Representing a company with double-digit growth, John Sexton showed off Ashly Audio’s new line of networkable remote control devices and this impressed me as being the right type of product at the right time. With staffing shrunk to almost nothing in most places, the Ashly RD-8C and RW-8C remotes allow sound control from a remote location and allow just about anyone to figure out how it works right away. Red, yellow and green color coding on the light for each sound channel lets operators know exactly when they’ve gone too far on the volume level. Anyone who can decipher a stop light can use it. Also on display was the PEMA (Protea Equipped Media Amplifier) that combines open-architecture DSP functionality with Ashly’s dependable amps. The wall mounted remote control modules attracted quite a bit of attention with ease of installation in a standard wall box as one of the big drawing points. John kept pretty busy with interested new prospects so I left him to the crowd and continued exploring the new remote control modules on my own. They were connected so that I could try them out and this really added to the “I want this gizmo” feeling.
Archive by Bennett Liles
Jeff Touzeau had so much to show me at the Sennheiser booth, it was a toss-up as to where we should start. He demonstrated the MK4 studio cardioid condenser microphone and it was impressive, especially when he let me know that the price put it well within reach of the mass market for top quality recording mics. With a frequency response of 20-20kHz and a 130dB dynamic range, the MK4 really brings top features to those who could not afford it before. What got a lot of attention at the booth was the demo of the KZ10 speakers. These tiny wall mount units are about the size of a candy bar and put out an amazing sound. Intended for installations where the speakers must be virtually invisible, the KZ10 speakers hide in plain sight. I had to look closely at the place Jeff was pointing to before I actually noticed them. Perfect for background sound in clubs and restaurants, the KZ10 really made a big impression; that is, once it was seen. Another star was the KR-400 speaker system featuring LEDs in the front that can only be seen from positions within the sound field of the speaker. It’s almost like being able to see the sound pattern itself. The KR-400 was the topic of discussion in the Sennheiser demo room across the hall and it actually got some applause when the sound cuts were put through it.
Renkus-Heinz was busy setting up their technology theater to demo EASE, the widely used sound environment configuration and assessment software application. They were also showing the various functions and features along with providing lectures on Systune 1.2, the latest version of real time measurement software. Introduced two years ago, Systune puts an easy to use interface on an application that is very sophisticated in its ability to analyze and compare a host of sound system aspects including reverb time and intelligibility. The majority of demos at the Renkus-Heinz booth involved the well-known IC². This model has gotten more and more attention as word of its ability in actual installations has circulated. There’s nothing like the word of mouth between installers and systems integrators who have actually worked with a product. That works to seal its fame and generate attention at trade shows. Renkus-Heinz has wisely read the buzz and placed the IC² on a prominent spot at the booth.
The EAW demo room was set up with elements of the new MicroWedge Series of stage monitors and subwoofers. The 8 and 10-inch models feature a sloped front and very low profile that leaves behind the look of the old giant wedges cutting off the view of performers from the knees down. I must admit, the sound output was impressive, especially when I noticed it was all coming from a pair of very small units on the floor. The MicroSub includes bumper padding and side recesses that make interlocking possible between the MW12, MW15 and other MicroSub enclosures for a wide variety of venues and applications. The crowd in the demo room indicated its approval on the demo of each pair and I noticed a good many of the participants admiring the way the cabinets are outfitted for flexible stacking and quick installation. The EAW booth on the floor was quite active and the crowd started gathering almost from the opening of the doors to the exhibit floor. The dual location for booth and demo really helps the vendors and the listeners for the speaker companies and it keeps the noise confusion to a minimum on the exhibit floor.
David Sebastian took me through the latest and greatest from Telex/RTS including the Electro-Voice RE320. Based on the famous RE20 in radio stations everywhere and on the RE327, the RE-320 captures the essence of the RE-20 and brings it to a price point for a wider base. The microphone made its debut at NAB and is aimed to compete with highly regarded dynamic mics. It has a manually adjustable bass roll-off that can suit either vocal or kick drum use. That’s quite a combination for one product. David also showed me the new frequency agile wireless mic system called the R300, an all metal chassis with hand-held, belt-pak and head worn configurations. With this system, the company has introduced the infrared linked frequency setting feature they call EZsync that has made frequency matching between transmitter and receiver so quick and simple. The unit operates on AA batteries and the hand held version of the transmitter has a PL22 mic element. Then we stepped over to the intercom display and David showed me the new RTS entry on the intercom front, the Zeus III LE+. Available with or without a dual power supply, the system is distributed on CAT5 and it represents a small format, entry level digital matrix intercom system. All three of these new products are priced at $299 to target entry level markets in their respective fields. I also got a tour of the RTS/Telex demo truck featuring the Praesideo mass notification system.
Andy Stadheim demonstrated the master controller for the Barix IP intercom system on the show floor today, and it became immediately apparent that one of the strengths in this system is the fact that it can be installed using exising IP networks without adding a significant amount of traffic. The Barix system of intercom over IP is an example of a system that was designed by a genius to be run by … a nontechnical person. IP is everywhere now, and Barix has designed its hardware to put voice communication on the IP wave.
Extron‘s people have been out in the real world and one of the things they’ve come up with is a handy widget that installs out of sight to automatically take up cable once it has been disconnected and safely stores it on a hidden reel. On a university campus with 90 classrooms, I replace at least a half-dozen VGA cables every week because of people disconnecting and then dropping them on hard floors, bending the flanges. The new Extron Retractor that Lee Dodson showed me solves that problem. It’s a unique, patent-pending retraction and management system that works with Extron’s Cable Cubby access enclosures. Clearly, Extron’s people aren’t just a bunch of guys in white coats wandering around in windowless labs.
The education market is a prime spot for infrared wireless microphones and Extron has responded with its new VoiceLift IR mic system. Marketed centrally for K-12 classroom use, the VoiceLift system has no problems with the DTV changeover, and there are no worries concerning unauthorized interception since IR is light-of-sight. The technology has matured with the VoiceLift system in that these no longer resemble the clunky old monsters of just a couple of years ago. They easily pick up, and the instructor has a new freedom of movement that was impossible with IR microphone systems before. With the DTV transition, there has been a definite shift in interest toward IR mic systems, and the buzz around this part of Extron’s booth is an indicator.
One of the stars of this year’s InfoComm has turned out to be the new TouchLink configurable touchpanels from Extron. The TLP 700MV mounts into a lecturn or wall and is a 7in. screen. All the models have configurable, backlit hardware buttons, five down each side, to use for source selection and navigation. One very thoughful feature of these is that they sense proxomity of the operator’s hand instead of having to be actually touched. Many tech-challenged operators using other brands of touchscreens have called for AV help after wondering why nothing is showing on the screen, even after they hit all the hardware buttons. With the new TLP touchscreens from Extron, that problem is gone. more…
Vaddio‘s booth was a popular destination for people who like to watch cameras move. The TrackVIEW system can use a number of activation methods to make a conferencing or presentation camera follow the presenter in a much less stilted and mechanical looking way than was previously the norm with such equipment. Pressure mats, IR sensors, and human control can all be linked together and easily selected to allow the TrackVIEW system to do just that—track and view the subject on camera and stay with them. Through the use of multiple types of activation schemes, the system can be adapted to suit just about any environment and it looks like the Vaddio people were having just as much fun demonstrating it as the onlookers were having watching the gadgets work. These gizmos would have made Stanley Kubrik’s HAL, the computer, proud.