anaheim, ca -- The Harman Pro Group used its annual distributors meeting and the subsequent NAMM show last month to debut its HiQnet communications and control protocol. After unveiling the technology in a private presentation at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on January 17, Harman Pro Group president Mark Terry revealed that this massive undertaking had been the work of the new Harman Pro System Development and Integration Group (SDIG).
Launched one year ago and directed by Rick Kreifeldt, SDIG forms a central technology resource for the Harman Pro Group which, in coordination with a team of key personnel from all Harman Pro brands, has worked closely with a development team of audio industry experts to develop HiQnet. The result, derived from the best of existing and proven technologies from across Harman Pro, is a scalable protocol designed for full audio system control. Transport independent, HiQnet has been heralded as a common language in which all HiQnet products can communicate, regardless of the physical communications link.
"We had so many cultures involved in this effort," Terry said, "and getting such a diverse group of people to agree on something as specific as a networking protocol is a big deal."
HiQnet's versatility also enables it to wrap easily around third-party network audio protocols such as CobraNet, and allows networked devices to negotiate IP addresses automatically making the HiQnet system truly plug and play. HiQnet is fully compliant with the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) standard.
"One of the biggest problems with the technologies that are out there right now is they actually were developed only for the biggest jobs in mind," Kreifeldt said.
"They're developed with the intent that you'll send a networking specialist there, and you'll have an IT designer. That's one of the reasons why a lot of this technology has not come downstream like it should. In order to make that happen you've got to make products easier to use, you've got to make them plug and play."
"The audio industry is lagging behind other industries and their integration of networks, and this speaks to the fact that this is such a fragmented industry," Terry added. "HiQnet will allow a lot of smaller contractors, who may not have the breadth and depth of some of the larger players, to offer network digital solutions without having to have a large staff of IT programmers on board that are hard to find and expensive once you do find them."
Use of the system is enabled by product-specific plugins, developed by individual brands, which are loaded into the core HiQnet configuration software application Harman Pro System Architect, which has been carefully optimized for both desktop and tablet PC use.
At the HiQnet launch event, Kreifeldt called the launch the "World's first complete audio system from microphone to speaker." Demonstrating this, the Disney Hall setup consisted of an Ethernet-based HiQnet integrated system comprised of AKG wireless microphones, BSS and dbx processing, a Studer digital console, Crown amplifiers and JBL speakers.
"We have real world application product you can use today," Terry said. "We're going to fan this out into more and more products within our group, and we are going to develop application-specific software to drive these products."
The first products to incorporate the HiQnet protocol are the AKG WMS 4000 wireless microphone system; the Crown I-Tech Series amplifiers and DSP/monitoring PIP modules, for compatible amplifiers including the CTs Series; BSS Soundweb London, the new flagship audio distribution system, whose configuration and control application, London Architect, includes error reporting and status monitoring of Crown PIP modules using the HiQnet communications protocol; the dbx ZonePro and DriveRack 4800, a new 4x8 loudspeaker management device; JBL Professional's VerTec DP Series, new integrated audio systems with self-amplification and onboard DSP, co-developed with dbx and Crown for the VerTec series line arrays; and the Studer Vista 8 theatre/performance install digital console.