Optimizing Sound Coverage: Line Array Placement Strategies for Large Venues

Sound quality can make or break a performance. Perfect audio will never be noticed and allow viewers to embrace themselves in action, but poor audio can quickly become a distraction and ruin an event. One key element to ensuring this doesn’t happen is proper speaker placement. This is important in all applications, but the nuance required for a large-scale line array setup is often overlooked. To the novice eye, it appears that you simply take a set of large format speakers and point them forward, but the best engineers know that setting yourself up for success begins before you even walk into the venue. Whether it’s a stadium concert, a conference, or a mega-event, getting the best out of your sound system demands a thoughtful approach.

The Line Array Advantage

A line array is a loudspeaker configuration consisting of multiple individual speaker elements (usually referred to as “elements” or “boxes”) stacked vertically. This setup allows for controlled sound dispersion, resulting in consistent volume and clarity across short and long distances.

In large venues, conventional speakers can struggle to distribute sound evenly. Line arrays overcome this challenge by focusing sound energy where needed, reducing unwanted reflections, and providing seamless coverage for the audience, regardless of the configuration of the audience

Line Array Placement Strategies

Mastering line array placement requires combining technical knowledge and creative intuition. Here are some quick tips:

  • Focus on Coverage, Not Volume

Line arrays are not just about making the sound louder; they’re about ensuring that every audience member receives the same sound quality. Instead of increasing volume, prioritize achieving consistent coverage throughout the venue, left to right and front to back.

  • Consider the Venue’s Acoustics

Each venue has acoustic characteristics. Understanding how sound interacts with the space is essential. Does the venue have reflective surfaces that may create echoes, or does it have absorptive materials that may dampen sound? Tailor your line array placement and focus to complement the venue’s acoustics.

  • Avoid Dead Spots

Dead spots are areas of inadequate sound coverage that can disrupt the audience’s experience. Utilize prediction software, such as EASE, to carefully calculate the optimal elements and position them in the space. This guarantees that every seat receives optimal audio quality and will eliminate or minimize any dead spots.

  • Maintain Consistent SPL

Sound Pressure Level (SPL) consistency throughout the audience area is crucial. To achieve this, ensure that the coverage area of each line array element overlaps with adjacent elements. This overlap prevents noticeable variations in volume across different parts of the venue and will create the most consistent mix.

  • Angle for Optimal Sound Projection

Adjusting the horizontal angle of each line array element affects the direction of sound projection. Consider angling the arrays towards the sides for wide venues to ensure even coverage. In contrast, narrower angles may be more suitable for elongated spaces. Fill speakers may sometimes be required to ensure maximum coverage without unnecessary reflection.

  • Vertical Splay Angles for Balanced Dispersion

Vertical splay angles set line array systems apart for typical loudspeakers. Adjusting the focal area each element covers provides ultimate flexibility for delivering sound to different sections of the audience. Experiment with different angles to find the sweet spot that balances sound dispersion between the front and back rows of the venue.

  • Height and Elevation

Line arrays can be elevated to improve line of sight and sound coverage. Mounting line arrays at an optimal height ensure that sound reaches both near and far seats, creating a seamless listening experience without impeding visuals. Remember – you can’t trick physics. An array mounted too low will shoot over people’s heads to reach the back and could block a patron’s view. An array mounted too high can inhibit shooting under balconies or other architecture.

  • Fine-Tuning Delay Times

In larger venues, sound can take time to travel across distances. Adjusting delay times for line array elements farther from the stage compensates for this delay, ensuring that sound reaches all areas simultaneously. In some extreme applications adding delay speakers may be required to accomplish this fully.

  • Rigging

Proper rigging ensures the stability of a line array. Rigging systems must be robust enough to hold the weight of the array and withstand any vibrations caused by the music or the crowd. Additional flexibility considerations should be made when designing a rig for touring applications or in flex spaces, where your angles may change between venues or configurations. Ensuring the ability for pull-back and rotation, as required, can make or break the effectiveness of your rig and drastically reduce load-in times.

Creating an Optimal Line Array Configuration

Considerations when configuring your line array, including which elements you select and how many of each type you need:

  • Curved Arrays for Wide Coverage

Consider curving the line array configuration in venues with a wide seating area. This curvature ensures sound reaches even the farthest corners, providing a consistent listening experience.

  • Vertical Splay Angles

Adjusting the vertical splay angles of line array elements can fine-tune coverage. A narrower angle focuses sound energy on the audience directly in front, while a wider angle disperses sound over a broader area.

  • Clustering for Long Throws

Clustering line array elements can provide extended throw distances in venues with deep seating, such as stadiums. This technique ensures sound reaches the back rows without losing clarity or volume.


As you can tell much more goes into the layout and design of a proper line array system beyond “point it forward”. Engineers typically design high-quality systems with years of experience. If this is something that you’re striving to achieve but don’t have the expertise, there are an abundance of people willing to help (or be hired) to help you achieve your goals. If you’ve already determined a design and need help procuring equipment, GearSource is a great place to start. GearSource is an online marketplace for professional production equipment that can help anyone considering buying or selling used AV equipment of all shapes and sizes. They can offer pricing guidance, market expertise, and even purchasable options that suit your needs. Check out to see what’s currently available, or reach out to a sales team member for more personalized assistance.

If you’re in the market to buy a line array system, a great way to offset the cost is to consider selling used AV equipment that you may be replacing or otherwise not using. Companies like GearSource can help you determine what items you have of value and the best potential sales strategy to help turn your gear into cash. Almost all gear has value – Even obsolete equipment, such as illegal frequency wireless gear in the USA, may have a place in other geographical markets. Reach out today to see if you’re sitting on an opportunity that can help bring your line array design closer to reality.

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