First Impression: Martin Audio MLA Mini Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array
Company's MLA loudspeaker design works like a line-array in reverse. Instead of focusing on what comes out of the loudspeaker, Martin Audio's design concentrates on what arrives at the audience.
Martin Audio, the well-known British manufacturer of high-end speaker systems, has been on a roll the last few years. Their MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) system launched a few years ago and has won numerous accolades. Last year, the MLA Compact arrived, and this year at InfoComm, we saw the latest in the line, the MLA Mini. And while the size may be mini—it’s practically rack-mountable—the sound is anything but.Martin Audio’s MLA concept is different from a line array. The goal of a line array is to produce a coherent wavefront from the speaker grills. Hopefully, what arrives at the audience is representative of what comes out of the boxes. The MLA system works in reverse. The user specifies the SPL and frequency response required at various points in the room, and the software figures out how to make it so. Having individual control over each box in the array via DSP, the system is able to deliver consistent sound across the seating area, while “hard avoid” areas (specified by the user) cut down on unwanted spill.Impressive SpecificationsWhile the MLA and MLA Compact are self-powered boxes, Martin Audio took a slightly different approach for the Mini. Each Mini houses two 6.5-inch low-frequency (LF) drivers and a vertical line of three 1.4-inch aluminum dome drivers on a 100-degree horn. Rated frequency response is 76 Hz-18,000 Hz, with a max SPL of 130 dB @ 1M from a single module. A companion MSX sub module not only provides the low end, but also power for itself and four Mini modules. The removable and rack-mountable power supply features nine channels of Class D amplification—one for the sub, eight for four bi-amped modules. The sub module gets 1,400W, while each HF and LF section of the four modules receives 700W. Crossover, delay and EQ are all handled in the power module via IIR and FIR filters. After the user specifies the desired response characteristics in the company’s Display 2.1 software, comprehensive rigging information is provided, including mechanical load safety analysis. With precise rigging information in hand, the user flies the speakers while the computer calculates all the filter parameters for each cell in the system. The settings are uploaded via U-Net, and the system is ready to roll. Even after rigging, vertical coverage can be adjusted via software.