Live Sound Products Shine at Rainy NAMM 2017

by George Petersen
in Cover Story
NAMM 2017, during one of the rare moments of clear weather. Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM
NAMM 2017, during one of the rare moments of clear weather. Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

Okay, I was wrong in last month’s “Editor’s Note” (FOH, Jan. 2017, page 4) where I believed a long-range 10-day forecast from The Weather Channel predicting a warm, dry Winter NAMM show. However, in 2017, we live in uncertain times, and after a seven-year drought, the usual sunny January skies of Southern California turned into a deluge from Jan. 19-22, 2017. Yet a few raindrops couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for some 100,000 audio and music pros that descended on the Anaheim Convention Center for four days of fun, new technologies and new products.

Although the show is not open to the general public, as in past years, NAMM show badges were made available to contractors, live sound and entertainment technology pros and buyers from venues and houses of worship. Meanwhile, NAMM’s reach to the sound reinforcement community included a day of seminars targeted toward live users, as well as onsite Dante training/certification. This trend will bloom in the future as Winter NAMM 2018 adds a new exhibit hall (under construction now) focused on pro recording, lighting and live sound with an expanded show floor, demo rooms and programs catering to pro users. (For more on this evolution, see this month’s “From the Editor” on page 4.)

But for 2017, with more than 1,500 exhibitors offering the latest music, recording, sound reinforcement and lighting technologies, there was plenty to see — and hear. Presented alphabetically within each section, here are some hot debuts that caught our attention.

Consoles, Large and Small

Allen & Heath C3500 dLive 'C' Class console

Allen & Heath (www.allen-heath.com) unveiled its new compact dLive “C” Class digital mixers, with new surfaces and MixRacks that open up its dLive platform to a wide spectrum of AV, installation and live event roles. The range includes the first rack-mountable dLive surface — the ultra-compact C1500. Three new MixRacks are in the series: CDM32, CDM48 and CDM64, plus three new control surfaces: the rack-mountable C1500, C2500 and twin screen C3500. All are founded on XCVI, the same 96k Hz FPGA core that drives A&H’s flagship dLive S Class mixers, while also sharing its proprietary Deep processing architecture, allowing high-performance compressors and processing emulations to be embedded directly within the inputs and mix channels. The new boards also support “surfaceless” mixing, using a MixRack with a laptop or tablet for control.


Avid S6L console

Avid (www.avid.com) was showing 5.3.2 VENUE software for its S6L console, which tweaks the VENUE 5.3 platform that offers the ability to record/playback up to 128 tracks to/from Pro Tools over Ethernet AVB — great for archiving or Virtual Soundchecks. The update expands the user-definable fader layouts feature, for creating/recalling up to 24 custom fader layouts and adds a Matrix Spill function for control of each matrix via console faders. Also supported is the new MADI-192 MADI Option Card for bi-directional MADI connectivity to a host of industry devices, including Waves SoundGrid systems. Engineers can now run their favorite Waves plug-ins alongside S6L’s onboard AAX DSP plugs.

Digico SD12 console

This year, DiGiCo (www.digico.biz) celebrates 15 years of manufacturing exceptional digital mixing consoles. Over that time, it has enjoyed phenomenal success since the D5 Live established both the company and the concept of digital mixing. The SD Series followed, delivering a powerful new way of working, with the flagship SD7 becoming a market leader. In 2015, the affordable S Series arrived with a new, modern workflow. In 2016, the company introduced Stealth Core 2 software, which multiplied the power of the SD range of consoles exponentially. Now, DiGiCo unveiled the new SD12.

The SD12 encapsulates the best features of both the SD and S Series. Utilizing the latest Super FPGA, it’s compact in size, but delivers the power and capability that’s synonymous with DiGiCo consoles. The SD12 features 72 input channels, 36 aux/group buses, a 12 x 8 matrix, LR/LCR bus — with full processing on all inputs/buses — along with 12 stereo FX units, 16 graphic EQs, 119 dynamic EQs, 119 multiband compressors, 119 DiGi-TuBes and 12 VCA groups. SD Series Stealth Core 2 software makes it compatible with all other SD Series sessions. I should add that 96k Hz resolution and iPad remote control are standard, as well.

Dual 15-inch touch screens on the SD12 make for fast access, while the rear panel includes eight local analog inputs and outputs, with AES, MADI and two slots for DMI cards that open the SD12 to a huge variety of expansion options, including Dante, Waves DigiGrid and many more.

Crest Audio Tactus hardware controller for Waves emotion LV1

Peavey’s Crest Audio division (www.peaveycommercialaudio.com) announced shipping of the Crest Tactus. This hardware controller is designed to supplement Waves’ LV1 eMotion touch screen by providing moving faders, lighted buttons and knobs for the most used functions. It has 16 motorized channel faders, mute, cue and select buttons along with a multi-line scribble strip display and connects easily via USB. The system’s modular approach provides scalability to meet a variety of mixing applications from small corporate users to houses of worship and music/concert venues. Components for I/O, DAWs, processing, touch screens and tactile controllers can be added as required to meet the needs of any application.

All of Tactus’ system processing within the Waves LV1 eMotion software is based on plug-ins for simple channel and output processing customization. The eMotion mixer application runs on a Windows PC or Mac with one, two or three multi-touch screens. One or two Tactus hardware surfaces with moving faders can be added for tactile control if desired.

PreSonus StudioLive 16

PreSonus (www.presonus.com) showed the third-generation of its StudioLive Series III Consoles, with the new 16-channel StudioLive 16, with 17 motorized faders and 17 recallable XMAX preamps; and the previously unveiled — and already shipping — flagship StudioLive 32, with 33 moving faders and 33 recallable preamps. These new 24- and 40-input consoles further improve on the StudioLive platform’s ease of use while letting users customize workflow and operations. Both models integrate PreSonus Capture multi-track software for recording up to 34 tracks to the StudioLive’s onboard SD recorder and the company’s popular Studio One Mac/PC DAW software is also included with the package.

In addition to StudioLive Series III’s expanded Fat Channel DSP, 16 user-configurable FlexMix buses and other enhancements, an AVB Ethernet connection allows streaming up to 55 channels of audio to/from an external computer, while PreSonus plans to unveil AVB-networked stageboxes, personal monitor mixers and increased third-party AVB interoperability later in 2017. The StudioLive 32 has a $2,999 MAP; shipping later in Q1, the StudioLive 16 is slated to be $1,999.

 RCF demoed iOS and Android versions of its control app for the M18 mixer.

RCF (www.rcf.it) demoed both Apple iOS and (now) Android control for its M18 Tablet Mixer, along with a firmware update that adds amplifier modeling simulations (licensed from Overloud), an acoustic simulator, four more Stomp Box style effects, a metronome, DCA and Mute Groups, USB backup and restore functions, 4-channel onboard music playback and more.

Soundcraft Ui24R

Soundcraft (www.soundcraft.com) introduced its Ui24R digital mixer, a rack-mount device that can be controlled from up to 10 devices via dual-band Wi-Fi from any browser on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS and Linux devices. The Ui24R features 24 input channels (20 Studer-designed mic preamps), onboard Lexicon, dbx and DigiTech signal processing and integration with other Harman-Connect P.A. products. Up to 24 channels can be recorded directly to USB devices. Shipping begins in March.

Yamaha TF RACK

Celebrating 30 years of producing digital consoles, Yamaha (www.yamahaproaudio.com) is now shipping its latest, the TF-RACK, a compact rack-mount version of Yamaha’s TF Series mixers. Features include 16+1 stereo inputs, 16 outputs; 1-knob COMP and 1-knob EQ; QuickPro presets that optimize settings for popular Audio-Technica, Sennheiser and Shure mics; expansion capability for up to two stage boxes; touch screen operation; rear-panel I/O connections and optional Dante I/O. TF-RACK is compatible with TF StageMix for wireless Wi-Fi remote mixing via iPad, and the MonitorMix app for aux send mixing.

 

LOUD-Speakers!

Interest in sound reinforcement loudspeakers was high at NAMM, particularly in high-SPL, compact packages featuring onboard DSP and lightweight Class-D amplification.

Carvin TRx3810A-VELA

Carvin Audio’s (www.carvinaudio.com) new TRx3810A-VELA vertical array is designed for both smaller and mid-size events up to 2,500 people. The made in the USA TRx3810A-VELA has two 10-inch neodymium woofers and eight 3.5-inch cone midrange/HF drivers in a Russian Baltic birch cabinet. Integrated interlocking SlideLock flying hardware supports up to four units in a flown configuration; or it can be stacked atop a subwoofer or a single unit can be pole mounted. Powering is via 1,600 watts of bi-amplification with selectable DSP modes. It’s shipping now at $1,699.

Cerwin-Vega CV Series

Cerwin-Vega (www.cerwinvega.com) debuted its new CV Series powered PA line, with three distinct speaker groups: CVE, CVX and CVXL. The CVE group includes four powered speakers — two-way 10-/12-/15-inch tops — and an 18-inch sub. Priced at $329, $399, $499 (subwoofer $699); these should ship this spring. A more powerful, medium-sized option (with analog XLR or Bluetooth wireless inputs), the CVX line offers $699 single- 10 and $799 single-15 tops and 18 or 21 subs, priced at $999 and $1,299 when they ship next month. The largest, most powerful of the CV group, the CVXL line has single 12-/15-inch and dual 15-inch top models, and single-18 and dual-21 subs for medium-to-large portable or install applications. Prices are $799, $999, $1,299; with subs at $1,399, $1,699 and spring availability.

D.A.S. simulator tool for its Event Series Speakers

D.A.S. Audio (www.dasaudio.com) showed its Event Line Array Systems Performance Simulator, an intuitive new online tool that enables semi-professionals, enthusiasts and retailers to quickly and easily calculate how many of its Event 208A or Event 210A systems are required to properly cover a given audience or a determined audience area. Areas up to 115 feet by 115 feet or an audience of up to 4,900 people can be configured in just a few clicks.

dB Technologies VIO L210 line array

dB Technologies (www.dbtechnologies.com) unveiled its VIO series. The VIO L210 is a full-range line array module with two 10-inch woofers and a 1.4-inch compression driver on a newly designed HF waveguide. It can optionally be paired with the VIO S318 subwoofer, with three 18-inch woofers in a compact enclosure. Two of the woofers are half horn-loaded and one is front-loaded; a simple software adjustment converts three S318s (one facing rearward) into a high-output, cardioid-pattern sub array. Powering is via 900-watt Digipro Class-D amps with onboard 56-bit FIR filters — one module in the L210 and three inside the S318.

 FBT Vertus CS-1000

FBT (www.fbt.it) is shipping its Vertus CS-1000, a compact, powered (1,000-watt) vertical line array system with a 12-inch subwoofer/base and a pole mounted satellite with six full range 3-inch neodymium drivers. The birch plywood enclosures include a storage compartment within the subwoofer to house both the satellite speaker and supplied mounting pole for storage/transport.

Fishman SA Performance Audio System

For small to medium applications, Fishman Audio’s (www.fishman.com) SA Performance Audio System is a portable rig with the SA330x wide dispersion modified line array speaker, SA Sub subwoofer and SA Expand 4-channel expander/mixer. The SA330x produces 330 watts and the SA330x has a dedicated LF output to feed an additional external sub. The mixer comes with a tripod stand and padded carry bag. Street prices are: SA330x, $999; SA Sub, $549; and SA Expand, $149.

HK Audio LUCAS NANO 602

HK Audio (hkaudio.com) demoed its LUCAS NANO 602 compact, portable 2.1 stereo system that weighs just 36 pounds, with the satellites packed inside the subwoofer. Besides fast setups, the 602 is said to provide up to 130 dB SPLs and handle up to 200 people.

 PreSonus ULT10

PreSonus (www.presonus.com) is shipping the ULT10, the newest in its ULT line of active speakers. The ULT10 features a Pivot X110 horn and 10-inch woofer biamped via a 1,300 watt Class-D amp. With its 90° rotatable (50° x 110° dispersion) horn, the enclosure can be mounted horizontally making it ideal as a center-channel speaker for an LCR system or used as an under-balcony fill. And its multi-angle Baltic birch enclosure is suitable for floor monitor or FOH applications. Street price is $899.

Meanwhile, PreSonus has extended the warranty on all its WorxAudio, AIR and ULT speakers from three years to six years, which applies to all speakers purchased after January 1, 2016.

 QSC K Cardioid Subwoofer

Perhaps the most talked about product at the show was QSC’s (www.qsc.com) K Cardioid Subwoofer. Cardioid subs are nothing new, but have never been offered in this price range. The unit provides all the benefits of a cardioid sub array, but in a single, powered, compact dual-12 enclosure. “Keeping bass in its place” for mobile entertainers, AV production and rental professionals, as well as modestly sized performance venues, the K Cardioid Subwoofer manages low frequencies on the stage, or any application where undesirable LF energy needs to be minimized. It should ship in the first half of 2017. Retail is $1,399.

In other news, QSC added two new models to its popular E Series line that launched at NAMM a year ago. These are the dual-18 E218SW subwoofer and the full-range, dual-15 E215 full-range system.

RCF HDL6-A compact line array modules

RCF (www.rcf-usa.com) expands its HDL active line array series with the HDL6-A. The enclosure has two 6.5-inch woofers flanking a 1-inch exit compression driver on a 100° x 10° waveguide, with 1,400 watts of onboard biamplification. Rear controls include input gain and two presets — a linear nearfield setting for pole-mount/ground stack use, and an HF boost for longer throw applications. Flying, pole mounting or ground stack mountings are available. A flyable HDL12-AS powered 12-inch sub is also offered.

RCF also showed the powered 2,200-watt TT45-CXA, which is primarily intended for floor monitor use on larger stages. This symmetrical cabinet features two 10-inch woofers and a 1.4-inch exit horn-loaded compression driver. Onboard DSP and full RDNet processing enable it to be optimized in all applications. Beyond floor wedge duties, pole-mount options and flying hardware allow it to be deployed for side fill duties or flown.

Renkus-Heinz CX Series

Renkus-Heinz (www.renkus-heinz.com) previewed its C Series installation speakers, which reinvents its CF/CFX Series with the latest generation of Complex Conic Horns and updated drivers for tighter pattern control. Most models will be available in amplified (CA Series) and passive (CX Series) versions, in black or white finish. Shipping is slated for Spring 2017.

Yorkville Elite Series EF12P

Yorkville Sound (www.yorkville.com) redesigned its flagship Elite Loudspeaker series, with new materials, proprietary drivers, redesigned horns and new amp designs, along with an iOS/Android app for tweaking EQ/limiter settings via Bluetooth. The new 2-way EF15P (replacing the EF500P) has more power, onboard multi-band limiting, four EQ modes, lower THD and is now 64 pounds. A 12-inch 2-way 1,200W EF12P speaker is also new. The 1,500W ES18P sub has a cast-frame, long-excursion 18-inch woofer and three DSP-based preset modes; the ES15P is similar, but with a 15-inch woofer.

 

Microphones!

AKG C636 and P5i

AKG (www.akg.com) offered a variety of new mics for live sound applications. The C636 master reference handheld condenser builds on the studio-quality sound of its C535 microphone, with a custom-tuned cardioid capsule, hand-selected components, spring steel grill and a double shock isolation system to reduce handling noise. Street is $999 when it ships in April.

AKG showed the P5i high-performance dynamic vocal mic, which is based on AKG’s P5 dynamic vocal microphone, and features a supercardioid polar pattern and integrated windscreen to efficiently eliminate pop and wind noise. Street is $79 when it ships this month.

AKG DrumSet Concert 1

Also new is AKG’s Drum Set Concert 1 pro drum mic set, featuring seven mics and accessories in an aluminum case, providing everything to capture a complete drum kit. The package includes the D112 MkII kick mic, two C430 condenser overheads and four D40 snare/tom mics. It ships next month at $799.

Blue enCORE 200

Blue Microphones (www.bluemic.com) was showing all-black finishes for its enCORE 100 and enCORE 200 handheld mic lines, which include interchangeable grill color options. Both of these dynamic mics include two grills: the new matte black plus the original chrome grill for enCORE 100 (MSRP $99) and black and original rose gold grills for the $149 enCORE 200. The latter adds an onboard phantom-powered circuit designed to help vocals cut through mixes, even over long cable runs.

Earthworks  TableComm CTB30 boundary mic

Earthworks (www.earthworksaudio.com) was demoing its new TableComm series CTB30 ultra-low profile boundary mic, that includes an onboard anti-thump filter to reduce LF noise such as HVAC rumble or tapping/thumping on a conference table. It’s offered in black or silver finishes and has a MAP of $699.

 

Wireless World

Audio-Technica ATW-1377

Don’t want to drill holes in that $15,000 corporate conference table to accommodate mic cables? Audio-Technica (www.audio-technica.com) developed two packaged configurations of its popular System 10 PRO digital wireless system. The ATW-1366 has two boundary mic transmitters ($1,349); the $1,249 ATW-1377 comes with two desk stand mic transmitters. The latter is designed to work with phantom-powered, condenser gooseneck mics with 3-pin XLRs; the ATW-1366 has built-in boundary mics. All operate at the clear 2.4 GHz spectrum and the units have switches (and colored LEDs) for press-to-talk/mute modes, as well as status LEDs that indicate toggle/talk/mute mode, battery level and charging status.

CAD Audio StageSelect Wireless

CAD Audio (www.cadaudio.com) showed its StageSelect 1600 Series system featuring frequency-agile UHF operation with true diversity operation, CADLock Automatic Tone Encoded Squelch and CAD ScanLink technology to link to the optimum channel in any RF environment. Available is the WX1600 handheld system with CADLive D90 capsule and the WX1610 bodypack system with the Equitek E19 earworn mic, cardioid lav and instrument Cable. Alkaline AA batteries provide 15 hours of transmitter battery life.

Galaxy Audio EDX

Galaxy Audio’s (www.galaxyaudio.com) EDX Series is a dual channel, frequency-agile wireless mic system featuring 16 selectable UHF channels on each receiver, IR Sync from transmitters to the receiver and two internal antennas. The receiver has a 1/4-inch and two XLR outs, controlled by a volume control for each receiver, along with AF / RF and channel indicators. Transmitter choices include the HH38 handheld and the MBP38 body pack with choice of headset or lavalier. Street prices start at $199.99.

Sennheiser Digital 6000 wireless

Sennheiser (www.sennheiser.com) had a bevy of new products. With anticipated spectrum allocation changes in the U.S. and Canada, Sennheiser offers a new frequency variant of its popular evolution ew 100 G3 wireless mics and ew 300 G3 IEM products. All G3 wireless systems are available in an A1 variant, which covers the frequency range from 470 MHz to 516 MHz, ready for the demands of future years.

High-end users will appreciate Sennheiser’s Digital 6000 wireless, which uses the same proprietary digital audio codec as the company’s flagship Digital 9000 and operates from 470 to 714 MHz. Features include true bit diversity, transmission error correction, switchable AES 256 encryption and an OLED display of the RF signal, link quality, audio signal, battery status and frequency. The SKM 6000 handheld has Sennheiser’s standard capsule mount for mic heads from the 2000 and 900 series as well as evolution units. Receiver outs are AES digital, XLR/TRS analog and a Dante option. Shipments are slated to begin next month.

sennheiser XSW 1

Budget-conscious users were also covered with the new XS Wireless 1 and the sneak-previewed XS Wireless 2. Available now, XS Wireless 1 includes six wireless mic sets offering ease of use, fast set-up and automatic frequency management with one-touch synchronization. The series uses the renowned Sennheiser evolution capsules, and employs antenna-switching diversity for reliable reception. Systems are available with handheld e 825 or e 835 capsules; and bodypacks with lavalier, headworn, guitar/bass cable or clip-on 908 T gooseneck instrument mics.

Coming in April, Sennheiser’s XS Wireless 2 offers more flexibility/control with up to 12 tunable channels in eight frequency banks, and an LCD display that shows the transmission frequency, AF/RF levels and battery status. Also standard is true-diversity reception, external antennas and a sturdy metal housing for the receiver. Mic options include handhelds with e 835 or e 865 capsules, and headmic, lavalier and instrument sets.

Shure ULX-D VHF

Shure (www.shure.com) provided a selection of new wireless systems, including versions of its ULX-D/QLX-D digital wireless systems in the VHF frequency band that are said to be as predictable and usable as today’s UHF TV band. The ULX-D and QLX-D VHF systems and accessories offer the same features and benefits that the UHF systems offer, including spectrum efficiency, powerful recharging accessories, networking options and rugged construction.

Shure GLX-D

Shure also debuted its GLX-D Advanced Digital Wireless, an enhanced suite of install-specific products including the GLX-D Advanced Frequency Manager, rack-mount receiver system, remote antennas and accessories. GLX-D features include clean digital audio, automatic frequency management and intelligent rechargeable batteries. Using the new Frequency Manager, GLX-D Advanced users can seamlessly and confidently operate up to nine simultaneous systems in typical conditions — or 11 channels in optimal conditions.

Large-scale wireless system users should note Shure’s SystemOn Audio Asset Management software provides centralized IT support and real-time troubleshooting of Shure’s wireless systems. In complex and/or mission-critical corporate and higher education installs, the SystemOn framework provides enhanced convenience and ease-of-use and lets users identify issues ahead of time before they become critical problems, such as dead batteries and missing equipment and more, and enables remote adjustment of channel level, mute status and other parameters.

Voco Pro UDH-8 Ultra

VocoPro (www.vocopro.com) expanded its UDH wireless line with the UDH-4-ULTRA ($429/street) and UDH-8-ULTRA ($779), which come with four or eight handheld, lapel and headset mics, body-pack transmitters and instrument cables. This lets users mix and match any combination of wireless handheld, lapel and headset mics or even wireless instrument bodypacks in either 4- or 8-channel models. Systems operate in the 900 MHz band.

 

It’s an IEM World, After All

 64 audio tia earpiece

In-ear systems keep expanding and getting better. 64 Audio (www.64audio.com) launched three new earpieces — the tia Fourté, U18 Tzar and A18 Tzar. All use custom balanced-armature tia™ drivers with a large, single bore that acts as a natural sound-shaping chamber, tuning the tia driver without the sound tubes used in traditional in-ears to reduce unwanted resonances and distortion. The tia Fourté is a 4-driver universal model with an internal passive radiator and apex technology. The U18 Tzar and A18 Tzar are the first IEMs to house 18 drivers in a single earpiece.

CAD StageSelect IEM family

CAD Audio (www.cadaudio.com) is shipping its StageSelect IEM stereo wireless In Ear Monitor System that combines frequency agility and ease of use. The StageSelect IEM features UHF performance for exceptional connectivity in crowded RF environments. Stereo operation enables discrete signals to be transmitted to both right and left channels for enhanced monitoring capability. The system includes CAD’s MEB2 TruPitch balanced armature monitor earbuds with EasyFit silicon molds for a customized fit.

Jerry Harvey Audio Performance Series

Jerry Harvey Audio (www.jhaudio.com) unveiled its Performance Series universal-fit IEMs: JH16v2 Pro, JH13v2 Pro and Roxanne. These universal models offer a smaller shell size with a revolutionary geometry to ensure proper fit, retention and an acoustic seal for a custom-like IEM experience. The Performance Series Universals are based on the most popular earpieces in the JH audio line models used by top artists worldwide. The shell design is achieved via 3-D printing and the IEMs are hand-assembled, tested and matched to within 1 dB of the company’s reference curve.

Radio Active Designs TX-8

Radio Active Designs’ (www.radioactiverf.com) TX-8/900M antenna combiner can be used with any IEM system operating in the 900 MHz band, specifically the 941 to 960 MHz spectrum now available through the FCC. The TX-8/900M can connect up to eight UHF transmitters to one antenna. Its advanced active-linear design reduces intermodulation products to exceptionally low levels to minimize interference and all inputs have individual RF power switches.

Sensaphonics Active Ambient universal system

Sensaphonics (www.sensaphonics.com) expanded the Active Ambient line with the 3D-U universal-fit earphones, which offer the functionality of the 3D AARO system based on its Active Ambient technology. The 3D AARO system lets users hear everything around them with directional accuracy in all three dimensions — with both earpieces in place. Available in $1,500 single- and $1,800 dual-driver versions, the 3D-U earphones use the same full-range drivers and embedded binaural mic system found in Sensaphonics 3D Custom IEMs. A “fit kit” of eartips ensures a good fit and a high-isolation seal.

Ultimate Ears UE 18+ Pro

Ultimate Ears (http://pro.ultimateears.com) debuted its second-generation top of the line custom earpieces. The new UE 18+ Pro adds proprietary True Tone Drivers along with redesigned acoustics for more detail, separation and coherence in a four-way, triple-bore and six drivers per monitor design. The drivers extend the upper response an additional 3,000 Hz, while an adjusted midrange gain improves presence, for a clear, warm sound. They are shipping now at $1,500. Numerous faceplate color and designs options are offered.

Westone (www.westone.com) was touting its new flagship ES80 8-driver custom IEM earpieces, which offer up to -37 dB of noise isolation, decreased canal resonance and lower insertion loss. Westone was also showing the new Elite Ambient Series (EAS) models, which are custom monitors delivering the same ambient benefits of the AM Pro universal-fit IEMs shown at NAMM 2016. EAS will be available in single-, dual- and triple-driver versions. All are slated to ship around April 2017.

 

Recorders, Interfaces

Once upon a time, live recording meant meeting up with a truck or mobile unit before the gig to figure out splits and mic selections. But these days — far more often not — live recording typically refers to capturing tracks directly at the FOH and/or monitor positions. A lot of consoles support this, but going a la carte with outboard systems offers plenty of other advantages and NAMM had a good turnout of new gear in this genre.

Cymatic uTrack 24

Cymatic Audio (www.cymaticaudio.com) was showing updates for its single-rackspace uTrack24 24-track live recorder/player, including the ability to cascade four units for up to 96-track capture direct to WAV files from analog, MADI, ADAT or LAN sources. The company was also demoing the latest rev of uRemote, its u24 remote control/monitoring app for iPad users.

Focusrite RedNet Control 2

Focusrite (www.focusrite.com) is shipping its Red 8Pre preamp/interface, which offers 64 inputs and 64 outputs (including a total of 16 analog inputs and 18 analog outputs) and eight digitally-controlled mic preamps, up to 192 kHz operation and Thunderbolt 2, Pro Tools | HD DigiLink and Dante connectivity. Price is $3,499.

Focusrite has also released RedNet Control 2. Based around a simple, browser-style GUI, RedNet Control 2 is designed to handle any RedNet system, from just a few units up to a maximum of 600 devices. It also allows for improved device monitoring, metering and control of the vast majority of device parameters. It’s a free update for all RedNet users.

JoeCo BlueBox BBWR24B

Makers of the famed BlackBox, JoeCo (www.joeco.co.uk) expands its BlueBox range with the affordable 24-channel BBWR24B multi-track field recorder/DAW front-end/back-up solution. The BBWR24B has 24 balanced line inputs, 16 ADAT Lightpipe inputs (with SMUXII support for higher sample rates) 24 balanced outs and can carry 24 channels of 96k Hz of bidirectional WAV files over USB 2.0. Also announced was a major upgrade to the JoeCoControl iOS app, bringing new features across the entire BlueBox range, including full input parameter control, zero-latency headphone submixes creation, a dedicated transport control panel, a Mix mode and expanded monitor switching options.

Lynx Aurora(n)

Lynx Studio Technology (www.lynxstudio.com) redesigned its line of converter interfaces with the new Aurora(n), with 14 models in 8/16/24/32-channel configurations with connectivity options including Thunderbolt, USB, Dante and ProTools | HD — all in a single rackspace. All employ the company’s Hilo converter technology and include an onboard micro-SD card recorder/player offering another level of secure storage/backup. The top-end 32-channel Dante model is $6,599 and deliveries begin this month.

RME Fireface UFX+

RME (www.rme-audio.com) is now shipping quantities of its Fireface UFX+, which takes the original — and popular — UFX design to the next step, with Thunderbolt and USB 3 connectivity along with 64 MADI inputs and 64 MADI outputs, for a total of 188 I/O channels, more powerful DSP for near-zero latency routing and extensive dynamics and effects processing on all channels.

 

Production Essentials

Radial 4-Play

Radial Engineering (www.radialeng.com) always comes up with a number of clever solutions, usually in the form of compact, affordable (and always indestructible) boxes. This time the list included the Key-Largo keyboard mixer/performance pedal/DI box DI box ($379 MAP); the LX-2 and LX-3two/three-way passive line splitters; and the Backtrack stereo audio switcher designed to let performers run redundant stereo backing tracks from multiple sources and be able to switch to a secondary source in case the primary backing source fails.

But what floored me was Radial’s 4-Play direct box. The 4-Play is lifesaver for engineers who work with players using multiple instruments — say, acoustic guitars, mandolin, fiddle or basses. A mute footswitch lets the player silence the switcher when connecting or disconnecting a source, while another footswitch routes the sound to any of four XLR DI outputs, so each instrument can have its own dedicated channel on the P.A. No more complex signaling between players and sound engineers and no more ear (and driver) splitting bursts when an instrument is re-connected. At $299/street, this must-have makes life in the multi-instrument lane a whole lot safer.

Riedel Tango TNG-200

It’s hard to get excited about intercoms, but Riedel’s (www.riedel.net) Tango TNG-200 takes the concept one step further. The company’s first network-based platform supporting the AES67/RAVENNA and AVB standards, the TNG-200 can become a flexible, cutting-edge solution for a variety of communications scenarios. Features include an easy to use interface, powerful processing capabilities, two integrated Riedel digital party lines, two AES67- and AVB-compatible ports, two Ethernet ports, one option slot, and redundant power supplies.

Telefunken active and passive direct boxes

Telefunken (www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com) is shipping its full line of active and passive direct boxes. The mono TD-1 ($199/street) and stereo TD-2 ($299) are transformer-based passive models, while the 48 VDC phantom-powered, TDA-1 ($249/street) and TDA2 ($349) are single/dual-channel active models with FET electronics and transformer outputs. All are USA-made and feature -15 dB pad/ground lift switches and UK-made OEP/Carnhill transformers.

Waves DuganSpeech plug-in

Waves (www.waves.com) came on strong at NAMM. Besides demoing its Waves LV1 eMotion touch screen console system, Waves was showing the DuganSpeech plug-in, an official software version of the Dugan automixer for automatic control of multiple mic gains, designed for integrated use inside the eMotion LV1 live mixing console. Powered by Dan Dugan’s patented voice-activated process, it controls the gains of multiple mics automatically and in real-time, dramatically reducing noise, feedback and comb filtering from up to 64 adjacent mics — perfect for conferences, panels and discussion events, TV shows, etc.

Waves is also shipping its Primary Source Expander (PSE) plug-in which can reduce stage bleed and sensitivity to feedback when a mic is idle by automatically lowering mic levels between musical phrases. At the heart of the plug-in is a precision expander, tailored for melodic sources such as vocals, guitars, strings, brass, woodwinds and more. PSE works like a fader that smoothly attenuates the channel’s level when the source goes below a user-determined threshold.

More to Come!

There were more cool live sound products from NAMM and we will present these online at fohonline.com and in future issues of FRONT of HOUSE. Meanwhile, mark your calendars for next year’s Winter NAMM, which returns to the (expanded) Anaheim Convention Center from January 25 to 28, 2018.

For more information, please visit www.namm.org.