Whether consumers are strolling through a world-class theme park, watching a national football game, or sitting in the stands at the local high school, they expect high-quality audio. For some time, the public has demanded the same sound that they would get from their home entertainment systems; even outside, where weather conditions don't provide for an optimum operating environment for finicky electronics.
Community Professional Loudspeakers has addressed this challenge with two different loudspeaker lines, the R-Series and the WET Series, by combining the delivery of speech intelligibility with high-quality musical reproduction. The larger R-Series systems employ fiberglass enclosures, the two smallest models are molded of UV-resistant polyethylene. All models use Community's 3-layer Weather-Stop grille. Hardware components are made of stainless steel or aluminum.
"When we saw the R2 was a success, we decided to make smaller and bigger products," explained Bruce Howze, Community's president and chief engineer. "We expanded the line out into both directions from the R2 and, at the same time, got started on the WET Series. The real difference between the WET Series and the R-Series is that R-Series products are all horn-loaded. They are intended to deliver relatively long-distance projection."
WET models are equally rugged; low-frequency cones are comprised of low-mass, rigid, carbon fiber. Stainless steel hardware and Weather-Stop grilles are also found on these units.
"The WET products are in fiberglass enclosures, but they are more near-to-mid-field products," Howze stated. "The-low frequency sections are always direct radiator, so they don't have the projection ability of the R-Series, but they have a lower frequency range, which means that they will go lower for a given size. They were originally made in response to requests from theme parks, which is another market that wants high-quality sound outdoors. They are used extensively in distributed systems in stadiums."
Howze believes that his company's success in weather-resistant products is due, in large part, to the organization's expertise in making fiberglass speaker components. "Within a couple of years of starting the company, we began making loudspeaker components-horns, enclosures-out of fiberglass. This was back when touring sound systems were made up of component products: an array of bass horns, an array of midrange horns and an array of high-frequency horns. Not like it is today, where there are packaged, full-range systems," he reflected.
For these products, Howze and his development team worked hard to create a grille that would stand up to the test of inclement weather. This resulted in the Weather-Stop grille. "For the R-Series products, where we wanted the low-frequency horn to be permanently in a fiberglass enclosure, it required the development of some different techniques for driver access and learning how to put low-frequency drivers in a low-frequency horn," he explained. "There were some questions on how to weatherproof the grille; even though the package itself is weatherproof, it still has a grille on it and that grille is going to get rained on. You need a grille that is basically transparent but capable of stopping driving rain from getting into the enclosure."
In the fiercely competitive loudspeaker market, setting yourself apart from the competition is no easy task. Howze emphasizes that Community's early commitment to fiberglass components is what has enabled his company to achieve this. "A lot of it has to do with our ability to make fiberglass products," he said. "We have had experience in making fiberglass loudspeaker components longer than anyone-even early on, when everyone laughed at us for it. That experience has been valuable in making these outdoor products."