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NSCA 2006 Recap

May 1, 2006 8:00 AM


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As the systems contractors’ show, NSCA certainly showcases plenty in the way of audio and video gear, but there’s also a ton of supporting technology that doesn’t offer the immediate flash of a loudspeaker or a 60in. plasma. We’re talking about the vital back-end gear: mounting hardware, interface technology, and “connective tissue” for facilities. (For a display-oriented look at NSCA 2006, see Jeff Sauer's “Picture This” column on page 18 of the May issue of Sound & Video Contractor.)

Architectural Acoustics Versarray series line array enclosure.

Display mounts are certainly functional, but they can also support the aesthetics of an installation. Chief Manufacturing introduced a series of in-wall accessories for swing-arm mounts. Available this month, the MAC-500 and PAC-500 create recessed areas within drywall. They mount to wall studs on either side and take a standard 4in. deep swing-arm installation down to 1in. in the home position. The mount arm is hidden within the wall, even when viewing from the side. Designed for flat-panel displays from 37in. to 65in., the PAC-500 in-wall accessory is designed to hide Chief’s PNR or PWR swing-arm mounts in the home position. The MAC-500 is available for use with the JWD swing arm for medium displays.

Peerless Industries was showing new mounting systems intended to make installers' jobs easier. The SF16D, SF24D, ST16D, and ST24D dedicated wall mounts are designed for 22in. to 71in. flat panels. These models feature an easy-glide bracket design that engages with an audible click, confirming for the installer that the screen is securely attached to the wall bracket. The SF mounts have wall plates that fit 16in. stud centers, perfect for portrait orientations. The ST mounts have wider plates for 16in. to 24in. stud plates, and they offer -5/+15 degrees of continuous tilt. (These mounts require Peerless' PLP model-specific adapter plates.) At NSCA Peerless also announced the addition of a tilt feature to its SmartMount pull-out swivel wall mount (SP850) for 26in. to 50in. flat-panel screens.

Mounts support monitors from behind; a few companies at the Las Vegas Convention Center were showing products that enhance flat-panel screens from the front. NextWindow showcased an optical touchscreen overlay for plasma screens and LCDs. Very simply, the glass overlay turns your finger into a mouse. (Windows users can hold their finger still to right-click.) The 2400 series can be custom-fitted to screens from 23in. to 65in. Its USB interface makes it plug-and-play with any computer. Software programs for annotation, drawing, etc. are available from third parties. NextWindow also introduced a 46in. touchscreen plasma screen with a fully functioning Windows PC integrated into the screen.

Turbo TCS-C50T

Key Digital was showing not an overlay, but a plug-in card for Pioneer plasma screens. The HD Xplorer card is a processor that converts any video input to the native display resolution of Pioneer's 43in. and 50in. CMX displays. That means a standard-definition DVD can be upscaled from 480 horizontal lines up to the 768 lines of the plasma using Key Digital's Clear Matrix Pro and SDS technology. (576i, 720p, 1080i/540p, and 1080p formats will also work.) HD Xplorer features inputs for RGB, component, and S-Video, plus HDMI and PCM digital coax connections.

Smart Technologies, manufacturer of interactive whiteboard hardware and software, had two booths at NSCA—one on the main show floor and the other in the Digital Signage Pavilion. The company was showing sneak previews of Smart Board software 9.5, as well as Bridgit conferencing software 3.0. Smart Board 9.5 includes video and audio support with Notebook software and more than 500 new curriculum content elements. The upgrade is free for Smart Board owners.

Speaking of interactive whiteboards, Hitachi Software introduced a large one. The FX-82W is an 82in. widescreen interactive whiteboard that's bundled with mounting hardware and Hitachi StarBoard 6.31 software. Ten customizable function buttons on the board make it possible for presenters to avoid using onscreen menus. Both wired (USB) and wireless Bluetooth configurations are available. A new Hyperlink feature in the StarBoard software allows presenters to embed WAV movie files in their StarBoard presentations.

AMX was saving a host of product announcements for InfoComm, but did announce something very interesting for residential systems contractors at NSCA. In late 2004 Sonance introduced its iPort in-wall docking system for iPods. What was missing from that company's equation was a way for the user to control the iPod from their couch. AMX has filled that gap with its new AMX for iPort Duet Module, which lets users control their iPort system via an AMX Modero touchpanel or Mio Modero DMS Pinnacle keypad.

Turbo TSB-118

Highlighting its "every room connected" theme at NSCA, Crestron was showing products that showcased a wide range of control powers, from HVAC to lighting and AV. The iLux CLS-C6 integrated zoned lighting and shade control system is now shipping—it controls six lighting zones and six groups of shades, enabling 16 user-preset lighting scenes. Crestron introduced the next generation of Isys touchpanels, including the TPS-G and TPMC-QM series. These come with 12in., 15in., or 17in. (widescreen) displays, and they support HDTV signals. There's an embedded Windows XP OS for onboard web functionality and file viewing. Also at NSCA, Crestron unveiled what it calls the industry's first flip-top touchpanel, the QM-FTCC-TPS. The FlipTop lid opens to reveal a 3.6in. touchscreen, AC power outlet, and computer connectivity in the form of VGA, audio, and LAN cables.

Gefen showed a vast array of shiny silver boxes—all of them (potentially) essential pieces in systems puzzles. Of note were its new HDMI conversion solutions. The DVI/digital audio-to-HDMI conversion box is a plug-and-play method of connecting an HD digital video source (up to 1080p) and any digital audio device to an HDMI display. The Component/analog audio-to-HDMI conversion box does the same thing, but with analog sources going out to HDMI. Both come with connector cables and an external power supply.

On the fiber side, MultiDyne was showing a solution for daisy-chaining one UXGA source to multiple monitors, the RGB-5000DC RGB/UXGA fiber-optic transport systems. The receiver unit includes an optical repeater to retransmit the optical RGB/UXGA signal to the next monitor in the chain, saving the user the cost of duplicate transmitter units and other devices. The RGB-5000 performs a horizontal genlock for a fully synchronous and jitter-free video transport, claims MultiDyne. Total bandwidth available is 600MHz, supporting 1600x1200-pixel video over one fiber.

Communications Specialties debuted the new Pure Digital Fiberlink 7250 all-digital fiber-optic system at the show. The system transmits RGB resolutions up to UXGA and stereo audio over two single-mode or multimode fibers. The 7250 allows the two fibers to be cross-connected, meaning that each fiber may be connected to either input on the receiver unit without affecting system operation. The system is compatible with any display device that supports VGA, SVGA, XGA, WXGA, SXGA, SXGA+, or UXGA (640x480 up to 1600x1200), plus HDTV resolutions of 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p (RGBHV format only). Communications Specialties pegs the system as ideal for demanding applications such as weather, military installations, medical imaging, and digital signage.

Australian Monitor ZRM4

Some of the audio products released or showcased at the NSCA were offerings from companies under the corporate umbrellas of Harman Pro, Peavey, Loud Techologies, Sennheiser, Telex, Yamaha, and Meyer Sound.

From the Harman Pro group, Soundcraft has added a pair of club music mixers to the product lineup, the 4-channel Urei 1603 and 7-channel 1605. Also from Soundcraft is the new Live 8, aimed at FOH mixing for venues and touring bands, available in various frame sizes from 16 to 40 mono inputs combined with two stereo input channels and eight stereo returns. Soundcraft also provided sneak peeks at its new Vi6 digital live sound console. AKG’s third-generation WMS 40 PRO range includes application-focused systems for vocalists, musicians, lecturers, coaches, trainers, and worship leaders. System features include up to nine simultaneous channels, more than 30 hours of battery life from a single “AA” battery, and compatibility with previous WMS 40 systems. Crown announced the availability of XM Satellite Radio via the integrated tuner on the 180Max and 180Max PACK commercial audio series products.

Architectural Acoustics Prolinx DX

Under Peavey’s umbrella, Architectural Acoustics released the Prolinx programmable DSP audio processing, routing, and control system for installers and its Versarray series line array enclosures, which feature ribbon drivers, neodymium magnets, exclusive angle-adjustment technology, and multiple rigging options. Peavey’s Crest Audio introduced the Ci series power amplifiers, the 4-channel Ci 20x4 and 8-channel Ci 20x8. And MediaMatrix introduced ControlManager Host, a hardware/software package created exclusively for NION project management.

Mackie Quad Comp

Loud Technologies’ Mackie brand showed its Quad series digital signal processors and the Mackie Quad EQ 4-channel, 30-band digital graphic equalizer, which combines Smaart realtime analysis and a sound pressure level (SPL) meter. The Mackie Quad Comp/Gate features four channels of compression/limiting and expansion/gating. Built-in key filters provide for independent triggering of the compressors and gates based on desired frequencies. Mackie also announced the Onyx 24.4 24-channel and Onyx 32.4 32-channel consoles. Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) introduced the latest-evolution DSA (Digitally Steerable Array), the DSAi, which features upgraded drivers, redesigned integrated electronics, a new power supply design, and Gunness Focusing (proprietary DSP algorithms to focus on and correct problems inherent to loudspeaker design).

Turbo TA-500

The Sennheiser booth featured products from its Australian Monitor, Tubosound, HHB, Rosendahl, Sennheiser, and Klein & Hummel brands. Australian Monitor showcased the six-input AMIS ZRM4 zone routing mixer. Sennheiser introduced a new line of 3000 series wireless monitor transmitters and receivers, as well as the e 912 condenser boundary microphone. And Turbo brought three new additions to the Aspect series of sound reinforcement loudspeakers: the TA-500 three-way, full-range (60Hz to 18kHz) system, the TSB-118 bandpass subwoofer, and the TCS-C50T 5in. two-way ceiling speaker.

Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems brought a new speaker processor, the SP2060, featuring 24-bit/96kHz processing and substantial DSP power intended to drive Yamaha Installation series loudspeakers. And also featured the Nexo Geo-D loudspeaker system in its demo room.

Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems SP2060

The big news at NSCA from Telex was the Electro-Voice XLC 127-DVX line array and the 920-8B 12in. high-performance coaxial loudspeaker. Also launched was the PA series of compact commercial rack-mount power amplifiers. The models in the PA deries range from 160W to 450W of power per channel in a 2RU package. And Dynacord introduced the Power H, CL, and LX series of amplifiers.

Meyer Sound announced the M’elodie ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeaker. LCS Audio, which was recently acquired by Meyer Sound, announced the release of CueStation version 4.4, an update to the programming and control software for the Matrix3 digital audio system.

So much for the conglomerates.

Renkus-Heinz showed the CF/CFX series loudspeakers. The self-powered CF series incorporates the company’s new PF-1 intelligent digital amplifier, while the CFX series is designed for use with external processors and amplifiers. The CF/CFX series includes six products. Acoustic Design Ahnert (ADA) and Renkus-Heinz previewed EASE 4.2, which is scheduled for commercial release this summer. It includes major enhancements to all three central EASE functions: Modeling, Auralization and Mapping. Renkus-Heinz also showcased its Iconyx digitally controlled array systems.

Beyerdynamic MCW-D 50 wireless digital conference system

Beyerdynamic debuted the MCW-D 50 wireless digital conference system at NSCA. The conference system consists of the MCW-D 50 control unit, the MCW-D 523 chairman microphone unit, the MCW-D 521 delegate microphone unit, and the CC 10 modular case. Beyerdynamic also introduced a number of mics at the Expo, including RF-resistant goosenecks (SHM 200 and 800, and the SHM 22); the Opus 89 handheld vocal mic; and the TG-X 47 and 48 dynamic mics.

Biamp Systems had a demo of its AEC2w card, which was designed to optimize audio for high-bandwidth conferencing applications, at NSCA. The AEC2w card, designed for use in Biamp’s AudiaFlex digital signal processor, provides a 20Hz to 20kHz wideband acoustic echo canceling system, can provide full duplex audio for telephone, web, or video conferencing with full audio frequency response.

Dolby Laboratories featured the Dolby Lake Processor, the initial offering resulting from the mind meld of Dolby Labs and Lake Technology.

Dolby Lake Processor

Listen Technologies announced its Stationary IR line of products. The product line includes the LT-82 Stationary IR transmitter, LA-140 IR radiator (emitter), the LR-42 Stetho and LR-44 lanyard receivers, and a variety of accessories. The radiators are powered from the transmitter using standard Cat-5 cabling. Additionally, a delay setting is incorporated in the radiators—when multiple radiators are installed they can be set without the need for extraneous cabling on the shorter runs.

TCS Audio announced its TM series loudspeakers, consisting of 12 models are now shipping, and also introduced a new power amplifier, the TA4000, which features Class AB topology and CTM (Constant Thermal Monitoring) technology.

SLS Loudspeakers introduced the LS6593 series line array speakers. The LS6593S is a straight-line array, and the LS6593A has internally articulated driver elements that allow for wider vertical dispersion at one end of the array. SLS also featured the PS8R Studio Reference Series bi-amplified nearfield monitor.

Tannoy PowerV

Tannoy launched several new products at the NSCA, including the CMS 501DC ceiling speaker, which uses a 5in. dual concentric driver. The CMS 501DC model incorporates a 30W transformer that can be tapped at 30W, 15W, and 7.5W, with an additional 3.75W tapping for 70.7V line systems. Tannoy also announced active versions of various loudspeaker models (five full-range models and two subwoofers) under the banner PowerV.

TOA Electronics introduced the second phase of its 9000 series digital matrix mixer/amplifiers. The lineup includes four new digital matrix mixer/amplifiers: models A-9060S, A-9120S, A-9240SH, and A-9120DL. Each model includes eight module ports for up to eight mic/line inputs and an 8x8 matrix. Built-in DSP provides 10-band parametric EQ, compressor, and eight-level ducking. TOA also announced the DA series digital multichannel amplifiers.

Audio-Technica introduced the AT-MX381 SmartMixer programmable, automatic-switching 8-channel mixer. Features include eight balanced mic- or line-level inputs, with individually selectable 48V phantom power, individual gain and volume controls, and adjustable gate attenuation. The SmartMixer is equipped with NOMA (Number of Open Mics Attenuated) circuitry, which helps control feedback by compensating for increases in system gain.

Denon DN-V755

D&M Professional, the parent company of Denon Professional, showed the DN-V755 network audio visual player for digital signage multimedia applications. The DN-V755 features a 40GB hard drive and an extended range of compatible formats. D&M also exhibited the rack-mount PMD560 compact digital recorder.

Distributed by Group One, XTA Electronics announced the addition of three processors to its line of DP4 audio management systems, including the DP424 (two in, four out); DP444 (four in, four out); the DP446 (four in, six out); and the DP448, formerly known as the DP428 (four in, eight out). Each unit features a 28-band graphic EQ, eight filters, built-in delay, and multiple 48dB crossover slopes. Amplifier manufacturer MC2 Audio, also handled by Group One, introduced the E4-75 power amplifier.

Allen & Heath announced the GR2 analog zone mixer at the NSCA Expo. The GR2 employs six mic and three stereo line inputs, two zone outputs (one stereo, one mono), and a mono aux output. Also highlighted was iLive digital mixing system.

American Music and Sound announced that Stardraw Control is available for download at www.americanmusicandsound.com. According to the company, Stardraw Control has been developed to create customized user interfaces that can control any product from any manufacturer over any protocol including TCP/IP, infrared, RS-232, DMX, UDP, EtherSound, and CobraNet.

Middle Atlantic PDLT rack light series

In the infrastructure department (all the stuff that’s required to actually put a system together but that nobody really talks about), Middle Atlantic Products introduced the PDLT rack light series a rack-mounted LED light that also distributes 15 amp power throughout the rack and uses two-stage surge suppression, as well as smart technology to provide notification if the surge protection has been compromised. LT-GN gooseneck LED lights provide additional lighting for the rear of the enclosure. These lights can be connected to the PDLT series’ two rear USB ports.

Belden CDT Electronics Division unveiled its line of Brilliance Shipboard cables for audio, video, security, networking, and control applications. The new line is comprised of Belden Brilliance, DataTwist, and Classic Design cables. The series also includes a selection of all-dielectric fiber-optic cables. The cables comply with all applicable industry standards (IEEE 45 and applicable sections of IEC 60092-376 for low smoke and zero halogen). Belden also introduced Brilliance CatSnake tactical field-deployable Cat-5e audio/video cables for patching Ethernet or other Cat-5e digital audio/video formats.

Gepco Cat-5e Hybrid Cable

Gepco International introduced the new Component Video and Cat-5e Hybrid Cable intended for commercial AV applications that require the distribution of high-resolution component video with Cat-5e for IP-addressable devices or displays. Also featured was the CT504HDX heavy-duty tactical Cat-5e cable. Unique to the new CT504HDX are solid conductors and an extended 350MHz bandwidth, features that enable full-length TIA/EIA transmission distances of up to 295ft. or 328ft. point-to-point. Aviom released its second generation of products, the Pro64 series. The Pro64 line of audio networking products includes 6416i analog input module, 6416m mic input module, 6416dio digital i/o module, 6416o output module, 6488io analog i/o module, and MH10 merger hub.

Aviom Pro 64

Horizon Music and Rapco International used NSCA 2006 to unveil EtherSound-based professional audio networking devices under the DigiPHY model line. Some of the features include an 8-channel design in 1RU, rear connections, and a faceplate with LED status and channel indicators. Available on each input are 48V phantom power, programmable input gain ranges from 0dB to 66dB in 0.5dB steps, maximum input levels to +10dBu/2k, and 80Hz low-cut and 12 kHz high-cut filters.

Speaking of EtherSound, Digigram, owner and supplier of EtherSound technology, introduced the LX6464ES EtherSound-enabled sound card, along with the ES8mic wall-mount unit.



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