NSCA 2005 Wrapup
May 1, 2005 12:21 PM, By Mark Johnson and Trevor Boyer
A review of new product offerings at the show.
Sprinkler system malfunction and misdirected emergency evacuation announcement notwithstanding, the 2005 NSCA Systems Integration Expo in Orlando, Fla., can be classified as a success. With 11,000 attendees and 600 exhibitors, there was plenty to see and do. There were three technology pavilions this year showcasing network integration, digital signage, and security/life safety. The Digital Signage LIVE Showcase, co-sponsored by ActiveLight, proved very popular.
Clockwise from left: EAW NT series; AKG C542B; Shure PGX; Chief PDR; and Chief CMA-347.
Now in their third year, and sponsored by Sound & Video Contractor magazine, the Innovations in Technology Awards were presented at NSCA's annual Presidents' Reception. The 2005 winners are: for the audio category, Yamaha's PM5D digital sound reinforcement console; for the business productivity category, D-Tools' System Integrator 4 design software; for the control systems category, Stardraw.com's Stardraw Control; for the convergence category, Crestron Electronics' UPX2 universal presentation system; for the security/fire/life safety category, Bosch Security Systems' DinionXF day/night camera; for the video/display category, AMX's MAX integrated content servers; and for the website category, Listen Technologies for www.listentech.com.
During the expo, ActiveLight also announced the winners of its first DIGI Awards. There was a broad range of new product offerings—from video and display products to audio products to products for security. Many new products focused on getting the signal or data from point A to point B or on playing well with others in the system. For more coverage of the video and display arenas, Video Technology Editor Trevor Boyer weighs in with his take from the show. For more on video and display, read May's Picture This column by Jeff Sauer.
Yamaha started the show off with a bang by announcing a new line of loudspeakers for installation, appropriately called the Installations series. These speakers came as the result of collaboration between Yamaha's Akira Nakamura (perhaps best known for the design of the NS-10M studio monitor) and Michael Adams of Audio Composite Engineering.
Lab.gruppen introduced the C series, three 4-channel amplifiers for permanent installations with 400W, 700W, and 1200W per channel respectively.
Aviom highlighted the AN-16/iM input module, a mic- and line-level input device with 16 microphone preamps and 24-bit A/D converters. The module allows microphone level signals to be used with other Aviom AN-Series products.
FiberPlex announced the addition of the LightViper VIS-4832 bidirectional digital snake system to its range of fiber-optic products. The VIS-4832 stage head accepts 16 AES3 digital inputs (32 audio channels). Outputs consist of four AES3 digital, and eight analog line-level outputs.
The Telex Pro Audio Group used the NSCA Expo as an opportunity to launch a number of products, including Electro-Voice's X-Line very compact line array system, the Zx5 composite loudspeaker, and the RE97 wireless head-worn mic. Telex division Dynacord introduced the Xa-2. The company also showed the Radiocom BTR-1 series of UHF frequency-agile encrypted intercoms. The Telex BTR-1 and TR-1 systems provide wideband, full-duplex secure communications intended for situations in which there is need to guard against eavesdropping. Telex/RTS introduced the RTS Intrinsically Safe Beltpack, the HCU 317. The beltpack can be used for communication in areas that are at high risk for explosion.
Shure showed the PGX wireless system with eight microphone choices, including the PG58, SM58, Beta 58A, and the SM86 condenser microphone. Body-pack systems include the PGX guitar system, PGX lavalier vocal system, PGX instrumentalist system, and PGX head-worn system.
A number of complementary products were shown under the Harman umbrella. JBL Professional introduced the Vertec DP series, the VT4888DP three-way line array element, and the VT4882DP midsize subwoofer, available with the DP3 DrivePack. The DrivePack amplifiers feature Crown Audio-designed amplifiers and input modules with processing by dbx. Harman Professional's HiQnet system allows for communication and control of almost all of the new products in the Harman Pro family.
JBL Professional also announced the PD5322/43, a 40- by 30-degree full-range coverage option to the existing PD5000 offerings. AKG Acoustics introduced the C 542 BL boundary-layer microphone. Dbx Professional exhibited the ZonePro 1260 and 1261 digital zone processors, featuring 12 inputs and six outputs. Dbx also showed the DriveRack 4800 system processor and the AFS 224 advanced feedback suppression processor.
FSR field-configurable AV-RFL AV and power connection floor box
Tannoy showed a number of products including the i6AW ICT all-weather installation loudspeaker, the iC6 DC compact ceiling monitor system (based around a new 6.5in. point source, constant directivity dual concentric transducer), and the iw62 TS in-wall subwoofer.
Altec Lansing Professional announced its new CD1012-8A duplex ceiling speaker. The unit combines a 12in. woofer and a 1.4in. exit HF compression driver mated to a 90-degree conical horn. Altec also announced the DX1012-8A 12in. duplex flyable speaker system. Also announced was the compact SLS5220 2.0 powered audio system, designed for installation in a wide range of locations.
Listen showed the fruits of its new distribution agreement with Bosch, exhibiting the Bosch DCN (Digital Congress Network) and the CCS 800 discussion and conferencing systems.
EAW introduced its NT series of self-powered loudspeakers, as well as 12 new models in its MK series of compact, two-way, fixed-installation speakers.
SIA Software announced Smaart I–O, a USB interface designed to work with the company's Smaart measurement and analysis software.
Mackie used the show to preview the LP48 Lake Processor expansion card for the TT24 digital live console.
Sennheiser—which also distributes Australian Monitor, Innovason, and Turbosound—showcased the Evolution 900 series of seven new backline mics: the 901, 902, 904, 905, 906, 908, and 914. Also showcased were the company's new HSP2 (omni) and HSP4 (cardioid) headsets. Australian Monitor introduced the AMIS480P 4-channel amplifier, which delivers 80W into 4V or 70/100V line. Turbosound showed the Aspect series including the Aspect TA-880H three-way mid-high enclosure and the TA-880L LF cabinet.
XTA Electronics, distributed by Group One, unveiled the DP428 digital signal processor for sound system interfacing and management. Also exhibited was the Walkabout Kit, which provides control over XTA's DP series products via a Wi-Fi Ethernet link. MC2 Audio, also distributed by Group One, showed the E45 power amplifier.
Peerless introduced a number of products, including the LCD Ceiling Mount (LCC series) for 13in. to 29in. screens, the Universal Flat Wall Mount for 32in. to 63in. screens, and the Mini Universal Flat Wall Mount for 22in. to 37in. flat-panel screens. Also exhibited was the Smart Mount universal tilt wall mount for screens 32in. to 63in. and the Mini Smart Mount universal tilt wall mount for flat panels measuring 22in. to 37in.
Inter-M Americas unveiled its R-Plus series reference amplifiers. The R150 Plus produces 75W/4 per channel, while the R300 Plus and R500 Plus have respective outputs of 150W/4 and 250W/4 per channel. Inter-M showed the EMI-300 mixer/amplifier for applications requiring multiple music sources and voice PA and the 16-channel SC-9216R speaker line tester to detect fault conditions within audio systems using amplifiers and loudspeakers. Also introduced was the IMS-9000 conference system.
Atlas Sound announced many new rack and accessory products, including the RKW12-20 and RKW16-20 knock-down wood racks, the new RWL2 rack work light, and the SH series clamping rack shelves to mount equipment such as VCRs, receivers, and DVD players to SH series shelves. Atlas also announced a new speaker product—the DLS4, designed for low-ceiling applications and engineered specifically for the airport market, and updates for its Strategy surface-mount speakers. The release of a second-generation version of the Varizone IP-addressable digital PA and audio routing system was also announced.
FSR brought its new BMS-2 background music system to the show. The system offers control of a stereo audio source through touch wallplates or via an optional built-in web server. FSR also introduced its Indie series multiformat signal processors: the 300, 400-SDI, and 400-HD. Displaying a wide range of products, FSR also announced the AV-RFL field-configurable AV and power connection floor box.
Communications Specialties introduced the Fiberlink 6400 series passive optical wave division multiplexers (WDMs), which allow two separate fiber-optic links to operate at different wavelengths over the same fiber-optic core. Also shown were the redesigned 8000 and 8100 series of optical distribution amplifiers. Additionally, CSI added to the Pure Digital Fiberlink 7220 series: the 7222, 7224, and 7226 transmitters, (respectively providing four, eight, and 12 optical outputs for point-to-multipoint distribution) and the 7223, 7225, and 7227 drop-and-repeat receivers.
Chief Manufacturing debuted the PDR dual-arm wall mount for large flat-panel displays. Also introduced was the CMA-347 vibration isolator, designed to eliminate trembling projections caused by building vibration by isolating the mount from the structure. Additionally, Chief showed new arrays for small flat-panel displays—the FMA-220 dual horizontal array and the FMA-320 triple horizontal array.
Meyer Sound Labs held a contest to name the newest addition in its Milo family of loudspeakers. The "Mysterioso" provides 100 degrees of horizontal coverage. The HF section uses a new incarnation of Meyer Sound's REM ribbon emulation manifold. Also shown was the Galileo loudspeaker management system. The system consists of the Galileo 616, a six-input/16-output, 2RU, digital matrix processor, and Compass control software for operation via a remote computer or tablet.
Beyerdynamic came with an arsenal of conferencing-related products, including an upgraded MCWD200 wireless system and new products such as the SHM 201A gooseneck mic and the Simultaneous Interpreting System (SIS).
Audio-Technica displayed the 2000 series UHF true-diversity wireless microphone systems. The ATW-2110 UHF UniPak transmitter system consists of the ATW-R2100 true-diversity receiver and the ATW-T210 UniPak body-pack transmitter. The ATW-2120 UHF handheld dynamic microphone system includes the ATW-R2100 receiver and the ATW-T220 handheld mic/transmitter. Audio-Technica also exhibited the AT892 MicroSet subminiature omnidirectional condenser head-worn mic.
Polycom announced the Voice Video Interface Unit (V2IU), a comprehensive appliance that supports communications between organizations and across the Internet. V2IU provides optimized bandwidth utilization with prioritized delivery of voice and video, as well as shortest-path routing of media directly between two endpoints, rather than through a centralized server.
Denon Professional introduced the DN-V200/DN-V300 DVD players, equipped with functions such as hide OSD, change wallpaper, NTSC/PAL conversion, and autoplay. The company also introduced the AVR-985SP receiver featuring 100Wx7 power output and 32-bit floating-point DSP processing to decode all current surround formats. Marantz Professional exhibited the PMD570 pro-installation solid-state recorder.
Bag End Loudspeaker Systems unveiled the D10E-DA low-profile subwoofer cabinet, loaded with two 10in. subwoofers with a vertical measurement of 6.75in. Bag End also announced the P-Crystal loudspeaker, available with an optional, built-in 1000W modular amplifier, the Minima One. The company also exhibited its 15in. powered time-aligned speaker system, the P-TA5000.
Digidesign showcased its Venue live sound-reinforcement mixing and processing environment. Venue runs DSP effects plug-ins, minimizing FOH and monitor effects racks. Venue also integrates with Digidesign's Pro Tools recording and playback systems.
L-Acoustics showed the Kudo line source array system. Adjustable K-Louvers provide directivity control for the mid/high section and allow Kudo to be reconfigured with four different coverage pattern settings.
Hitachi America featured its CP-X1250 and CP-X1200 series LCD projectors.The CP-X1250 delivers 4500 ANSI lumens, while the CP-X1200 series delivers 3500 ANSI lumens. Both feature an 800:1 contrast ratio. Also, Hitachi introduced the CP-X445 XGA projector, featuring 3200 ANSI lumens.
Renkus-Heinz launched its Digitally Controlled Column loudspeakers. The DCC16 array measures 5.25"x7"x78" and features 16 compact full-range drivers. DSP software and digital amplification enables definition of the shape and aiming of the vertical beam. Additional DCC8 modules can be added to extend the systems' vertical pattern control to lower frequencies. Each transducer is driven by an individually processed signal via an 8-channel processor/amplifier module developed by D2 Audio.
Sanyo introduced a few new projectors, the PLC-EF60 at 5800 lumens and 1400x1050 SXGA+ resolution and the and XF-60 at 6500 lumens and 1024x768 XGA resolution. The company also introduced the PLV-WF10 16:9 multimedia projector.
Biamp Systems previewed its new DaVinci control screen software package, which allows integrators to create control interfaces for Audia and Nexia systems. Biamp also announced new Audia software, the Event Scheduler. The Event Scheduler automates time-dictated functions by triggering presets or remote logic boxes to initiate a variety of schedule types, including periodic, date/time, daily, weekly, or monthly. The Event Scheduler block also accommodates layering of multiple timed actions. Additionally, Biamp showcased the AEC2w card, a 20kHz wideband acoustic echo-canceling system for AudiaFLEX.
DMX Music showcased the ProFusion X digital hard-drive playback system. The system enables multiple zoning, built-in messaging capabilities, and automated control of music styles. Music and messaging content, software upgrades and new playlists are downloaded via the Internet or from disc. The ProFusion D enhanced disc player features CD buffering technology requiring the disc to spin only once every three hours. Each disc can hold up to 30 hours of music.
Link introduced the AD audio distribution system to the U.S. market. The PCB-based system provides up to four outputs (parallel and/or transformer-isolated) for use in stage boxes or wherever input and output connection points are required.
Hitachi Software unveiled its StarBoard BT-1 Bluetooth tablet, a 9.5"x10"x1" pen-operated panel. The BT-1 connects to a PC via a wireless USB plug-in receiver. The BT-1 Bluetooth tablet features a writing/work surface of 6"x4.5" with a resolution of 500LPI and accuracy of ±2m. Hitachi Software also introduced StarBoard version 6.2 software. Crestron featured its UPX2 universal presentation system, which integrates a video switcher and scaler, a multi-window processor, a wireless annotator, and a touchscreen controller on an embedded PC platform. Also featured was the Isys i/O Wi-Fi controller.
The various divisions of Peavey all brought representative products to NSCA. Architectural Acoustics, announced the Sanctuary Series SA-4200, a four-channel power amplifier. The SA-4200 features Auto Delay to measure and set delay times for fill systems. MediaMatrix, announced the shipping of NION (Networkable Input Output Node). NION is available in two configurations: the NION n6 with six Analog Devices SHARC DSPs, and NION n3 with three. And Crest Audio introduced its CMi Series power amplifiers and Nx CobraNet-8 control module, which together support Crest NexSys 4 and Peavey MediaMatrix MWare software for control and routing.
Trevor's Video Take
At NSCA 2005 in Orlando, display manufacturers were, as usual, showing bigger, brighter, and more feature-packed projectors, plasmas, LCD TVs, and rear-projection units. Samsung hauled in the 80in. plasma that debuted at CES a few months prior. Pricing on that one is not too much shy of six figures, but it is a reminder of the constant progress that the display industry is making.
Many manufacturers of flat panels—both LCDs and plasmas—confirmed the reality of today's tight market. Companies get many components from the same sources, so differentiation from the competition is a real challenge. Some manufacturers pack in the pixels, yielding better resolutions than competing products of the same size. Warranties and other after-market, service-oriented benefits are another way for companies to gain an edge on the competition. For other companies, aggressive pricing is their hook.
Sampo, for instance, acknowledged that the company is committed to price its plasmas lower than similar-sized Panasonic models. The company then gains an edge in applications like classrooms and other environments in which integrators face very real pricing pressure. (It definitely helps that the company's 42in. LCD—not plasma—is listed at only $3,999.) Sampo highlighted a case study in which The Queensbury Union Free School District in New York bought 240 LCD and plasma displays from systems integrator Education Technology Resources.
Clarity Visual Systems, on the other hand, is targeting higher-end application environments, such as digital signage and broadcast, with its enhanced Bobcat X, a 40in. LCD display. Key features that make it attractive to those markets are its high 1366x768 resolution, faster panel response time, and new fanless design. The Bobcat X is intended for standalone installation as well as tiled applications.
In the projector world, the 3LCD vs. DLP debate clearly has not subsided. Christie made a good case for DLP, at least for the intended applications that its products will serve. Alan Dresner, senior director for advanced media displays for Christie, noted that the company's rear-projection display cubes are likely to be viewed close-up in a retail environment or in a data-driven NOC application. For close-up viewing, any evidence of discrete pixels within the image would be less than optimal, and DLP trumps LCD technology in that regard. Christie's display cubes, driven by rear-projection, single-chip DLP technology, have seen steady demand, even as the company's large-scale installation projectors have suffered from the slow growth of the digital cinema market. Epson's 3LCD technology was on display in eLux's booth. The company markets what it calls the Digital Signage Projection System, which involves an LCD projector with an Epson optical engine, oriented vertically or horizontally and mounted on a wall, hung from the ceiling, or standing on the floor. The company's three light diffusion screens, designed to be "free-suspended" (to be viewed from either side), range from 60in. to 80in. diagonally.
Last year Sharp made the switch from LCD to DLP across its projector line. At NSCA the company introduced its new XG-PH50X, an XGA-resolution installation projector with six lens options. Brightness goes as high as 4000 ANSI lumens, with dual lamps for redundancy and flexibility in balancing brightness vs. lamp life.
Playback devices are gaining flexibility, too. Denon Professional showed its new DN-V755 and DN-V750 network audio visual players, which feature a built-in 40GB hard drive and a PCMCIA slot, respectively, for storing content for playback. The two players, moreover, are designed for remote uploading of content via their built-in FTP capability. In order to manage content uploaded over a network via FTP, the DN-V750 and DN-V755 feature off-site scheduling software. The two devices play back MPEG-2 video files at better-than-DVD bit rates.
Avocent, once known solely as a provider of wireless KVM solutions, is expanding into the AV space by cutting the wires that would ordinarily connect playback hardware to displays. Its LongView Wireless 4500 system, introduced at NSCA, makes VGA cabling obsolete. The system includes a wireless transmitter and receiver, power supplies, and audio cables that allow integrators to install a monitor far away from its computer. For line-of-sight installations, the wireless range is 3,000ft.; the range is 300ft. through walls. Electrosonic, on the other hand, has designed playback devices small enough so that there's no need to stash them out of view. The company was showing its HD FrEND, a network device about the size of a laptop computer that plays back full-scale HD content up to 1920x1080i and at bit rates up to 30Mbps. Remote management, content distribution, and automation are accomplished over standard IP networks.
Shrinking playback devices notwithstanding, most applications call for equipment racks. Middle Atlantic Products, one of the leaders in that field, had a very practical innovation to showcase at NSCA 2005. Its new front-mount Zero Clearance Latch, available on Middle Atlantic's new redesigned DWR and SR series wallmount racks, allows integrators more flexibility to install sectional wallmount enclosure racks side-by-side or in a corner. Operated from the front of the enclosure, the Zero Clearance Latch allows a center section to lock closed without the need for side latches.
The six-DVD Digital Video Essentials Professional (DVE Professional) set by Joe Kane Productions, sponsored and distributed by Extron Electronics, features a suite of diagnostic tools including standard- and high-definition video test and demonstration materials created by Joe Kane.
In the Digital Signage Pavilion, display manufacturers, software providers, and dealers converged to attract those interested in aspects of digital signage ranging from content creation to display. Mercury Online anchored a corner of this pavilion, showing the latest version of its FRED digital signage management software, FRED Inspire 3.5. John Eisenhauer, president and CEO of Mercury Online, emphasized the software's strength in reporting data that helps users customize the programming of its brief video messages according to expected demographics. Scala was also in the Digital Signage Pavilion, showing its InfoChannel 3 software, designed for content creation (through InfoChannel Designer 3) and playback (through InfoChannel Player 3, which also handles feedback data related to ad revenue and system status).