Audio industry gathers at AES to see latest, greatest products

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Audio industry professionals from across the sound spectrum gathered in San Francisco this past weekend for the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention. Held at the Moscone Center, the exhibition provided everyone from top-level sportscasters to game day frequency coordinators a chance to see new products and share notes on the latest trends.

Among the new players on the show floor was a company called Media Numerics, showing a new technology that allows for 160 audio channels to be delivered over a single piece of Cat-5 cable.

The RockNet 300 system s goal is to resemble a distributed Ethernet hub. A front-panel RJ45 connector on all products (the system includes a variety of one-rack unit systems that use a 10/100 BaseT interface that can be adapted (user supplied) for the transport of control data such as Midi, Serial, DMX, etc. Audio data rates are 184.32 Mbps and ancillary data rates are 10 Mbps. The maximum number of inputs are 800 with the number of channels topping out at 160 at 24 bits/448 kHz and 80 channels at 24 bits/96 kHz. Cable length for single mode fiber can run up to 20 kilometers, multi-mode fiber maxes out at 2 kilometers, and 150 meters for CAT5 cable.

While designed for live sound applications there s some potential as a means of transporting audio signals more easily around massive sporting events as it provides a redundant ring topology so broken connections between two devices will not impact audio transmission or systems integrity.

Euphonix launched new control surface designs for the System 5-B and Max Air digital audio mixing system at NAB earlier this year and at AES it enhanced both with new control surfaces.

The control surface upgrades improve console ergonomics with new colored knobs and higher-resolution screens for System 5 and a lighter control surface color for Max Air. Euphonix says both surfaces benefit from faster processors and memory and have finer resolution fader control around the 0db position.

The new DSP SuperCore allows systems to be expanded from 32 to 1,000 channels and adds new features such as bus processing, enhanced dynamics, longer channel delays (up to 2 seconds), SNMP Monitoring and full redundancy by adding a second DSP SuperCore. The new range of modular converters allows finer converter granularity in a small footprint and they support SDI audio embedding and de-embedding. All the new products and upgrades are currently shipping with new systems and are available now for retrofit to existing consoles.

For those looking to more easily control wireless microphone and frequency management Sennheiser introduced the NET 1 Network System. The 1RU unit acts as a hub for up to 10 Sennheiser wireless systems, coordinating and configuring frequencies for all connected components and portable units through wireless sync.

The system allows for remote coordination of frequencies and can either automatically assign available frequencies to microphones or use a drag-and-drop PC interface to assign specific mics to specific frequencies. It can also operate as a stand-alone system via a front-panel interface or connection via Ethernet to a PC for comprehensive control of frequency coordination and all parameters vital to the operation of multi-channel RF systems. The unit real-time monitoring of frequencies, RF level, AF level and battery telemetry. Software may be updated via the Internet.

Sennheiser says the system is compatible with Sennheiser’s range of evolution wireless G2 300 and 500 series, 300 series wireless monitors, EM 3532-U receivers, and the new SKM 5200-UHF handheld and SK 5212 body-pack transmitters. Rear panel connectivity includes ten RJ-11 inputs for G2 components, ten SUB-D inputs for EM 3532-U receivers and an Ethernet connection for computer control. Multiple NET 1 systems may be cascaded for large multi-channel applications. It retails for $1,399.

In other console news, stadium and arena audio systems can expand their digital touch courtesy of Yamaha s DSP5D, a DSP-expander for the PM5D digital sound reinforcement console. The Yamaha DSP5D expands the capabilities of the PM5D to 96 mono plus 16 stereo input channels, includes 2 additional card slots and more effects and dynamics processing. A second DSP5D unit can be added to provide further expansion to 144 mono plus 24 stereo input channels. When used in conjunction with the new DCU5D Ethernet Audio Cascade Unit, the DSP5D can be set in a remote location and controlled from PM5D up to 100 meters using a CAT5.

The DSP5D is a stand-alone product that can be used with a PC and Yamaha Studio Manager software, or as an expansion to the PM5D console, states Dan Craik, product manager hardware, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. The product is perfect for installation applications where more DSP processing power, inputs, card slots, effects and dynamics processing are required. The DSP5D will be available during the second quarter of 2007.

Solid State Logic hit AES with Duality, a large-format production console that combines the analog audio characteristics of SSL E, G, and K Series consoles with extended Digital Audio Workstation integration capabilities.

Among its features is a unique split-channel path that enables channel processing to be placed in the input or monitor path of the workstation. In addition to a SuperAnalogue mic amp, each channel features a Variable Harmonic Drive input stage designed to add analogue character to workstation outputs.

There are both E and G series equalizers and peak sensing or RMS /over-easy compression to choose from. Duality offers VCA style or moving fader automation and complete control over DAW parameters from the console channel rotaries. There are also multiple stereo busses or multiple 5.1 stems to make the best use of a full set of 5.1 pan/positioning controls on each channel. Every channel includes dedicated controls for LR/LCR, divergence, front/back position & LFE level. Duality also features a versatile 5.1 master bus compressor with a selection of average or peak channel sensing side-chain control.

In addition, power consumption has been reduced by 50%, so the power supplies can be built into the console, eliminating the need for a separate air conditioned machine room, cutting the bottom line and helping protect our environment.

Yamaha also introduced the NAI48-ES network audio interface, a system that converts up to 48 channels of AES3 to AuviTran Ethersound and can route up to 100 meters via a single CAT5 cable.

The system can be a boon for arenas and stadium sound engineers looking to connect the Yamaha AD8HR and Yamaha DM2000 digital audio console. The Yamaha AD8HR mic preamp, which use the head amplifier circuitry from Yamaha’s PM5000 analog mixing console, is a combination eight-channel mic preamp and analog-to-digital converter and includes eight XLR microphone inputs and two 25-pin D-sub connectors for AES/EBU digital audio output. However, the NAI48-ES can be used with any digital product that sends or receives an AES signal. The interface is easy to use and simple to connect.

The Yamaha NAI48-ES can be used anywhere an AES multi-channel, single cable solution is needed, states Dan Craik, product manager hardware products, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. We expect that many of our digital product customers will us the interface as an cabling solution.

The 1-U mountable NAI48-ES can handle 48 channels of bi-directional AES/EBU signal, and 24 channels @ 96kHz. It s compatible with the 16-channel In/Out AuviTran AVY16-ES plug-in card, for use with a wide range of Yamaha digital mixers: the PM1D, PM5D, M7CL, the new DM2000VCM, 02R96 Series, DME24N/64N DSP engine, and the new LS9 digital console. The AVY16-ES also provides a link between Yamaha digital mixing consoles and NEXO network processing systems. Look for it to be available in the second quarter of 2007.

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