A short drive from Paris city centre in the commune of Marcoussis is L-Acoustics’ HQ. Last month it opened its doors to the industry press to showcase its latest offering, the X Series. TPi’s Stew Hume hears the new system during a tour of the facilities.
From its humble beginnings in 1984, L-Acoustics has secured itself as one of the premium producers of loudspeakers within the live events industry. The company has seen year-on-year expansion with the HQ rapidly outgrowing its main building, which it moved in to 13 years ago.
L-Acoustics currently takes up four buildings in the Marcoussis business park, not to mention a recently redesigned Simea facility located near the French-German border in the Lower Rhine, Keskastel. This is where the framework for each L-Acoustics cabinet is built. However, according to Stephane Ecalle, Marketing Director, the goal of L-Acoustics has never been growth, but to produce the best products possible.
L-Acoustics’ most recent offering to the market is the the X Series, a range of four short throw coaxial speakers that have the capability to be used in the touring and the install markets. The series was first unveiled at this year’s Prolight + Sound tradeshow in Frankfurt. The three new products, the X8, X12 and X15 HiQ, have joined the older 5XT to create a range of purpose-built speaker cabinets.
During the visit to L-Acoustics, before listening to the new selection, Dan Orton, the UK based L-Acoustics Application Engineer gave an overview of the product range. He stated that: “With the new X Series, we took everything that we learned from the new K2 to work on the ergonomics of the cabinet, produce better acoustic properties, decrease the weight of the cabinets as well as different manufacturing processes to allow the cabinets to be more rugged.”
The three new cabinets include high-excursion neodymium drivers, ellipsoid directivity on the X12 and X15 HiQ, laminar vented ports and up to 30% weight reduction. Prior to the event Christophe Combet, Head of Acoustic and Instrumentation at L-Acoustics, talked about the development of the new X Series. “The challenge in creating the X Series was to bring all of the experience we gained in designing the K2 to bear on a new series of reference coaxials. We used new carpentry techniques to optimise internal volumes, maximise bass and eliminate vibrations, designing a new aerodynamic form with a slender, low profile that gives a profound feeling of power.”
Florent Bernard, Director of Application, Touring, talked about the R&D process of the X Series: “The team spent over two years designing the new X Series. As with the K2, engineered wood contributed both to the weight reduction as well as the acoustics. We received extensive feedback from partners during our pilot phase over the summer where we heard that technicians have been asking for more of them because they are so easy to lug around and to get up in the air.”
He went on to state that every piece of design has been meticulously thought about during the development of the series and certain minor design traits such as handle design were very important to the process: “We were absolute sticklers on the ergonomics, which meant hours of discussions on things like handles. While that may seem trivial, when you are the person who carries the speaker in and out of a venue day after day, believe me, it’s an important part of the acceptance of the series by the end user.”
The top end of the X Series is the X15 HiQ, which is now L-Acoustics’ reference active stage monitor. “This is our flagship monitor system but it is also a cabinet that can be used for a range of applications,” stated Orton.
With high feedback immunity and a narrow ellipsoid directivity of 40° by 60° it provides a fantastic choice for monitor setup. With a low profile, lightweight design, it is perfect for the touring environment. The cabinet also comes with the inbuilt risers to give the monitor a range of 35° to 55° creating maximum versatility. The design of the X15 HiQ along with the other two new speakers all share a similar curved shape that reduces the amount of mechanical binds in the cabinet resulting in a more rugged and durable design.
Heading down the line of products, the X12 is a multi-purpose enclosure for use in stage monitoring and fills, while its ellipsoid directivity of 90° by 60° makes it adaptable for FOH applications. Its passive design also provides effective amplified controller management. The smaller X8 fills the purpose of live monitor within the X Series.
A high SPL and extended bandwidth makes it perfect for operation at FOH control positions and allows an accurate translation of the engineer mix to large format L-Acoustics systems. The speaker has a wide conical directivity pattern which imparts a sense of specialisation with no minimal listening distance.
L-Acoustics has also produced several bracket solutions for the X Series. “There is a whole array of rigging accessories so each speaker in the series can be mounted in any configuration imaginable. We went right back to a blank white page when designing things like the pole mount, or the rigging systems with only one thing in mind. How can we make it so that one person alone can rig it?”
As well as listening to the new system, the L-Acoustics staff also gave those attending the showcase a tour of their main building – including a look at the new production facility. Only moving into the new warehouse in April, the company recently decided to move to an assembly line method of production, which increases efficiency as well as consistency of its products.