Road Test

20 Jan 2020

Acoustic Technologies CLA700A and CLA LF3200A

by Shane Seccombe





Acoustic Technologies CLA700A and CLA LF3200A



Shane Seccombe is the director of Offbeat Operations Entertainment and Offbeat Production and Events, a production hire and artist management company based in Coffs Harbour, NSW. In addition to providing gear and expertise, Offbeat also service multiple venues with artists booking and production management, and provide site management for outdoor events.



At Offbeat, we’ve invested in an Acoustic Technologies system with three CLA700A top boxes and four CLA LF3200A subwoofers per side.

I’d been looking for a new PA system for a while that had the flexibility to cover the range of venues and gigs we do at Offbeat, and a friend whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for recommended AT’s CLA. He was running a system with eight tops and 10 subs and couldn’t speak highly enough of them.

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At the time of writing this review, we’d owned the system for just under eight weeks, and used it in-house at Hoey Moey pub in Coffs Harbour to crowds of 1,000, on outdoor festivals including Blues and Berries to 2,500 pax and Curryfest to 15,000 pax.

Artists we’ve had use the system include Daryl Braithwaite and Jon Stevens, Hands Like Houses, and heaps of local acts.

The system has performed well in some testing conditions – Blues and Berries enjoyed 70 kmh winds, which was interesting! Most systems go pretty wishy-washy in wind like that, but the CLAs stayed clear right to the very back of the event site.

Curryfest’s main stage was built high on a hill, and despite 15,000 being in attendance, the coverage was amazing; the CLAs fired down the hill and covered the whole area.


Operational and Tuning

We run the CLA rig from our Allen & Heath Qu-24 and its digital stage box. FOH EQ we handle in the Qu-24, and we find we don’t need any other processing.

Powersoft module

The CLAs are powered and processed with Powersoft amps and their Armonia DSP and software. We haven’t actually connected up Armonia and changed any of the factory defaults; the way the CLAs are tuned and processed out-of-the-box is amazing. It’s a smooth, flat response that’s easy to use, with plenty of headroom.


Coverage

The CLA700As give us wide coverage; they’re 150 degrees in the horizontal and 20 degrees in the vertical. This lets us cover some pretty wide areas, where I’ve found most other systems to be much more directional. The advantage is, in wide venues, the CLAs sound exactly the same no matter where you stand. This has saved us time and labour, as we don’t need to run any fills.


Subwoofers

The CLA LF3200A subwoofers are amazing. They are extremely powerful, and you can feel the air they’re pushing moving your shirt from 40 metres away, while they’re barely metering. The last two touring engineers who used them, mixing for Daryl Braithwaite and Jon Stevens, actually backed them off a bit. They were still pushed hard, and didn’t even meter in the yellow.


Practicalities

One of the big things for us is how easy it is to bring in a CLA rig. There’s no amp racks, for starters. The patching is really fast with the PowerCON daisy chaining. Signal is the same, with the LR daisy chaining out of the subs.

EQing is really simple, with maybe a couple of frequencies notched depending on the room. Channel vocal EQs are usually almost flat; an HPF and that’s it. The CLAs make it quick and easy to get a good sound, and that’s essential.

The CLA rig has reduced our labour time. We can get FOH up and running in 30 minutes, and the rest of the stage and any other requirements up within an hour.

Manual Handling

We have been ground stacking the CLAs, as we don’t have flying capability in most of the stages and venues we service. It’s not necessary to strap the stacks, either, as the locking mechanisms built in to the boxes takes care of that.

The CLA700As sit in between the CLA LF3200As and are locked-in through a groove at the back, and a clip at the front.

It’s a one-person lift to stack up to two CLA700As on the subs, with a second person required to stack a third CLA700A on top of that. One person can easily set-up four subs and two tops. All the CLAs travel on their wheels, in padded canvas covers, and they stack easily in the Pantech trailer.


Suggested Improvements

I’d like to see the handles on the CLA700As set a bit further forward, as they can feel a little unbalanced and have a tendency to swing down when you pick them up. I also wouldn’t mind a hanging point and a clip for the power and signal leads built-in to the back of the cabinets, to take strain off and make it look a bit tidier.


Service and Support

Acoustic Technologies are great to deal with. All the questions asked prior to purchase were answered, and they’re always available for anything we need followed up.

We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to our CLAs from all of the sound techs, bands, and venues who’ve used them, and from the punters who’ve heard them.

Brand: Acoustic Technologies
Model: CLA700A, CLA LF3200A
Product Info: www.atprofessional.com.au
Australia and New Zealand: www.atprofessional.com.au






CX Magazine – Dec 2019   Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand – in print and free online www.juliusmedia.com
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