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Live Sound Highlights from NAMM

Record attendance, great products.

Live Sound Highlights from NAMM

Feb 9, 2011 2:18 PM,
by George Petersen

Record attendance, great products.

NAMM showcased a bunch of new professional AV gear this year in Anaheim, Calif.

Winter NAMM isn’t exactly a contracting show. Yet scattered among the rows of booths hawking guitar straps, drumsticks, oboes, accordions, synths, DJ lighting, and fog machines, there’s a respectable amount of gear aimed toward the professional audio installer. With top-end companies such as Aviom, Community, Crest, JBL, Meyer Sound, Midas, Renkus-Heinz, Yamaha—and many others—among the ranks of exhibitors, there were plenty of reasons to check out the show.

The mood at NAMM was decidedly upbeat. Showgoers (especially those with the all-important buyer badges) were talking serious business and the show itself had a record-setting 90,114 registered attendees and 1,417 exhibitors, including 247 new exhibitors.

I went looking for interesting sound-reinforcement products, and there were plenty of interesting new offerings. Here are a few that caught my attention.

Wireless World

Shure Axient

With all the changes coming down from the FCC, the spotlight was on wireless systems. One of the most talked-about launches came from Shure, who previewed its high-end Axient wireless system. It constantly scans the RF environment to detect interference and automatically move the system to a clear frequency in milliseconds. ShowLink control lets users remotely adjust transmitter settings (such as audio gain) from the receiver or a laptop in realtime, while the mic is live. Axient users can monitor and control the system with Wireless Workbench Version 6 software.

Shure also unveiled its first digital wireless system. The new PGX Digital system features 24-bit/48kHz digital audio precision, extended battery life, and the convenience of 900MHz band operation—all in user-friendly packages for handheld (with SM58 or Beta 58A capsules), instrument (guitar cable or clip-on Beta98H/C), or presentation form with lavalier or head-worn mics.

Lectrosonics Quadra IEM

Shipping this month, the Lectrosonics Quadra digital wireless in-ear monitoring system features digital RF modulation, two or four channels of 24-bit/48kHz digital audio, analog or digital inputs, and a slick, well-designed mixing interface. The Quadra system operates in the 902MHz to 928MHz license-free ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) band and its 4-channel mixer lets performers tailor their mixes in realtime, based on what’s sent to the transmitter from the monitor console.

The AKG Perception Wireless series comprises a Vocal Set with an HT 45 dynamic cardioid handheld; Instrumental Set with PT 45 pocket transmitter; Sports Set with headworn mic; and Presenter Set with PT 45 and a CK 99 L lavalier mic. The PT 45 is also compatible with all AKG MicroMics. All operate on a single AA battery and include the SR 45 diversity receiver.

Galaxy Audio expanded its wireless personal monitor and mic lines. Its new DHT System features auto scan, IR sync, and 120 channels—all in a half-rack chassis. DHT offers a choice of dynamic or condenser handhelds, two bodypacks, a station for charging batteries while in the transmitter, and antenna distribution and paddle antenna options.

Speaking of options, the m80 WH from Telefunken Elektroakustik is an interchangeable dynamic cardioid mic capsule that fits the screw-on 31.3mm-pitch 1.0mm-thread handheld transmitters from companies such as Shure, Line 6, or Lectrosonics.


Midas VeniceF

The trend of smaller footprint, more powerful new consoles continued, but not all were digital. The new Midas VeniceF is a 16/24/32-channel frame “digi-log” console with FireWire multichannel digital audio interfacing. It features the full functionality and sound quality of the much-loved Midas XL3 EQ and filter section, Midas mic preamps, 100mm faders, increased channel and input count, a dual 7×2 matrix, and a reorganized master section layout. Besides offering a convenient recording interface, the FireWire port offers the possibility of virtual soundchecking and allows third-party plug-ins to be run as channel inserts and third-party effects routed via aux sends and returns. Inputs, groups, auxes, matrixes, and masters can be routed to the FireWire interface.

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Live Sound Highlights from NAMM

Feb 9, 2011 2:18 PM,
by George Petersen

Record attendance, great products.

Soundcraft’s Vi1 digital mixer offers 32 channels of analog input to 27 analog outputs, plus six digital inputs, four stereo FX returns, and six digital outputs in one chassis. As standard, input-to-mix capacity is 46 channels, but simultaneous channel count increases to 64 by adding a Stagebox. Channels are routable to 24 multifunction buses, plus L/R and mono mix buses. Up to eight of the buses can be configured as matrix mixes, each with up to 16 sources. It’s about a meter wide, and includes 16 motorized channel faders with fixed and user-definable layers, eight output/VCA faders, and two master faders.

Phonic’s compact S16 digital 16-input eight-bus mixer with touchscreen control just got better with a new firmware release providing improved THD performance across all sampling rates; faster interface menu speeds with improved access to EQ, dynamics, and DSP settings; and improved tap-delay functionality. The upgrade is a free download from

While not shipping until fall, Behringer previewed its flagship X32 32-channel FOH digital console, monitor, and recording users. It provides 32 programmable mic preamps, 16 balanced XLR outs, 40 processing channels, and 25 mix buses—all with onboard processing (dynamics, EQ, and inserts), LCR outputs, and six independent matrix mixes. Digital connectivity includes AES50 and USB outputs (FireWire optional), Ethernet ports for networked remote control or show setup, and a single Cat-5 cable from FOH to the stage that can receive up to 48 channels of audio input—and deliver all bus outputs, along with 16 individual monitor feeds for Behringer’s new P16 personal monitoring system.

Loud and Louder

At NAMM the emphasis was on smaller, lighter weight enclosures with improved performance, greater SPLs, and faster setups.


Built on the same power platform as its successful K series and KW series loudspeakers, QSC’s KLA active line-array system includes the KLA12 12in., two-way, line-array element and the matching, flyable KLA181 18in. subwoofer. Both models feature a 1,000W Class-D power module and QSC’s Intrinsic Correction. The KLA System’s self-contained SOLO (Single-Operator Logistics) rigging system allows quick assembly of different arrays.

Distributed by Sennheiser, the KR400S from K-Array produces high output from a small physical footprint. Designed for small-to-medium venues, this wavefront system combines two KR400 satellites with 24 3in. high efficiency drivers and two 2,500W powered subs, each with 21in. neodymium woofers.

High-performance German speaker company HK Audio enters the U.S. market, distributed by Korg USA. The new Elements modular system merges modern line-array technology with the portability and ease of ultra-compact PA systems. Using six easy-to-combine components, the system can be configured to support anything from small gigs to a 3,600W concert rig.


JBL takes its popular 15in. EON system to the next level with improved input sensitivity, lower noise floor, and user-selectable EQ control. The EON515XT matches a neodymium compression driver and 15in. Differential Drive woofer to Crown Class-D amplification and a 132dB max SPL while keeping the weight at a low 32lbs.

Electro-Voice Live X series

The Live X series of powered and passive loudspeakers from Electro-Voice includes three powered systems: two full-range loudspeakers and a matching subwoofer. Each powered model has 1,000W and 700W Class-D amps. Both full-range systems can be pole-mounted or stacked with the series’ acoustically matched powered subwoofer. The Live X family also features four passive configurations, including a dual 15in. system.

Yamaha’s DSR series loudspeaker line—including the full-range DSR112, DSR115 and DSR215, and the DSR118W subwoofer—features onboard 1,300W Class-D amps, the all-new D-Contour multi-band dynamic processing, integral digital tuning, intelligent dynamic control, and extensive DSP protection.

Designed for portable applications as FOH or monitors, Mackie expanded its Thump series with the powered, two-way, 12in. TH-12A, with 400W of Class-D amplification and user 3-band EQ for simple room correction or system tone.

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Live Sound Highlights from NAMM

Feb 9, 2011 2:18 PM,
by George Petersen

Record attendance, great products.

Amping it Up

A lot of speakers are going self-powered, but there are still many applications requiring external power amps, and these were big at NAMM, especially in lightweight/high-power packages.

The iNuke series amps from Behringer use Class-D technology to put 1,000W to 6,000W into 7lb. or 12lb. packages. Also available are onboard DSP versions with 24-bit/96kHz converters, delay-line compensation, crossovers, dynamics, parametric EQs, and front-panel or Mac/PC access via USB.

Carver Professional is back with its new Xi series amps, which offer 370W to 870W per channel at 4V, with variable speed fans, LED status indicators, and rear-panel DIP switches for high-pass/low-pass filters, soft-knee clip limiters, and soft-startup limiting.

Crest Audio Pro-Lite 2

Crest Audio’s Pro-Lite 2.0 and Pro-Lite 2.0 DSP amps feature a Class-D design and stable performance into 2V. The Pro-Lite 2.0 and Pro-Lite 2.0 DSP boast 985W per channel, weigh less than 10lbs., and are rock-solid in parallel, stereo, and bridged modes.

The Crown XTi 2 has enhanced control with Crown PeakX Plus limiters, crossovers, parametric EQ, delay, 30 onboard presets, and an improved subharmonic synthesizer. Available in models from 500W to 2,100W per channel (at 4V), XTi 2 amps are also compatible with HiQnet Band Manager, a free app with a sleek function-driven interface that simplifies system setup and management.

The latest in QSC’s GX series, the GX7 has 1,000W per channel at 4V from a two-tier Class-H design weighing 15.5lbs. It also has a low-noise, variable speed fan, built-in subwoofer/satellite crossover control, detented gain knobs, front-panel LED indicators, and GuardRail amp and speaker protection.

iPad Mania

Crown unveiled its System Control App, offering full control and monitoring of its networked I-Tech, I-Tech HD, CTs (with network PIP) and Macro Tech I amps, Ethernet enabled devices, and JBL Drivepack DPDA models.

Allen & Heath iLive MixPad app for its ILive MixRack digital consoles provides the essential controls for live mixing, including channel faders/and mutes, DCA faders and mutes, image controls, aux sends, channel processing (filters/dynamics/EQs, etc.), mic-pre control, and full metering.

The Yamaha iPad StageMix for M7CL puts remote control of its digital M7CL mixer functions from anywhere in wireless range. Via iPad control, engineers can set up monitor mixes from an artist’s position onstage, directly controlling mix parameters: faders, sends, EQs, mutes, and buses, and more.

PreSonus StudioLive Remote

The PreSonus StudioLive Remote software offers wireless remote control of any of its StudioLive digital mixer channels, auxes, effects, subs, and Fat Channel processors, but takes it up a notch with features such as rotating the iPad from landscape to portrait view to instantly bring up a detailed view of DSP parameters (gate, compressor, EQ, etc.) with a flick of the wrist.

All This and More

All in all, it was a pretty good show, with plenty of interesting new products, and the business mood seemed positive and optimistic—a good sign for everybody. Winter NAMM returns to Anaheim Jan. 19-22, 2012.

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