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Product Hits of AES New York 2019

Steve LaCerra • New GearNovember 2019 • November 13, 2019

AES 2019 NYC

The Fall 2019 AES in New York was titled “Inspire,” and if you couldn’t find any inspiration there, you need to have your pulse checked. The keynote speaker was successful recording artist and hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash. In his address, he provided insights to his groundbreaking method of vinyl manipulation and manual beat looping.

“Registration for the society’s 147th International Pro Audio Convention again topped 14,000,” according to AES executive director Colleen Harper. “The AES and our events are more relevant than ever to an industry where technology and its application are in a constant state of change.”

As you’d expect, there were plenty of seminars and discussions aimed at live sound pros, ranging from Solution-Based Approaches for Networked Audio in Live Production (Dan Ferrisi), A Low-Latency Digital Audio Bus Standard (Joseph Beauchemin) and Miniature Microphones — Why Are They So Attractive? (Eddy Bøgh Brixen) to Your Noise Isn’t My Noise: Improving Sound Exposure and Noise Pollution Management at Outdoor Events (Adam J. Hill). Not to be missed was an “RF Supersession” featuring wireless gurus Jason Glass, James Stoffo, Mark Brunner, Joe Ciaudelli, Jim Dugan, Cameron Stuckey, Gary Trenda and Karl Winkler, which provided insights into the current RF environment.

Traffic on the show floor was moderate to heavy on the days I attended (Wednesday and Thursday). I think that starting the show on a Wednesday provided opportunity for an increased number of live sound pros to attend, as many of us work weekends and wouldn’t otherwise make it to the show.

There were no earth-shattering technical announcements, but there were visible continuing trends: network ports abound with a distinct leaning in the direction of Dante; digital mixing systems are becoming more affordable while offering higher channel counts, higher sample rates and increased operability; and loudspeakers get louder and lighter while providing increased audio fidelity and better control over coverage.

‡‡         New Gear, and Lots of It

There was plenty of new gear from the 236 exhibitors on the AES show floor. Here (listed alphabetically) are some of the product highlights that caught our attention.

1-Sound MS34

Intended for use primarily as a fill speaker, the MS34 from 1 Sound (www.1-sound.com) is anything but a typical fill speaker. The MS34 is a two-channel point source loudspeaker that preserves a true mono signal for a solid image while also providing the listener with a spacious stereo image — all from the same compact enclosure. I’m not sure what’s going on under the hood of the MS34, but the demo was stunning. When the MS34 was switched to stereo, I was looking for the “man behind the curtain” with the extra speakers that were creating the stereo image — but of course none were to be found. This very interesting technology deserves a good look and listen. For more on the company, see “Company 411,” FOH Nov. 2019, page 52.

Allen & Heath Avantis console

Allen & Heath (www.allen-heath.com) rolled out a sexy new mixer called Avantis, the third generation of mixers based on A&H’s 96k Hz XCVI FPGA engine. Avantis is a 64-channel/42-bus console with dual 1,080p touchscreens, extensive I/O options, and add-on processing from the company’s dLive mixing system. The desk’s rotary controls facilitate working on gain or pan, and easily fold the display to show EQ or compressor parameters across a whole bank. An SLink connection ensures compatibility with the entire range of Allen & Heath I/O expanders, while a Dante card can be added for connection to DT168 and DT164-W Dante expanders. The console is built into a rugged metal chassis.

Audio Precision APx500 Flex Audio Analyzer

Audio geeks will love Audio Precision’s (www.audioprecision.com) APx500 Flex Audio Analyzer. Combining APx500 measurement software and an APx500 Flex Key, APx500 Flex
allows use of any ASIO-capable audio interface with AP’s versatile APx audio measurement software. Users can start with a basic suite and add additional measurements as needs arise. The Flex Base configuration supports a two-channel ASIO interface and measurements for FFT, level and gain, THD+noise, stepped frequency sweep and signal acquisition. Options include expansion to four or eight channels and measurements for crosstalk, crosstalk DC, frequency response, interchannel phase, measurement recorder, noise, digital error rate, dynamic range (AES17) and IMD.

Audio-Technica AT4050

Though they didn’t introduce any new products aimed at the live sound market, Audio-Technica (www.audio-technica.com) celebrated a special milestone: the 25th anniversary of the $699 AT4050 large-diaphragm multipattern (omni/cardioid/figure-8) condenser microphone. Since its introduction in 1994, the AT4050 has become a very popular mic for use in the studio as well as on stage, and has remained essentially unchanged.

Clear-Com FreeSpeak Edge

Operating in the 5 GHz band, FreeSpeak Edge from Clear-Com (www.clearcom.com) provides audio bandwidth to 12 kHz with low latency. The scalable system supports more than 100 beltpacks and 64 transceivers; external antennas with wall- and stand-mount options can be added to create custom RF zones. The beltpack features a mic and speaker, enabling headset-free or desktop operation and even has a built-in flashlight function. FreeSpeak Edge can be combined with FreeSpeak II 1.9 GHz and 2.4 GHz systems, providing three bandwidths across a single unified communications system. Shipping begins in January.

DACS Test Lab+

A device that could come in handy at your next gig is the Test Lab+ from DACS (www.dacs-audio.com). The Test Lab+ looks like a cable tester, but has a lot more. In addition to RCA, TRS and XLR cable testing, the Test Lab+ can verify 4-pole Speakon and 8-pole RJ-45 cables. I/O is fully balanced with +18 dBu available at the output; a built-in signal generator with amplifier can generate white noise or a variable-speed frequency sweep from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and it can drive a small speaker. All Test Lab+ functions and settings are computer controlled via a single rotary knob/switch and an easy-to-read 2×8 character display. Built-in work lights illuminate in red or white, and there’s also a flashlight. A battery swap option avoids the need to physically change batteries if the main battery is failing.

DACS also showed its HeadLine 8×4 guitar switcher. HeadLine allows simultaneous connection of eight guitar amps and four cabinets. A relay switchbox is placed near the amps for the audio connections, and a rackmount selector is intended for placement near the player. A network cable connects the two, enabling instant switching between any amp and any cabinet. Very cool.

DPA 2028 Mic Family

The folks at DPA Microphones (www.dpamicrophones.com) were busy, showing off two new mics. Reviewed in the October, 2019 issue of FRONT of HOUSE, the 2028 is a handheld vocal mic. It features a supercardioid pickup pattern for high rejection of unwanted sound, and can handle a maximum 160 dB(!) SPL. A three-stage pop filter removes plosives and wind noise. The 2028 is available in three variations: 2028-B-B01 (wired), a 2028-B-SL1 capsule head for Shure, Sony and Lectrosonics wireless systems; and the 2028-B-SE2 head for use with Sennheiser wireless systems.

DPA also displayed the d:sign 4097 CORE supercardioid choir microphone. Designed with an integrated boom system, the 4097 is a low-profile mic that yields a uniform off-axis frequency response, low self-noise (23 dBA, typical), and high sensitivity (16 mV/Pa). The 4097’s boom system utilizes three shock mounts and a boom pole that recovers quickly from accidental bumps.

DiGiCo Chilli 6

The newest addition to DiGiCo’s (www.digico.biz) Spice Rack for Quantum 7 is Chilli 6, a six-band compressor/expander comprising a 4-band, fourth-order frequency splitter with adjustable crossover and slope controls. Chilli 6 can be inserted on any channel type and provides two independent fourth-order parametric EQ bands with comprehensive control of envelope shaping for definable frequency bands. Parameters are controlled from the console’s master screen and worksurface controls. The compressor / expander’s range control restricts maximum gain change to values between -24dB and +18dB, and a Dyn Angle control determines level at which maximum gain change occurs.

DiGiCo also unveiled its DMI-Dante 64@96 card, which can be used with the 4REA4, S-Series and select SD-Range consoles (SD12 and SD7 Quantum). The DMI-Dante 64@96 provides 64 I/O channels at 48 kHz or 96 kHz, and is equipped with Primary and Secondary network ports.

Klang KOS Version 4.0

Klang (www.klang.com) was demoing the KOS 4.0 software update for controlling its immersive in-ear mixing system. Features include a bidirectional DiGiCo SD console link with multi-Klang unit cascading and snapshot triggering directly from the SD and full integration with the free KLANG:app for real-time remote control of the KLANG:fabrik hardware from iOS and Android devices.

Lectrosonics D-Squared Digital Wireless

Lectrosonics (www.lectrosonics.com) demoed its D-Squared Digital Wireless System. The D-Squared system is comprised of the DSQD 4-channel digital receiver, DBu digital belt pack transmitter and DHu digital handheld transmitter. Features include 24-bit, 48 kHz digital audio, two-way IR sync, three different encryption keys and a tuning range from 470 to 608 MHz (470 to 614 MHz for export versions). Audio output options include analog and Dante, and D-Squared is compatible with Lectrosonics’ DSW, Duet, and Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitters. Audio specs boast a frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (±1 dB), dynamic range of 108 dB and THD+N of 0.05% at 1 kHz (-10 dBFS). Latency using a digital transmitter is 1.4 mS from transmitter input to analog output, and less than 2.9 mS with any Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitter.

Pliant Technologies MicroCom

A new intro from Pliant Technologies (www.plianttechnologies.com) is the MicroCom wireless intercom. Available in 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz versions (where legal), MicroCom is a single-channel, full-duplex intercom for up to five users. Features include compact, water-resistant beltpacks, a variety of headsets and support for an unlimited number of listeners. Intended applications include stage production, small house-of-worship, corporate events and other situations requiring a small, affordable, robust intercom system.

Sonifex AVN-AO16 Dante Interface

Sonifex (www.sonifex.co.uk) expanded its offerings of Dante interfaces with a series of multichannel units consisting of the AVN-AIO4 (4×4 analog I/O), AVN-AIO8 (8×8 analog I/O) and AVN-AO16 (16 outs). All can be configured using Dante Controller software and are powered via PoE. Front-panel LEDs provide status for link, PoE and clock.

Thermionic Culture Robin Direct Box

Thermionic Culture (www.thermionic culture.com) launched Robin DI, a passive direct box featuring a Sowter transformer with a 10:1 ratio. A bypass switch removes the transformer from the circuit, connecting the source directly to the mic amp input. The rugged enclosure is designed to withstand rough handling and switches are protected from damage by switch guards.

Waves Audio LV1 Proton

Bringing its eMotion Live mixing system down to a very reasonable price point is Waves (www.waves.com) Proton, a turnkey 16-channel mixing rig. The system contains the eMotion LV1 16-channel software mixer, a SoundGrid-compatible stagebox, SoundGrid Proton server, Waves-optimized computer, a 24-inch Dell touchscreen, a 1U rack shelf, an 8-port network switch, and network cables. Retail price is $5,000.

Waves is also now shipping its SuperRack, a plug-in rack that lets users run up to 128 audio channels through multiple instances of Waves plug-ins with near-zero latency. Designed with the live audio user in mind, SuperRack runs on a dedicated SoundGrid DSP server, which moves plug-in processing from the host computer to an external DSP server, significantly increasing plug-in count, while floating windows allow users to customize the workspace to their needs.

Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K

Fresh out of the box from Yamaha (http://usa.yamaha.com) is STAGEPAS 1K, a self-contained, portable P.A. designed for simple setup and pro-level performance. STAGEPAS 1K employs a 1,000-watt Class-D amp to drive a J-curve array comprised of ten 1.5” drivers and a 12” subwoofer. Dispersion is a wide 170° x 30° (HxV) and max SPL is rated at 119 dB. A 5-channel digital mixer incorporated into the subwoofer provides three mono mic/line ins and a stereo line input. The latter can be fed from TRS, 1/8-inch mini or Bluetooth sources and units can be daisy-chained.

Yamaha also showed new firmware for its RIVAGE and TF series digital consoles. Version 3.0 for the RIVAGE PM Series provides increased flexibility, faster setup and expanded routing. A new “DaNSe” plug-in automatically achieves effective noise suppression for use with headset, lavalier and lectern mics. Firmware v4.0 for TF Series mixers adds Selected Channel View access to main parameters for selected input channels in a single display and a scene fade time function for scene management.

 

‡‡         More to Come

Look for more product news from AES — online and in future issues of FRONT of HOUSE. The 2020 AES event calendar includes AES@NAMM in Anaheim, Jan. 16-19; the European AES Convention in May, in Vienna; and AES returns to New York’s Javits Center October 21-24, 2020. See you there!

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