Aspect is Turbo’s frontline, top-of-the-range PA and, shock horror, it’s not a line array. Instead, it’s a ‘point source’ ‘modular’, ‘scaleable’ system that can be rigged vertically and, woah, horizontally.
Text: Christopher Holder
If Britannia Row takes on a new PA it’s generally a fair indication that there’s something to commend it. The UK’s Brit Row has been around a long while and enjoys a great reputation. Traditionally, it’s had an enormous inventory of Turbosound boxes, but that was in the ol’ Floodlight/Flashlight heyday. Then, when the V-DOSC juggernaut began to gain momentum, Brit Row got in on the ground floor and became a V-DOSC partner – a prescient and savvy move at the time. Proving Brit Row is no slave to reputation, it also has a line array from Italian innovators, Outline. Rounding things off on the line array front, it packs EV’s X-Line in its inventory. Now, more recently, Britannia Row has invested quite heavily in Turbosound’s new ‘point source’ PA system, Aspect.
It’s not some cultural cringe that I mention Britannia Row – Megavision in Perth and Pro Light & Sound in Melbourne, Ashton Admor (WA), Production Dungeon (QLD), and AV Events (in Auckland) have been early local adopters of the rig – it’s simply an interesting case study: here’s a rental company renowned as a European heavy hitter feeling compelled to supplement its already sizeable stock of line arrays. Why, I wonder? I’d contend it’s down to Aspect’s versatility.
When Turbosound released Aspect it did so with great gusto. There was lots of proprietary technology to talk about – a fancy yellow ‘polyhorn’ to tickle the fancy, for example – but secretly I suspect there would have been some concern in the ranks. After all, they didn’t have a line array. They couldn’t hang a long line of 20-odd big rectangular boxes from a large crane in Hyde Park, crank up a big red dial and say, ‘cop this!’. It must have hurt the Turbo machismo somewhat, I warrant.
Instead, Aspect was a point source system with a slightly arty/archi name that you could array horizontally and vertically at the same time in old-style ‘clusters’ – now there’s a word that takes us back. Heavens, how very quaint!
The truth is, there’s nothing dainty, quaint or understated about Aspect – it’s an absolute brute of a PA that’ll happily slap you upside round the head, and continue to keep slapping you far longer than is probably good for your health. No, it’s not a line array, and in my humble opinion it’s the much better for it.
TRAP FOR NEW PLAYERS
Modern-day line arrays are great… no question about it. V-DOSC stood the PA market on its head and forced the big boys to think outside the trapezoidal box. V-DOSC was the catalyst for all sorts of innovation and improved sound. Although, the best thing about line array is also the worst. To ensure total coverage from one long string of line array elements you need the horizontal coverage of each to be quite wide – normally 90-degree or 120-degree even. For outdoor gigs or shows in large arenas this is tremendous. For smaller theatres, civic halls etc it’s difficult to avoid spraying sound around off the walls. This is obviously a bad thing, and contravenes PA Rule No. 1: point the speakers at the people.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a PA that offered the same pinpoint, step-one-metre-to-the-right-and-you-can’t-hear-it pattern control but had a horn pattern more akin to those trapezoidal boxes you kinda wish you hadn’t sold off now? This is where Aspect steps in. You get the control but the just don’t get the constraining, one-size-fits-all, ‘any colour so long as it’s black’ approach of line array.
With all this in mind, the advantages of Aspect are obvious. You can deploy your Aspect rig to cover a space the size of the MCG one day and use a subset of the same system to go into a pub the next. Try taking a full-size line array element into pub… in the one box you’ll have about eight drivers strafing the joint – it would be a blood bath.
I recently heard Aspect in action at the Kiss My Grass festival in Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl. Just as an aside, this was one very freaky festival crowd. Kiss My Grass may as well have been Ibiza circa 1995. The blokes all looked like they’d stepped out of the Venice Beach weights ‘room’, and the girls all looked like they’d fallen out the pages of a Quicksilver catalogue. Truly bizarre, and so soaked in pheromones that I nearly passed out as I made my way through the scrum.
Be that as it may… this was a dance party. It required bundles of energy to excite the bowl and virtually nothing to escape it. Now that new blocks of condo’s have sprouted along St Kilda Road (around 500m away) the EPA descend on any Music Bowl events like piranhas at a swimming carnival – step out of line and you’ll be confronted by a dozen clipboards.
It was a Pro Light & Sound gig, but Audio Telex (Australian distributors of Turbosound) was able to supplement Pro Light’s own Aspect 880 series inventory with a full touring system it had shipped out from the UK for demo purposes. The rig comprised eight flown Aspect TA-890H, 10 ground-stacked Aspect TA-890H, 18 ground stacked Aspect TA-890L subs, two Aspect Wide TA-500 as in-fill and six thumping double-18 Aspect TSW-218 subs for low-end support.
It wasn’t the perfect introduction to Aspect. It was difficult to get within a (red) bull’s roar of the actual dancefloor (the stage of the Music Bowl), such was the congestion, but I was close enough to appreciate the carry, and phase-coherent dispersion of the flown component of the Aspect rig. As I walked the width of the area (dodging gyrating biceps the size of tree trunks) the evenness of the coverage was evident. And there was plenty of control, with the SPL rolling off dramatically as you cross out of Aspect’s ‘sight lines’. Furthermore, leaving the surrounding botanical gardens, there was none of that typical slap you hear from loud music bouncing off every hard surface in the suburb – little wonder the EPA chaps were free to relax and enjoy their cup of Bonox.
ASPECT ON THE REAL WORLD
Aspect impresses me. It seems to combine the best of the new (line array’s extended throw and heightened pattern control) without dispensing with what we liked about the old (PAs that are easily scalable depending on the width of the room not just the height of the room). If you’re a regional PA hire company, then I think Aspect makes a lot of sense. You’re not locked into one of way of operating. If you have the Trapezoidal system (see Extra Info for the distinction) then you can ground stack your rig one night, fly it the next; leave half the rig in the shed one night for a smaller corporate job, or get it all tag-teaming for a outdoor concert the next.
I’m pleased Turbosound didn’t feel compelled to release a full-blown, me-too, one-size-fits-all line array – the way I see it, the world already has enough of those. Also, the way I see it, for every Rolling Stones world tour, there are a thousand provincial club and pub tours and 10,000 one-off regional gigs. So why, might I ask, are so many of us fixated on having a baby Rolling Stones rig? Aspect offers a very different alternative, and in my view that’s very good news indeed.
(02) 9647 1411