LD Systems is enriching the column PA system market with its MAUI 28. In our test, this column system proved to be easy to transport and set up, and also scored some points on sound. So where’s the catch?
The column PA system market is picking up momentum once again: With its MAUI 28, LD Systems is introducing a column PA that plugs together without cables and is easy to set up. The sleek design is matched with technology intended to ensure optimal sound and good sound distribution. We put the system to the test to see if it is everything the manufacturer promises it to be.
At first glance, the test system seems pleasantly compact. The multiplex subwoofer evidences flawless workmanship and is covered with a solid textured coating. It houses two eight-inch speakers in a “V” configuration. Because of the “V”-shaped configuration of the speakers, the drivers enclose a defined volume of air in front of themselves, which is moved accordingly by the displacement of the membranes. The hope is that such designs will improve coupling of the acoustic waves with the surroundings, since – unlike in an ordinary speaker cabinet – it is not necessary to excite the total air volume directly. Instead, the defined volume constitutes a buffer that can be calculated, thus enabling developers to tune the cabinet more precisely.
In the MAUI-28-System, the subwoofer is accompanied by two column elements: The lower module holds a total of eight of the sixteen three-inch speakers, while the upper column module holds an additional eight three-inch speakers and a horn tweeter. At first glance, both elements look identical, but there is still no risk of confusion during setup. After all, the horn belongs on top. Both parts of the column are clearly marked with Roman numbers on the back. The components plug together with multipin connectors. By means of electronic logic, the power amp module in the subwoofer detects whether both parts of the column have been plugged together correctly. The “Locked” LED does not light up until everything is connected properly, and only then does the protective circuit switch the column on electrically. The column elements are mechanically connected by two sets of four durable steel pins which ensure that everything stays put.
In practice, setup goes very smoothly, only the mechanical connection between the column components and the subwoofer is a little stubborn at first. In any event, the connection is secure and sturdy and the system really does respond with silence to a purposeful attempt to connect the components incorrectly. If – again on purpose – the two parts of the column are plugged together imperfectly, this is greeted by silence. The logic does what it is supposed to do.
With line arrays, the length of the speaker column and the relative spacing of the individual drivers play an important role. Moreover, it takes more membrane area to reproduce low frequencies than it does to reproduce high ones. In simplified terms, this means: the higher the frequency in the midrange, the less the 3-inch speakers of the MAUI 28 system are needed. Consequently, the developers at LD Systems divided up the working ranges of the columns into separate areas. All drivers are used in the lower ranges, with fewer and fewer drivers in operation as the range moves upward. This facilitates the ideal compromise between the length of the speaker column, the membrane area, and the maximum possible relative spacing between the drivers in use.
The practical test was conducted with canned music out in back of our building. The first impression is a pleasant one: Not a trace of the usual PA horn sound, but clean and rich mids instead. The treble response, too, is pleasant and very crisp despite the comparatively tiny horn. The underlying bass is unobtrusive and fits in well with the overall sound. Voices sound pleasantly full and powerful.
At a slight distance, the sound is a pleasantly homogenous blend of bass, mids, and treble; however, it collapses a little right in front of the system. It almost sounds as if the previously smooth coupling between mids and tweeter no longer functions so seamlessly. Sometimes there is something missing, sometimes it’s all there, and sometimes it’s too much. A few centimetres make the difference. Take one step backwards, and everything is good again. Take another two steps back, and it’s golden. By the way, this also holds true at high volume levels.
The compact column packs an impressive aural punch and sounds a lot bigger than it really is. The 120-degree radiation angles are maintained very cleanly, for there are no outliers to be found in the frequency response curve. The consistency of the sound, which is already very pleasant at low volumes, is preserved even at much higher volumes.
As the input level increases, the system not only produces more volume, but also noticeable heat at the generously dimensioned cooling element on the rear of the subwoofer. It does not become unduly hot, but is noticeable nonetheless. The system dispenses with fans; the convection cooling system is still sufficient. Regrettably, the makers also dispensed with somewhat better protection for the cooling elements. These protrude markedly at the top of the connector panel. The outstanding limiters thwart users who get carried away already with the input level, thus maintaining normal conditions.
This compact plug and play solution is suitable for all conceivable applications. Onstage, the column ensures equally good sound for musicians and audience alike. Thus the column is equally usable on stage for both PA and monitoring applications.
- Price: 899 €
- Frequency response: 45-20,000 Hz
- Configuration: Column: 16 x 3-inch + 1-inch horn tweeter, sub: 2 x 8-inch bass
- Output power: 2 x 200 W
- Sound pressure level: 115 dB max., 98 dB (1 W/1 m)
- Connectors: 2 x line-in (RCA + combo socket), 2 x line-out
- Column: 11 x 79 x 9 cm, 3.6 kg;
- Sub: 39 x 45 x 51 cm, 20 kg
Source: Tastenwelt Magazin, June 2011