NAMM 2013: A Preview of the Tech Ahead

NAMM 2013: A Preview of the Tech Ahead
  • Every January, I make the grueling slog across the sunny tarmac at Long Beach Airport and prepare to endure the balmy mid-winter temperatures of Anaheim, CA. As I struggle to overcome these obstacles, I have one purpose: to find out what pro AV integration delights are being served up at a live sound show.
  • I am never disappointed. Pro audio manufacturers see an obvious boon to developing products for the relatively steady commercial install market, so there’s plenty to talk about at NAMM. The show will be at the Anaheim Convention Center January 24-27.
  • Truth be told, today it’s actually raining in Anaheim, but that won’t faze me! There’s a world of wallet chains and creative facial hair just across the courtyard from my hotel, and by dash, I must make the journey to learn more about what connects with what to make a complete system. Because I heard somewhere that our industry is supposed to focus on selling solutions, not products.
  • Here’s a small preview of what I’ll see at the show today. I’ll provide more updates after the press conferences—some big commercial audio announcements are to come from Behringer, VUE, Mackie, PreSonus, and Tascam, just to name a few.
  • PreSonus and Fulcrum Acoustic

Dave Gunness, Jim Odom, and Bob Tudor.
PreSonus has teamed up with Fulcrum Acoustic to add PA speakers and studio monitors to its product line. The first results of the collaboration between PreSonus and Fulcrum Acoustic include the StudioLive AI-series PA speakers and Sceptre CoActual-series studio reference monitors, which will be showcased at the NAMM show. Both systems employ Fulcrum Acoustic's TQ Temporal Equalization technology powered by PreSonus' next generation 32-bit, 96 kHz, dual-core-processor Active Integration technology.

"I can't think of a better group of people to partner with than the folks at PreSonus," said Fulcrum Acoustic co-founder and vice president of R&D, David Gunness. "With visionary engineers like Jim Odom and Bob Tudor, a history of innovative products that integrate hardware and software, and successful partnerships with several high-tech companies, PreSonus is perfectly positioned to integrate our technology with theirs and to reach customers that we can serve more effectively together than we could by ourselves."

Vue's al-4 Subcompact Line Array System.

The al-4 Line Array System includes the al-4 Acoustic Element and the rack-mount V4 Systems Engine. The compact al-4 Acoustic Element measures just 18.9 x 5.5 x 10.3 inches (WxHxD) and weighs a svelte 18 pounds. Drivers are loaded in an M-T-M (LF-HF-LF) configuration for symmetrical horizontal consistency. Two 4-inch Kevlar cone neodymium woofers flank a VUE-designed, 1-inch exit neodymium compression driver with a Truextent beryllium diaphragm. The beryllium compression driver is mounted to a precision waveguide delivering 90 degrees of horizontal coverage.

The 2U rack-mount V4 Systems Engine is a 2-in/4-out configuration capable of powering up to eight al-4 elements with two channels at 1600W each for the low frequency and two channels at 550W each for the high frequency (pure, sine wave rating). The V4 also handles all system management including speaker protection, and system-optimized alignment of EQ, time and crossover functions.

The V4 Systems Engine includes networking capabilities as standard, allowing easy access to each element and/or device on the network through VUE's intuitive SystemVUE software.

The al-4 Subcompact Line Array System is sold in standard "blocks", with a single V4 Systems Engine and eight al-4 Acoustic Elements comprising a single block. Multiple al-4 blocks can be combined to address larger applications. For applications where extended low frequency is required, the al-4 is fully compatible with a variety of VUE subwoofers. Flexible rigging options allow flying, ground stacking, and pole mounting on stands or atop VUE subwoofers.

The PA-R200 receiver.

In addition, the PA-R200 has achieved THX Select2 Plus certification, ensuring this receiver is designed to deliver the highest audio quality for an unsurpassed entertainment experience straight out-of-the-box. Having passed 2,000 performance bench tests—from noise levels and distortion, to frequency response and bass management—the PA-R200 can only be compared amongst the top 10 percent of all quality audio/video receivers. Some of the key features these units share to meet the needs of the current digital audio listening world are DNLA Compatibility, iPod, iPhone and iPad Connectivity and a variety of Internet Radio and Cloud Streaming Service Connectivity such as Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, SIRIUS XM, etc."

Allen & Heath
Allen & Heath is launching the new ME Personal Mixing System, a next generation personal monitoring solution, universally compatible with Allen & Heath and other pro digital mixers. Central to the ME system is the small, easy to use and fully customizable ME-1 personal mixer, powered and connected via Cat-5 and capable of managing up to 42 sources. The accompanying ME-U hub enables star connection of multiple ME-1 mixers and interconnection to other professional digital mixers via MADI, Dante or EtherSound.

Everyone knows that NAMM is all about the live music playing day in and day out on various stages around the Anaheim Convention Center plaza, and this year D.A.S. Audio will feature the new Convert 15A powered multifunction loudspeaker system with variable dispersion and the new SX-218A subwoofers as the main sound reinforcement system on the Venue Stage—located just outside the Arena adjacent to Hall A.

But inside the convention center, D.A.S. Audio will introduce its new Aero 40 line array system. Part of the Aero Series 2 product line, the new Aero 40 is a mid-size, powered line array system utilizing 12-inch and 6-inch transducers for the low and mid frequencies respectively plus dual compression drivers for the highs.

Electro-Voice's ZLX portable powered loudspeakers.
NAMM will serve as the Americas launch of EV’s ZLX portable powered loudspeakers, marking the latest milestone in EV's resurgence into the retail arena. This next generation of portable powered loudspeakers from EV is described in the news release as “Stunning new EV industrial design meets legendary EV sound quality and reliability at an unprecedented price point.” Highlights of user-friendly features include a single-knob DSP control with LCD display and application/location presets.

MIDAS launched the smallest of its PRO Series, the PRO1, at InfoComm last June, but this will be the NAMM debut of the entire PRO Series of desks, seen together for the first time one the west coast at this show. The PRO1 features an all-new, lightweight aluminum frame and is the first standalone MIDAS digital console.

On the recording side, which has some relevance of course in commercial projects such as houses of worship and educational/training facilities, in addition to performing arts centers, NAMM will see the reintroduction of the Soundtracs brand by digital solutions manufacturer, DiGiCo. Soundtracs has a long history in both music recording and postproduction studios and is set to preview a range of new products that are designed to take advantage of DiGiCo’s advancements in digital FPGA designs and Stealth Digital Processing.

Ampeg will add another model to its Heritage line of amplifiers, The Heritage B-15N. According to the press release: "The Heritage B-15N is designed and assembled in the U.S.A. out of premium components with extreme attention to craftsmanship and finish. The Heritage B-15N delivers the sought-after B-15 performance in a new, circuit-board based, all-tube design with a beautiful flat black finish." The Heritage B-15N features distinct 1964 and 1966 channels, Ampeg’s flexible Baxandall EQ and selectable bias modes for ultimate tone control.

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.