You know it's not a stellar year for innovative technology when cabling gets all the buzz. Still, this year's crop of top sound products represents a nice cross section of incremental improvements to existing technology. The panel of judges, which included sound designers, board ops, an academic, and an acoustician, were especially keen on the aforementioned Cat 5e cable from Gepco, but also found things to like in the new Aviom protocol, the now-ready-for-the-world D5T from DiGiCo, and some nice stuff from d&b and LCS. All the winners will be honored at the 2005 EDDY Awards ceremony on June 22 in New York.
AVIOM A-NET PRO64 ASIC
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 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. In specialized networks, A-Net Pro can carry 256 channels without sacrificing performance. A-Net Pro is designed to work without a dedicated PC and without PC-based configuration. The protocol does not require a user or installer to connect a computer at any point. However, the Pro64 ASIC's Application Processor Interface will allow PC-based network management as an option. 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.
“Finally, a new invention based more on a microchip than on something that you can rack-mount,” says one judge. “Any theatre can use this stuff,” says another, “it's a great way to do monitors off a DM2000. They are currently doing 64 channels of audio on a SINGLE cat-5 cable, and the distribution system is super inexpensive!”
Circle 120 On Reader Service Card
Though it was first unveiled to the public at the end of 2003, this board wasn't officially up and running until 2004, making it eligible this go-round. Good thing too, since the D5T is a true rarity — a console actually designed with the theatre sound designer in mind. Credit for that goes to two legends: Andrew Bruce and Lew Mead, who provided input into the D5T. 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. With a 72 buss DSP engine, a 32 × 32 matrix, 41 fader surface and up to 128 channels with full dynamics processing or 96 channels with onboard effects, the DiGiCo D5T combines a wealth of facilities in a compact, 1484mm W × 868mm D (58.43in W × 34.17in D) worksurface that potentially will give back hundreds of seats a year to large productions.
“Not only do these desks sound fantastic but they are also very easy to operate for a person who might have had years of experience on a traditional console but not much computer experience,” says one judge. “I would definitely give them an award for being one of the few companies willing to take an expensive, large-scale digital desk and make it truly configured for theatre,” says another.
Circle 121 On Reader Service Card
D&B AUDIOTECHNIK D12 AMPLIFIER
The d&b D12 amplifier is a two-channel power amplifier incorporating digital signal processors (DSP) to provide speaker specific setups 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 4-band parametric equalizer, and signal delay capability of up to 340ms are incorporated, these 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.
“This amp has all of the built-in DSP for the d&b product range as well as a networking protocol for controlling them remotely,” says one judge. “Of special note is a feature called CSA, which is essentially a device for creating a simulated cardiodal subwoofer array. I had some great experience with this in Las Vegas and it really works. Much better low-end impact and pattern control out of more traditional stacked subs.”
Circle 122 On Reader Service Card
LEVEL CONTROL SYSTEMS WILD TRACKS 4
The 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. Safety™ redundancy provides automatic changeover from a primary drive failure to any available backup drive. 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. A Samba file network server is implemented with Wild Tracks, allowing convenient access to sound files over a network.
“While this is another re-lease of a pre-existing product, the drag and drop functionality and ease of integrating with your choice of editor are big pluses,” says one judge. “They have also changed the HD format to be more compatible with regular Macs and PCs, making it easier to get your sounds in and out of the box. The computer geek part of me also likes the fact that I can use Macs, PCs, and Linux boxes as clients for the system and simultaneous multi-platform control to boot! I think LCS is way ahead of the curve in that respect.”
Sierra Madre, CA
Circle 123 On Reader Service Card
GEPCO CT504HD CAT 5E CABLE
In all our years doing this, we've never seen a group of judges so jazzed about a piece of wire. The 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.
“I think this product is long overdue,” says one judge. “As you all know, our industry is moving very rapidly in the area of integration and networking. We, as well as the lighting guys, have been stringing Cat-5 all over the place for a couple of years now, and the light-duty, made-to-run-in-conduit Cat-5 products just don't hold up to heavy use and abuse. It's not a very ‘hi-tech’ product — after all it's just a wire — but the inception is genuinely new and innovative.”
Des Plaines, IL
Circle 124 On Reader Service Card