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Live Sound Shines at AES 2008

An overview of new products from the annual audio engineering conference. 11/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

Live Sound Shines at AES 2008

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By George Petersen

An overview of new products from the annual audio engineering conference.




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Consoles Take Center Stage at PLASA

AES 2008 featured nearly 400 exhibitors showing off the latest in sound technologies. Especially exciting this year were the newest developments in areas of live sound such as microphones, mixing consoles, and loudspeakers.

AES 2008 featured nearly 400 exhibitors showing off the latest in sound technologies. Especially exciting this year were the newest developments in areas of live sound such as microphones, mixing consoles, and loudspeakers.

The annual convention of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) returned to San Francisco Oct. 2-5, 2008, and as expected, the emphasis was on recording technologies. However, with nearly 400 exhibitors, there was a good selection of gear that's of interest to live-sound and contracting pros — especially in the area of new mics, consoles, and loudspeakers. Here are a few highlights.

STEP UP TO THE MIC

The AKG C 214 is a cardioid-only mic that delivers the same sonic performance as its legendary multipattern C 414 B-XLS cousin. Sound-reinforcement pros will appreciate the C 214's road-tough construction with a die-cast metal body and strong grille. With a switchable 160Hz low-cut filter and 20dB pad, the C 214 will be a popular addition to riders — especially at $649 retail with shock mount, windscreen, and a metal carry case.

JBL EON500 series

JBL EON500 series

Audix updated its popular Micros Series M1250 miniature condenser mic — less than 2in. long — with electronics. The new M1255 has a 12dB hotter output that's ideal for distance miking, such as hung overhead choir mics. A wide array of clips and mounts are offered.

The BP4025 from Audio-Technica has two large-diaphragm capsules in an X/Y stereo configuration. Its switchable 80Hz high-pass filter and 10dB pad make it perfect for high-SPL applications, such as drum overheads. The mic operates on 11 t-52 VDC phantom power (a similar model, the AT8022, also offers a battery-power option), and it includes a 5-pin stereo XLR to dual 3-pin XLR cable. It retails at $749.

Beyerdynamic is now shipping its TG-X 930 cardioid vocal mic, which is based on the capsule of its MC 930 studio condenser model. With its low internal noise level, the TG-X 930 offers an extremely high dynamic range.

Distributed by Hosa, the Da-Cappo DA07 dual-folding ear headset mic features a 2.5mm diameter, a water-resistant omni capsule, full 20Hz-20kHz response, and EMI protection. The DA07's soft silicone ear cushion incorporates a flexible, sprung-steel mechanism that can easily be adjusted to fit a wide range of ear sizes. Available in beige, black, coffee, and white, the DA07 is priced from $530.

DPA showed its new instrument-mount condenser mics. The supercardioid 4099 Guitar, 4099 Sax, 4099 Trumpet, and 4099 Violin models are optimized for each of the four instrument families. The mics can be easily unclipped and repositioned or moved to another instrument with only one hand, while the mounting system is designed never to mar or scratch the finish of valuable instruments.

Bob Heil of Heil Sound unveiled a series of interchangeable mic heads featuring his PR 20, PR 22, and PR 35 capsules, which are machined to fit Shure handheld wireless transmitters. Shipping is slated to begin in January.


Live Sound Shines at AES 2008

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By George Petersen

An overview of new products from the annual audio engineering conference.




DiGiCo SD8

DiGiCo SD8

Expanding its line of headset mics is Sennheiser's MKE 1, which features a matchhead-sized omni capsule yet offers a natural, full sound. A thin, acoustically open, stainless-steel membrane protects the capsule from moisture while an outside cap diverts humidity and doubles as a windshield.

Telefunken USA demo'd its M 80 handheld dynamic cardioid with an extremely thin Mylar membrane and a high-quality output transformer from AMI/TAB-Funkenwerk. It ships with a leather pouch, mic clip, and chrome headgrille for $239.

CONSOLES LARGE AND SMALL

The ZED-R16 from Allen & Heath combines an analog mixer with 18 FireWire I/Os, 16 ADAT I/Os, four-band EQ (with parametric mids), dual-function audio/MIDI faders, onboard MMC transport controls, control room and alternate loudspeaker outs, plus two separate artist-monitor feeds. Preamps are discrete and low-distortion/low-noise (-128.5dBu EIN). The ZED-R16 also operates as a versatile live mixer. In this mode, its four aux buses become monitor feeds and FX sends, with the main analog XLR outputs feeding the PA system, while the FireWire outs can be used for live recording.

AKG C 214

AKG C 214

APB-DynaSonics is now shipping its ProDesk-4, a four-bus design derived from the company's top-end Spectra analog boards. It's available with 16, 24, 32, 40, or 48 mono mic/line input channels (plus four stereo line inputs), and it features four-band sweep-mid EQ, six aux sends, L/C/R/mono XLR outs, digital USB stereo input/record output, and remote muting that can be linked to a fire-safety system.

DiGiCo's SD8 provides the major functionality and remote preamps of its D Series in a smaller, $48,000 package with 37 moving faders, multi-function knobs, electronic labeling, and a 15in. touch-sensitive TFT display that acts as the console's primary command center. A 48×8 stage rack connects via a 100-meter MADI digital snake and 60 mono or stereo channels can run full DSP — reverbs, dynamics, matrixing, and other functions — simultaneously, thanks to its Stealth Digital Processing, which combines Super field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and Analog Devices Tiger SHARC chipsets.

Mackie showed a new incarnation of its popular PPM-powered mixers — all with lightweight dual Class-D Fast Recovery amps (up to 1600W), 32-bit Running Man FX (RMFX), and a processor with an arsenal of “gig-ready” usable effects, premium mic preamps, three-band active EQ, dual seven-band graphic equalizers, built-in DI boxes, dedicated in-line channel compression, and a precision passive EQ switch that's matched to Mackie's precision C200/C300/S200 passive loudspeaker line.

The PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 is a 16-channel digital live/recording mixer with 16 high-headroom XMAX mic preamps, built-in 22×18 FireWire recording/playback engine, compressors, limiters and gates, DSP effects, six aux buses, four subgroups, extensive LED metering, mixer save and recall, channel-strip save/recall/copy/paste, talkback, and Fat-Channel processing with four-band EQs. It ships with PreSonus' new Capture software for recording all tracks, auxes, and subgroups (pre or post effects) directly to your computer.


Live Sound Shines at AES 2008

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By George Petersen

An overview of new products from the annual audio engineering conference.




Midas PRO6

Midas PRO6

The Si3 from Soundcraft has 64 mono inputs, four stereo ins, and 35 output buses (24 aux/group, eight matrices, and L/C/R main mix outs) in a single chassis. Standard are four onboard Lexicon effects processors, 12 VCA groups, eight mute groups, and bargraph metering for all 35 bus outs. A touchscreen handles console setups, a virtual channel strip with rotary encoders and OLEDs offers analog-style control, and its FaderGlow system puts a multicolor LED along the fader track to indicate which function is currently active. A redundant power supply module, MADI interfaces, and AES/EBU input cards are optional.

LOUDSPEAKERS — LOUDER, BETTER, SMALLER

The new generation of JBL's successful EON series — nearly one million sold — is the EON500. The 15in. two-way EON515 has a total of 450W continuous power from Crown Class-D amps and weighs less than 33lbs.; the 10in., two-way EON510 has 280W and weighs only 17lbs. Optional is the EON518S single 18in. sub with 500W of continuous power and a pole mount for sub/satellite applications.

IC Live brings Renkus-Heinz' Iconyx digitally steerable array technology to live-event production with narrow vertical beams of 30/25/20 degrees — steerable up or down by up to 30 degrees in 0.01-degree resolution, with wide 150-degree horizontal dispersion. Arrays can be flown or stacked on complementary ICL215S dual-15 subs. A multichannel DSP/amp individually drives five neodymium 6.5in. woofers and three neodymium compression drivers. Optional RHAON delivers control and monitoring over Ethernet with CobraNet, AES/EBU, and analog audio inputs.

Wedges were alive and well at AES. The Adamson M215 is a high-output monitor with dual neodymium ND-15 woofers and a smooth, multilayer Kevlar cone HF with 50°×50× dispersion. Designed as a stage montitor, it easily doubles as a drum/stage fill or can be used vertically on a pole mount.

Community has improved its M12 high-performance/low-profile stage monitor with rubber pocket grip handles for effortless portability and a larger, easier-to-access connector base. The M12 is ideal for any application where low visibility is a key requirement. Features include a unique asymmetrical 40°-90°×70° coverage pattern, multilayer glass composite construction, and switchable bi-amp/passive configuration.

Intended for groundstacking or flying with a M'elodie array, Meyer Sound's new 500-HP compact high-power subwoofer can be used with other systems as well, such as the UPJ-1P VariO and UPA-1P/2P. The 500-HP has two 12in. woofers driven by onboard dual Class-AB/H amps for a 36Hz-150Hz response, with a peak SPL of 134dB. In addition to QuickFly rigging hardware, options include weather protection and custom color finishes.

LIVE SOUND ESSENTIALS

Neutrik introduced the world's first unisex male/female three-pin XLR connector. By simply sliding the housing back and forth, ConvertCon (NC3FM-C) is transformed from a male to a female connector. It features an improved chuck-type strain relief that provides higher pull-out force and makes assembly easier and faster.

Future Sonics updates its Ear Monitor Atrio universal earphones. Available in black or cobalt blue, the Rev 2 versions offer 18Hz-20kHz frequency response and QuietCables II cables for less tangling and a more comfortable fit. Retail is $199, including three pairs of interchangeable silicon sleeves to fit any ear-sized canal and two pairs of foam sleeves.


Live Sound Shines at AES 2008

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By George Petersen

An overview of new products from the annual audio engineering conference.




The HM plug-on transmitter from Lectrosonics converts any standard mic into a wireless unit. The HM features an LCD and switches for setting and monitoring, 100mW RF output for long range, and runs on two AA batteries for long operation. Besides its obvious applications, the HM's flat 40kHz-20kHz (±1dB) response is ideal for use with measurement mics for audio system analysis when used as part of the Lectrosonics TM400 system.

Shure is now shipping its UR1M micro-bodypack transmitter, which operates with the company's premium UHF-R system and is half the size of most bodypacks, weighing just 3oz. with two AAA batteries. Features include up to 3,000 selectable frequencies, switchable 10/50 mW RF output power, and 9 hours of battery life.

There was a lot that was high-tech at AES, but sometimes a simple solution is best. Radial Engineering's SW4 club and festival switcher is a brilliant 1RU box (with gold-sealed relays and Jensen transformers) that can feed three consoles, a DJ mixer, and a CD player into a system. It can route walk music to the house PA while the FOH mixer is tearing down, and a mic input is included for announcements and evacuation safety.

Consoles Take Center Stage at PLASA

Maybe it's the economy, or simply a growing demand for smaller footprint boards that consume less profitable seat real estate in prime main floor spots, but the hot console debuts in London at PLASA, which was held Sept. 7-10, fit that category precisely. New entries such as the DiGiCo SD8 and Soundcraft's Si3 also appeared at AES (see main article). Another hot console that debuted at PLASA was the Midas Pro6, which offers power and versatility in a compact frame.

MIDAS PRO6

Just two years after launching its revolutionary XL8, Midas announced its second networked digital audio system. Adapting technologies from its larger sibling, the XL8, the new Pro6 offers similar audio performance in a package that combines digital mixing/processing and comprehensive audio distribution.

The Pro6 system consists of a Control Centre and two 7RU boxes handling DSP and I/O. Despite its small 54"×36" footprint (about the size of a 32-channel Verona mixer), the Pro6 can deliver up to 80 simultaneous input channels and as many as 32 discrete mixes in monitor mode, with all channels having full EQ and numerous dynamics processing options. The standard Pro6 provides 56 channel inputs, eight returns, and 41 buses (16 auxes, 16 matrix, three masters, and six solos). Also included are eight internal stereo FX processors, parametric EQ, eight standard (up to 36 max) 31-band graphic EQs, 5.1 surround panning and automation with up to 1,000 scenes in save/recall snapshot capability, and archiving of show files.

Also standard is a dual-redundant (192×192) 100-meter digital snake using Cat-5e copper cabling. With the addition of more I/O hardware, the modular Pro6 network can expand up to 264 inputs and 264 outputs and the Klark Teknik DN9696 recorder can be used with the Pro6 live performance system for live multitrack recording and virtual sound check.
— G.P.


When he's not contributing to SVC, Senior Consulting Editor George Petersen is the executive editor of Mix and operates a small record label at www.jenpet.com.


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