InfoComm Show Points to Live Sound’s Future

The annual InfoComm Show has been the domain of the A/V-systems installer for years, a position locked down by its inclusion of the competing National Systems Contractor Association (NSCA) show in 2008. As such, it has been the go-to event for installed audio and video systems, from LCD displays and, more recently, digital signage to surface-mount speakers and all flavors of cabling.

In recent years, the InfoComm Show has also become a broader sound-systems expo, as live-event production takes advantage of product and technology developments in sound systems, from small highly directional columnar line-array speakers to powerful yet affordable digital mixers. The demo rooms on the show’s main level opposite the show floor has become a who’s who of high-end–speaker manufacturers — JBL, Meyer Sound, Community Sound, Renkus-Heinz, Sennheiser/K-Array, and others — showing off their latest developments to an audience ranging from designers and installers working in arenas, stadiums, and other sports venues to music mixers looking for the next touring rig. It’s a broader array of audio products and categories presented to a wider range of users than ever before. Here’s a look at products and technologies on display at the recent InfoComm and of interest to those putting sound in sports venues.

Allen & Heath
The new GLD-112, a larger version of the  GLD-80 mixer with an extra bank comprising eight control strips, increasing the channel count to 28 fader strips in four layers. The GLD-112 is suited to applications requiring visibility of more channels in a single layer. It retains the same analog-style channel-processing control section complemented by an 8.4-inch graphics touchscreen as the GLD-80. A fully customizable drag-’n’-drop layout allows simple assignment of inputs and mixes to fader strips. It features 28 fader strips in four layers, each with motorized fader; a channel LCD display, which can be named and color-coded; and a rotary control for direct access to gain, pan, and aux/FX sends. The mixer’s local I/O comprises four XLR mic/line inputs, four XLR line-outs, four RCA inputs, two RCA outputs, and digital outputs in SPDIF and AES3 formats. There are 48 input-processing channels, eight stereo FX returns fed by iLive’s acclaimed FX emulations, 30 configurable buses, 20 mix-processing channels, and DSP power to provide full processing. GLD-112 also connects to a range of plug-’n’-play I/O racks to configure 12-, 20-, 28-, 36-, or 44-mic input systems. An AR2412 rack (24 XLR inputs, 12 XLR outs) and up to two AR84 expander racks (eight XLR inputs, four XLR outs each) can be connected over Cat 5 runs using A&H’s dSNAKE protocol. dSNAKE provides control to the remote preamp, and all mic preamps are scene-recallable. AR2412 also includes a connection for personal monitoring systems, such as the Allen & Heath ME-1. Launched at InfoComm, GLD-112 is available now.

Making its first physical appearance at InfoComm, the Avid S3L comprises a high-performance HDX-powered processing engine running AAX plug-ins, scalable remote I/O that can live on stage or in a rack, and a compact control surface built for the road but equally at home in the studio. A Gigabit Ethernet network connects all devices and is based on the open Ethernet AVB connectivity standard and EUCON control standard. Avid’s established live-desk Venue software drives the system, with Virtual Soundcheck and direct Pro Tools integration. Key benefits include a modular system with up to 64 mic pres, reliable Ethernet AVB connectivity without the cable bulk, recording directly to Pro Tools (or other DAW) through a laptop Ethernet port, and control of Pro Tools and other DAWs via the S3 control surface as a EUCON controller.

The RS-701 beltpack is the first model in a new line of RS-700 Series wired, analog party-line beltpacks. A single-channel unit, the RS-701 is equipped with an XLR-3 line connector. All 700 Series beltpacks feature recessed rotary volume controls as well as Talk and Call keys guarded against accidental activation. An LED-off mode is available for use where complete darkness is required. A concealed DIP switch on the back of the beltpack affords the capability to select audio and key options quickly and easily. This includes switching between electret or dynamic headset microphone options and setting a minimum or off level for headphone input and microphone output. Call-with-talk operation and latch or non-latch keying are also available. The entire 700 Series requires a lower operating current for additional beltpack drops, and the beltpacks are built to be fully compatible with all Clear-Com legacy party-line systems and are protected against damage from accidental connection to other XLR-3–equipped digital systems, such as HelixNet.

Community Sound
WET X comprises 13 new models of the WET outdoor loudspeaker series. Its fiberglass enclosures are internally lined with marine-grade plywood to provide premium sound quality for both outdoor and indoor venues. The 12-in. and 15-in., two-way, full-range WET X loudspeakers offer six rotatable horn patterns, high output, and extended LF. They feature a 1.4-in.-exit large-diaphragm high-frequency compression driver and can produce the same output levels as the largest WET II loudspeakers but in enclosures only half the size. The low-frequency cone and internal circuitry have Community’s proprietary Envirotech coating for improved weather-resistance. The WX218SDF, a downfire dual 18-in. model, adds an ultra-high-performance subwoofer to the line. WET X enclosures feature a modified trapezoidal silhouette that improves on the curved shape of Community’s WET II enclosures, bringing a more traditional look and feel to the loudspeakers while providing the same outdoor direct-exposure resistance and streamlined shape to reduce wind load. Internally, the flat surfaces are fully lined with 18-mm (seven-layer) marine-grade plywood to provide the sonic benefits of wood inside Community’s fiberglass enclosures. All the wood is resin-sealed to reinforce the enclosure’s weather-resistance. The outer shell is crafted of multilayer fiberglass with a smooth glossy finish and is available in black or white, with custom paint colors optional. All models include a dual-layer powder-coated stainless-steel mounting bracket.

Martin Audio
Martin Audio has leveraged its MLA loudspeaker technology into a range of smaller-scale portable and installed sound applications. Scalable and versatile, MLA Mini’s ultra-compact size understates its output capabilities: 12-box array can deliver live music in venues of 750-1,000 people. The MSX Mini-sub power plant complements the main system and houses the amplification, networking, and DSP necessary to power and control itself and four MLA Mini enclosures. The system can be flown, ground-stacked, or pole mounted. In its simplest configuration, four MLA Minis can be pole-mounted above the MSX with precisely adjustable tilt angle and can function as a plug-and-play system, with the user recalling onboard presets instead of using computer control.

At the other end of the scale, up to 16 MLA Minis can be flown in an array and powered by four ground-stacked MSXs. With each individual cell under software control, difficult coverage areas can be programmed to reduce sound spill and noise pollution, and vertical coverage can be fine-tuned electronically in situ without the need to rerig the array. Arrays and MSXs can be remotely controlled from a laptop or wireless tablet running VU-NET control software, eliminating the time and frustration of trial-and-error tuning. Each MLA Mini enclosure houses 2- x 6.5-in./2-in. voice-coil LF drivers and a vertical column of 3- x 1.4-in. aluminum dome HF drivers on a 100° horizontal dispersion horn. The 15-in. reflex-loaded MSX can be integrated into flown arrays or ground-stacked separately. MSX also contains nine channels of Class D amplification to provide cellular drive while the onboard DSP interacts with proprietary DISPLAY2.1 intelligent software for accurate array optimization.

New to the North American market, the GTO C-12 line-source–array speaker system is derived from Outline’s larger-format, dual-15-in. GTO cabinet introduced in 2011 but is housed in a small, 30%-lighter enclosure. The GTO C-12 contains dual 12-in. LF drivers, four 6.5-in. midrange units, and two 3-in. throat-compression drivers. The cabinet is 21.6% smaller in the vertical plane than the larger GTO, and overall cabinet weight has been reduced by 30%, thanks to the use of an aluminum alloy for the integral rigging hardware. This system also provides 12 adjustment settings in the angle between connected GTO C-12 cabinets. Because the footprint of the new C-12 is exactly the same as that of all the other modules in the GTO range, the cabinets offer full mechanical compatibility with GTO, GTO-SUB, GTO-LOW, and GTO-DF in terms of rigging, flying hardware, and wheelboards.

Peavey Architectural Acoustics
Introduced at InfoComm, Elements weatherproof loudspeakers and weatherized components are designed for direct contact with the elements. The Elements C series of composite enclosures are constructed from composite fiberboard material that is dimensionally stable in wet conditions and resists contamination yet has the resonant properties of wood. The aluminum grills of the enclosures feature a barrier membrane that repels water yet allows moisture to escape without affecting sonic performance. The IP45-rated Elements C series is available in three two-way, full-range configurations and as a flyable subwoofer.

Elements M series enclosures feature molded cabinets and a variety of speaker sizes and horn options. All cabinets feature an IP45 environmental rating, thanks to stainless multi-fly-point hardware, sealed terminal connections, weather-repellant grills, and weatherproof speaker cones. The array hardware and cabinet design allow cabinets to be mounted in either vertical or horizontal arrays in 5-degree increments. In addition, lighting/power-pole mounting hardware is available to accommodate both the M and C series cabinets.

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