Nov 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By George Petersen
Audio hits for live-sound pros.
While the rest of the world may spend the start of fall enjoying brilliant autumn colors and making holiday preparations, audio industry professionals (some 20,674 this year, to be exact) kick the season off with their annual pilgrimage to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention, where they feast on a host of new and improved technologies. Held this year in early October at New York's cavernous Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, AES featured 445 exhibitors showing off their wares. With much of its emphasis on recording gear, AES is hardly a show focused primarily on installation professionals, and yet, in the live-sound category, there were plenty of new and interesting debuts of products in the install/portable PA market — even if ceiling speakers were almost nowhere to be found.
With that in mind, I checked out live-sound technologies at AES, and I was not disappointed. Following are a few important developments that caught my attention.
AES proved a fertile environment for launching new loudspeaker systems for serious PA applications.
For small-to-medium permanent installs or large-format touring, the Metrix Multipurpose Line Source series from Adamson offers front-fill, lip-fill, or out-fillarrays. The enclosures feature both5-degree (Metrix) and 15-degree (Metrix Wave) vertical patterns, with 120-degree horizontal dispersion. The two-way box has an ND8-ML 8.5in. Kevlar neodymium mid-low driver and a 1.4in. HF compression driver on Adamson's patented HF wave-shaping chamber. A flyable, dual-15 cardioid sub is optional.
Now in a self-powered version, the PD10E-I, double-10 sub from Bag End is specifically designed to fit into locations where space is at a premium. The impossibly small — 13"×22"×13" (H×W×D) — system packs a lot of bass — down to 8Hz — into a compact, 49lb. cabinet, thanks to Bag End's exclusive INFRA technology. The built-in Minima One 1000W high-efficiency amp weighs just 5lbs.
Using the DrivePack DPC-2 amplification system, the JBL VRX932LAP two-way, 12in. line array and the VRX918SP 18in. subwoofer are fully self-contained powered loudspeakers. The two models retain all the features of the original VRX932LA and VRX918S with self-powered performance optimized through integrated DSP. Designed for use in arrays of up to five units, the VRX932LAP is suitable when line-array performance is needed but the venue size does not require large, long-throw line arrays. The VRX932LAPs can be used on a tripod or pole-mounted over a sub, and they are flyable.
L-Acoustics was showing its successor to the SB218 subwoofer, the SB28, which delivers greater LF impact and bass articulation. Powered by the new LA8 amplified controller, the system has two front-loaded, 18in. woofers in a bass-reflex-tuned enclosure capable of operating down to 25Hz.
Meyer Sound proved that size isn't everything with its self-powered MM-4XP miniature loudspeaker. Only 4in. square, this self-powered version of Meyer's popular MM-4 has onboard amplification and corrective processing, and it receives 48VDC from an external power supply on a 5-pin EN3 connector that also carries balanced audio. The unit is designed for instances where space is limited or visibility is a factor, such as fill and spot coverage, or installation in steps and other hidden locations, as well as touring sound applications such as stage lip front-fill and small portable PA systems. Its 4in. driver is capable of a 113dB max peak SPL with a 120Hz-to-18kHz response.
The first line-array system to come with the fully integrated RHAON (Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network) package, the Versys VL3 from Renkus-Heinz has a truck-pack-friendly design. It includes a new RHAON in-cabinet PM3R Class-D tri-amplifier, full digital dynamics with networked audio over CobraNet, and loudspeaker monitoring and remote control, all delivered over a single Cat-5 cable to each loudspeaker. The three-way VL3 system incorporates dual 12in. neodymium woofers and dual custom-designed CDT-1.5V CoEntrant MF/HF devices with 6.5in. cone mid drivers and 1.5in.-exit/3in.-diaphragm HF units. The CoEntrant MF/HF device is mounted on a compound phase plug attached to an isophasic plane wave generator offering 60-, 90-, and 120-degree horizontal dispersion.
Now available through Allen & Heath distributor American Music & Sound, Turbosound was showing its TA-500t and TA-500tDP enclosures at the show. The TA-500t is a trapezoidal, bi-amp/tri-amp three-way enclosure with a 1in. HF driver on a Polyhorn device, a 10in. MF on a Polyhorn, and a Turbo-loaded 15in. LF for a 60Hz-to-20kHz response from a 125lb. cabinet. Its 50°×25° (HxV) dispersion focuses with minimum overspill. The powered, networkable TA-500tDPs offer realtime control and monitoring of operating parameters with a PC running TurboDrive software over a BVNet network or remotely.
AES has always been a place to find new and interesting microphones. Audix has expanded its ultra-compact Microscondenser-mic series, which now includes more than 20 models. The new 2in.-body M1250 and 3.5in.-body M1280 have a 40Hz-to-20kHz response, and they feature greater immunity to RF interference caused by cell phones and GSM devices. Each model has four interchangeable capsules to choose from: cardioid, hypercardioid, omni, and shotgun/supercardioid. Accessories include Micropods (integrated 6in., 12in., and 18in. goosenecks), Microbooms (50in., 2.5oz. carbon fiber boom), and various instrument mount clips.
Heil Sound offered a fun new model. The Fin puts a modern, dynamic element into a stylish, Art Deco-style housing offering a 60Hz-to-18kHz response. Designed for stand mounting, the Fin also features internal shock mounting for its cardioid capsule and four (switchable) blue LEDs inside the mic that glow when the mic is connected to a phantom power source.
Sennheiser showed a line of condenser mics based on its flagship MKH 80, but the mics are less than half the price. Available in cardioid, omni, and super-cardioid versions ($1,299 each), the new MKH 8000 series features a mic head and a separate XLR module, with bandwidth from 10Hz to 60kHz, depending on the capsule. In tight spaces, the mic head can be attached to a remote-capsule option to create a compact mic assembly.
Also new is Sennheiser's E 912 E boundary mic, with a half-cardioid pattern optimized for speech. An internal DIP switch can tailor the mic's response curve to match the response of the E 912, or select low cut, low/high boost, or low boost. The mic can be switched on/off using the integrated programmable membrane switch. A second internal DIP switch provides additional selections, including on/off, a push-to-talk button, a cough button, or permanently on.
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