The majority of this year's winning audio products are geared specifically to the theatre market; that's welcome news to theatre sound designers, who aren't always top priority for manufacturers. It's a trend that had this year's judges — all veteran theatre sound designers — hopeful for the future.

LOUDSPEAKER
Meyer Sound
The UPM-2P Self-Powered Speaker

The UPM-2P — “the directional UPM we've all been asking for,” say the judges — is a compact, self-powered, biamped speaker system with three-way design incorporating dual 5" low/mid transducers, a 1" titanium dome HF driver on a symmetrical 45° horn, a two-channel power amplifier, and Meyer Sound's proprietary phase-corrected active processing circuits. The UPM-2P is geared to applications requiring high sound pressure levels, extremely low distortion, and tight directional control. “It's small, but it sounds great and it packs a punch,” the judges say. “It's a great product because, as usual, Meyer did it right.”

CONSOLE/SOFTWARE
Midas
The Heritage Console Theatre Software

Specifically geared to the theatrical market, this new software will eventually be available in all Midas consoles; the first benefit is the compact, theatre-friendly Heritage 1000. According to the judges, one of the great features in the Heritage series consoles includes the SIS button to control energy distribution in the LCR outs. For the software itself, the big plus is the ability to work offline from a PC, enabling the user to make global online changes to scene setups remotely. The second phase, which is due for release in 2002, is the development of dynamic control in the way that already exists for Klark Teknik products such as the DN9848. “This software,” say the judges, “makes an already theatre-friendly console that much friendlier.”

RECORDING DEVICE
PreSonus
The Digimax Eight–Channel Mic Preamp

An “amazing bargain,” according to the judges, the Digimax features eight channels of mic preamplification with 24 simultaneous digital and analog outputs, Class-A discrete input buffers followed by a dual servo gain stage giving you 60dB of preamp gain with 52dB of headroom. The Digimax is electronically balanced and features phase reverse on the first two channels, as well as a 20dB pad and selectable 48V phantom power on each channel. Note the judges, “Eight great-sounding mic preamps, Clean A-to-D converters, and multiple digital outputs, as well as analog outs, all simultaneously accessible. All in a small package, and it's cheap! What more could you ask for?”

INTERCOM
RadioCom
The BTR800 Two–Channel UHF Intercom System

The BTR-800 boasts a full complement of standard features, from four beltpacks per station to UHF operation to two-intercom channel access from each beltpack to stage announce output with relay closure, wireless talk around (ISO), and a very easy-to-use graphical interface that makes it a cinch to operate right out of the box. It's also got some cool special features, like intelligent power control, in which each beltpack senses when it is close to the base station and automatically reduces its output by 10dB. Said one especially ebullient judge: “The BTR800 rocks. I love the BTR-500s, which I've been using for years, and am glad to see continued product.”

MICROPHONE
Shure
The WL51 Wireless Microphone Series

Shure Incorporated's latest addition to its line of subminiature lavalier microphones is the WL51 Series, a product group comprising five new cardioid models. Designed expressly for houses of worship, theatres, and event production, the WL51 weighs in at only .34 grams with a minuscule diameter of 5.8mm. Each WL51 offering has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, a dynamic range of 103dB, maximum output of 138dB SPL, and a low self-noise rating of 35dB. According to the judges, this award goes as much to Shure and its longtime commitment to theatre sound as it goes to the product itself.