Archive by Cynthia Wisehart

Washable Headphones with Limiter

Califone‘s Tim Ridgway says the new washable headphones are the industry’s first to carry a built in 85db limiter. Califone’s been working with the American Speech and Hearing Association to help promote a campaign to education people about responsible use of personal audio technologies and responding in their own products. i expect to eventually see some of these best practices for dealing with volume and ambient noise levels formalized into regulations. (But as a parent that could just be wishful thinking).

Califone has also brought four new lines of new ultra-rugged headphones all (like the washables) are built from ABS plastic (hard to break and no shards if they do), slotted baffles and–on most models–extra deep ear cuffs. img_0223.JPGThe top of the line Discovery has a foldable noise reducing mic and volume control. The Odyssey same without the mic. The Explorer is mono/stereo switchable and the value-priced 610 has durable, replaceable earpads. There are other features and models in the lines, so go see.

For more see four new headphones debuting at #IC4117. Or watch the related video (one of many that the prolific Ridgway has made).

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Mid-priced acoustic panels

At Auralex #IC962 img_0222.JPGGM Jeff Lantz took a break from setting up to open a box of acoustic panels with a screwdriver (don’t do this at home) for a quick preview of the new commercial acoustic panels debuting here. A nice, practical addition to the line with a firerated back, class A foam covered in simple beige or black. $64.99 retail for a 2×2.

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Important: Legrand/Wiremold new floor boxes etc.

Usually I’m a sucker for signal management, but this is about cable management.

Here’s what I see the legrand/Wiremold booth #IC977 with Dan Tarkoff, director of business development: brand new elegant floor boxes img_0217.JPGwith a hinged lid and a nice feature that we awkwardly name: sliding cable egress.

Which means that instead of those hazardous pop up things where the cables come out there are little sliding panels under tension that snap in around the cable and leave a much smaller hole for my heels to get stuck in. And they look better. Also check out the new Overfloor Raceway (OFR Series). Sleek, minimally destructive.img_0219.JPG

Interest around all legrand AV companies including Wiremold was heightened by legrand’s recent acquisition of Middle Atlantic–completed last week. Legrand wants to serve the full breadth of the AV market; it’s nice to see investment in our corner of the world.

Check out legrand’s Infocomm video for a good overview. Or for non-video data on Legrand at Infocomm see here.

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Win an iPad2 at AT

We’re laughing with the Audio-Technica guys that this is a little like doing the timeshare tour, but…if you’re a contractor or consultant go have the Audio Technica booth tour at #IC917 and you’ll be entered to win an iPad. Win win.

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Audio Technica: Adventures on the RF Spectrum Frontier

We started seeing the Spectrapulse wireless conference system from Audio-Technica about four years ago. It was in some ways a radical way of thinking about the crowding in the wireless spectrum: let’s get out of the turbulence by climbing to altitude–metaphorically. Specifically to 6.35 gigahurtz which is where Spectrapulse centers up in its 6.1-6.6 range. Others tried to preserve a sense of normalcy by moving around onto less crowded spectrums, sharing with computers and phones; AT salesman Mark Donovan says those lifeboats are filling up (good turn of phrase there). img_0210.JPG

Meanwhile, AT quietly found customers for Spectrapulse, especially among people who wanted clarity and security and could live with a 75 foot range (expandable up to 300 with 4 transmitters). For some applications that’s not even a tradeoff: boardroom, courtroom, etc. The 128-bit AES encryption was good enough for the US Marshall’s training office in Arlington, VA and the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago–two Spectrapulse customers, Donovan says.

Here at Infocomm #IC915 you’ll see some nice refinements to the product line. The beefy, tabletop 101 transmitter now has a gooseneck compatible sibling (201) and a beltpack (301) that will take any lavalier or headset mic. img_0211.JPGI like the way they have heft and presence–as Donovan points out they work in boardrooms where the table itself cost six figures (and you’re not going to be drilling into it).

That’s not to say Spectrapulse is stratospherically expensive. Well it is if you want one channel. But AT claims that when you hit 5 channels the per channel cost is on a parity with the AT’s own 4000 and 5000 series, and average for a high end system.

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Ensemble Makes Scan Conversion Work for AV

For Pro AV, scan converters have been basically too much trouble for mostly so-so results. That was even true in broadcast where they are an unavoidable necessity. Ensemble Designs #IC2313 put the company’s scaling expertise to use on the problem and hit the mark with broadcasters with the Mitto. Now this Infocomm, Mitto gets an AV rollout with three new converters purpose-built for us. Ensemble’s Robert Nunez walks me through it. The original Mitto listed at $5500–went all the way up to 3G with features for audio delay and scaling. Too much for most of our applications. So one of the new converters drops the 3G (it’s HD) and $1600. The second converter drops the audio handles and $3000. There’s also an AV-friendly converter at a higher ($5900) price point with fiber out. If you need fiber runs consider it because it could save you on other aspects of your design.img_0229.JPG

Ensemble also tackled the ease-of-use issues–significantly you can easily grab a portion of your computer screen to redisplay, Nunez says. So overall this is a way to simplify displaying everything from Skype to HD content on another (usually bigger) screen.

Here’s the webcast on the BrightEye Mitto Scan Converter which is a pretty straightforward introduction if you can’t get on the booth to see it. This will get you started and then to read about how this translates to the ProAV market here’s the Infocomm release.

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URC Commercial Product

I sat down with URC‘s director of business development Mitchell Klein to understand more about URC’s commercial push (they are dominant at the mid-level in consumer control Klein says). A founding member of CEDIA, two-time president and long-time board member, Klein says he feels comfortable crossing over into relationships with Infocomm, and he describes what seems to be a committed effort by URC to earn a place in our industry. I think it’s a good time for more control options in the market especially at the mid-level price point. I think consumer control experience is more relevant in our industry now than in the past, especially as more people grow up controlling things from their personal electronic devices.

Klein obviously thinks so too: the company is on their third Infocomm, the first with shipping product (#IC1411): a remote IP network-based SaaS asset management system that came out of a Spinoza partnership, and a touchpanel. Klein says the company is actively hiring and signing up dealers. He’s built out a Dealer University (which awards CEDIA renewal units and soon will do the same with Infocomm RUs Klein says). He’s launched a partner program to insure interoperability with companies such as DVX. For more about the asset management system see URC’s Infocomm release.

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More Yamaha offsite

Again, believe it or not there is more to Yamaha at Infocomm than Mac. Two things off the show floor:

Speaker Demos at the LV Hilton Shimmer Cabaret daily on the hour between 10am and 3pm. Hear NEXO’s PSRS, GEO S8, RS18 and more in their natural habitat. On the half hour between 10:30 and 3:30 the LV Hilton Theater will fill with the sound of NEXO line arrays and RS18.

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Yamaha CA To Take YCATS on the Road

Not surprisingly, a Mac perched on a Yamaha sound reinforcement console steals a lot of booth focus.

m7cl_image03.jpgHowever, the much-anticipated, well-received announcement of Mac-compatible versions of editors for the M7CL and L9 consoles was not the only Infocomm news from Yamaha Commercial Audio. A modest but important late-breaking announcement promises a regional expansion of the company’s highly succesful Yamaha Commercial Audio Training Seminars (YCATS) with the Audiovesity series of events, kicking off August 11-12 at Soundcheck, Nashville. The Audioversity series is free to audio pros and includes digital mixer training seminars, panel discussions, NEXO and Yamaha speaker demos, hands-on line array rigging demos, acoustic predication software presentations, and workshops on audio networking and portable sound among other things.

Yamaha will also offer attendees a chance to win one of two LS9-16 consoles. See www.audioversityexpo.com for more.

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Crestron is Burning Up the Network

crestron_8g_jpg_.jpgOk, that’s the marketing imagery–8G as a flaming projectile. But it definitely caught my eye. In fact, Crestron‘s blazing campaign was the first thing to jump out at me as I walked into Infocomm. The campaign is for the 8G upgrade to Crestron’s flagship Digital Media distribution system, which is news enough. But there is another piece of news that is far more potentially incendiary. The topline point is clear and potentially irresistable: Crestron has committed to a network grade server platform (it’s a managed network operating system) integrating Audio, Video, and Enviromental Systems/Building Management. The core is something called the “Power of 3″ and I’ll quote now: “the industry’s first centralized backbone that integrates AV, environmental systems, and global enterprise management.” Four years in the making and engineered, they say, from the ground up on an IT design rather than a traditional AV design. Its an AVOS.

Good idea, Batman. Or crazy.

This is exactly why Cisco wants into AV. I could get into David, Goliath, Don Quixote, etc. here, but I won’t because I haven’t been to the booth yet. It was on my list or course, but it is now, to beat the metaphor, a burning curiosity. I’ll get back to you.

In the meantime, if you’re here, visit InfoComm booth #C5203 or go to www.crestron.com/infocommnews.

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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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