This 2014 edition of PL +S was, at least as far as “sound” is concerned, a bit subdued. Some new products, quite a lot of “new releases” but nothing really exciting enough to catch your attention.
Some example about innovations? The black-look of the new X Series from Powersoft, and the decisive and lively shape of the ART loudspeakers from RCF or the “evening-style” elegance of many products from K-Array. In reality we are all almost in a stand-by mode with regards to technology, in which many companies also due to the adverse economic situation, prefer to work in sectors and on aspects that are more congenial and conventional for them. Confirming a trend that we had already seen at NAMM in January this year, many manufacturers are expanding to include tons of products already present on the market and which are all very similar to each other, thus risking, in our opinion, to create something really “unnecessary”. Despite this, luckily, we also noticed some smiles on the faces of those we spoke to, a small signal of optimism – in some cases even real satisfaction – which we had not seen for some time. Brands that have been working seriously and with coherence for some time are not continuing to win over others in this sea of survival but in some cases are even increasing sales considerably. Yet another confirmation that alongside well-made products and both big and small companies first of all need to reach end users by means of well structured and professional communications services, as well as prompt and continuous training and updating on both products and technologies. So, the time for vagueness has finished and care and attention to detail are as important as quality which, obviously, must be the basis. And the lack of these characteristics could be the reason why this year, once again, we could not stay more than 10 minutes in the area dedicated to Chinese exhibitors. Last but not least we would like to remember that someone innocently mentioned luck as a fundamental ingredient of success, which, as always, helps those who dare…
This British company presented ASP880, microphone preamplifier and 8-channel ADC, the first product presented after the acquisition of the company by Simon Blackwood in 2013. ASP880 includes eight Audient preamplifiers, two JFET D.I. instrument inputs, ultra-high level conversion, variable impedance and high pass variable filters, all in a single rack unit.
The Spanish company presented two new 18-inch loudspeakers: 18P1000FeV2 is an upgrade of the well-known 18P1000Fe, and is able to manage 1,200 watt AES maintaining high control of the bass range; 18PWB1000Fe, on the other hand, was designed to go even lower in the range giving a more full-bodied sound. It has a design with a 4-inch coil and ferrite magnets, able to manage programmes of up to 2,000 watt.
We were welcomed at Bose‘s booth by Federico Carnevale, Account Manager for Italia, who showed us what is actually an “oldie” but still an important item in Bose’s catalogue.
RoomMatch boasts features that are different from many line array both as regards technical features and design choices. Among the most important difference, there is the will of the company yo build modules with asymmetrical patterns so as to reduce reflections near obstacle, a very useful feature in fixed installations. Many are the modules available, differing in typology and horizontal dispersion, in order to be able to build an array for specific coverage needs.
Tlaking about connectivity, we report the implementation of the Dante protocol on all Bose, processors and the update of ESP processors and PowerMatch amplifiers.
Coda Audio had its TiRAY compact line array module on show, which is designed for small and medium-sized applications such as small theatres, venues for live music, churches and company events. It has two 5-inch ultra-low distortion cones and a 5-inch neodymium planar driver as well as an integrated passive crossover and rigging systems. Another new entry is the TiLOW bass extension that completes the TiRAY system for higher response on low frequencies. The TiLOW / TiRAY system includes some of the features of the previous line array system ViRay, but with smaller dimensions. The new system can also be integrated with Coda Linus amplifiers.
At ProLight & Sound we met a really enthusiastic Roberto Savegnano. His eyes actually lit up while speaking about the development of the DM12TH and DM15TH monitors made in collaboration with Thunder Audio. The two versions have two fundamental characteristics: high resistance to support the weight of the musicians (and to demonstrate this he actually jumped on them) and the ease of transformation from left to right just removing a few screws, disconnecting the woofers and turning the entire structure around. They can convey up to 1500W with the amplifier in a separate chamber. The internal components are from RCF and there is also double equalizing, Standard and Thunder for a more American sound.
Another new product is a mini line-array for small to medium sized productions. M2M and M2S are active master/slave modules with a range of up to 50m, lightweight and easy to install thanks to quick-lock systems and gears with blocking devices that require only one operator to carry out the setup of the array. They are equipped with a 400W RMS digital amplifier and a 64bit DSP. The master/slave system enables to send out the signal from the amplifier in the master module to the other speakers, really easing the entire system. This idea, that in our opinion is “very useful” – a trend that we really appreciated at this edition of PL+S – came about thanks to the fact that standard module from DiGiPro that equips the ‘big brothers’ of dB-Technologies products is, in fact, really powerful for only one module of this system and so why redesign an amplifying module when you can use the same one for two cabinets? Thumbs Up from ZioGiorgio!
Great expectations, maybe even too much, for the new D80 amplifier, released about a month ago and equipped with 4 channels in a compact, light and easy to transport frame, as well as with a series of functions such as “cut mode”, “coupling”, “High frequency Compensation” and “Cardioid Sub Array”. The 4 outputs are able to deliver 4000 Watt @ 4 Ohm which are distributed by the NL8 connector or directly by the loudspeakers. The particular LoadMatch function can compensate the load electronically, without the need for extra leads. This class D amplifier uses a switch mode power supply with PFC (power factor correction) enabling use with different voltage. All functions of the D80 are managed by integrated touchscreen or by Ethernet and OCA (Open Control Architecture) protocol. Remote control is managed by R1 software.
Dynaudio Professional introduced four new near-field monitors and two subwoofers, part of the BM Series: BM Compact mkIII, BM5 mkIII, BM6 mkIII, and BM12 mkIII, BM9S II and BM14S II subwoofers. In particular, the BM6 mkIII and BM12 mkIII models now include Dynaudio waveguide, which guarantees extreme precision in the distribution of high frequencies.
Eighteen Sound was at Frankfurt with 5 new coaxial loudspeakers: 8CX650 and 10CX650, in ferrite and featuring extended low frequency response; 12NCX750 and 15NCX750 in neodymium for use in compact reflex cabinets and stage monitors needing detailed power and sound; 15NCX1000, with 4-inch diaphragm in pure titanium, ensuring high accuracy and power even at the highest frequencies.
FBT presented the X-LITE series featuring elegant design with three practical handles for transport and four M10 suspension points. The front grid gives complete protection, also offering strength and, at the same time, attractive design.
The class D amplifier modules supply 1000W of power, while a DSP designed for the utmost ease of use enables to select 4 x EQ preset to adapt the performance of your X-LITE perfectly for each and every type of need and demand. The low frequencies response can be extended using the dedicated amplified X-SUB 18-inch subwoofer.
MODUS is a line array system with continuous curvature made up of two modules: MODUS 4805LA (5th Vertical dispersion) and MODUS 4820LA (20° V) each with four 8-inch neodymium woofers and four one-inch neodymium compression drivers (1.7” VC).
Real points of interest in the system are the constant curvature – with easy to see benefits in terms of ease of use and phase coherence – and the combination of two “classic” modules in a single cabinet device that offers the possibility of reduced costs.
There are also two subwoofers for low frequency extension, both with hanging mechanisms and thus offering perfect integration, MODUS 215FSA double 15’’ and MODUS 118FSA with bass reflex design.
K-array had a new version of Anakonda on show at Frankfurt, called Anakonda KAN200+, which includes double the number of transducers that supply 6 dB more to the unit compared to the previous version, a really useful feature in the case of front-fill applications. The important success of KAN200 – the first flexible-structure line array – was recognized by the sector with an ABTT Award and an InAVation Award. K-array also organized short previews of its new speakers for large-scale live events: KH8 and KS8 subwoofer, now undergoing beta-testing.
At the booth of the Italian company Link, the already well-known and highly appreciated DG-Link for audio digital transport, alongside a point of interest and absolute innovation: the new LKG line of connectors. With LKG, Link has picked up a particular need of the market, as always in search of a Gigabit transport cable that is reliable but, above all, with a safe and resistant connector at its end, that can work together with other signals and pins in the same “nozzle” (audio signal, video, power…). The limits to be respected with regards to coils and the arrangement of the couples in the CAT6 cables do not provide many alternatives and the choice was made for a round-shaped connection. Link offers considerable freedom in the customization of the different formats placed side by side, and this is why LKG has already been chosen by numerous manufacturers of power amplifiers and speakers for their products. The new Fiber Optical cables are also highly resistant, once more dedicated to the fiber world.
PRO X offers 168 input and 99 mixer channels or 103 simultaneous outputs on an extremely compact control surface (less than 1.5 metres). The AES50 connectivity favours the scalability of the system up to a total of 288 input and 294 output. The system is obviously compatible with third-party “IP-compliant” grids such as those from Audinate Dante and Cirrus Logic CobraNet, by means of Klark Teknik DN9650 Network Bridge. The powerful motor that is the heart of the PRO X system is the new Neutron Audio System Engine, the result of three years of research and development. The Advanced FPGA and MIMD (Multiple Instruction, Multiple Data) architecture supplies more than 100 gigaflops of real-time audio processing, equivalent to 271 channels of simultaneous processing at 96 kHz and floating point 40-bit operations.
Merging Technologies presented Hapi, a small “networked audio” , which offers the same RAVENNA/AES67 connectivity as Horus, and can be used in smaller systems, but also as an accessory in a Horus-based system. As already seen at NAMM in January, this equipment is really top range with an affordable cost.
At PL+S, Meyer Sound had on show its new active linear sound reinforcement system LYON, that we had already seen at NAMM and at ISE. Thanks to a more compact design, LYON combines the advantages of linear systems for use with a wider range of venues and applications, following the mission of the California-based company. LYON is available in two versions: LYON-M, main line array speaker, and LYON-W, wide-range line array speaker. Combined with the 1100-LFC “low-frequency control element” and by the Galileo Callisto speaker management system, LYON-M can be used in arenas and large auditoriums, tours and festivals. LYON-W can be used as a down-fill in a system based on LYON speakers. Both versions can be used as additional coverage in a LEO system.
After the worldwide debut covered by ZioGiorgio at NAMM, Montarbo presented to the European market its new Air Audio Systems with VMT Virtual Mixing Technologies, able to manage 96×96 I/O with real-time mixing and monitoring with 120 recording and editing channels on DAW. The Montarbo stand had on display a digital touchscreen in a wooden frame: a beautiful futuristic vintage picture. Air Audio Systems include one of the Master Control Module mixers, airPRE and air matrix I/O, a series of optional accessories, as well as “multiple console” wireless control.
OneSystems presented the 118IM sub made up of a 457mm proprietary transducer 18I/O designed for extreme outdoor applications. The main features of this sub regard its small size (only 584mm x 510mm x 525.3mm), high resistance thanks to internal grilles in stainless steel, but above all the fact that it can be used in any type of weather thanks to its casing in medium-thickness polyethylene, optimized for exposure to UV rays, a design that provides optimum water drainage and connectors that are weather resistant thanks to particular bolts. So, a real IP68 rating, which means resistance to any kind of weather. Response 40Hz – 120Hz (3db) frequency, offering almost omnidirectional coverage, releasing 4000W peaks and is equipped with numerous anchorage points for the hanging brackets, also available as optional accessories. Another particular innovation is, on the other hand, the 108CIM, another small-sized speaker with an 8-inch woofer with two channels with 70×70 conical opening and peak output power of 800W. As for the 118IM sub, it has also been designed to be weather resistant, is equipped with anchorage points to be positioned both horizontal and vertical, and is available in black or white.
The iP24 processor from Outline is both simple and functional: these are the products that caught our eye at PL+S 2014, simplification, also with regards to the life of Sound Designers, why not! This is a lightweight and minimal unit, in which the display and keypad have been completely eliminated, as they are often the first components to be damaged by movement, but also to keep costs down while maintaining high quality levels. The processor is set-up by means of dedicated software, iMode, which functions both from a web browser on PC or Mac, as well as with a smartphone, connected by Ethernet or via wireless, able to manage the mapping of the inoputns and outputs, both digital or analog, as well as to manage the different parameters of gain, mute, polarity, delay, compression, filters and much more. Big thanks from: transporters and sound technicians who can now move freely with their iPad around the audience controlling the situation at the press of a button. Complex passwords please…
At this edition of PL+S, Powersoft focussed mainly on the new X Series. With 2 models, X8 and X4, with, respectively, 8 and 4 outputs, they are able to release 5200W per channel thanks to the optimized management of loads that enable functions with mono-phase, bi-phase and with tri-phase systems. Moreover, the compact chassis contains the management of functions that previously were only possible using separate outboards. Heat dissipation has been optimized, which, together with the possibility of remote management by Wi-Fi with a smartphone, PC and tablet, also enable this product to be used for tours, thus reducing the weight and space needed. Using standard AES3s and Dante, it can also manage, in the same way as a matrix, up to 4 different input sources per channel.
Proel presented the LT Series, which are broadcasting systems with compact box in hardwood. The amplifier is class D with switch mode power that make everything lighter. All models have different hanging points. In particular, the passive models also have a complete set of accessories for wall mounting. The LT series is made up of 6 versions: 6.5”, 8”, 10”, 12”, 15” and double 15” woofers. There is also a system with 2 satellites and 1 subwoofer in which the amplifier of the sub also powers the satellites.
The V Series, presented last year, now includes an 8-inch model with class D amplifier and switch mode power. The design of the V8a is similar to that of the V series, with an upper handle to facilitate transport and the possibility of being used horizontally. The internal amplifier can release up to peaks of 800W.
Another innovation presented at PL+S as far as portable systems are concerned is the FreePass 6 with a 2-way speaker, an internal amplifier and a complete mixer with 5 channels. This series also includes the battery-powered Free 10LT (2 x 12 volt batteries for 4 hours of use). There is also a 120W amplifier, a mixer with 2 mono and one stereo inputs, a wireless module with microphone, and a player for mp3 via USB, SD card and bluetooth.
This is the company that spoke about luck and if this means the ART line, it fits perfectly: a clear case of a really well made Italian product. These compact speakers have, in a short time, made a name for themselves in a market sector already bursting with offers, and with historical brands and products.
The innovation is the new ART745-A, an evolution of the ART series, an upgrade of the TT series, and the new portable system EVOX. ART 745-A has superior performance compared to the previous models with an SPL of 131dB thanks to a 15-inch woofer and the new 2-inch driver for high frequencies, all to give complete and balanced response of the high, medium and bass ranges. The amplifier manages 1400W peak (700W RMS).
The new TT22-A II and TT25-A II are upgrades of the previous series. The first is an active 2-way system with a new 12-inch woofer, 86 mm voice coil in bass reflex configuration; 1,5” exit, 75 mm voice coil neo-compression driver; and 90° x 40° constant directivity horn, 90° rotatable, while the second differs in the fact that it has a 15-inch woofer and is a larger size. Both have a 1100 watt amplifier, 800 Watt for bass frequencies and 300 Watt for high frequencies. They are equipped with In/Out XLR plugs, an encoder for the control of parameters, RDNet In/Out and PowerCON plugs. The case is made of baltic birch plywood with a high-resistance casing. It has 6 anchorage points.
Last but not least is the EVOX series, in two versions, EVOX5 and EVOX8. An attractive design that brings to mind live music with an extensive range of bass frequencies and a wide transmission of horizontal sound, ease of set-up and transport make this product a good innovation for RCF. EVOX 5 has 5 2-inch full range drivers and 10-inch sub, able to express high SPLs (respectively 125 and 128 dB) and power, while EVOX 8 has 8 2-inch drivers and a 12-inch sub. Both systems are managed by a class-D amplifier and are capable of covering 120° horizontally and 30° vertically.
Riedel presented the MN-ST-AL-2, the company’s new MediorNet expansion card for Studer consoles. The MN-ST-AL-2 card provides two ports, each with redundant interfaces, for connecting Studer mixing consoles via the Studer A-Link protocol.
The consoles become an integrated part of the entire signal distribution infrastructure. Users can gain up to 384 channels per connection. Routing of the audio stream is handled by the MediorWorks control and management software via drag-and-drop programming.
Riedel also presented RockNet Console Interfaces for SSL, Soundcraft Si, and Yamaha cosoles, that now can become a totally integrated part of the Riedel RockNet digital audio network, with remote control functionality over all gains and RockNet’s independent gain feature.
Other products on display included the MediorNet Modular and MediorNet Compact, Performer, Artist, and Acrobat communications systems, AVB Connect and AVB-enabled keypanels and RockNet 100 and 300 Fiber-Optic Converters & console interfaces.
Roland Systems Group
RSG presented the new S-2416 Stage Unit, a digital snake with 24 inputs, 16 analog outputs and 8 digital I/O. The unit includes two REAC ports, it can be connected in cascade mode to other units and offers new generation microphone preamps.
The German microphone manufacturer launched MK8, a large diaphragm condenser microphone, featuring defined bass, delicate medium, and good opening on high frequencies. The capsule has an elastic mounting thus reducing the noise coming from the structure of the microphone, while a three-position filter enables to eliminate frequencies below 60 Hz or to introduce a more discrete roll-off starting from 100 Hz. The equipment also includes a three-position pad (off, -10dB, -20 dB).
Solid State Logic
Solid State Logic presented the V2 version of its Software for consoles SSL Live, with a series of interesting new features and one of the “big” products at the fair: the improvements concern the output matrix, rack effects, the user interface, the solo system and the Focus Channel, as well as a series of Offline Setup functions. SSL also presented three new plug-ins for the well-known Duende Native series: X-Saturator and X-ValveComp, for the reproduction of analog saturation and distortions, and X-Phase, for phase correction functions.
Soundcraft announced the new digital console Vi3000, equipped with Soundcraft spiderCore DSP, 96-channel mixer, rack of virtual processors based on UAD Universal Audio platform and compatible with Dante. See the video below that can give a better idea of the console.
Stagetec presented the evolution of the POLARIS and ON AIR consoles. The components of the new POLARIS are interconnected via standard Ethernet network and can be reorganized for each mixing project. The new console, in fact, is made up of three main components: the POLARIS Access control surface, the POLARIS Scale multi-user processor, and the POLARIS View touchscreen. Different models can be assembled inside an IP network, without any limits of physical installation position, and can be used in parallel mode for different projects. The ON AIR has also been updated with a three-part structure. Keeping the control components separate, the logic sector of the mixer becomes easily configurable and freely available to all users. The configuration of the entire console is managed by the MapCfg dedicated software.
TC Electronic announced a partnership with Universal Audio, without giving any details. The collaboration will obviously be aimed at the development of new plug-ins for the UAD-2 platform, now a standard in DSP treatment of audio signals.
Yamaha was at Frankfurt with a new series of digital mixers, the QL Series, which continues the performance and features of the CL series, in a more compact format for medium-sized events. “These consoles are equipped with circuitry and electronic components that have been selected with extreme care, so as to guarantee a smooth passage between input and output…” Yamaha told us, with the aim, therefore, of keeping the sound as neutral as possible, a characteristic that products of the Japanese company have always had. An interesting feature, as for the CL series, is the presence of effects of the highest quality such as Portico 5033/5043 created in collaboration with Rupert Neve, the audio guru; last but not least, the integrated functions of “automatic mixing” from Dan Dugan Sound Design, which give the best balance of the channels, allowing the operator to concentrate on the optimization of the sound.
Mmmmmm… maybe not!
And here we are at the end of this audio report audio from Frankfurt 2014. After the success of the last time, we are, once again, using this part of the report to speak freely about what we didn’t like. First and foremost, we are really sick and tired of companies connected to the world of audio mixing that continue to offer new mixers with outrageous computing powers, forgetting that man went to the moon with a processor that we can now find in today’s coffee machines, the equivalent of a Commodore 64 to give you an idea. The best idea would be to make more stable products, easier to manage and work with and, above all, less expensive. We are really tired of datasheets that companies keep giving us: demanding, far-fetched, sometimes even pure fantasy. There’s little we can do, the response is always that of the sector even if specification to measure audio equipment already exists (AES) we still do not understand, for example, why the good old double 18-inch sub can put into practice this type of pressure, as if there were some kind of magic spell that is not affected by the strict laws of acoustics physics. Dear Fair Organizer, it’s your turn now! Thanks for the free drinks during the Happy Hour in the Press Area, but it would have also been nice to have a stable and fast internet connection all over the fair too. Wi-Fi exists – and those who work in this sector know – you are one of the most organized structures on the planet, please…
Aldo Chiappini ZioGiorgio Staff
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