CURV 500 PS – Compact Array System: 500 PS to Go

With the MAUI range, LD Systems is firmly established in the portable PA system sector. Now comes the CURV 500 PS: a stereo line array in a compact form for under 2,000 euros. The CURV 500 has already won a design prize, but a PA system needs to thrill the musicians, organizers, crowds and FOH in the room too. The following reveals how the CURV 500 PS fared in the Bonedo test.

Details
LD Systems CURV 500 is available in three variations: as AVS (audio/video set) with a subwoofer and two satellites, as ES (entertainer set) with a sub and four satellites, or, like our test system, as a PS (power set) with two subwoofers and eight satellites. Altogether the PS weighs 55 kg, and contains: two SmartLink adapters for the eight satellites, two distance bars, an active subwoofer with integrated four-channel mixer, an active slave subwoofer with five-pin XLR connections, and the matching cables. The housing of the satellites and SmartLink adapters is made of powder-coated die-cast aluminium, and the housing of the subwoofer of PA-coated wood.

The mixer channels 1 (Hi-Z/mic switchable) and 2 (mic) each have an XLR/jack combo socket, a gain controller, a two-band EQ (10 kHz/80 Hz) and an effects bus. Channels 3 and 4 are bundled in one stereo channel and share a single gain controller. Inputs can be connected via a mini jack: analogue via the two XLR/jack combo sockets, or digitally via Bluetooth. One LED per channel lights up green if a signal is present, and red if it is overridden.

The master section has a main and sub level controller, a selector switch for the number of satellites, a mono/stereo switch, and a DFX controller for the effects. There are eight hall programs with various decay lengths, two delays, four hall delays and two hall chorus combinations.

Joining the two satellite outputs for the left and right channel are a monophonic XLR output for monitor periphery equipment, and the five-pin output for slave systems. They each have a fine-pin input and output for further slaves, a Speakon output for the satellites, and a ground lift switch.

Satellites
Each satellite has a side length of 12.2 cm and is fitted with three 1-inch tweeters, which are vertically attached in front of a 4-inch midrange loudspeaker. LD Systems calls this arrangement “WaveAhead” technology. Using a groove and tongue system, up to four of these speaker units can be wirelessly attached on top of each other on the SmartLink adapter in the familiar array curve. They snap safely into place, and the unlocking of the satellites helps with easy (dis)assembly. Contact points on top and underneath ensure clean signal flow.

The satellites are placed on the woofer with a distance bar (various heights, with safety splint), and connected with the sub via a cable. The SmartLink adapter offers two mountings for the distance bar, ensuring an optimal beam angle for one to two, or for three to four satellites.

A 10-inch speaker works at 300 watt RMS (1200 watt peak) in the active subwoofers. The master system has a stereo connection for 2×4 satellites, which are powered with 160 watts (640 watt peak) each per stack. The slave offers four satellite connections, which are, in turn, powered with 160 watts.

Practice
The CURV 500 PS is set up quickly despite the many individual parts. The pictograms at important points help a lot, and save you needing to look at the complicated handbook. The flawlessly manufactured system looks fantastic when set up. LD Systems rightly won a design prize with the CURV 500! The height of the system is 2.21 meters when the distance bars are fully extended. LD Systems also optionally offers ceiling, wall and truss (for attachment to beams) mounting adapters for the satellites.

The manufacturer states 128 dB as the continuous sound pressure (at 920 watt), and 134 dB as the peak, with 3680 watts. This easily allows more than the 150 people stated by the manufacturer to be entertained. If that’s not enough, then the system is endlessly extendible thanks to the master/slave design. However, this type of chain is only available in mono; stereo operation requires two systems.

Small stereo setup
I disconnect the slave system and operate the CURV in ED mode with two satellites per side. In this configuration the single subwoofer is a little imprecise. The satellites, on the other hand, impress with excellent tonal depth; their sound is balanced and unobtrusive into the mid-range and in every corner of the room. There are no noticeable differences compared to the PS. The system has a lot of fun playing everything from pop to electronic and acoustic guitar. LD Systems states a frequency response of 47 Hz to 20 kHz at 116 dB continuous sound pressure; at its peak it is 122 dB, according to the manufacturer. With high amplification the class D amplifier produces a noticeable but negligible idling noise.

The smallest setup is the AVS mode, consisting of two satellites, each with one SmartLink adapter (for the stereo imaging) and a subwoofer. The SmartLink adapters have rubber feet for table setup and an alternative speaker input in the form of a Phoenix plug connection. The matching Speakon Phoenix cable is included in delivery of the AVS version, or optionally available from the manufacturer for the other models.

The sound of the Curv 500 is crystal clear even with a small AVS setup, and voluminous in the bass frequencies, thanks to the large sub. As soon as the mixer is switched to setting “1 satellite” (stereo mode), the internal control ensures a balanced sound. Perfect for impressively staging presentations in small auditoriums or providing small theatre productions with sound effects.

Mixer
The mixer allows the connection of either two microphones or one microphone and one pickup instrument. For small acts, the console can even stay at home. Inputs can be connected to the line channel via analogue or Bluetooth. Fortunately, LD Systems has integrated a Bluetooth lock; Bluetooth reception is only possible after pressing a button.

The preamps amplify low-level signals without noise or humming, the two-band EQ performs well with distortion correction. Dynamic microphone and regular pickups (warning: note the Hi-Z switch on the back) are mapped well; for condenser microphones, DI boxes and external preamps, there are 12 V of phantom power available. This doesn’t sound like much voltage, but in most cases, it is sufficient. The effect bus for the Hi-Z/mic and the microphone channel is also welcome. The effects sound great, and can be used well in practice. The only thing that I miss is the parameters for the delay period in the delays.

The master of the internal console is divided into main and sub level, as is now a welcome tradition at LD Systems. It has been proven over and over again that, depending on the music style and space, bass adjustment is very useful. So when the 10-inch doesn’t push enough, you can fire it up at any time. If that’s not enough of a push, you can connect another subwoofer to the mono-out of the master system to serve frequencies under 47 Hz.

Conclusion
LD Systems has achieved a great coup with the CURV 500, as for a price of under 2,000 euros, this potent system provides small and medium-sized venues with good sound and adequate push, even in difficult acoustic circumstances. The wide range of accessories expands the usability of the system, and the satellites can be easily attached to almost any imaginable location. The onboard mixer and included internal EFX-DSP of the CURV 500 PS means that it can be used as a stereo set for solo artists, or also as a fully-grown PA for mobile discos and bands – ideal for touring bands, travelling sound men or as a fixed installation in clubs for up to 400 people. Cost-effective expansion is possible at any time thanks to its daisy chain operation. One of the greatest temptations since line arrays came about.

Pro
+ Excellent sound dispersion through the room
+ Solid workmanship
+ High power reserves
+ Individual adaptation to the respective event location
+ Onboard mixer with EFX and Bluetooth
+ Sub bass and top part can be controlled separately
+ Array attachment in just a couple of steps
+ 12 V phantom power

Con
– Imprecise bass reproduction

FEATURES
– Power set: 2 subwoofers, 2 x 4 satellites

SUBWOOFER MASTER – CURV 500 S
– 10-inch bass reflex subwoofer
– Four-channel mixer with 16 DFX presets and Bluetooth interface, four XLR/jack combo sockets, one mini jack
– Mono output via XLR jack
– Signal output to slave system via five-pin XLR cable
– Two Speakon jacks for the satellites in stereo operation
– M20 threaded flange

SUBWOOFER SLAVE – CURV 500 SE
– 10-inch bass reflex subwoofer
– Signal input via five-pin XLR jack
– Signal output via five-pin XLR jack
– One Speakon jack for the satellites
– Ground lift switch
– M20 threaded flange
– Eight satellites
– Each satellite has three 1-inch tweeters in front of a 4-inch midrange speaker (“WaveAhead” technology), dispersion angle 110° horizontal, 10° vertical
– Two with stand attachment and Speakon inputs
– Protection circuits
– DSP-based multi-band limiter against short circuiting, overheating, overloading

AMPLIFICATION CURV 500 S – CLASS D
– Subwoofer: 300 watt (1200 watt peak)
– Satellites: 2 x 160 watt (2 x 640 watt peak)

AMPLIFICATION CURV 500 SE – CLASS D
– Subwoofer: 300 watt (1200 watt peak)
– Satellites: 160 watt (640 watt peak)
– Frequency range: 47 Hz – 20,000 Hz
– Sound pressure: 128 dB SPL (134 dB peak)
– Switching power supply voltage: 100-240 V AC, 50/60 Hz
– Subwoofer dimensions (W x H x D), weight: 325 x 383 x 491 mm, 16.5 kg
– Satellite dimensions (W x H x D), weight: 122 x 122 x 122 mm, 1.73 kg
– Dimensions (W x H x D), weight: 122 x 57 x 122 mm, 0.54 kg

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Source: Bonedo.de, Dec. 15, Germany:
http://www.bonedo.de/artikel/einzelansicht/ld-systems-curv-500-ps-test.html
Author: Axel Erbstösser

Learn more about the LD Systems Curv 500 here:
http://www.ld-systems.com/serien/curv-500-serie/