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Sound Coverage

The goal in the placement of speakers is to provide coverage of a surface acoustic data with a
minimum number of points of distribution. An acoustic effective coverage must not only
allow hearing the sound, but should ensure good intelligibility at any point in space in the

A loudspeaker in a partially or fully closed diffuses the sound of two ways: one part of the
sound is radiated directly (line of sight) with the speakers. Another part of his managed by
reflection on the walls of local, ceilings, floors, walls, furniture. The direct sound field
decreases with the distance from the speakers. As seen before in classical broadcast sound
system whenever the distance doubles, the sound pressure is reduced by 6 dB. A reduction in
pressure of 6 dB gives a local sound pressure corresponding to 1 / 4 of the original volume,
which means that the sound pressure varies with the inverse square of the distance.

There are three approaches that can be combined:

Appropriate conventional PA system for confined locations

100v line audio distribution system for wide-open spaces
Line Array Audio for wide close/or open spaces
In all cases, know how to design the distribution system to spread perfectly the sound must be
done as follows:

Determine coverage sound and speakers placement

Determine the power levels needed for each speakers
Select appropriate amplifier

1) In confined locations
Practice / How can I set up loudspeakers?

Reminding some notions:

• Each time you double the distance from a source (speaker) and a listener, you lose 6
dB (a little less when found indoors).
• The intelligibility is given by the treble frequencies.
• The trebles fade faster than the lower.
• The bass radiate omnidirectional.
• The speakers broadcast the sound (especially the medium / acute that interests us for a
good intelligibility), according to a certain angular coverage horizontally and
The public is installed on the stalls and enclosures (cover 90 ° H 40 ° V) are put on stage.
There is evidence that the public receives the forefront much more sound pressure than the
latter. The coverage is not uniform. The energy above the axis is lost. The very first ranks are
not covered by the treble.

If we suspend the enclosure, it decreases the difference in distance between the first and last
persons covered by the chamber. Coverage is more regular. The energy exceeds the axis is
useful. The very first rows are still not covered. You have to install additional small speakers
to fill this hole in the coverage.

Example of use

1) In wide-open spaces

The technique Public-address line to 100 volts has been developed for industrial facilities to
distribute sound from the wide-open spaces.

Stadiums and sports halls

Warehouses, factories
Train Stations,
Hotels, restaurants
Places of worship,

In contrast with a Hi-Fi,

A Hi-Fi installation using loudspeakers low impedance (4 or 8 Ohm) connected directly to the
amplifier. The classic method is valid only for short-distance routes.

Once you increase the distance between the amplifier and loudspeakers, the loss in the cables
increases to the point where the energy lost in the cable exceeds the energy consumed by the

To avoid this phenomenon, using the technique known as "100-volt line," that is the basis of
any facility «Public-address».

The principle is simple.

We use a transformer to the output of amplifier that increases the tension, and is used on the
other side of the line, a transformer that demeans the tension in each speaker.

In the same way, electricity providers transforms high-voltage (up to 400000 volts) for
transport over long distances without loss, and then lowers the voltage transformers in before
distributing 240 volts to the user.

In practice in the PA Public-address line to 100 volts, the transformer is moved to lift the
amplifier to get a signal with a voltage of 100 V. Each enclosure has a step-down transformer
that restores the regular voltage signal to attack loudspeakers.

The first advantage of this principle is to eliminate the losses of the line. Then, the installation
is easier; the enclosures are connected in parallel on a single distribution line.

Another advantage processors placed in enclosures may include multiple windings, allowing
an individual to select their power running.

The installation of a sound public-address based on 100-volt line.

To calculate the location of a sound installation dial 100 volts, it is necessary to determine:

Determine coverage sound,

Calculate the power of each speaker depending on its location
Calculate the section of cable
Calculate the power of the amplifier.
Coverage of Sound in wide-open space

The reverberation: the enemy of sound

If intelligibility is the main concern of sound, the reverberation of the premises is its natural

While it is easy to predict the mitigation of direct field it very different reverberation,
particularly when the local has multiple acoustically reflective surfaces. The problem is that
when moving away from a surface often one gets to another.

The control of the reverberation through architectural design and the acoustic treatment of
surfaces with absorbent materials is essential.

To ensure a high intelligibility, it is necessary to optimize the ratio between direct fields and
diffuse fields. This is generally done, both from a practical and economical, placing

As a general rule, a sound distribution system equipped with a multitude of loudspeakers

low power will give much better results than a pair of high-powered loudspeakers
located in a single point.

The places of worship, cathedrals and churches, airports, sports halls, among other facilities
are particularly reverberation.

They are difficult to sound, and require special attention in the design of the project.
Loudspeakers Placement

For the implantation of loudspeakers in a ceiling is applied generally the following rule:
Axis distance between two speakers should be equal to twice the distance basement ceiling.
With loudspeaker offering an opening of 90 degrees, this will be especially true for music.
For ads or public-address applications, this method is not totally satisfactory,
Sound coverage being more or less random according to the position of the listener in relation
to the ground (depending that the listener is sitting or standing).

The best technique has been to space out loudspeakers from a distance equal to twice the
distance from the ceiling to the ears of listeners. There is a need in this case to use more
loudspeakers closer to each other, thus supporting a much more homogeneous coverage,
regardless of the position occupied by the listener (see diagram).

For example, in a dining room whose ceiling is 4 m high and the average height of
Ears of listeners (seat. ..) of 1.3 m above the ground (hence approximately 2.7 the maximum)
distance among the various points of distribution shall not exceed 5.4 m.
For an even better sound coverage, we can apply a multiplier coefficient of 1.5.
In our example, the distance between the loudspeakers will be reduced to 4 m.

Here are some typical examples of installation public-address line to 100 volts.

Office: install speakers in the ceiling spaced every sense of 2 times the height of the
Warehouse, parking: install its projectors in all directions spaced 15 meters.
Surface sales: install a loudspeaker ball at 4.50 metres to 100 sq. meters.
Street pedestrian: install projectors her every 30 metres.
Avenue pedestrian: install projectors her every 30 metres of 2 sides of the avenue.

These applications are given as examples; we must of course make a personalized study in
each case.

Next step: Defining the power required for each speaker 100-volt line

Calculate the necessary SPL power

After defining the location of loudspeakers, you need to calculate what will be the power
consumed by all of them. If the premises are operational and in they are in normal use, you
can use a decibel meter or sound level meter.

The measurement of environmental noise will be in A-weighting, up to ear.

The measure will be in actual operation, or when the noise is at its usual level.

In a restaurant, the measure will be made at a peak hour, when the restaurant is full.

For music, the level of distribution should be 10 dB above the ambient noise level.
To disseminate messages with a good intelligibility, the level should be 15 dB above the
ambient noise. For an optimum intelligibility it will be 25 dB above the ambient noise.

We must then use the remote speaker to the ears of the listener, combined with its sensitivity
nominal (expressed in dB for 1 watt at 1 m or dB SPL with 1 watt at the entrance to a distance
of 1 m) the amount of power required for each SPL loudspeaker your sound distribution
system. Use the ruler below to convert the distance speaker / ears in dB.

With the graph below, we calculate the power required to plus or minus 1 watt.

For example:

A loudspeaker (sensitivity = 94 dB for 1 W at 1 m) is placed

in an office with a noise of 72 dBA measured for people
sitting at their workstations.

The top recessed loudspeaker in the 1.8 m above the ears of

listeners. The conversion tool that allows for 1.8 m, it is 5.2
dB. This means that the speaker will produce 102.2 dB at a
distance of 1m for 97 dB at 1.8 m. The loudspeaker making
94 dB for 1 W at 1 m will need a higher power level of 8.2 dB
(102.2 dB - 94dB) compared to 1 W.

The chart allows you to easily determine that the power

required will be 6.6 watts. The processor loudspeaker offers
positions 0.5 W, 1, 2, 4 and 8 W. The value closest to the power required is 8 W. At this
position, there will be only 0.8 dB greater than the theoretical value determined.

The next step now is to calculate the power required of the amplifier

Calculate the power of the amplifier

After determining the power required for each speaker, we need the sum of these powers to
define the power that must issue the amplifier.

For example

For an installation comprising 16 loudspeakers set to 2 W, on September 1 to 8 W and 10 W,

the total power required by all loudspeaker will be 119 W.
The presence of a processor means a phenomenon by insertion loss, which is why the
amplifier must be able to provide greater power than the power required by theoretical all

On average, a transformer has a high quality insertion loss of 1 dB. It means providing
1, 25 W to the transformer for 1 W at loudspeaker.

A transformer will present a low quality by insertion loss of 2 dB. This will require
approximately 1.6 W for 1 W loudspeaker.

A mediocre transformer introduced such losses that the overall quality of performance is
degraded. The best and most powerful amplifiers can do anything about it.

To offset the loss of insertion just add power corresponding to the percentage of the sum of
power transformer.

For example

For transformers with a loss by 1 dB insertion, add 25%.

In our example (see above), this will meet with a power of 119 W loudspeaker have a
power amplification of 149 W (119 W + 25%).

In order to have a safety margin it is a good idea to add another 25% more power. In our
example will therefore need ultimately an amplifier of 186 W.

This value is the minimum value for the selection of the amplifier because it is always
advisable to have a reserve power from the amplifier to anticipate a possible expansion of the

Similarly one should take into account the loss introduced in the cables loudspeakers...


With a 100V line the impedance is always 100 Ω. Cable impedance is 8 Ω, negligible
regarding to the 100 Ω output line amp impedance. So contrary to conventional distribution
audio line the cable won’t change the power the amp will supply.

If cable impedance is close to the loudspeaker impedance, the load seen by the amplifier will
be sum of both impedances: speakers and line. So currant deliver by the amplifier will
decrease. As an example if the loudspeaker impedance is 8Ω like the cable one, the power
will be divided by 4. In addition more the cable will be long more power will be dissipated
into the cable. The table below summarise performance % as per the cable length and section.
8 Ohms 8 Ohms 8 Ohms 100V 100V 100V
1,5m² 2,5m² 4m² 1,5m² 2,5m² 4m²
10 m 94,3% 96.5% 97.8% 99.5% 99.7% 99.8%
20 m 89.1% 93,2% 95,7% 99,1% 99,4% 99,6%
50 m 75.8% 84,3% 95,4% 97,7% 98,6% 99.1%
100 m 59.4% 72,0% 80,9% 95,4% 97,2% 98.2%
200 m 39.3% 54.3% 66.8% 91.1% 94.5% 96.5%
500 m 16.2% 27,9% 41.2% 79,9% 87.1% 91,6%
1000 m 6.3% 12,9% 22,3% 65,2% 76,6% 84,3%

3) Line Array Audio for wide close/or open spaces

These last 60 years, all sound broadcast systems have been designed to reduce the losses,
improve the sound radiation and intelligibility in the air. One meaningful technology in sound
propagation is the line array audio system. In short the principle is to direct the sound
energy a maximum to avoid the -6dB –SPL loss. In concentrating the sound source in a
vertical point in following the 5 WST (Wave Sculpture Technology) criteria, loss is reduced
to -3dB SPL by doubling of distances. Besides this is the system that is used in gigs.

Already in the forties, researchers (including a certain Olson) found that aligning closely
loudspeakers in a vertical line from the field was becoming smaller horizontal diffusion
increasingly, meaning that the directivity the walls became increasingly close as we increased
the number of loudspeakers aligned; only condition: the distance between loudspeaker should
be at the bare minimum (of course imposed by the same diameter loudspeaker. The Line-
Array was born, and I repeat, already in the 40's.

But these systems penalize many of their construction, the top and bottom of the spectrum.
The acute and grave were strongly attenuated in these forum were used mainly to the speech
and were therefore addressed to the churches and public places. The gain in directivity is

paying dearly in lost spectral width. The Beatles used for their first concerts in stadiums
immense, but these systems Line-Array are quickly forgotten, because of their negative
penalizing her, and other manufacturers (like WEM, Martin Audio, JBL etc. ) looking for
other solutions. It was only in the 80 years that the principle has been unearthed by
researchers as french Puillon Alain Guibert (APG), Eric Vincenot (Nexo) and headed
Christian Heil (L-Acoustics), whose research resulted in the famous V-Dosc who simply
revolutionized the history of sound. The challenge was simple in the end, with the decline
seen today, but nobody believed at the time. They aim to extend the near field (or fields
Fresnel) beyond the one or two metres "normal" with an enclosure.

Apart from these one or two meters in front of the enclosure, broadcast classical sound was
losing his 6 dB for each doubling of distance, due to the spread spherical (or rather conical -
see above). That is to say, because the surface molecules in motion increased in proportion to
the distance.
If we could impose a spread rather cylindrical with a directivity strictly controlled and
consistent, it would be 3 dB and the loss of his would be only 3 dB per doubling of distance.
. This was done by Christian Heil (at least in part and certain frequency ranges), and there will
be other items (in the same folder on the dissemination), which will go into the details of
these discoveries and the principle of operation of the "Line-Source" and the WST.

The difference between a "Line-Array" meeting the criteria for the WST, and a classical
system is simple and obvious.

A conventional system covers a large area, but it takes a lot of forums and a lot of power
to overcome the losses due to the distance. In piling enclosures (to increase power) will be
created naturally also fields disturbance, because the distribution of the various sources will
overlap and mix more or less chaotically, which brings a great loss of useful energy is a net
decrease performance

A Line-array system generates less than twice its loss by directivity very controlled, very
close. The chamber is necessarily smaller and most importantly, it sends the sound farther
with more precision while consuming less energy. It easily earns in power.

However, the directivity was very close we have to multiply the forums to achieve coverage
of a given area (many spectators).

All this is, of course, very scripted and a bit theoretical but still moves closer to reality. In fact
with an enclosure, it was most of the time dealing with a mixture of the two forms of
propagation. For a classical chamber the near field (with loss of 3dB) is in the order of one or
two metres (for a large bass horn for a little more), and then the far field (with loss of 6dB)
took immediately over.

For a pregnant Line-Array and match of the WST (Sculpture-Wave Technology, which is
discussed in another article) we come to expand the scope close to 20 or 30 metres, sometimes
even more

The great success of Christian Heil (and all researchers in the field) was to be able to properly
extend the near-field which, until then, was only feasible for very short distances - a couple of
meters more for a large horn. housing; and thereby reduce dramatically the loss of its.