A raft of new products with applications in the theatre market made it especially tough for our panel of working sound designers to pick this year's ED Sound Products of the Year. New gear in a variety of fields, but especially the digital console market, made for lively debates. The final picks, five new products released in the last year, represent a wide variety of tools all working theatre designers should have in their toolbox. All the winning products of the year will be honored at the annual EDDY Awards in June.

Personal Monitor

AVIOM A-16 PERSONAL MONITOR MIXING SYSTEM

Here's a tool that'll make the folks in the orchestra pit as happy as the sound designer. The Aviom A-16 Personal Monitor Mixing System, which consists of the A-16T transmitter and the A-16 personal mixer, uses a proprietary technology called A-Net that allows the system to transmit 16 channels of audio with virtually no latency, over a single Cat 5 cable. Audio from the main mixing board is routed to the A-16T transmitter, a one-space rack-mountable unit that converts the audio signals into digital data, which is then is transmitted to any number of A-16 Personal Mixers in the system. You can have an infinite number of Personal Mixers, and each can be up to 500 feet apart. The Personal Mixer gives the performer control over channel volume, grouping, pan, stereo spread, and master volume. “A very nice solution to an always annoying problem,” says one judge, “and it doesn't add much to the wiring. I can't wait for the first show I can spec fiber and Cat 5!”
Aviom
Westchester, PA
www.aviom.com
Circle 100 on Reader Service Card

Digital Console

YAMAHA DM1000

The most hotly debated category of the year. Several digital consoles made their debut this year, including the promising prototype of a board geared specifically to the theatre. In the end, the judges wanted to honor the entire DM Series line, which includes the DM2000 and O2R96, but since these awards are geared to products released in 2003, the new, ultra-compact DM1000 got the nod. A direct sibling of the DM2000, in a very compact rack mountable body of 577mm (D) × 199mm (H) × 430mm (W) (22.7" × 7.8" × 16.9"), 19kg (42lbs), the DM1000 shares key features such as 96kHz audio, surround monitoring, Studio Manager, and DAW control with the DM2000 and 02R96. Though the DM1000 was designed for commercial production needs, its rack-mountability means it can also be used in any application, including live sound reinforcement. “Yamaha keep pushing the envelope on the cost/performance front,” says one judge, “and it's easy to forget how much the early consoles have changed the way we work.”
Yamaha Pro Audio
Buena Park, CA
www.yamaha.com
Circle 104 on Reader Service Card

Intercom

HME PRO 850 WIRELESS INTERCOM SYSTEM

“A next generation product that answers many questions regarding the perfect wireless intercom,” says one judge, the PRO850 Wireless Intercom System features PC and PDA interface (the PDA850 allows beltpack status to be checked and configuration set without returning the unit to the base station), automated power control, simultaneous dual-channel interface, and wireless ISO, as well as all the standard capabilities of wireless intercom systems. Distributed by Systems Wireless, the PDA850, also included a handy talk status feature, which displays the talk status of all receivers at a glance; if a user is talking, that user's name is clearly shown. And the receiver quick menu button gives users instant access to receiver controls. “The PRO850 has so many features,” adds another judge. “We just received ours and the users seem content, a big plus in my mind.”
HM Electronics
Poway, CA
www.hme.com
Circle 101 on Reader Service Card

Loudspeaker

MEYER UPJ-1P COMPACT VARIO

When it comes to the theatre, Meyer Sound, apparently, can do no wrong. Even when they put out a product not geared specifically to the theatre, sound designers lap it up. Case in point: the compact and lightweight UPJ-1P, which combines the advantages of self-powered systems with the placement and arraying flexibility afforded by a VariO rotatable horn. The speaker features a 10" low-mid neodymium magnet cone driver and a 0.75" exit, 3" diaphragm compression driver in the high-frequency section, plus a two-channel class AB power amplifier with complementary MOSFET output stages. Though primary applications include A/V presentations, “it is a great fit for the theater market,” says one judge. “What I really love about it is the rotatable horn, and the fact that it is smaller than a UPA, but it packs almost the same punch, and by rotating the horn, they have basically made it easier on rental houses that now only need to stock one box instead of two.”
Meyer Sound
Berkeley, CA
www.meyersound.com
Circle 102 on Reader Service Card

Wireless Transmitter

TRANTEC S6000 SYSTEM

There's a new kid in town on the wireless transmitter circuit. The UK-based Trantec's S6000 System is comprised of a miniature beltpack transmitter and receiver unit capable of containing up to eight independent receiver cards. Additionally, an internally mounted PC, running Windows XP, gathers system performance data from the receiver cards, and allows a network of up to 40 receiver cards to be monitored from a single screen. This allows the user to control functions such as transmitter battery status, remote setting of frequencies, and mute levels. A frequency scan feature enables transmissions that may cause interference to be identified. The system also provides smart headphone monitoring. This allows the user to monitor any receiver in the network through a single jack socket. “It really seems designed for what we do,” says one judge of the S6000. “The built-in Ethernet and monitoring of units on a standard network is fantastic. No more big video splits for RF monitoring. Being able to headphone monitor from any receiver across different receiver frames is also a wonderful thing.”
Trantec
Surrey, UK
www.trantec.co.uk
Circle 103 on Reader Service Card