Loudspeakers
Sponsored by
Meyer Sound

Wireless Signal Distribution

Eliminating the cable in feeding delay loudspeakers with the AiRocks Pro system

By Keith Clark September 10, 2015

AiRocks Pro deployed by West Moon Studios for the Arts Alive Festival in Mission Viejo, CA.

I’ve spoken with dozens of live sound techs and engineers over the years who have expressed (often longingly) their wish for a way to reliably distribute full-bandwidth audio signal wirelessly to loudspeakers in remote locations, such as delay towers that extend coverage at larger events.

The decades-long practice of running cable for this application has been, and remains, somewhat expensive as well as a hassle, i.e., preventing cable damage or accidental unplugging with thousands of people tromping around.

Attempts to utilize conventional entertainment wireless systems have proven to work marginally well, particularly when the equipment is of premium quality, but they’re not designed for this purpose, limited in both overall capability and by a point-to-point distribution approach. And then there’s the ongoing RF situation, with entertainment wireless losing the 700 MHz spectrum a few years ago and further changes still unclear.

All of this is why I was intrigued to come across AiRocks Pro, offered by Atlanta-based AirNetix, while attending the InfoComm 2015 show in Orlando. AiRocks Pro is a multi-hop repeater system designed to transmit wireless audio to remote powered loudspeakers and amplifier racks, operating in the license-free 900 MHz band that penetrates walls, trees, people and other obstructions that can limit higher frequency devices that work at 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.

As a result, it’s well-suited for delay stack applications at concerts, festivals, golf tournaments, parades, air shows, auto races, and other events requiring full-bandwidth, pro-quality audio signal distribution over a large area. An AiRocks Pro system also provides 158 mW of effective transmitting power for range of more than 1,000 feet, as well as built-in variable delay (up to 500 ms), XLR line-level audio input and output, and network control. The system provides 2-channel stereo operation as well as single-channel mono mode, and the hardware is housed in weather-resistant aluminum enclosures designed for outdoor use.

AirNetix founder Mike Hooper with an AiRocks Pro ARX-900 unit.

Identifying A Need
Founded by Mike Hooper, AirNetix is focused on designing and developing digital wireless products for the pro audio market. A self-described “long-time serial entrepreneur,” Hooper has more than 40 years of experience with satellite and optical communications, data networking, wireless semiconductor development, WiMAX, WiFi, power amplifiers and front-end modules (FEMs) for mobile devices.

Over that time, he’s worn a lot of hats, developing both hardware and software as well as serving in various management positions. For example, as CEO of RF Solutions, an Atlanta-based startup, the company developed highly efficient 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz semiconductor power amplifiers for the early WiFi market. He’s now bringing that hard-earned expertise to the pro audio market via AirNetix.

Hooper saw a traditional wireless audio equipment landscape primarily made up of systems with a single transmitter and a receiver sending audio from point A to point B. And while some newer wireless audio systems have the ability to send signal from a single transmitter to multiple receivers. (“point-to-multipoint”), because the FCC restricts the amount of power that each transmitter can radiate, the effective range is limited. Finally, there weren’t any devices with the ability to be configured as a transmitter and a receiver simultaneously, again limiting range.

Repeat That Please
Hooper’s response with AiRocks Pro is a network system approach consisting of a single master unit and one or more relay units, each able to be configured to operate either as the master or a relay.

Two types of units are available: the ARX-900 for mobile applications and the ARX-910 for installed applications. The only differences between the two are that the ARX-910 doesn’t include front panel controls (saving cost) and is fully weather proofed for long-term outdoor use.


Read the rest of this post

1
2


About Keith

Keith Clark
Keith Clark

Editor In Chief, ProSoundWeb & Live Sound International
     
Keith has covered professional audio and systems contracting for more than 25 years, authoring hundreds of articles in addition to hands-on work in every facet of publishing. He fostered the content of ProSoundWeb (PSW) from its inception, helping build pro audio’s largest portal website, and has also served for several years as editor in chief of Live Sound International (LSI).

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tagged with:

Subscribe to Live Sound International

Subscribe to Live Sound International magazine. Stay up-to-date, get the latest pro audio news, products and resources each month with Live Sound.

Latest in Live Sound