Since its foundation in 1985, the NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards (TEC Awards) have recognised many of the biggest achievements in the professional audio sector. Dubbed as the “Oscars” of the audio world, the awards are presented annually as part of the NAMM Show, giving the industry an opportunity to celebrate the technical and creative excellence of the individuals and companies behind the world’s best sound recordings, live performances, films, television, video games, and other media.
TEC Award nominations are made by a panel of industry professionals, before being put to the vote by members of various professional organisations. The categories of the awards span 23 Technical Achievement and 8 Creative Achievement Categories, with this past year seeing two new categories added – Audio Education Technology, and DJ Production Technology.
Ahead of the 33rd Annual NAMM TEC Awards, which will be held on Saturday 27th January, LightSoundJournal took the opportunity to pose questions to two of the companies nominated in this year’s Sound Reinforcement category – Bose Professional and Meyer Sound.
For the interviews, we spoke with David Scheirman (Director of Global Concert & Rental Business for Bose Professional, who is also currently President of the Audio Engineering Society) and Pablo Espinosa (Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Loudspeaker Designer for Meyer Sound). We asked these candidates about this year’s awards, their companies and products, as well as asking for their opinions on the development and continued innovation of the industry.
LightSoundJournal: The NAMM TEC Awards place a strong focus on the importance of Innovation within the Audio Industry. How is this focus on Innovation reflected within your company?
Meyer Sound: Innovation has been at the heart of our company since John and Helen Meyer started it in 1979. Whether it is radical innovations that have since become mainstream, like the self-powered loudspeaker line introduced in 1994, or recent developments like the Bluehorn System with unprecedented phase linearity, Meyer Sound remains dedicated to pushing the envelope of audio technology in every way possible.
Bose Professional: Bose Corporation was founded upon the concept of technical innovation. Our product development programs typically start with a search within the research & development group for a unique solution to an observed problem related to the design, performance or use of audio products. Our close, long-standing and direct connection with M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is just one aspect of the company’s focus on innovation.
LightSoundJournal: Please, tell us a little about your nominated product, and why you think it deserves to win its nominated TEC Award?
Bose Professional: The Bose ShowMatch DeltaQ compact line array loudspeaker system has been nominated for a TEC Award in the category of Sound Reinforcement Loudspeaker. With an exceptional level of clarity and greater output capabilities compared to similar existing products, ShowMatch leverages both lower distortion and variable-coverage characteristics to provide rental system company owners and live-sound technicians with what we believe is a highly useful new sound reinforcement ‘toolkit’.
Meyer Sound: LINA is the smallest in our LEO Family of line array loudspeakers, and like its larger siblings it produces the same linear frequency and phase response regardless of level. Its shares the same physical footprint as its predecessor, MINA, but nearly everything inside has been changed, including the high frequency driver, the amplifier and processing, and cabinet acoustics. Given the same cabinet dimensions, it took a lot of innovation to realise a significant audible improvement.
LightSoundJournal: As the name suggests, The NAMM TEC Awards celebrate Excellence & Creativity. Aside from technical considerations, how do you try to remain creative in your work as a brand and in your product development?
Meyer Sound: It certainly helps to be working for Meyer Sound! Our company has an exceptionally high R&D budget for a company of its size. Because we are privately held, our owners don’t have to worry about stockholders if they take on projects that can’t show potential for substantial financial returns. Meyer Sound has made several products that never showed a profit, but making them advanced technologies that eventually went into products that have proven very successful.
Bose Professional: One thing that immediately struck me when I joined Bose Professional was the high level of engagement with musical performance and live entertainment within the employee group. Music and sound naturally go together, and when product engineers, marketing staff and sales personnel are constantly immersed in that environment, it helps to keep the creative juices flowing throughout the Professional Division.
LightSoundJournal: Some within the market of Professional Audio would argue that innovation has slowed within the past few years, especially since the adoption of compact and more accessible line array systems across the market. What do you think the future holds for innovation within this competitive industry?
Meyer Sound: The acoustical principles defining the line array have been in the literature for a half century, and scores of systems are on the market. But none is perfect, because challenges such as lobing and low-mid buildup have yet to be 100% resolved. Some issues can be addressed with upstream DSP, but not all because of a line array’s hybrid nature with differing characteristics in the low-mid versus high frequency ranges. With each generation we come closer to the ideal but there’s still work to be done.
Bose Professional: Well, innovation in this area has certainly not slowed to any extent that I am aware of. On the one hand you can say that innovation in the sound reinforcement industry is ‘slow’ just because loudspeakers still use magnets, moving voice coils and cones after nearly a century! Yet that argument does not really hold water. Obviously the systems available for audio professionals to use in their craft keep getting lighter, more powerful, and better able to reproduce live performances more faithfully. The industry is competitive, and those products that truly offer superior value and performance will be adopted and deployed. Innovation drives the creation of more useful products, which offer improved solutions to support the work of those who seek them.
LightSoundJournal will be attending this year’s NAMM TEC Awards on Saturday 27th January, which are to be held in the Hilton Pacific Ballroom, Anaheim, California. We wish all of the nominees for all categories the best of luck, and we will of course share news of the winners in due course.
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