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Poor man's "Bose L1" system. Well, almost...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Wal Pawlik, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. After following the thread elsewhere on TB, on who uses the Bose L1 system, I figured that regardless of the controvesy of whether Bose is good or bad, I liked the concept of line array speakers. So, I set out to build and test a pair of line array speakers for myself. Nothing as high tech as a real Bose L1, with built in amps and guitar, mic and bass emulations, but the basic concept of a line array speaker column.

    The columns in the picture are the result. Eighteen four inch twin cone speakers in each column wired in series/parrallel combination to give 4 Ohms. Each column is actually two modules joined. Each column is connected to a bass driver in order to give some bottom. The bass drivers are actually old PA boxes I had lying around. I disconnected the horns and left the rest. Not ideal, but it works, and I'll built proper bass boxes soon.

    Driven from the mixing desk via some graphics to the power amp, to the bass box, then the line array. At this stage there are no crossovers. The signal is EQ'd to pull some of the bottom from the bass bin which is a little too sensitive and to prevent to much low energy going to the line array.
    The signal is further boosted at the top end because the drivers I used for the array are quite cheap and run out around 14k.

    Last night was our first roadtest gig using this set up and it performed remarkably well. More than adequate sound levels are achievable and with no feedback, and only the EQ as described earlier. Best of all we were able to leave the heavy front of house speakers and foldback monitors at home.

    The sound on stage was very clear and we could all hear ourselves as a total balance, just as the audience was hearing us. In fact during some of our quieter numbers we could actually hear the audience talking.

    So, it isn't really equivalent to a Bose L1, or even used as the L1 is supposed to be used, but I am now convinced that the line array concept is totally practical. The concept has a lot going for it. Less equipment to manhandle, less set up time, easier to EQ, and everyone hears the same mix on stage so they know immediately if they are too loud or soft.

    Now I'm not saying this is for everyone, but for our band, a four piece, country rock/bluegrass, non headbanging outfit(my bias:), it seems to work so far. Of course time will tell, but I am confident.

    I would be pleased to hear from anyone with similar experiences.
  2. Illbay


    Jan 15, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    Stupid question: How do you "test" a pair of speakers you haven't "built" yet?
  3. Ok, so I built them first.
  4. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Good'un, Wal.

    I've considered doing similar a few times, given the cost of the Bose implementation versus what we can build the brunt of it for, and end up with better bass bins in the bargain. Perhaps the Phil Jones small lines might be a better comparison, since though Bose talks about the line array (in the most consumeristic lightweighty bent), arguably the stealth concept is actually giving each performer his own section of the PA to control, and having local individual source positioning for each instead of a "central" PA with maybe a couple of main sources.
  5. Greenboy
    Yes, exactly why this is a "poor man's L1". Some of the benefits of the L1. But to have the full benefits, is way beyond the depth of my pockets.
  6. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    Tres Cool.
  7. best read the whole original post before replying?


  8. whodom


    Mar 3, 2006
    Salters, SC
    Very cool. Given how well the concept seems to work, it's a pity some other manufacturer doesn't get into this to give Bose some competition.
  9. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Maybe Wal Pawlik could open up his design, go public domain with it.
  10. What was the total cost on these arrays? How much power do they handle?
  11. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    Technically, the concept is not new. Very old PAs from the 60s and 70s were typically short vertical arrays, the sort you find in a church or school hall. You'd find old Shure and even Fender PA's with vertical arrays from that era. Somewhere along the line the box speaker PA became popular.

    Bose's novelty are the integrated electronics, some integrated EQ I think , and their system of bass breadboxes. Also the plan for each muso to have his or her own Bose rig onstage is somewhat novel.

    But you are right about the lack of commercial competition, - it can't be that expensive to load up a line of 2" - 4" speakers, and sell it with a conventional bandpass sub that is bigger than a bread bin, powered by conventional electronics and mixers.
  12. VicDamone


    Jun 25, 2000
  13. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Great job! This is what it's about.
    It is surprising manufacturers aren't catching on, but doing it yourself is much more rewarding.
  14. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    The pipedreams commercial page shows a restaurant installation that shows a horizontal array like modern stadium floodlights.
  15. The design was more "suck it and see" than "design". Fortunately it works.

    The cost was more than I originally anticipated, but once I started with one and it seemed to work I had to go on. Somewhere around AU$400 for the pair. They are a bit of a joke with the band, "gutter pipe specials", as they are built from PVC driveway drainage gutters with the lids as the grille. I suppose theoretically they should handle 18 X 20W or about 360W each. At the gig the with the 300W a side power amp I was using the -18dB LED was just lighting. That was plenty loud enough.

    I'm old enough to remember those days well. I seem to remember though that lack of power and feedback a was always a problem.

    Don't quite know about that, but the bass is a Chinese solid top imported by a guy that puts his own Lachlan Parker brand on. Mine must have been the first because the serial no. is 001. I don't think it is a particularly good bass as I only came to upright about 3 years ago and didn't have much idea and it suited my budget at the time. Of course now I know better.:)

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