By Brad Bryan
The stuff has potential, the al4 is amazing for a small box and would be great for small to medium corporates. The al8 sounded sweet at low volume (probably the best out of everything), but it was by far the worst at rock concert level. It crapped out before any of the other rigs in the volume test (even its smaller cousin the al4). I think this company and product line has a bright future but their amplification and processing need some work. Their sub sounded great and very musical. It was my 3rd favorite sub of the bunch.
The Flex Array was an OK-sounding mid-sized line array. The Flashline was very loud, and had a beautiful and smooth high end like a studio monitor, possibly due to its Dendritic wave guide. However, the rest of the system sounded boxy and unnatural in the mids and low mids and the sub is the typical 45Hz-on-stun, one-note-wonder common today. It is also bulky and over engineered. The amp racks were super sexy though.
Both systems sounded OK until the got up to concert level, when it seemed that the processors clamped down so much that it crushed all of the boxes’ potential.
The RCF double 21 sub is great, very musical and hard hitting. It was my second favorite of the bunch. The 33 was so-so sounding and the 55 is a great large box that is held back by the firmware in the processors (don’t get me started). The 55 was tied for second in the line array category for me due to its high output, clarity and ability to get loud and still sound smooth. However, it’s as close to an omni directional PA as I have ever heard. Doing monitors right behind one of the stacks is like being in front of the PA. I experienced this first-hand at Extreme Thing 2013 in Las Vegas in March.
The XLC system is proven and road-worthy, sounds like a rock box, rigs easily, and sounds good right up to the limit. It was tied for second favorite in the line array category. The amp racks are simple and elegant. The sub is satisfactory but not the best of the day.
The 730 rig sounded like 730’s. I have done hundreds of shows on these boxes (my last full time job, RCI Sound Systems, Beltsville, MD was an EAW house) and while they have some interesting things happening around 160hz and 630hz, they have consistently high output for their size, rig easily and are very versatile (and great for corporate ballrooms and delays). The KF740/SB2001 rig was the best of the day. It held up in the low volume clarity test and compared favorably with the VUE al4/al8, and it totally outperformed all of the other boxes in the high volume test. The Turbo Flashline got much louder, but the 740 sounded clear, smooth and tight all the way to the limit. The SB2001’s have the capability to vibrate the contact lenses out of someones eyes (read: Mine at ACM when Bernie was testing with electronic dance music). The HAS amp racks are also a thing of beauty. Small light and power for days. Please note, this is not the easiest rig to set up, it takes a bit of a genius to tune it properly, but when it is right, it is right and can go head to head with d&b, L-Acoustics, Martin, JBL and Meyer all day long.
This event was a pleasure to be involved with. Leave it to Larry Hall to challenge the industry to show off its products in a public forum. The results may be subjective, but the outcome will be to push the industry to be better, do better, and be more open to criticism and end user input. If that is the case, we all win.
Brad “the Devil” Bryan is a freelance audio engineer and production manager living in the Washington, DC area. Equally comfortable behind a monitor desk or at the helm of a large corporate, Brad enjoys the challenge of live event production.