WINTER NAMM ISNâ€™T EXACTLY A CONTRACTING SHOW. But scattered among the booths hawking guitar straps, drumsticks, accordions, synths, DJ lighting and fog machines, thereâ€™s a respectable amount of gear aimed toward the professional audio user/installer. And with top-end pro companies such as Aviom, Community, Crest, JBL, Meyer Sound, Midas, Renkus-Heinz, Yamahaâ€”and many othersâ€”among the exhibitors, there were plenty of reasons to check out the show.
Besides, the January weather in Anaheim was warm and sunnyâ€”a stark contrast to the blizzard conditions throughout most of the rest of the country. Given that tough assignment, I went looking for interesting sound reinforcement products. You can see my full report in the February issue of SVC, but to get you in the mood, Iâ€™ll let you in on one of NAMM’s big surprises. POWER AMPS!
Amps Gone Wild!
With a lot of speakers are going the self-powered route, power amps rarely get the spotlight. But there are still lots of pro applications requiring external power amps, and these were big news at NAMM, especially in lightweight/high-power packages.
The iNUKE Series amps from Behringer (behringer.com) use Class-D technology to put 1,000 to 6,000 watts into 7- or 12-pound packages. Also available are onboard DSP versions with 24-bit/96 kHz converters, delay-line compensation, crossovers, dynamics, parametric EQs and front-panel or Mac/PC access via USB.
Carver Professional (carver-audio.com) is back. The company showed its new Xi Series amps, which offer 370 to 870 w/channel into 4-ohms, with variable speed fans, LED status indicators, and rear-panel DIP switches for highpass/lowpass filters, soft-knee clip limiters and soft-startup limiting.
Crest Audioâ€™s (crestaudio.com) Pro-LITE 2.0 and Pro-LITE 2.0 DSP amps feature a Class-D design and stable performance into 2-ohms. The Pro-LITE 2.0 and Pro-LITE 2.0 DSP boast 985 watts/channel, weigh less than 10 pounds, and are rock-solid in parallel, stereo and bridged modes.
The latest in QSCâ€™s (qscaudio.com) GX Series, the GX7 has 1,000 w/ch at 4 ohms from a two-tier Class-H design weighing 15.5 pounds. It also has a low-noise, variable speed fan, built-in subwoofer/satellite crossover control, detented gain knobs, front-panel LED indicators and GuardRail amplifier and speaker protection. MSRP is $699.
The Crown (crownaudio.com) XTi 2 has enhanced control with Crown PeakX Plus limiters, crossovers, parametric EQ, delay, 30 onboard presets and an improved subharmonic synthesizer. Available in models from 500 to 2,100 w/channel (at 4 ohms), XTi 2 amps are also compatible with HiQnet Band Manager, a free app with a sleek function-driven interface that simplifies system setup/management.
And speaking of apps, if you donâ€™t have an Apple iPad/iPhone, you might consider getting one soon, with all the pro apps for live sound users. There were plenty of clever new iPad remote controller apps at NAMM. And one of the most useful was the new Crown System Control App, which offers full control and monitoring of its networked I-Tech, I-Tech HD, CTs (with network PIP) and Macro Tech I amps, Ethernet-enabled devices and JBL Drivepack DPDA models. Its slick control includes the ability to select and import any desired controls from HiQnet System Architect custom panels.
The app is free from the Apple iTunes Store, There is a catch, however. As the Crown System Control App communicates via Wi-Fi, setting up a SECURE wireless network is a really good idea, to prevent unwanted control and monitoring of your system from others with this app. It’s good advice on any rig.