“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that HALO Compact is simply the best-sounding system I’ve ever mixed on.”—Phil Wright

It would be difficult to imagine a more high profile launch for a brand new loudspeaker system than a highly prestigious event at London’s Royal Albert Hall, in front of over 10,000 paying guests across two performances. This was exactly what UK loudspeaker manufacturer EM Acoustics did when they debuted their brand new HALO Compact line array for the UK premiere of Disney’s Fantasia live in concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

HALO Compact is born of EM Acoustics original HALO line array system first launched in 2009. HALO Compact retains the same astonishing sonic performance that can only be achieved by using a truly plane-wave AMT high frequency unit in a more compact form factor. A wider 95-degree horizontal coverage allows greater flexibility whilst in use, while a more powerful 8” low frequency drive unit adds more body to the overall sonic performance as well as higher SPL capacity than the original HALO system. Furthermore, HALO Compact exhibits extremely flat frequency & phase responses and an HF wavefront that is truly plane without manipulation of a spherical wavefront. The end result is a system that remains intelligible over much greater distances than users have come to expect from conventional compression driver-based designs on this scale.

Such is the uniformity of frequency and phase response as well as dispersion in both the horizontal and vertical planes that HALO Compact cabinets may even be used singly as front or under-balcony fills where precise vertical directivity is a priority. When used as complete systems, HALO Compact elements partner with the HALO-CS flyable subwoofer and the FG-HALO-C flying grid. For additional low frequency support, EMS-215 or EMS-118 subwoofers, or for larger systems the MSE-218 subwoofer may be used to underpin the arrays.

So it all sounds good on paper, but how did it measure up in real life? It has to be said that EM Acoustics either have nerves of steel or enormous confidence in their product (probably a bit of both) because for a first live gig, the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall for a UK premiere is hardly the Queens Head on a Thursday night! Sound By Design are the preferred audio supplier for the Royal Albert Hall and a company that enjoys a great relationship with EM Acoustics. As the company responsible for the live sound for the BBC Proms season, along with countless orchestral shows in the venue, they brought in renowned classical sound engineer Phil Wright, who specialises in mixing large scale classical events and musical theatre, and who mixed this event on a DiGiCo SD5. Phil was categoric:

“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that HALO Compact is simply the best-sounding system I’ve ever mixed on. The transparency, linearity and headroom that EM Acoustics have achieved with this product is quite simply amazing.”

He then went on to explain what he meant: “In an ideal world, everyone would use ribbons for curved linear arrays because the high driver would be continuous along the entire length of the array; there would be no breaks to introduce distortion or other unwanted elements. The difficulty was that in the past, ribbons were very low efficiency. Twenty years ago, ribbon loudspeakers tended to be a) enormous, b) need 3kw amps to drive them and c) catch fire quite a lot! All of the major manufacturers have spent decades emulating the line source that is ribbons to create the ribbon effect, but no-one has achieved what EM Acoustics have produced with the HALO Compact system. They have managed to design and build these cabinets in such a way that all of the issues that other manufacturers have to work so hard with electronics to overcome have simply gone away.”

“They’ve hit the nail on the head with these new drivers, and Ed [Kinsella]’s attention to detail with the crossovers and system directivity has resulted in by far the smoothest system coverage we’ve ever achieved in the RAH.”

“I hope they’re gearing up for major production of this product,” concluded Phil with a grin, “because when the word gets out, they’re not going to be able to build it fast enough!”

Stephen Hughes, Sound By Design’s project engineer for all of the companies’ Royal Albert Hall concerts also proffered his support for the HALO-C by saying:

“Having heard nearly every conceivable combination of speaker brands installed in this venue by the great and the good of the PA world, I can confirm that although this system may deceive in terms of its’ size, it delivers far more in terms of intelligibility and clarity, consistency of coverage and headroom. Scoring one or two of these goals is considered a good day’s work by most system techs in such a tricky venue, but for EM to nail all three re-iterate that this box is just a little bit special. It will confound you as much as it pleases.”

The system spec for Fantasia at the Royal Albert Hall was:

Main L/R hangs of 2 x HALO-CS subwoofers and 12 x HALO-C array elements per side

4 x EMS-61 as front fill

4 x EMS-81X as stalls front fill

2 x EMS-122w as circle fill

3 x MSE-218 subs in a cardioid array under the stage

The whole system was powered with EM Acoustics AQ-10 and AD-9 amplifiers.

Download a PDF cut sheet about the Halo system HERE.