More than 650 worship production personnel and live sound operators converged on the Dallas Convention Center in early November to check out the first-ever Live Sound Compact Systems Demo, held in conjunction with the WFX Conference & Expo.
The demo provided the first-ever opportunity to directly listen to, evaluate, and compare a dozen compact loudspeaker systems in a controlled listening environment.
In addition, all participating companies had representatives on hand to provide technical details and pricing information.
The event was established in a full-size exhibit hall of the convention center, with a 150-foot by 150-foot demo space draped off to define the area and to help eliminate reflections. Carpet that covered the entire demo area furthered this goal.
While the 12 participating manufacturers primarily chose to highlight flown compact line arrays, others took a different approach. NEXO demonstrated ground-located GEO S12 loudspeakers and companion RS218 subwoofer, while Renkus-Heinz showed the recently introduced IC2 digitally steered system.
Scenes from the LSI Compact System Demo. (click to enlarge)
Danley Sound Labs flew the SH-96 Synergy Horn, which alternated with a brand-new new prototype on the floor - the compact SH-80 single-12 coaxial system expected to be available soon.
Live Sound/ProSoundWeb Senior Contributing Editor Craig Leerman served as the emcee for each one-hour full demo session, where all systems were played in a round-robin, random format, supplied with identical audio tracks.
Listeners were able to move from system to system, evaluating what they were hearing and also observing each system’s scale, components and other important details. Each participating company also provided 15-minute exclusive demo sessions, further showcasing their technologies.
The audio tracks, which were selected via voting by all participants, were provided to each system via a digital signal chain. A PC loaded with Wave files of all tracks fed a Focusrite Scarlett 8i6, an 8-input/6-output audio interface, with the SPDIF signal going to a Yamaha LS-9 digital console, which was also used as the system’s master word clock.
From there, signal went out via an Audinate Dante network on Cat-5e to Link DGLink stage boxes, and from there, each system received an analog feed. This system backbone was capably managed by veteran sound professional Tim Weaver of Waco, TX, who served as A2 for the event.
Following the initial system setup and optimization process prior to the demo, Leerman verified that system each was no louder than 102 dB (pink noise C-weighted), measured at a distance of 100 feet. Those levels were then locked into place to insure uniformity.
Live Sound senior contributing editor Craig Leerman serving as the demo emcee. (click to enlarge)
Leerman also mastered all of the program audio tracks ahead of the event to insure they were at the exact same level.
“The opportunity to hear a dozen loudspeaker systems playing the same tracks side by side, with a serious attempt at keeping the levels respectable, provided valuable information for us as well as prospective customers,” states Mike Hedden of Danley Sound Labs. “We’re looking forward to participating again next year.”
Mexico-based Sensey Electronics even utilized the demo as the initial launch pad of its products into the U.S. market. “The demo is something our industry needs to do more, and proved a great opportunity to introduce ourselves and our products to a new market,” notes Jerry Colmenaro of Sensey Electionics. “This was a fantastic event.”
Prior to each demo session, all attendees were supplied with a booklet containing the key specifications of each system, including pricing information. And, following each session, prize drawings were held, with lucky attendees walking away with audio products from Audio-Technica, Shure, ADK, Telefunken, Link, and Church Audio/Video.
A2 Tim Weaver keeping things moving smoothly as the demo moves between 12 different systems in a matter of minutes.(click to enlarge)
“It was nice to be able to go to a major trade show and get our products heard, and a great way for the attendees to listen to products from various manufacturers with the same music tracks,” says Hugh Sarvis of WorxAudio Technologies. “We would love to participate again.”
Plans are already underway for another compact system demo – with even more features for attendees – to be held in conjunction with next year’s WFX Expo in Atlanta, September 19-21. More on that as soon as details are available.
WFX Dallas 2011 also proved a rousing success, with team members from over 1,000 churches in attendance. More than 50 conference sessions were presented across six tracks (Audio/Video/Lighting, Design, Facilities Management, Leadership & Management, Social Media & Communication, IFRAA), along with a sold-out lineup of more than 50 Hands-On Training sessions, including all-new advanced-level courses.
Danley Sound Labs