Product Hits of Musikmesse 2003

Anyone who's never attended the annual Musikmesse/ProLight+Sound show (Frankfurt, Germany) would have difficulty imagining the scope of what certainly is one of the world's largest trade shows. For five days, some 16 exhibit halls are filled with technology...

Anyone who's never attended the annual Musikmesse/ProLight+Soundshow (Frankfurt, Germany) would have difficulty imagining the scope ofwhat certainly is one of the world's largest trade shows. For fivedays, some 16 exhibit halls are filled with technology, asmanufacturers from around the globe hawk their wares to dealers,distributors and--on the weekend--the public at large. It's sort oflike AES/NAMM/NAB/LDI/NSCA, but all in one huge expo.

This year, from March 5-9, as the normally arctic Frankfurt weathercooperated with "mild" days in the low-50°s, yet with an unthawedeconomy and spectre of an Iraqi war looming in the background, Messeattendance seemed down by 20% or so from last year.

However, inside those 16 halls, there was plenty to see--and hear.Many hot music products, such as the Roland V-Synth, the Open Labs eKoand Creamware’s Noah, made their European debuts here, but wecovered them in ourNAMM report last month. So here are a few new items thatcaught our attention.

High-End Touring Systems

Last year, new software and virtual instruments were the talk ofFrankfurt. This time, mics, interfaces, mixers and pro touring speakerstook center stage.

After extensive road testing with top acts such as Tori Amos, theNexo Geo T was officially launched.Designed for vertical or horizontal arrays, the Geo T is based on theT4805 and T2820 high-output loudspeakers and a new dual-18 CD18Controlled Directivity Sub-Bass in a scalable system that handlesaudiences from 1,000 to 100,000-plus. The full-range boxes both use2-inch HF and 8-inch cone mid/lows, with a Hyperboloid ReflectiveWavesource (HRW™) acoustical reflector for coherent couplingbetween multiple speakers, even those with different dispersion angles.Flying hardware and GEOSoft Array Design Software complete thepackage.

Described by company founder Ken Berger as "...smaller than anythingthis loud, or louder than anything this small," the KF730 Small LineArray Module (SLAM) from EAW packs a six-driver, horn-loaded KF Seriesdesign into a mini enclosure that can be scaled to handle venues from50 to several thousand. It uses unique side-firing 10-inch woofers, sothe enclosure is only 29x18x13 inches (WxDxH), including the wide110° horn pushed by twin 7-inch cone mids and two 1-inch HFdrivers. Flying/array hardware and a matching dual-12 sub are alsooffered.

Last year, several Stage Accompany employees formed Alcons Audio.Alcon's debuts include a number of high-end creations based on 8- and12-inch woofers in trapezoidal boxes with a proprietary RBN601 ribbondriver mounted to 90°x40°, 60°x30° or90°x10° waveguides. The massive RBN601 has neodymium magnets,weighs 5.5 pounds, extends to 25 kHz and has a 70W RMS rating with1,000W peaks.

Meyer Sound expands its MSeries self-powered line arrays with the MILO High-Power CurvilinearArray Loudspeaker. The enclosure offers 140dB SPL peaks for rock showsin arenas and sheds, yet is small enough to fly in mid-size theaters orcorporate presentations. MILO as mains can be combined with Meyer M2Dsand integrated with M3D-Sub Directional subwoofers. The four-way systemhas dual 12-inch neodymium woofers, a 4-inch compression mid with CDhorn and Meyer REM™ (Ribbon Emulation Manifold) for smooth mids;for highs, three 2-inch compression drivers (also coupled via REM) on a90° horn. Over 3,900 watts of onboard amplification with activesignal processing are standard, as is Meyer's RMS™ remotemonitoring system.

For those occasions when budgets are tight, Turbosoundshowed its passive TXD loudspeakers, designed as portable systems forthe live music, club and DJ markets. With built-in rigging points, theTXDs also work in fixed installs. The series includes the compacttwo-way TXD-121 and TXD-151 (with 12- or 15-inch woofers and a new1-inch HF compression driver), and subwoofers with single or dual-15sor single 18-inch woofers and a TXD-12M compact wedge. Powered versionswill be added around mid-year.

Peaveyoffered a new twist with its Trans Lite Series, offering molded two-wayboxes in transparent colored and clear enclosures--ideal for installsin trendy restaurants, bars, clubs, fitness centers, etc. Outre!

With all of these cool speakers, you gotta protect your investment.Drawmer'sSP2120 Speaker Protector is a single-rackspace box that takes thecompany's 25 years of dynamics expertise and creates a brickwall analoglimiter that keeps the sound system's volume under an absolute maxpreset level specified by the installer or client. A front-panelkeyswitch gives new meaning to the phrase "control lockout!"


Fresh from its debut at last year's AES, DiGiCo poured on the new featuresfor its high-end D5 Live touring board. The new D5 Live 56 FM packageincludes a 56-input/64-channel FOH console; 64-channel monitor deskwith 32 output channels; and a local FOH DigiRack, a stage DigiRack anda local monitor DigiRack--oh, with three drums of fiber-optic cable. AD5 Live 96 FM package is identical but with 96-channel FOH and monitorconsoles.

New software now offered with DiGiCo's standard D5 Live and "E"(extended version) consoles--free to existing D5 Live owners--includesAux Send to Faders, Matrix Pre/post Channel Inject and Gain Trackingfeatures. In a complete D5 Live FM (FOH/monitor) package, Gain Trackingallows either console operator to change any input gain withoutaffecting the sound balance on either console. The 38x8 matrix on theD5 Live can now have any channels, inputs and any bus, routed toit--especially useful for creating monitor sub-mixes and Aux Send ToFaders expands the functionality of auxes assigned to surface faders.Additionally, a free upgrade for the extended versions includes a 12graphic equalizers (12 mono, six stereo or a mixture of both), withtouchscreen display and control.

The hot news at DiGiCo was DiGiTRACS™--the world's firstsoundcheck/show recorder--with 56-track, disk-based recording based onthe Merging Technologies Pyramix platform and Mykerinos DSP card.Housed in a rugged four-rackspace chassis, DiGiTRACS connects to theFOH D5 Live via two BNC MADI cables; the front panel has USBII andFireWire ports. A 600GB multiple hard disk RAID array (and 80GBremovable drive for archiving/backup/data exchange) supports PMF, .WAV,BDW, .AIFF, SDII, OMF and DSD formats.

Decidedly less expensive is Yamaha's 01x, a small-footprint mixer forcomputer music production, but sporting 28-channel capacity, DAWcontrol with moving faders, Mac and Windows drivers, dual 32-biteffects processors, 24-bit/96kHz multichannel mLAN (and MIDI) I/Ointerfacing and more. Price? About $1,700 when it ships this fall.

A major buzz at Messe?TCElectronic's PowerCore FireWire puts nearly twice the power ofits PCI card PowerCore version into a single-rackspace chassis that'sideal for laptop or desktop users. The rack and PCI versions can beused simultaneously, for even more DSP horsepower; as a bonus,PowerCore FireWire ships with nine high-quality plug-ins.

Interfaces? They wuz everywhere! Tascam's US-122 ($269 MSRP) is a Mac- andWindows-compatible USB audio and 16-channel MIDI interface with two XLRmic inputs (with phantom) and inserts for placing EQs, compressors,etc., into the signal chain. Edirol's UA-1000 is said to be the world'sfirst USB 2 audio/MIDI interface, and ESI offered an entire new line of rackmountand compact 192kHz FireWire interfaces.

All TerraTec Electronic's pro audioand musician audio cards and I/O products will now be marketed underthe name TerraTec Producer, and U.S. distribution remains withFostex. The line now offers audio/MIDI productswith PCI bus, USB and FireWire interfacing.


Neumann kicked offits 75th anniversary celebration with the 2003 Sound EngineeringContest--an interactive CD-ROM with 75 questions in categories rangingfrom mic technique to identifying guitars/amps/drum machines, orspotting classic songs by examining their waveforms.Fun? Sure, but thebest part would be taking the first prize: a one-of-a-kind chrome pairof M149s or Solution-D digital mics and a trip to the Berlin Neumannfactory for the company’s huge anniversary bash this fall. Forcontest details and an entry CD-ROM, visit


expanded its acclaimed Colette modular system with the CMC6 xt, amicrophone amplifier for any MK Series axial capsule, providingbandwidth beyond 40 kHz.


unveiled the MKL5000, its first multipattern tube mic, with alarge-diaphragm capsule mounted above the mini-bottle-style housing.Intended for 5.1 surround recording,

Microtech Gefell

's new INA 5 support is a multimic mount for five cardioid mics. MGrecommends its low-noise M930s, but it works fine with any qualitystudio cardioids. Mics can be placed anywhere along the INA 5's armsfor adjusting the field.

New versions of AKG's popular handheld mics (the D3700, D880and TEC Award-winning C900) will be available later this year inversions with "M" suffixes, equipped with a removable, wired XLR modulethat's interchangeable with wireless TM40 transmitters, instantlyconverting the mics to wireless operation. By allowing wired mics tobecome wireless, the system permits rental houses, tours or musiciansto maintain smaller inventories: If a big wireless job comes in,existing mics are easily converted; likewise, musicians don't have tobuy two mics when they go wireless. Brilliant!

There were more cool products from Musikmesse/ProLight+Sound, andwe'll present these in our new-product sections in the months to come.Meanwhile, auf wiedersehen!


With 16 halls filled with the latest wunderteknik, and onlyfive days to see it all, you’re bound to miss something. Here aresix hot picks that the casual Musikmesse/ProLight+Sound visitor couldhave overlooked:

Harmonix owner Richard Smith has developedwireless harmonicas using AKG WMS 40 transmitters built into theinstrument. No hot spots; no having to hold the mic and harp at thesame time. Freedom!

Samplitude is now at Version 7.1, and thissolid authoring/editing/mastering software for the PC just keepsgetting better, with ASIO and VST support, on-the-fly CD burning and aton of hip effects. Super!

Sound Performance Labs'$699 Surround Monitor Controller (SMC) is exactly that, providingmultiple surround/stereo source selection, one-knob volume control,muting, mono checking, dim switch and more--in a desktop case!

Vox packed all of thegroovy sounds of its Valvetronix modeling amps (along with modulation,fuzz, delay and reverb effects) into one compact box with a real tubeand real knobs to get that sound fast! Can it do an AC-30? Yeah!Yeah! Yeah!

Whirlwind's DLSI Digital Laser System cantransmit Ethernet or Cobranet data/audio (up to hundreds of channels)in real time over a laser beam. Perfect for those impossible installsor portable setups. Amazing!

Yamaha held a very early technology showing ofVocaloid, a singing synthesis-software technology that allows users tocreate lifelike--or otherworldly--lead and BG vocal tracks by typing inthe lyrics and merging them with a MIDI file for melody. It's notinstantaneous--results require editing and tweaking of phonemes, modes,pacing and timing--but the results are eerie, strange andbeautiful--sometimes all at once. The product is at least a year away,so don't call yet!

Clickhere to hear Yamaha's new Vocaloid voice synthesistechnology