This year's National Systems Contractors Association Expo was a real bang, and not just because the Great Western Gun Show had set up shop in a nearby hall. Over 10,000 attendees turned out to help the NSCA celebrate its 20th anniversary in Las Vegas April 29-May 1. Held at the Vegas Convention Center, the event featured 530 booths on the show floor, a new record. As has always been the case with this unique show, every manufacturer receives a 10' x 15' booth with a 54" height restriction; this has given NSCA the feel of an intimate show.

The show also saw some changes, including, for the first time, an expandedheight booth area, designed specifically for video projection companies. This year the NSCA University technology pavilion was set up in the middle of the show floor, where attendees were allowed to interact with the latest technologies and sit in on periodic presentations given by sponsoring manufacturers.

But perhaps the biggest change is the one that will come at next year's show in Orlando. NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson announced that from now on, booth sizes for exhibitors will be available in three sizes: 20' x 30', 10' x 30', and 10' x 15'. Response was mixed--some were happy with the relative intimacy, some found it too confining--but most felt the change was inevitable.

This year's show had its share of offsite highlights as well. Shure, celebrating its 75th anniversary, threw a huge bash open to all featuring Blue Man Group and the Ed Thigpen Jazz Quintet. Speaking of Blue Man Group, EAW and Mackie, in celebration of their recent merger, sponsored an industry-only performance of the wacky troupe at Mandelay Bay. And Sound & Video Contractor, along with sister publications Entertainment Design and Mix, held its annual cocktail reception as well.

But of course the main reason to go is to check out the new equipment. While the contractor market was well served at this year's NSCA, it was relatively quiet on the live theatre side, which is only natural, since it is a contracting show. Still, there were a few products unveiled at the show that will be sure to turn some heads. Tops on the list include the new Level Control Systems CueConsole(TM), a modular control surface that LCS sees as a replacement for the traditional front-of-house mixer. Apogee unveiled its new CA amplifiers, which are built around the same chassis as the DA-Series amplifiers, use the latest in power MOSFET technology, and are available in four models. Klark Teknik showed the PPR-EQ, a software program, downloadable free of charge from the Klark Teknik website, which, when loaded into a 3Com Palm Series handheld computer, replicates all the operational functions of the Klark Teknik DN32698 handheld remote controller. Meyer Sound unveiled the latest additions to the UltraSeries self-powered loudspeakers, the USM-1P and USM-100P.

Next year's NSCA will be held a bit earlier than usual: March 8-10 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

For a more in-depth report on the new products at NSCA, log on to the Entertainment Design website at www.entertainmentdesignmag.com.