Live Audio Shines at AES 2006

Live Audio Shines at AES 2006

Oct 1, 2006 12:00 PM,
By George Petersen

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At this year's AES show, held Oct. 5-8, 2006, at San Francisco's Moscone Center, live sound engineering took a front seat.

For years, sound reinforcement was the backwoods stepchild at the annual conventions of the Audio Engineering Society, where recording gear usually snagged all the headlines and hoopla. But for the 121st AES show—held Oct. 5-8, 2006, at San Francisco's Moscone Center—live sound technology took a front seat, with a diverse selection of interesting products for the sound reinforcement and contracting markets and an excellent selection of panels, workshops, seminars, and events catering to live sound interests.

The show's keynote speaker—the noted front-of-house engineer Robert Scovill—set the right tone when in his opening remarks he talked about opportunities in the live sound industry, a theme reflected in the first live sound seminar, which focused on the "Business of Touring Sound." Bringing a bit more business savvy into this world of audio engineering isn't a bad idea at all.

Another welcome sign at AES was a healthy slate of tutorial programs, ranging from digital audio basics, mic techniques, and digital interconnects to room acoustics. We aren't all experts in every field, and AES provides an excellent platform to learn from some of the industry's best and brightest.

Walking among the 400+ exhibitors on the show floor, there was plenty to see—and hear. Presented alphabetically, here are some of our picks in terms of top new contractor-oriented products at the show.

The GL3800M analog monitor desk from Allen & Heath offers up to 16 monitor mixes and has built-in mic splitting and a comprehensive, dual-output engineer's wedge/IEM monitoring system. It's available in 24-, 32-, and 40-channel frame sizes and the 16 mixes can be globally assigned as mono or stereo, and each stereo mix provides level and pan control as well as stereo AFL signal checking. By assigning mixes as "wedge" or "IEM," AFL is automatically routed to the engineer's speaker or in-ears as appropriate. Other features include a built-in oscillator/pink noise generator and independent talkback to/from the FOH console and to each performer.

APB-DynaSonics introduced its first rackmount mixing products at AES. MixSwitch provides the ability to easily switch between primary digital or analog and a backup console, or between headliner and opening act consoles in concert/presentation situations (in Switch mode or Sum mode). In club applications, it allows selecting between front-of-house and DJ mixers into common audio systems. MixSwitch will be available in the fourth quarter of 2006.

The 64x64 Anaconda digital snake from Aphex can be used standalone or paired with the company's 1788A preamps. Features include eight ADAT I/Os (64-channel bi-directional), eight word clock outputs, word clock reference input, Ethernet connector for control and metering, and fully redundant power supply and fiber systems.

Community's new VERIS (VERsatile Installation Systems) melds versatility with style.

Audio-Technica announced the next generation of its popular Artist Series, adding more mics, while upgrading classic models for a wide selection of vocal, instrument, and drum models. The new vocal handhelds—the $299 ATM710 cardioid condenser, $249 hypercardioid ATM610, and $169 cardioid ATM410 dynamics—offer broad frequency response and low handling noise. For acoustic and amplified instruments, with fast transient response and low distortion/noise, new instrument mics include the $169 ATM650 hypercardioid dynamic and $369 ATM450 side-address stick-design cardioid condenser, and the $449 ATM350 cardioid clip-on condenser. The ATM350 comes with a violin mount and a versatile UniMount flexible gooseneck mount; heavy-duty isolation mounts are included with the ATM450 and ATM250/ATM250DE. Based on the AE2500, the $549 ATM250DE is a dual-capsule (dynamic and condenser) kick drum mic; the $329 ATM250 is a single-element hypercardioid dynamic. Both are suited for upright bass as well as high-SPL sources, such as kick, toms, guitar/bass cabs and brass.

Audix' VX-5 is a slim-line, 9V to 52V phantom-powered, electret condenser vocal mic is aimed at the live performance market. With a uniform frequency response of 40 to 18k Hz, the VX-5 features a 14mm gold-vapor diaphragm, a supercardioid polar pattern, bass roll-off filter, a specially ported steel mesh grille, and Audix's trademark black-satin finish. Its 10dB pad enables the capsule to handle SPLs in excess of 140 dB.

Beyerdynamic demonstrated its the Revoluto Microphone Station. Made for use with the MCS-D 200 conferencing system, the Revoluto provides superior sound reproduction without the use of a gooseneck mic. Using line array technology, Revoluto's mic capsules create an omnidirectional pattern, allowing a speaker to move around without affecting the volume or sound quality and its low-profile design provides a clear view of the speaker. The Revoluto station is available in three versions, Basis, Standard and Graphic. The Basis station comes equipped with one microphone button, function buttons for clear and priority as well as a two-way Extended Base loudspeaker system. In addition to featuring a single microphone button and function buttons, the Standard station has an alphanumeric display with menu, language selection, and volume control as well as five buttons for voting. The Graphic Station is offered with the same features as the Standard, but with a graphics display and 10 multifunction buttons for participants to vote or phone each other.

Beyerdynamic also introduced its Opus 900 wireless system, designed to meet the rigorous operating criteria of multichannel systems in touring, theater, broadcast, and large installs. Based on the popular Opus 500 Mk II and 800 systems, Opus 900 offers a variety of transmitters, including the DM 960 S, DM 960 B and the DM 969 S dynamics; the EM 981 S and the CM 930 B condensers; the TS 900 M and TS 900 C pocket transmitters with rechargeable contacts. Both the TS 900 M and TS 900 C are outfitted with ACT infrared interface for frequency setting, LCD for selected channel, group, and battery status (5-stage), gain control, silent on/off switch, and 4-pin mini-XLR input connector. Three receivers (single, dual and quad channel) offer 99 pre-programmed frequencies. Each has an engineer-friendly "jog wheel" for fast access and system reconfiguration, along with a monitoring headphone out, balanced XLR jack, remote-in/out port and PC controllability.

Community's new VERIS (VERsatile Installation Systems) comprise a range of small-to-medium-sized loudspeakers for versatile array construction, while styled to meet modern architectural requirements. The line's smooth, intelligible sonic output is the result of patent-pending carbon-ring cone technology, coupled with Ferrofluid cooled and damped MF/HF drivers. Available models start with the VERIS6, a single 6in. with an HF horn-driver combination in a compact enclosure. Next are a dual-6, a single-8, and a dual-8—all with HF horn-drivers. Each ships with a yoke-style mounting bracket and can be ordered with an optional low insertion-loss 200W internal autoformer for 70V applications. The larger 12in. and 15in. VERIS models offer 90

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