The February issue of Entertainment Design magazine will announce the Sound Products of the year as decided by a distinguished panel of judges, which included sound designers, board ops, an academic, and an acoustician. This year’s top sound products represents a unique cross section of incremental improvements to existing technology and include everything from a protocol to a cable.

This year’s winners are Aviom’s A-Net Pro64 ASIC protocol, d&b audiotechnik’s D12 amplifier, DiGiCo’s D5T console, Gepco’s CT504HD Cat 5e Cable, and Level Control Systems’ Wild Tracks 4 playback system.

A winner last year for its A-16 Personal Monitor Mixing System, Aviom’s A-Net Pro was a hit with this year’s judges, even though it’s a protocol and not yet associated with an actual product. A-Net Pro offers greatly increased data capacity and signal control, and addresses the performance requirements of the most sophisticated audio networking applications. Unlike its predecessor A-Net, A-Net Pro is fully bi-directional and has dramatically increased capacity, while preserving the central performance specs of A-Net: uncompressed, ultralow-latency in a plug-and-play system. The new version of the protocol carries up to 64 audio channels on a single wire pair in a Cat-5 cable, still at 24 bits. Aviom will introduce the first products in its new line of premium networking products based on the A-Net Pro protocol beginning in Q3 of 2005.

The d&b audiotechnik D12 is a two-channel power amplifier incorporating digital signal processors to provide speaker-specific set ups that include comprehensive protection functions for all current d&b loudspeakers. The D12 has both digital and analog signal inputs, loudspeaker outputs, remote control and monitoring abilities and interfaces, a sine wave and pink noise signal generator and controls and status indicators. A user definable four-band parametric equalizer, and signal delay capability of up to 340 ms are incorporated and can be applied independently to each channel. The D12 also includes d&b SenseDrive for accurate control of the driver membranes in d&b subwoofers, resulting in an extremely precise low frequency performance.

Though it was officially unveiled to the public at the end of 2003, Digico’s D5T console was not officially up and running until 2004. This console is a true rarity—it was designed with the theatre sound designer in mind. Credit for that goes to two legends—Andrew Bruce and Lew Mead, who provided their input. The console is based on the award-winning D5 Live platform; its worksurface is accompanied by the DiGiTRACS Rehearsal Recorder, D5-TM and D5-RC system expanders and the forthcoming Cue Composer software to create a versatile, modular system for theatre sound programming and operation. The DiGiCo D5T combines a wealth of facilities in a compact, 1484mm W x 868mm D (58.43in W x 34.17in D) worksurface that potentially will give back hundreds of seats a year to large productions.

Gepco’s CT504HD heavy-duty tactical Category 5e cable is an ideal solution for portable or remote patching of Ethernet networks or digital audio/video formats utilizing CAT5e type cable. The CT504HD was created to meet the increased demand of audio/video professionals who need a rugged, reliable, portable and flexible cable solution. The CT504HD is intended for use with Neutrik EtherCon connectors, and is also available from Gepco as pre-terminated cable assemblies. The key thing about this one is its unique double jacket construction. The inner jacket of the CT504HD allows the pair to have proper physical spacing in order to achieve EIA/TIA CAT5 specifications, while the durable TPE outer jacket protects the cable from physical damage or abuse. In addition, the CT504HD utilizes stranded 24-gage conductors that enhance the cable’s flexibility and flex-life durability.

Level Control Systems’ Wild Tracks 4 fault tolerant sound effects playback system is an integrated hardware and software option for the Matrix3 modular digital mixer that provides 16 tracks of audio playback. Unlike conventional samplers and disk-based playback systems, audio files can be grouped in arbitrary track combinations on the fly, and triggered by a combination of external control, internal automation, and internal or external SMPTE time code. Wild Tracks 4 provides an intuitive user interface that includes a visual timeline of audio events and click-and-drag simplicity for building complex sound cues. Audio files can be imported from a variety of formats using the new AudioMove™ multi-platform (OS X, Linux, Win32) program included with Wild Tracks 4.

All the winners will be honored at this year’s EDDY Awards ceremony on June 22 in New York.