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L-Acoustics Kara: PAC Them In

By

19 November 2013

Text:/ Christopher Holder

PA shootouts are intriguing. I think I’ve wished I was a fly on the wall so many times that I’m starting to have a Jeff Goldblum follicle problem.

Shootouts aren’t an empirical, quantifiable contest duked out on an even playing field. They’re a slugfest, one part science, one part sales pitch, one part chutzpah, with a splash of good luck in the mix as well. Normally, the client has a preconceived opinion. They want to be sold on a system, if not sold a system, and the tender process can be somewhat of a box-ticking show trial.

There aren’t too many significant performing arts centres in the country, and when news spreads that the tech department is sniffing around for a new PA, then you can almost see the dorsal fins circling. John Kelly, manager of Audio Visual Production Services at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre isn’t allowed to talk the tech department, as that might constitute a tacit endorsement of the chosen product. And QPAC brass don’t want that. Fair enough. 

Meanwhile, the folk at Gold Coast-based Con-Sol, better known for their corporate production work are more than happy to talk, in fact, just try and stop them! Officially the PA suppliers and installer, they’re justifiably proud of their involvement in connecting QPAC with its brand new L-Acoustics Kara system. Managing Director Bill Karaitiana is realistic and sanguine about his company’s influence and position in the whole transaction – “we’re a facilitator” – but can certainly take a little more credit for the sale than that. 

Until the recent announcement of L-Acoustics appointing Hills SVL as its Australian distributor, L-Acoustics has been somewhat in the wilderness in these parts. After parting company with Random Audio, the likes of Con-Sol and Adelaide’s Novatech have acted as sub-distributors, largely in recognition of their own significant investment in L-Acoustics inventory. “We’re a risk averse business, and when we first invested in L-Acoustics 10 years ago it was for that reason. Here was a system that would be reliable and would help us retain our clientele,” noted Bill Karaitiana.

Next, and I’m going to take a big punt here, QPAC and Bill got talking. Who knows, the QPAC crew may be L-Acoustics fans – there are plenty out there.

Whatever the case, L-Acoustics HQ in Ile-de-France became aware that this was no speculative quête futile (French for wild goose chase) and flew in a heavyweight system tuner for the QPAC demo. Kara never sounded so good… well, at least not until the eventual commissioning stage.

The Concert Hall kitted out with its new L-Acoustics system.

The view back towards the control and mixing positions. (Image courtesy of QPAC . All other images courtesy of Con-Sol).

The demo actually sold two Kara systems that day. QPAC were enamoured, as was Con-Sol. As an act of solidarity and support, Bill had already committed to buying Kara components, but once he and his team heard Kara in full flight, signed off on an 18-element deal with L-Acoustics along with the requisite stock of companion SB18 subs and LA-RAK amps/controllers. Not a bad day’s work. This put Con-Sol in good company. Novatech has a system, JPJ’s Kara rig is back in Australia after a US sojourn and now there’s the QPAC house system. It allows Con-Sol to better serve QPAC and provide genuine support.

You won’t hear a bad word about L-Acoustics’ PA systems – even from those whose job it is to sell competing gear. It’s well engineered, sounds amazing and the backup is very solid indeed.

For a house system such as this, it’s also doing much more than fulfilling a role in the performing arts centre – such as the seating or the staging. The right PA can actually generate much-needed funds and Kara is one of a handful of systems that will gladly be accepted without question by visiting acts. That’s money in the bank.

Main Kara front array with choir stall 108P fills in the background.
Kara main arrays with Kiva front fills in place across the front edge of the stage.

ABOUT THE SYSTEM

The QPAC Concert Hall is one of Australia’s most spectacular concert venues. The 1600-seat hall (1800 with the choir balcony seats behind the stage) looks stunning and is versatile — catering to pop music, jazz, stand-up comedy, graduation ceremonies and award presentations, along with the bread and butter orchestral roster. Towering above the stage, the magnificent Klais Grand Organ, with its array of 6500 pipes, forms the central visual focus of the space.

The trick for any PA design was to optimally cover every seat in the house (including the choir seats) without splashing too much low-end around.

Main front system: includes 12 Kara Line Source Array enclosures for the mid/highs flown at 9.5m above the stage and four SB18 subwoofers for the lows per side. The bandwidth is extended down to 32Hz and up to 20kHz.

Front fills: Four compact lightweight Kiva passive array elements are distributed across the front edge of the stage; two 12-inch self-powered 112P are stacked on the left-right subs as side reinforcement covering a longer area than the 108P. This system brings clarity and improves image localisation for the first few rows of the audience and is removable.

Choir Stalls fills: A set of 10 x 108Ps are permanently flown around the choir stalls to support natural sound. This system brings clarity to the areas that are shadowed due to the structure of the venue.

Stage monitors: A further 6 x 108Ps were specified in the original design for use as rear stalls side-fills and under-balcony delays, however during the demonstration these proved to be unnecessary for full auditorium coverage, and instead they have become the stage monitors.

MORE INFORMATION

QPAC: www.qpac.com.au
L-Acoustics: www.l-acoustics.com
Con-Sol: (07) 5571 2852 or www.con-sol.com.au
Hills SVL (L-Acoustics distributor): www.hillssvl.com.au

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