AES isn't just a recording show. This year's convention was packed with goodies for the live engineer. Here's my Top 10 list of fave picks.
Allen & Heath (www.allen-heath.com) introduced the ML3000, a budget desk with unexpected features like eight VCAs, eight mutes, eight auxes, LCR panning with an extra "depth of center" pot, a 7x4 matrix and highpass filters tunable to 400 Hz.
Aphex' (www.aphex.com) Model 230 Broadcast Talent Voice Processor (a.k.a "kitchen sink") throws every trick in the book at a vocal mic. This single-channel unit includes the Aphex RPA tube mic pre, Easyrider compression, Logic-assisted gating, a threshold-adjustable de-esser, parametric EQ, plus Aural Exciter and Big Bottom effects. Finishing it off is 24/96 AD conversion, plus an insert point should you need a bit more analog mojo.
DiGiCo's (www.digiconsoles.com) new D1 Live digital console has the features of the D5 Live in a smaller, lighter package with a 25-fader control surface and a 40-bus DSP engine. As a replacement for analog desks with copper snakes, 40- or 48-input versions come with a single DiGiRack at the mix position. The 48 "Dual Rack" model comes with a MADI card with a 100-meter coax digital link from stage and AES digital I/O ports. Both 48-input models have 16 extra insertable processors, each with six bands of parametric EQ, compression, and up to a half-second of delay. Finally, the D1 Live 56EX is the fully-enabled 56-input version that is connected to its stage-box via 150m of fiber-optic cable.
Digidesign (www.digidesign.com) dove into the live digital console fray with the Venue digital mixing system that supports up to 48 inputs and 48 outputs in each stage rack. The basic control surface has 8-input and 8-output banks on either side of a master control section that incorporates a super channel. Adding sidecars increases the surface to 56 input faders. In addition to onboard EQ and dynamics, plug-in software can be installed to employ almost any studio effect, controlled either onscreen with the trackball or using assignable encoders. A FireWire option allows 18 ProTools LE tracks to be recorded onto a Windows XP laptop, with plans for 32 LE tracks and a ProTools HD link next year.
Drawmer's (www.drawmer.com) DSL 424 2+2 provides two channels of frequency-conscious gating from its 404, plus two channels of 441 comp-limiters, all in a single rackspace. Perfect for kick and snare inserts.
L’Acoustics' (www.l-acoustics.com) new Kudo speaker was the talk of the show. Combining the functionality of the company's V-DOSC and ARCS speakers, it can build either horizontal or vertical arrays. "Side vanes" provide out-of-array dispersion of 50° or 110°, and the vanes can be used single-sided, or in a section of an array to create asymmetric coverage. Kudo’s 3-way design employs dual 12s, crossed at 300 Hz to four 5-inch mids in the expected V-shaped center configuration, crossed at 2k Hz to dual 1-inch compression drivers. Note: Kudo has no territory exclusivity.
Meyer Sound Labs (www.meyersound.com) introduced the Galileo 616 digital loudspeaker management system, the "missing link" for its self-powered speakers. The unit's 24/96, 32-bit floating DSP provides fixed, low latency for functionality that includes CP-10 parametrics, up to two seconds of delay and a 4-band version of the VX-1 virtual crossover. In addition to atmospheric HF compensation and LD-3 subwoofer crossover, Galileo introduces LF Beam Steering to widen low-frequency coverage patterns. SIM-3 will interface with Galileo to automatically select source signals.
Sennheiser (www.sennheiserusa.com) added several "backline" mics to the Evolution 900 series. The new e901 boundary-layer mic is contoured for kick drum. The e902 dynamic kick mic is similar to the e602, but with its resonant frequency moved from 45 to 65 Hz for a powerful, more musical feel. The e904 is a compact dynamic mic for toms; the e905 is a slightly larger dynamic instrument mic. The e906 is the familiar flat, squared dynamic for guitar amps, but now with a 3-position 4kHz presence filter that adjusts from flat to "Silver." The e914 pencil condenser has 3-position switches for pad and LF roll-off.
Whirlwind (www.whirlwindusa.com) added the E Desk to the E Snake digital snake and the E Beam wireless digital light snake family of CobraNet products. This digital mixer-in-a-box is a 32-channel CobraNet processor employing six SHARC chips and a Power PC processor, and works with standard Ethernet switches.
Yamaha (www.yamaha-afc.com) sponsored yet another trade show musical highlight with Take 6's a cappella performance at the Museum of Modern Art, accompanied by a demonstration of Yamaha’s "Active Field Control" ambience enhancement system, which turned a brick-walled gallery into a concert hall. Amazing!