PLASA 2010 Review
13 October 2010 09:00 BST
TPi Highlights The Best Of This Year's PLASA Show
LIGHTING & VISUALS
Robe lighting launched nine new environmentally friendly products and a major green initiative, ‘Think of the Future - Consider Nature’ on its ecospheric style booth. Products attracting the most attention were the Robin MMX Spot, which utilises a brand new 800W discharge lamp to produce a light output exceeding currently available 1200W discharge fixtures; the super-slim Robin LEDWash 600, which features 37 x 10W RGBW multichip LEDs, each individually controllable and arranged in three concentric rings for creating stunning colour and pattern effects; and the CityFlex 48, a powerful customisable LED unit with a strong and uniform light output, suitable for multiple applications.
There was also plenty of positive feedback on Robe’s DigitalSpot 7000 DT, which is now becoming well established, along with the Anolis Arc Pad Xtreme and Robe CitySkape Xtreme LED wash fixtures.
The White Light Zone — hosting the many companies for which White Light is the exclusive UK distributor — was the place to see some of the most innovative products in lighting. Two products displayed in the Zone were winners of the 2010 PLASA Awards for Innovation, and a third was specially commended.
Launched at the show and an award winner, was Coemar’s Reflection FullSpectrum, a new design of LED washlight that offers an interchangeable LED light source that directs light from a unique configuration of LEDs on to a parabolic reflector. This optical design eliminates problems common in other LED fixtures, including visible RGB dots and multi-coloured shadows.
Introduced earlier in the year but winning an award on its first PLASA appearance was Robert Juliat’s Aledin, an LED profile spotlight that looks, feels and operates just like Juliat’s traditional tungsten LED spotlights. Aledin uses an 85W white LED source that generates an output of 4,500 lumens presenting, for the first time, a viable LED profile for venues wishing to reduce their carbon footprint without reducing their technical performance quality.
MA Lighting exhibited with Major and Rainbow Colour Changers. MA’s new grandMA2 software release 2.0, the MA VPU (Video Processing Unit) and the whole networking technology of MA Lighting, including the MA NPU (Network Processing Unit) achieved much praise. The grandMA2 software release 2.0 received particular interest from UK theatres, having already been bought by the RSC along with the desk.
LED lighting brand i-Pix showed six new products in its groundbreaking BB (Building Block) range. New customers were drawn to the whole range of BB products. The non-LED look of the BB1s which more resemble PAR 36 or 46 fixtures was a big advantage, together with the smooth homogenised light engine.
For existing customers, the new complimentary products like the BB 2, BB 2x2 and BB 3 attracted plenty of attention.
Chauvet was spreading the word about its new full-service UK branch in Nottingham. The show saw Chauvet debut two new members of the COLORdash Accent series: COLORdash Accent UV and COLORdash Accent VW. These high-powered LED lights are small in size, but big on performance.
The main attraction for the live environment on GLP’s stand was the new Impression SpotOne. The ability to harness the output of sufficient LED sources, and run them through the optical system of a spot fixture to create an even beam for colour mixing (at the same time achieving a focusable area for gobo projections) has been the holy grail of LDs since LED became a viable source for entertainment lighting.
The SpotOne’s light output is equivalent to a 700W discharge lamp and therefore truly usable in a wide range of applications. It contains a full feature set including rotating and indexing gobos, iris, prism, focus, zoom, effects animation, pan and tilt, all of which are motorised.
Avolites not only unveiled for the first time a prototype of the festival-class live console Sapphire Touch, but also ran a daily competition for visitors to win a Titan Mobile, its compact lighting control system based on the Titan software that connects to a laptop. Entrants had to spend time with the new products and come up with a sketch to represent a function on the console, promoting the new Quicksketch feature.
The software is released this month and is compatible with Tiger Touch, Expert Touch Wing and Titan Mobile.
Cooper Controls showed a host of new products from its leading UK brands, architectural LED manufacturer Cogent and lighting control manufacturer LightProcessor. Another highlight on the stand was the ORB XF, from Zero 88’s ZerOS suite of lighting control consoles. Designed to sit alongside the existing ORB console, the ORB XF has been designed for professional users requiring hands on live control.
ORB XF adds fader control for intensity channels and live submaster playback, making it ideal for control of live events.
Lighthouse Technologies showed its most recent series of screen interface processors, as well as the latest generation of its LEDScape bar displays.
Newly developed to provide unprecedented visual quality, flexibility, reliability and control to the rental market, the LCM-4K interface processor features 16-bit processing and communications for outstanding brightness, contrast colour and image quality.
Featuring a combined scaler and processor, per pixel sizing control, auto addressing and support for resolutions of up to 4096 x 2160, the LCM-4K allows users to control larger and more complex screens with a small number of processors, making it easier and more cost-effective to use.
The LCM-XGA offers the same control and flexibility as the LCM-4K, but for resolutions of up to 1024 x 768, making it one of Lighthouse’s most cost-effective processors, but still delivering maximum image quality and performance.
Lighthouse has also launched DuoLED, a lightweight mesh product that has all the advantages of transparency and ease of handling, but with an extra benefit.
PixelSmart is the latest innovation from PixelRange in the UK. Developed in conjunction with LD Andi Watson, PixelSmart combines the latest LED technology from Cree with a powerful 32-bit processor and new high-frequency driver circuits.
The initial design concept imagined a Washlight capable of delivering homogenised colour-mixing, combined with a bright white blinder. The realisation enabled all of the above, completed with individual dimming on each LED — providing the unique ability to create graphics and moving effects on the same fixture.
GDS experienced particular interest from industry professionals in its new CueSystem NET and LiteWare HO high output wireless battery uplighter. GDS also exhibited the multi-award winning BluesSystem and MainsSystem working lights, MotorControl, The Stage Managers Console and MOBAL, the award winning multi-functional Socapex fault diagnosis and correction tool.
Visual technologies company Christie announced the release of a new product series, Christie Nitro Solutions digital luminaires. The modular series of motorised moving yokes can provide up to 20,000 ANSI lumens of video projection, creating high brightness imagery on any surface from anywhere.
With the optional Xenon or LED lighting heads, the system can produce up to 50,000 lumens of lighting.
Nitro Solutions can be installed at ground level or rigged to a truss, and are ideal for building projection, architectural lighting and cityscapes, houses of worship, theme parks, and live events such as concerts and theatre presentations.
Creative visual experts Immersive exhibited for the first time at the show to introduce visitors to its Addict Show Control System. With backgrounds in show design and system manufacturing, Immersive’s Dave Green and Mark Calvert were on hand to give demos of how the product can enhance and manage a show’s design, construction and operation. The system, which comes in a hinged laptop style enclosure with an optional 24” touchscreen, uses version 2 of the Addict software which features the new ‘Timeline Show Controller’, a timecode controllable time line sequencer that can control an entire production; video, lights, audio, motion control and any other artnet, DMX or MIDI device via the touchscreen interface. The Salvation AV engine allows experienced techs to carry out complex reprogramming via a node based interface. Real time animation, MIDI triggered visuals or live feed input is also accessed via Salvation patches which can be triggered live from the performance page or pre sequenced to extreme accuracy on the Timeline page.
Following up on its acquisition of Brazilian loudspeaker manufacturer Electronica Selenium in June this year, Harman presented the European professional audio community with Selenium by Harman.Selenium is now part of Harman Professional’s Loudspeaker Group led by Mark Ureda, VP and general manager. It also includes JBL Professional.
The Harman stand showcased the Selenium 18SWS1000, an 18” subwoofer loudspeaker with 1000W RMS and excellent efficiency. Its 4” voice coil helps to dissipate the heat.
The D2500Ti Nd is a small sized and very lightweight compression driver, with an extremely high efficiency.
Selenium’s most compact passive Line Array system, the Ribbon Line Array, is extremely light and flexible to mount. When fly-mounted the design factor for 10 cabinets is 7:1. The subwoofer cabinet uses a 15” 800W RMS Selenium transducer and the HF cabinet is composed by two 6.5” mid-bass woofers (150W RMS) and a ribbon driver (30W RMS) with a very smooth sound.
Five years after introducing HiQnet as the professional audio community’s only dedicated configuration and control protocol to address the complete audio signal path, Harman Professional continues to invest in what is now the most useful and AV networking tool set of its kind.
Now, with over 500,000 HiQnet components in the field and a user community of over 35,000 AV professionals, Harman Professional’s System Development & Integration Group (SDIG) has debuted HiQnet System Architect V2.2, representing a significant step forward in the new design paradigms introduced with V2.0.
Positioned as the digital mixing solution for all sizes of sound company or user, the new Soundcraft Si compact series is a power-packed range of digital consoles that brings all the experience of Soundcraft’s digital mixing platforms to a very affordable price level for tour sound, corporate event, house of worship and theatre applications, amongst others.
With full DSP functionality built-in to a small-footprint chassis, the Si Compact provides up to 40 inputs to mix in three frame sizes. Motorised faders with patented Soundcraft FaderGlow operate on two layers, but the main difference from similarly priced mixers is the provision of a full encoder set for all the functions on a channel, from input gain through EQ and dynamics to buss controls.
Harman company dbx Professional Products introduced four new members to its acclaimed ZonePRO family of digital zone processors.
The new 1260m, 1261m, 640m and 641m join the 1260, 1261, 640 and 641 in the series, reflecting dbx Professional Product’s commitment to applying customer feedback to strengthen its existing product lines.
With the introduction of its new iPhone application, AKG has brought users a new tool to browse, monitor, and control their wireless microphone and IEM systems: their iPhone. The new application, which is available for free in Apple’s iTunes store, effectively streamlines the workflow for wireless microphone monitoring and configuration by linking Harman’s HiQnet protocol to the iPhone and iPod Touch app via Wi-Fi network. The new application can be used to monitor wireless system parameters and radio frequency connections on stage for some of AKG’s most popular wireless microphone systems, including the DMS 700, the WMS 4000/4500, and the IVM 4 in ear monitoring system.
BSS Audio added a cost-effective break-in box to its acclaimed SoundwebTM London family of digital signal processors. The new BLU-BIB input expander compliments the eight other members of the Soundweb LondonTM family and represents an inexpensive solution to increasing the number of inputs in a Harman HiQnetTM networked system.
In an introduction that provides touring professionals with a complete turnkey, out-of-the-box amplifier management solution, Crown introduced VRACK, a complete amplifier management rack system solution. The VRACK features three built-in Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers, immediately providing an easy-to-configure, plug-and-play solution that eliminates the need to build amplifier racks. Designed to work in conjunction with JBL VerTec, VRX, and AE series loudspeakers, the system’s modular design is highly scalable and is designed to meet the needs of both small and large sound systems.
JBL Professional announced the addition of five new loudspeakers to its AE Series (Application Engineered) lineup. The AM7315/64 and AM7315/95 are 3-way full-range models, the AM7200/64 and AM7200/95 are mid/high models, and the AL7115 is a 15” low-frequency model. All five models are designed to deliver high output in applications where clear, powerful sound is required over a wide coverage area.
Sennheiser UK celebrated its 20th year as subsidiary of Sennheiser GmbH. As well as marking this auspicious occasion, a major focus for the company was its product solutions for the move from Channel 69 to Channel 38 and the launch of G3 GB.
The G3 GB is designed specifically for the UK market and tunes from 606 MHz to 648 MHz, taking full advantage of Channel 38 while also offering access to the interleaved spectrum directly above it. Examples of the Channel 38-capable 2000 Series and 3000/5000 Series were shown, as well as products from APart Audio, DAS Audio, K-Array and Rane.
Avid demonstrated new Venue system capabilities that improve live recording workflows with Pro Tools, AVB networking and remote control, facilitating mixing, archiving, and setup. These included a Venue Software technology preview, which enhances integration between Pro Tools and Venue live sound systems to improve live recording, virtual soundchecks and archiving.
It also introduced the M-Audio GSR active sound reinforcement speaker series for musicians and DJs who perform in small to mid-sized venues.
Making its European début on the Polar Audio stand was the IC2, the first ever crossover array from Renkus-Heinz, creator of the Iconyx line of steerable array technology. IC Squared is a digitally steerable line array that combines the power and focus of point source loudspeaker technology with the control and flexibility of a digitally steered array.
The IC2’s breakthrough technology integrates Renkus-Heinz’s acclaimed digital beam steering into a powerful and versatile point source design.
The company also introduced the new CF/CFX Series, a modular point source line array loudspeaker system, and announced the expansion of the IC Live range with the introduction of Iconyx ICL-LM-R low-mid frequency module and IC212S-R subwoofer.
Funktion One was demonstrating a stereo pair of the most recent version of its acclaimed Dance Stack as configured for the Beatport installation at Club Beta in Colorado. “We receive so many positive emails from people visiting Beta that we decided to give our demo room attendees a treat,” commented Ann Andrews.
The configuration was 2 x F221, 2 x DS15 and 1 DS210. This new configuration takes advantage of the fact that the more recently introduced 21” bass has the remarkable quality of reproducing both high and low bass frequencies which means it covers the same bass range as the original combination of infrabass218 and the F218 thus simplifying the system.
The MB210 LP (low profile) is one of Funktion One’s most compact bass enclosures. It makes a great bass extension to the F81 and F101 loudspeakers in applications such as bars, restaurants and home or professional studios. It consists of two 10” neodymium loudspeakers driving a ported resonant chamber enclosure handling 600 Watts and averaging 104dB sensitivity between 60Hz and 160Hz. There is also a self powered version available (MB210 LPA) which elegantly solves the issue of a mono-sum, crossover and amplification set up. A self powered version of the MB112 single 12” bass was also introduced.
This year, Roland Systems Group expanded its piece of PLASA real estate considerably, moving to a high-profile site at the front of the hall and using the space for a highly visual presentation of production technology. The live band on a ‘silent stage’ demonstrated the function and capability of RSG’s M-48 personal monitor mixers, as well as an array of compact digital audio consoles.
Simon Lowther, RSG general manager, reported that there was a high level of interest in the recently-launched M-300 and M-380 portable mixers which have expanded the company’s line-up of digital solutions. RSG’s digital audio was neatly integrated with the company’s video mixers, notably the new flagship V-1600HD live video switcher.
Mackie showed its new addition to its popular HD Series, the Mackie HDA high-definition arrayable powered loudspeaker. Designed in collaboration with the EAW acoustical design team, the HDA is a professional, powerful and extremely flexible compact line array. Configurable with up to four per side, the HDA can handle anything from mid-size applications to large clubs in a design that is more cost-effective than ever before possible.
It also presented two new premium recording interfaces, additions to the popular Onyx family, the Onyx Blackjack and Onyx Blackbird.
Following its début at ProLight + Sound in March, French loudspeaker manufacturer APG showcased the latest additions to its ‘new generation’ range of products, the multipurpose DX15 and DX12 loudspeakers. DX15 is a high power, two-way compact monitor speaker featuring a unique 15” LF/1” HF coaxial loudspeaker unit. Characterised by its high efficiency, it offers total flexibility for stage monitoring and FOH applications, with or without subwoofers.
The DX12 is the little sibling to the DX15 featuring a 12” LF/1” HF coaxial loudspeaker unit which produces a coherent acoustic field with a conical dispersion of 100°. APG has also launched a new analogue processor dedicated exclusively to stage monitoring applications for the DX Series loudspeakers, the SPWX12/15.
Orbital Sound had a series of PLASA firsts lined up, including the latest products from d&b audiotechnik, the keenly awaited E6 loudspeaker, and the new B4-Sub, as well as the latest range of Da-Cappo micro microphones, and Zaxcom’s recently-announced TRX900LT digital wireless audio transmitter, which offers operation on Channel 38 and adjacent bands.
An innovative new concept in 24/7 hire services was also making its debut: Orbital launched its easiHire online hire product selection, estimation and quotation tool, designed to make researching and selecting hire equipment easier and more convenient.
Outline’s PLASA Innovation Award-winning Mini-COM.P.A.S.S. iMode vertical line array is a loudspeaker element that can be controlled directly from a computer, or via modern digital consoles, as well as other ‘intelligent’ devices (smartphones, etc) without anything else being required along the audio chain, with obvious advantages in terms of cost and practicality.
Optocore announced a significant upgrade to its DD32E network interface, offering increased featureset and efficiency, reduced carbon footprint and 30% decrease in price. The result is the new DD32R, which received its world début.
When it was launched early in the last decade, the original DD32 quickly became an AES/EBU conversion standard. The device has now been improved, offering all the features of the DD32E plus many new ones. The power draw has been reduced from 22W to 14W, and it also provides 100% more fibre bandwidth, offering 2GBit operation, for a 1,024 input channels per ring (plus unlimited number of output channels).
Belgium-based Apex Audio launched its new Intelli-series of audio system management devices. Featuring internal processing up to 192kHz as standard, high-end studio-grade analogue circuit designs and mastering-grade compressors, the Intelli-series sets the new benchmark in system management and speaker processing design. With over 10 years of digital audio expertise, the new Intelli-X2 26 and 48 are the latest generation of digital audio products from Apex.
Midas & Klark Teknik launched a raft of new products at the show. Debuting worldwide at the show was the VeniceF: a brand new ‘digilog’ ultra-compact mixing console designed by Alex Cooper, complete with FireWire 32-channel digital audio interface, new mic preamps and Propellerhead recording and processing trial software bundle.
Products shown for the first time in Europe were two additions to the Pro Series, the Pro3 and Pro9; the XL8i; a new range of Midas digital snakes and new digital audio format and sample rate converters from Klark Teknik.
The Pro9 tops the Midas Pro Series, providing an 88 channel input count and 35 buses, while the cost-effective Midas Pro3 still offers the connectivity of a Heritage 3000. The XL8i is an addition to the top of Midas’ digital line-up, offering the connectivity of the XL8 touring pack in a more compact and lower cost I/O format.
Additionally, a full range of standalone Midas digital snake and line system products, together with the new Klark Teknik DN9650 and DN9652 very high channel count digital audio format converters with integral sample rate conversion and clock isolation, were being shown.
Based around the Stealth FPGA technology that delivers the SD range’s acclaimed sonic quality, the DiGiCo SD Rack is the first I/O rack for any mixing console that offers multiple format sample rate conversion and allows up to an amazing 448 I/O, in any combination at 96kHz, spread across multiple racks.
While the SD Rack converters can operate at 192kHz, you can also select other sample rate options for specific outputs — e.g. MADI at 48kHz for broadcast or recording feeds, or 96kHz — meaning that the SD Rack serves as a multi-sample rate signal splitter, which even allows you to use DiGiCo’s next generation ultra-smooth mic pre-amps to replace the standard mic pres of an analogue or other brand of digital console.
DiGiCo also introduced the Little Red Box and Little Blue Box, which are two compact add on units that quickly and simply expand the connectivity of DiGiCo consoles.
Shure’s PLASA Innovation Award-winning PSM 900 led the way in Channel 38 ready in-ear monitors. They’re already being spec’d for high-profile TV shows, including Later with Jools Holland, and are being used on more and more world tours by renowned artists such as The Who and Iron Maiden to indie darling’s Phoenix and Passion Pit.
Also clinching a PLASA Award for Innovation was d&b audiotechnik’s B4 subwoofer. In a world where old soundmen fear that digital bits and bytes will submerge everything that is beautiful about the analogue domain, the B4 does just the opposite, eschewing DSP for some arcane manipulations that coerce physical laws to man’s purpose. There is real beauty here, because the B4 produces cardioid propagation of low-end (40-150Hz) through well crafted cabinet and driver design and little else.
Although not exhibiting at the show, TPi met with DPO Dynamics directors Andy Fallon and Colin Arrowsmith to discuss their new TubeSync product, which is making waves with amplifier manufacturers and renowned guitarists. The duo, with a combined history in microelectronics, rocket science and valve technology, have developed a guitar tube amplification management system that controls the valves in analogue amplification in a way that overcomes many of the problems historically associated with traditional tube amplification. Without changing the tube amplification process, the TubeSync can monitor the performance of individual tubes to maximise their lifespan and prevent failure. Its unique feature include: detecting tube temperature and tube failure, switching out faulty tubes and running the amp at half power until a tube can be changed; carrying out automatic bias current matching of output tubes; micro-adjusting the bias on each tube to ensure its full potential is reached. (To see what the manufacturers and guitarists are saying about this product, visit www.tpimagazine.com)
The German pro-audio enterprise Dynacord has a rich tradition in the development and manufacture of loudspeaker systems with wooden enclosures. With the new Corus Evolution family, it has raised the bar in the field of compact loudspeakers with its high power-handling, acoustic performance and attractive price.
Made up of six professional models, the new loudspeaker series is equally well suited to the reproduction of live music and to fixed installation. The Corus Evolution series comprises three full-range systems (C 12.2, C 15.2, C 25.2) and three subwoofers (Sub 1.15, Sub 1.18, Sub 2.18)
Dynacord has also updated the PowerMate mixer range with the PowerMate3, which has more power, more features, more AUX sends, but less weight.
A great deal of interest was paid to Alcons Audio’s new range of subwoofers, the high output BQ211 quarter-wave loaded, all-carbon 21” subwoofer and the BC543 triple, all-carbon-coned triple 18” in bass-reflex configuration: a self-contained cardioid subwoofer or: with cardioid controllable dispersion pattern.
Particular interest in the new products was shown by engineers, both being the first introductions of the upcoming LR24 mid-sized pro-ribbon line-array touring system.
Yamaha Commercial Audio’s brand new StageMix iPad app enjoyed an enthusiastic response from audio professionals. Coupled with the debut for Macintosh editor software for the M7CLV3 and LS9, the company’s stand was a highlight for the many audio professionals who have asked for more compatibility with Apple products. With all three software products confirmed as being made available at no cost, interest levels were naturally high.
Featuring a straightforward, intuitive graphic interface and the iPad’s multi-touch and gesture control, StageMix uses the device’s built-in WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n) functionality to directly control a Yamaha M7CL48-ES, via a wireless connection point linked to the mixing console via Cat5 cable.
The new M7CLV3 and LS9 editors for Mac are run from the latest version of Studio Manager V2 Host (V2.3.3), giving the user control of several separate Yamaha consoles, both on and offline, from within the same environment.
RCF exhibited new products from its Commercial Audio and Installed Sound product ranges. The VSA 2050 is a multi-amplified vertical steerable array that represents one of the latest RCF applications in terms of digital audio technology.
The P8015-S is a weatherproof bass reflex subwoofer equipped with a 15” low frequency neodymium transducer with 4” voice coil offering enough power and efficiency for a variety of professional outdoor or indoor applications.
RIGGING, TRUSSING, AUTOMATION
X-Truss is yet another example of design creativity from the team at James Thomas Engineering. Over the years, there have been many attempts to create a truss that will fold or take up less transportation space, most of which have been based around a triangular form factor which crucially lacks a flat top to act as a cableway.
The X-Truss solves all these problems. It folds flat for transportation and opens into a 52cm square truss when in use. Not only does X-Truss interface directly with Thomas SuperTruss, it boasts a load capacity approaching SuperTruss. A serious truss for the promarket, X-Truss will substantially reduce transport costs on a tour.
European dry hire rental house AED Rent was very well received as a first-time PLASA exhibitor. The team took the opportunity to announce their new UK premises, which will be towards the end of November.
Our much-missed former TPi colleague, Hannah Eakins, now customer relationships manager for AED Rent UK, said: “We weren’t really sure what to expect as this is the first time we have exhibited at a UK trade show, but the welcome has been very warm one and we’re looking forward to being open and providing support to UK rental companies from our new building in High Wycombe. We are very happy that we are finally able to announce the news!”
With warehouses and offices in Belgium, Germany, France and The Netherlands, AED Rent is one of the leading pure dry hire companies in Europe, supplying lighting, audio, video, trussing and rigging equipment to professional rental companies only.
Harting featured its range of connectivity solutions specially tailored to communication and control applications in lighting, sound and automation systems for the theatre, concert and indoor/outdoor event sectors. Harting also showcased a new Ethernet-based switching technology known as Fast Track Switching.
A key product range is the Harting Han family of heavy-duty connectors, which are increasingly being used on concert stages and in theatres. Two new products within this range were introduced: the Han-Yellock industrial connector series and Han-Eco high-quality plastic connector housings.
The new Han-Yellock connector series incorporates a number of features that make it ideally suited to use in stage automation, concert lighting and power distribution systems. In addition to offering an IP67 mated degree of protection, the connector features an integrated ‘seat-belt’ style latched locking mechanism that ensures damage limitation under harsh handling conditions.
The new Han-Eco is a range of lightweight rugged plastic IP65 connector hoods and housings which are ideally suited to the requirements of theatre and concert tour operators. The new devices can help to minimise the weight of flight case or lightbar-mounted lighting dimmers as well as truss-mounted hoist controllers and automation systems for theatre and concert touring.
Key features include inserts that accommodate tool-free, snap-in, rear-mounting modules from Harting’s Han-Modular series fitting into front or rear mounting adaptor frames.
S&H Technical Support Group has recently launched a new range of interlocking, modular floor tiles to compliment its ever growing range of lighting effects, starcloths and drapes supplied to the entertainment industry. The Proclick system 305 x 305mm panels come in over 50 colours and textures; they’re waterproof, quick to lay, ideally suited for numerous applications and can be used again and again.
Commenting on the UK distribution rights recently signed, director Terry Murtha said: “We have been constantly asked by our major clients in TV, exhibitions and special events for a durable flooring product that’s aesthetically appealing, re-usable and easy to click together. Alaves Proclick’s hardwearing interlocking floor system fills that gap perfectly.”
Finally, Mobil Tech launched its new wind-up stand, the STW4001, which is the latest development in the StandTek range and incorporates many new features. The stand extends to 4m and has a maximum load of 70kg.
PLASA2011 will take place at Earls Court on September 11-14 2011.
Awards for Innovation Gallery
The 62 entries into the PLASA Awards for Innovation were, for the first time, judged ‘live’ at the Innovation Gallery by an independent panel of 16 expert judges, in front of show visitors and a camera team on Sunday 12 September.
PLASA CEO Matthew Griffiths presented seven Awards for Innovation and one Gold Award, while ETC founder Fred Foster was honoured with this year’s Gottelier Award in recognition of his work on such legendary products including the company’s control desks, dimmers and the Source 4 family of spotlights.
This year the judges also made three special commendations, which went to Shure’s PSM 900 in-ear wireless monitoring system, noted for a combination of flexible technologies, including CueMode and RF mute, that allows the user to save significant time in setting up on-stage mixes; and the Clay Paky Alpha Profile 700, commended for the high level of engineering embodied.
Clay Paky has both improved on its existing technology used in larger fixtures and scaled it to fit a smaller unit which, in the words of the judges, “now allows designers to be more creative on a smaller scale”. Also specially commended was the RevEAL CW colour-mixing LED washlight by Prism Projection, which the judges found to have “notable colour rendering, particularly in the natural and pastel colours, which makes it viable for use in theatre”.
The seven Awards for Innovation went to: the Clay Paky Sharpy; Outline Audio for its Mini Compass i-Mode; LumenRadio’s CRMX Nova Flex; Robert Juliat’s Aledin; Coemar Spa’s Reflection Full Spectrum; the d&b audiotechnik B4 subwoofer; the CAST BlackTrax — First Phase; and Martin Audio’s Multicellular Line Array (MLA).
TPi congratulates all of the award winners and looks forward to seeing these products out on the road.
PLASA Debut For Line 6
Having recently entered the pro audio market with its license-free digital wireless microphone systems, Line 6 had every good reason to book exhibition space at PLASA.
Simon Jones, Line 6’s VP of new market development, commented: “We’ve been really pleased. This is the first PLASA we’ve been at after many years at MI sector trade shows with our guitar amplifier products. People had heard about the new XD-V series and they offer solutions within the pro user world. So our goal was to come to the show, create some awareness, really present ourselves and get some dialogue going.
“We wanted to gain a better understanding of this market through the comments of users, and get some feedback to what we’re trying to achieve with our technology.
“The response has been overwhelming. I’ve actually been floored by the amount of people who have come to the stand and discussed their options after receiving a government rebate on their redundant Channel 69 kit.
“In most cases, they’ve told us that their next move would be to either invest in a Channel 38 replacement or our license-free alternative. So it’s a big thumbs-up from us to PLASA for giving us a very powerful platform. Our next move is to assimilate all the knowledge gained through the show and to take our plans a stage further.”
Gold Innovation Award-Winner MLA Hits The Road
Martin Audio’s new multi-cellular loudspeaker array (MLA) was raising many eyebrows at PLASA, not least because it clinched the top Gold Award for Innovation, but also because it made its first sale and has been receiving rave reviews on the touring circuit.
In the last issue we reported how visiting engineers at the recent iTunes Festival at London’s Roundhouse reacted to the system when it made its UK debut, but we’ve now had the opportunity to speak to those who have been using it on a daily basis in a touring environment.
Berlin-based production company Complete Audio was the first buyer of the new MLA after it had finished its world debut with German rap band Fettes Brot. The company purchased 20 MLA, two MLD enclosures and 14 MLX subs (along with Merlin network management system, rigging and peripherals) from Martin Audio’s German distributor, atlantic audio.
During an exclusive interview with Paul Watson for TPi at PLASA, Complete Audio MD André Rauhut explained: “We first heard the MLA at Earls Court and it was impressive, but it was still under controlled conditions, so I asked if we could try it out on the tour and they agreed. That’s when I realised this is not just another line array system; it’s a totally new approach to the whole thing; the next step up.
“I remember back in the mid-nineties when the V-DOSC rig got introduced: everybody was like, ‘what is that?’ and it’s pretty much like that now; and when you show them the software and show them what it’s able to do, their jaws just drop!”
When it was suggested that dropping SPL levels to almost zero shouldn’t be possible, Rauhut laughed: “This isn’t just HF roll-off either. When you walk outside of the beam, the audio is gone, literally. You can get as much SPL at the back of the arena as you can at the front.
“It also throws 150m without a problem. Other systems like the Longbow can throw a good distance, 85m maybe, but you lose that projection. There’s information there, but the clarity with the MLA is far better.”
Rauhut said the main difference working with the MLA in comparison to other systems was that you have to measure it very accurately for the prediction. He said the optimisation process was around 15 minutes, and if he had a rough sketch of the venue itself, the system came out with the right display angles and positions so they could start rigging straight away. Then when the system was up, he could upload the software.
The MLA made its North American debut when 24 MLA enclosures and 12 MLX subs were rigged at the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion in North Carolina in August; the first of 17 stops on a coast to coast U.S. tour with the Zac Brown Band in support of their second studio album, You Get What You Give, playing 15,000-20,000 capacity amphitheatres. FOH engineer Eric Roderick was keen to test out the system after Special Event Services’ Jason Farah offered it as a replacement for the conventional touring line array.
“The system sounded incredible,” said Roderick, “and the subs were very smooth, tight and with great bass response.”
“Having the MLA changed the mix. I found a lot of things I needed to clean up because suddenly I could hear so much more detail, with different EQ cuts things started to stand out more,” said Roderick. “From the desk, the stereo image became so wide that I could spread things around in the mix without fear that someone wouldn’t hear wherever they were sitting.”
PA tech for the tour, Preston Soper, stressed the importance of walking the coverage zones and commented: “In the past these walks when using the traditional banded zoned PAs were met with a feeling of wanting more control over the far and near zones, which always seem to lack the consistency of the engineers mix at the FOH listening position.
“The destructive interference with comb filters we faced with line source cabinets has now been replaced by a huge leap forward with these flat isophasic-producing wavefront line arrays, which will alter the way we listen and raise expectations from our arrays.”
He added: “It is also easy to use when entering in your values for the venue of the day. It calculates the phase, level and equalisation coefficients for each cell in the array to best realise the coverage sought.
“Show after show MLA maintains its consistency; the SPL targets, and smoothness of coverage are spot on.”
NEXT STAGE FOR LINE ARRAY
A revolutionary new stage monitor, one with capabilities which reach far beyond the conventional wedge, is set to bring many of the benefits of line-array technique to the world of on-stage monitoring.
Unveiled at PLASA, and due to ship from November, the Nexo 45°N12, the company's first ever purpose-designed stage monitor, embodies many unique and valuable features.
The design rationale exploits Nexo’s patented Hyperbolic Reflective Wavesource technology, as used in the Geo range of loudspeakers. As such, it creates a virtual acoustic source behind the enclosure itself, and lower than the stagefloor, relying on reflection rather than coercion to determine the shape of the wavefront. That wavefront itself is curved, owing to the unconventional design and shape of the waveguide which is, in the words of Francois Deffarge, Nexo’s technical director, shaped like a smile, one which can be widened to a grin by linking cabinets together to form arrays in which adjacent units and their wavefronts do not interfere with each other.
Precise pattern control like this confers several benefits for both the sound engineer and the performer: higher sound levels may be achieved before feedback; such focused coverage results in higher SPLs where you want them, but also in lower overall acoustic levels across the stage, where you don’t; monitor SPLs and frequency response remain consistent up to 2.5 metres back, allowing performers greater freedom of movement within the soundfield.
It should be noted here that, although the apparent angle between floor and grille/front baffle is 30°, the actual acoustic axis is 45°, hence the inclusion of that number in the product name. Likewise, using a conventional polar plot to chart the 45°N12’s energy/frequency output levels is meaningless. What is important here is that equal energy is presented within the entire focal pattern of the speaker. The same applies when the units are multiplied, arrayed, in the sense that all that changes is the size of the area covered.
For a ground-breaking design like this, the 45°N12 should also boast good physical credentials, and it does. It is compact, extremely robust, and is simple to deploy. When used in multiples, adjacent units are magnetically fixed to each other. Breaking the link requires neither tools nor great strength; all that is required is the ability to lift around 28kg briefly out of position. No tools, no brackets, no fuss. The base surface is suitably anti-skid.
In use, one of the key virtues of the Nexo design is the sharpness of its dispersion definition. Move just a couple of inches away, and the level fall-off is dramatic, just as it would be with a properly configured and flown line-array system. Mainly a function of waveguide design, this is also down to the use of Nexo’s TD control system, for which this unit has been designed. Accordingly, the best results will be obtained using this controller and with the wedge/s operating in active mode.
If I were a monitor engineer (which I am not), I would find this new Nexo wonderful in terms of its flexibility — the facility to pick out a single soloist, or to group up for several, playing together. If I was a musician (which, in this context at least, I am not) I would appreciate the incisive precision with which the Nexos can deliver what I want to hear, without concomitantly forcing me to listen to material I don’t want, or being, in total, too loud across the stage. I might come to think of them as being as personally ‘mine’ like the in-ear systems which have proved so justifiably popular in recent times. If I were a roadie (as if), I would love the compactness, the ergonomics and the lack of need for special tools, fixings and so forth. If I were a speaker designer, I would be very proud of this product.
A short animation detailing the design concept of the Nexo 45°N12: