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Prolight+Sound 2009 review

Andrew Low
Prolight+Sound 2009 review

Recession or not, Frankfurt remains the show to exhibit at and attend. Proof of this was in the many new product launches and announcements that happened during the show, held from April 1st to 4th at Messe Frankfurt, Germany. This year 111,000 visitors from 125 countries visited the show giving it a one per cent increase from 2008
With most companies remaining strong ‘despite the credit crunch’, another major trend was the shift of pro audio manufacturers to release products for the ‘prosumer’ with the introduction of smaller format gear loaded with pro features. The most glaring example of this was Solid State Logic’s release of the X-Desk, a compact, eight-fader console.

While this trend certainly isn’t new, to see a company that used to make its money selling £500,000 consoles offering a compact mixer aimed at the project studio is proof that the sector continues to experience a significant and prolonged shift in this direction.
This trend has also been seen in the live sound sector with a raft of new small-format digital consoles dominating this year’s new product offerings, which started at PLASA. A positive spin on this could be the idea that big things come in little packages, and perhaps this is the case. Modern developers are confident they can offer the same features, functionality and sonic characteristics in a smaller and more affordable package. The truth will be shown as these products hit the market and engineers begin to put them to the test.

The company reported its best PL&S ever. In addition to product displays, it hosted the Modular Stacked Ribbon Array (MSRA) design study, a concept consisting of a scalable high-power line-source monitor system based on vertically stacked modules and applying the (cylindrical) array ability of Alcons’ proprietary pro-ribbon technology. Products on show included the latest and smallest member of its pro-ribbon line arrays, the micro LR7, along with the accompanying LR7B bass extension, which applys a new dual-tuned concentric bandpass configuration. Its single long-excursion 12-inch Neodymium woofer was integrated to create a highly-efficient, compact package as a powerful LR7 extension for the lower octaves. It also had the CR1 compact AV/Digital Cinema three-way sound system with the CB181sl subwoofer.

One of three new introductions for Ohm was the 10-inch Bootique active band-pass sub-woofer. Bootique is listed as a packaged professional sound system in a box. It features a two hundred Watt amplifier with two eighty-five Watt amplifiers, contained in the same cabinet, to power up to eight Bootique speakers. Ohm also showed the Ersa Minor line array system, which was developed to meet the growing demand for high-powered, small enclosure, portable line array systems. It features two six-inch Neodynium magnet bass units and a one-inch compression driver on a proprietary waveguide and a unique flying system. The new wide dispersion, low profile BR-7 was also on display. Designed for low ceiling or under balcony applications, it features two six-inch Neodynium, 35mm voice coil bass units that are coupled to the proprietary one-inch compression driver and diffraction horn in a 41cm wide cabinet.

Neutrik showed its new multi-channel point-to-point connector for broadcast and pro audio applications, opticalCon 4. With four integrated fibres, opticalCON 4 is based on the well-established opticalCon 2 and is just as dust-proof and compatible to LC connectors. It also showed its multimedia product series, which includes USB, HDMI and Firewire feed-through chassis connectors, in addition to the locking USB and HDMI cable connectors; the HD version of the XX series with protection class IP67; the Neutrik Trouble Shooters, including the EMC XLR with enhanced RF screening.

Adam Hall
LD Systems exhibited its brand new range of LD Premium Series. The new line includes eight-inch, ten-inch, 12-inch and 15-inch multi-purpose speakers, in addition to the VA4 and VA8 line array systems and subwoofers from 1 x 15-inch, 2 x 15-inch up to 2 x 18-inch. Premium series speaker cabinets come with high-quality components and are housed in a durable 18mm multiplex caninet coated with the DuraCoat LX coating.

Sennheiser made the grand premier of the Evolution G3, which features the 100, 300 and 500 G3 series, as well as the 300 IEM G3 wireless monitoring system and ENG sets for reporters and filmmakers. The complete system’s transmitters can be synchronised with the receivers via an infrared interface, while its frequency management function makes more compatible frequencies available and all third-generation series now have a switching bandwidth of 42 MHz and up to 1,680 switchable frequencies.

Digico introduced two software upgrades at the show. The new Mach 2 software suite is free to all exisiting SD7 owners and adds numerous new features to the board, including Digi-Tube, the world’s first Super FPGA preamp tube emulation, with full drive and bias control; dynamic eq available on all 256 processing paths and on all four eq bands; Multi Band Compressor, also available on all 256 paths, and adding an extra two compressors per path giving a further 512 dynamics to the console; 16 floating point stereo Super FPGA Stealth digital reverbs and 32 floating point stereo effects and a talk-to-buss with dim function. It also introduced a software expansion to the SD7 digital console with the SD7T Digital Theatre Mixing System. SD7T features a delay on matrix inputs per node (nodal delay), the next generation of Live Update known as Auto Update, complete integration of Cue Editor for fast editing and updating of VCA assignment and ripple through VCA control and all advanced feature sets provided in the Mach2 software suite.

Prism Sound
Prism Sound announced that its multi-channel Orpheus Firewire computer interface is now supported on Vista64, as well as other 64-bit operating systems. This comes after extensive tests by Prism Sound’s research and development team to ensure its integration with the latest 64-bit DAWs. It also displayed its new lower-cost version of the dScope Series III audio analyser, which is now available to order as an analog-only variant for users who only require audio analysis tools ...

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alog format, while allowing future upgrades for digital functionality.

Canadian loudspeaker manufactuer, Adamson unveiled the new Point Series loudspeaker system. The new line features five models complete with EASE Data; the Point eight, Point 12 and Point 15 two-way enclosures, with companion single and double 15-inch subwoofers and the Point 115 Sub and Point 215 Sub. It also released Point Control, a new four by eight DSP device for speaker management.

Irish pro audio distributor, Rea Sound was at the show with its full range of products from Martin Audio, Yamaha, Allen & Heath, Digico and range of loudspeakers from Nexo’s GEO line and dB Technologies. While Rea Sound is a big distributor in the Irish market, it also supplies its comprehensive line of pro audio products in Europe and the UK, hence its presence at the show. 

JTS debuted the new TG-10 wireless microphone system. The live sound focused product works in a UHF band with 16 preset channels with an operation distance of over 60 metres. It allows at least 12 systems to work simultaneously, while built-in Lithium batteries allow over 14 hours of continuous use. A cabin baggage-sized charger with 36 slots is also available with the system.

Optocore introduced the new 8 in 1 X6R 16-channel, analog,  AES/EBU converter and the eight-channel V3R. X6R is an eight-in-one system with two card slots on the rear that can be equipped with five different card types. It is designed to convert analog signals (16 inputs, 16 outputs, 8 inputs and 8 outputs, dual microphone inputs with two independent adjustable gains) to AES/EBU or as a sample rate converter for AES3 input signals. X6R is a customised device that provides Optocore interfaces with reliability and sample rates up to 192 kHz.

It also showed its new control software version 2.12 and associated firmware upgrades. The newest addition to the Optocore team, sales manager Alberto V. Leiva Soulages was introduced at the show to new and old Optocore clients. 

Spanish pro audio manufacturer, VMB released the new ADP-15M active stage monitor, which incorporates an internal DSP high output (130dB) powered by 1500W class D amplification (1000W for the low frequencies and 500W for the driver). It also features a 15-inch neodymium woofer and a 1.4-inch compression driver and weighs only 27kg. With a frequency response from 60Hz-20KHz, it reduces the need for eq filters to achieve the desired eq while delivering flat phase response. It also exhibited the new Rainbow v1.1 prediction software for VMB and Lynx cabinets and a range of new products with DSP control features, including the DSX amplifiers and its ADP PA speakers series, alongside a new ADP stage monitor.

Allen & Heath tipped the scales on new products with numerous introductions. One being three new audio interface plug-in cards for the iLive-T digital mixing series, which now enables the system to interface with popular standards, including EtherSound, ADAT and Aviom. The Mini Multi-Out card has 3 optical ADAT outputs (24 channels), an Aviom 16-channel output, and 2 iDR 8-bus outputs, which are HearBus compatible, providing 56 outputs with independent patch-bay sourcing.

­It also made the debut of the XB-14 broadcast-centric console, with Telco inputs for telephone callers, mic fader start sensing for external connection and internal automatic muting of the speaker outputs, stereo channel start/cue outputs for CD deck transport control, multiple headphone outputs and an additional stereo bus (Mix B).
Finally, the addition of the Euroblock connnector versions of its range of installation products was made at the show. This means that iDR digital series and GR05 analog zone mixer are now manufactured in two versions, the original model with the existing XLR connectors, and a new ‘ST’ model fitted with Euroblock connectors.

The new Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers were on display at the Harman booth. I-Tech HD features a new DSP engine co-developed with BSS and Linear Phase FIR filters together with Crown’s Class-I amplifier technology. See the Loudspeaker Management feature.

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