Interconnect

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dangerous Music Products In Demand At Busy New York Music Production Group

Top producers & songwriters at 'The AND Group' use Dangerous Music gear.

The AND Group, a collection of music management and media companies who are working with some of today’s top music insiders and hit makers, have found the demand for Dangerous Music products grow as more artists, DJ’s and other like-minded professionals use them.  .

“We’re a hybrid between a traditional artist management company, a publishing licensing company, and an experiential marketing company for brands,” says company co-founder Lucas Keller. “The marketing we do is specific to music and entertainment, a field that we already understand well on the management side.

“We started The AND Group last summer as a boutique company, but additionally we have access to licensing in TV and film, the commercial ad world, and directly to brands.”

Their artists are loving the Dangerous gear already,

“I haven’t found anything out there like Dangerous Music. Their D-Box ties my whole studio together,” says multi-Grammy winner David Hodges (Evanescence, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Christina Perri). “As a monitoring system, it is intuitive and versatile, clean and powerful. As a summing unit, it gives a warmth and clarity to everything I work on - from pop tracks to country sessions, to rock mixes.  The fact that I get two vital pieces of hardware in one without sacrificing any quality makes the D-Box a must-have.”

Keller adds, “Some of our artists are using the Dangerous gear in the studio and we are introducing it to some of the other artists we manage when they get together with those guys. I’m about to get our client, DJ LA Riots, turned onto Dangerous Music too, as there’s a need for gear of this quality in the DJ world.

“We are finding that a lot of our guys that we put together, they go in the studio with someone like David Hodges or Nolan Lambroza (Pit Bull, Christina Aguilera, Justin Beiber), and afterwards they are asking about getting the Dangerous gear for themselves. There’s a hundred pieces of rack gear in the studio and they say: ‘Hey, I was at Hodges’ place today, tell me more about Dangerous Music’ - which I found exciting! I actually am getting lots of calls and emails from our artists about Dangerous gear and wanting to put it into their own studios and production work flow.”

Other artists at The AND Group also love the gear.

“The Dangerous D-Box brings depth and adds tasteful separation that you simply can’t achieve in the box,” states PJ Bianco (Demi Lovato, Sean Paul, Mya, Iyaz, Jonas Brothers).

Steven Miller adds, “I love the Dangerous D-Box. No other unit that I’ve seen accomplishes what it does. Between the monitoring, headphone amp and summing mixer, it makes my job increasingly easier; and the music I make sounds 100-times better.”

Miller has worked with Pierce the Veil, The Veronica’s, and Skillet among many other acts.

Lucas is using the Dangerous Source monitor controller with his speakers at his desk, and agrees that having a sound controller that you can trust and will really let you hear the music track is important.

“The Dangerous Source is amazing. It’s important for us that we’re listening through the right amps and monitors and systems, so we hear the music as clearly and accurately as possible. For our work with Sol Republic headphones it’s all about audio, with very, very picky DJs, who are very choosy about which headphones they’ll use or not use. And it’s all about music. We’re creating everything from commercial spots, and syncing our music in them, to doing deals directly with these guys that are DJs and producers and creatives. People are constantly listening to music at our company - we have music in the hallways!”

Dangerous Music

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Posted by Julie Clark on 04/11 at 09:34 AM
RecordingNewsBusinessInterconnectStudioPermalink

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bringing Sanity To Signal Routing On Stage

Applying simplicity and standardization to foster quick changes should disaster occur...

Today’s live stage productions have become tremendously complex. All sorts of different instruments and electronic sources must be “orchestrated” along side the microphones and signals that need to be split off to a multitude of mixers to feed the house system, stage monitors, in-ear monitors, broadcast truck, Internet uplink and recording system.

Paramount to the design is trying to insure some form of simplicity or standardization that will allow quick changes should disaster occur.

In fact, even with today’s most advanced digital consoles, some still choose to route lead vocal, guitars, bass and drums to a small analog desk hidden away just in case the computer crashes. After all, the show must go on!

Signal Path
There are three basic “signal level” groups used to run audio around the stage and venue before it is amplified:

1) Low level sources from voices and guitars are captured with mics and direct boxes. These typically range from -50 dB to -40 dB where their signal is sent to the mic preamp input on the mixing console.

2) Unbalanced line level sources from iPhones, computers, keyboards and CD players, which will typically vary from -20 dB to -10 dB. Their output will be sent to a direct box and mic input where a pad will usually be engaged to reduce the sensitivity as a means to avoid distortion.

3) Balanced professional level devices such as mixing consoles, professional recorders and crossovers, which are rated at +4 dB but are often capable of producing as much as +22 dB or more. These signals are used to drive the power amplifiers, which in turn drive the loudspeakers.

Note that each of these sources will be treated with a different interface. Table 1 shows common devices that the engineer will select. Table 2 offers a general overview of signal level groups.

Table 1: Some of the numerous devices to route into a system.

Although there are no hard-and-fast rules, it’s common to find dynamic mics on snare and kick drums, while a condensers are more often used on drum overheads.

Acoustic guitars, when miked, tend to be outfitted with a condenser, while electric guitar amps tend to have a dynamic stuck right on the cone or have a direct feed from the amp or cabinet.

Active direct boxes (DIs) tend to be used on lower level signals such as a direct feed from a bass guitar or acoustic, while passive DIs tend to be preferred for high output devices such as keyboards, samplers and digital playback systems.

The benefit of passive DIs is their ability to withstand greater signal levels while introducing galvanic isolation that can help eliminate ground loops.

Keep in mind that most high output devices are “plugged in” to the AC system and therefore are more prone to ground problems because they share the earth-ground with lighting systems, motors and stage amplifiers.

Setting Common Levels
With so many different levels on stage, trying to cope during a hectic show can be a nightmare unless you introduce some form of sanity into the equation.

Sanity is achieved by converting all signal levels to a single common denominator: the low-Z balanced microphone. By converting everything to mic level, one no longer has to worry about what cable is used for what and which channel is connected where.

This is particularly important with respect to the mic splitters inside the snake system – most use special mic level bridging transformers that isolate the front-of-house console with the monitor desk to help eliminate ground loops.

These low-level transformers are designed to accept signals from -70 dB to around -30 dB. So if you plug in a +4 dB signal into one, it will overload (saturate) and distort. 

This is the primary reason why the direct box output is mic level, because it must work along side the mic and be easily interchanged with another signal path should a snake channel be faulty or a mixer input have a problem. Commonality makes it easy.

Table 2: Typical signal levels range fairly wide.

Crosstalk In The Snake
Once the signal is mixed and ready to be distributed, the output of the console will be sent back to the stage, where it will be split off to the amplifier racks and loudspeakers. This brings to mind a problem known as crosstalk, and further solidifies why you really want to keep all of your stage signals at parity.

For instance, some snake systems combine the low-level feed from the stage (say -50 dB) going to the mixer along with the high level return path to the crossovers, amplifiers and loudspeakers (+4 dB). These are usually configured in formats such as a 24 x 4, 32 x 8 or 40 x 8 with 40 mic channels and 8 returns.

Although it offers the convenience of only running one snake cable, this design can sometimes pose a problem because the twisted pair wires are in close proximity to each other inside the snake cable.

Click to enlarge.

Although there is no electrical connection, all electric wires emit a magnetic field as they propagate. The “greater” the signal level, the greater the magnetic field.

These magnetic fields interact even though the snake may employ protective twisted pair conductors and shielding. When one signal is louder than the other (drive snake), it will invariably pollute the other (microphone).

The result is that the mic line can pick up the return path, resulting in residual drums leaking into the vocal mic. This is why most professional touring companies employ a different return path called a drive snake.

These are often 12 channels allowing the crossover to reside at front of house, and are usually configured with a 37-pin connector at each end and some form of custom termination box.

Today, with the proliferation of digital crossovers and self-powered line arrays, the drive snake is now being replaced by a digital counterpart, particularly at the high-end concert touring level.

Feeding Other Devices
O.K., with all signals coming off the stage at mic level, the mic splitter is now ready to send these to the monitor desk, the recording system and the broadcast truck. Most professional touring companies employ transformer isolated splitters to do this task.

There are several reasons for this. It allows each operator (front of house, monitors, etc) to have direct access to the mic or direct box input level. In other words, each operator can set the ideal trim and level control from the mic going into the mixing desk without it impeding what may be going on at the other mix positions. 

Transformer isolation is by far the most effective means of isolating one electrical device from another, and it also helps eliminate ground loops.

Broadcast trucks are usually outfitted with a series of XLR inputs that are transformer isolated for this very reason. There old adage “time is money” absolutely applies here. If you have a buzz problem in your system and you can make it go away quickly, you’re winning!

The same applies to remote loudspeaker towers in festival environments. Most top-end touring companies always have line level isolators in their tool kits for this very reason.

Field generators or alternate power sources often cause AC disruption which can further compromise the audio. A quality isolator will help tremendously in these instances.

Peter Janis is president of Radial Engineering, which has been producing snake systems, direct boxes and interfaces for 20 years. Clients include Cirque du Soleil, Grand Ole Opry, Solotech, Maryland Sound and House of Blues.

 

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/10 at 03:06 PM
Live SoundFeatureBlogStudy HallInterconnectMicrophoneSignalSound ReinforcementStagePermalink

Tech Tip Of The Day: Patch Bays

Provided by Sweetwater.

 
Q: I’m currently in the process of building a home studio and just at the point of wiring all of the raw cable to patch bays. However, I’m a bit stuck because I’m not sure what patch bays to get.

Is one “style” of patch bay better/more durable than another? I guess the same question goes for the patch cables themselves.

A: Wow, is this ever a loaded question. Because the industry can’t come to a general agreement on the type of connectors we should all use, there are a number of different patch bay and cable configurations.

So, start by taking stock of the types of connectors you have on your gear. Manufacturers often include both balanced and unbalanced connectors (not always, be sure to check), so your first step is in deciding whether you can use a balanced or unbalanced patch bay.

It’s best to first select a patch bay that suits your specific needs and then pick what patch cable it uses—if there are options. Balanced will allow longer cable runs before signal degradation.

One of the most common connections you’ll see is 1/4-inch balanced (TRS) or unbalanced (TS). However, you’ll also find patch bays that have bantam/tiny telephone (TT) and XLR connections.

Some believe that 1/4-inch connectors are the most durable, but often that’s a matter of opinion. Also, it’s important to remember that the cables will be in a studio, not on the road, so in general patch cables typically do not need the durability and flexibility of primary guitar cables or microphone cables.

However, they do need good shielding and good sonic quality, so we don’t mean to infer that you can go cheap here. Plus, cosmetics do not matter a whole lot, since no one will ever see them except you.

So, in many instances, shorter well-built cables fit the bill.

For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com

 

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/10 at 02:14 PM
RecordingFeatureBlogStudy HallInterconnectSignalStudioPermalink

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Norwegian Ski Resort Expands Commitment To Symetrix Processing

Goal was to provide a system capable of processing multiple inputs and that could be easily used by on-site personnel

Symetrix has expanded its footprint in the Norwegian sports resort community once more with a new installation at the Granåsen cross-country skiing stadium in Trondheim, Norway. Following on from the deployment of a Symetrix processing solution at the adjacent ski-jumping facility, the cross-country stadium has been equipped with a Symetrix SymNet Radius 12 x 8 open-architecture Dante-scalable DSP.

The new installation was commissioned and completed in advance of the combined ski-jump and cross-country FIS World Cup Championships, which were held last month. A Denon DN-500C CD player to provide background music, a Sennheiser ew300 G3 wireless microphone system for announcements, and a separate digital mixer are among the inputs to the Radius 12x8, which was fitted alongside one ARC-K1e and two ARC-EX4e modular wall panel remotes in February.

The installation was carried out by leading Nordic and Baltic IT/AV supplier – and long-term Symetrix user – Atea. “The aim was to provide a system capable of processing multiple inputs and one that could be easily used by both trained personnel and less knowledgeable staff. I believe we have succeeded in this objective,” says André Dominic Schorr, AV senior consultant and programmer at Atea.

The new equipment has essentially been deployed in what Schorr describes as a “set, select, volume configuration.” By way of example, he points to the ability to “control one zone in the stadium, so depending on the event we can trigger different inputs, turn on and turn off the amplifiers in the cellar, and so on. It’s fast and flexible – just what was needed.”

The recent phase of work is only part one of a projected deployment that will likely see the ski-jump and cross-country processing systems brought together via Symetrix’ support for the Audinate Dante media networking solution. “The idea is that the stadium and the ski arena can and will eventually be connected together via Dante and a fibre optic cable that has already been fitted.”

But that could be a way off yet. For now, Schorr reports that he has “only heard good feedback about the Symetrix installation so far. It’s easy to use and sounds great.”

Symetrix

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/09 at 04:00 PM
AVLive SoundNewsAVEthernetInstallationInterconnectNetworkingProcessorSoftwarePermalink

SynAudCon Digital Seminar Coming To Connecticut On April 28-30

Seminar designed to shorten learning curve while delivering comprehensive introduction to digital audio, signal processing and networks

SynAudCon will be presenting its much-lauded Digital Seminar later this month (April 28-30) in North Haven, CT.

The seminar, approved for 24 CEUs, is designed to shorten the learning curve while delivering a comprehensive introduction to digital audio, digital signal processing and digital audio networks.

Further, it provides a depth of understanding of everything from data formats to networked audio systems.

The seminar staff is a team comprised of SynAudCon leader Pat Brown, Steve Macatee of Rane and Bradford Benn of Crown Audio. The three of them form a tag-team approach to present SynAudCon Digital in a visually effective way.

Together they make learning digital audio fast, friendly and fun. This team not only has the theoretical grounding but also has applied these concepts in the field, so it is not just theory but also real world experiences that are being shared.

Price for the three-day seminar is $995. The seminar site is the Best Western Plus North Haven Hotel in New Haven, located 7 miles from Tweed New Haven airport (HVN), 42 miles from Bradley Intl (BDL), and 9 miles from Union Train Station which goes to New York City and Boston.

For more information about the SynAudCon Digital Seminar and to register online, go here. Registration can also be handled via phone with Brenda Brown of SynAudCon at 812-923-0174.

SynAudCon

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/09 at 02:54 PM
AVLive SoundChurch SoundNewsTrainingAVBusinessDigitalEducationEthernetInterconnectNetworkingSystemTechnicianPermalink

New Riedel MetroN Core Router Boosts Bandwidth & Flexibility Of MediorNet

Provides 640 GB real-time signal-routing capacity (64 x 10G ports)

Riedel Communications has expanded its MediorNet family of real-time networks with the addition of the 2RU large-scale MediorNet MetroN core router, providing 640 GB real-time signal-routing capacity (64 x 10G ports).

“The MediorNet MetroN core router enables users to configure robust and highly redundant MediorNet installations in a variety of demanding applications without any concern for bandwidth limitations,” says Christian Bockskopf, marketing and communications manager for Riedel Communications. “By adding this fiber router to new or existing MediorNet systems, users can fully leverage the flexibility of our real-time networks even when working with large volumes of high-bandwidth signals.”

Riedel’s MediorNet system combines signal transport, routing, signal processing, and conversion into one integrated real-time network solution. With this network for video, audio, data, and communications, users can send any incoming signal to any output — or even to multiple outputs — with just a mouse click or by using a router control system.

Eliminating the need for re-wiring when production setups change, MediorNet increases the flexibility of any installation while significantly reducing cabling and setup time. Integrated broadcast-quality processing and conversion features reduce or eliminate the need for external devices, in turn helping users to realize significant savings in infrastructure investment.

The addition of the MetroN core router dramatically increases the bandwidth available across MediorNet networks. It is the first solution in the MediorNet family where the connection is realized by means of 10G links. Up to six HD-SDI signals can be transmitted over one 10G connection. Typical applications for the router include the connection of MediorNet subnets, studio backbones, routing within a 3G-SDI studio infrastructure, and supporting networked OB vans.

Riedel Communications 

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/09 at 01:32 PM
AVLive SoundNewsProductAVEthernetInterconnectNetworkingProcessorSignalStudioPermalink

Monday, April 07, 2014

Riedel Enhances MediorNet Real-Time Media Network With MediorNet 2.0

Introduces Studer A-Link compatibility, which enables the MediorNet Modular frame to act as a decentralized audio router with a huge matrix and fully redundant interfaces

At this week’s NAB 2014 show in Las Vegas, Riedel Communications is showcasing the new functionality enabled by its MediorNet 2.0 real-time media network update, including seamless interoperability with Studer consoles, full video router functionality, EMBER+ implementation, and extended integration of the ProBel protocol.

“MediorNet 2.0 gives MediorNet users a flexible, easy-to-operate alternative to conventional video routers,” says Karsten Schragmann, product manager at Riedel Communications. “By incorporating tremendous routing capabilities right into the MediorNet frame, this firmware update enables users to lower their operations costs while reducing the volume and complexity of cabling required for audio and video signal transport.”

The MediorNet 2.0 update includes robust video router functionality with switching delays of less than 40 milliseconds, as well as high-speed rerouting that allows as many as 1,000 connections to be rerouted in less than a second.

Simple drag-and-drop routing of multiple connections speeds configurations, and users now have the option to delete multiple selected connections at once. The firmware update also supports more than 65,000 ProBel crosspoints.

It also introduces Studer A-Link compatibility, which enables the MediorNet Modular frame to act as a decentralized audio router with a matrix size larger than 25,000² and fully redundant interfaces. At the same time, MediorNet fully supports EMBER+ for integration with other common control systems, such as VSM and KSC Commander. Because the update permits access to all MediorNet parameters and allows users to edit I/O settings and control all routing functions, users retain control over configuration options.

Additional features that come with MediorNet 2.0 include a timecode display that can be configured to the user’s preferred size and position, an LTC input, and sample rate conversion on both optical MADI ports of MediorNet Compact systems.

Riedel Communications

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/07 at 05:41 PM
AVLive SoundRecordingNewsProductAVDigitalEthernetInterconnectNetworkingSoftwarePermalink

Zen On Stage: The Latest On IEM & Personal Monitoring

Reliable monitoring is essential to performers on stage, allowing them to blend their musical contributions with the other players – keeping them in time, on pitch, and able to creatively interact.

Traditionally, this function was performed by low-profile loudspeakers aimed generally toward the areas where the performers were active, with level control, sufficient coverage, bleed into open microphones, and feedback all issues that needed to be overcome. Another issue, especially with acts performing at high levels, was/is a contribution to hearing loss.

I first became aware of in-ear monitors, and wireless delivery of the mix, more than 20 years ago when I was asked to check out a prototype from a company called Garwood, based in the UK. The system consisted of a transmitter and a commercial stereo receiver unit (as I recall it was from Sony) operating in the FM band, with a pair of ear buds for monitoring.

In talking with some sound engineers for corroboration, I heard that a handful of singers were trying the system but rarely the other players, and that not hearing other musicians and the audience “live” was a common objection. (It should also be noted that Future Sonics was another pioneer of this approach at the time.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and in-ears and other personal monitoring solutions see wide usage. Let’s explore how manufacturers and engineers are pushing the boundaries of monitoring.

The Advantages
Monitoring a performance and what the rest of the band is doing while wearing in-ear monitors has a number of advantages over monitor loudspeakers. Typically, the performer has personal control the level of the mix via a wireless beltpack receiver or other interface, and unless the level controls and limiters are overridden, that level will be safer than the uncontrolled output of stage monitors and additional sound sources.

So there’s less potential for hearing damage as well as listening fatigue, but still enough level to stay present with the performance. And no matter where the artist moves on stage, the mix will remain consistent and much cleaner.

That mix can be even more highly controlled, either by the monitor engineer or by personal monitor-mix stations where the performer can select exactly what they want to hear at which relative levels, and make adjustments on the fly. With the mix going straight from the board into the ears, personalization of a mix is much more refined, and can make achieving a satisfactory mix faster and easier.

For the engineer and audience, having fewer or no monitor wedges lowers the level coming off the stage into the house, so that the house loudspeaker system isn’t competing with the stage for attention. This can be further enhanced with isolation boxes on instrument amplifiers, along with side/rear-firing them, and similar methods. Also, either having no wedges on stage or having them at lower levels to supplement in-ear monitors will help with gain-before-feedback as well as mic isolation.

A major part of performing is making the connection with the audience, and that energy is part of the “live” feeling that can be compromised by wearing isolating in-ears delivering a clean personal mix. An early and ongoing solution to this problem is adding side-stage audience mics to feed applause and other ambient sounds into the monitor mix. Pulling out one ear bud or loosening them to hear what’s going on can defeat the benefits of hearing protection and a more consistent mix.

Engineer Sean Quackenbush (O.A.R., Robert Randolph) with part of the Sensaphonics 3D Active Ambient IEM system.

Performers also need to interact on stage, and this includes being able to talk with each other during or between tunes. Artists also want to communicate with techs and the monitor mixer during a show. With in-ear monitors sealing the ear canal and attenuating ambient sounds by 20 dB or more, that communication can be much more difficult.

A solution from Sensaphonics addressing these challenges is the 3D Active Ambient IEM system. Each custom earpiece contains a microphone, and what it “hears” can be added to a monitor mix at any desired level.

The beltpack has a toggle switch that goes between a performance mix with your preferred ambient level mixed in, and a communications mode that brings up the level of the mic and dials down the monitor mix for those necessary conversations. Another approach is found in the JH Audio Ambient FR earpiece, which has an “ambient bore” to let in an attenuated version of outside sounds.

At The Ear
The elements for personal monitoring include the method of mixing the sources – the monitor console or individual mixers for the musicians, the delivery system for those signals, and the transducers themselves.

Though headphones are occasionally used, ear pieces or “buds” as they’re commonly called are much less obtrusive. Some of the differences among these in-ear devices involve custom-molded versus standard foam tips, the number of individual transducers used to reproduce full-bandwidth audio, the types of drivers used and how they are crossed over, and how they are constructed.

Some companies, such as Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, JH Audio and Sensaphonics, only offer custom-molded in-ears that fit the exact contours of a particular musician’s ear canals. This precision leads to a tighter seal to attenuate the ambient sound, potentially greater comfort, and a more controlled audio environment. The process begins with a visit to an audiologist who takes molds of both ears.

Some even provide guidance to find a qualified audiologist, with precise instructions of how deep into the canal the mold should go and that the person’s mouth should be open during the process “to ensure a more secure fit while the artist is singing, playing and instrument, or talking.”

Having a tight seal within the ear canal also enhances bass performance. Jack Kontney of Sensaphonics notes that “the soft silicone flexes with the ear canal when singing and changing facial expressions” so that a complete seal is maintained. An incomplete seal can lead to a loss of low frequencies, especially below 100 Hz – and is especially important when using balanced-armature drivers.

A tight seal also prevents the loud ambient sounds from entering, so that effective monitoring can be attained at lower levels. Further, according to Sensaphonics, medical-grade silicone provides several dB better attenuation than acrylic, reducing outside sounds by greater than 30 dB.

Inside an Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom earpiece.

Ear buds use either dynamic or balanced-armature drivers, or a combination of both, to reproduce the audio signal. Dynamic drivers function similarly to loudspeaker cones, only are miniaturized. They can be more efficient at reproducing bass frequencies, with potentially less detailed highs.

Balanced armatures suspend a rod surrounded by a coil within a magnetic field, and the motion of the rod is coupled with a diaphragm.  Their response tends to be highly detailed. As an example, the AF140 uses a dynamic and a balanced-armature driver in tandem for the lows, crossed over to a balanced armature for the highs.

JH Audio JH16 and Future Sonics mg6pro multi-driver ear buds.

With some buds, the frequency spectrum is divided between a pair of drivers; others use multiple drivers with several crossover points, and offer models with three, four, or more. Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom IEMs have six balanced-armature drivers – two LF, one each low and high mid, and two HF – while the Audiofly AF180 offers four balanced armatures and the JH Audio JH16 is a 3-way design with eight drivers per ear (double dual LF, dual mid, and dual high).

Recently introduced mg6pro ear buds from Future Sonics incorporate multiple 13 mm proprietary miniature dynamic transducers, crossover-free, and with proprietary +/-20 dB Ambient Noise Rejection (A.N.R.).

Universal-fit in-ear monitors are available from a variety of companies, such as Shure, Audiofly, Avlex MIPRO, Westone, Etymotic, and others. These units couple the earpiece with replaceable foam tips that conform to the contours of the ear canal.

While they don’t offer the fit and seal of a customized system, they are high-performance audio devices, like studio headphones. Listening recently to a CD through a pair of Audiofly AF140s, I had a “what’s that?” reaction and realized that I was hearing the detail of the flute player’s breathing on the recording.

Making It Personal
Going beyond a handful of different mixes provided by the monitor engineer, compact monitor mixers can be positioned by the individual musicians who can then customize their own mixes.

Professional personal mixers allow musicians to select and custom-mix 16 channels or more (discrete channels or sub-mixes) of digital audio from all available channels, adjust levels, pan, EQ and effects for each channel, plus save and recall presets of previous mixes.

Aviom is a pioneer in personal mixing, and recently introduced the A360, offering 16 mono or stereo channels that can be selected from a 64-channel A-Net or Dante digital audio network, plus an additional dual profile channel that gives the musician instant access to a most important channel of their choice. The system also has an onboard mic that can be enabled for one-touch ambience, or a stereo ambience feed from the console can be tied to this control.

The Roland Systems Group M-48 provides access to either 16 or 40 channels of digital audio when the appropriate Roland digital snake is connected to a Roland V-Mixer console. The setup of connected M-48s can be controlled locally or via software on a control computer. The personal mixer offers multiple outputs to feed a pair of floor wedges as well as headphones or IEMs.

The Allen & Heath ME-1 personal mixer works seamlessly with the company’s iLive and GLD digital mixers, complemented by the ME-U hub that opens it up to use with other consoles via Dante, EtherSound or MADI. ME-1 also has an Aviom compatibility mode.

The dbx professional PMC16 personal monitor controller can be used with the dbx TR1616 converter or any other Harman BLU link compatible device, and multiple PMC16s can be daisy chained using Cat-5e, allowing each user to receive 16 channels. It also is outfitted with onboard Lexicon reverb. The Movek myMix system has a powerful yet simple interface that includes a large backlit screen, rotary controller, and four function push buttons, allowing the user to select and control a 16-channel mix.

myMix myMix-Mixer and Allen & Heath ME-1, both personal mixers.

And another step farther, Pivitec and PreSonus combine hardware with configuration and control software running on tablet PCs and smart phones. The Pivitec system is based on AVB Ethernet protocols, using compatible network routers and switches plus 16-channel rack-mountable input modules.

PreSonus offers an app called QMix to provide up to 10 musicians with individual wireless mixes on their iPhone or iPod Touch, when used in conjunction with the company’s StudioLive console. The iOS device will detect all StudioLive mixers on the network, and can create a mix that includes all mixer channels. Aviom has also announced that iOS support for the A360 is coming this year.

Going Wireless
Today’s performer may be wearing at least two wireless packs – one to transmit voice or instrument to the console, and one to receive a personalized stereo mix.  Being wireless provides freedom of movement while retaining a clean, consistent monitor mix.  Several wireless microphone manufacturers also offer wireless IEM systems, including Shure, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Lectrosonics and others.

Shure offers the PSM900 single-channel and PSM1000 dual-channel wireless personal monitoring systems, which operate in the UHF band. They are analog systems with a frequency response of 35 Hz to 15 kHz, with a stereo separation of 60 dB. The PSM900 covers 36 MHz of spectrum, and up to 20 compatible frequencies can be used together.  Transmitter power is selectable at three levels – 10, 50, and 100 mW.  The slim bodypack is ruggedly constructed with a metal chassis, and has a detachable whip antenna, stereo mini jack, and a rotary level control. 

Audio-Technica M2 (above) and Shure PSM 900 single-channel wireless monitoring systems.

Audio-Technica offers the M2 single-channel wireless monitoring system operating in the UHF band over 33 MHz of spectrum, with multiple bands available. Up to 10 systems can operate together per band. In addition to L/R inputs, an additional input for a click track or ambient mic is provided.

Meanwhile, Sennheiser SR 2000 single-channel and SR 2500 dual-channel wireless IEMs also operate in the UHF band, with the system spanning a 75 MHz band. The transmitter has a 5-band graphic equalizer that can be accessed via the menu.

Note that as the term “wireless” makes clear, these systems use RF spectrum, so these systems need to be coordinated along with wireless mic, instrument, and intercom systems at every show.

Quality in-ear monitors are available at many price points, ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Hearing a consistent mix is certainly easier when using them, and at less damaging levels. There are benefits to be had in isolation, comfort, and sound quality with some of the custom units. For performers who want to instantly adjust their mix during the performance, the technology is available.

With all the movement on stage, many choices of reliable wireless delivery are available, and to my ears sound as good as wired. In the end, it all boils down to meeting the needs and preferences of the musicians for quality monitoring.

Gary Parks is a pro audio writer who has worked in the industry for more than 25 years, including serving as marketing manager and wireless product manager for Clear-Com, handling RF planning software sales with EDX Wireless, and managing loudspeaker and wireless product management at Electro-Voice.

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/07 at 02:14 PM
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Avid Previewing User Collaboration Tools At NAB 2014

Cloud collaboration workflows, an online marketplace, and an open metadata schema that will help audio professionals to work together

At the NAB 2014 show in Las Vegas this week, Avid (booth SU902) is previewing cloud collaboration workflows, an online marketplace, and an open metadata schema that will help audio professionals to work together with remote contributors, manage projects and media, and find new outlets for content monetization.

“The media industry is going through a period of unprecedented change, and to be successful, audio professionals need to create, share, manage, track, and distribute their content in powerful new ways,” states Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of products and technology at Avid. “Our exciting Pro Tools technology preview demonstrates how the Avid Everywhere strategic vision meets the unique needs of audio customers by enabling them to collaborate via the cloud, monetize their content through a broader marketplace, and manage content more powerfully using an open metadata schema.”

Through a series of presentations at NAB, Avid preview several developments for Pro Tools audio software:

Collaborate via the cloud — To enable music and audio professionals to collaborate together everywhere, Avid announced plans to add cloud-based collaboration workflows to Pro Tools. Musicians, producers, mixers and other contributors will be able to work together on the same music session or soundtrack, in real-time or offline, no matter where they are.

With track-based collaboration Pro Tools users will be able to:

—Post sessions to cloud storage and invite others to collaborate
—Work on the same session at the same time or offline, and share updates directly within Pro Tools
—Record, edit, and mix tracks that will be pushed to all other collaborators upon completion
—Automatically keep track of all contributions and changes, as files are automatically tagged with rich metadata

With streaming capabilities, users will be able to:

—Securely stream mixes to an iOS device for real-time review and approval
—Sync collaborators’ Pro Tools sessions together to work on audio for video projects, such as remote ADR or voiceover sessions
—Stream audio across synched Pro Tools sessions

Securely share and archive work locally or in the cloud — To ensure that users can maintain access and provide collaborators access to all parts of their projects—even on systems that don’t have the same plug-ins—Avid is developing the PXF archival. This format will enable Pro Tools sessions to be exported with rich metadata and effects “frozen” into the media so that projects can be accessed and played further down the line, even if technologies change or are unavailable, no matter how far out in the future users re-access them.

Monetize content through an online marketplace — Content creators will be able to connect and collaborate with other media professionals, as well as connect with consumers, through a public marketplace, enabling them to share and monetize media, with all rights managed and delivery secured across the environment. Additionally, studios and media companies will be able to set up private marketplaces that enable collaboration and streamline production.

The new marketplace will allow audio professionals to:

—Publish session files, multichannel stems, and stereo mixdowns directly from Pro Tools for license in the public marketplace
—Gain exposure and opportunities to make money by connecting with media professionals looking to license music and sound assets
—Quickly find professional-quality content in the style and formats they need, as all files will contain rich, searchable metadata
—Rate and provide comments for media assets in the marketplace to help others in the community make more informed purchasing decisions
—Buy and sell music and audio content with peace of mind, as all rights will be managed and protected across the marketplace
—Create a private marketplace for media enterprise, making it possible to sell media assets, and control to whom they are available, through a storefront hosted in Avid’s marketplace
—Search for and purchase marketplace content and audio plug-ins directly from within Pro Tools—with no application restart required after installation

Manage content using a new metadata schema — A new universal open metadata schema will enable users to manage, protect, and track every single media asset created and edited across the entire production and media value chain, from content creation through consumption. The metadata schema will be integrated into Pro Tools, and document the roles of all creative contributors, as well as manage, protect, and track how the media performs in the marketplace.

Avid

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/07 at 01:12 PM
RecordingNewsProductEngineerEthernetInterconnectMixerNetworkingSoftwareStudioPermalink

Riedel Introduces Virtual Key Panel App For Artist Digital Matrix Intercom System

Allows users to turn their smartphones and tablets into full-featured 12-key virtual panels for any Artist system

Riedel Communications has unveiled a new app that enables use of compatible iOS, OS X, and Android devices as virtual key panels for the company’s Artist digital matrix intercom system.

Allowing users to turn their smartphones and tablets into full-featured 12-key virtual panels for any Artist system, the new app adds even greater flexibility to the already versatile intercom solution.

“The option of using smartphones and tablets as intercom interfaces is just one more compelling reason to work with our Artist intercom product,” states Christian Bockskopf, marketing and communications for Riedel Communications. “With this new key panel app, users on the move can maintain convenient control over their Artist systems at all times.”

Operating the app’s virtual key panel via the device’s touch-screen interface, users enjoy the same signaling capabilities as they would on Riedel’s 1000 Series wired control panel for Artist systems. Like the wired control panels, the new key panel app can be configured via Riedel’s Director software.

To facilitate mobile control over the Artist system through the new app, a VOIP-108 G2 card at the Artist frame converts eight Artist matrix ports into a compressed IP stream.

To assure audio quality at all times, users can choose between two modes — a high-quality mode with an audio bandwidth of 6 kHz, resulting in a data rate of less than 80 kBit/s (including panel data); and a low-traffic mode with 4 kHz audio bandwidth and a data rate of less than 40 kBit/s per channel (including panel data). The VOIP-108 G2 client card then communicates with the virtual panels via a WAN connection to a wireless network.

Riedel’s key panel app for Artist intercom systems is now available through the respective app stores for iOS, OS X, and Android devices.

Riedel Communications

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/07 at 07:52 AM
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New Radial Engineering StageBug SB-15 Tailbone Now Shipping

Signal buffer designed to sit at the beginning of the signal chain and drive multiple pedals without the added noise that can plague high-impedance circuits

The new Radial Engineeringg SB-15 Tailbone, a high-performance signal buffer designed to sit at the beginning of the signal chain and drive multiple pedals without the added noise that can plague high-impedance circuits, is now shipping.

The compact design begins with a standard hi-Z instrument input. The signal is then “tamed” using Radial’s proprietary Dragster load correction circuit to replicate the tone and feel as if connected directly to the amplifier.

It’s then buffered via a 100-percent discrete, class-A unity gain amplifier. Unlike most others that employ ICs or integrated circuits to buffer the signal, the discrete design reduces the need for phase-canceling negative feedback producing a more natural and pleasing tone.

This is further advanced with the same class-A buffer that is in the Radial JD7 and used by guitarists as diverse as Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Steve Lukather and many others. Once buffered, the SB-15 Tailbone lowers the impedance and susceptibility to hum and buzz caused by radio interference and electromagnetic fields. The SB-15 Tailbone is able to drive multiple pedals distances of 15 meters (50’) without noise.

As an extra bonus, two 9V outputs can be combined in a power brick and the Tailbone will convert them to 15V DC for Tonebone pedals.

According to Radial President Peter Janis: “Over the years, we have received many requests to make our big Tonebone pedals work with 9V power bricks. Although 9 volts is plenty for average pedals, the higher voltage (15V) and double the average current (400 milliamps) increases the headroom and dynamic range. So instead of reducing the quality we have come up with a cool solution that takes two 9V outputs from a power brick and combines them to deliver the 15 volts.”

The Radial SB-15 Tailbone enhances sonic quality, reduces noise and adds the convenience of 15V DC power for the Tonebone. It is now shipping and retails for $90 USD.

Radial Engineering

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/07 at 06:57 AM
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Friday, April 04, 2014

It’s All Interconnected: Analog & Digital Cabling For Performance Audio

A few weeks ago one of the neighbors in the industrial complex where I keep my shop came over to say hello while I was in the middle of doing some PM (preventative maintenance) on cables.

As I sat at a bench surrounded by piles of microphone and loudspeaker lines, he asked why I was spending so much time on “stupid cords.” I replied, simply, that without the stupid cords, the rest of my equipment is worthless. A system is only as good as its cables, interconnects, snakes, and networks—period. Fortunately, we have a wide variety of analog and digital options to choose from, and it’s getting better on a constant basis.

Digital audio transport technology (a.k.a., digital snakes and networks) have taken pro audio by storm in the last few years, pushed at least in part by the proliferation of digital consoles, with virtually every manufacturer offering some way to move audio over Cat-5/6, coax, and fiber optic cabling. While digital networking certainly offers a lot of advantages and flexibility, it hasn’t pushed analog completely out of the picture—and in my opinion, at least, I don’t think it will, at least in the foreseeable future.

One reason is personal preference, another is the sheer amount of cabling that will have to be replaced, and yet another big one is that digital systems need A-D and D-A conversion at each end of the cable (or fiber), which increases cost, and this is particularly dramatic for smaller systems that only run a few channels of audio. As technologies improve and prices come down, I’m sure we’ll see even more digital, even on the smallest of shows, but there’s still the issue of preference.

That said, let’s take a look at the various cables, connectors, and audio transport used in production audio systems.

Here To There
The first cable in the signal chain is usually the humble XLR cable sporting 3-conductor connectors at each end. These cables connect low-impedance microphones and direct boxes to consoles, as well as send line level signals around to various gear.

Left to right: XLR (female end), TRS 1/4-inch, signal 1/4-inch, loudspeaker 1/4-inch, loudspeaker 1/4-inch with larger barrel, 4-pin Speakon, 19-in Soco male, and 19-pin Soco female. Note the use of colored heat shrink to quickly ID signal (blue and red) and loudspeaker cables.

They operate on the balanced principle and contain two insulated conductors that are twisted together inside a shield under the outer jacket. The audio signal is applied to the pair of conductors differentially, that is to say that one wire has the polarity of the signal reversed but the levels are the same. Any noise or outside interference that gets into the signal lines will mostly be defeated because one conductor transmits the noise with a positive polarity and the other is at a negative polarity.

When signals with opposite polarity (in this case, the noise) are combined, they will cancel each other out. The reason the inner conductors are twisted is that it allows external noise to be introduced to both signal conductors equally (or as equally as possible) and improves the common-mode rejection ratio. Some cables use four inner conductors (two pairs of two) that offer better rejection from outside electromagnetic interference like transformers and fluorescent lighting ballasts.

The conducting shield that wraps around the inner wires is used for the signal common and can be a spiral winding or a braided winding. Braided shields provide more surface area coverage and better rejection of radio frequency interference (RFI) than spiral wound shields.

Similar in construction to the XLR is a cable that instead has 3-conductor 1/4-inch phone plugs at each end, usually called a TRS cable. The TRS refers to Tip, Ring, and Sleeve, the three conductor positions on the connector.

These are commonly used as interconnection cables between rack gear and are a popular option for manufacturers who want to use balanced connections but have limited real estate on the product in which to squeeze in XLR connections.

Many consoles have insert jacks that allow patching of external processing into a channel or group. They normally use a TRS 1/4-inch jack and a special Y cable called an “insert cable” that is outfitted with a TRS plug on one end and a 2-conductor 1/4-inch plug at each end of the Y that is used to route to the inputs and outputs of the external processor. The TRS end is usually wired so the tip is the send to the external unit, the ring is the return and the sleeve is the shield or common.

While similar in looks to a TRS cable, a regular 1/4-inch signal cable is quite different. It has only one inner conductor surrounded by a spiral or braided shield. They are used with high-impedance signals from a guitar or keyboard to connect them to a stage amplifier or DI. The outer braid acts as both a conductor and a barrier to help keep RFI and other noises from reaching the center “hot” conductor.

When used with a guitar or other high-impedance input, the cable’s capacitance couples with the high impedance to create a low-pass filter that varies depending on cable length. The longer the cable, the more highs it rolls off, so 1/4-inch cable runs are usually kept under 25 feet in length unless they’re serving electronic keyboards, which output a hot line-level signal that can drive longer runs.

Another cable that may look identical to these first two is the 1/4-inch loudspeaker cable. While these may have a 1/4-inch plug on each end, the loudspeaker cable is a different animal altogether, designed to move large amounts of output current from an amplifier to a loudspeaker, not the mere milliamps that signal cables handle. Constructed of two heavy-gauge inner-insulated conductors housed in an outer jacket, these cables are commonly used to connect a stage amplifier head to its loudspeaker cabinet, or a small PA loudspeaker to a powered mixer.

Just a reminder—signal cables should never be used for loudspeaker lines, and vice versa. Signal cable isn’t designed to handle high current, and loudspeaker cable is not shielded from outside interference.

Scaling Up
The most popular loudspeaker connector in pro audio is the Speakon (stylized as speakON) from Neutrik. They come in 2-, 4- and 8-pin varieties, allowing a multitude of connections options. The wire size (gauge) of loudspeaker cable depends on a few factors, chiefly the load impedance and the length of the cable. Simply put, the longer the cable, the larger the conductors should be. Common sizes for audio production include 12- and 14-gauge, with a few manufacturers also offering multi-conductor cable in 13-gauge.

Two 50-foot, 6-channel boxes to fan stage snakes.

Some sound companies deploy an 18-conductor cable with a 19-pin connector called a Soco, borrowed from the lighting world. The term Soco comes from the trade name of the most common 19-pin connector manufactured by Socapex, but companies like Veam and Kupo also make compatible connectors. Lighting folks use the cable for six circuits of power, while audio folks wire up their systems differently and can get up to nine speaker circuits in one cable. A “Soco to fan out” distributes signal to the various loudspeaker cabinets.

Speaking of multi-circuit cables, snakes are the answer for running multiple channels of audio from one place to another. These cables could have a breakout fan on one or both ends to individual channel lines, or could use a box at one end (usually at the stage end) that individual XLR cables can be plugged into. Snakes can also integrate multi-pin connectors that make it faster and easier to hook up a system. To save weight and size in the cable many snakes use a foil shield around each pair of channel conductors instead of a braided or spiral wrapped shield.

Aside from the obvious stage to FOH mixer application, smaller “stage” snakes are a popular way to help manage cable runs on stage and keep things neat and organized. Another use of snakes is for “crosslink cables” running the signal to the PA system from one side of the stage to the other.

Many snakes have the capability to run signals from and to the stage. The “sends” are for the mic inputs to the mixer and the “returns” get the output of the mixer to the amp rack or powered loudspeakers. Larger systems may use a separate return snake for the line-level outputs to keep any crosstalk (interference from adjacent snake channels) to a minimum.

Splitter snakes provide more than one output off the send side of a snake, so the same inputs can be sent to multiple consoles (i.e., when using a separate monitor or broadcast console along with the house console). Some splitters are passive and simply hardwire a “Y” off each channel.

A better practice is to use isolation transformers to isolate each console from potential noises and hums and buzzes caused when plugging them into different power sources. In a split snake system, usually one split is hard-wired to the inputs so that the console can pass phantom power to mics and DIs.

Another version, called a “power snake,” combines a few loudspeaker lines along with the signal channels. These can work well for a small system on short runs but their use is usually limited to about 100 feet.  Yet another multi-circuit version that has become popular recently is cable systems that include signal and power in one jacket. These are perfect for getting audio and AC power to a powered loudspeaker or floor wedge.

Networked World
While analog cables still fill the road trunks, digital systems are starting to take over many of the audio transport duties. They offer a host of signal routing benefits that analog simply can’t match, including using a small thin cable to route multiple channels of audio. Smaller cable equals less stagehands required to lay out a digital network as opposed to large, heavy multi-core snakes.

Digital cables are also less prone to RFI and crosstalk. Networks, as we now call our digital transport systems, can offer audio almost anywhere along the line, and can easily interface with multi-track recording systems, personal monitoring rigs and broadcast trucks.

Transport networks use one of three types of cable: fiber optic, coax or Ethernet Cat-5/6. Coax cables offer up a rugged solution and are used by a few manufacturers to transport signals between stage boxes, consoles and recorders. Fiber optics offer the ability to send signals over very long distances, and because the signals travel as light, are immune to all outside electromagnetic disturbances and RFI. Ethernet Cat-5/6 cables are the most popular, found in many different systems to transport audio at distances of up to about 330 feet (100 meters). Some of these have accessories that can extend this distance.

A typical molded RJ45 connector (left) with an Ethercon connector.

Ethernet cables have RJ45 8-pin connectors that are stout enough for home computer use but not rugged enough for most gig uses, so they’re best replaced with rugged Ethercon connectors that surround the plastic crimp-on with a metal barrel that provides added protection in addition to better locking.

Ethernet cables come in a variety of styles. Some have solid wire conductors that offer the best performance, while others have stranded conductors that provide greater flexibility. They can be unshielded but it’s better to go with shielded in noisy environments.

Ethernet cables can also be wired in different ways. The “standard” wiring scheme runs pin 1 to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2, etc. “Crossed over” cables wire pin 1 to pin 3, pin 2 to pin 6, pin 3 to pin 1 and pin 6 to pin 2. Before choosing an Ethernet cable, check manufacturer recommendations on which cable is recommended for interconnection of specific gear.

As noted earlier, a downside to digital transport is that there is the need for analog to digital conversion, and further, manufacturers utilize a variety of variety of different protocols that are not compatible. However, that’s been changing rapidly, as more and more devices support multiple protocols, and the Audinate Dante protocol in particular has really caught on the past few years. And, AVB (Audio/Video/Bridging) is a standard that manufacturers are also starting to embrace. The bottom line is that our job of interconnecting various gear from various manufacturers is getting easier.

Senior contributing editor Craig Leerman is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas.

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/04 at 04:16 PM
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The Band Perry FOH Engineer Jon Garber Touring With Radial Engineering Tools

Utilizes a wide range of Radial DIs as well as Reamp JCRs

Currently in the midst of The Band Perry’s first world tour, “We Are Pioneers,” front of house engineer Jon Garber is utilizing a wide range of tools from Radial Engineering.

The Band Perry has been on a huge popularly surge, with Garber, who joined the band after nine years with Rascal Flatts, touring for more than 170 shows a year.

“The main challenge I have right now is that we’re on a different PA every night, so making it consistent night after night is what I strive for,” he states. “For me, new gear is something I really take my time to research. I’m of the mindframe that if it isn’t broke, don’t change it. But I know there’s new gear out that can make a day easier; for instance Radial gear, which we use a lot on this tour.”

Specifically, Garber and The Band Perry sound team deploy Radial J48 direct boxes, Reamp JCRs, JDI Duplex stereo DIs on keyboards, JDX DIs on electric guitars and ProD8 rack-mount DIs with Pro Tools recording rig. “The Radial J48 is by far, the best-sounding DI box out there,” he says. “It has super-low harmonic distortion and produces a lot more clean headroom. This is particularly important when you plug in a high-gain instrument.

“We also use the Radial Reamp JCR in a really cool way,” he continues. “We take the output from the wireless systems into the stage amps and then into Petersen tuners so that the artists can check their tuning at all times. The signal sounds as if you’re connected to a 15-foot cable. And because of the JCR isolation transformers, we can lift the ground and eliminate all of the hum and buzz problems that caused havoc in the past.”

One Radial JPC (stereo PC DI box) is utilized for several functions: “Getting a line-level signal for playback is the most important. Then in turn, if my audio interface goes down it’s a quick back up. One other place I use it is when artists want to play a song from their iPhone—I can quickly make that happen.”

Garber recently received word that even more dates are being added to The Band Perry’s schedule this year—Blake Shelton has invited the band to join him on more than 20 dates for the 2014 leg of his own “Ten Times Crazier” tour.

“The Band Perry are perfectionists, which I love,” he concludes. “They’re always trying new ways to give the crowd the best possible show. The best part of touring is working so hard during the setup and then seeing the people cheer and sing every song they sing.”

Radial Engineering

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/04 at 03:45 AM
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Thursday, April 03, 2014

National Aquarium Unveils New High Tech Exhibits With Audio Powered By QSC

New system Includes Q-Sys Core 500i integrated system platform, AcousticDesign loudspeakers and CX Series amplifiers

The National Aquarium in Baltimore unveiled a new centerpiece exhibit, Blacktip Reef, a re-creation of an Indo-Pacific reef ecosystem that features 779 animals representing 70 species, including blacktip sharks.

As part of the $12 million construction project, sound system upgrades to the aquarium were also implemented, including a QSC Audio Q-Sys Core 500i integrated system processor managing 75 AcousticDesign AD-Ci52ST ceiling loudspeakers plus 16 AcousticDesign AD-S52T surface-mount loudspeakers powered by five CX Series multichannel amplifiers.

The new QSC equipment supplements existing background music and paging system at the aquarium, which is located in the city’s Inner Harbor and attracts 1.4 million visitors annually. Burbank, CA-based AV specialists Electrosonic designed the sound system expansion and other improvements to the exhibits, with Nelson White Systems of Towson, MD, providing system integration. “It was one of the largest renovations the aquarium has done in many years,” reports Paul Stephens, CTS-D, system engineer at Nelson White Systems.

A Q-Sys Core 500i with a single I/O Frame handles loudspeaker management, zoned playback of background music and sound effects, and integrates with a new wireless microphone system for dive show presentations at the new Blacktip Reef attraction. The Core 500i is interconnected with the National Aquarium’s existing audio system and offers support for pre-recorded pages. A new QSC PS-800H eight-button wall-mounted paging station was also installed at the security desk for live announcements.

New QSC equipment installed at the Blacktip Reef exhibit in the Great Hall includes 59 AD-Ci52ST 70V flush-mount, ceiling loudspeakers together with 16 AD-S52T 70V surface-mount loudspeakers. The loudspeakers are powered by four CX204V four-channel 70V amplifiers fitted with optional DataPort output cards, enabling full integration with the Q-Sys Core’s monitoring and control capabilities. A further 16 AD-Ci52ST 70V ceiling loudspeakers, driven by a single eight-channel CX108V 70V amplifier also fitted with a DataPort card, are installed at two Bubble Tank exhibits.

Visitors can view the Blacktip Reef exhibit from platforms on various levels above the 260,000-gallon habitat, as well as below the surface. The exhibit features a new 27-foot curved viewing window that allows guests to step four feet into the underwater reef. According to Stephens, the loudspeakers on each level around the attraction are zoned to provide a smooth transition between the exhibit audio and Blacktip Reef presentations, which include daily feedings of the animals by divers.

“As you walk closer to where you can overlook Blacktip Reef you can hear the presentation,” he elaborates. “As you move closer to the exhibits on the floor, you hear any audio associated with those exhibits. When there are no presentations going on, those areas have music.” That music crossfades between one zone and the next in certain areas, he adds.

The entrance to the Blacktip Reef exhibit, where large bubble tubes are located, features a new eight-channel soundscape, sourced from the Core 500i that is assigned and distributed to 16 AD-Ci52ST ceiling loudspeakers. “We installed eight of the ceiling speakers next to each of these bubble tubes and zoned them. They run these bubble sounds through them; we’re using the media player within the Q-Sys Core to play the soundscapes,” Stephens notes.

Wireless control of the system is enabled via the Q-Sys Control app. “The gentleman who runs the A/V department has the QSC app on his phone,” says Stephens. “And the presenters have a small iPod Touch that they use—they just walk up and hit a button for whatever presentation they want.”

“The speakers near the balcony which overlooks the Blacktip Reef exhibit will be used to draw people to the Blacktip Reef dive shows,” says Stephens. “The other speakers are for the specific exhibit areas.”

image


QSC Audio

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/03 at 01:43 PM
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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Hillsdale College Adds FiberPlex Optical Multiplexing For Broadband AV

College will roll out FiberPlex WDM-16 multiplexer into existing fiber strands for moving large multimedia files from auditorium and sports fields to control studio on campus

When it comes to broadband AV, it’s optical fiber all the way for Hillsdale College in Michigan. The independent private college started running high-speed, secure optical fiber across its indoor track using audio optical technology by FiberPlex Technologies last May and is now gearing up for another, longer optical run that will shuttle multimedia across its campus. 

In the next few months, the college will roll out a FiberPlex WDM-16 multiplexer into existing fiber strands for moving large multimedia files from its auditorium and sports fields to a control studio on campus.

Hillsdale College director of technical media Ted Matko is working with AVI Systems, headquartered in Eden Prairie, MN, on the project and expects the WDM-16 active wave division multiplexer to save the college the cost of trenching in new fiber in some areas of the campus by reusing existing optical runs which will generate substantial savings. 

“We needed capacity to get video from the athletic fields, the auditorium, the fine arts building and elsewhere to our new control studio about a quarter of a mile away. Multiplexing will make it cost effective to do that,” says Matko, explaining that the FiberPlex WDM-16 lets him multiplex 16 separate channels at 3Gb/s each onto two fiber pairs used by the campus network.

The additional channels are needed to stream live volleyball, football and baseball games across a quarter-mile distance from its athletic fields to the control studio, which was originally the bookstore but now serves as the command center for media control and the head-end to the LTN feed picked up by the networks. The college also shuttles media to its control room from its auditorium on a regular basis for guest speaker engagements.

Previously, in May, the college installed FiberPlex LightViper optical audio snakes for its graduation ceremony held in its indoor track facility with 5,000 people in attendance, including commencement speaker U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

A LightViper snake connected the mics on stage to a mixing console at the back of the field some 265 feet away over fiber optic cabling. Another LightViper optical snake routed the audio channels – via optical cable – from the track to the studio control room across campus. All audio is controlled and networked through a Peavey MediaMatrix audio control system.

“This is a standalone digitally networked sound system that can handle just about anything they want to do from the field. If they need to change anything, they just click on a control page from their laptop and now they’re switched over to any device or location they want through optical fiber and the LightViper system,” notes Andrew Walker of Avtek AV, who designed the system and recommended the LightViper optical snake instead of copper snake because it can transport audio error-free and transparently over greater distances, by a 400:1 ratio compared to copper.

A typical LightViper system includes a FOH breakout unit and 32x8 stage box connected by optical cable for sending and receiving optical signals to a remote location. One fiber cable weighing less than eight pounds can transmit the same data as two, 40-pair copper cables weighing 700 pounds.

In the next few weeks, the LightVipers will be joined by new WDM-16 multiplexers that will take the school’s multimedia endeavors a step further by routing video over optical fiber to the control studio elsewhere on the campus for full head-end control of media files. 

FiberPlex Technologies

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Posted by Keith Clark on 04/02 at 12:23 PM
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