The return to Los Angeles after 12 years injected a bit of energy into the 137th AES Convention, no doubt about that. Though it remains a six-aisle show, the AES has made great moves to expand its programming into all areas of audio, with Expos, Tracks, Papers and Technical Tours covering Live Sound, Project Studios, High Resolution Audio and Videogame Sound, among many other fields. It all combined to give this year’s edition a great buzz beyond the show floor.
That said, registration eclipsed 15,000, marking a 10-year high for the biannual West Coast edition, and there was plenty to see at the exhibition. Here are a few of the hits we found.
PMC opened things up in a big way on Thursday night with a grand party at the refurbished Capitol Studios, the world’s first installation of the company’s QB1-A main monitors. Each channel has an expansive 4,825 watts of Class-D amplification at its disposal: 275W on the 34mm HF driver, 550W on the 75mm midrange, and 4,000W on the four 10-inch bass drivers). Max SPL of 132 dB at 1 meter. It even employs air movement technologies through the front ports based on Formula One designs. Bring on the big sound!
JBL held demos throughout the show in the 250-seat Clive Davis Theater at the nearby Grammy Museum—introducing another speaker line, the 7 Series, aimed primarily at the post/broadcast market. This comes on the heels of the M2 Master Reference Monitor and the 3 Series, all, like the new 705i and 708i, incorporating the new driver and Image Control Waveguide. The 5-inchers filled the theater—not kidding—with amazing low-end reproduction and detailed highs. External power. Coming soon.
Up in their demo room, Genelec showed its new line of Smart Active Monitors (SAM) including the stunning looking (and sounding) 8351. The front of the three-way, coaxial-design monitor only shows the midrange and high components, with the dual woofers hidden behind the front plate.
The new KH420 monitor from Neumann ($4,899.95) is their first midfield design featuring computer-optimized drivers, a mathematically modeled dispersion waveguide, both analog and digital input options and flexible acoustic controls. It is configurable for up to 7.1 playback. Meanwhile, Neumann had a real nice moment in their booth presenting a U47 fet collector’s edition to legendary engineer Bruce Swedien.
Barefoot Sound introduced the MicroMain45, with the same guts as the flagship MiniMain12 but stripped down to the bare essentials to make it more affordable. It’s a three-way active monitor with: 1-inch ring radiator (180 watt Hypex amp); two 2.5-inch aluminum cones for the mids (180W Hypex amp); and an 8-inch aluminum cone woofer 250W Hypex amplifier. Crossovers at 600 Hz and 2.5kHz; said to go from 40 Hz to 45 kHz.
The TransAudio Group had the new ATC P1Pro and P2Pro Amps, featuring MOSFET Class-A/B dual mono design. At 150W/channel into 8 ohms and 300W/channel into 8 ohms respectively, these fan-less, rack-mountable power amplifiers incorporate the same gain reduction and loudspeaker protection circuits that are used in the ATC active monitors
Conversion and I/O and More
New from Apogee is the Ensemble, a 30x34 Thunderbolt 2 audio interface ($2,495) promising 1.1ms round-trip latency. It features front panel metering, instrument in/outs, 2 headphone ports with separate gain control, talkback, and eight mic preamps featuring Apogee’s Advanced Stepped Gain circuitry.
Lynx debuted the E44 and E22 PCI Express Cards, featuring four channels A/D and D/A conversion, with four channels of AES3 or S/PDIF I/O in the E44, and two each in the E22. FPGA-based, Thunderbolt-compatible, extreme low-latency—the company even says they perform better than their Aurora converters.
Universal Audio was in the bustling Avid Partner Pavilion and showed their UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt Accelerators. They come in 4 (Quad, $999) or 8 (Octo, $1,499) SHARC chip versions, which run UAD Powered Plug-Ins via Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 connection on new Macs.
Antelope Audio Satori Monitor Controller combines analog monitoring and summing. Other functions include talkback and level trims, as well as stereo effects like mute, mono, dim and mid-side. Gain offset is available for any input and output, making A/B testing extremely easy and efficient. Four independent headphone outputs allow individual source selection and volume control, enabling separate feeds for musicians or vocalists. Also on hand were the MP32 preamps with analog IO. These, coupled with Antelope’s other interface options offer full mic to speaker integration across the range.
Consoles, Mics and More
The SSL XL-Desk bases at $19,999 and features 20 + 1 faders, 40 inputs, 8-built in Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) preamps, 16 dual input mono channels (switchable between main input or DAW return), and 4 stereo channels (switchable to mono for tracking). There is also a 10-space 500 series rack built into the surface, which can be loaded with more preamps or processors.
New for Audio-Technica, the AT5045 ($1,399) is a rectangular diaphragm, electret side-address condenser instrument microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. Features include fast transient response, low noise, the ability to handle high sound pressure levels (149dB SPL), and one of the widest dynamic range specs available (141 dB).
Radial Engineering featured their new Ice Cube and Decoder problem solvers. Decoder is a self-contained Mid-Side interface featuring 3 XLR inputs with individual on-off switches and level controls and phantom power. The Cube is a compact, single-channel balanced line isolator for eliminating ground loops and other noise.
The Tweaker from Kush Audio ($1,495) is a single-channel VCA compressor featuring a Sidechain Shaper and a Curve function, which simultaneously adjusts ratio and knee from a gentle 2:1 soft knee to 30:1 hard knee limiting. The unit’s attack can be varied from 10 microseconds to 70 milliseconds, while the flexible release can be switched between a fast Single Stage (variable from 20ms-500ms) and a vintage Opto-style Dual Stage (500ms-7500ms).
Old meets new in the Retro Instruments OP6 Preamp ($3,500), which recreates the sound of the famed RCA OP-6 adding phantom power and inputs for both microphones and instruments. The original is accurately referenced via the large volume knob, portable footprint, and large VU meter.
Waves demoed its new DiGiGrid DLS/DLI/iOS. The DiGiGrid DLS is an all-in-one processing and networking hub featuring a built-in SoundGrid DSP server, network switch, and two DigiLink ports providing as many as 64 digital inputs and outputs. DiGiGrid DLI is a networking hub that bridges Pro Tools and SoundGrid. Two DigiLink ports provide access to up to 64 digital inputs and outputs across the network.
With their largest recorder track count yet, the Sound Devices 970 records 64 channels of monophonic or polyphonic 24-bit, 48 kHz WAV files from any of its 144 available input connections. Connections include 64 channels of Ethernet-based Dante, 64 channels of optical or coaxial MADI, eight channels of line-level analog, and eight channels of AES digital. Any input can be assigned to any track. It supports 32-track recording at 96 kHz.
Tascam, now part of the Gibson family, keeps pumping out the products with both musicians and audio pros in mind. The DR-44WL (4-track) and DR-22WL (2-track) both feature stereo condenser mics, simultaneous WAV and MP3 recording, XLR/TRS inputs and WiFi connect/control for immediate uploads to social media or secure file-sharing sites.
Techies were loving the new Audio Precision APx555 Analyzer, boasting the lowest noise and distortion of any audio analyzer ever made. The generator is capable of producing low distortion sine wave signals up to 204 kHz, at high-level amplitudes up to 26 Vrms. Software improvements include Bench Mode delivering real-time feedback of any selected parameters, including waveform scope, FFT spectrum, levels, frequency, THD+N, and more.