Live Sound Highlights from NAMM
Feb 9, 2011 2:18 PM, by George Petersen
Record attendance, great products.
Winter NAMM isn’t exactly a contracting show. Yet scattered among the rows of booths hawking guitar straps, drumsticks, oboes, accordions, synths, DJ lighting, and fog machines, there’s a respectable amount of gear aimed toward the professional audio installer. With top-end companies such as Aviom, Community, Crest, JBL, Meyer Sound, Midas, Renkus-Heinz, Yamaha—and many others—among the ranks of exhibitors, there were plenty of reasons to check out the show.
The mood at NAMM was decidedly upbeat. Showgoers (especially those with the all-important buyer badges) were talking serious business and the show itself had a record-setting 90,114 registered attendees and 1,417 exhibitors, including 247 new exhibitors.
I went looking for interesting sound-reinforcement products, and there were plenty of interesting new offerings. Here are a few that caught my attention.
With all the changes coming down from the FCC, the spotlight was on wireless systems. One of the most talked-about launches came from Shure, who previewed its high-end Axient wireless system. It constantly scans the RF environment to detect interference and automatically move the system to a clear frequency in milliseconds. ShowLink control lets users remotely adjust transmitter settings (such as audio gain) from the receiver or a laptop in realtime, while the mic is live. Axient users can monitor and control the system with Wireless Workbench Version 6 software.
Shure also unveiled its first digital wireless system. The new PGX Digital system features 24-bit/48kHz digital audio precision, extended battery life, and the convenience of 900MHz band operation—all in user-friendly packages for handheld (with SM58 or Beta 58A capsules), instrument (guitar cable or clip-on Beta98H/C), or presentation form with lavalier or head-worn mics.
Shipping this month, the Lectrosonics Quadra digital wireless in-ear monitoring system features digital RF modulation, two or four channels of 24-bit/48kHz digital audio, analog or digital inputs, and a slick, well-designed mixing interface. The Quadra system operates in the 902MHz to 928MHz license-free ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) band and its 4-channel mixer lets performers tailor their mixes in realtime, based on what’s sent to the transmitter from the monitor console.
The AKG Perception Wireless series comprises a Vocal Set with an HT 45 dynamic cardioid handheld; Instrumental Set with PT 45 pocket transmitter; Sports Set with headworn mic; and Presenter Set with PT 45 and a CK 99 L lavalier mic. The PT 45 is also compatible with all AKG MicroMics. All operate on a single AA battery and include the SR 45 diversity receiver.
Galaxy Audio expanded its wireless personal monitor and mic lines. Its new DHT System features auto scan, IR sync, and 120 channels—all in a half-rack chassis. DHT offers a choice of dynamic or condenser handhelds, two bodypacks, a station for charging batteries while in the transmitter, and antenna distribution and paddle antenna options.
Speaking of options, the m80 WH from Telefunken Elektroakustik is an interchangeable dynamic cardioid mic capsule that fits the screw-on 31.3mm-pitch 1.0mm-thread handheld transmitters from companies such as Shure, Line 6, or Lectrosonics.
The trend of smaller footprint, more powerful new consoles continued, but not all were digital. The new Midas VeniceF is a 16/24/32-channel frame “digi-log” console with FireWire multichannel digital audio interfacing. It features the full functionality and sound quality of the much-loved Midas XL3 EQ and filter section, Midas mic preamps, 100mm faders, increased channel and input count, a dual 7x2 matrix, and a reorganized master section layout. Besides offering a convenient recording interface, the FireWire port offers the possibility of virtual soundchecking and allows third-party plug-ins to be run as channel inserts and third-party effects routed via aux sends and returns. Inputs, groups, auxes, matrixes, and masters can be routed to the FireWire interface.
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