D&B V SERIES
Baby J Line? Or simply the next best thing?
Text: Christopher Holder
It’s rare for a new PA to be instantly feted quite so rhapsodically… By which I mean, grown men have been going all weak at the knee and misty-eyed over d&b’s new addition, debuted a few months back at the Frankfurt Pro Light + Sound show. So what’s all the fuss about?
For starters, d&b is the PA marque du jour. d&b makes great gear and it’s on a lot of technical riders. The company has been travelling with a wet sail for a number of years now. Its philosophy of pairing proprietary d&b amps and processing to extremely efficient PA boxes reaches its apogee in the J Series – the top of the line, large-format line source array. For many, the J represents the pinnacle of what you can achieve in large-scale concert production.
In short, there are a lot of rental companies out there who would love to be advertising the fact they have d&b inventory, and the V Series looks like it’s the kick-arse system they can afford.
If you are lucky enough to have a bunch of J in your shed then the V Series is proving to be very attractive as well. The trouble with J Line is it’s not the most versatile rig going — that’s not its thing. With a 5–7° vertical coverage you often need the same number of J in a hang if you were catering to 100,000 as you would for 5,000. Furthermore, if you’re looking for the same voicing in your side hangs in an arena, you could be using a awful lot of J to cover a relatively small number of people. It’s a little like buying a brand new Airbus A380 and flying to LA with just the cabin crew on board. What you really need is something like a Gulfstream.
In short, if you’re a rental company taking care of J Series shows, you could do it a lot more efficiently and cheaply with a bunch of V series of delays and side hangs.
[Just a note here: You can’t currently array V Series cabs with a J Series as an underhang. d&b isn’t down with that.]
That said, the V Series has managed to sidestep any preconception that it’s a ‘baby J’. In fact, many are contending that it’s ‘about as good as the J’. And, the truth is, unless you’re regularly stretching the legs of the J with some large-scale productions, or shooting 100m+ into open-air festivals, the V Series may well be ‘as good’ as the J. It’s almost as powerful. And subjectively it’ll feel about as powerful in most venues. And because of the wider vertical coverage and the great splay angles between cabs that are possible, the V Series will go places the J can’t, or doesn’t need, to go.
Yes, the V series box is based on 10s and not 12s. Yes, the V series is a three-way passive design, as opposed to the J’s three-way bi-amped. Yes, as a consequence, a V series box only uses one side of a d&b D12 amp, and not two. But still, the V Series box is only a couple of dB down as compared to the equivalent J hang.
Not much is lost in the low-end either. The cardioid V-Sub is designed to be flown and punches hard [see the box item for more on the driver arrangement].
Much like the J, the V Series is quick and easy to get out of the truck and into the air. The rigging has a lot to do with that. It’s almost identical to the J Series hardware, only commensurately smaller.
The other big factor with getting this rig up and getting it a good 95% there, is the software. d&b’s ArrayCalc comes with the package and makes life considerably easier during setup. Once you plug in the room dimensions (or call up a room template/preset), ArrayCalc will give you all the splay angles and array heights — print out the sheet and give it to your crew chief. That’s handy, although expected. What’s even more useful is ArrayCalc will allow you to export all the predicted system setting into the D12 amp’s DSP. So we’re talking about all the time alignment settings, for example. All done before you even power up the PA. Of course, spending time with the rig and fine-tuning it in the field will reward you with a better-sounding PA, but ArrayCalc will get you as near as dammit.
The V Series has exceeded everyone’s expectations. It’s exceeded the market’s expectations as to how it would match up against the flagship J Line, and the market reception has exceeded d&b’s expectations — d&b’s manufacturing is running flat out to meet backorders.
As of the time going to press, Andy J Sound in Adelaide and Professional Music & Lighting Systems (PMLS) in Hobart were the lucky ones to have taken delivery of their V rig. And there will undoubtedly be more.
What they’re getting is a great sounding system with more than enough grunt to cope with any regional act or event it’s likely to encounter. What’s more, thanks to the 14° maximum vertical coverage, you don’t need 16 x V series cabs aside to cover a festival gig. And, yes, it’s got the d&b badge on it as well. And there’s cachet in the name, to be sure.
What you’re not getting is a J Line. When top touring acts are spec’ing the J, they’re still going to want J… and not the V Series. You’re not going to get the same, tight low-end dispersion of the J either – thanks to all those 12s jammed so close to each other. (Saying that, the V does well with its 10-inch drivers.) In terms of absolute performance you’re not quite punching in the same class. But, by heck, you’re not far off.