HT line array system that had the entire show buzzing. What? Line arrays in theatre? Oh yes, and in a special show-constructed room whose walls looked gorgeous, like cast concreate with dark-stained timber detailing, but was, in fact, 3mm thick vinyl panels that were stuck on with invisible Velcro fasteners. Fantastic to look at, but an acoustic nightmare for almost all systems. Yet, what that audience experienced was transcendental; huge bass dynamics, effortlessly rendered with height that carried higher than top of the screen, warmth and an even timbral balance courtesy of Bowers’ center channel connected directly to a REL S/812—in high gloss white lacquer, just because it looked gorgeous set against the dystopian décor of the dem space. We’re speaking of state-of-the-art-theatre delivered in a vinyl tent complete with aluminum posts. This is what REL Line Arrays can deliver when applied to theatre.
Let’s back up for a moment and review the purpose of our Line Arrays. First, let’s be clear about what it is NOT intended for. It is not intended as super bass for idiots, though it certainly can satiate the inner 16-year old’s need for too much bass. In most rooms a single or stereo pair of RELs is fully capable of underpinning the needs of nearly any system. So doesn’t 6 RELs mean you’ll be listening to 3 times louder bass? Only if one has no idea how to tune a system properly. In all cases, Line Arrays deliver the missing ingredient our hobby has been craving for the past 30 years; full stage venue height with air and superior spatial definition, along with sparkling dynamics. Once heard, it can never be forgotten.
Applying this to theatre performance, a line array of the new HT/1510s will deliver height to the very top of the screen and slightly above, along with all the bass weight and authority that those who love theatre in all its various forms consider mandatory. Because a Line Array of HT/1510s has so much driven surface area –around 7 ½ square feet of surface area – and each driver has its own dedicated 1,000-watt monoblock fed by a high current power supply, it’s easy to drive even difficult rooms hard. And because of all this power and applied driver area, each sub is cruising along. Ever seen a full-sized greyhound running? They seem to cover ground effortlessly; each stroke of their powerful legs appears to cover more ground than the last and there doesn’t seem to be much effort associated with this tremendous speed. That’s the HT/1510 when deployed in line arrays.
The bottom pair of HT/1510s are the lowest bass anchors, they produce the infra bass present in challenging film soundtracks. Moving up to the center course, these are mid-bass pistons, fantastic for attack and for explosiveness, while the top course elevates the height of image to the top, and even a little above, the top of the screen. In our development studio when we deconstruct a 6-pack, removing the top course results in sound dropping to mid-screen, whilst removing the center course drops it all the way down to bottom of screen and below.
Remember, at that point we still have a pair of HT/1510’s and excellent bass remains. But what is lost when not using a line array in theatre is elevation of sound that carries one’s attention up and onto the screen. And since theatre is all about immersive-ness, everything we can do to carry the audience onto and into the screen, entering the movie, is incredibly desirable.
We encourage you to seek out a REL HT/1510 dealer featuring our Line Arrays, it’s a remarkable theatre event. A sonic equivalent to the visual feast that is IMAX, especially when partnered with one or more high level-enabled RELs to bring you REL3D with Line Arrays (3D-LA). These new HT/1510s can transport the theatre maven directly into the midst of a full height sound field and, into the movie itself. Once heard, it will never be forgotten.