NSCA Expo 2001

May 1, 2001 12:00 PM, Mark Frink


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Appropriately located between the “Travel & Leather” and the “Electronic House” trade shows in the cavernous Orlando Convention Center, the 21st Annual National Systems Contractors Association show had a few surprises and the fruits of several emerging trends in live sound. From March 8 to 10, 2001, a record-breaking crowd of nearly 11,000 people attended the show, which also marked the first year that NSCA allowed larger booths, giving the show a more polished, professional appearance. For those who didn't attend, here are a few highlights…

Turbosound co-founder Tony Andrews' decades of designing speakers have culminated in the new company Funktion-One (www.funktion-one.com) and its Resolution line. Though the first impression is the familiar heritage of previous products, these speakers are infused with a subtle color and a host of refinements: light-weight, high-efficiency, startlingly clear vocal reproduction and simple, yet elegant flying hardware characterize the Resolution speakers. Distributed in America by Carl Taylor's Zag Inc. (so named as a humorous allusion to the direction the rest of the industry has taken).

Radia Pro Systems' (www.radiapro.com) new Z-190 is a six-feet-tall, 5-inch wide ribbon driver with a fidelity similar to Stage Accompany's successful Compact Driver and the dispersion of a line source: a stunning combination. The use of Neodymium magnets and Kaladex diaphragms offer a line source rated at 750 watts with a maximum SPL of 118 dB. Though it reproduces frequencies down to 100 Hz and was demonstrated with full-range jazz playback, its polar characteristics and the mechanics of cylindrical wave-front propagation suggest crossovers above 500 Hz in combination with LF cone line arrays. Three shorter models are 50, 40 and 28 inches tall.

L-Acoustics (www.l-acoustics.com) unveiled the dV-SUB, a 27-inch cube with triple 15s in a dual-vented, 2.7-ohm bandpass configuration weighing 200 pounds. Designed with the same width as the company's compact dV-DOSC, they can fly above in a separate column or provide a convenient base for ground-stacked applications. Equal in height to three dV-DOSCs, a 3:1 ratio is recommended.

Peak Audio (www.peakaudio.com) released CobraCAD software and saw several new products join its growing family of CobraNet digital audio products that use low-cost 100BASE-T Ethernet components for system integration. Up to 64 channels of 48kHz, 20-bit audio can be sent in each direction over a CAT-5 or fiber link.

Crown (www.craniata.com) introduced the IQ-PIP-USP2/CN module, which, when installed in Crown's Com-Tech 10 Series and Macro-Tech 02 Series amps, creates the industry's first CobraNet-compatible amplifier. Onboard processing includes alignment delay and eight filters per channel. It also connects the amp to an IQ System for control and monitoring.

Whirlwind (www.whirlwindusa.com) debuted its DCS88 (Digital Contracting Series), a small, brick-shaped digital audio transceiver with eight mic or line analog inputs and eight analog line outputs on Phoenix connectors. A small power supply injects low voltage from up to 100 meters away on the same CAT-5 network cable. Whirlwind plans a larger DTS Cobra Snake later this year.

SIA Software's Smaart Live Version 4.5 adds cool new features. Available as a downloadable upgrade from www.siasoft.com or a fully operational, 30-day demo CD-ROM, it now includes magnitude thresholding, coherence blanking, vector averaging and phase smoothing. Recently added remote-control devices include the Symetrix 9022, Biamp's MSP Advantage and Mackie's DX8 mixer, with the Sony SRP-F300, BSS MiniDrive and dbx DriveRack coming soon. AcousticTools V.4 now features a new interface and interconnectivity with SmaartLive.

Sabine's (www.sabine.com) new True Mobility 2.4GHz spread spectrum wireless systems operate in a trouble-free RF band that is internationally accepted, and up to 50 systems can operate at once. Onboard SHARC-based processing offers mic capsule SuperModeling, automatic de-essing, compression, 10 FBX feedback filters, 10 user presets and an optional network interface with AES digital output. Available with single- and dual-channel receivers, and a companion-active, antenna-distribution amp supports 12 channels.

This was perhaps the last good chance to get into the line array business, and four exhibitors made it under the wire, with products just in time for this year's touring season. Meyer (www.meyersound.com) unveiled its M3D two-way line array with a performance by Delbert McClinton. The 400-pound, self-powered enclosure has a pair of 15s on the front, a CQ horn in the center and another pair of rear-firing 15s. EAW (www.eaw.com) demonstrated its three-way, 200-pound KF 760 line array enclosures with a concert by the fabulous Monhegan Sun All Stars. At each end, an LF 12 is housed in a tuned, vented enclosure with a tall, wide aperture, and between these are a pair of horn-loaded 10s and a pair of 2-inch compression drivers. McCauley (www.mccauley.com) announced a three-way line array system with a few details, and E-V's X-Line has been re-engineered since its outing last year with Diana Ross.

JBL (www.jblpro.com) launched its MPro lines of two-way speakers with optional passive and active subwoofers — the latter has internal amps and signal processing built by Crown Audio. The full-range models feature molded front baffles that integrate horn, ports and woofer mounting. The MPro Series 200 includes the MP215 (with 70°×70° horn, 1-inch HF driver and 15-inch woofer) and the MPro MP255S dual-15 sub in an innovative bandpass box. The first MPro Series 400 models are the MPro MP410 10-inch, two-system, and the MPro MP418, a powered, single-18, bass-reflex sub — all with a Duralex finish.

In other speaker news, Klipsch (www.klipsch.com) announced an alliance with the Hard Rock Cafe to place Klipsch systems in HRC hotels, venues and restaurants worldwide. The agreement may include future co-branded retail products bearing the names of both companies.

Checkpoint (www.checkpoint3d.com) showed its Sound Alignment Systems line of precision laser tools. The LG-120 laser line generator has a calibrated quartz beam-spreader that adjusts from 15° to 120°, aiding in coverage prediction. A magnetic base allows it to stick it right onto a speaker grille. Another model that speaker manufacturers should inquire about is permanently installed inside a speaker cabinet and activated with a contact closure.

Next year's NSCA Expo comes to Denver April 25 to 27, 2002. More information will be available at www.nscaexpo.org later this spring.

Mark Frink is Mix's sound reinforcement editor.

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