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Technology Spotlight: Clair Brothers kiT+ Series Speakers

July 2015

Originally published at FOH

Clair Brothers was established 49 years ago when brothers Gene and Roy Clair had their first gig — supplying sound for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at F&M College in Lancaster, PA — and over the years, the company has grown into a major force in touring, installations and technologies for live sound reinforcement. In fact it was just two years after that first defining gig that the company debuted its first large-scale system (powered by the then-new Crown DC300 amplifiers), doing sound for Cream in 1968 at the Philadelphia Spectrum for 18,000 fans.

Since then, the company has expanded exponentially, including the acquisitions of major sound companies (MD Systems, in the 1990’s) and its chief high-end touring rival SHOWCO in 2000. Today, the Clair family of companies operates as three distinct divisions — Clair Global (offering sound reinforcement, video systems, backline and other support services for a worldwide list of touring and event clients); Clair Solutions (providing audio, video and lighting system integration, with design, installation and sales); and Clair Brothers, offering product development and sales to companies and professional users in the live sound and installation markets.

Clair has always been on the forefront of creating products that historically, have played a major part in defining the industry. These have ranged from its invention of the wedge stage monitor concept in 1970, employing flying systems in 1972 — with Elvis being among those first artists to take advantage of the clean stage look; CAT (Curved Array Technology) line arrays in 2001; the first commercially available line arrays (the i212 in 2006, followed by the flagship i2181 in 2009), with modular mid-hi sections, allowing customized response for any specific application; and last year with 2014’s debut of the kiT series full-range, high-output speakers.

The list of Clair Brothers clients through the years is impressive, including a veritable Who’s Who of top names in entertainment — and the kiT series was designed to bring that venerable Clair Brothers sound to the rest of us.

The list of Clair Brothers clients through the years is impressive, including a veritable Who’s Who of top names in entertainment — and the kiT series was designed to bring that venerable Clair Brothers sound to the rest of us.


The kiT Series

Intended for fixed installation or portable applications, models in the kiT range began with the kiT12 and kiT15. Both of these two-way trapezoidal designs are unpowered but designed to accommodate either single amping (via internal crossovers) or external biamplification. LF is handled by either a 12- or 15-inch neodymium woofer with a 3-inch voice coil. The top-end complement on both is the same, with a 2-inch-exit neodymium HF compression driver mated to a rotatable 90 x 40-degree (HxV) horn, with an option for a 60 x 40-degree (also rotatable) version.

A weather-resistant variant is also offered. Response for the kiT12 is stated as 63 Hz to 20 kHz; the kiT15 expends the bottom end down to 58 Hz.

The fullrange speakers can be pole mounted and are capable of angle adjustments over a ±15-degree range in 5-degree increments. Alternatively, rigging slots on four corners are standard on both subs and full range enclosures.

kiT, the Next Generation

Announced earlier this year, Clair Brothers has expanded its kiT line, which now includes the new kiT12+, kiT15+, kiTCURVE12+, kiT-Sub+ and kiT-Sub-mini+.

“Each new speaker is delineated with a plus sign in the product’s name indicating its self-powered nature,” comments Josh Sadd, chief design engineer at Clair Brothers. All are offered in unpowered versions as well. Like their kiT Series predecessors, the new kiT+ line products feature high intelligibility, musicality, high output performance and durability, making them suitable for virtually any indoor or outdoor application.

The kiT Series (both “+” and non+) features Clair craftsmanship in wood enclosures with 13-ply Baltic birch construction, durable black polyurea coatings and a tough perforated steel grille. Also standard are CNC machined wood waveguides, offering the same quality found in high-end, tour-grade products, but to users in smaller applications.

The full range kiT+ speakers are powered by an integrated two-channel (3,200-watt total) power amplifier module that includes internal DSP loudspeaker processing that handles crossover, EQ and limiter duties. The factory programmed processing provides the user with the choice of four presets that are specifically designed for various applications and array configurations. For use with subwoofers, the low-pass filter frequency may be set per application via integrated factory presets. Other than the choice of powered or unpowered versions, one interesting upgrade option is provided for applications requiring networked DSP.

The kiT12+ and kiT15+ offer similar performance parameters as their unpowered siblings, while the two kiT-Subs expand the versatility of the entire range.

Both the kiT-Sub+ and kiT-Sub-mini+ are powered single-18 subwoofers designed around a single 18-inch LF driver. The main difference is the cabinet, which is 30 x 28 x 22.5 inches in the kiT-Sub+ and 28 x 24 x 22.5 inches in the kiT-Sub-mini+. Both have a top pole-mount socket for supporting other kiT series cabinets and sport rigging slots on all four sides that accept the wide range of optional flying and mounting hardware that Clair Brothers offers for the entire kiT lineup.

The newest member of the speaker family — and perhaps most interesting — is the kiTCURVE12. The kiTCURVE12 has its roots in the Clair Brothers CAT series from which it gets its Curved Array Technology waveguide.

Inside the 15 x 28 x 15-inch (HxWxD), 66-pound enclosure is a custom 12-inch driver and two 2-inch-exit, (3-inch voice coil) HF compression drivers mounted on a 90 x 15-degree (HxV) constant-curvature, constant directivity horn offering uniform coverage in both near-field and medium-throw applications. Onboard powering is 3,200 watts of biamplification with integrated DSP or the non-powered kiTCURVE12 version for external biamping. Response (±2 dB) is given as 51 Hz to 21k Hz.

Additionally, the kiTCURVE features the rigging and portability features inherent to the kiT Series. The unit may be singly pole mounted or multiple cabinets may be hung in arrays (up to five high), to create 75-degrees of vertical coverage.