NAB 2009

UPSIDES AND DOWNSIDES IN A TOUGH MARKET
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NAB 2009, which took place April 18-23 in Las Vegas, had a lot of the old feel from years past, as well as a few changes you'd expect during a down economy. For instance, the usual craziness of the South Lower Hall (pictured above) was in evidence with packed booths and lots of buzz around the more glitzy video-oriented demos and gear. In the North and Central Halls, however, traffic was down considerably — some estimating as much as 40 percent.

On the upside, many attendees took advantage of bargain hotel room rates, while the airport, monorail and cab lines seemed shorter than usual. Most manufacturers seemed unfazed by the economic situation, as there was no shortage of new gear debuts, most stressing cost-saving solutions for broadcast and post users. For product-demo videos, visit mixonline.com/video.

Consoles

Calrec Audio's Apollo console offers more than double the processing power of the company's Alpha platform — a channel count that sets a new industry benchmark — and includes a new, highly responsive, user-configurable control surface. At 48 kHz, Apollo's Bluefin2 provides up to 1,020 channel processing paths, 128 program buses, 96 IFB/track outputs and 48 auxes — or half of those numbers at 96 kHz.

Solid State Logic had a strong showing. Its C10 HD digital audio console comes in 24×8 or 32×8 frame sizes, with scalable DSP and I/O options. For mixing inside the box, SSL's new MX4 combines three central system elements: high-channel-count/high-quality audio interface, a versatile software mixer and DSP-powered plug-ins providing legendary SSL audio characteristics. SSL also unveiled The X-Desk, a desktop/rackmount unit with 16 mixdown channels, eight channel inserts, stereo and mono aux sends, talkback, two monitor outs, two stereo effects returns and inserts on the stereo bus.

New broadcast enhancements for Euphonix's System 5-B/BP and Max Air digital audio mixing systems include the SH624 router, which integrates those digital consoles with facility routers using the ES-Switch Protocol. The SH624 has 24 MADI ins and outs for a maximum of 1,536×1,536 signal paths at 48 kHz, doubling the size of the current SH612 router.

Studer announced its new RELINK (Resource Linking) I/O sharing system, which extends audio capabilities and can link numerous consoles in a facility's various locations for audio source and control data sharing across a wide network.

Tascam introduced its slick, miniature M-164UF analog mixer, with six mic inputs, EQ and built-in meter bridge, plus onboard digital effects. Its built-in USB 2 can deliver all 16 outputs to a Mac or PC for live or studio recording. Other features include 16-channel mixing, onboard RIAA phono preamp, sub and main output buses, and two aux sends.

Intended for broadcast applications, Yamaha's MY8-SDI-D enables the input of HD-SDI-embedded audio signals directly to a host Yamaha digital console or DME (Digital Mix Engine). It features one HD-SDI input with one HD-SDI thru output, and can replace the need for conventional converters previously used to directly feed Yamaha digital mixing products.

Monitoring

Genelec's 1038CF tri-amplified active monitoring system features a slim enclosure (only 9.25 inches deep!), dual long-throw 8-inch woofers, 5-inch midrange driver and 1-inch dome tweeter. Based on the 1038B monitor, it has 420 watts of onboard power.

JBL Pro's LSR2300 Series monitors come in 5- or 8-inch versions (LSR2325P or LSR2328P, respectively), with an optional 10-inch sub to take the system down to 28 Hz.

The all-digital StudioComm 76DB/77B surround monitoring system from Studio Technologies offers simple, effective monitoring of 5.1 surround and stereo audio material. Comprising a Model 76DB Central Controller and a Model 77B Control Console, the system is well suited for use with digital-input loudspeakers.

The Reference Monitor from Sonifex is a single-rackspace audio monitor with Dolby decoding. The RM-4C8-HDE1 can decode a Dolby E or Dolby Digital audio stream, letting users visually monitor eight (or 5.1) audio channels and select any two for listening.

The Headzone PRO XT from Beyerdynamic is an updated version of the company's innovative Headzone system that uses DSP technology to provide headphone-based 5.1 surround sound reproduction using a patented ultrasonic HeadTracking system, which locates the orientation of the listener's head with respect to the source material and adjusts the audio accordingly.

Mics, Mics, Mics

AKG brought new life to its classic C 747 and C 3000 mics. The updated C 747 V11 maintains its predecessor's operational excellence, while the new C 3000 retains the characteristics of the popular original but with a sleek finish.

The Sennheiser 2000 Series is a professional, entry-level wireless mic system, with handheld or bodypack transmitters. For monitoring, users can combine the diversity receivers of the series with single or twin monitor transmitters.

Audio-Technica's smallest lavalier mic offering to date, the BP896 subminiature omnidirectional condenser has a capsule measuring a mere 2.5 mm in diameter, making it ideal for applications requiring minimum visibility.

Hosa is distributing Da-Cappo shotgun mics from Australia. The Location Pack bundles three shotgun mics — a 14-inch mini for on-camera, and medium (17.4-inch) and 22-inch long bodies for boom use — all in a travel case with power supply.

The CL-2 Boom Pole Remote Fader from Sound Devices offers convenient control over its 788T multitrack field recorder. Connecting to the 788T's proprietary C.Link port, the CL-2 offers a single fader that can be programmed to control any input or track on the 788T. Two user-programmable switches on the remote unit can operate several critical functions on the 788T, including remote-record activation.

Studio Essentials

Dolby bowed Dolby Pulse, the newest solution for online, mobile and broadcast markets. This lets broadcasters deliver stereo and 5.1-channel audio at the lowest bandwidth rates while maintaining high audio quality. As it includes Dolby metadata, Dolby Pulse is the one HE-AAC solution that eliminates the need for a stereo simulcast within a 5.1 broadcast, further reducing bandwidth.

Sony Creative Software showed its Vegas Pro 9 software, the latest version of the HD audio/video-editing application. Vegas Pro 9's customizable interface offers optimized viewing and enhanced usability, as well as significant improvements for pro video editors, including direct browsing and import of Sony XDCAM EX footage, native file support for the Red One camera, compress to MXF file format during capture from SD/HD-SDI sources, a scalable 4k workflow, and powerful new effects and enhancements.

SurCode for DTS-HD from Minnetonka Audio Software comprises an encoder and decoder plug-in pair: SurCode Encoder for DTS-HD for Compressor and SurCode Decoder for DTS-HD for QuickTime.

Lexicon's PCM96 surround reverb/effects processor delivers 50 new Lexicon reverbs, delays and modulation effects, along with more presets, configuration options and additional I/Os. The PCM96 Surround can function as a control-only insert or FireWire streaming audio plug-in inside any Mac VST or Audio Units software.

The FCP (Final Cut Plug-In) from SmartSound, creators of the Sonicfire Pro 5 plug-in, provides interoperability between Final Cut Pro and Sonicfire Pro 5. This lets users set markers in Final Cut, which enables Sonicfire to calculate the exact amount of music needed.

Mac networking expert Small Tree Communications offers scalable hard drive solutions for facilities running Final Cut Pro and Pro Tools. The affordable new 600MB/s GraniteStor solution works with the Apple Xserve and offers editing of FCP video across the network in DV24, DV50, DVCProHD and ProRes formats.

The R16 recorder/interface/controller from Zoom offers 24-bit/48kHz linear PCM recording, up to 32 GB of recording on inexpensive SDHC cards and simultaneous 8-track recording. It also features battery operation for field recording, eight mic inputs, 100 onboard effects, Mackie control emulation and more at a $399 street price.

The PMD661 handheld digital recorder from D&M Professional offers a streamlined form factor, upgraded feature set and the use of SD Flash media. Features include improved mic preamps, mic/line in on XLRs and included editing software.

VocalBooth touted its VB Mobile Studios™. The largest unit, the 53-foot VB Mobile Studio, is housed in a full 18-wheeler truck trailer with a slide-out feature that includes a VocalBooth, mini-bar, lounge, restroom, control room and performance space.

More to Come

We'll present other products and updates (including video coverage from the show floor) at mixonline.com. NAB returns to Las Vegas April 10 to 15, 2010.

CERTIFIED HITS

Mix's Top 10 Product Picks From NAB

Even with this more subdued NAB expo, there were lots of innovative audio products. Picking the show's Top 10 debuts wasn't easy, but here are our Mix Certified Hits from NAB, listed alphabetically.

Audio-Technica BP896 lavalier mic

Calrec Audio Apollo console

Dolby Laboratories Dolby Pulse

Genelec 1038CF tri-amplified active monitoring system

JBL Professional LSR2300 Series monitors

Samson R16 recorder/interface/controller

SmartSound FCP (Final Cut Plug-In)

Solid State Logic C10 HD digital audio console

Sony Creative Software Vegas Pro 9

Studio Technologies StudioComm 76DB/77B surround monitoring system