InfoComm 2012: Pro Audio
Jun 5, 2012 11:30 AM, By Mike McIntyre
Some must-see audio products at this year’s show.
In this article I have featured a few new pro audio products that will either be debuting at InfoComm or have recently been introduced and are worthy of your consideration while on the show floor. There are many options those who are hungry for great audio products, so let’s dig in.
Line Array Loudspeaker Systems
For installed applications, Martin Audio is introducing the new MLA Compact. This series is built on the groundbreaking MLA cellular systems. Weighing in at a svelte 109lbs., this compact (31”x11”x9.6”) is reported to pack a heavyweight punch. Up to 24 enclosures can be suspended via its two-point-lift flybar. In the promotional material, Martin states that a 12-box array can easily deliver full rock SPLs in a 5,000-seat venue, while a 24-box array will approach the output of many full-size systems—which have less efficient acoustic elements.
The MLA Compact’s internal 5-channel Class D amplifier (2.1kW continuous) is divided up to power the LF drivers in parallel; two channels drive the MF loudspeakers independently, and the four HF drivers are powered by the last two amplifier channels, giving each box five powered acoustical cells. Add the realtime control to each of these channels in each enclosure and you have the magic—ok, science. The MLA Compact series is controlled using VU-NET control software from the supplied wireless tablet, from which the user may switch on enclosure identification LEDs with automatic identification of neighboring enclosures and connectivity confirmation.
I first became aware of Outline when I read about the famous 2008 Foo Fighters concert at Wembley Stadium in London. Outline has been building its line for several years and is now branching out into a compact line array system designed for small-to-medium-sized touring and installed applications. The Eidos 265 LA is a two-way passive loudspeaker line array element with an internal crossover. With a nominal impedance of 8Ω, up to four cabinets can be powered from a single channel of Outline’s T5-DSP amplification. The HF assembly is located in the center between the mid-woofers. Nominal horizontal dispersion is reported to be 100 degrees, and the vertical dispersion said to be wide enough to create predictable coverage when used in a curved configuration. The suspension hardware integrated into these mighty-mites is lightweight and simple. Array angles are selectable from 0 degrees to 10 degrees with a 1-degree step, and up to 16 enclosures may be flown in a single array. The cabinets are built from high-quality birch plywood and available in RAL specified colors, allowing them to fit with most décor.
Renkus-Heinz started in the line array marketplace from a different angle, pardon the pun, than the previously mentioned companies. In most other solutions, column-type systems contain groups of 4in. loudspeakers designed for situations where aesthetics dictate the solution. The new IC2 is a slight departure from that theme. Each of the IC2 FR enclosures has four 8in. loudspeakers and four 1in. HF drivers powered by an internal 8-channel amplifier. With a horizontal dispersion of 90 degrees or 120 degrees and vertical opening angles from 10 degrees or 80 degrees, the IC² digitally steerable loudspeaker system has the ability to produce a very focused, in-your-face sound. Since these arrays may be steered electronically, they can be mounted flat against a wall or dead-hung in a straight line. Renkus-Heinz uses the same time-tested RHAON software that is in its groundbreaking Iconyx line, along with BeamWare that uses FIR filters to control the array’s coverage beams. Analog audio, AES, and CobraNet inputs make these cabinets highly versatile along with a powerful DSP inside each loudspeaker. The DSP includes eight bands of parametric EQ, high and low frequency shelving filters, input level control, muting, and up to 340 milliseconds of delay.
The column-type arrays have been used for years as a way of focusing audio to cover areas that you want to hit and to miss those that you don’t want to excite. Like the previously mentioned systems, the Tannoy QFlex uses an onboard multichannel amplifier and DSP. What is different about this product is the ability to create an asymmetrical pattern, allowing a similar SPL in the near and far fields. Using the BeamEngine software, you can specify target areas and a steering algorithm is created to maximize coverage in those areas. This is different from most line array steering packages where you choose beam sizes and angles and wait to hear the results. The series was recently upgraded to deliver more resolute safety and monitoring facilities, making it fully compliant in any life-safety or mass-notification environment. Key improvements on this front are the addition of Pilot Tone Detection capability, Sentinel SM1 System Monitor, and certification to IP53 standards. They have also been weatherized for outdoor or harsh environments.
Thus far, I have explored electronically steered line array systems, but new to Tannoy is an alternative solution, the VLS series. It is a passive device offering balance of performance and cost when active beam steering may neither be required nor affordable. In practice, this type of solution is very effective when you can mount the loudspeakers in a good location relative to where they will be heard—a very old and well established technique. The VLS series is the first Tannoy product to incorporate Focussed Asymmetrical Shaping Technology (FAST), delivering unique acoustic performance benefits including asymmetrical vertical dispersion, gently shaping the coverage toward the lower quadrant of the vertical axis. Available models include the VLS 7, VLS 15, and VLS 30—all available in custom RAL finishes. Because these arrays are passively steered, you need help on the front end deciding where they should go. Voilà: EASE Focus v2.0 software, a generic, intuitive, and easy-to-use three-dimensional acoustic simulation software that is a simple, free download away.
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