InfoComm Audio Demo Room Crawl: Part Two

Last night, I stood in the middle of a giant ballroom with super-high ceilings and stood stock still while a Bassnectar track shook the air around us.

  • “My shorts are moving,” exclaimed David Schwartz, president of Essential Communications, a former DJ, and a devoted Meyer Sound customer. We were listening to the new Leopard line array, which was recalibrating all the air molecules around us in “native mode.” That means there was no EQ whatsoever.

This precise and massively moving demo was carried to our ears by the crazy new nine-inch drivers that Meyer built from the ground up (everyone knows they make their own paper to make their cones, right?) for the new, compact version of its Leo product. Super light and powered by new Class D amplifier technology, the patent-pending Leopard is “a truly multipurpose system,” according to Meyer Sound literature.

“Leopard is ideally suited to everything from mid-sized touring and live theatre to worship and live performance installations, and from symphony music to heavy metal.” Definitely check it out in the Valencia Ballroom.

For the live version of room rattling audio amazement, be sure to drop by the SLS Loudspeakers demo room (206B). There, on every even hour, is a performance by Vicki Genfan, whose music is best described by her own tagline of “Atomic Folk Fusion.” Wanna hear a percussive playing style with plenty of harmonics and pinches and pull-offs? Wanna hear vowels and consonants at the same time? Listen to Genfan play on the SLS CPC 1212 coplanar, powered column array paired with a SP810P sub, and stay as the system switches over to the passive CPA7600 biamped three-way, coplanar, modular array.

Why do a real-world, live demo? Ask Jeff Lowry, Director of Marketing. “Nobody is buying this to listen to Steely Dan tracks,” he emphasizes.
“Why don’t we get a musician and let these people really hear why they’re buying this?”

Genfan herself will attest to how it sounds. “I can hear things with an amazing level of detail,” she said. “Usually the worst seat in the whole club is mine. But here I don’t even have a monitor, I can step forward on the stage and get a more accurate sound. I can hear the difference between this harmonic and that harmonic.”

Yeah, you probably need to hear that.

For more innovations in line array technology, go to the Electro-Voice Demo Room (202B), where there is much evidence that proves “engineering’s been busy this year,” as observed by Guy Low, Content and Creative Manager.

The company is launching the first members of the next generation of the X-Line family, with the new X1 aimed at mid-sized applications and the X2 representing more of a touring-spec box for larger applications. “We wanted to introduce something that reflected the market sensibility rather than just the engineered technology side of things,” Low explained, “incorporating what we’re hearing from our customers from the real world.”

He added that there’s some fancy new technology inside the box too, including the latest generation of EV’s Hydra plane-wave generators along with high-performance, EV-engineered components in very lightweight, compact enclosures that feature completely redesigned rigging hardware.

Also on show is the new X12-128 subwoofer — that is, Low said, pausing to lower his voice to that of a superhero, “The most powerful subwoofer we have ever made.” Yeah: max SPL is 147 dB peak, with 4,000 watts continuous and 6,000 watts peak.

The whole new rig was expressly designed for easy to set up and tear down and sold as part of a system with EV’s Omneo media networking technology.

In terms of music choice, Low said, “We’re trying to stay away from the cliches, the Steely Dan factor. We do want to present a realistic cross-section of music, so it’s everything from heavier tunes to the female voice and everything in between.”

He added that it’s big to be demo’ing in a small demo room, “But it really is pain free, which communicates to the customer the quality of the performance and the quality of the product. We crank it up in here as long as the sound police will let us go, but it produces a nice, even pattern control and smooth, full bandwidth performance.”

Also look for EV’s new portable EK-X Series and the premiere of the EVID Compact Sound Series, which is launching with five new speakers and two subs.

“These things really are a size-defying product,” Low said. “Kudos to our engineers on behalf of our customers, because they really have come up with something special on the smaller end of the scale.”

For an update on convergence, visit the QSC Demo Room (202A), where the emphasis is on making “IT friendly” products that actually make it easy for integrators to get in and sell to IT professionals. For IT decision makers, the ideal integration scenario is native and doesn’t require additional hardware or workarounds, and integration means more than transporting audio and video across the network — it means integration with applications, operating systems and IT industry-standard monitoring and control consoles.

IT is also concerned with the ability to centrally manage and monitor all network assets and systems, and to integrate with management software, AV solutions need to include SNMP. No IT department looks the same, and they all structure their systems in different ways, including their network, observed TJ Adams, installed DSP manager at QSC. He recommends that integrators take a consultative approach to selling and first determine if IT even wants media on their network.

“IT professionals need AV partners that get the fact that they are not just network professionals. They need AV partners that understand that IT cares about balancing all the needs in their group. It is not always a given that they care most about a system that can run on their data network.”

As part of the QSC product development team, Adams works to align AV solutions with how IT works. When it comes to appliances that host specific software-based applications, IT professionals expect them to function at multiple network layers. “We have a hard time thinking past the first three layers,” Adams said. “IT really thinks a lot about layers three and above, especially the application layer.”

The QSC Q-SYS Core 110f solution is the manufacturer’s first foray into the corporate AV market and offers integration with IT systems, software and the network.

Diverging from the typical AV scenario where the box is the application, with QSC, the box runs applications. “Our platform runs apps,” said Adams, such as VoIP, AEC and networked audio. “Those apps can be assigned to various network segments. That allows the IT person to work with that AV partner to properly construct the design of that operating file to accommodate their needs.”

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Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.