From April 25 to 27, NSCA Expo 2002swung into Denver, providing the best tradeshow opportunity for livesound vendors to kick the tires and check out the latest productsbefore touring season begins. Attendance is mandatory for thosecontemplating a large purchase for the upcoming season.
In addition to various off-site demos at clubs, theaters andstadiums, a plethora of demo rooms were available for auditioning thelatest offerings. Thankfully, most manufacturers presented productsthat were already shipping, a commendable trend. Although much of theshow is contractor-oriented (intercom and nurse-call systems, anyone?),there were plenty of cool live sound products. Here (listedalphabetically) are some highlights...
WEBster, from Alcorn-McBride (www.alcorn.com), lets users remotely control nearlyany device with a serial port via the Internet, using an ordinary Webbrowser. WEBster can also automatically send e-mail or data if a faultcondition is detected during a show, and an onboard real-time clockpermits triggering show control events based on time, date, month oryear. Retail: $995.
After too many years away from pro circles, Altec is back asAltec Lansing Technologies (www.altecpro.com). The company's first releasesinclude a line of high-performance ceiling speakers, ranging up to theCD912-8A, a coaxial, cast-frame, 12-inch with 125W power handling.Welcome back!
Mid-sized and compact line arrays were introduced by severalmanufacturers, with Adamson (www.adamsonproaudio.com) showing the Y-10, athree-way, 150-pound enclosure measuring 43x10.5x24 inches (WxHxD). Itemploys two Adamson 10-inch LF drivers plus a patented mid-high modulein the center, with a co-axial entrance, a co-linear exit, and poweredby an Adamson 9-inch Kevlar mid driver and a JBL 2451 compressiondriver.
Apogee Sound (www.apogee-sound.com) unveiled a range of ApogeePowered Loudspeakers (APLs), featuring lightweight, 300kHz digitalamplification and onboard intelligent DSP with precision eighth-ordercrossovers. A line of optional subwoofers complemented the threefull-range APL models.
Distributed in the U.S. by ATI (www.audiotoys.com), the new Audient AztecLive Console features a modular architecture and 32, 40, or 48 inputchannels. Features include 12 VCA sub groups, eight audio subgroups,VCA solo, a 12x8 matrix, eight mono and two stereo aux buses, and LCRoutputs. A stereo ambience input facilitates in-ear monitoring andscene automation is standard. The board's innovative exterior framedesign protects the mixer, while providing numerous handgrip positionsfor loading the console through narrow doorways or into tightinstallation spaces.
Best quad 21-inch subwoofer at NSCA? Bag End's (www.bagend.com)awesome $7,995 Bassault ELF subwoofer. The 310-pound, 44x40x46-inch,birch-ply enclosure has the backs of the four 21-inch woofers loadinginto a common central-slot chamber. The Bassault has a sensitivity of104 dB at 45 Hz, and 3,200-wats continuous-program power handling. BagEnd's ELF Integrator technology provides superior time-domainperformance.
Thedbx (www.dbxpro.com) DriveRack PA ($499.95) is anaffordable 2x6 equalization/loudspeaker control system with severalunique refinements. A front panel, measurement mic input allows auto-EQwith the 28-band graphic EQs. It also has a dozen anti-feedback notchfilters and a sub-harmonic synthesizer. It provides both classic dbxcompression and stereo output limiters. JBL speaker tunings areincluded in the 25 factory programs, plus there are 25 user memories. Asetup Wizard makes user configurations easy.
Electro-Voice (www.electrovoice.com) introduced the compact XLCline array. The XLC 127 ($4,000 list) is a three-way, single-12 boxwith two 6.5-inch mids on a 120° horizontal waveguide, two HFdrivers and a bi-ampable internal passive crossover. The XLC 124 is adownfill version with a single HF driver and 40-degree verticalcoverage. The $2,200 XLC 118 is a companion subwoofer.
Gibson Labs (http://labs.gibson.com) previewed its scalableMaGIC high-bandwidth protocol using standard Ethernet interfacing atlast year's AES in New York. Now, Gibson Guitars technology divisiondebuts its first products, including 8x8 and 16x16 audio distro systems(with up to 64 channels of bi-directional audio over fiber or CAT5cable), a line of high-end flyable speakers (including the MA215-3three-way, double-15 line array with optional DSP control) and a rangeof power amps with lightweight switching supplies.
It's still a few months away from shipping, but Hosa (www.hosatech.com)offered a sneak peak at its FireWire Extender, a compactreceiver/transmitter combo that allows users to send audio--and/orvideo--data 150 feet or more (much longer without video) over IEEE-1394protocol.
The dual-18 VT4880 VerTecsubwoofer line array element ($4,195 list) from JBL (www.jblpro.com)employs VerTec rigging hardware, allowing it to not only be integratedinto arrays, but also to firmly connect them in ground-stackedapplications. Though the enclosure is a foot deeper, the front baffleis the same size as the VT4889. The 132-pound enclosure is made ofhybrid materials and uses two JBL 2258H dual-voicecoil, neodymiumDifferential Drive cones for a 4,800W rating. JBL also introduced astunning collection of 33 new AE-Series installed sound products thatincorporate its new driver technologies.
Meyer Sound (www.meyersound.com) extended its array offerings,introducing both mid-sized and ultra-compact self-powered models. TheM2D ($7,500) employs two 10-inch cone drivers and the same 4-inchdiaphragm-compression driver used in the CQ speakers. The 120-poundenclosure is 39 inches wide and a foot high. A companion dual-15subwoofer can be incorporated into M2D arrays. A rigging grid designedby Dave Lawler facilitates flown and stacked arrays, and can be used asa transition grid below M3D arrays. The M1D ($2,950) is two feet wide,weighs 40 pounds, and employs two 5-inch cone drivers and threehorn-loaded neodymium HF dome drivers.
Martin Audio's (www.martin-audio.com) Wavefront W8L useshorn-loading techniques in a line array format to produce an extremelypowerful system, providing max continuous SPLs in the 134dB range. This3-way, full-range box--also useable without subs in manyapplications--combines proven driver-loading techniques withvertically-coupled waveguides and true constant directivity horns forhigh efficiency and coverage consistency. Inside is ahorn-loaded/ported 15-inch woofer, and vertically-coupled constantdirectivity horns loaded with two 8-inch cone mid drivers and three1-inch HF compression drivers.
No need to dim the lights! Mocom's (www.mocom-screens.com) line of ultra-high gainscreens are up to 20x brighter than white paper and 10x brighter thanconventional high-gain screens. Diagonal sizes range from 40 to 500inches, in 1.33 or 16:9 aspect ratios.
Described as a "poor man's Mediamatrix," Peavey's (www.peavey.com)DigiTool is a no-computer-required system that packs eight inputs andoutputs, mic preamps, mixing and DSP into a two-rackspace box. A simple4-button remote gives end-users easy access for selecting presets.Price: $799.
Primacoustic (www.primeacoustic.com) debuted the RazorbladeQuadratic Diffusor ($259 list), a 2x4-foot, 8-inch-deep, semi-randomquadratic-diffusion panel made of MDF to reduce standing waves andflutter echo down to 350 Hz. For a fraction of the cost of high-endhardwood diffusors, effective control of reflections from the "receive"wall can be achieved in venues where this type of solution may havebeen thought to be too expensive. Razorblade offers a practicalrecording 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 averageand harmonic distortion calculation. In Transfer Mode, Coherence isstored in reference files, and devices under external control can drawtheir EQ curve on the screen. Data Logging creates files for LEQ andSPL 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 RibbonLine Array (about $6k), a three-way module based around its proprietaryPRD 1000 neodymium HF ribbon driver, providing improved HF performancein a line array. The RLA/1 employs axial symmetry with a 15-inch driverat each end, bracketing two pairs of 6.5-inch mids and its two ribbondrivers in the center. The 250-pound enclosure has a 5-degree taper,and is 54x21 inches (WxD). The ribbon drivers reproduce HF at lowerdistortion than compression drivers.
Soundcraft (www.soundcraft.com) introduced its MH4 console($37k list for 48 mono & four stereo channels), with a totallymodular design allowing stereo channels to be located anywhere.Designed as triple-mode console, it has eight mono and four stereoauxes in monitor mode, but in FOH mode, each stereo aux can become astereo subgroup with independent panning plus another mono aux, for upto 12 auxes and eight groups. The MH4 has eight VCAs, eight mute groupswith snapshot automation, plus integrated control of BSS VariCurve anddbx DriveRack. Soundcraft's new EQ and mic preamps offer superior soundquality and each channel has a direct out plus a passive split.
TC Helicon (www.tc-helicon.com) debuted the VoiceOne "voicepitch and modeling tool," a one-rackspace unit combining the power ofTC's popular Intonator pitch fixer with single-voice harmonies andvoice-modeling effects from the VoicePrism Plus. It's $1,299, with linein/out and S/PDIF I/O. In other TC news, TC has purchased high-endSwedish amp manufacturer Lab.gruppen (www.labgruppen.se).
Famed for its studio DSP plug-ins, Waves Ltd., (www.waves.com) showedMaxxBass"! Pro101, a hardware version of its popular Maxxbass LFenhancement in a single-rackspace chassis. Priced at $299, Maxxbassextends the apparent LF response of bass-limited speakers in commercialinstallations, without endangering drivers.
World Rigging (www.alumalok.com) offers a certified AlumaLOKairwall track-rigging device ($325/pair) made of machined aluminum andrated for static loads up to 750 pounds. The AlumaLOK accommodates5/8-inch shackles, spansets, C-clamps and has three 1/2-13 threadedmounting holes. This labor-saving device provides a safe, securesolution for productions that must quickly mount speakers and lights inhotel ballrooms. The AlumaBLOK ($105/pair) is a smaller, 500-poundrated device with three shackle holes designed for cable picks.
Yamaha's new 02R96 digital console (www.yamaha.com/proaudio) updates every aspect ofits predecessor, with more than five times the processing power of theoriginal 02R. Many of the 02R96's key features are shared with Yamaha'srecently-announced DM2000, such as 24-bit/96kHz audio, improvedhigh-res mic preamps, Sony 9-pin (P2) and MMC control, surroundmonitoring and integration for controlling digital audio workstations(Pro Tools, Nuendo and Logic audio), while it retains the same sizedfootprint as the original 02R. The control surface and user interfacewere enhanced for a more analog-style, hands-on operation, and anassignable surround panning joystick and 16 user-defined keys speedproduction tasks. The 02R96 offers 56 input channels and adds a directout function for routing the signal from any channel directly to anydigital or analog output.
NSCA travels to Dallas next year from March 13-15, 2003. For info,visit www.nsca.org.Mark those calendars now!