“So, How Does It Rig?”
So, as a participating member of the 2014 shoutout, and a full time employee of H.A.S. Productions, I am obliged to give my thoughts on the shootout and what my choice box would have been. A little background on myself, I am an aspiring engineer and systems tech. I spend most of my time hanging the PA, setting up the subs, wiring amp racks, running cable... etc.etc. I am the guy that does a lot of the footwork on the ground and in the air with 95% of the gigs we run, so I am going to make my picks mostly on how easily the PA sets up, and how great it sounds right out the gate. Here goes...
Small Line Array DAS Aero 8: surprisingly this little box stood out as far as sound quality goes. Easy to rig and fly, self powered, throws really well and seamless. What it lacks is simply SPL, but realistically such a small box wouldn't be my go to for a main LR hang. No proprietary front end tweak software, doesn't really need it. 4/5 stars for small box.
Small Line Array VUE AL4/SUB Combo: once again a great sounding small box complimented with an awesome sub. For the size off the rig, I'd say it did alright with coverage but once again, being a smaller box it lacked with SPL. Not a deal breaker, especially if you're going for fidelity. Every small box has it's niche, and this one does great for almost any application. 4/5 stars for a small box.
Mid Size Line Array DAS Aero 40a and LX218 powered sub: Very nice box here, sexy rigging, flies off the ground moderately well with a few quirks. Coupled with the LX218 this system makes a bangin PA for EDM and does well with full bands as well. The Aero 40a power module makes it super heavy though, at about 145lbs a box. Not a fan of the weight but it's nice to just role in, hang them and be done instead of needing to wire up amp racks. The module itself is very user friendly, as well as the software DASNet to run its full capabilities. The sub itself isn't the greatest tone I've heard from a sub, but with some heavy tweaking it was passable. 4/5 stars for the top and 3/5 stars for the sub.
Mid Size Line Array VUE AL8 and HS 28 powered sub: right off the bat I've gotta say the sub sounds absolutely amazing! Tight, girthy, punchy, well rounded, throws great... everything a sub should be, just plug in and go! For a mid-size box the AL8, definitely lives up to the standard, and by far the highest fidelity out of all manufacturers on the bean. The 2 space amps are a plus, with 2xNL8 connectors right out of the back, giving the capability of running 4 boxes nominally within 2 zones off of one amp. That being said, I'm definitely not a fan of running 1 NL8 cable for 2 boxes. Hanging 10 runs of cable for a 20 box PA is not my ideal gig, and it makes for a super heavy cable pick.
In the manufactures defense, this is due in part to their beam steering technology, giving the end user the capability to taylor the PA to the room appropriately, so I'll hand it to them on that regard. Everything else about the box is great, a real breeze to fly and coupled with AL4 for down fill makes a seamless transition front to back. 4/5 stars for the AL8 5/5 stars for the sub.
Mid Size Line Array RCF TT33 and TT56 powered sub: Right away, if I was in the market for a great sounding compact PA with appropriate SPL, I would have walked away with the TT33 rig right then and there. Slight pain it was to fly but practice made perfect. Subs blew me away with SPL, tone was great too, comparable to the HS28 from VUE. I didn't get a chance to check into the running software so I really can't give my opinion. Truly a great PA from front to back, top to bottom, no negative feedback here! 5/5 stars for the top AND the sub for a total of 10 stars!
Large Line Array NEXO STM system: this entire system includes all proprietary amps, subs, suggest, software, and drive. That being said, not the most user friendly PA to just walk up and start making noise. The rigging seemed simple enough but again, gotta get some training in before leaving the warehouse. DANTE is a widely acceptable drive standard, a little tricky to use though in my opinion. The hang itself was rather impressive, and the sub was phenomenal! Sound quality could probably have used a little more tweaking for the room, and more box count altogether for coverage. SPL was more than acceptable for A-list artists and venues. 4/5 stars for the top and 4/5 for the sub.
Large Line Array OUTLINE GTO system: this system went up in the air like a boss! As tho it was meant to be there instead of on the ground. Powersoft Amplification is great for SPL. A few things to note, the connector on the box looks like some sort of 8 pin Veam. Proprietary cabling I am not a fan of, because it's expensive, and your friendly competitors don't have it to borrow. Losing points for that. Secondly, the upper box and mid box were different models, which on a tour seems justifiable, but as a vendor it would suck having 2 different boxes to piece together a PA. The downfill box on the other hand seemed appropriate because everybody's down fill box is different than the upper box, however I wasn't impressed with the down coverage. The sub, honestly it didn't stand out to me, but not necessarily losing points. It was there, it was loud, it was sub.
I will say I'm not a fan of Powersoft's integrated software to run the amps. Sound quality seemed fair as well as SPL, but again I felt needed a FOH engineers touch. Overall from a vendor's perspective, this system wasn't my best pick. 3/5 stars for the top and 3/5 for the sub.
In addition to the PA shoutout, we demoed many a wedge manufacturer. I won't elaborate here, just giving stars based on sound quality and acceptability... and forgive if I don't recall every manufacturer that was there.
EAW MW12: 3/5
ADAMSON M15: 5/5
VUE 212: 5/5
VUE 112: 5/5
DAS ROAD 15: 2/5
QSC k10: 2/5
So my overall consensus on PA manufacturer, I'd walk away with RCF in hand. VUE or DAS I'd have to toss a coin. NEXO and OUTLINE would really need to take me out for a steak dinner (or two or three) and convince me of what their PA is capable of and why it suits my needs as a vendor. Between the smaller PA boxes, it's definitely a toss up, DAS would be a better throw and go box, but VUE takes the cake for fidelity, and is just as easily tossed into the air. But don't take my word for it, this is ALL based in my own formulated opinions as a PA Technician, truck driver and occasional sound mixer. If you think my opinion sucks then please, get off your butt and come down to the next shootout and form your own thoughts :)