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Archive for June 17th, 2011

Furman for Contractors

While contractors have used Panamax/Furman products in the past, the company formally committed to the contractor marketimg_0301.jpg with two purpose-built products at Infocomm–the first in the company’s new Contractor Series. The CN-1800S and CN-2400S programmable SmartSequencers are the debut of Furman’s SmartSequencing(TM) technology; they allow even the largest and most complex A/V systems in commercial installations to be powered on and off safely with a single press of a button or turn of a key. This launch is in keeping with Furman’s work to anticipate the future of energy management.

The low-hanging savings that comes from being able to simply turn things off is a nice compliment to Furman’s BlueBOLT platform, img_0302.JPGwhich is available free with Furman products. BlueBOLT was created for the consumer space and introduced to contractors at last year’s Infocomm; it provides tools for energy management to help users interface with future smart grid developments and other energy economy related issues for measuring and managing use. These are things that will be relevant in commercial AV in the not-too-distant future. The Furman booth #IC1325 is a great place to wrap your head around how software and simple control systems can work–ask for a demo.

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InfoComm 2011 Show Daily Digital Edition – DAY 03

screen-shot-2011-06-17-at-95848-am.pngRead the InfoComm 2011 Show Daily Digital Edition-Day 03 here.

Read Day 1 and Day 2.

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Extron’s Big Play

The Extron booth #IC1301 this year had a distinctly science fair feel as the company presented some of their most important underlying technologies such as SpeedSwitch, EDID Minder, Key Minder, and some key scaling technology. img_0261.JPGThey were handing out stopwatches on the booth to demonstrate the effective zero delay in their HDCP key exchange that allows them to claim the fastest HDMI switching on the market. It is an impressive display, and just one of several feature and technology displays designed to remind us of Extron’s digital experience with market-proven technologies.

There’s good reason for Extron to be showing off their technical chops: The debut of XTP CrossPoint, Extron’s answer to the question of how to best send everything over Cat5. This new signal switching and distribution system is a crucial play for Extron in the digital world. It brings together Extron’s existing work in digital with new development and engineering done to take advantage of newly available chip technology, no doubt the Valens chip, though that is not explicitly said.img_0264.JPG

Extron is emphasizing reliability, ease of installation, accommodation to legacy analog devices–all the reassuring things people need to hear–though I can’t in good conscience make digital sound as easy as all that. In fact, digital is not always easy, but it is going to be necessary so we need to get on with it and put all our best minds to work on mastering it.

Extron’s Joe da Silva picks an example to make his point about Extron’s approach to digital: “We’re finding people aren’t building enough EQ and gain structure in the inupts and outputs to accommodate longer distances.” Extron has designed for inputs and outputs as far as 100 feet away, something that has been the SMX line and is now incorporated in the XTP platform. This type of pullthrough is just one part of da Silva’s overall emphasis that Extron has implemented digital AV over Cat5 in unique ways.

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Crestron Did Not Invent Digital

“You can blame us, but we didn’t invent digital.” That’s how Jeff Singer wraps up his thoughts about seeing Crestron’s six-year experience with digital media (or rather Digital Media) reverberating across this year’s Infocomm. He knows digital is hard–he knows that from three generations of DM, and thousands of installs where every difficult and mysterious gotcha turned into a new, better feature of DM. In his talks he covers at least one such story about a Harvard Business School install. It’s a good one: about a sort of one-way encryption valve…well anyway if you’ve ever stood on site with a weird frustrating mystery on your hands only to gape in disbelief when it’s solved, go hear him tell this story. And look at the upcoming 64×64 switch (pictured).img_0312.JPG

Singer says one reason there’s more digital at this year’s Infocomm is that the Valens chip that enables HDMI over Cat5–which Crestron has been working with for some time in partnership with Valens–was released into the wild and is now in several products on the show floor. But one of Singer’s key points is that the chip alone was not enough to make HDMI over unshielded CAT5 acceptable for our industry. Hence the Valens partnership and the resulting DM firmware that debuted two weeks ago. Singer is not shy about adding this to the list of reasons why Crestron’s street cred in digital is the real deal, earned in the field, resolved in the lab.

it’s certainly true that Crestron has taken a platform/ecosystem approach to digital media that has been largely additive–whether in terms of perfecting signal processing for the platform as a whole or in adding elements to the system to solve workflow needs. Singer pulls out just one example: a simple black box that just let’s you break out the audio from the HDMI signal so you can send it to powered speakers, amps or receivers.

From his viewpoint, digital is evolving at breakneck speed now and the management of signal and data is an ongoing quest–one in which, Singer emphasizes, experience matters and so does a cohesive, systems-based approach. “DM is a dynamic living breathing ecosystem because while analog is pretty predictable digital is not. Every source communicates and responds differently so you cannot anticipate what’s going to happen without experience. Over the last few years and several thousand installations each one required that we resolve a new issue. Each time we took that experience and built into DM the intelligence to handle that situation.” Of his competitors with first-generation digital product he candidly says, “They don’t know what they don’t know.”

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Yamaha Outdoor and a nice Neve tool

I asked Mark Lopez to pick one thing on the Yamaha booth #IC823 for contractors. It’s the new surface mount indoor/outdoor speakers–the VS line which are competitively priced Yamaha-quality speakers for budget applications or for those that require the proverbial “acres of sound.” You can read the spec in the press release.img_0338.jpg

Lopez can’t resist pointing out one other thing and I’m glad he did. The new Rupert Neve Primary Source Enhancer is the first Yamaha commercial product to come out of the partnership. The device reflects Neve’s conviction that flat is overrated, and humans respond to the warmth and clarity that Neve is famous for in his components. This new product looks promising in our world especially for churches, or any live sound application where clarity and listener comfort are priorities. Lopez gives an example: church mixers struggle between getting pastors enough gain to be heard without pushing the system into feedback. This device reduces background sounds, consequently enhancing the main audio source, especially helpful when using with podium, lavalier, and headset mics. Read more here.

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The editors of Sound & Video Contractor post live from InfoComm as the news happens. Check back several times a day for the latest industry news, reports from press conferences, and product introductions.

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