PLASA07 - REVIEW
(London) - A calmer, more manageable PLASA show pierced September's calendar following a major redesign. TPi's Rachel Esson reports on some of the highlights from Earl's Court.
My experience of this year’s PLASA was a far cry from my debut for TPi last year, which I recall being much more manic, confusing and very loud. A revised, single-floor layout meant some stands were filtered from Earls Court 1 into Earls Court 2, which left the whole show more spacious and manageable.
The majority of exhibitors I spoke to reported the same views; a few said there was not enough visitor traffic passing through Earls Court 2 (with one suggesting the main entrance should be shut off to registered visitors to overcome this), and all happily agreed the quality of the visitors was a great improvement on last year, even though numbers were slightly down.
A few lost individuals including colleagues late for press launches hoped that next year the aisles would be more obviously marked in the roof, perhaps by re-deploying some of the massive amount of LED kit that increasingly dominates the show.
The show was the first to be organised internally by PLASA Events, which announced at the show that it has acquired the A.C. Lighting North trade show.
This year’s show continued to push forward with new feature areas, more seminars, and the live launch of the first industry qualifications developed by PLASA. Rob Lingfield, the new PLASA Chairman, reported that it has been the launch of PLASA Events that has driven these changes and enabled a re-appraisal of the show from every angle.
Following our last issue’s preview of new products showcased at PLASA07, Outline presented the Kanguro System 2008, an upgrade of the original, award-winning Kanguro system which now achieves an even better performance to price ratio.
Also new is Outline’s new turntable for polar measurement, the ET250-3D. The company’s founder Guido Noselli originally created the ET System — a turntable controlled via PC — to facilitate measurement of the polar dispersion of the firm’s loudspeakers. This device became the most sought-after work tool for competitors, multinational companies and the world’s most famous sound designers. The new Outline turntable is one of the first measurement systems to enable use in an ‘open platform’ context.
Outline’s stand also hosted the new mini-COM.P.A.S.S. ultra-compact line array with adjustable directivity, the entire range of DVS enclosures and the Genius M 412, a digital matrix in a single rack unit (four inputs and 12 freely configurable outputs), controllable via proprietary software and fitted with powerful DSP.
New in 2007 for TAPCO are the Thump TH-15A active loudspeaker and the Series 69 passive loudspeaker. Mackie revealed the Mackie Control Pro control surface series, the next generation of the Mackie Control Universal line of controllers. Also new from the company is the Onyx 1200F FireWire interface. Its comprehensive, fully-integrated system for recording, monitoring and routing audio and MIDI is now in production and will ship to UK retailers beginning in late October.
Following the success of the SRM450 and SRM350 active PA speakers, Mackie announced the debut of the newest member of the SRM family, the SRM150. Capitalising on the proven technologies of Mackie’s SRM active loudspeakers and legendary mixers, the SRM150 delivers superior sound quality in an ultra-compact package, making it a versatile and expandable solution for a variety of sound reinforcement needs.
Bringing power to its groundbreaking VRX Series portable line arrays, JBL Professional unveiled the VRX932LAP 12-inch powered loudspeaker and the VRX918SP 18-inch powered subwoofer. Utilising the JBL DrivePack DPC-2 amplification system, both models are fully self-contained, powered loudspeakers.
Retaining all the features of the original VRX932LA and VRX918S, self-powered performance has been optimised through integrated DSP, creating what is claimed to be the simplest professional powered line array system in the industry. Designed for use in arrays of up to five units, the VRX932LAP is the ideal choice when line array performance is needed but the venue size does not call for the long-throw characteristics of large line array systems.
The Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network (pronounced ‘rayon’), the first practical technology to give audio professionals maximum control over self-powered loudspeakers, made its public début as a full production product in the shape of the all-new Sygma SG Series loudspeakers.
RHAON heralds a new era in networked, powered loudspeakers with an industry-first combination of integral amplification, DSP, digital audio networking, control and monitoring, which will be available for the entire Renkus-Heinz powered product line-up.
Proel’s successful NEOS series gained two active and two passive models, the NEOS 152P (passive) and 152A (active) and the NEOS 218SP (passive) and 218A (active). NEOS represents the peak of small touring systems, in both its active and passive configurations. Proel also showed an entirely new family of mixers, the M Series.
Proel is the UK distributor for Alto, whose APM Series mixer made its debut. Based on the circuitry used in Alto’s advanced D Series amplifiers, the new APM mixer includes a switch mode power supply and advanced digital circuitry for the power amplifier section. Alto also launched an affordable, fully-fledged line array, the Alto Neo-Array, finally bringing professional audio systems well with reach of bands or smaller hire companies.
FBT’s MaxX series speakers have been dominant in the world of high-quality portable PA for almost a decade, widely acknowledged as one of the best sounding polypropylene housed speaker systems on the market. After 10 years, FBT has designed something even better and PLASA saw the UK launch of the FBT HiMaxX range. Also, FBT’s innovative MODUS systems have gone active with a complete new line-up incorporating four powered modules in a vertical array within a single box no larger than a traditional two-way speaker.
Launched to great acclaim as the first truly affordable wireless in-ear monitoring system for all performers, JTS’s SIEM system has become an international best-seller. Now the system is augmented with the addition of JTS IE-6 dyna-drive in-ear phones.
Renowned Italian speaker manufacturer B&C had two new products on show. The new 21" 21SW150 subwoofer features a massive 150mm (6") voice coil that can withstand unprecedented levels of input power, while the coaxial DCX50 comprises a very high efficiency mid-range driver tightly coupled with a top quality high frequency ring radiator.
Martin Audio’s Bill Webb and Rob Lingfield demonstrated the light weight of the new Omniline ‘micro’ line array which is designed for installation in a wide variety of architectural environments. Martin’s new digital management processor, the Engineer, also made its debut. This powerful DSP device is designed to provide comprehensive control and management of installed loudspeaker systems at the same time using unique algorithms to keep sound systems automatically performing at optimum level.
Riedel Communications has added several new products to its Performer digital partyline intercom series. Also new are the CD-2 Desktop Speaker/Headset Station and CW-2 Wall Mount Speaker/Headset Station.
Shure has expanded its installation-ready SLX Wireless System offering with additional components featuring logic functionality. Compatible with the recently introduced Shure Microflex wireless boundary microphone and wireless desktop base, SLX with logic functionality is ideally suited for video and teleconferencing applications by ensuring a consistently stable audio signal even when the mute function of the system is activated.
QSC’s new powerhouses are the WideLine-8 line array system and PowerLight 3 amp, with its top of the range 8,000 watt PL380. Allied products include QSControl digital networking tools, AcousticDesign and self-powered HPR loudspeakers and application-specific amplifiers, which offer flexible solutions for all budgets.
KV2 Audio sported a new brand identity at PLASA, which adorned a professional looking bar on its stand. MD Jonathan Reece said: “Originally, the company was marketed towards the upper end of the MI market, but we wanted to push the corporate image towards a more quality angle to reflect our growth and new products. We are now competing with the likes of EAW and d&b.”
The company launched the new EX 6 — a very high quality compact speaker system producing a two-way full-range solution, which defies its size. The VHD range was further enhanced by the arrival of the VHD 1.0 down-fill enclosure giving the user extended coverage from a flown VHD 2.0 system in situations that require it.
New Jersey audio manufacturer APB DynaSonics exhibited on the stand of its newly-appointed UK and Eire distributor Resolution Distribution (part of KV2 Audio in the UK). The company displayed the Spectra-Ti, a high performance analogue VCA console available with 24, 32, 40, 48 and 56 mono input channels, all sizes featuring four additional stereo line-input channels.
Apex showed its entire range of products with its UK distributor Resolution. The company’s Intelli-Series consists of two DSP-driven products: Intelli-Q 22, which is a real-time system optimizer with loads of DSP power, and the intelli-X 48 speaker management system.
Vieta unveiled its proprietary network protocol and software — Vieta-Net — demonstrating its potential with the Ti Line compact remote-controlled amplifier system.
L-Acoustics introduced the new SB28 subwoofer and LA8 controlled amplifier, as well as announcing new recruit Neal Tomlinson who joins L-Acoustics UK. The SB28 enclosure is a recommended subwoofer companion for the KUDO, V-DOSC, dV-DOSC and ARCS systems, lowering the combined system operating range down to 25Hz. It contains two 18’’ direct radiating LF transducers integrated into a bass-reflex tuned enclosure.
The control and amplification of the SB28 is exclusively managed by the new LA8 platform. The LA8 amplified controller belongs to the new generation of high-end integrated controllers entirely dedicated to the comprehensive operation of L-Acoustics loudspeakers. The LA8 combines in a 2U lightweight chassis the resources of a 2 x 4 DSP engine driving four channels of amplification delivering up to 1800W each, a storage capacity of 99 presets, a user-friendly front panel interface for standalone operation.
Several InnovaSon products made their debut this year, the most important development being the FM-8VB 8-in/8-out plug-in effects module offering 32 effects engines. Compatible with all InnovaSon audio racks, the new module will ship in December.
Further processing capability comes in the form of the UM-8PO universal output module. Replacing all previous output modules from InnovaSon, the UM-8PO combines analogue and digital processed outputs for the first time ever in any digital mixing console. Equipped with eight XLR outputs that are configurable (in pairs) as analogue, AES or even ADAT, each output benefits from a powerful and comprehensive range of processing including 31-band graphic EQ that is easily upgradeable via firmware updates.
Another important development is DioAV, an A-Net connectivity module developed in partnership with Aviom. Easily installed in one of the two locations available on the DSP board of the Sy48 and Sy80 consoles, DioAV enables direct digital connectivity to two 16-channel A-Net networks.
An extremely high quality/low cost recording solution is the LX6464ES EtherSound-enabled PCI network sound card from Digigram. Offered as an option with all InnovaSon consoles, the LX6464ES can transmit and receive up to 64 EtherSound channels, thus connecting computer-based audio applications to the EtherSound network.
The Adamson Metrix Multi-Purpose Line Source Series is an effective and economical choice for a wide range of applications. For large format touring, the Metrix Series is a solid solution for front fill, lip fill or outfill arrays, and despite its small, lightweight package, the Metrix cabinets produce output levels required in today’s concert environments.
The ultra compact line-source enclosures are the newest members of the SpekTrix family; featuring both a 5° vertical (Metrix) pattern, and a 15° vertical (Metrix WAVE) pattern, by 120° horizontal pattern.
THE X FACTOR
Pharos Architectural Controls was proud to introduce the LPC X, a big brother to the award-winning LPC1 and LPC2. One of the world’s most powerful lighting playback controllers, it offers capacities up to a massive 100 DMX universes from a single unit, taking control for large installations to a whole new level.
Avolites launched the latest in its popular series of Pearl consoles, the Pearl Tiger — a powerful, streamlined 10-roller playback version of Avo’s most popular ’live’ lighting console, whose expedient footprint, powerful functionality and familiar operating system will make it a great hit worldwide.
Supplied with colour LCD VGA screen, the Pearl Tiger is fully show-compatible with all Avo Pearls and shows can effortlessly be loaded and swapped between them. Features include theatre playback, timecode, MIDI triggers, 2,048 channels to 240 moving lights on four isolated DMX outputs, and 10 playback submasters, expandable to 15 with an external playback wing.
With the release of the Èlan, Chauvet reaffirms its commitment to taking LED technology to new levels. The Élan features 224 LEDs that create beams that rotate and criss-cross. The 70° beam angle provides wide room/floor coverage, and mid-air effects. The fixture offers four channels of DMX control with a plethora of pre-programmed colour changes and patterns.
Wybron launched several new products with demonstrations on its distributor PRG’s stand. The company previewed the Nexera DX, two new fibre optic illuminators (the Transition Fixed Color and Transition Twinkle Wheel), the Net-IT Gateway and the DPS-850.
Clay Paky launched three compact moving body projectors for professional use designed with the outstanding features of the whole Alpha Series: the Alpha Spot HPE 300 and Alpha Spot 300 effect projectors, and the Alpha Wash 300 wash light. Adopting the innovative Philips MSR Gold 300 FastFit lamp, they are of limited size and weight making their installation and use ideal in highly professional environments, with considerable reductions in investment and operational costs.
Robert Juliat introduced Victor, the latest member of its follow-spot family. A variant on the West End-favoured Super Korrigan spotlight, Victor shares the Super Korrigan’s highly efficient 7°-14.5° optical path and compact design, but uses a 1800W MSR lamp instead of the Korrigan’s 1200W HMI — perfect for those looking for extra punch or who prefer the light quality of an MSR source.
As well as the new SmartMAC and the MAC 575 Krypton moving heads, Martin Professional launched the Exterior 200 LED, Extube, Alien LED Downlight, Mania EF4, Mania SCX800, Magnum 650 and Magnum 850.
The company also announced its new licensing agreement with Robe, entitling Robe and its affiliated companies to use Martin’s US patents on gobo holder and animation wheel technology, covering Robe’s Color Spot product series. The agreement also entitles Martin and its affiliated companies to adopt technology covered by Robe’s US patent application.
Robe Lighting again hosted its traditional Sunday PLASA party at the Namco Station, a great opportunity for distributors, clients and friends to unite in a fun evening. Fourteen new products were highlighted, including some important developments in Robe’s DT Digital Range. Brand new products included the Media Hub 5000 DT, Media Server Qube Control for the StageQube 324, three new LED products from the LT range, using the super-bright K2 LEDs, and a new lighting controller – the DMX Control 2048.
Robe took this high profile opportunity to launch a new logo and a fully re-branded look to reflect the current scope and breadth of the company’s products. Robe products also featured on HSL’s popular bar-themed stand.
LDR’s UK distributor Lightfactor represented the Italian manufacturer. The new Xpress power distribution is compact and lightweight, specially designed to feed a single Xpress colour scroller. Also highlighted was the new Canto 1200 follow spot plus a selection of other LDR theatrical fixtures.
SGM’s new Synthesis 700 Wash moving light featured prominently on the Lightfactor stand. It completes the Synthesis series and is ideal for producing uniform lighting coverage. The 700W light source is comparable to a 1200 Watt source. The unit can be fitted with two types of lamp offering colour temperatures of either 7200°K or 5600°K. SGM’s range of Studio control desks now includes its latest Studio 24 Scan Control, a reliable user-friendly lighting console able to control 24 or 48 channels of dimmable fixtures, and 12 'intelligent' units using up to 36 DMX channels each.
The company’s LED Line has a new member, the Palco 5, which has all the aesthetic, mechanical and application features of its popular Palco 3, with the added advantage of offering twice the luminous power. Palco 5 is fitted with a new model of the very powerful K2 LED, offering amazing output with low energy consumption.
Lightfactor is also the UK distributor for Novalight, which enjoyed great success with its high powered High-Ground range of moving lights on the stand. The DMX-controlled Novalight High-Ground uses a 2,000W MSR light source and outputs 174,000 lumens. The moving yoke version pans 540° in 3.2 seconds and tilts 262° in 2.9 seconds, making it a very agile fixture.
Lightprocessor launched its first wireless product using the Wireless Solutions DMX card. This product enables signals to be received either wirelessly or via cable. Additionally, the LP Wireless DMX Buffer offers a means of Y-splitting a DMX signal and boosting DMX signals in very long cable runs.
Tarm Showlaser GmbH introduced the TARMLED 4x4, which is equipped with the brightest RGB high-power LEDs (3-in-1 SMD, 3W) worldwide. It is designed for indoor and outdoor use and delivers an outstanding image quality, even in direct sunlight. The highly transparent (82%), lightweight and modular grid structure is video compatible. Because of its flexibility, TARMLED 4x4 can be bent in different shapes, such as cylinders or waves.
Sunbaba presented a new product called Block Out, which allows lighting designers and other users to create large format branding, backdrops and hoardings with lighting behind to create colour changeable logos, silhouettes etc. This helps to reduce light pollution and means you don’t have to have printed graphics that are stationary.
As well as the SmartFade ML and the award-winning Eos lighting console, ETC launched the newest member of the Congo lighting control family: Congo Light Server 2U — a device capable of being a server, client or back-up in a Congo system.
The Congo Light Server is a 19’’ rack-mount device, packing the identical features, channel and output counts as the Congo console into a compact, purpose-built enclosure. Running Congo’s powerful operating software, the Congo Light Server is a fully independent lighting playback controller for permanently installed applications, or a convenient back-up option.
After previewing the product at the AC North and ABTT tradeshows earlier in the year, and noting and reacting to visitor’s comments, LSC launched its new Redback 19" rack-mountable compact six-way digital dimmer.
LSC’s stand was part of the White Light Zone, which gathered together the family of companies distributed in the UK by White Light, including Robert Juliat, Rainbow, ELC, LDDE, Look Solutions and Wireless Solutions. The White Light zone also featured White Light itself, and the return of its ever-popular White Light Bar.
Stretching the boundaries of the art and technology of LED lighting ever further, G-LEC’s revolutionary B:xel system enables powerful LED video technology to be incorporated into almost any physical structure, including complicated shapes and curves, decorative or scenic elements, walls and ceilings. The system uses the idea of building blocks to enable the B:xel to be constructed into really large structures, while the G-LEC ultra bright LED pixels mean the system is brilliant enough to be used outdoors.
The smallest component in the system is the B:xel Stick, which can be cut to just a few centimetres in length and mounted in any complex shape or curve. The B:xel can be supplied with LED pixels on opposing sides, creating a full 360º experience, with the video capable of being viewed from any horizontal angle.
The latest addition to Coemar’s iWash range is the iWash Halo, a light and functional moving yoke, offering 538° pan and 252° tilt beam movement, with a 16-bit user interface LED display. It is equipped with a 750W 55V (750W, 20000lm, 3200°K, 200h) halogen lamp. With the ParLite LED, Coemar also introduced the first of a new product range utilising LED technology. The flexible ParLite LED improves colour-changing attributes and reduces power consumption; colours are generated by a convergent RGB colour system with four different built-in automatic programmes of colour-changing and fading.
As well as launching the next generation of Jester lighting desks, Zero 88 was celebrating its 35th birthday at the show and embarked on a new chapter as part of Cooper Controls Ltd. In 2006, Polaron was acquired by the US Fortune 500 company Cooper Industries (NYSE:CSBE) and a new sub division, Cooper Controls was established within one of the core businesses Cooper Lighting. Cooper Controls has a strong focus on addressing all lighting control needs globally.
Being part of a major corporation, whose focus is to be a leader in the development of comprehensive and integrated lighting control systems, has brought a new and exciting dynamic to Zero 88.
American DJ continues to lead the LED revolution among DJs, clubs and bands with the introduction of an LED version of another of its classic moonflower effects. Inspired by the popular Electra 250, the new Electra LED is a scanning mirror moonflower using red, green and blue LEDs that produce razor-sharp beams.
PLASA saw Rosco, who recently merged with DHA, increase its show presence with two stands, one dedicated solely to its custom gobos and another displaying a range of its industry leading lighting products. The former stand featured a range of high quality artwork, produced using Rosco’s full range of monochrome metal, monochrome glass, laser spot colour and CMYK gobos.
Artistic Licence’s innovative new AL5000 silicon chip is designed to receive Art-Net Ethernet and generate two universes of DMX512. Developed to provide own equipment manufacturers with a simple and cost effective route to add Ethernet connectivity to existing DMX512 products, it will also find application in the fast turnaround - custom development arena. The product offers a high level of component integration by combining microprocessor, memory and Ethernet ‘Phy’ in one package. The developer need only add a crystal, an Ethernet transformer and an RS485 driver to implement a full solution.
Both James Thomas Engineering and Le Maitre celebrated their 30th anniversaries at PLASA. Le Maitre marked the occasion by holding an exclusive press event on its stand complete with champagne and truffles, before co-sponsoring a special gig at the 100 Club in Oxford Street that featured a bass player who looked a bit like TPi’s editor.
Look Solutions marked its 10th PLASA by launching a host of new products in the White Light Zone. They included new versions of the Tiny Fogger and Tiny Compact, which offer improved performance, reduced size and easier maintenance over their predecessors.
Tomcat UK occupied a stand in the airy (and sometimes a little too quiet) Earls Court 2 where it displayed products including the Tomcat one 390 stacking truss. The company was proud to offer a hoist and truss workshop for the first time at the show, where a representative from Columbus McKinnon led a class through a full day of motor instruction.
Vertigo celebrated its worldwide launch of the Vertex joystick-controlled 3D flying system. Designed and engineered to fly people, cameras and objects across large areas in real time without complicated programming, Vertex is truly a significant advance in automation for the entertainment industry — the first 3D flying system that can be controlled and programmed in real time via a joystick.
This system has been designed to ensure the simplest of set-up and control with the highest technical capability. Crucially, it is certified to the most stringent (BGV-C1) safety standard.
Unlike other flying systems, moves can be made with a pair of touch-sensitive joysticks, eliminating the usual time consuming and complicated computer programming issues. In set-up mode, speed and direction controls can be changed from right to left hand to suit the operator, while joystick sensitivity can also be adjusted to suit each operator.
Projected Image Digital showcased several of the high profile brands it regularly specifies and uses. Special focus was on the latest High End Catalyst V4 digital media servers, Flying Pig Systems control consoles including the new Road Hog and Hog iPC, and Element Labs’ dynamic Versa LED range.
MA Lighting announced it has improved its popular media server grandMA video. To make programming more comfortable and sophisticated the amount of video layers has been increased to 32 layers. It is possible to reboot or shutdown all connected MA mediaPCs centrally from the console and to switch to the Pixel Mapper mode from the grandMA.
Wireless Solution Sweden AB, who exhibited with White Light, was celebrating its W-DMX production unit number 10,000 with a special Gold Box, specially designed as an award to the ‘Outstanding EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Asia) Dealer’ during a special ceremony.
As the demand for safe plug-and-play wireless technology free from interference continues to increase, so does the demand for W-DMXDealers, and Wireless Solution is actively seeking new dealers in several European countries to join the ‘Gold Club’.
Wireless Solution displayed the new Black Box S-2, the world’s first dual-universe transmitter, which was designed with the rental and production markets in mind.
PLASA08 will be held on September 7-10 2008 at Earls Court 1 and 2.