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New Products: InfoComm 2018

Here we present the Best of Show winners in pro audio, along with one editor’s sampling of some cool products that make sense to the studio engineer who sometimes mixes live, or the FOH engineer who also works in a home studio.

InfoComm is a huge show, and in its first year under the AVIXA banner, more than 43,000 attendees descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center from June 5-8, during a midweek run that saw daily temperatures rise above 100 degrees. Exhibitors numbered 964 and featured some prominent newcomers, including Google, Microsoft, Dolby, Lenovo, Intel and Dell, reflecting the growing intersection of AV and IT, as well as crossover with residential technologies.

But it’s not just big, it’s become an increasingly vital and vibrant show, perhaps North America’s leading exhibition of smart and connected technologies. It’s all about the Internet of Things, network control of anything you can dream up, and a forward-looking mentality that embraces thought leadership in its TIDE conference and cutting-edge performance and presentations on its Center Stage. It is a happening show.

Here we present the Future U.S. Best of Show winners in pro audio, along with one editor’s sampling of some cool products that make sense to the studio engineer who sometimes mixes live, or the FOH engineer who also works in a home studio. Audio and visual technologies are merging, and networks will soon connect them all.

Avid Partners for Live Immersive

Besides showing off a 48-fader version of the S6L to complete the line, Avid proved very active in immersive control through partnerships with Flux::, d&b audiotechnik and L-Acoustics to integrate their immersive sound processing solutions with the Avid VENUE | S6L live sound system. Each company has developed an AAX DSP plug-in that runs natively on the S6L to provide deep tactile control and software integration of their respective systems from the S6L surface and VENUE software.

Flux:: SPAT Revolution is a real-time 3D audio mixing engine that runs on a Windows or Mac workstation, allowing users to control the position of audio sources in a 3D environment. Because SPAT is not tied to a specific output format, engineers can easily move to a different loudspeaker environment while keeping the integrity of the immersive creation by simply transcoding to the new speaker setup.

d&b audiotechnik showed the d&b Soundscape toolkit that combines loudspeaker and processing systems with object-based mixing and sophisticated room emulation to create a holistic, immersive sound experience. The Soundscape plug-in for S6L interacts directly with d&b’s DS100 Signal Engine and R1 Remote control software to mix audio to an array of speakers.

L-Acoustics’ L-ISA Live can handle multidimensional audio projects at any stage. With the L-ISA plug-in for S6L, users have access to all “source object” controls, including pan, width, distance and elevation, as well as a designated aux send, and all L-ISA parameters can be stored in the console’s snapshots engine and recalled in the same way as other console parameters. L-ISA can also be integrated into Pro Tools via an AAX native plug-in, opening up L-ISA’s 96-input multichannel mixing capabilities in the Pro Tools environment for sound design and other applications.

Avid isn’t first to dive into immersive live; DiGiCo was ahead of the game last year, and Dolby has been involved for five years now. But give Avid credit for jumping in big!

Consoles, Speakers and More

Yamaha showed a lot of new gear and upgrades, but had its first InfoComm showing of the Rivage PM7 (along with the Best of Show DZR Series of powered loudspeakers). The PM7 shares the same control-surface footprint as the Rivage PM10—but with the DSP engine built into the console. The panel layout is also the same as the PM10, with 120 input channels, 60 mix buses, 24 matrices, and a selection of 48 top-quality plug-ins. Finally, it includes VCM technology models of Rupert Neve Designs transformer and SILK processing circuitry.

SSL rolled out the L100 Live, plus a new 12-fader Remote Tile. The L100 brings the Live line to four models, and the new V4.7 software for all of SSL Live extends primary control with external (SSL supplied) Touch Screen support. Piers Plaskitt, Andrew Hollis and the rest of the crew were smiling all day in their baseball jerseys, as they also announced the very cool 12-fader SSL Remote Tile. The Remote Tile is identical to the built-in Live console tiles, incorporating touch sensitive 100mm motorized faders, solo/mute, Query, and Select buttons, quick controls, individual channel LCD displays, and a complete set of tile navigation buttons. Up to two Remote Tiles (24 faders total) can be connected to any SSL Live console or SOLSA PC via USB.

Peavey had a run of new products, some of the biggest from Crest Audio, including the Versarray PRO powered line array, comprising the Versarray PRO VR112 line array element and the VR-PRO 215 sub. Crest also introduced the PB-32 SoundGrid-to-Dante network bridge that will provide the connection between Crest Audio’s flagship Tactus digital mixing system and the new powered Versarray Pro line array system.

Radial Engineering, at its first InfoComm under the ownership of Ultimate Support, was showing off its new DiNET DAN-RX 2-channel Dante network endpoint, consisting of the RX2 receiver and TX-2 transmitter. It includes balanced XLR outputs for connection at mic or line level; headphone amplifier for personal monitoring; and 24-bit/96kHz digital to analog conversion.

Rupert Neve Designs? At InfoComm? Yes, the studio legend was announcing the 545 Primary Source Enhancer, a 500 Series version of the company’s acclaimed Portico 5045 analog feedback eliminator. Also shown was the RMP-D8, an 8-channel remote control class-A mic preamp with Dante connectivity. Both units were to begin shipping in June 2018.

Audio-Technica showed the fourth generation of its 3000 Series Frequency-Agile True Diversity UHF Wireless Systems, now available in two frequency band: DE2 (470–530 MHz) and EE1 (530–590 MHz). On the contractor side, the company announced that the entire line of its Dante network mics and devices is now AES67-compatible.

RME Showed New M-Series Converters

Eight years after releasing the M-32 AD and M32 DA, RME has rebirthed its line of converters with Pro designations. Boasting transparency and linearity, along with the addition of AVB network interfacing, the units operate at up to 192 kHz and feature 32 channels of conversion (25-pin D-Sub), two MADI ins/outs, USB and word clock.

And finally, I don’t know what to say about M-Force from Powersoft. It’s a truly unique low-frequency system that makes the most out of switching amplifiers to produce a punch that rolls cleanly through your bones. Check out the video of Dave Rat bringing a custom M-Force package to Coachella a few months ago. You have to hear it, and feel it, to believe it.

There were a whole lot more new technology introductions at InfoComm 2018, and we will cover them in the weeks and months ahead. Inn the meantime, see you next June in Orlando! 

Future Names 2018 InfoComm Best of Show Award Winners in Audio

Future’s Pro Audio Group—comprising Pro Sound News and Mix magazines—has announced the winners of its Best of Show Awards for InfoComm 2018. Future’s Best of Show Awards are judged by a panel of engineers and industry experts from submitted nominations. Criteria include ease of installation and use/maintenance, performance, relevance, value/ROI, network friendliness, versatility and reliability.

The following is a rundown (in alphabetical order by manufacturer) of the Pro Audio Group’s winning products, with promotional text provided by the manufacturers themselves.

Allen & Heath SQ-7 Digital Mixer: SQ-7 is the 33-fader flagship console in the SQ series, powered by Allen & Heath’s 96 kHz XCVI FPGA engine. Created for AV, corporate events, live productions and houses of worship, SQ-7 offers high-resolution audio quality and a latency of <0.7 ms. The console features 32 onboard mic preamps, plus eight stereo FX engines with dedicated stereo return channels and access to the RackExtra FX library. SQ is designed for in-ear monitor setups, providing 12 stereo mixes (configurable as groups or auxes), and also sports automatic mic mixing.

Mix and Pro Sound News Announce NAMM 2017 Best of Show Awards, Jan. 25, 2017

Audio-Technica U.S. 3000 Series UHF Wireless Systems: The 3000 Series system offers the same RF audio performance as previous generations, but with improvements. The true diversity 3000 Series systems have an operating range of 300 feet (100 meters) and are available in two frequency bands—DE2 (470–530 MHz) and EE1 (530–590 MHz)—that provide a 60 MHz tuning range—more than twice that offered by the previous 3000 Series models. Frequencies can be scanned and selected on the receiver and then synced with transmitters via IR sync functionality. In addition, the transmitters have a multifunction button that can be set to switch to a backup frequency in the event of unexpected interference.

Avid VENUE | S6L: This is a fully modular family of live sound mixing systems intended for front of house, monitor, broadcast and theater. Avid recently expanded the Avid VENUE | S6L family with three new control surfaces, a new engine and two new I/O racks, all on a unified platform and with 100 percent software, hardware and show file compatibility across all system components. A choice of five surfaces—including the new S6L-48D, S6L-24C and S6L-16C—offer from 16 to 48 faders and can be paired with a choice of three engines, including the new E6L-112, and can additionally be connected to any combination of S6L’s four I/O rack options, including the new Stage 32 and Local 16.

Clair Brothers 10SPOT Loudspeaker: The 10SPOT has been designed as a hybrid speaker that combines Clair Curved Array Technology together with the One Series coaxial horn technology, resulting in a unique form factor loudspeaker that occupies little visual space while covering listening areas. Typical applications include distributed systems, under balcony and delay fill, particularly with live entertainment sources. The frequency response is 90 Hz – 20,000 Hz, allowing use for speech and music reproduction.

Clear-Com FreeSpeak II IP Transceiver: The FreeSpeak II IP Transceiver (IPT) allows FreeSpeak II wireless intercom beltpack users to leverage existing AES67-compatible IP networks to distribute their wireless intercom. Two or more 1.9 GHz FreeSpeak II IP Transceivers can form a wireless communication network that is limited only by the user’s LAN. Within the LAN, one or more zones of wireless connections can be created with strategically placed IPTs. FreeSpeak II wireless beltpacks are then handed off from IPT to IPT. Each IPT can support up to 10 FSII 1.9 GHz beltpacks; when used in an Eclipse HX matrix system via the integrated E-IPA-HX interface card, as many as 50 1.9 GHz beltpacks can be used at the same time, and up to 64 transceivers can be supported on the one E-IPA-HX card.

CloviTek CloviFi Wi-Fi HD Audio Transmitter: CloviFi is a Wi-Fi audio transmitter for private listening. It transmits audio from any audio source (e.g., TV) to any mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) using Wi-Fi technology. CloviFi offers multiple ways to connect to audio sources through various inputs—Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection through an existing network, and Direct Access Point Wireless connection. CloviFi is intended not only for home consumers but also government agencies, private and public companies within the food industry and sports segment and, to a lesser degree, adjacent market segments such as healthcare, industrial, legal court systems, translation, A/V integration, and in-group living settings such as assisted or senior living companies.

Crestron Avia 12×8 Digital Signal Processor with Dante: The Avia 12×8 Digital Signal Processor with Dante, USB Audio, AEC and Audio Conferencing (DSP-1283) is intended for use in providing sound in any meeting space, performance venue, courtroom, sports facility or house of worship. It integrates with other studio devices using Dante audio networking, which in turn provides an additional 32 mono inputs and 32 mono outputs. Multiple DSP-1283 units can be linked via Dante to expand the number of inputs and outputs in the system. Dante also provides a digital multichannel audio bridge to a Crestron DigitalMedia system via Dante-enabled DM switcher I/O blades. Dante networking enables plug-and-play integration with other Dante-enabled mixers, switchers, sources, amplifiers and computers. The DSP-1283 includes a USB Audio port, which can be connected to a computer, codec or other USB Audio host.

Fulcrum Acoustic FW15 Cardioid Stage Monitor: The FW15 15-inch coaxial stage monitor incorporates Fulcrum Acoustic’s patented Passive Cardioid Technology, which enables tour-grade, low-profile FW15 stage monitors to attenuate rear low-frequency radiation, which interferes with the audience, stage microphones and front fills. The stage monitor sports a coaxial transducer and 75° x 75° horn to provide coverage for monitoring applications, and its large-format 3” compression driver and 3.5” voice coil 15” woofer ensure headroom. The enclosure includes 40° and 55° angles for downstage and upstage distances, respectively, as well as double-grille construction and four input options positioned close to the stage to reduce the visual impact of connected cables.

Kramer KN-DSP100 Network Powered Server with DSP: According to Kramer, the KN-DSP100 is the industry’s first DSP over IP solution, enabling both routing and processing of audio signals. The KN-DSP100 is based on a Kramer Network server powered by a sixth generation Intel Xeon processor. It is fully compatible with any Dante audio signal and offers Waves Audio processing capabilities. As an IT-oriented solution, KN-DSP100 integrates with standard IT infrastructures and enables simultaneous processing of 64 input channels and distribution of over 1,000 outputs. It provides auto-detection of all Kramer devices and their functionality, and can be integrated into existing Dante networks.

Optocore Festival Box: Festival Box is intended for music festivals where different bands require different consoles. Up until now, all cables between stage and FOH had to run separately because each console used a different protocol, resulting in a huge amount of cabling. With Festival Box, there needs to be only a single fiber cable between the stage and front of house. Festival Box is available in two versions: Petit and Grand; the former features six SFP (Small Form Pluggable) slots, one main duplex fiber connection and one auxiliary fiber port, while the latter features 12 SFP slots, two main duplex fiber connections and two auxiliary fiber ports. Each SFP slot can be fitted to any standard SFP transceiver, which allows different cables and different protocols to be connected, such as fiber Optocore, fiber or coax MADI, fiber or RJ45 1G Ethernet and fiber third-party proprietary protocols.

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Shure Designer 3.1: Last year Shure introduced the Designer System Configuration Software, which enables integrators, designers and sales teams to create projects with multiple “virtual” microphones positioned over an imported room layout diagram. Now Designer 3.1 provides system integrators, designers and sales staff with improved workflow efficiency to configure multiple Shure products both online and offline. The new edition offers users a single software tool to design and commission system installations, and enhance performance and usability of Shure Networked Systems products. It supports Shure’s expanded product portfolio, including Microflex Advance MXA910 ceiling array and MXA310 table array microphones, P300 IntelliMix audio conferencing processor and the ANIUSB-Matrix USB audio network interface.

Yamaha DZR/DXS-XLF Series Powered Loudspeakers and Subwoofers: Yamaha has added next-generation lines of powered loudspeakers and subwoofers to its pro audio lineup. The DZR line of powered speakers, along with the DXS-XLF powered subwoofers, use high-performance components and the latest DSP. The digital processing in all powered models, both speakers and subwoofers, is all done at 96 kHz; this, combined with newly developed Advanced FIR-X tuning technology, is said to minimize latency and phase distortion. These “D” models incorporate smart system integration with Yamaha Consoles and other Dante devices via a 2-in/2-out I/O configuration.