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Editorial: A Matter of Scale

When I was much younger, I used to love to build 1/25-scale model cars. I once built a 1/8-scale model of an XKE Jaguar that was really cool--it was really

Editorial: A Matter of Scale

Jun 1, 2004 12:00 PM,
By Mark Johnson

When I was much younger, I used to love to build 1/25-scale model cars. I once built a ⅛-scale model of an XKE Jaguar that was really cool — it was really big, the doors opened, the steering worked, the shocks worked, and the engine was detailed. There were even little wires from the distributor to the spark plugs. Man, it was great!

I also raced slot cars, mostly 1/24 scale, but I did have a couple of 1/32-scale cars. I also had a gas-powered Corvette with a Cox .049 engine that could do more than 200 scale miles per hour.

So what’s the point? It’s all about scale. All the things I did and built related to a counterpart that was much bigger.

Although it’s understood that not everyone is going to design or install a system for an NFL stadium or a large, high-profile performing-arts center, the information, technology, and applications you read about here are generally all scalable. I once worked for a loudspeaker manufacturer whose systems were specified and installed into some large-scale systems in professional and college sports facilities. When I was asked to put a system in at my son’s Little League baseball field, though it was on a much smaller scale, I incorporated some of the design elements I learned from working on much larger systems. Indeed, speakers that were employed as fill systems in the arena and stadium designs served as the main P.A. in my small system.

Many manufacturers are responding to the demands of the marketplace to develop and build products that can be used in the bulk of systems being designed, installed, and used today. Loudspeaker manufacturers are making smaller line arrays for use in schools, houses of worship, and club environments, where the technology and its application are required but not to the extent of a large performing-arts center or church with a congregation in the tens of thousands. Systems controllers and video processors are now available in “lite” versions, offering functionalities and I/O capabilities that are pared down from their larger, more powerful (and generally more expensive) siblings. Some of the features usually found only in large mixing consoles, like high-quality mic preamps or EQ sections, are working their way into smaller versions that will be standard fare in the systems that are the bread-and-butter installs of the industry.

As a technology user and having the bonus of being an industry insider, as well, I particularly enjoy being able to see “what could be” in terms of product offerings and applications and then scaling the application to fit my particular need or budget. Recent technology is incorporated with proven applications, providing systems that are realistic for my situation.

The absolute latest in “what could be” — new products shown at InfoComm — will be reviewed online at Be sure to go to Sound & Video Contractor‘s Web site for the latest industry news as well as installation profiles and information exclusively on our site. You can also subscribe to our e-newsletters — Sound & Video Contractor Extra, Houses Of Worship: Systems Integration Special Focus, and Corporate AV: Systems Integration Special Focus.

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