Peavey Versarray Triumphs at Dallas Festival Debut
DALLAS—During the world debut of the Versarray line array at the International Dallas Guitar Festival, Peavey proved that the true test of innovative design and quality is measured under intense adversity. The 28th annual event, held April 20-23 at Dallas Market Hall, drew fanfare from the global music community as well as the always-thriving Texas scene. An esteemed artist lineup of Gary Hoey, Jerry Donahue and other legends positioned the Versarray system's maiden performance on the indoor Peavey Stage as the centerpiece event of the festival. A smooth gig seemed assured. Located just north of downtown on I-35, Dallas Market Hall is a major consumer exhibit hall containing 214,000 square feet of real estate. Well suited for its usual clientele of boat, RV and car shows, the hall's acoustics nevertheless created a formidable proving ground for the Versarray. And with the Peavey Stage coverage area measuring 400 feet long and 160 feet wide with a 20-foot flat ceiling—a full 30% of the entire venue—the Versarray had plenty of ground to conquer.'The room was very difficult-concrete floor, concrete walls and a metal ceiling,' said Don Boomer, Peavey sound reinforcement product manager. 'It was an airplane hangar, basically, with a 4.8-second delay time. That's astronomical. You can't get rid of that time; you have to make the system penetrate to the listener without bouncing back and forth off the surfaces.'Boomer and Peavey audio veteran Ladd Temple began this task by powering a system of sixteen dual ribbon-equipped Versarray 112 top boxes with Crest Audio Pro 9200 and Pro 5200 amplifiers. Two Versarray 218 subs supported the line arrays, and four QW 218 subs, bandpassed low and powered by four Crest Audio Pro 9200 amps, were added to control the power alley that ran down the center of the hall.'We used a soft 2.5-degree curve between the upper six boxes in each line array and 5 degrees between the lower two boxes,' said Boomer. 'Because of the ribbons' true cylindrical projection, the ribbons work optimally at those angles. Smaller adjustments are simply unnecessary with a true line-source array. The ribbons project as a flat, planar sound source; it's a true column effect.'With front of house at 75 feet in front of the stage, Boomer expected to calculate sound-pressure levels at around 100 SPL from the 75,000-watt system. FOH actually registered at 105 SPL, but without the listener fatigue associated with traditional loudspeaker designs. 'The advantage of using the Versarray is not about ultimate loudness,' he said. 'I can get loud with anything. It's about control.' The Versarray's flexible design, with its 0- to 15-degree bracket-and-pin adjustment, 90° H x 15° V coverage pattern and numerous flying, mounting and stacking options, provided much of the directional control. Added control of the dynamics came with the VSX 26 and VSX 48 loudspeaker management processors, which the crew employed to help increase intelligibility while maintaining comfortable listening levels. 'The strength of the Versarray is being able to focus the sound,' explained Boomer, 'and with the VSX's ability to change the crossover points or the phase of some portion of the signal, we addressed the boxes separately and with little interference. We could measure for time and phase response, and we could use different filters for every adjustment: asymmetrical for the low cut and Linkwitz-Riley for the high cut, for example, and different slopes on each.'The combination of Versarray and VSX also made the monitors much easier to control in the concert's festival-style setup. Temple configured twelve bi-amped monitor mixes through a 40-channel Crest Audio console, each mix driven by a Peavey CS 1400 amp for the highs and a CS 4000 for the lows to accommodate up to 14 guitar players, two drummers, a bass player and a Hammond B-3 at any given time. The VSX enabled him to make very subtle adjustments in equalization and filtering to monitors, since soundcheck lasted only long enough to make sure the guitar cables were plugged in. 'With analog filters, it's 'one size fits all,'' said Boomer, 'but with the VSX we're able to custom-tailor each one. The side fills behave differently than the floor monitors, and being able to adjust them independently is crucial. In just 12 rack spaces, we had all the power we needed for four separate bi-amped mixes. Each of our three monitor power racks could handle its own separate bi-amped, EQ'd mix and still fit in a small 12-rack-space case.'The Versarray 112 ribbon-driver line array utilizes a high-performance, lightweight 12' Neo Black Widow woofer featuring a 4' voice coil with a neodymium magnet structure in a 13-ply Baltic birch enclosure. The Versarray 112 offers extreme versatility and performance in modular coverage of small- to medium-sized venues (10,000 capacity), and is intended for use with Versarray 118 or 218 subs, two vented subwoofers incorporating Peavey's ultra-high power Lo Max 18' woofer into a 13-ply Baltic birch cabinet. Peavey offers an optional mounting pole for the Versarray 118 subwoofer that can support a two-box array, while the 218 subwoofer has an optional ground-stacking kit that will support up to four modules and allow for full articulation. In addition, a crankable tower lift co-designed with Vermette can elevate up to six modules 13 feet above a 218 sub, then fold down for easy transport and storage.The Versarray 218 model features the patented UniVent venting system, which uses an exclusive process to literally pump air through the enclosure, maintaining cool operating temperatures, increasing reliability and reducing power compression under heavy continuous-drive conditions.