- by George Petersen
in Road Tests
Mention the phrase “line array” and images of VerTec and V-DOSC systems usually spring to mind. But in terms of line array technology, systems with narrow vertical dispersion modules aren’t the only game in town. In fact, lately there has been a surge of interest in high-performance vertical column array systems.
Bring on the TRx3810A VELA
The newest entry in that market is the Carvin TRx3810A VELA™ (Vertically Engineered Line Array), a modular system that’s scalable system to handle anything from small to large audiences. Made in the USA, the TRx3810A VELA features two high output, 10-inch neodymium woofers and eight 3.5-inch ceramic magnet cone midrange/HF drivers in a 66 pound, 32 x 12 x 14.75-inch (HxWxD) Baltic birch enclosure. Two matching powered subwoofers — the single-18 TRx3018A and the double-18 TRx2218A — are also available.
Each VELA enclosure is a full range cabinet with a stated frequency response of 60 Hz to 16 kHz (-10 dB) and powering the unit’s 10 drivers is 1,600 RMS watts of Class-D bi-amplification with user-selectable onboard DSP modes to suit various applications.
Under VELA’s steel grill, the eight MF/HF drivers are aligned in front of the stacked 10-inch woofers (See Fig. 1), creating a vertically engineered line array element that combines both line array and column array technologies.
A variety of systems are offered, all based around the combinations of the TRx3810A VELA module. The most basic is two VELA boxes, which can be flown or pole-mounted. The VELA2 configuration is intended for small venues, bands and DJs, which is composed of two VELA cabinets and two TRx3018A single 18-inch active subs. The VELA4 for larger venues has four VELA cabinets for two stacks and four TRx3018A active subs. The VELA8 is the largest system with eight VELA cabinets and six TRx2218A active dual 18-inch subs for large venues and outdoor events up to 2,500 people, hanging four VELA cabinets per side.
A key to the system is Carvin’s integrated interlocking SlideLock™ flying hardware that supports up to four units in a flown configuration. The SlideLock plates on the top and bottom of each cabinet allow locking two or more cabinets in a single column by sliding each upper cabinet into the plate from the lower cabinet and then using locking pins to keep them secure. (See Fig. 2). Similar SlideLock plates are also provided on the complementary TRx3018A and TRx2218A subs, creating a system that secure and stable. Carvin also offers an optional SlideLock TBAR, a hang point for suspending up to four VELA cabinets from a 5/8” shackle and standard rigging such as chain hoist. The angle of the hang can be tweaked simply by selecting a different hole on the TBAR. There are twelve 3/8-16 fly points on each enclosure.
Aligning a cabinet into the SlideLock hardware is a straightforward (and fast) procedure, but it takes a little getting used to and is best done with an extra set of hands. The two handles on the side of each cabinet simplify the process.
The rear panel of each VELA module has rugged, locking Neutrik PowerCON sockets for connecting to the AC and for daisy chaining AC power to the next cabinet. There is a power switch, but no power LED on the front of the cabinet, which is either a plus or minus, depending on your application. There is also a USB port, but is used only to upload system firmware or updates and has no audio function. Balanced XLRs are provided for the analog audio input and thru functions. One nice touch is a 3-pin terminal black connector for adding remote volume or muting to the system for installation use. The back panel also houses a variable-speed cooling fan, but the system runs cool and fan noise was not an issue.
At the top of the rear panel is a bright LED readout (Fig. 3) indicating the selected preset and any parameters being tweaked. Access to the DSP settings is via a simple four-button interface, providing a choice of six presets for full range single/dual/three/four cabinet systems or -24dB Butterworth 85 Hz rolloffs for use with subwoofers. Other parameters include input sensitivity adjust and four contour (flat/smile/mid cut/mid boost) EQ presets, two with LF boost. Fortunately, the VELAs sounded fine as is and I stuck mainly to the flat setting.
Speaking of sound, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the performance of the VELAs. With the eight 3.5-inch cone drivers, I was expecting a midrange-heavy sound, but this was not the case. Instead, the TRx3810A provided a balanced blend; the 400 Hz crossover point was not audible at all and the upper HF response was clear and smooth, sounding more like a 3-way system. The 1,600 watts of onboard power offered plenty of punch and the lows from the neodymium dual-10 woofers was full and transient. Moreover, there were no lobing or combing artifacts from combining multiple cabinets, with the net result yielding a seamless system that was linear at all frequencies.
As expected, the dispersion from a column array was wide (100 x 30-degrees, HxV), which can be an issue in terms of avoiding adjacent walls, requiring some care in placement, possibly toeing the boxes slightly inward to avoid early reflections. But the net effect of this all-cone system was a combination of clear intelligibility and musicality — two factors any FOH engineer will appreciate.
The TRx3810A VELA system is shipping now and sold direct by Carvin at a MAP price of $1,699.
At a Glance
Smooth Wide Response
Carvin offers a high-power, flexible vertical column array solution in a modular, expandable form.
Carvin Audio TRx3810A VELA
- Solid construction
- Onboard DSP and biamplification
- Linear, wide response
- 100-degree dispersion may not work in all venues
- LF Drivers: (2) 10” neodymium
- MF/HF Drivers: (8) 3.5” cone drivers
- Crossover: 400 Hz
- Power: Class-D, 1,600 RMS
- Dispersion: 100 x 40 degrees (HxV)
- Maximum SPL: 129 dB
- Frequency Response: 60 Hz to 16 kHz (-10 dB)
- Dimensions: 32 x 12 x 14.75”
- Weight: 66 pounds
- Street Price: $1,699
- Manufacturer: Carvin
More Info: www.carvinaudio.com