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QSC gets serious about music for customer environments

Zone mixers, zone amplifiers, background music speakers, wall controllers and apps will be debuted at InfoComm 2018

QSC has announced a significant addition to its audio portfolio with a new range of Premium Business Music Solutions. Comprising zone mixers, zone amplifiers, background music speakers, wall controllers and apps, these are aimed at installations in coffee shops, restaurants, fitness clubs, health spas – “anywhere music enhances the customer experience, or increases buying or feelgood behaviour,” David Fuller, senior director product development at QSC, told us.

Although the company has a strong presence in cinema systems and powered loudspeakers, not to mention its Q-SYS platform, “we’re not so well known in business music applications,” reflected Fuller. “We’ve acknowledged that we don’t have the complete solution – to be a serious player we need to offer a bigger catalogue of products.”

Fuller believes that the range satisfies a number of stakeholders: salespeople, who need to overcome aesthetic objections from architects and interior designers; consultants and system designers, who want a single catalogue to simplify quotations and design; the installer or subcontractor, who wants simplified installation; and the end customer, who wants a streamlined user experience.

There are two zone mixers, based on the TouchMix platform. The MP-M40 has four mic/line inputs, four line level inputs and four output zones, while the MP-M80 has double this I/O. A cue buss output enables the integrator to plug in a pair of headphones and cue individual inputs and outputs – very useful when commissioning the system when patrons are present and shouldn’t be disturbed. The zone mixers also have an input for multifunction wall control panels, and a USB port allows configurations, presets and scenes to be stored and recalled, while an Ethernet port allows wired or wireless control from a PC or handheld device.

The HTML5-based MP Install app allows the installer to configure the system – “it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a fixed-architecture DSP,” said Fuller. A set-up wizard enables the integrator to create a checklist for the system, which may be installed by a less knowledgeable contractor. “This allows the company selling the system to get the subcontractor to actually punch the checklist,” he explained. “The set-up wizard generates a report that the subcontractor can forward to the main integrator that sold the system.”

Another app, MP Manage, is aimed at the end-customer. It’s a privileges-based app that supports up to 12 connected devices – so individual users can be given the appropriate degree of control, whether it’s simply source selection and volume, or more sophisticated functionality such as scheduling. Wireless store-and-forward paging allows messages – such as calling customers to their table – to be recorded on the app, auditioned, then played out in the appropriate zone.

A range of wired wall-mounted controllers, offering zone select, source select and volume control, is available in European and North American styles. They feature an LCD display and up-down selection buttons.

With rack space at a premium in this market, each of the MP-A amplifiers occupies just 1U. The three models are the MP-A20V, MP-A40V and MP-A80V, with two, four and eight 200W channels respectively. A neat feature is FlexAmp technology, whereby each pair of channels has its own power supply; this means that the 400W can be shared asymmetrically – so, for instance, channel 1 could send 10W to some ceiling speakers, leaving 390W for a subwoofer on channel 2.

QSC is positioning the MP-A amplifiers, and the new AD series SUB/SAT loudspeakers, for background music applications; it has “a plethora” of existing amps and speakers for foreground music, according to Fuller.

The ear is less sensitive to bass at lower volumes; QSC is addressing this with a SUB/SAT arrangement (a single subwoofer with a number of satellite speakers). These are available in surface-mounted, pendant and ceiling versions, in black and white, which can be mixed and matched in any combination. All the satellites use the same 16-ohm 2.5in driver, with an aluminium dome in the centre for extended HF response. The subs can operate in high and low Z, and all have the same 6.5in dual voice coil driver; on the surface sub, these can operate in either mono or stereo.

The Premium Business Music Solutions range will be debuted at InfoComm 2018 in QSC’s Demo Room (N115).