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PLASA08: Clearer calendar boosts PLASA

test 2 September 2008

A year on from PLASA’s redesign, the one-floor, twohall layout at London’s Earls Court has been refined and expanded to allow for new and returning exhibitors. “There’s a real buzz building around the wide range of technologies and expertise on offer at the show and how these can be applied across the industry, says show director Nicola Rowland. “It’s a great opportunity to see how projects are being delivered, how lighting, sound and AV systems are being re-thought around new technologies, and how events, productions and architectural installations, are benefiting from innovative developments.”

Boosting pre-registration is the fact that, for the first time, there is no diary overlap with IBC, helping attract major first-time exhibitors to PLASA08, as well as prompting the return of several major audio and lighting manufacturers. The presence of staging specialists is also expanding. PLASA08’s education programme will see a significant expansion of last year’s seminars, along with several new initiatives and partnerships. They build on the organisation’s existing relationships with US trade body ESTA – which is hosting an expanded North American Pavilion – alongside pavilions supported by the ISCE and IOA.  

With a strong focus on industry technologies, the seminars will address existing and emerging audio, as well as AV and lighting technologies and their applications. It will be hosted by some of the industry’s best-known manufacturers and innovators.  

Mixers

There has been a flurry of new activity on the mixing console front, with a number of manufacturers announcing new launches at PLASA.  

Midas will be debuting the PRO6 digital audio system at the show – but you can read more about it by turning to page 71.  

Innovason will be launching the Eclipse, its first new console since 2004, which it intends to ship by the end of the year. Nominally a 48- fader desk – and priced at around 10% more than the company’s Sy48 – it provides ‘fader-like’ control over 96 channels, thanks to the ‘SmartPanel’, which provides 12 fully configurable rotary knobs, each with four layers. Another unusual feature is a built-in 24-bit/48k hard disk recorder option. The company says that over 25 consoles have been pre-sold, including three to La Gaité Lyrique, which Xavier Pion, Innovason’s sales and marketing director, reckons to be the largest French theatre project for 2009.  

Soundcraft will be showing its new digital console, the Si3. The 64-input desk, aimed principally at mid-sized installations and the mid-market touring sector, is the first to use the manufacturer’s bespoke software platform EMMA (Embedded Multiprocessor Mixing Architecture). With I/O capability integrated into the desk, there is no need for external racking. Each mix channel is served by an OLED display, which dispenses with the need for the ‘big screen’ typically found on large- and medium-format digital consoles.  

Allen & Heath will highlight the latest developments in its iLive digital mixing system, including the new iLive Editor offline editing software. Consoles from the entry-level ZED range, such as the new ZEDR16 dedicated Firewire recording mixer, will be on display, as will the Xone range of DJ products. This includes the Xone:S2 club installation mixer, the new Xone:4D mixer/controller with a high spec USB 2.0 soundcard, and the Xone:02 DJ scratch mixer sporting a new face plate and crossfader.  

Roland Systems Group will present its V-Mixing System, incorporating the M-400 digital mixing console and configurable digital snakes with remotely controlled mic preamps, and a multi-track recording option (SONAR REAC Recording System).  

New software is being shown for the first time; the M-400 V-Mixer’s Version 1.5 update boasts a number of significant features that enhance the user interface, offering operational shortcuts and speeding up workf low, says the company. Features include: increased flexibility in compressor and gate assignment, the addition of eight matrices, direct channel output assignment for increased flexibility when using personal mixing systems and recording splits, plus various user interface enhancements for accelerated workflow and ease of use.  

Other audio

The Adamson Metrix Ultra Compact Line Array Enclosure is designed for small to medium-sized permanent installations in houses of worship, theatres and nightclubs, as well as for the main system in small to medium touring applications. A newly designed Adamson ND8-ML 8.5in Kevlar neodymium mid-low frequency driver is optimised for this two-way enclosure, and is paired with a 1.4in HF (3in diaphragm) compression driver, mounted on Adamson’s HF wave-shaping chamber.  

AKG Acoustics will introduce the wireless WMS 4500 microphone system. Like its predecessor, the WMS 4000, the WMS 4500 offers a wide range of available components for operational versatility, but has been modified for more durable use and greater flexibility with wireless applications, says the company. The WMS 4500 is available in two new frequency bands: Band 7 (500-530MHz) and Band 8 (570- 600MHz), that offer more options for multichannel systems in today’s crowded RF environment. The system’s components, the SR4500 receiver unit, the PT4500 transmitter, and the HT4500 handheld microphone unit, all offer new features and sleek new construction.  

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, Alcons Audio will be present with a number of new products and developments. Though this year’s stand is still under the headquarters’ name, it is actually hosted by recently founded Alcons Audio UK. The main eye-catcher will be the RRay design study. Becoming an annual ‘stand feature’, Alcons demonstrates its R&D projects by displaying assembled prototype products of which part developments may be applied in future products. R-Ray shows the study on achieving maximum projection control through a modular point-source cluster, utilising (proribbon) line-source technology.  

Also on show will be the LR7, the latest and smallest member of Alcons’ pro-ribbon line-arrays. Billed as a “micro pro-ribbon linearray”, the system features a single 6.5in woofer, next to a 4in pro-ribbon driver, in a 15º vertical projection configuration. The 16 ohms impedance and a choice of 90º or 120º horizontal projection, makes the LR7 suitable for A/V projects where compact form factor with perfect line-array throw and imaging are required.  

Ateis UK is exhibiting at Earls Court for the first time, introducing a range of new additions to its catalogue. Expanding the potential of its Messenger range of active line array loudspeakers, the new steerable Bass Array enables the bass frequencies to be carried over a greater distance. While minimising signal deviation (2dB within 100m), it is fully steerable and is self-powered to provide maximum clarity in controlled areas. Ateis UK is the sole UK distributor for Soundsphere, whose omnidirectional speakers will be featured.  

Switzerland-based Barix will showcase its range of audio over IP technology, including a new, alternative firmware application that can be integrated into all of its hardware devices. The firmware is suitable for studio and central office applications where Barix audio over IP hardware can be utilised as solidstate players, including music on hold applications; and store and forward applications for hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. For instore media, the Barix audio over IP solution offers a less expensive and more flexible option than satellite solutions.  

Beyerdynamic (GB) will feature the latest innovations from US manufacturer Renkus-Heinz. These will be headed by IC Live, a new product line that applies the company’s Iconyx Digitally Steerable Array technology to live event production.  

“Originally designed for permanent installation, Iconyx arrays have been used for charity galas, corporate presentations and concerts throughout Europe and the US,” says Renkus-Heinz president Harro Heinz. “IC Live meets the needs of PA rental companies, with high output steerable array configurations and a versatile hardware system that is optimised for portable applications.”  

BSS Audio has added four new members to its Soundweb London family of digital signal processors. The new BLU-800, BLU-320, BLU-160 and BLU-120 join the BLU-80, BLU-32 and BLU- 16 devices in the series. HiQnet London Architect, v2.00, provides support for the four devices and several significant feature additions.  

A dedicated and comprehensively featured Room Combine Processing Object abstracts the complexity of room combining applications and reduces programming time for such applications. The addition of Dynamic Metering allows efficient troubleshooting of Soundweb London systems through the use of simple signal presence monitoring.  

Communication Technology, in conjunction with UK distributor CIE Group, will be exhibiting its whole range of commercial sound system accessories and conference microphones. The company will introduce DPM102B/FM, its new inwall mounting Pro-Series paging microphone, which incorporates automatic bass cut and sound level limiting electronics. A heavy-duty gooseneck microphone is included. Pro-Series is available in single-zone and two-zone versions. The facility for including DSP350, a plug-in digital signal processor for reducing background noise by better than 40dB, is provided, making it suitable for use in noisy environments such as transport termini or busy shopping centres, says the company.  

Sunderland-based Current Thinking’s VoCALL system, which debuted at this summer’s Wimbledon tennis championships, combines fire telephones, disabled refuge points and disabled toilet alarms.  

Says Current Thinking managing director Anthony Smith: “VoCALL is designed to be the most flexible system available, and at PLASA we will be introducing the new incident recording and logging software developed to meet the needs of the massive Wimbledon redevelopment project. This involved a 123-point network to provide simple communication for members of the public who cannot easily use the usual methods of evacuation, and assist the emergency services to locate and reassure them during an emergency.”  

Duran Audio UK will highlight the AXYS Sound Reinforcement range of products. The AXYS Scope range is designed for theatre and conference applications. All of the units have builtin amplification and DSP, and can be networked together using RS485. The loudspeakers come fitted with stand adaptors and/or rigging hardware.  

Funktion One’s RM18 triaxial stage monitor is a radical departure from the standard 15in and compression-driver configuration, delivering a significant performance advantage over conventional monitors, says the company. The all-new triaxial arrangement comprises an ultra-fast 18in driver with 5in coil and Neodymium magnet, and a special 5in driver with a built-in HF compression driver passively crossedover at 9kHz. The 700Hz crossover point and the natural materials used in the mid-device give “a previously unheard clarity and definition to the vocal range”. 

JBL Professional is extending its Control Contractor Series loudspeakers to an even wider variety of applications with the new Control Contractor 40 Series premium in-ceiling speciality loudspeakers. On show for the first time in the UK, several of the models incorporate JBL’s conical Radiation Boundary Integrator (RBI) technology, providing “broad and consistent pattern control with superior sonic performance”. “As customer expectations for audio quality continue to increase, we are pleased to introduce a new ceiling speaker line that not only provides extended bandwidth and improved fidelity, but also saves customers money by covering their space more evenly with fewer speakers,” says Rick Kamlet, senior market director, commercial sound, JBL Professional. “With the introduction of the Control Contractor 40 Series, JBL’s line-up of high-performance ceiling speakers is even more versatile for our dealers, while remaining affordable and easy to install.”  

JBL will also introduce the 8100 Series ceiling speakers, which debuted at InfoComm 08. The 8100 Series are fullrange in-ceiling loudspeakers with high sensitivity, low distortion, and smooth frequency response, says the company.  

A newly developed line array system, K&F Sequenza 10, joined the Kling & Freitag range in 2008 and will take centre stage at PLASA. With three built-in patents, this system is billed as “an innovative sound amplification tool”.  

In addition to the K&F Sequenza 10, further products for installation use will be shown at Earls Court. These include the Sona 5, a passive compact speaker with “superior sound quality and precisely defined coverage for architectural surroundings”, and the K&F Topas, a two-channel power amplifier with a new K&F intelligent remote system for fixed installation projects.  

MC2 Audio’s T3500 two-channel amplifier is the latest addition to the established T Series, and is aimed at the market demand for a more powerful T Series amplifier geared to fixed installations, says the company.  

With its 1,750W of power per channel, the T3500 will give users access to an even wider range of projects that use T Series amplifiers. MC2 T Series amps are currently specified into installations ranging from the Madrid-based Iberojet Cruises Grand Celebration ship, to the Hyundai-Daimos and Rolling Hills Resort in Korea.  

Meyer Sound’s self-powered UPQ- 2P narrow coverage loudspeaker will debut at Earls Court. The latest addition to the company’s UltraSeries family of loudspeakers, the UPQ-2P features “exceptionally high power output and low distortion, combined with its tightly focused beamwidth”, making it a suitable solution for small to mid-sized auditoriums, houses of worship, theatres and nightclubs, offering flexible functionality as a standalone loudspeaker or as a part of an array.  

“The UltraSeries has become one of Meyer Sound’s most in-demand loudspeaker lines for theatres, churches, live venues and anywhere where customers and conditions demand smaller, lighter loudspeakers with premium performance over the widest possible frequency range,” says John Meyer, CEO and cofounder of Meyer Sound. “The UPQ-2P has been designed as an ideal complement to the wide-coverage UPQ-1P, which has already been receiving stellar reviews in the short time since its release.”  

As with all self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers, the UPQ-2P features integral amplification, complex crossover, driver protection, including dedicated limiters to protect and extend the life of the drivers, and frequency and phase correction circuitry onboard.  

Neutrik will show the world’s first unisex XLR cable connector. “Whether mating to a female or male chassis connector, convertCON fits it. The gender is easily selectable without tools – conversion takes place by sliding the housing back and forth, meaning adapters are no longer required,” says the company. The convertCON is also branded with Neutrik’s recently launched hologram, designed to help fight counterfeiting.  

Out Board will feature the next-generation evolution of its TiMax Audio Delay Matrix, TiMax2 SoundHub – a range of audio showcontrol and installation processors.  

In its ShowHub ‘S’ guise, the TiMax2 control software is configured specifically for programming and running shows and events, while the RoomHub ‘R’ version is optimised for more mainstream AV installations needing similar comprehensive audio processing resources but with less focus on realtime showcontrol or audio animation. TiMax2 SoundHub will be joined by the PLASA debut of Out Board’s latest showcontrol product, the TiMax Tracker UWB radar system, which makes performers’ audio image or other effects automatically follow their position onstage in 3D space.  

Out Board will also be hosting the Dolby Lake processor range of loudspeaker management and EQ processor and PC Tablet software, for which the company acts as UK and Ireland distributor. Products from the SAVANT range of automatic PAT testers with database logging, will also be on stand.  

RCF promises a selection of new products. The NX series is a complete range of active loudspeakers. Designed for both installation and touring, they are billed as “equally at home on stage or in a high-energy club”. The ART7 Series is the latest version of the established ART active speaker range.  

Joining the Acustica range are the C8015 subwoofer and C4128 two-way reflex speakers. Both of these compact speakers are designed for clubs and small installations where space is at a premium. In RCF Commercial, the company is showing products from DXT 7000 Voice Alarm and Monitor Q Business Music.  

RTS will show the KP-32CLD Colour Display Keypanel, which brings to market the flagship product of a new RTS keypanel. This solution addresses both the primary needs and advanced features required by different customers for finer control of keypanel functions. The KP-32CLD uses a 4.9in, full-colour LCD display to provide feature-rich operating functions. The KP-32CLD also boasts an ergonomic design with a flat front panel that fits flush within a rack-mount configuration.  

RadioCom’s Telex BTR-80N Narrow Band Two-Channel UHF Synthesized Wireless Intercom is billed as “a revolutionary product for today’s ever changing and shrinking RF environment”. Providing 8kHz of modulated bandwidth, the system allows more users per channel in the cramped UHF spectrum.  

The system is based on the BTR-800 wireless intercom system and provides all of the standard features of the BTR- 800 system, such as DSP and Intelligent Power Control, plus many more.  

When matched with the BTR-80N, the TR-80N and TR-82N beltpacks provide additional features such as selectable transmitter power output, selectable receiver squelch control, RF meter display on base station and beltpack displays, remote battery indicators on base station display, low battery tone indicator on beltpack, AC or DC power input on base station, and simultaneous two wire and four wire operation.  

Among the products on display at the Shuttlesound stand will be the new DC-One two-in-six-out processor for the Electro-Voice line array. While the unit is an all-new development based on a powerful SHARC processor, it is compatible with all settings from other Electro-Voice signal processors, including the Dx38.  

The front panel provides direct access buttons, six predefined configuration modes (one being free configuration), straightforward output delay settings, and true professional metering. Users can select a personal library of accessible presets (out of 60 factory and 20 user presets), and determine which individual parameters in each preset are locked or editable.  

Tannoy returns to the PLASA show after being absent for a couple of years. The company will be using the Earls Court event as the platform for a first UK demonstration of its latest pro-audio product lines, VQ and QFlex, as well as exhibiting some of the existing V-Series loudspeaker range.  

The Tannoy VQ Series is a range of loudspeakers designed for any application “where precise directional control, outstanding sonic performance, and high SPLs are critical issues”; such as large corporate AV systems, stadiums, large dance clubs, live concert halls, theatres, houses of worship and open-air venues, says the company. Utilising precision engineering and design, the VQ Series can produce enough power and clarity to be used individually, maintaining a building’s aesthetics, unlike line array solutions, says the company.  

Tannoy’s director of business development, Graham Hendry, comments: “Through discussions with customers and consultants it soon became very obvious that the Tannoy VQ range had a much more diverse market appeal. VQ has already enjoyed a high-profile install in one such alternate sector – at Ibiza’s premier dance club, Es Paradis, which has been winning plaudits from clubbers and DJs alike since the start of the summer season.”  

The other major Tannoy product launch is QFlex, a series of self-powered, digitally steerable loudspeaker arrays using ‘beam-steering’ DSP technology. QFlex is designed for various audio installation requirements such as airports and other transportation hubs, shopping malls, conference facilities, museums, houses of worship and many other locations with problematic acoustics.  

Vieta Pro is releasing new and improved control software to extend an installer’s control over a sound system constructed from Vieta’s Ti Line suite of DIN rail-mounting products. Vieta-Net Control (VNC) Software Version 2, which includes new features, a better user interface and an easier automatic set-up, allows two-way communication between a variety of local control options and a PC-based master control of the media player and amplifiers. This can be connected directly, via a wireless network or remotely using the internet.  

Local changes to settings on the Ti Line system can be made by any combination of IR remotes, wall switches and unit front panels. These changes will register on the remote PC which provides master control of the system, and can be overridden or amended as desired. In practice this means that a system installer can, over the internet, monitor any changes made to the system and reverse them. This control can be proactive, for example finding and playing a particular track on the SD audio player.  

Also launching at PLASA is the new version of the Ti-2602 100W RMS DIN-mounting transformer for Ti Line constant voltage operation.  

Void Acoustics will be unveiling three new products – two bass loudspeakers and a range of amplifiers. The whole Void team will be on the stand to introduce the Arcline X, a new 2 x 15in bass unit for Void’s Arcline line-array touring system, as well as the diminutive 2 x 12in Mycro X, and Void’s new range of UK-built, switch-mode Infinite X power amplifiers.  

Measuring just 680mm x 335mm x 440mm, the tiny Mycro X bass system features two 12in drivers in the same cabinet volume normally occupied by a single driver, increasing the sub’s power handling to some 1,400W and generating an SPL up to 130dB.  

The Infinite X range of two-channel power amplifiers, which are being built in Void’s new dedicated manufacturing facility in the UK, feature high-efficiency switch-mode power supplies, and a new output-stage design. The three-model range comprises the Infinite X4 (2 x 600W into 4 ohms), the X5 (2 x 800W into 4 ohms) and the X6 (2 x 1,200W into 4 ohms).  

Lighting and control

Avolites’ stand this year will show the Diamond 4 Vision and Elite consoles, the full range of Pearls, including the Pearl Tiger, Pearl Expert and the new Pearl 2010 console, plus Avolites’ new operating system, Titan. Also being demonstrated is Avolites’ ART2000 dimming range. In particular, the company will be illustrating how racks can be custom configured to clients’ specific requirements.  

The Pearl 2010 sees Avolites introduce a new contemporary streamlined look for its best-selling console. This will include new graphics and an ergonomically curved front and back, complementing the physical aesthetics of the Pearl Expert and Pearl Tiger consoles. Developed from the original D4 Operating System, Titan adds new features to the Diamond 4 and brings powerful features from the Diamond 4 to the Pearl Expert. All Titanbased consoles offer powerful functions, such as Fixture Exchange, Clone Fixture and Multiple Timers.  

The Unison architectural lighting control system from ETC will receive its European debut at PLASA. It is designed for theatre house and foyer lighting control. The centrepiece is the Paradigm, which “merges innovative advances in architectural lighting control with ETC’s expertise in entertainment lighting control”.  

Networking technology allows devices from different manufacturers – both wired and wireless – to inter-operate over the same control system. ETC will also be introducing the 70W version of the Source Four HID family.  

Media server company Green Hippo returns to PLASA with two new products. HippoCritter is a new entry-level Hippotizer that enables “large-scale functionality at a small-scale cost”. Seamless integration with the HippoNet control protocol makes it ideal for installation and architectural applications or as an additional source on existing set-ups, says the company.  

Also joining the line-up is HippoPortamus – a laptop-based Hippotizer. As a standalone unit it provides all the familiar Hippotizer features; for projection designers and lighting professionals, its ZooKeeper software handles show programming and server control.  

PLASA will also see the preview of the company’s forthcoming V3.1 software, due for release in Q4, which promises several new components and a significant increase in functionality.  

Lightfactor Sales will show theatre and live performance-orientated products from high-profile manufacturers such as SGM, LDR and Novalight from Italy, VXCO from Switzerland, SFAT from France and LightProcessor from the UK. Lightfactor is the exclusive UK distributor for all these products.  

Novalight’s new Nova-Flower – currently featured on Coldplay’s world tour – is the first fully programmable ‘flower effect’ moving head, with full DMX controllable pan, tilt, colour shutter plus other standard features. Using a 1,200W light source, this moving yoke fixture can complement the Novalight High- Ground, with CMY mixing, rotating reflector (in both directions), pan/tilt and remote lamp re-strike.  

ShowCAD Control Systems will be exhibiting with Pulsar Light of Cambridge, demonstrating version 3.00 of its Artist show control system. This now controls 64,000+ DMX channels, and implements many new features for comprehensive control of LED, and intelligent and conventional lighting. It also supports many input/output protocols for interfacing to video servers, lasers, sound systems and a range of AV and industrial equipment. Using an Artist control system, 8000+ channels of Pulsar Chroma LED effect lighting has recently been installed over the twin 66-storey towers in Bahrain Financial Harbour. This scheme will be showcased at PLASA, demonstrating both companies’ capabilities when working together.  

Tryka l.e.d. will showcase the recently launched Easy Link system, alongside the company’s full range of LED luminaires. As the name suggests, the Easy Link system links fixtures in a series, via RJ-45 connections, delivering “a quick and efficient installation” when run in conjunction with Tryka’s range of IDS drive systems.  

The Easy Link system is compatible with the Tryka Module 3 range, the Tryka Module 6 range – featuring improved colour mixing as well as a new tapered shape to fit the broadest range of indoor, outdoor and underwater housings – and the Tryka Module 12 range. All units are available as either endless colour change versions with up to 16million colours, or as single colour units.  

Also featured on the stand will be Tryka’s new RGB Strip Module system, incorporating powerful K2 Luxeon LEDs. Visual Productions will be demonstrating the new the Mac OS X version of the VisualTouch lighting software, along with the existing Windows.  

With VisualTouch, lighting cues can be triggered remotely, along with the operation of various other functions of the VisualDMX and Canvix software lighting controllers. It allows for user-friendly and foolproof control of the DMX-512 lighting installation, preventing the user from accidentally erasing programmed cues. Due to its network structure, multiple VisualTouch applications – even mixing Windows and Mac OS – can be used together.  

Both Mac and Windows versions of VisualTouch can be downloaded free of charge from www.visualproductions.nl.  

Stage technology

Cast Software, creator of WYSIWYG, promises “the world Beta debut of ‘BlackBox’ (final name TBA)”. BlackBox will “unite, indeed revolutionise, the entire industry for large- and small-scale productions alike – lighting, media, sound, motion, cameras, staging, performers – touching every component of a production,” says Cast.  

BlackBox is built with special hardware and software to be an allin- one, bidirectional high-speed communications nerve centre, which enables all control devices to instruct or receive instructions from each other. Live, real-time input in all forms is received by the BlackBox, which acts as the brains – running a high-speed hybrid version of WYSIWYG that works with a special new WYISYWG file version (that CAST is working on now).  

Interspace Industries will be showing its TheatreCue system with up to 14 outstations (112 with multiple interlinked main units). The system provides clear but dimmable (individually) Standby and Go commands. Acknowledge back to the DSM, calling to the DSM (when not in a cue), buzzer options, relay options (low voltage) and above all, the best cable architecture available, are also offered.  

The cable from the system is not one channel to one outstation, but each outstation can be daisy chained to the next in any order or star split. This is designed to free up patch panels and save on the cost of cables.  

The main unit can be rack mounted or desk mounted, and has a depth of less than 140mm including the brackets. Interspace’s standard outstations have mounting points to allow easy fixing, and all of the indicators are long-life LEDs.  

Also on the Interspace stand will be cue lights (MasterCue V5 USB, MicroCue), presentation timers (CountDown2 Soft CountDown, Indicator2 and ClockWatch), and audio interfaces (PC balance box, PXB CiO).  

Norwegian theatre specialist TTA will unveil Stagetracker FX, the latest generation of its award-winni

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