Reach the Summit! Product Hits from NSCA Expo 2002

May 4, 2002 12:00 PM, By Mark Frink and George Petersen

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NSCA 2002From April 25 to 27, NSCA Expo 2002 swung into Denver, providing the best tradeshow opportunity for live sound vendors to kick the tires and check out the latest products before touring season begins. Attendance is mandatory for those contemplating a large purchase for the upcoming season.

In addition to various off-site demos at clubs, theaters and stadiums, a plethora of demo rooms were available for auditioning the latest offerings. Thankfully, most manufacturers presented products that were already shipping, a commendable trend. Although much of the show is contractor-oriented (intercom and nurse-call systems, anyone?), there were plenty of cool live sound products. Here (listed alphabetically) are some highlights...

WEBster, from Alcorn-McBride (www.alcorn.com), lets users remotely control nearly any device with a serial port via the Internet, using an ordinary Web browser. WEBster can also automatically send e-mail or data if a fault condition is detected during a show, and an onboard real-time clock permits triggering show control events based on time, date, month or year. Retail: $995.

After too many years away from pro circles, Altec is back as Altec Lansing Technologies (www.altecpro.com). The company's first releases include a line of high-performance ceiling speakers, ranging up to the CD912-8A, a coaxial, cast-frame, 12-inch with 125W power handling. Welcome back!

Mid-sized and compact line arrays were introduced by several manufacturers, with Adamson (www.adamsonproaudio.com) showing the Y-10, a three-way, 150-pound enclosure measuring 43x10.5x24 inches (WxHxD). It employs two Adamson 10-inch LF drivers plus a patented mid-high module in the center, with a co-axial entrance, a co-linear exit, and powered by an Adamson 9-inch Kevlar mid driver and a JBL 2451 compression driver.

Apogee Sound (www.apogee-sound.com) unveiled a range of Apogee Powered Loudspeakers (APLs), featuring lightweight, 300kHz digital amplification and onboard intelligent DSP with precision eighth-order crossovers. A line of optional subwoofers complemented the three full-range APL models.

Distributed in the U.S. by ATI (www.audiotoys.com), the new Audient Aztec Live Console features a modular architecture and 32, 40, or 48 input channels. Features include 12 VCA sub groups, eight audio subgroups, VCA solo, a 12x8 matrix, eight mono and two stereo aux buses, and LCR outputs. A stereo ambience input facilitates in-ear monitoring and scene automation is standard. The board's innovative exterior frame design protects the mixer, while providing numerous handgrip positions for loading the console through narrow doorways or into tight installation spaces.

Best quad 21-inch subwoofer at NSCA? Bag End's (www.bagend.com) awesome $7,995 Bassault ELF subwoofer. The 310-pound, 44x40x46-inch, birch-ply enclosure has the backs of the four 21-inch woofers loading into a common central-slot chamber. The Bassault has a sensitivity of 104 dB at 45 Hz, and 3,200-wats continuous-program power handling. Bag End's ELF Integrator technology provides superior time-domain performance.

dbx DriveRack PAThe dbx (www.dbxpro.com) DriveRack PA ($499.95) is an affordable 2x6 equalization/loudspeaker control system with several unique refinements. A front panel, measurement mic input allows auto-EQ with the 28-band graphic EQs. It also has a dozen anti-feedback notch filters and a sub-harmonic synthesizer. It provides both classic dbx compression and stereo output limiters. JBL speaker tunings are included in the 25 factory programs, plus there are 25 user memories. A setup Wizard makes user configurations easy.

Electro-Voice (www.electrovoice.com) introduced the compact XLC line array. The XLC 127 ($4,000 list) is a three-way, single-12 box with two 6.5-inch mids on a 120° horizontal waveguide, two HF drivers and a bi-ampable internal passive crossover. The XLC 124 is a downfill version with a single HF driver and 40-degree vertical coverage. The $2,200 XLC 118 is a companion subwoofer.

Gibson Labs (http://labs.gibson.com) previewed its scalable MaGIC high-bandwidth protocol using standard Ethernet interfacing at last year's AES in New York. Now, Gibson Guitars technology division debuts its first products, including 8x8 and 16x16 audio distro systems (with up to 64 channels of bi-directional audio over fiber or CAT5 cable), a line of high-end flyable speakers (including the MA215-3 three-way, double-15 line array with optional DSP control) and a range of power amps with lightweight switching supplies.

It's still a few months away from shipping, but Hosa (www.hosatech.com) offered a sneak peak at its FireWire Extender, a compact receiver/transmitter combo that allows users to send audio--and/or video--data 150 feet or more (much longer without video) over IEEE-1394 protocol.

JBL VerTecThe dual-18 VT4880 VerTec subwoofer line array element ($4,195 list) from JBL (www.jblpro.com) employs VerTec rigging hardware, allowing it to not only be integrated into arrays, but also to firmly connect them in ground-stacked applications. Though the enclosure is a foot deeper, the front baffle is the same size as the VT4889. The 132-pound enclosure is made of hybrid materials and uses two JBL 2258H dual-voicecoil, neodymium Differential Drive cones for a 4,800W rating. JBL also introduced a stunning collection of 33 new AE-Series installed sound products that incorporate its new driver technologies.

Meyer Sound (www.meyersound.com) extended its array offerings, introducing both mid-sized and ultra-compact self-powered models. The M2D ($7,500) employs two 10-inch cone drivers and the same 4-inch diaphragm-compression driver used in the CQ speakers. The 120-pound enclosure is 39 inches wide and a foot high. A companion dual-15 subwoofer can be incorporated into M2D arrays. A rigging grid designed by Dave Lawler facilitates flown and stacked arrays, and can be used as a transition grid below M3D arrays. The M1D ($2,950) is two feet wide, weighs 40 pounds, and employs two 5-inch cone drivers and three horn-loaded neodymium HF dome drivers.

Martin Audio's (www.martin-audio.com) Wavefront W8L uses horn-loading techniques in a line array format to produce an extremely powerful system, providing max continuous SPLs in the 134dB range. This 3-way, full-range box--also useable without subs in many applications--combines proven driver-loading techniques with vertically-coupled waveguides and true constant directivity horns for high efficiency and coverage consistency. Inside is a horn-loaded/ported 15-inch woofer, and vertically-coupled constant directivity horns loaded with two 8-inch cone mid drivers and three 1-inch HF compression drivers.

No need to dim the lights! Mocom's (www.mocom-screens.com) line of ultra-high gain screens are up to 20x brighter than white paper and 10x brighter than conventional high-gain screens. Diagonal sizes range from 40 to 500 inches, in 1.33 or 16:9 aspect ratios.

Described as a "poor man's Mediamatrix," Peavey's (www.peavey.com) DigiTool is a no-computer-required system that packs eight inputs and outputs, mic preamps, mixing and DSP into a two-rackspace box. A simple 4-button remote gives end-users easy access for selecting presets. Price: $799.

Primacoustic (www.primeacoustic.com) debuted the Razorblade Quadratic Diffusor ($259 list), a 2x4-foot, 8-inch-deep, semi-random quadratic-diffusion panel made of MDF to reduce standing waves and flutter echo down to 350 Hz. For a fraction of the cost of high-end hardwood diffusors, effective control of reflections from the "receive" wall can be achieved in venues where this type of solution may have been thought to be too expensive. Razorblade offers a practical recording studio solution for backwall reflections.

SIA Software's (www.siasoft.com) Version 5.0 of SMAART Live ($695) offers many new features, including RTA peak hold, RTA timed average and harmonic distortion calculation. In Transfer Mode, Coherence is stored in reference files, and devices under external control can draw their EQ curve on the screen. Data Logging creates files for LEQ and SPL logging with A and C weighting, as well as user-definable curves. Upgrades from Version 4 are $95 until October 1.

SLS RLA/1SLS (www.slsloudspeakers.com) debuted the RLA/1 Ribbon Line Array (about $6k), a three-way module based around its proprietary PRD 1000 neodymium HF ribbon driver, providing improved HF performance in a line array. The RLA/1 employs axial symmetry with a 15-inch driver at each end, bracketing two pairs of 6.5-inch mids and its two ribbon drivers in the center. The 250-pound enclosure has a 5-degree taper, and is 54x21 inches (WxD). The ribbon drivers reproduce HF at lower distortion than compression drivers.

Soundcraft (www.soundcraft.com) introduced its MH4 console ($37k list for 48 mono & four stereo channels), with a totally modular design allowing stereo channels to be located anywhere. Designed as triple-mode console, it has eight mono and four stereo auxes in monitor mode, but in FOH mode, each stereo aux can become a stereo subgroup with independent panning plus another mono aux, for up to 12 auxes and eight groups. The MH4 has eight VCAs, eight mute groups with snapshot automation, plus integrated control of BSS VariCurve and dbx DriveRack. Soundcraft's new EQ and mic preamps offer superior sound quality and each channel has a direct out plus a passive split.

TC Helicon (www.tc-helicon.com) debuted the VoiceOne "voice pitch and modeling tool," a one-rackspace unit combining the power of TC's popular Intonator pitch fixer with single-voice harmonies and voice-modeling effects from the VoicePrism Plus. It's $1,299, with line in/out and S/PDIF I/O. In other TC news, TC has purchased high-end Swedish amp manufacturer Lab.gruppen (www.labgruppen.se).

Famed for its studio DSP plug-ins, Waves Ltd., (www.waves.com) showed MaxxBass"! Pro101, a hardware version of its popular Maxxbass LF enhancement in a single-rackspace chassis. Priced at $299, Maxxbass extends the apparent LF response of bass-limited speakers in commercial installations, without endangering drivers.

World Rigging (www.alumalok.com) offers a certified AlumaLOK airwall track-rigging device ($325/pair) made of machined aluminum and rated for static loads up to 750 pounds. The AlumaLOK accommodates 5/8-inch shackles, spansets, C-clamps and has three 1/2-13 threaded mounting holes. This labor-saving device provides a safe, secure solution for productions that must quickly mount speakers and lights in hotel ballrooms. The AlumaBLOK ($105/pair) is a smaller, 500-pound rated device with three shackle holes designed for cable picks.

Yamaha's new 02R96 digital console (www.yamaha.com/proaudio) updates every aspect of its predecessor, with more than five times the processing power of the original 02R. Many of the 02R96's key features are shared with Yamaha's recently-announced DM2000, such as 24-bit/96kHz audio, improved high-res mic preamps, Sony 9-pin (P2) and MMC control, surround monitoring and integration for controlling digital audio workstations (Pro Tools, Nuendo and Logic audio), while it retains the same sized footprint as the original 02R. The control surface and user interface were enhanced for a more analog-style, hands-on operation, and an assignable surround panning joystick and 16 user-defined keys speed production tasks. The 02R96 offers 56 input channels and adds a direct out function for routing the signal from any channel directly to any digital or analog output.

NSCA travels to Dallas next year from March 13-15, 2003. For info, visit www.nsca.org. Mark those calendars now!






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