Monday, July 30, 2012

Oklahoma City Church Rejuvenates A/V System With Trio Of DiGiCo Consoles

SD7 for FOH duties, an SD10 for monitors, an SD10B for its broadcast mix, and seven SD racks installed throughout the facility

Founded in 1950, Oklahoma City’s Crossings Community Church had been struggling with an audio and video system that was installed over a dozen years ago and that no longer met the needs of its over 5,000-member congregation and numerous weekly services, including five distinct ones on Sunday alone.

Technical director Chuck Timmons decided to enlist the help of Acoustic Dimensions senior consultant Robert Rose to design an audio system that would provide the clarity and musicality that they desired.

With a project like this, the conversations regarding budget and specific models developed into what the project would require.

“Our timing was such that we met with Robert Rose and DiGiCo national sales manager Matt Larson at InfoComm where we were able to get an update on the newest products,” says Timmons. “This is where the SD10 caught our attention. We found that if we could increase our budgets marginally we would have the additional flexibility to add the broadcast software to the SD10 that was slated for broadcast suite to ensure the console would be a long-term investment and could expand along with our needs.

“After a capital campaign to secure the funding, Clark was selected to handle the state-of-the-art A/V system, led by director of engineering Kevin Entrekin—the scope of which included all new fiber optic infrastructure, powered Meyer loudspeakers, and a trio of DiGiCo SD consoles.

“My role for this installation was to help convey how we do ministry to the designers,” Timmons adds. “This included things like number of input channels, number of mix channels, types of inputs and outputs, mostly technical and workflow items. I also played a major role in deciding what brands of equipment we would like to have installed and watching the bottom line in terms of what we were spending.

“After consulting with a few fellow technical directors and evaluating other consoles, we always came back to DiGiCo for the ease of operation, crystal clear sound, great features, price, and Waves integration.

“We selected an SD7 for FOH duties, an SD10 for monitors, an SD10B for its broadcast mix, and seven SD racks installed throughout the facility, and connected all the consoles and I/O over a 50 Micron Multi-Mode fiber optic network. Replacing miles of copper and old outdated patch bays with the redundant fiber network on all of the Digico hardware saved the church an enormous amount of money not only on the cost of the hardware but the ease of DiGiCo installation saved us greatly on labor cost.

“This is a cost that one typically does not look at when choosing a product but it was a area of expense we had a keen eye and saw the addition value is a streamlined integration that we were able to get with the DiGiCo system as we were easily able to add channels, not copper.”

The DiGiCo consoles interface with a new PA consisting of three arrays of Meyer Sound MILO line array cabinets, 10 Meyer 700HP subwoofers, eight UPQ-1P for over balcony delays, nine UP Junior for under balcony delay, and seven UP-4XP for front fills. The system uses three Meyer Sound Galileo 616 processors for DSP.

“This was our first installation with DiGiCo,” says Entrekin. “On some of the larger system installations we’ve managed in the past, Clark has taken a conservative approach using a manufacturer that we’ve worked with previously. In our early conversations with DiGiCo, we heard things that were important to us as an integrator; they were not interested in just selling us something but wanted to make certain that we were comfortable and understood the various options that were available to us so that we could make the best decision.

“We understood that not only were these products technically advanced for larger scaled installations, but also could be operated by our volunteer engineers with great results.”

The biggest challenge to the project was the timeline. With the project starting mid-summer of 2010, they were concerned about having it up and running for their busy holiday season.

“We hit the ground running in July with coordinating and drawing the project,” Entrekin notes. “The electrical and rigging infrastructure began in October, and we installed audio and video equipment throughout November. All the while, we had services every week during construction, and we were fully operational for our first concert and candlelight services on Christmas Eve.”

Timmons was pleased to receive positive feedback from church members soon after the new system was up and running. Comments along the lines of, ”It’s so clear now, I can hear what the pastor is saying,” and “I didn’t know what I was missing in the music,” were heard on a regular basis. The quality of the sound had vastly improved to where even a few of the members no longer had to use the facility’s hearing assistance system.

“DiGiCo’s features such as snapshot automation, dynamic EQ, multiband compression, and large easy to see touch-screens, make these consoles the right choice,” summed up Timmons. “Paired with Meyer Sound, we feel this is a combination that will provide great sound and clarity for Crossings Community Church and its congregation for many years to come.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 07/30 at 03:03 PM
AVLive SoundChurch SoundNewsAVConsolesDigitalInstallationInterconnectNetworkingSound ReinforcementPermalink

Church Sound:Testing Cables Regularly Is A Big Key To Solid System Performance

A $10 microphone cable was compromising the sound of our $30,000 grand piano. Sound familiar?

Operating the sound system from the mix position during a recent Sunday worship service, it all began when the first note from our grand piano was distorted.


We’d checked the piano channel and sound prior to the service, and all was fine.

My first reaction to the distortion being produced was to reduce the gain on that console channel, thinking perhaps the piano player was nailing the keys very hard.

Yet the problem remained. Next, I did a pre-fade listen (PFL) in my headphones – yes, it was definitely distortion on the piano channel, no question about it.

To capture sound from this grand piano, we use a magnetic pickup from Helpinstill Designs, which sends the original vibrations of the strings (the source of the piano’s sound) directly to the mixing console.

If you’re struggling to reproduce a full, natural piano sound these pickups are definitely an option to consider.

Anyway, my next thought was that someone had accidentally bumped the pickup so that it was hitting some of the strings. Oh well, nothing could be done until the service ended, so I just did my best to work around and minimize the problem.

But a quick look immediately after the service showed that the pickup had not been disturbed.

Finding nothing else visibly wrong, we set up a few microphones to capture the piano in case we encountered the same problem during the next service, scheduled to start in less than 30 minutes.

Sure enough as the service began, here it came again - big-time piano distortion!

We quickly switched over to the backup mics, which covered us without major incident.

However, how I was perplexed and facing a challenge. What could it be? Perhaps the pickup unit itself was failing – my most logical guess at this point.

Prior to that evening’s service, we needed to move the piano to a different location on the platform.

Looking at the microphone cable connecting the pickup to the XLR jack in the floor box, it finally dawned on me to check that cable. Sure enough, it was going bad.

Thus, a $10 mic cable was compromising the sound of our $30,000 grand piano fed to our professional caliber sound system!

It often is the simple things, isn’t it? And yet another hard-earned lesson for yours truly.

To avoid this disruptive and embarrassing problem, all I had to do was invest in better cables, and further, regularly (say, once a month) check the performance of each one with another small investment: a cable tester.

The truth is that our church already owns a very good cable tester made by Whirlwind (called, appropriately enough, the TESTER), but I’d simply gotten out of the habit of using it regularly. Big mistake.

There are many models of cable testers available, and most are very simple to use and understand. A suitable one can be had for less than $100 from your contractor or retail store.

A device like the Whirlwind TESTER should be able to be interfaced with a variety of audio connectors, such as XLR, 1/4-inch and RCA. Once connected, the tester should quickly show, via a simple read-out on the unit’s front panel, if the cable and connector are working properly. Many will also show polarity (don’t call it phase!) reversal.

A “hands-free” design is preferred to allow manipulation of the cable to locate intermittent problems. In particular, I “wiggle” the ends of the cable right next to the connector to check for intermittent problems, because this is the most likely location where they occur.

Cable testers and testing may not be the “glamor” aspect of audio, but it’s a bedrock that allows the more glamorous parts (such as mixing) to flourish. Why let one of the least expensive aspects of a system be its weakest link?

Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 25 years.

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/30 at 11:12 AM
Church SoundFeatureStudy HallEducationInstallationInterconnectSound ReinforcementStageSystemTechnicianAudioPermalink

Understanding Constant-Voltage Audio Distribution Systems

25, 70.7 & 100 Volts; U.S. Standards; Just What is "Constant" Anyway?; Voltage Variations -- Make Up Your Mind; Calculating Losses -- Chasing Your Tail
This article is provided by Rane Corporation.

Constant-voltage is the common name given to a general practice begun in the late 1920s and early 1930s (becoming a U.S. standard in 1949) governing the interface between power amplifiers and loudspeakers used in distributed sound systems.

Installations employing ceiling-mounted loudspeakers, such as offices, restaurants and schools are examples of distributed sound systems.

Other examples include installations requiring long cable runs, such as stadiums, factories and convention centers.

The need to do it differently than you would in your living room arose the first time someone needed to route audio to several places over long distances. It became an economic and physical necessity. Copper was too expensive and large cable too cumbersome to do things the home hi-fi way.

Stemming from this need to minimize cost, maximize efficiency, and simplify the design of complex audio systems, thus was born constant-voltage. The key to the solution came from understanding the electric company cross-country power distribution practices. They elegantly solved the same distribution problems by understanding that what they were distributing was power, not voltage.

Further they knew that power was voltage times current, and that power was conserved. This meant that you could change the mix of voltage and current so long as you maintained the same ratio: 100 watts was 100 watts—whether you received it by having 10 volts and 10 amps, or 100 volts and 1 amp. The idea bulb was lit. By stepping-up the voltage, you stepped-down the current, and vice-versa.

Therefore to distribute 1 megawatt of power from the generator to the user, the power company steps the voltage up to 200,000 volts, runs just 5 amps through relatively small wire, and then steps it back down again at, say, 1000 different customer sites, giving each 1 kilowatt. In this manner large gauge cable is only necessary for the short direct run to each house. Very clever.

Applied to audio, this means using a transformer to step-up the power amplifier’s output voltage (gaining the corresponding decrease in output current), use this higher voltage to drive the (now smaller gauge wire due to smaller current) long lines to the loudspeakers, and then using another transformer to step-down the voltage at each loudspeaker. Nothing to it.

U.S. Standards—Who Says?
This scheme became known as the constant-voltage distribution method. Early mention is found in Radio Engineering, 3rd Ed. (McGraw-Hill, 1947), and it was standardized by the American Radio Manufacturer’s Association as SE-101-A & SE-106, issued in July 1949 [1]. Later it was adopted as a standard by the EIA (Electronic Industries Association), and today is covered also by the National Electric Code (NEC) [2].

Basics—Just What is “Constant” Anyway?
The term “constant-voltage” is quite misleading and causes much confusion until understood. In electronics, two terms exist to describe two very different power sources: “constant-current” and “constant-voltage.”

Constant-current is a power source that supplies a fixed amount of current regardless of the load; so the output voltage varies, but the current remains constant.

Constant-voltage is just the opposite: the voltage stays constant regardless of the load; so the output current varies but not the voltage. Applied to distributed sound systems, the term is used to describe the action of the system at full power only. This is the key point in understanding. At full power the voltage on the system is constant and does not vary as a function of the number of loudspeakers driven, that is, you may add or remove (subject to the maximum power limits) any number of loudspeakers and the voltage will remain the same, i.e., constant.

The other thing that is “constant” is the amplifier’s output voltage at rated power—and it is the same voltage for all power ratings. Several voltages are used, but the most common in the U.S. is 70.7 volts rms. The standard specifies that all power amplifiers put out 70.7 volts at their rated power. So, whether it is a 100 watt, or 500 watt or 10 watt power amplifier, the maximum output voltage of each must be the same (constant) value of 70.7 volts.

Figure 1 diagrams the alternative series-parallel method, where, for example, nine loudspeakers are wired such that the net impedance seen by the amplifier is 8 ohms. The wiring must be selected sufficiently large to drive this low-impedance value.


Applying constant-voltage principles results in Figure 2. Here is seen an output transformer connected to the power amplifier which steps-up the full-power output voltage to a value of 70.7 volts (or 100 volts for Europe), then each loudspeaker has integrally mounted step-down transformers, converting the 70.7 volts to the correct low-voltage (high current) level required by the actual 8 ohm speaker coil.


It is common, although not universal, to find power (think loudness) taps at each speaker driver. These are used to allow different loudness levels in different coverage zones. With this scheme, the wire size is reduced considerably from that required in Figure 1 for the 70.7 volt connections.

Becoming more popular are various direct-drive 70.7 volt options as depicted in Figure 3. The output transformer shown in Figure 2 is either mounted directly onto (or inside of) the power amplifier, or it is mounted externally.


In either case, its necessity adds cost, weight and bulk to the installation. An alternative is the direct-drive approach, where the power amplifier is designed from the get-go (I always wanted to use that phrase, and I sincerely apologize to all non-American readers from having done so) to put out 70.7 volts at full power. An amplifier designed in this manner does not have the current capacity to drive 8 ohm low-impedance loads; instead it has the high voltage output necessary for constant-voltage use—same power; different priorities.

Quite often direct-drive designs use bridge techniques which is why two amplifier sections are shown, although single-ended designs exist. The obvious advantage of direct-drive is that the cost, weight and bulk of the output transformer are gone. The one disadvantage is that also gone is the isolation offered by a real transformer. Some installations require this isolation.

Voltage Variations—Make Up Your Mind
The particular number of 70.7 volts originally came about from the second way that constant-voltage distribution reduced costs:

Back in the late ‘40s, UL safety code specified that all voltages above 100 volts peak (“max open-circuit value”) created a “shock hazard,” and subsequently must be placed in conduit—expensive—bad.

Therefore working backward from a maximum of 100 volts peak (conduit not required), you get a maximum rms value of 70.7 volts (Vrms = 0.707 Vpeak). [It is common to see/hear/read “70.7 volts” shortened to just “70 volts”—it’s sloppy; it’s wrong; but it’s common—accept it.]

In Europe, and now in the U.S., 100 volts rms is popular. This allows use of even smaller wire. Some large U.S. installations have used as high as 210 volts rms, with wire runs of over one mile.

Remember: the higher the voltage, the lower the current, the smaller the cable, the longer the line. [For the very astute reader: The wire-gauge benefits of a reduction in current exceeds the power loss increases due to the higher impedance caused by the smaller wire, due to the current-squared nature of power.]

In some parts of the U.S. safety regulations regarding conduit use became stricter, forcing distributed systems to adopt a 25 volt rms standard. This saves conduit, but adds considerable copper cost (lower voltage = higher current = bigger wire), so its use is restricted to small installations.

Calculating Losses—Chasing Your Tail
As previously stated, modern constant-voltage amplifiers either integrate the step-up transformer into the same chassis, or employ a high voltage design to direct-drive the line. Similarly, constant-voltage loudspeakers have the step-down transformers built-in as diagrammed in Figures 2 and 3.

The constant-voltage concept specifies that amplifiers and loudspeakers need only be rated in watts. For example, an amplifier is rated for so many watts output at 70.7 volts, and a loudspeaker is rated for so many watts input (producing a certain SPL). Designing a system becomes a relatively simple matter of selecting speakers that will achieve the target SPL (quieter zones use lower wattage speakers, or ones with taps, etc.), and then adding up the total to obtain the required amplifier power.

For example, say you need (10) 25 watt, (5) 50 watt and (15) 10 watt loudspeakers to create the coverage and loudness required. Adding this up says you need 650 watts of amplifier power—simple enough—but alas, life in audioland is never easy. Because of real-world losses, you will need about 1000 watts.

Figure 4 shows the losses associated with each transformer in the system (another vote for direct-drive), plus the very real problem of line-losses. Insertion loss is the term used to describe the power dissipated or lost due to heat and voltage-drops across the internal transformer wiring. This lost power often is referred to as I2R losses, since power (in watts) is current-squared (abbreviated I2) times the wire resistance, R.


This same mechanism describes line-losses, since long lines add substantial total resistance and can be a significant source of power loss due to I2R effects. These losses occur physically as heat along the length of the wire.

You can go to a lot of trouble to calculate and/or measure each of these losses to determine exactly how much power is required [3], however there is a Catch-22 involved: Direct calculation turns out to be extremely difficult and unreliable due to the lack of published insertion loss information, thus measurement is the only truly reliable source of data.

The Catch-22 is that in order to measure it, you must wait until you have built it, but in order to build it, you must have your amplifiers, which you cannot order until you measure it, after you have built it!

The alternative is to apply a very seasoned rule of thumb: Use 1.5 times the value found by summing all of the loudspeaker powers. Thus for our example, 1.5 times 650 watts tells us we need around 975 watts.

Wire Size—How Big Is Big Enough?
Since the whole point of using constant-voltage distribution techniques is to optimize installation costs, proper wire sizing becomes a major factor. Due to wire resistance (usually expressed as ohms per foot, or meter) there can be a great deal of engineering involved to calculate the correct wire size.

The major factors considered are the maximum current flowing through the wire, the distance covered by the wire, and the resistance of the wire. The type of wire also must be selected. Generally, constant-voltage wiring consists of a twisted pair of solid or stranded conductors with or without a jacket.

For those who like to keep it simple, the job is relatively easy. For example, say the installation requires delivering 1000 watts to 100 loudspeakers. Calculating that 1000 watts at 70.7 volts is 14.14 amps, you then select a wire gauge that will carry 14.14 amps (plus some headroom for I2R wire losses) and wire up all 100 loudspeakers. This works, but it may be unnecessarily expensive and wasteful.

Really meticulous calculators make the job of selecting wire size a lot more interesting. For the above example, looked at another way, the task is not to deliver 1000 watts to 100 loudspeakers, but rather to distribute 10 watts each to 100 loudspeakers. These are different things. Wire size now becomes a function of the geometry involved.

For example, if all 100 loudspeakers are connected up daisy-chain fashion in a continuous line, then 14.14 amps flows to the first speaker where only 0.1414 amps are used to create the necessary 10 watts; from here 14.00 amps flows on to the next speaker where another 0.1414 amps are used; then 13.86 amps continues on to the next loudspeaker, and so on, until the final 0.1414 amps is delivered to the last speaker.

Well, obviously the wire size necessary to connect the last speaker doesn’t need to be rated for 14.14 amps. For this example, the fanatical installer would use a different wire size for each speaker, narrowing the gauge as he went. And the problem gets ever more complicated if the speakers are arranged in an array of, say, 10 x 10, for instance.

Luckily tables exist to make our lives easier. Some of the most useful appear in Giddings [3] as Tables 14-1 and Table 14-2 on pp. 332-333. These provide cable lengths and gauges for 0.5 dB and 1.5 dB power loss, along with power, ohms, and current info. Great book. Table 1 below reproduces much of Gidding’s Table 14-2 [4].


  1. Langford-Smith, F., Ed. Radiotron Designer’s Handbook, 4th Ed. (RCA, 1953), p. 21.2.
  2. Earley, Sheehan & Caloggero, Eds. National Electrical Code Handbook, 5th Ed. (NFPA, 1999).
  3. See: Giddings, Phillip Audio System Design and Installation (Sams, 1990) for an excellent treatment of constant-voltage system designs criteria; also Davis, D. & C. Sound System Engineering, 2nd Ed. (Sams, 1987) provides a through treatment of the potential interface problems.
  4. Reproduced by permission of the author and Howard W. Sams & Co.

Supplied by Rane. For more, go to

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/30 at 10:45 AM

Altinex Introduces PNP402 Dual Sided Pop-N-Plug Interconnect Box

Solution for facilitating power, Internet/network access, plus audio and video connections for a laptop computer

Altinex has announced the availability of the PNP402 Dual Sided Pop-N-Plug Interconnect Box, another addition to the expanding line of Pop-N-Plug options.

As an easy-to-use tabletop connection device, the Altinex PNP402 is a highly functional solution for facilitating power, Internet/network access, plus audio and video connections for a laptop computer.

Each plate includes the following connectors: two standard U.S. power receptacles, Computer Video (15-pin HD), COM Port/RS-232 (9-pin D), Composite Video (RCA), S-video (4-pin Mini-Din), Audio (2 RCAs), Computer Audio (3.5 mm Stereo Mini), Modem (RJ-11), and Network (RJ-45) input connectors.

All connectors have 6-foot cables attached that feed through to the bottom of the unit.

The PNP402C is customizable, with a variety of different connector options—all factory-configured and terminated.

From a design aesthetics perspective, the Altinex PNP402 interconnect box is a good match for contemporary boardroom tables, employing a matte-black finish that blends aesthetically with most any business environment.

The PNP402’s input plate is accessed by pushing down on the top cover. The unit then smoothly rises up with assistance from an internal gas spring lift mechanism.

Once open, the input plate remains securely in place. The input plate is hidden, or closed, by pressing down on the top cover until the latching mechanism engages.

In its closed position, the top panel lies flush with the table’s top, held in place by the latching mechanism.

This secure fit also means less chance for paperwork to catch the PNP402’s edges when being passed across a table—so documents remain clean and professional in appearance.

Grant Cossey, Altinex vice president of sales, notes, “The PNP402 makes an excellent choice for creating a quick and convenient means of patching equipment into a company’s data network or presentation system. With its ability to be customized, the PNP402C offers the flexibility required for inclusion into the most sophisticated presentation space. Integrators will find the PNP402 and PNP402C first-rate solutions for providing quick and easy AV system access.”

The Altinex PNP402 Dual Sided Pop-N-Plug Interconnect Box is available now with a MSRP price of $1,295. The customizable unit (PNP402C) carries a MSRP of $1,343.


Posted by Keith Clark on 07/30 at 04:24 AM
AVLive SoundNewsProductAVInstallationInterconnectAudioPermalink

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Allen & Heath Releases New GS-R24 Console Firmware With HUI Support

Also includes a range of enhancements to the FireWire interface driver

Allen & Heath has released a major firmware and driver update for the GS-R24 recording console that includes integrated support of the HUI protocol for direct integration with DAW applications with HUI MIDI control presets, such as ProTools and Reaper.

Users will also benefit from a range of enhancements to the FireWire interface driver.

HUI, which synchronizes DAW software and connected hardware devices, is now emulated by three virtual MIDI ports in the GS-R24’s new firmware, tunneled over the mixer’s FireWire connection. This means that for GS-R24M mixers equipped with the FireWire interface, a third party translator is no longer essential.

A new set of DAW Resource Packs is also available online, with step-by-step instructions and template projects to aid the set-up of popular recording software.

To coincide with the release, Allen & Heath will be offering interactive webinars—details are here.

Allen & Heath

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/19 at 09:28 AM
Live SoundRecordingNewsProductConsolesDigital Audio WorkstationsInterconnectMixerSoftwareStudioPermalink

Church Sound: Simple Stage Planning In Four Easy Steps

Your service setup can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 by following these easy steps.
This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

How do you decide upon a stage setup? That’s the question recently posed to me by a reader.

It’s a simple question that leads to a simple, yet lengthy response. Setting up a stage is more than just placing gear and placing people, it’s all about…


The email included this statement:

“Most of the time we just show up to church and spend a lot of time just trying to figure out where to put the instruments.”

This means that right off the bat, there are two problems:

1. The sound tech’s don’t know, in advance, who’s playing.

This is a problem for several reasons.

They can’t set up the equipment stations on the stage before the band arrives, they don’t know who/what they have to work with until the last minute, and they waste time each week doing the same thing that should only take a short period of time.

2. The band members don’t know where they should be on stage.

This is a problem for several reasons as well.

They waste time talking about setup instead of time that could be spent practicing, limited practice time means less time for the sound tech to get a good mix, and finally, the band doesn’t have a feeling of closeness on the stage that comes from familiarity.

Specifically, in this last instance, I’m talking about the drummer always being on the right side and the guitarist always being on the left, and so forth and so on.

Walking on a stage and being in the same place week after week, provides a level of comfort and ease - because it’s familiar.

What can be done?

There is a solution to the madness!

It requires the work of only two people, and you’ll find you can leave the ibuprofen at home!

1: Find out who’s in the band!
Get a list from the worship leader of the band members. If there are different bands, then a list for each and what they do; sing, play guitar, play & sing, etc.

In the case of revolving band members on a single band, find out the typical setup; one acoustic guitar, one bass, two backup singers, etc. Now you are equipped with a good expectation of the requirements of each band.

2: Find out who’s playing next week - every week.
A few days before the service, check with the worship leader as to which band is playing and if there are any changes based on the list you got in step #1.

After a while, the worship leader should start emailing you this information each week without being reminded.

3: Determine the stage layout.
Grab some graph paper and draw up your stage. Make a few copies. Now draw a different setup for each band.

Nothing complex, just write the person and their setup like “Chris; Ac. Guitar.” Once you have this for all the bands and the band members, you have your layout.

You can also add notes like “Chris; Ac. Guitar. #5” so now you know which stage jack Chris will be using. This makes mixer setup a breeze.

An alternate approach is creating only one schematic of the stage and labeling all the inputs.

Then use a spreadsheet program to list all the input numbers and enter the usage next to each, for example: “[5] [Acoustic Guitar].” Duplicate the spreadsheet for each band and adjust accordingly.

4: Change the layout.
Yes, after doing all that work, you have to change it; but not immediately. Try these setups with the band(s) and see if they like it. They might say they prefer certain people/instruments to be near each other.

Change it for the next service and if they like it better, then you have a new layout.

Once you have this system in place, you can have the stage set up before the band arrives, they will have more time for practicing the songs, and they will benefit from a familiar setup each week.

Familiarity leads to better music because the chaos and uncertainty will be removed.

Using the above steps, your service setup can be as easy as getting a band list mid-week, comparing it to your existing band layouts, tweaking appropriately, and setting up the stations on the stage before the band even walks into the sanctuary.

What method do you use for determining stage setup? What problems have you encountered? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.

Posted by admin on 07/19 at 07:28 AM
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A “Test” To Evaluate Your Knowledge Of Power

Gauging your knowledge of power as it relates to sound systems

With the wealth of knowledge about power available here on ProSoundWeb it’s a good idea to constantly evaluate our knowledge of power, or actually, your knowledge about power.

Rather than submit you to the typical “right or wrong” questions with exact numerical answers, I’ve elected to provide a different means of self-evaluation.

The test is “open book”, based upon the information shared in the article series and other resources, and I can tell you up front that the answer to every question is “It depends!”

But what’s really being asked is “What does it depend on?”

At first glance, it may seem that the question is not even related to audio. Don’t be fooled. Principles are principles.

You already know this stuff - you just may not know that you know it! Each question also paves the way for a short review of the concept.

That’s it!

Now relax, take out a sharpened number 2 lead pencil and…sorry about that.

1) I want to paint my living room walls and need to buy paint. How much will I need if the ceiling height is eight feet?

Obviously, estimating of the amount of paint requires more information. What we need to know is the area to be covered, which can’t be determined by the ceiling height alone.

The total length of the walls is needed to get the area (length x height). The paint store would also need to know how many windows are in the walls (they can subtract this area from the total), and how absorbent the surface is (one or two coats?). Only then can the required amount of paint be determined.

It’s equally ridiculous to calculate an amplifier’s output power by using its peak voltage rating. As with the wall, the area of a waveform must be known to determine how much power is generated.

This requires amplitude information (like ceiling height) and knowledge of length (time). We also need to know how much to subtract for higher crest factors (less intense program - like windows in the wall).

And lastly, we need to know how much the load will soak up (porosity of the surface). Think of one coat as eight ohms and two coats as four ohms. And two ohms? Don’t even think about it!

2) Which stock will yield the greatest earnings?

We’ve all learned this one the hard way. Stock A has some high amplitude values, but doesn’t last long. Stock B has lower “highs” but is more consistent over time.

Like painting walls and electrical waveforms, it’s all about area. An amplifier can have a very high peak rating, but may fizzle when loaded for long spans of time (that all-day outdoor show). Make sure that you look at the long-term continuous output power when shopping for amplifiers.

Short-term peak ratings are large numbers, but they don’t tell the whole story.

3) Which song will make the loudspeaker hotter?

This should be obvious by now. Grungy, highly compressed rock and roll has a much lower crest factor (more area) than an “audiophile” recording of a sitar solo.

Both types of music may occasionally light the clip light, but the R&R is much more likely to toast the loudspeaker.

4) How much must I increase the power applied to a loudspeaker to make it a little louder?

A bunch - 3 dB represents a modest change in sound level, yet a 3 dB increase requires the amplifier to generate twice the power.

So every time you turn it up “a little”, you are doubling the power to the loudspeaker. No wonder so many loudspeakers succumb to the last song of the evening.

5) How much of an amplifier’s rated power will the amplifier likely have to generate in a music playback system?

Not much. Given a typical crest factor of 20 dB for live music, the amplifier’s output power could, on average, be about one watt per 100 watts of rated power.

That kilowatt monster that you bought with the home improvement loan will likely need to generate about 10 watts continuous. If you break out the compressor/limiter, you may get this up to 100 watts, but that’s about it.

6) So why buy a big amplifier? After all, they’re expensive!

Loudness and generated power are all about area. Clarity is all about headroom. If program peaks get clipped by a small amplifier, it sounds like trash.

Amplifiers must be oversized relative to their average output power by a factor of 10 to 100 to allow for signal peaks. This translates into 10 to 20 dB of headroom. If you have deep pockets and an understanding wife, go for 20 dB.

If not, spend some of the money saved on a hard limiter to make the program peaks “fit” though the amplifier. All of this makes sense only if you look at power using the decibel.

Click to enlarge

7) Which subwoofer is better? One that handles 100 watts or 500 watts?

You simply can’t tell from the power rating alone. It’s just a “waste disposal” number. How much sound can each produce? This is the efficiency rating.

A 15-inch bass horn sitting in a corner and consuming 100 watts continuous could easily be much louder than an 18-inch in a sealed box hanging in free space and consuming 500 watts continuous.

It’s not what’s fed in, it’s what comes out. See the stock market question (Question 2, above) for an object lesson on this.

8) Can a 30-pound amplifier really keep up with a 300-pound amplifier? My chiropractor wants to know.

Maybe. It depends on what it’s asked to do. Power (like hot water) can be generated “on demand” or it can be pulled from storage.

This is why “Anywhere Gas and Electric Company” dams up rivers to create huge reservoirs for turning hydraulic turbines.

The water flow can remain constant even through the dry season so that the lights don’t dim when the creek gets dry.

Amplifiers with large, heavy power supplies can typically maintain a more constant current flow under severe conditions - like reproducing low frequency synth tones through subwoofers that can peel paint (see question 1) at 100 feet.

Percussive sounds at mid/high frequencies aren’t nearly as “meaty”. You can save your back and your wallet with smaller, lighter amplifiers.

9) Can the loudspeaker’s power rating be trusted? The “Killbox 5000” is rated at 5 kW and the “Lighttones 100” is only rated at 100 watts.

Most reputable manufacturers use standardized power testing to rate their loudspeakers. These methods define the type of waveform, time duration, crest factor and a few other metrics.

These tests are designed by experts to simulate real-world demands on loudspeakers.

They tell you how long the loudspeaker survived under the described conditions. Since they can’t possibly know how the end user will use (or abuse) the product, they can’t guarantee that you won’t blow it up.

Power ratings are very useful for comparing the relative differences between products from the same manufacturer.

When using them to compare one brand to another, make sure that the ratings are based on the same standard (i.e. AES, EIA-426B, etc.).

And even when the standards are used, the “honor system” governs the writing of spec sheets. Since overrated loudspeakers generally don’t kill or maim people, the government doesn’t require validation of power ratings. Only in “Auditopia” are there “data police” that check all the ratings.

You can pinch yourself to wake up now. Also remember that large power ratings can be achieved with resistors (which don’t produce much sound!). That “Killbox 5000” might have a couple of water-heater elements as part of its crossover network.

Click to enlarge

10) What happens if my power amplifier is too large?

It’s better to have an oversized amplifier than an undersized one, provided that one stays within the thermal limits of the loudspeaker. A bigger amplifier is less likely to clip the signal. But there are limits here, too. A piston can only travel so far before it becomes non-linear.

If you hook a zillion watts up to a loudspeaker to provide 40 dB of headroom, and then someone drops a mic, you may see impressions of all of the cones in the metal grills. Over-excursion kills fewer loudspeakers than heat, but it must still be considered.

11) Should I use a rubber band or a chain to pull my boat trailer?

I had to get one in regarding reactance. There’s a big difference between the impedance of a real loudspeaker and that of the non-inductive load resistors used to test many amplifiers.

Reactive loads reflect power, and the amplifier has to deal with this. Amplifiers with extended bandwidths are often unstable into reactive loads. If presented the choice between a “20 Hz to 40 kHz” bandwidth spec and a “DC to gamma rays” spec, I would pick the former.

The Point
How did you do? Hopefully this series has provoked some thought. Power ratings are useful for getting a general idea of the performance of a device, but as I have shown, there are many variables and caveats when you assign numerical ratings to amplifiers and loudspeakers.

Don’t give these numbers any more or less attention than they deserve. They are but one piece of the puzzle, and probably not the most important piece.

Also, don’t be afraid to do your own power testing. The A/B comparison of two products is still the best way to tell the difference between them, regardless of what the numbers say. Music at full volume might be a more relevant power test for your system than pink noise.

Just be sure going in which party is paying for the toasted voice coils.

Pat Brown teaches the Syn-Aud-Con seminars and workshops. Synergetic Audio Concepts (Syn-Aud-Con) has been a leader in audio education since 1973. With nearly 15,000 “graduates” worldwide, Syn-Aud-Con is dedicated to teaching the basics of audio and acoustics. For more information visit their website.

Posted by admin on 07/18 at 09:25 AM
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Extron Announces New High Resolution VGA Line Driver with EDID Minder

Extron Electronics has introduced the new Extender Plus VGA and Audio Line Driver with EDID Minder.

This one input, one buffered output line driver extends VGA-QXGA and HDTV component video along with audio signals up to 250 feet (75 m).

Unbalanced computer stereo audio is converted to balanced, line level stereo audio to eliminate noise usually associated with unbalanced audio when distributed over long cable runs.

It includes EDID Minder, which automatically manages EDID communication between connected devices to ensure that the source powers up properly and reliably outputs content for display.

The Extender Plus is available in Decora-style and AAP form factors, providing convenient AV access and signal extension for a wide variety of environments.

“VGA line drivers are standard in nearly every professional AV system design, but now they need to do more than just boost AV signals,” says Casey Hall, vice president of aales and marketing for Extron. “The new Extender Plus products expand the capabilities of the popular Extron Extender Series by including EDID Minder, a valuable technology that ensures reliable EDID management for computers and displays.”

To maintain signal integrity over long distances, the Extender Plus provides video amplification and peaking control to compensate for attenuation that can occur in long cable runs. Proper signal compensation supports a more detailed image with greater contrast.

Additional integrator-friendly features include an EDID capture mode, selectable resolutions and refresh rates, and real-time status LED indicators for system monitoring. Both versions also include an energy-efficient, external universal power supply for worldwide compatibility.

Extron Electronics

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/16 at 01:08 PM
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Friday, July 13, 2012

DiGiCo SD10B Consoles Go Live At Summer X Games

Broadcast consoles connected via MADI & Optocore streamline ESPN’s audio imprint and help create consistency and ease of operation

Using a strategy initiated at last year’s shows, MADI was the name of the game at the 2012 Summer X Games in Los Angeles as ESPN continues to streamline its broadcast imprint.

Using fiber optic cabling over an embedded-audio approach to connect all the venues within a 27-acre radius in downtown LA—as well as all of the submixes, communications, and audio transmissions—offered more inputs, smoother transmission between venues and a more efficient and compact layout.

Spec’d by ESPN’s senior technical audio producer Kevin Cleary and supplied by Hi-Tec Audio this year—with onsite support from Group One’s Taidus Vallandi and Chris Fichera—four DiGiCo SD10Bs were placed in key locations.

Three handled effects sub-mixing for Motocross, Big Air Ramp/Rally Car, Street, Park & Vert Events feeding two Calrec Alpha desks via MADI at 48 kHz located in an ESPN SS32 and Denali Summit remote trucks. International feeds, using the other SD10B, created from a separate mix gathered from all the venues for ESPN International, are sent to the main router also via MADI.

Blue Sky full-range monitoring components were paired in tandem with the DiGiCo consoles at every location—with SAT 6.5s or SAT 5s set up alongside SUB 8s. This is the second year that DiGiCo consoles have submixed both Winter and Summer X Games, with Blue Sky systems on site for nearly eight years of events.

Seven DiGiCo SD Racks-—totaling 368 channels overall—were stationed around the venue (approximately 3500+ feet) and linking back via redundant Optocore fiber loop carrying 448 audio signals.

“The X Games audio production crew has settled in on a winning combination with the DiGiCo consoles,” explains Fichera. “DiGiCo SD10Bs in the critical submix positions integrate seamlessly to several DiGiCo SD Racks connected via Optocore located around the venue and is a system that can be replicated over and over again for consistency and ease of operation. The submixers are happy because they’ve learned the console, are comfortable using it, and it makes the whole flow of the system work easily.

“This cost-effective and consistent package can be replicated anywhere in the world for any ESPN broadcast events.”

“I think the neatest feature of the DiGiCo SD10Bs is the ability to have MADI interfacing to the trucks and Optocore to the SD Racks,” offers ESPN’s Shawn Peacock, who handled 200 inputs and used 96 channels for both the Big Air skateboard and Rally Car events. “In this configuration—with the distances between events within the venue and around downtown LA—that is the thing that really allows us to pull this off. The ability for us to talk across MADI and have these interface boxes as far as they are is huge.” MADI to the trucks, Optocore to the SD racks.

International mixer Chad Robertson agrees. “The MADI capability is very handy and is becoming more common, especially on a console at this price point and footprint. Also, the Macro buttons come in very handy and the monitoring section is very robust, which is very advantageous. Overall, the SD10B is easy to use and intuitive, plus it’s been convenient to have all of us submixers on SD10Bs at the event. With everyone on the same console, we can compare notes and help each other out if we have any issues or questions.”

Over at the motocross track, it was Devin Barnhart’s second year on the SD10B. “One feature I used a lot last year and again in this event is the multiband compression. That helped a lot on the ramps because the sound coming off the metal ramp is a very high-end, kind of cheese-grater sound, but with the multiband compression, I was able to pull down all of the top-end frequency without losing the rumble of the motorcycles. That’s a great feature of this console.

“Also, it’s hard to distort the pre-amps. Last year, I wasn’t able to go back and pay attention to what my actual pre-amp levels were… By the time the event starts and you’re throwing up 40-plus microphones and motorcycles start spinning around, you’re just trying to catch up as fast as possible.”

Marc Cochi built snapshot sessions to handle the roughly 166 mics total (80 for Park plus 86 for Street/Vert) on his SD10B. “I’m using one side of the desk for inputs, kind of like a recording desk, with outputs and cameras on the other side. I’m then mixing off control groups because with that many microphones you really can’t follow them around. The console is really easy to use and it sounds great. That’s what I love about it. In television, and sports TV especially, routing is the biggest issue; sonics come second. The SD10B has got easy routing and it sounds great, and I’m pushing it hard. It’s weird to set gain structure for a guy slamming a bike into a metal rail; it’s just not a normal thing. So if the pre’s don’t handle it you’re in trouble. But these do and they sound great doing it.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 07/13 at 02:40 PM
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fishman & Asterope Announce Strategic Alliance, Global Distribution Agreement

Asterope products will be available in retail outlets throughout the United States and in more than 70 countries worldwide

Fishman and Asterope have announced a strategic alliance and global distribution agreement establishing Fishman as the exclusive worldwide distributor for Asterope instrument and XLR audio cables for the pro audio and music instrument markets. 

As a result of the agreement, Asterope products will be available in retail outlets throughout the United States and in more than 70 countries worldwide. The agreement was announced at Summer NAMM 2012 in Nashville.

Asterope products are designed and manufactured in the United States, and are the result of more than 10 years of research and development.  Since their introduction, a host of noted players, producers and engineers have chosen the company’s breakthrough line of products for both live performances and session work.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Fishman to expand on its commitment to provide the best possible sound,” said Larry Fishman, president of Fishman. “Every so often something revolutionary comes along that re-defines a category in our industry. This is one of those times. We’re delighted to be able to offer our experience and expertise, and look forward to making Asterope a success around the world.”

“Today’s agreement is a tremendous milestone for the company and will better ensure that Asterope products are available to artists around the world,” adds Dariush Rad, president of Asterope. “Not only are both of our companies focused on enhancing the quality of sound, but our brand building, marketing and strategic sensibilities are consistent, as well. This provides us with the foundation of a dynamic and enduring relationship.”

Asterope products will be offered in two product lines—the “Pro Studio” series, available in Asterope’s signature purple color with gold connectors, and the “Pro Stage” series, available in midnight black with nickel connectors. 

The Pro Studio line is designed for everyday use in a variety of environments, from acoustic to electric instruments. The Pro Stage series is designed for use in live, on-stage environments. 

The cables are available in all straight and right angle combinations, as well as XLR. Cable lengths include 6-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-foot lengths, as well as 1- and 3-foot patch cables.  The XLR cables are available in 2-, 4-, 6-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-foot lengths.


Posted by Keith Clark on 07/12 at 02:11 PM
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PreSonus Acquires Nimbit, Integrates Technology With Studio One

Integration will be available on August 1, 2012, via a free Nimbit Extension for Studio One 2.0.6 and later

PreSonus has acquired Nimbit and integrated its technology and services into Studio One Artist, Producer, and Professional to provide a complete solution for music and audio creation, sales, and promotion.

The integration will be available on August 1, 2012, via a free Nimbit Extension for Studio One 2.0.6 and later.

With integrated Nimbit, Studio One users can:

—Instantly sell and promote their music and audio the moment it is created.

—Sell MP3s, CDs, merchandise, and event tickets through beautiful stores for their Facebook pages, their Web sites,, and services like Jango, FanBridge, and PledgeMusic.

—Create sharable, interactive promotions for Facebook, Twitter, and email that feature music and video players, messages to fans, and free downloads to drive sales.

—Grow their fan base and understand their fans better thanks to detailed analytics and sales reporting.

From Studio One Artist, Producer, and Professional v.2.0.6 and later (with the free Nimbit Extension), users can select an individual song right from the start page, or select File >Export and upload to Nimbit. 

With the addition of Nimbit technology and services, Studio One users can now go from creating the first track to marketing and selling a finished project, all within Studio One and associated Web sites. Studio One Professional users can record, mix, master, digitally release, burn CDs, upload to the Web via SoundCloud, and market and sell through Nimbit without leaving the DAW.

Registered Studio One 2 customers will be able to download the Nimbit Extension free from the PreSonus Exchange. Having installed the Extension, they can sign up for a Nimbit Free or Nimbit Plus account from within Studio One and start selling and promoting their music.

The benefits of Nimbit are not limited to PreSonus Studio One customers. Anyone who would like to sell and promote their music, other audio products, and merchandise can sign up at or can install the free Nimbit store for Facebook.

PreSonus acquired Nimbit, Inc., in April 2012 for an undisclosed sum.

“Our mission has always been to empower musicians, and until today we’ve done it by creating the best tools for music creation and recording,” says PreSonus CEO Jim Mack. “But musicians need more than a good recording to succeed. Nimbit shared our vision of helping musicians, giving them the easiest way to sell and promote music online.

“Combining our products into a truly complete solution for musicians was a natural fit, and we saw such a bright future for their business model that we decided to acquire the company.”

“The team at PreSonus really ‘gets it’; their vision fits naturally with ours and even allows us to broaden the reach of our platform,” states Patrick Faucher, co-founder and CTO of Nimbit. “We’re thrilled to be working along side these luminaries, making Nimbit a critical piece of the complete ecosystem that PreSonus is creating.”

Philip Antoniades, co-founder and president of Nimbit, adds, “It’s easy to run fast when you are working with forward thinkers who have a similar mission of redefining the music industry through technology. Together we’ll close the gap between creation, promotion and sales-in fact, with our newly released Studio One integration, it has already started.”

Nimbit will continue independent operations as a wholly owned subsidiary of PreSonus, located in Massachusetts. Nimbit founders Faucher and Antoniades, and CEO Cramer, will continue running day-to-day operations, product specification, and development of the Nimbit platform; and Nimbit’s development, support, retail, and marketing teams are all remaining with the subsidiary.



Posted by Keith Clark on 07/11 at 10:05 AM
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Griffin Technology Announces Availability of MIDIConnect Interface For iOS Devices

Griffin Technology has announced the availability of MIDIConnect, a MIDI in and out interface for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.

MIDIConnect adds a MIDI input and output to iOS devices, allowing users to plug MIDI keyboards and other MIDI-capable devices into an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone.

Play a MIDI instrument straight into GarageBand or other MIDI-capable apps, or download MIDI Controller apps to use the MIDI out port and the touchscreen in performance, as a MIDI controller.

Both MIDI in and out ports are industry-standard 5-pin DIN connectors, compatible with most commonly available MIDI cables and connectors.

MIDIConnect is now available for $79.99 at To see the MIDIConnect in action, check out the video here.

The MIDIConnect will be on display at Summer NAMM in Nashville from July 12-14, 2012, at booth 308.


Other gear at the booth will include:

—StudioConnect. A compact and portable solution that enables musicians to create and edit music on the go, combining two worlds of recording - audio and MIDI.

—GuitarConnect Pro. Analog to digital instrument interface for iPad and iPhone 4.

—DJ Cable. Combined with algoriddim’s djay app, the DJ Cable enables Split Output mode, giving DJs full audio control over pre-cueing

Griffin Technology


Posted by Keith Clark on 07/10 at 01:46 PM
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Altinex Introduces PNP417 Pop-N-Plug Interconnect Box Designed For Tabletop Surfaces

Altinex has announced the availability of the PNP417 Pop-N-Plug interconnect box, another addition to the expanding line of Pop-N-Plug interconnect offerings.

Customizable to almost any tabletop, the PNP417 interconnect box offers convenient, one touch access to a variety of video, audio, computer, network, and power connections..

The PNP417 comes pre-configured with two standard DS901-120 sectional plates. Each plate includes the following connectors: two AC power, one 15-pin HD (video), two RJ-45 (UTP), one RJ-11 (modem), and one 3.5 mm audio.

All connectors utilize female receptacles. Each signal connector is connected via a 6-foot cable to its corresponding male plug at the opposite end.

The AC power cables are terminated with standard NEMA plugs at the end of 9-foot cables. The unit ships with 6 foot pre-terminated cables for quick installation.

The Altinex PNP417 interconnect box is customizable with a variety of different connector options, all factory-configured and terminated. Learn more about these options at the company website.

By employing a custom fitted cutout—round, rectangular, or square—from the table the unit is to be installed into, the PNP417 delivers a sophisticated, smooth appearance on all sides.

The PNP417’s input plate is accessed by pushing down on the top cover. The unit then smoothly rises up with assistance from an internal gas spring lift mechanism.

Once open, the input plate remains securely in place. The input plate is hidden, or closed, by pressing down on the top cover until the latching mechanism engages.

In its closed position, the top panel lies flush with the table’s top, held in place by the latching mechanism. This secure fit also means less chance for paperwork to catch the PNP417’s edges when being passed across a table, so documents remain clean and professional in appearance.

“The PNP417 Pop-N-Plug interconnect box is an ideal boardroom choice for creating a quick and convenient means of patching equipment into a company’s data network or presentation system,” says Grant Cossey, Altinex vice president of sales. “With its ability to be customized, the PNP417 offers tremendous flexibility and the fact that it uses a surface cutout from the table it gets installed into offers the customer a perfect match from a design perspective.

“The end result is a first-rate interconnect solution that compliments the décor of any boardroom or presentation space.”

The Altinex PNP417 Pop-N-Plug interconnect box is available now with a MSRP price of $1,567. A customized unit (PNP417C) carries a MSRP of $1,740.


Posted by Keith Clark on 07/10 at 07:45 AM
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Monday, July 02, 2012

Serving Modern Media: Press Conference Audio Distribution

Election cycles are getting longer and longer and more campaigns are on the road for extended periods of time while cable and Internet news outlets hunger for content to fill their 24-hour news formats.

This has resulted in an increased demand to sound companies and AV rental houses for providing press conference feeds. If you do not have at least one press mult in your inventory, you may be missing out on increased revenue opportunities.

At a minimum, you need a passive multiple channel distribution box or panel. Because you never know where, or when, you will need to set up a press conference, one important design concern is its ability to keep RF and other hums and buzzes from getting into the feeds.

It’s not unusual to be asked to provide feeds at an airport, government facility, arena, banquet hall, school, etc. and in many cases, your gear may be subjected to increased levels of radio traffic from police, security, and other general event radio communications. Immunity to RF is improved by utilizing high-quality transformers between the input and each output.

Transformers, by design, increase the Common Mode Rejection (CMR) of your feeds and although they don’t come cheap, a well-designed mult will have them.

Another consideration is, “How many channels?” Off the shelf commercially produced passive press boxes are available in configurations of six channels and up.

But the most important issue for a press mult is that it be designed to have a high degree of isolation between outputs. You never know ‘WHO is going to plug WHAT into your press mult and you’ll want to avoid someone killing your feed at the last minute or worse, DURING the press conference.

Even if someone dead shorts one of the outputs, it must have a negligible effect on all of the others.

A 12-output passive press mult. (click to enlarge)


Most passive press mults utilize transformer coupling and resistive pad circuits to attain improved CMR and isolation. This usually results in at least a 40 dB drop in level from input to output and requires that you feed a strong line level signal into the press mult to get a usable mic level signal out.

Most members of TV and radio crews and media reporters are experienced with this situation and are equipped to accept mic level signal into their gear.

FYI - it’s not uncommon for someone to see an XLR input on a press mult and stick a mic in it expecting it to work. This results in extremely low or no output level. Remember, with passive press mults, you need to provide a line level signal from a mixer or other separate mic preamplifier to get mic level out.


An active press mult is really a distribution amplifier (DA) with specialized features geared toward press conferencing.

It has the advantage of being entirely self contained and should operate on AC or battery power.

A basic unit will have a single mic input, several mic outputs and one or two line outputs for attaching passive press mult boxes as expanders.

It will usually have an input level control with signal/clip LEDs, phantom power select and headphone monitor.

More elaborate units might have dual redundant mic inputs, a tone generator, signal meters, outputs that are selectable for mic or line and automatic power switching - that is, if AC fails, the unit will switch seamlessly to battery backup.

When the outputs are mic/Iine selectable, each user has the choice of receiving mic or line signal or outputs can be set to line level to be used for attaching passive expanders.

A 2-in, 8-mic out, 2-line out active press mult. (click to enlarge)


You will—of course—need to locate your press mult (and mixer if necessary) in a location that is accessible to those plugging in, usually at or near the podium. It helps if that’s an open area nearby that gives convenient access for the press.

Often, the press will use wireless “cubes” like the Lectrosonics plug-in transmitters. If possible, locate the press mult where it gives line of sight to the coverage area and avoids obstructions and obvious sources of RF interference.

These transmitters also use up more area around them than standard mic cables so make sure that your press mult’s connectors are spaced far enough apart to accommodate these popular units side by side.

A Lectrosonics plug-in wireless transmitter. (click to enlarge)

Once you’re set up, send tone to the press mult at +4 dB. This will output a usable mic level signal on your press mult and the press can adjust their devices accordingly. Although most of the press folks are old hands at this and carry adapters to go from balanced XLR into whatever device they have, be prepared. You will inevitably encounter someone that is new to this or forgot cables or adapters and will come to you for help, so keep a black bag of various adapters and cables handy.


Remember that you are not always limited to providing or encountering off the shelf units. Some government buildings, public utilities, airports, etc. utilize large format systems as permanent installs with or without ancillary portable units.

Some buildings might even have a press system built into the outside wall. Kept behind lockable doors, it’s always ready when a conference is held outside “on the steps.” Feeds are then readily available not only to reporters, but also to broadcast trucks parked on the street.


Don’t miss out! The ability to provide press feeds can seal the deal when you’re into political or corporate sound work or if you want to realize an additional source of rental income. Keep a press mult handy… you never know when the president might stop by!

AI Keltz is general manager at Whirlwind.

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/02 at 12:56 PM
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Solid State Logic Launches New Alpha-Link MX Audio Converters

Solid State Logic is proud to announce the launch of Alpha-Link MX.

Alpha-Link MX is the first of a new generation of SSL A-D/D-A converters that deliver superior SSL audio quality in an affordable format for the serious project studio.

The new generation SSL converters build on the reputation of the highly respected larger Alpha-Link SX and AX models which are used in leading commercial recording facilities across the world alongside SSL’s AWS and Duality consoles.

The Alpha-Link MX range consists of two different 1 U units that can be used individually or combined to create larger systems.

Each unit features 64 channel digital audio I/O via Fibre Optic MADI In/Out connections which can be used to connect to any suitably equipped MADI device including SSL’s own MadiXtreme, MX4 and Delta-Link computer audio interfaces, or to cascade multiple MX units.

The Alpha-Link MX 16-4 has 16 analogue inputs and 4 analogue outputs, making it an ideal 16 channel capture device with 4 outputs for artist and studio monitoring.

The Alpha-Link MX 4-16 has 4 analogue inputs and 16 analogue outputs, making it an ideal solution for 16 channel analogue summing with 4 channels of audio capture.

Up to four MX units can be cascaded in any combination in a daisy chain. In this way systems with up to 80 analog connections which are routable to a single 64 channel MADI In/Out connection can be created.

MX units have a switchable reference level to enable matching with the rest of your studio system, with a range of settings between +24dB and +14dB. Alpha-Link MX units are configured via a set of simple, intuitive front panel controls with status indicator LED’s providing clear status and level information.

Alpha-Link MX units are available bundled with an SSL MadiXtreme 64 Mac or PC audio interface to provide the perfect high quality low cost pro DAW I/O solution.

Key Features
• High quality SSL A-D/D-A converter technology
• 64 channel Fibre Optic MADI digital audio In/Out
• Alpha-Link MX 16-4: 16 analogue In, 4 analogue Out (balanced)
• Alpha-Link MX 4-16: 4 analogue In, 16 analogue Out (balanced)
• Cascade up to 4 Units for up to 80 analogue connections
• 44.1 to 96kHz operation with varispeed up to ± 10% (192kHz operation will be available as a free firmware upgrade by 31/12/2012)
• Switchable reference level with a range of settings between +24dB and +14dB
• Perfect Partner for SSL MadiXtreme, MX4 & Delta-Link interfaces
• Simple front panel setup controls
• Dedicated tri-colour signal activity LED’s
• BNC Word Clock sync In/Out
• Rear panel analogue connection via standard 25 pin D-Sub

Alpha-Link MX is available now from SSL Resellers worldwide.
Alpha-Link MX 16-4: £849, $1449, 1091.60€ + VAT or Sales Tax
MX 16-4 I/O Bundle: MadiXtreme 64 & Alpha-Link MX 16-4: £999, $1699, €1276.47 + Local Taxes

Alpha-Link MX 4-16: £849, $1449, 1091.60€ + Local Taxes
MX 4-16 I/O Bundle: MadiXtreme 64 & Alpha-Link MX 4-16: £999, $1699, €1276.47 + VAT or Sales Tax

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/27 at 11:40 AM
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