NSCA Expo 2007 raised a serious question for audio pros: Are the days of copper connectivity waning? One look around the floor of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. and you might think so. Fiber-optic connectivity was everywhere on the show floor, from the well-established ADAT Lightpipe (appearing almost everywhere these days) to optical stage snakes to fiber interfaces for DiGiCo and Yamaha digital consoles. Light is a great way to move audio: It’s fast, reliable and lightweight, with a lot of channels within a relatively thin pipe—and there are no ground loops! While we were looping the NSCA show floor, we found our Top 10 picks, listed here alphabetically.
Engineered as an easy, cost-effective way to connect its 1788A remote-controlled preamp to any digital record/mix system, Aphex Systems' (www.aphex.com) Model 828 Anaconda 64-channel digital snake has two identical interface units on either end of a high-speed fiber run. Each interface has eight ADAT I/Os, word clock distro via eight BNCs and RJ-45s for Ethernet control and metering of the preamps. Two fiber transceivers and dual redundant power supplies are provided, with auto failure switching.
JBL's (www.jblpro.com) VerTec Series has two new compact models. The VT4887A is designed for use in multi-box arrays, as a downfill in arrays with larger VerTec cabinets, or as an extended-range fill speaker. It incorporates JBL’s new 2268J-1 8-inch woofer and has a 55 to 22k Hz response. A companion VT4881A subwoofer uses a single 18-inch Differential Drive® dual voice-coil woofer for response to 34 Hz (-3 dB).
Though it looks like it could fit in your living room, the super-compact KIVA Line Array from L-Acoustics (www.l-acoustics.com) is capable of concert-level audio. KIVA incorporates L-Acoustics WST® (Wavefront Sculpture Technology) for even coverage in large acoustic environments where the height of the array constitutes the main factor in establishing system throw, coverage pattern and directivity control. KILO is the KIVA system's LF extension with a single 12-inch driver handling the 50 to 100 Hz bandwidth.
FiberPlex showed the LightViper (www.lightviper.com) VIM-MY32 mini-YGDAI interface, which fits Yamaha’s PM5D, M7CL, DM2000, DM1000 and LS9, allowing these consoles to connect directly to LightViper's optical snake system. Two VIM-MY32 cards (master and slave) will handle 32 audio sends and eight returns at 24-bit/48kHz resolution via LightViper’s fiber-optic digital audio cable. Add another VIM-MY32 card set, and the PM5D can run 64 optical sends and 16 returns.
Designed for enhanced RF rejection in critical applications, the EMC Series XLR connector from Neutrik (www.neutrik.com) looks like a standard XLR and is available in several versions. Inside the shell, a small circular capacitor surrounding the cable shield ensures continuous RF shielding from the cable to the chassis connector housing. An EMI suppression ferrite bead between pin 1 and the cable screen provides a lowpass filter for improved RF rejection.
RHAON—Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network—is the new loudspeaker network from Renkus-Heinz (www.renkus-heinz.com). Available for every R-H powered speaker, RHAON provides network control, digital audio distribution, DSP and system monitoring via standard Ethernet hardware. Using the CobraNet standard for digital audio distribution, RHAON allows 64 channels of 24-bit audio at up to 96 kHz. RHAON speakers have onboard DSP for crossover, parametric EQ, driver alignment and overdrive protection and RHAON PC software features drag-and-drop signal routing/network management.
Nothing short of brilliant, SLS Audio's (www.slsloudspeakers.com) TPAC loudspeaker protection circuit addresses the age-old concern of speaker protection without compromising audio quality. TPAC employs the well-known lamp attenuator for soft compression when the speaker input is overdriven. Unfortunately, lamp attenuators have a fast attack, typically providing too much protection too quickly, thus preventing a driver from reaching its maximum power handling. TPAC avoids this and other problems (i.e., insertion loss and blown filaments) by using a relay-switched, variable-attack circuit that's out of the audio path until the input power exceeds a specified threshold and duration. The protection circuit is then automatically engaged, letting the drivers achieve full output with maximum component protection.
Hot on the heels of the Vi6, Soundcraft (www.soundcraftdigital.com) expanded its Vi digital live console series with the Vi4, which includes all of the Vi6's capabilities, but in a compact package for venues where space is at a premium. Just under five feet in length, the Vi4 offers access to 48 inputs on 24 faders with a total of 27 output buses and inherits the Vistonics II touchscreen interface and Soundcraft FaderGlow features from the Vi6.
Extending its successful V-Series, Tannoy (www.tannoy.com) introduced the PowerV line of active loudspeakers, including five full-range models and two subs. The full-range systems employ Tannoy’s Dual Concentric point source drive unit and all models include onboard Class-D amplification with multiple flying points/mounting hardware options and integral carrying handles.
Turbosound NuQ Series
Offered in digitally self-powered or discrete passive models optimized for use with its controllers and power amps, Turbosound's (www.turbosound.com) NuQ line of networked loudspeakers feature neodymium magnets, rotatable HF waveguides and pre-formed plywood construction. Available in various sizes with similar voicing, NuQ systems range from the ultra-compact 8-inch, passive, two-way NuQ-8 up to the 15-inch two-way NuQ-15, which delivers 133dB SPLs. TurboDrive software adds intuitive, real-time, control of Turbosound controllers and NuQ loudspeakers individually or over a network.
Next year, the NSCA Expo moves to Dallas, February 19-23, 2008. See you there!
Steve La Cerra is Mix’s sound reinforcement editor.