From April 25-27, 2002, NSCA Expo 2002 swung into Denver, providing the best tradeshow opportunity for live sound vendors to kick the tires and check out the latest products before touring season begins. Attendance is mandatory for those contemplating a large purchase for the upcoming season. In addition to various off-site demos at clubs, theaters and stadiums, a plethora of demo rooms were available for auditioning the latest offerings. Thankfully, most manufacturers presented products that were already shipping, a commendable trend. Although much of the show is contractor-oriented (intercom and nurse-call systems, anyone?), there were plenty of cool live sound products. Here are some highlights…
Mid-sized and compact line arrays were introduced by several manufacturers, with Adamson (www.adamsonproaudio.com) showing the Y-10, a three-way, 150-pound enclosure measuring 43×10.5×24 inches (W×H×D). It employs two Adamson 10-inch LF drivers plus a patented mid-high module in the center, with a co-axial entrance, a co-linear exit, and powered by an Adamson 9-inch Kevlar mid driver and a JBL 2451 compression driver.
Apogee Sound (www.apogee-sound.com) unveiled a range of Apogee Powered Loudspeakers (APLs), featuring lightweight, 300kHz digital amplification and onboard intelligent DSP with precision eighth-order crossovers. A line of optional subwoofers complemented the three full-range APL models.
Best quad 21-inch subwoofer at NSCA? Bag End's (www.bagend.com) awesome $7,995 Bassault ELF subwoofer. The 310-pound, 44×40×46-inch, birch-ply enclosure has the backs of the four 21-inch woofers loading into a common central-slot chamber. The Bassault has a sensitivity of 104 dB at 45 Hz, and 3,200-watts continuous-program power handling. Bag End's ELF Integrator technology provides superior time-domain performance.
The dbx (www.dbxpro.com) DriveRack PA ($499.95) is an affordable 2×6 equalization/loudspeaker control system with several unique refinements. A front panel measurement mic input allows auto-EQ with the 28-band graphic EQs. It also has a dozen anti-feedback notch filters and a sub-harmonic synthesizer. It provides both classic dbx compression and stereo output limiters. JBL speaker tunings are included in the 25 factory programs, plus there are 25 user memories. A setup Wizard makes user configurations easy.
Electro-Voice (www.electrovoice.com) introduced the compact XLC line array. The XLC 127 ($4,000 list) is a three-way, single-12 box with two 6.5-inch mids on a 120° horizontal waveguide, two HF drivers and a bi-ampable internal passive crossover. The XLC 124 is a downfill version with a single HF driver and 40° vertical coverage. The $2,200 XLC 118 is a companion subwoofer.
The dual-18 VT4880 VerTec subwoofer line array element ($4,195 list) from JBL (www.jblpro.com) employs VerTec rigging hardware, allowing it to not only be integrated into arrays, but also to firmly connect them in ground-stacked applications. Though the enclosure is a foot deeper, the front baffle is the same size as the VT4889. The 132-pound enclosure is made of hybrid materials and uses two JBL 2258H dual-voicecoil, neodymium Differential Drive® cones for a 4,800W rating. JBL also introduced a stunning collection of 33 new AE-Series installed sound products that incorporate its new driver technologies.
Meyer Sound (www.meyersound.com) extended its array offerings, introducing both mid-sized and ultra-compact self-powered models. The M2D ($7,500) employs two 10-inch cone drivers and the same 4-inch, diaphragm-compression driver used in the CQ speakers. The 120-pound enclosure is 39 inches wide and a foot high. A companion dual-15 subwoofer can be incorporated into M2D arrays. A rigging grid designed by Dave Lawler facilitates flown and stacked arrays, and can be used as a transition grid below M3D arrays. The M1D ($2,950) is two feet wide, weighs 40 pounds, and employs two 5-inch cone drivers and three horn-loaded neodymium HF dome drivers.
Primacoustic (www.primacoustic.com) debuted the Razorblade™ Quadratic Diffusor ($259 list), a 2×4-foot, 8-inch-deep, semi-random quadratic-diffusion panel made of MDF to reduce standing waves and flutter echo down to 350 Hz. For a fraction of the cost of high-end hardwood diffusors, effective control of reflections from the “receive” wall can be achieved in venues where this type of solution may have been thought to be too expensive. Razorblade offers a practical recording studio solution for backwall reflections.
SIA Software's (www.siasoft.com) Version 5.0 of SMAART Live ($695) offers many new features, including RTA peak hold, RTA timed average and harmonic distortion calculation. In Transfer Mode, Coherence is stored in reference files, and devices under external control can draw their EQ curve on the screen. Data Logging creates files for LEQ and SPL logging with A and C weighting, as well as user-definable curves. Upgrades from Version 4 are $95 until October 1.
SLS (www.slsloudspeakers.com) debuted the RLA/1 Ribbon Line Array (about $6k), a three-way module based around its proprietary PRD 1000 neodymium HF ribbon driver, providing improved HF performance in a line array. The RLA/1 employs axial symmetry with a 15-inch driver at each end, bracketing two pairs of 6.5-inch mids and its two ribbon drivers in the center. The 250-pound enclosure has a 5° taper, and is 54×21 inches (W×D). The ribbon drivers reproduce HF at lower distortion than compression drivers.
World Rigging (www.alumalok.com) offers a certified AlumaLOK airwall track-rigging device ($325/pair) made of machined aluminum and rated for static loads up to 750 pounds. The AlumaLOK accommodates ⅝-inch shackles, spansets, C-clamps and has three ½-13 threaded mounting holes. This labor-saving device provides a safe, secure solution for productions that must quickly mount speakers and lights in hotel ballrooms. The AlumaBLOK ($105/pair) is a smaller, 500-pound rated device with three shackle holes designed for cable picks.
NSCA travels to Dallas next year from March 13-15, 2003. For info, visit www.nsca.org. Mark those calendars now!
Mark Frink is Mix's sound reinforcement editor.