Exhibitors like Musik Messe because they know they'll be getting a captive audience. Frankfurt, Germany in early March--gray skies, gray buildings, gray food--is no one's idea of a tourist destination. Attendees aren't distracted by slot machines, theme parks, tourist sites, or haute cuisine, so R&R is more than likely not on the itinerary.

This year's show, held March 3-7 at Messe Frankfurt, was no exception. Rain was as much a staple as new products, as over 2,000 exhibitors showed their wares to nearly 100,000 attendees. The Pro Light & Sound area saw an increase in exhibitors, many of whom were showing products new to the European market. The following is a brief roundup of some of the more notable products on display in both the lighting and the sound halls.

Apogee showed its F Series of concert loudspeakers, which range from the FH-1 and FH-2 general purpose FOH speakers to the FH-4 and FH-18 large-scale concert reinforcement speakers. The company also introduced Erwin Stange as president of Apogee Sound GmbH, the German division of the company.

AKG showed the C4000 B condenser mic with an electret dual large-diaphragm transducer providing for three different selectable polar patterns; omnidirectional, cardioid, and hypercardioid. The mic is based on the SolidTube, but uses a transistorized impedance converter/preamp instead of the tube circuit.

Community unveiled a new weatherproof loudspeaker, the WET228, which is composed of fiberglass, carbon fiber, polyamides, and stainless steel. All the drivers are housed in a bell-shaped horn developed specially for open-air applications, and the drivers offer a choice of five predefined angles.

EAW used the show to officially announce that it had purchased SIA Software Company, the company responsible for sound system optimization and acoustic measurement software licensed to JBL and sold under the JBL-Smaart(R) brand name. (Smaart Pro was a 1998 TCI Sound Product of the Year.) The latest version of the software, SIA Smaart Pro Version 3.0, was demonstrated at the show and features new plug-in architecture included in its real-time module, allowing for the control of equalization devices, which can be linked via MIDI, serial, or parallel connections.

Electro-Voice showed the new Dx38 digital sound processor, featuring 48-bit filter algorithms, 24-bit A/D-D/A conversion, and a dynamic range of over 115dB. The Dx38 can be used in any two-, three-, or four-way loudspeaker application, and its flexible routing allows users to assign a single input or the summed input signals to the four outputs.

Mach, a division of The Martin Group, showed its new Installation Series at Musik Messe. Designed for short- to mid-throw applications such as theatres, concert halls, and discos, the series features dedicated top boxes with high SPL-to-frontal-area ratio, customized drive units, integrated flying gear, 18mm MDF cabinets, and switchable crossovers between passive and active mode.

Mackie unveiled its SR Series of monitors, the first in a series developed in conjunction with RCF. The SRM450 active speaker system is designed for smaller PA applications and equipped with a small mixing section for standalone operation. For larger venues, the SRM450 can be joined by the companion SRS1500a active subwoofer, which features a 15" driver and is capable of achieving sound pressure levels of 126dB. Also new was the M800, the latest in the SR power amp series, featuring a switchable limiter and a constant directivity horn.

Martin Audio showed its Wavefront WT3 compact theatre enclosure, designed, obviously, for theatre sound applications. Features include a switchable bi-tri amplified three-way operation, a selection of flying points and hardware, high SPL output capability (127dB continuous, 133dB peak), and an arrayable compact trapezoid enclosure.

Meyer Sound introduced the new UPM-1P, a self-powered version of the UPM-1. The UPM-P series is a compact, high-powered system designed for under-balcony, front fill, and small PA applications. Features include two 5" low-frequency cone drivers in a vented enclosure, and a 1" titanium dome on a symmetric horn. Integral amplifiers are built into the enclosure, along with an active crossover, driver protection voltage limiters, and frequency and phase response alignment circuitry. Rear-panel LEDs indicate power and driver thermal limit.

Midas used Musik Messe to unveil the second model in its new Heritage Series of consoles. The Heritage 2000 is a less expensive version of the 3000, which made its debut earlier in the year at NAMM. All of the features and automation of the 3000 have been retained except for the bus structure, which has been changed to a fixed format suitable for FOH and theatre applications. With 12 group busses, 12 aux busses, three master busses and eight matrix busses, the 2000 is designed for FOH applications. Other features include full automation of all input fader levels and console mutes with the facility to produce left, center, right mixes. The Heritage 3000 is a dual purpose console for FOH or monitor. It features a three-position switch between every pair of mic outputs on the group module, allowing users to select each output pair either as discrete aux/mix sends or as an audio subgroup assigning those sends at 0dB to the group fader bus regardless of the actual pot position.

Otari showed the Radar-II, the latest addition to its hard-disk recorder range, which uses 24-bit technology, a sample rate of 48kHz and 24/48 tracks. A 9GB exchangeable hard disk allows up to 42 minutes of recording on 24 tracks simultaneously. By combining several Radar-II units, users can synchronize the recording of up to 192 tracks.

QSC Audio unveiled its new CX Series, an amplifier line designed for professional sound contractors. Three models--the CX 302V, CX 602V, and CX 1202V--add direct 70V capability ranging from 250W to 1,000W per channel for distributed audio systems. The CX 302, CX 502, CX 702, CX 902, and CX 1102 are low impedance versions ranging in power from 325W to 1,100W per channel at 4ohms (.05% THD, 20Hz-20kHz). The new CX amplifiers are equipped with many contractor-specific features including gain controls with 1dB detents for easily repeatable settings and a custom security cover to prevent accidental or unauthorized adjustment.

Renkus Heinz showed off its new R-Control remote supervision network for R/H systems. Using proven standards including Echelon's LonWorks(R) hardware and firmware and Microsoft's Windows(R) and Visual Basic(R) software, R-Control is designed to make it easy to monitor and control up to 100 different amplifier groups from a single location. The network will accommodate up to 255 amplifiers and maximum distance is several miles. Functions include real-time load monitoring, sequenced power on/off with signal sensing, a function scheduler and automatic operator alerts for conditions such as amplifier overheating or loudspeaker transducer failure.

Sennheiser was touting the new EK 3053-U in-ear monitoring system, which features the manufacturer's "HiDyn stage" noise reduction system, has a frequency range of 450-960MHz, and is switchable between 16 UHF frequencies. The system offers the SR 3054-U single transmitter and SR 3056-U twin transmitter; the former is a single stereo transmitter in a 19" housing, with 16 programmable UHF frequencies; the latter consists of two complete receivers, also in a 19", one-unit housing, with 16 transmission frequencies each. Both feature mono/stereo operation and a 24MHz switching bandwidth.

Stage Accompany unveiled the latest in its Efficiency Series amplifier range, the ES40. This amp is a high-speed/high-current Class G amp with a power output of 2,600W at 2ohms per channel. Features include a front-accessible Extended Function Network (EFN(TM)), allowing for crossover modules; an Active Clip Eliminator (ACE(TM)), that adjusts the input signal gradually during excessive heating and clipping; and Dynamic Damping Control (DDC(TM)), which compensates for signal loss in cables and connectors.

On the lighting and effects side of the show, Avolites, showing at the Trendco booth, featured a variety of its consoles, including the Azure 2000, which features 2,048 DMX channels, 500 memories, and 200 dimmer control channels, and is available in a touring system, console, or 19" rack version. Also on display was the Sapphire 2000, which offers 2,048 channels and 100 pages of 20 playbacks, electronic legends showing page contents, and preset focus palette on both the desk and VGA monitor.

ChainMaster, an Eilenburg, Germany-based company, showed its VBG-70 chain hoist for the first time. The VBG-70 can lift loads of up to 6,000kg (13,200lbs, or 6.6 tons). ChainMaster also displayed the Vario-Lift chain hoist, which is available in four different versions. Another introduction was a revised version of the load monitoring system for loads of 150kg (330lbs) up to 5,000kg (11,000lbs, or 5.5 tons). The system can easily be connected to chain hoist control, and users can switch between load display and positioning display, or simultaneously view the front, top, and load views via monitors.

While owner David Hersey continues to enjoy his two-year cruise around the world, his company DHA was on hand to tout its various products, including the Digital Beamlight 2. First introduced at PLASA last year, this compact fixture employs a 24V, 500W crown silvered lamp and a parabolic reflector designed to provide output greater than normal 500W units. Tilt, pan, focus, and color are all controlled by DMX512 in either 16- or eight-bit modes.

High End Systems was showing its new Studio 250 line at a booth it shared with its German distributor LMP. Studio Color(TM) 250 is the companion wash fixture to Studio Spot(TM) 250. Though it uses the same yoke mechanism, electronics, and base optical as the Studio Spot 250, the Studio Color 250 builds on the platform of the Studio Color. Fitted with full CMY subtractive mixing with high specification dichroics from High End's own in-house, thin film coating optical laboratory, Studio Color 250 offers the same spectrum of rich dichroic color as its namesake. The color system also includes six independent colors to supplement the mixing: deep red and CTO, plus a dichroic blacklight filter.

Martin was showing a fixture so new it didn't even have a name yet (it subsequently was named the MX1). This new compact scanner incorporates the optics and design of the MAC series and features a 250W halogen lamp and combined color/gobo wheel (18 colors plus open, 10 colors/three split colors plus five white plus open). Other features include 230-degree pan and a digital dimmer. The Martin Group is currently taking suggestions for the name. Also on display was the MAC 300, a compact version of the MAC 600.

The company's fog division, JEM, showed two new products as well. JEM Stage Hazer is designed for large theatre stages and TV studios and features a fluid capacity of 9.5 liters (a little over 10 quarts), a haze duct outlet fitted with wide-angle dispersion fans, twin 22W fans producing a total exit velocity of 2,400' per minute, and a continuous loop fluid system that reduces the risk of an overheated pump. The Club Smoke System features a service module that holds up to 10 liters (almost 11 quarts) of fluid and can be placed up to 100m (330') from the actual machines; fluid lines, signals, and mains connections enter the service module from the top for easy access.

German distributor RST showed a wide range of products by manufacturers from around the world, ranging from Artistic Licence in the UK to Selecon in New Zealand. The US-based Elektralite showed its new DMX Record/Playback, which allows users to digitally record and then play back the output from any DMX lighting controller. Plug in the output from any DMX source into the DMX-in of the recorder, then record the show into one of the unit's six memories; the show is then stored in battery backed-up memory. With the recorder's RS232 interface, users can also download shows from the Internet using a laptop computer, and send new shows to sites anywhere in the world.

Also at the RST booth was the Canadian-based MDG, which showed several products, including the Ice Fog LFG, a low fog generator shown in prototype at LDI. This noiseless nonstop system has a reservoir capacity of 2.5 liters (2.65 quarts) and provides long hanging time, low fluid consumption, and three safety systems. The Atmosphere touring haze generator features an automatic purging system and a back panel with remote control for continuous or momentary emission of haze. The Max 3000 APS and MAX 5000 APS fog generators were also shown.

SGM showed a wide range of new products. The Giotto Wash 1200 is a wash projector with a mobile head that uses a CMY color generation system with a 200mm (8") fresnel lens that is fitted with a zoom to vary the aperture range from 18 to 35. The unit is bright--22,000 lumens at 5m (16.5')--and its movement is controlled by a 16-bit system with 540-degree pan and 270-degree tilt. The Giotto Spot is a moving head projector with an MSR 1,200 SA discharge lamp and a power supply of 90-245VAC, making it lighter than fixtures with traditional ballasts. Also shown was the Pilot 2000, a console which can control 40 units and a total of 512 channels which occupy a maximum of 32 channels.

Next year's Musik Messe/Pro Light + Sound will be held slightly later, April 12-16, which means the skies over Frankfurt might not be so gray. Exhibitors take note.