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LD Systems MAUI 11 – good sound from an elegant column array – Test report by Soundcheck

LD Systems has launched a column PA onto the market, which is particularly suitable for keyboardists, entertainers and small acoustic ensembles. We have had a closer look at the system.

For a long time, column arrays were not really taken seriously in the music industry. The thin and nasal sound of column loudspeakers often found in churches or public buildings – deterred musicians; nobody ever wanted to have this sound during a performance. But technology has evolved rapidly. Current column PAs with built-in subwoofer represent fully-fledged full-range systems, which are absolutely equal to conventional satellite sound systems in terms of volume.

“In addition, a column system can be assembled in just a few minutes.”

Compared to a satellite system, they even have some decisive advantages: first, the slimline look, that predestines the column for performances in luxurious locations, such as a hotel lobby or a wedding gig for a solo artist – these are but a few areas that it can be operated in. In addition, a column system can be assembled in just a few minutes – a decisive factor just before a gig if time is of the essence.

The assembly of the Maui 11 is extremely easy. The column element is simply inserted into the recess provided for this purpose in the sub unit – and the sound system is ready to go. Two guide pins provide the proper grip and a precise placement. The plug contacts on the bottom of the column element provide the electrical connections with their counterparts on the sub so that the assembly of the column array requires no wiring between amplifier and speaker.

SPECIFICATIONS
• total output 340 watts (RMS), 680 watts (peak)
• amplifier technology Class D
• max. sound pressure level 113/121 dB (continuous/peak)
• frequency range 50 Hz – 20 kHz
• dispersion angle 120°
• total height 1950 mm weight 23.5 kg

The subwoofer of the Maui 11 also serves as a stand for the column element. The electronics for the whole system is housed inside the sub – preamplifiers, DSP, crossover and power amplifier. In addition, it will take over the frequency range from 50 to 180 Hz. Four LEDs indicate the operating status of the system: “On” means that the Maui 11 is turned on, “Signal” indicates that an audio signal is present, “Clip” alerts to a too high input level and “Protect” lights up when the amplifier is muted as a result of overload. Two combo jacks and two RCA inputs are available for the signal input of the mixer or a player. The stereo inputs are summed and played as a mono signal. Two XLR links loop through the stereo input signal to connect additional powered speakers.

The column element of the LD Systems Maui 11 is equipped with eight three inch speakers and a one inch tweeter. While the horizontal dispersion angle of the Maui 11 is very wide, vertical dispersion takes advantage of a bundled beam targeting the desired area, namely the listener. Walls and ceilings, however, receive no sound, which reduces reflections and avoids unwanted interference effects. In addition, the audience positioned further away from the column is supplied with sufficient direct sound, since this line array has a higher range through bundling of the acoustic beam and thus better diffuses the sound in the deeper spatial reaches. The wide horizontal dispersion angle of 120 degrees, however, causes the entire area in front of the column to be filled with sound. Thanks to the homogeneous distribution, significantly more listeners can be supplied with a balanced sound, than with a PA system with a smaller dispersion angle.

On the column element, the lower four speakers use the frequency range from 180 Hz to 1.2 kHz, while the top four operate on the entire mid range from 180 Hz to 7 kHz. In this way, the distribution of the lower mids is provided by all eight mid-range speakers, while the high mids are only emitted by the top four speakers. Through the distribution of the lower mids by all eight loudspeakers, the reach of the loudspeaker sound is greater than the emitted wavelength. The eight speakers in a row now act as a single elongated membrane, and the emitted sound wave has a propagation pattern in the horizontal plane that is different from the vertical – the result is a cylinder shaft. The tweeter is responsible for frequencies above 7 kHz, and is placed at the top in the column element.

“The whole band was impressed straight away with the extremely clear and mush-free keyboard sound…”

The control panel is simple and clear: The total volume and the proportion of the subwoofer can be controlled via two rotating knobs. The DSP control of LD Systems Maui 11 automatically takes over the sound control, so that the user is able to concentrate on his entertainment. Therefore, at low signal levels, the low frequencies are increased to take into account the psycho-acoustic effect that human hearing is less sensitive at low volumes in the bass range than in the mid range frequencies. Nevertheless it would have been nice to be able to manually intervene.

But now, enough theory – we want to finally know, what the LD Systems Maui 11 sounds like. The system was assembled intuitively within a few minutes without a single glance in the owner’s manual. Simply put the column element on the sub, plug in the power cord and all is done. Maui refers incidentally to “multiple array user intuitive” – the name says it all. We connected a keyboard system to the Maui 11 and operated the power switch. As luck would have it, it was Friday afternoon and apparently the stars were against us: Even after several attempts, the Maui 11 could not be persuaded to produce a single sound. In desperation, we immediately called Adam Hall, the German distributor of LD Systems, where help was provided in a professional manner without any fuss.

Overnight, we received a replacement system, which then easily played. And the wait was worthwhile: the synthesizers sounded very present and powerful through the Maui 11. Since the LD Systems Maui 11 comes as a very handy package, we took it without further ado to the next band practice in the rehearsal room and built it as a monitor system for the keyboards. The whole band was immediately impressed by the extremely clear and mush-free keyboard sound – even at moderate volume, the synthesizer and piano sounds came across as clean and assertive.

During a little gig involving an acoustic guitar and vocals, the Maui 11 showed its best side. The targeted sound emission patterns avoid the reflections on the ceiling and floor, which minimises the danger of getting feedback. Despite the far from optimal acoustic conditions, the vocal microphone was very easy to control, which allowed the singer to be heard and understood very clearly. The vocal sound came across as assertive and present. The acoustic guitar was plugged into the internal pickup, thus removing all possible feedback problems with this instrument. The sound of the guitar was brilliant and present – just as you like to hear it. Despite the lack of tone control, the Maui 11 is a column array with excellent sound and very good value for money.

AT A GLANCE
LD Systems Maui 11
Sales Adam Hall
www.ld-systems.com
Price (RRP) € 749.00
+ brilliant, clear sound
+ fast and easy set-up
+ visually appealing
– no manual EQ

Complete product information is available here:
http://www.ld-systems.com/en/series/maui-series/maui-11-compact-column-pa-system-active/

Source: http://www.soundcheck.de/

Author: Andreas Ederhof

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