Well, so much for the hand wringing. After concerns among exhibitors and attendees that changes implemented for the 2001 National Systems Contractor Association show in Orlando–namely larger booths–would negatively affect attendance and quality, this year’s show attracted the largest crowd yet. Nearly 11,000 people attended the Systems Integration Expo™ March 8-10, an increase over the 10,000 people at the 2000 show. More than 500 exhibits featuring audio, video, security, lighting, data cabling and other commercial electronic systems technology were highlighted at the 21st annual event held at the Orange County Convention Center.

"The 2001 NSCA Expo was a spectacular success. The show exceeded our expectations on many levels, not the least of which was a new record for attendance," said Andy Musci, NSCA Expo Chairman and President of Altel Systems in Brewster, NY.

Much of the show’s success was attributed to the exhibit floor’s new layout. Larger booths and limited audio created an all-new look to the floor, both offerings available for the first time since the NSCA Expo’s inception. "We believe that the new, expanded format will set a benchmark for future shows and we look forward to continued successes with the NSCA filling a strong leadership role both within our industry and also participating as an agent providing outreach to related businesses and industries," said Musci.

In addition to the 10’ x 15’ booth, the NSCA added two more booth sizes, a 10’ x 30‘ and a 20’ x 30’. The availability of more space assisted exhibitors who in the past had difficulty displaying working technologies in a small space. Audio limited to 72 dBA also allowed exhibitors to more effectively demonstrate their product, but not to the detriment of the show. Levels were strictly monitored so one-on-one conversations could be easily conducted.

NSCA Expo education also had a banner year, with over 1,800 class tickets sold. "NSCA education couldn’t have been better," said Katie Chism, NSCA manager of educational programs. "The attendance was strong and we owe much of its success to the quality and dedication of our instructors." More than 400 hours of technical and business education took place at Expo, starting March 5 and ending on March 11. Tracks included the Integrated Systems Application Seminars, Audio, Video, Security/Lighting, Connectivity, Business and Sales.

The 2002 NSCA Expo is April 25 — 27 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. More information will be available at www.nscaexpo.org later this spring.

Until then, audiophiles can contend themselves with some of the new gear released at the show. Below is a highly selective look at some of the more useful and innovative audio and video products that were on display.

Video

Analog Way (www.analogway.com) showed its new Graphic Switcher II, which can cut, fade, dissolve, mix and insert titles between 16 computer/video inputs. Each input is up/down converted to one user programmable output: VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, D-ILA, or HDTV. Two different kinds of outputs are available: one main and one preview. Other features include sequence programming mode, follow mode for perfect video motion (panoramic camera), and input format memory, image freeze (for main and/or preview), and black display. (To read more about mixers/scalars, read Pete Putman’s column in the May issue of ED, or just click here.)

Barco (www.barco.com) unveiled the BarcoReality 6500 DLC projector, which combines 5,000 lumens and a native S-XGA panel resolution in a small design and is geared for use in demanding, bright environments. The light output for the projector comes via 1.8" X-XGA polysilicon LCD panels with Micro Lens Arrays. The unit features a wide array of input signal connections, including Video, S-Video, RGB, VGA, and SDI/SDO. An optional FireWire input allows the interconnection of a wide range of computers with digital video cards and consumer electronic products, ranging from digital camcorders to TVs and VCRs.

Extron (www.extron.com) introduced the System 7SC, a seven input, dual output, configurable video and computer-video switcher with a bult-in video scaler. The System 7SC features system control along with RGB and video integration capabilities, for rental, staging and permanent installations using plasma displays as well as CRT, LCD, and DLP projectors. The system switcher also provides video scaling, RS-232 or IR projector and room control, universal compatibility with displays, and audio switching capabilities.

FSR (www.fsrinc.com) showed the ON-2000 Omni Navigator is designed to offer switching of all video formats (15KHz to 130 KHz, and up to 1600 x 1280 resolution). The unit features eight high-resolution inputs with both main and preview outputs; each input is scaled to one programmable output format matching the native resolution of the chosen technology, whether it's a multisync monitor, plasma display, videowall or projector (LCD, DLP, or CRT). Engineered into the Navigator are various transition effects--cut, dissolve, wipes--that can be individually tailored by the user.

In Focus (www.infocus.com), which recently merged with Proxima, showed off several new projectors including the Proxima Pro AV 9350, designed for large venue and rental and staging environments. The Pro AV 9350 combines image features like V-Scan, Horizontal and Vertical Lens Shift, and Digital Keystone Correction, with flexible installation options like BNC connections, optional lenses, wired remote, and modular inputs. Other features include Horizontal and Vertical Lens Shift for flexible installation and positioning, dual lamp option for exceptional brightness, and a 3,000-hour lamp life.

Audio

AKG (www.akg_acoustics.com) debuted the C477 WR headset microphone, a lightweight followup to the CK 77. The C477 WR, designed for applications requiring placement close to the mouth, uses a flexible band of steel tubing behind the user’s neck, which can be conformed to achieve a comfortable fit. Additionally, the microphone, which comes in two versions for left or right side use, "telescopes" from the rear of the headband, allowing for further customization.

Audio-Technica (www.audio-technica.com) unveiled the new Engineered Sound® wireless systems, which are designed to offer true diversity operation, 100 switch-selectable PLL-synthesized UHF frequencies, and Tone Lock™ tone squelch. The systems are available as separate components, with two receivers and two transmitters to choose from: the ESW-R220 dual receiver or the ESW-R210 single receiver, and the ESW-T211 UHF synthesized UniPak™ body-pack transmitter and ESW-T214 UHF synthesized handheld microphone/transmitter. One hundred frequencies in the UHF TV Channel 57-59 bands (728-741 MHz) can be selected by pushbutton, and up to twelve channels may be used simultaneously in multi-channel applications. All Engineered Sound wireless units feature the Tone Lock tone squelch system that opens the receiver’s audio circuits only when an Engineered Sound transmitter is detected, greatly reducing the possibility of interference and eliminating the need for a user-adjustable squelch control.

Clear-Com (www.clearcom.com) showed off the RCS-2000 programmable source-assignment panel system, which offers remote control switching of party-line assignments for medium to large systems. The unit is compatible with Clear-Com and other party-line systems, and may also be used as a controllable switcher for the PL portion of digital matrix intercom installations. The main switching unit is the RCS-2000 an eight-channel by 24-station/group assignment matrix. Up to six RCS-2000s can be wired together in various configurations for up to a 15-channel by 72-station/group system.

Crest (www.crestaudio.com) unveiled the new CPX Series power amplifiers, which includes three models – the CPX900, CPX1500 and CPX2600. The series features built-in defeatable GCL™ clip limiting, low pass filters (18dB per octave @ 80 Hz), and electronic crossovers with direct outputs. In addition, all CPX Series amps feature protection circuitry comprised of GCL™ Gain comparator (monitors input/output gain), Thermal Protection, DC Triac Crowbar (prevents DC in/out), and Turn On/Off Muting. In addition, all CPX Series Amplifiers utilize a unique heat sink configuration that creates a "venturi effect" designed to enhance their cooling capabilities.

Crown (www.crownaudio.com) launched the IQ-PIP-USP2/CN module, which when installed in any of Crown’s PIP2-compatible amps, including the Com-Tech 10 Series and Macro-Tech 02 Series, is designed to create a CobraNet™ compatible amp. The unit integrates the latest CobraNet audio-networking technology and a full complement of audio signal processing in a package that requires no rack space. In addition, the module connects the amplifier to the IQ Bus of an IQ system, allowing the amp to be controlled and monitored via Crown IQ.

Denon (www.del.denon.com) showed its newest professional minidisc recorder, the DMD-1000P, a fully-featured, 3U rack-mountable MD recorder designed to provide advanced circuitry and signal conversion for playback and recording. The DMD-1000P uses Denon’s Advanced Super Linear Converter for D/A conversion for accuracy in digital translation upon playback. This system is designed to provide low-level resolution for an increased dynamic range, superb transparency and clarity in critical listening situations. On the recording side, the DMD-1000P features an enhanced Dual-bit Delta Sigma 20 bit A/D converter with 64-times oversampling. Input options, which are mono or stereo selectable, include 2 optical digital, 1 coaxial digital, and 1 analog pair. The DMD-1000P also hosts a full range of minidisc editing functions such as: Divide, Combine, Move, Erase, Disc Name Erase, All Name Erase and Undo.

EAW (www.eaw.com) offered up its new ASe Series, is the latest in the AS Series line of three-way systems designed specifically for permanent installation purposes. The series is designed to be extremely flexible in its usage and easy to install. With 12 complimentary pieces engineered to provide consistent sound character, AS systems can be used interchangeably for a truly customizable sound reinforcement system. The ASe series features EAW patented Radial Phase Plug™ for technology, a 90°x45° mid/high module, 2.5-in voice coil neodymium compression driver for increased SPL and power handling, 15-in woofers for lower distortion, and 18 suspension points in total on each enclosure for easier installation.

Earthworks (www.earthwks.com) unveiled its Flex Series of microphones, which are essentially the SR69 and SR71 cardioid mics with a range of flexible neck lengths, designed to allow for the adjustment of mic positioning. Intended for podium use, hanging choir mics, and for getting into hard-to-reach places like drum kits, the series includes: the FM720, extra long and best suited to hanging choir use, but can also be used to mike a group of musicians with minimal visibility; the FM500, featuring a swan-like neck that can be adjusted with very little handling noise; and the FM360, small but powerfully equipped for situations requiring a low profile.

Japan-based I-Tek Design Inc. showed its Pipeline PL-12 line array loudspeaker to the NSCA audience. The Pipeline design utilizes a vertical array of proprietary flat panel transducers designed to couple in the vertical axis without phase cancellation. The ultra-low-mass of the flat panel transducers provide transient response and a detailed, extended high end, while the transducer geometry creates a wavefront that attenuates at only half the rate of a conventional sound source. Pipeline speakers require very little installation space and are suited for applications in theatres, concert halls, themed attractions, churches, clubs and hotel ballrooms.

JBL (www.jblpro.com) unveiled the Control® 29AV two-way loudspeaker, which features an 8" woofer with Kevlar cone for weather resistance and a 1" exit compression driver mounted onto a rotatable high-frequency horn, which allows use of the speaker in either vertical or horizontal orientation. The 29AV includes a distribution transformer designed for minimal insertion loss and reduced saturation. The speaker’s compact frame is designed for use in music cafes, nightclubs, small churches and theme parks, and also for delay/fill applications or underbalcony sound in auditoriums, arenas, or stadiums.

Klark Teknik (www.klarkteknik.com) displayed the DN9848 digital electronic crossover/loudspeaker management system. The DN9848, which began shipping in December 2000, comprises four balanced analog input channels and eight balanced analog output channels. Each input channel provides eight separately configurable, fully parametric equalization stages that may be used for room equalization¾ up to 1000 ms of delay, gain control and compression. Full metering with clip indication is available for all input and output channels. Each output channel provides configurable high- and low-pass filters for setting the crossover characteristics as well as six further stages of fully parametric equalization that may be used to compensate for system or enclosure characteristics.

Klipsch (www.klipsch.com), which used NSCA to announce a strategic alliance with Hard Rock Café, in which the company’s speakers would be used in Hard Rock venues around the world, also unveiled the Contractor All-purpose Series. All three new indoor/outdoor loudspeakers–the CA-5T, CA-6T, and CA-8T–feature non corrosive materials designed to withstand adverse weather conditions, square Tractrix® Horns, injected molded graphite woofer cones, Santropene surrounds, cast polymer woofer frames, phase aligned drivers, and five-way binding posts.

Level Control Systems (LCS) (www.lcsaudio.com) unveiled the CobraNet audio module for Matrix3[tm]. The LX-CBR CobraNet module gives LCS a link into the growing list of companies supporting CobraNet, an emerging industry standard for Ethernet-based real-time digital audio distribution. This module allows an LX-300 frame to interface 16 inputs and 16 outputs to a CobraNet network. Each LX-300 frame in a Matrix3 system can accommodate one CobraNet module. The expandable Matrix3 system is now possible with all audio I/O supplied over Ethernet. Other available I/O options are balanced line-level input/output modules and a digital ADAT Lightpipe module.

Mackie Industrial (www.mackieindustrial.com) introduced the ART Series of two-way active and passive installation loudspeakers. The two-way design of the ART Series consists of a massive magnet structure on the woofer for bass reproduction. The HF section uses a Polynomial CD horn loaded to the unit’s respective compression driver. The CD horn is a part of the molded enclosure. The ART Series consists of five active speakers, the ART200AM, ART200A, ART300A, ART400A, and ART500A. In each active ART Series speaker, two discrete power amplifiers and the electronic crossover are matched to the two transducers and provide time correction, CD horn compensation and peak-limiting, as well as over-excursion and thermal protection. The ART200A, 300A, 400A and 500A will accept a balanced or unbalanced (switch selected) microphone or line input, adjusted by a single rotary control. The passive ART Series speakers include the ART300 and ART500. Applications include, but are not limited to, live sound/music reinforcement, high-level AV playback, and large speech systems.

Meyer (www.meyersound.com) debuted the M3D, a self-powered line array system designed for mid-to-large venues. The system features BroadbandQ™ technology, which offers control of both the horizontal and vertical coverage across the full audio bandwidth, from 18 kHz down to 40 Hz. The companion M3D-Su extends the directional control and power bandwidth to 30 Hz. Both the M3D full-range cabinet and the M3D-Sub employ the proprietary directional control technology of Meyer’s PSW-6 Cardioid Subwoofer.

Martin Audio (www.martin-audio.com) unveiled the new Blackline Series of portable loudspeaker systems, which are designed for touring musicians and DJs and which feature multi-angle enclosures, rotatable high-frequency horns, and Hybrid™ midrange horn design. All enclosures are manufactured in plywood, fitted with kickproof perforated steel grills and finished with the same paint as those used on Martin’s other touring enclosures. The line includes the F12, F15, H3, H2, S15, S18, S218, and M3.

Midas (www.midasconsoles.com) introduced the Veniceä an audio mixing console in an ultra-compact format. Designed as a compact version of the Midas Heritage and XL-Series, the Venice is available in three versions: the Venice 160 (8 Mono-Mic/Line + 4 Stereo-Line/Mono-Mic Inputs), the Venice 240 (16 Mono-Mic/Line + 4 Stereo-Line/Mono-Mic Inputs), and the Venice 320 (24 Mono-Mic/Line + 4 Stereo-Line/Mono-Mic Inputs). The Venice 160 will fit in a 19-inch rack and will ship with the rack-mounting kit.

Neutrik (www.neutrikusa.com) debuted the NYS225-S commercial 1/4-inch phone plug for the live sound industry. The latest in the 2-pole mono plug series designed with a larger shell to accommodate wider diameter speaker cable, the 225-S features a silent switch that eliminates the popping distortion when inserted into a jack. The NYS 225-S was created in response to the needs of musicians, technicians and engineers in the live sound marketplace. The silent switch automatically depresses upon insertion and acts like a ground lift to eliminate the pop when a cable is plugged into an instrument or amplifier.

Shure (www.shure.com) showed the WL50 omnidirectional lavalier mics designed for theatre and event production. The mics weigh only .34 grams and a diameter of 5.8 mm, and the condenser units come in black, beige, and white. All WL50s have a frequency response rate of 20 to 20,000 Hz, and come standard with two types of equalization caps that can be interchanged as required. The silver-mesh caps provide a mild 4 dB boost from 8-18 kHz, while the gold-mesh caps deliver a 10 dB boost centered at 12 kHz. Each mic is offered with two termination options–a pigtailed (unterminated) cable, or a TA4F connector compatible with all Shure wireless transmitters.

Telex Communications (www.telex.com) displayed the RadioCom™ BTR-300 wireless intercom system. The successor to Telex’s BTR-200/RTS™ 2105 wireless VHF intercom system, the unit’s improved front-end filtering allows the BTR-300 to be used in places where other wireless intercoms can’t function due to interference from other transmitters. Additional filtering capabilities and channel assignments also allow a greater number of base stations and beltpacks to be used simultaneously. Up to four base stations and 16 separate beltpacks can be used at one time with the BTR-300.

Turbosound (www.turbosound.com) launched its latest additions to the QLight™ series of loudspeakers. The TQ-220 is a compact passive 2-way loudspeaker based around two 5" LF drivers and a 1/2" liquid-cooled HF tweeter. The TQ-230 is a 2-way loudspeaker with two 5" LF drivers and a 1" HF driver. Like the TQ-220, the new TQ-230 is magnetically shielded for use in close proximity to computer monitors and TV screens in audio-visual applications. The TQ-259 is a trapezoidal passive loudspeaker designed for corporate and theatre applications. The TQ-259 has a front loaded 12" LF driver and a 1" HF compression driver on a 90° H x 60° V HF horn, matched with an internal passive crossover network.

Yamaha (www.yamaha.com/proaudio) introduced the compact EMX3000, which provides flexible audio mixing, a high-powered built-in 300-watt per channel stereo amp, and on-board digital effects processing. The EMX3000 is ideal for small venues, theatres, houses of worship, boardrooms, media presentations and any smaller, budget-conscious sound reinforcement system requiring high performance. The EMX3000 features eight mono channels and two stereo, 3-band EQ, two monitor sends, one effect send, one mono and two stereo outputs. On-board digital effects provide 16 programs, including Yamaha’s reverb technology. The effects send feeds the internal effects processor and can also be used for external devices (which then return signals back to one of the two stereo sub inputs). The built-in lightweight amplifier provides 300 watts per channel of stereo power that can easily be used bridged, as left and right main outputs, or assigned to the monitor output. This will allow easy integration and system growth.