The rock band onstage next door shut down just in time for the big press announcement from Insight Media University (IMU) and Brawn Consulting regarding their coordinated project in teaching technical courses in a rapidly changing industry. Insight Media University is an all-in-one training resource for the AV, IT, digital signage, consumer electronics and display industries. Alan and Jonathan Brawn have been a well-known source of expertise on these topics and the two companies plan to provide both online and in-person instruction for a variety of specific course topics. Once the project is fully underway, tours will be organized to bring the more hands-on courses to local venues on a master schedule. Content will be eventually expanded to include a wider variety of course offerings. The mission is to provide the best and most comprehensive source of unbiased and accurate information on all aspects of the AV and consumer display industries.
Archive by Bennett Liles
The Community Pro demo booth was full of new entries including M-Class Monitors. These come in new sizes including the MX8 and MX10 to join the existing MX12. These monitors offer a smoothly sloped appearance that departs from the old boxy wedge look on floor monitors. Also new for the show is the VLF Series of high performance subwoofers including the VLF208LV low profile dual 8-inch unit, the VLF115 single 15-inch with 1500 watts program power handling, the VLF118 that brings a single 18-inch woofer to the stage with 2000 watts program power capacity and the VLF218 that contains two 18-inch speakers and provides 4000 watts power handling. The company is also offering a tantalizing look at the new pendant speakers that will be available soon. A similar preview was on hand for the coming, low cost Commercial Design Series of ceiling speakers. The real treat was a glimpse of the new Forecaster HD software application that enables system designers to add speakers of any model, configure them for a specific space and get the needed power needs and acoustic information for venues with flat or sloped floors and unusual shapes. The demo of this free download application was fascinating and I could see that the demo guys were having fun just showing it off.
Neutrik’s Mark Boyadjian demonstrated the company’s new PowerCON TRUE1. PowerCON connectors have been around for a good while and the PowerCON TRUE1 is the latest new version of this proven product. Responding to market demand, they now make a male version of the connector so that turnarounds are no longer needed. They’ve also added a double chassis connector that includes both input and output terminals. One version of the new PowerCON TRUE1 is now IP65 rated for rejection of dust and other contaminants. The other version may be field terminated using only wire strippers and a screwdriver and the connectors are rated for 250 volts AC at 16 amps. Also on display was a new heavy duty HDMI connector with a hard metal shell that’s also IP65 rated. The shell can be removed to expose the HDMI connector for a more traditional look and less rugged application.
At the Speco booth, the guys were busy with both audio and video enthusiasts while showing off their new HD CCCTV system for the security market. Speco has been around for nearly 50 years and they read the market pretty well at the nuts and bolts level. The most daunting task of installing new security systems has been the labor intensive cable runs where techs have to tear out the coax (or leave it in the conduits) and run twisted pair. Speco’s new HD CCCTV system delivers 720p video on 300-foot runs of coax so the re-cabling normally isn’t necessary for HD performance. This follows the same general trend of scaling the new and finding fresh ways to package high-tech systems. Audio Product Manager Scott Pisani showed me around the sound products including paging mics, amps and ceiling speakers. Among these, the G86 speaker has a choice of traditional or more modern grill design. Also attracting attention among the audio units in the booth was the new PAP160A self contained portable PA system with built-in USB MP3 Player and iPod Dock. Designed to go anywhere and have whatever you need for location playback onboard, the system targets any customer with a need for quick and easy location sound.
Infocomm 2011 represents the first show in which AV manufacturers have had the time to fully develop new products and implement a new strategy to deal with the realities of the AV market since the crash of ’08. What we are seeing at the show are new products that put top technology in small bites. A general theme has been the scaling of top of the line pro systems down for the masses and the form of this trend at Yorkville is the new Paraline Series compact expandable active vertical array loudspeaker system. Yorkville took the technology of their big pro arrays and squeezed it down into the PSA1 vertical array and the PSA1S compact active subwoofer. Two BMS 1.75-inch compression drivers deliver a 15-degree vertical and 110-degree horizontal pattern with 1200 watts program power. The 1400 watt dual 12-inch PSA1S sub booms out of a 15mm birch plywood cabinet that serves as a mounting base for the whole system. Yorkville’s Laurence Bell also showed me the LP-LED4 stage lighting system. The four LED modules, each containing four 12.5 watt high intensity LEDs, are pole mounted and can be used to provide lighting effects for a band. With the addition of a DMX module the system becomes DMX controllable. At the control end is the LP-C12 system controller capable of running up to 12 channels (3 bars) of lights. The unit can provide presets, selectable fade rates, effect speed and complete control of each individual pod’s color and intensity.
The second day of the show got off to a big start with the Digital Projection press conference. All the company chiefs were there to talk directly to the crowd and take their questions. On the sides of the enclosure were Titan WUXGA 3D-P units running fantastic footage of Bruce Springsteen at a Hyde Park concert while Michael Bridwell and company president Mike Levi took the mics to address the crowd. Also running on the multi-tiered trusses were the Titan WUXGA Quad 30 projectors that produced stunningly clear and bright video. To a full house, Levi outlined the company’s current strategy and offerings including the HIGHlite Cine 260 and the iVision 20 Series. There was also a curved marquee screen showing edge blending from two Lightning 45 units but the real show stopper was the 3D display on the right side of the room. The 3D glasses were right there so I took a pair and visually fell into the world being shown on the screen. The Digital Projection crew had a lot to show and they had it arranged just right for visitors to sample.
At the Azden booth, Wayne Alonzo was showing off the MX-62 mixer and as an audio guy from way back, I was delighted with it. While it may put me firmly in the old school, I love the twin ballistic VU meters. They just keep right on working. Shipping in about a month at $850, the unit features six balanced mic/line inputs in a rack mountable frame. On the front panel each input has a peak LED indicator, pan control, switchable phantom power, high pass filter and a limiter. Two aux inputs are available, each with RCA connectors. The MX-60 is also rack mountable and offers six ¼ inch mic inputs along with three RCA line level inputs. I love mixers like this that take just the right features and put them exactly where real operators would want them. These models weren’t drawn up by guys in lab coats. They obviously were designed by experienced users. Also on display were Azden’s conferencing systems including IR linked receivers and body-pack emitters. The sensors connect with RG-59 coax and rely on both direct and reflected IR to allow better mobility for instructors.
Will Bakewell sat us down and delivered a very direct and informative message about how his company Visionary Solutions provides a laser focused approach to IPTV. They concentrate on the encoding hardware and partner with a number of other firms to build the whole system solution. They’re able to do this by using well proven formats and not going out on an exotic limb with proprietary protocols. H264 streams allow them to concentrate on building and deploying reliable hardware and in today’s market it’s a solid tactic. The talk we had was great and it really is amazing to see how the various players have reacted to the new market conditions in their own ways. IPTV for schools, industry, hotels and webcasting is a growing business and with over 4000 encoders installed worldwide, Visionary Solutions has made a solid foothold.
Christie really put together a show in itself in the design of its multi-story booth with 2D models on one side, a 3D demo area on the other side and upstairs they were showing curved screen edge blending that can be calibrated easily. If one projector gets bumped into the wrong alignment, a quick click can have it reset for perfect edge blending again in seconds. I was impressed with the massive machines and their easy command. The 3D demos seemed to draw the biggest crowd and there were visible and audible reactions as the demo videos got to the places where the 3D effects really jumped out. At least no one got dizzy and fell over but I did see a few swaying as the video loop got to the good parts. It seems that 3D is still in the “prove it to me” stage but the Christie demo apparently got some positive attention and won over some converts as I watched the action there. The setup of their booth was a marvel in itself with just under a week to get it all built and everything up and working. I learned that it wasn’t tested all-up anywhere until it was in place at the show so that was really hanging it over the edge!
Rane’s big gun in the show is the Halogen expandable DSP platform and when it was demonstrated, I could see what all the notoriety was about. Aimed at the hotel and convention center market the Halogen system integrates a number of control units into one combined sound control and distribution system on CAT5 and uses a software application to configure it. Also on display was the new CP66 that controls up to six independent and linkable zones of sound. It has one gated priority input for paging and offers a control solution for a more localized setup. This unit was the perfect balance product for the Halogen system and with the two of them, Rane appears to have all its bases covered for zone sound control on very large and more local layouts. Halogen and the CP66 seem to be a good solution for areas that are physically reconfigurable such as multipurpose rooms and facilities that have large rooms with movable partitions. The system can be preset to allow control as one large space or a number of smaller ones.