DBTECHNOLOGIES VIO L212 & S218: PRODUCT LAUNCH REPORT
For the first time, dBTechnologies’ new flagship line array left Italy for a special APAC demo on the shores of a Bali beach.
Review: Preshan John
Budget plastic powered loudspeakers have been good to dBTechnologies. Scratch that, they’ve been great! But for the last few years, the Italian manufacturer has been turning that brand image on its head. Sure, its bread ’n’ butter Opera and BH active loudspeakers keep selling like hotcakes, but more premium-spec’d products like DVA and Vio have been winning over the mid-range rental and installation markets. With a near-irresistible value proposition, it’s not hard to see why.
It’s not marketing fluff either; dBTechnologies’ sales in the APAC region have grown an astonishing 12-fold in the past five years.
To highlight this success, and to join some dots between products and faces, dBTechnologies organised its first-ever APAC Distributor Meeting in Bali this September. It brought together representatives from several countries who flew in for the three-day event held at a resort in Badung.
dBTechnologies also flew in staff from all of its key departments. It was the perfect opportunity for local distributors to get to know the faces behind the emails. More importantly, it was a chance for dBTechnologies to instil its aspirational vision into the hearts of its partners.
Key to that vision is the new jewel in the dBTechnologies crown — Vio L212. It’s the company’s first full-scale line array module, following on from the release of its little siblings, Vio L210 and L208, over the past year. The Bali launch was the first time the L212 had left Italian shores and the staff were gushing with enthusiasm for their flagship product. APAC Sales Manager Manuele Poli calls it “a game changer for dBTechnologies.”
Vio L212 is a three-way box comprised of dual 12-inch woofers with three-inch voice coils, four 6.5-inch midrange woofers with two-inch voice coils, and two 1.4-inch neodymium compression drivers with three-inch voice coils. All those transducers are packed tightly together for maximum phase coherency.
As Product Specialist Marco Cantalú explains, “Having all of the sources so close to each other, we could really make a great improvement on the off axis reproduction. It’s a condensed collection of technology in the most compact and lightweight size we could conceive.”
ALL IN THE BOX
A primary point of difference with dBTechnologies line arrays is they’re all powered. Each Vio L212 is equipped with two Class D Digipro G4 amplifiers to provide a total of 3200W RMS per box. The switched mode power supply is equipped with PFC (Power Factor Corrector) to improve the system’s efficiency, and the L212 accepts audio via Dante.
The use of NFC is a neat innovation. The technology (typically used for mobile payments or file-sharing between phones) has been implemented in L212 with proximity sensors that determine the position of each box in an array. Pair this with the remote control Aurora Net software and you can easily identify and match each box’s physical position — sure to be handy when touring.
Rigging is the same as smaller Vio systems and based on a three-point system. Two front links connect the modules together while the central rear strand lets you pre-select splay angles between 0.5-8° using a hook-type link. A number of accessory options let you transport, rig and protect the system in whatever way suits you best.
AIRING IT OUT
As far as PA demonstration conditions go, the Bali launch of the Vio L212 was near on perfection. Rear reflections weren’t an issue here — the two L212 hangs of 12-a-side with 18 S218 groundstacked subwoofers fired out over 100m of unobstructed lawns, then straight into the ocean. Visitors could roam around weighing up the system’s throw and coverage. A variety of program playback was followed by a local cover band who rocked out for the rest of the evening. Hearing the rig with a live band gave a sense of the system’s ability to project a wide dynamic range with presence and impact. The L212’s tone feels pleasantly uncoloured and it didn’t grow fatiguing. Even more impressive is the pristine preservation of high end at distances over 80m. The S218 subs are clean and tight with excellent rear cancellation in cardioid configuration.
THE BIG PICTURE
So what’s the end game for this ambitious company? Manuele emphatically states that dBTechnologies has no interest in competing with the PA giants. Instead, the vision is to hit the mid-range pro audio market hard with the intent of becoming the leading PA supplier in that market segment. dBTechnologies hopes that by achieving that goal its products will become attractive alternatives for the lower end of the top-range market.
In other words, if you run a rental company with an inventory that’ll handle the next Foo Fighters show, chances are you’re not on the waiting list for a Vio demonstration. Although you may fancy a Vio rig as a backup offering when all your L-Acoustics and d&b stock is on the road.
On the other hand if your rental company is looking to step up from supplying birthday parties and smaller corporate gigs, dBTechnologies wants its line array systems to be positioned as your premium option.
Vio systems are priced very competitively. After spending three days with dBTechnologies distributors, a common catch phrase seemed to be “a very high performance-to-price ratio.” You get a lot of PA for what you pay. And that’s enough to put heat on the big players and how they pitch their lower level offerings.
“We really brought the best engineers in firmware, software, acoustic design, transducer design and mechanical design,” says Marco. “Together these brought the realisation of the Ferrari of the line array system.”
That is, loud, proud, stylish and top of the line from the Italian manufacturer. Exclusive, just not in the rarified air of a Bugatti.
dBTechnologies released the new S218 dual 18-inch neodymium subwoofer alongside the L212 announcement as the perfect partnership of tops and lows. The S218 response descends down to 28Hz and features much of the same innovations as the L212 such as a switched mode power supply with PFC, Dante compatibility, and NFC proximity sensors to inform Aurora Net of each sub’s position. Onboard DSP includes a cardioid stack preset button which automatically processes the sound of the backward sub in gradient inverted stack configurations to reach maximum cancellation on the rear side.