The PAR Excellence Awards is a reader-voted program, presented by the Editors and Contributors of Pro Audio Review (PAR) magazine. Now it’s your turn to make your opinions known.

This online ballot allows voting privileges to Pro Audio Review print and digital subscribers from the mail date of PAR August 2013‘s issue through November 15, 2013. PAR Excellence Winners will be announced in the December 2013 issue of Pro Audio Review and simultaneously online at, PAR’s shared website with sister publication, Pro Sound News.

Nominations for the 2013 PAR Excellence Awards were developed through the brain trust of PAR Editors and Contributors. Nominations were based on the "I want to own this" principle; gear selected should have a proven field track record, performed well via PAR's "real world" review process, or—in the case of recently released products—have shown particular promise through demonstrations, beta-testing and among early adopters, PAR Contributors, their reviews, and our nomination team.

All products for consideration must have been first made commercially available on or after July 1, 2012 and on or before June 30, 2013.

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*2013 PAR Excellence Awards: Nominees

 Studio Hardware

Microphone Preamplifiers

Aphex J PRE for 500 Series: Aphex’s premium J PRE 500 mic pre is inspired by the flagship Aphex 1788A remote controlled preamp. They both have the same Jensen JT11K8 nickel input Transformer and Aphex patented Mic Limiter technology.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20: The biggest Scarlett product, the 18i20 features 18 inputs and 20 outputs provides eight Focusrite Scarlett microphone preamps with switchable phantom power and up to 60dB of gain. Other features include USB 2.0 connectivity; iOS compatibility; 24-bit/96 kHz A-D/D-A converters with analog mic/line XLR/TRS I/O; and connections for channels 1 and 2 on the front panel with hi-Z input and switchable -10dB pad. Another eight channels of digital I/O are provided via ADAT Lightpipe; S/PDIF provides stereo digital I/O.

JDK Audio V10 Mic Pre for 500 Series: JDK Audio’s R20 rack-mount preamp begat the V10, offering 54 dB of gain, -20 dB pad, polarity reverse and 48 VDC phantom power in a simple design. The front panel quarter-inch DI instrument input has 45 dB of gain and a -10 dB pad. A ten segment, three-color LED meter monitors output level. “Its typical performance is largely without character—clean, transparent, flat, dynamic and linear,” explains PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione. “I find it to be a natural for vocals, where it stays out of the way, allowing a mic or compressor’s character to shine through.”

Millennia HV-37: “Incorporating a pair of Millennia’s HV-35 500 series module preamps into a fully self-contained single space rack unit, the HV-37’s layout is quite simple,” explains PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli. “With its transformerless input and ultra clean design, it provides just what you’d expect it to: an uncolored and accurate signal path ... it delivers on all the adjectives you might expect to hear; it’s clean, pure, invisible and musical.”

Rascal Audio Two-V Dual Microphone Preamplifier for 500 Series: “While I would describe the sound of the Two-V as ‘vintage,’ it is much more than another clone of a decades-old circuit,” explains PAR Senior Contributor Russ Long. “Where most clone mic pres are typically what I describe as one-trick-ponies, the Two-V uses custom-designed transformers and provides much more control of the interaction between the gain stages than old-school designs. This yields a mic pre that has a fantastic sound, yet is much broader in its sonic flexibility than any solid-state preamp I’ve ever encountered.”

Channel Strips (including preamp, EQ and/or compressor/limiter)

APHEX Project Channel: A streamlined, more affordable version of APHEX’s popular Channel, Project Channel features a Class A mic preamp, “one knob” optical compressor, plus Big Bottom and Aural Exciter parameters. Its front panel instrument input allows for quick and easy DI tracking; it excels at acoustic guitar and electric bass jobs.

Heritage Audio 1073/500 for 500 Series: As the company name suggests, Heritage Audio—a Madrid-based boutique pro audio manufacturer—builds some of the best classic circuit recreations in modern pro audio. Its 1073 for 500 Series chassis doesn’t only look authentic, it’s overbuilt and sounds like the original (and real) deal.

Presonus ADL 700: “PreSonus’ flagship ADL 700 features a Class A tube preamp (by tube-circuit designer Anthony DeMaria), variable, FET-based compressor and a four-band semi-parametric equalizer, separate balanced XLR mic, balanced XLR line, and quarter-inch TS instrument inputs and a single balanced XLR output. “I found the preamp section to be the best part,” offers PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione in his review of the ADL 700. “It’s incredibly musical, clear and versatile. Driven hard, this preamp will lightly break up and distort mildly at first, but jump right into over-saturated valve glory when slammed. Clean and beautiful, though, is this preamp’s forte.”

Radial Engineering PreComp for 500 Series: Radial’s PreComp is a single-wide 500 series-compatible module featuring the company’s Accustate gain control ”that simultaneously sets the output and sensitivity to maximize signal-to-noise at all levels” and a compressor with adjustable threshold, compression ratio and make-up gain control “that automatically transitions from soft-knee to hard-knee as compression increases.” Other features include polarity reverse, HPF, 48 VDC phantom power, and in/out switch for comparison.

Radial Engineering PreMax for 500 Series: The PreMax is a combination low-noise mic preamp and 3-band equalizer within a single-wide 500 series module, allowing maximum pre/EQ inputs in any 500 Series-compatible chassis. Features include Radial's Accustate input control that auto-pads the input while optimizing signal-to-noise, high-pass filter, polarity reverse, front panel instrument input, and more.


Daking Comp 500 for 500 Series: “Borrowing from its compressor big brothers—the FET II and FET III—the Comp 500 squeezes that smooth Daking compression sound into a 500 series chassis and does so while utilizing an all new VCA design,” explains PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione. “The Comp 500 does exactly what it was designed to do: make quick and easy work of the majority of compression duties. Settings can be made quickly and sound great; I even attempted to make it sound bad, but I couldn’t.”

JDK Audio V12 Compressor for 500 Series: “The V12 has soft or hard knee reaction, ratios from 1:1 to 10:1 (allowing very low ratios for purist work) and manual make-up gain while Thrust enables moderate pumping when defeated (if so desired),” explains PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione in his review of the V12. “For tracking with more density without any dulling, smearing or artifacts, the V12 is more versatile than I expected it to be.”

Solid State Logic Stereo Bus Compressor for 500 Series: The ubiquitous center section SSL bus compressor is now available for 500 Series-compatible chassis. Though “the SSL console sound has been available in 12 different modules for SSL’s own modular X-Rack system for many years,” tells SSL promotional material, the company is further distributing its legendary bus comp within the burgeoning 500 Series module market—to great success, we might add.

Solid State Logic 611 DYN Dynamics for 500 Series: The 611 DYN includes compression and gating parameters, both with their own threshold and release controls plus compression ratio and gating range on the right side of the dynamics module. The gating section also receives dedicated switches for expansion vs. gating and fast/slow attack modes, with dual five-segment LEDs to provide visual feedback for gating and compression amounts. ”If you want the closest thing to, say, an 1176, push all buttons in; this selects fast attack, hard knee and linear release,” recommends PAR Contributor Randy Poole.

Undertone Audio UnFairchild Model 670M: For everyone that has ever wanted a Fairchild—that classic, simply designed compressor—here’s your chance. Built by multiplatinum engineer Eric Valentine’s Undertone Audio, the UnFairchild Model 670M sounds like the original without its less attractive, temperamental characteristics: the UnFairchild’s tube circuitry is more reliable, it offers presets, side chain processing, true bypass, and much more.


Bettermaker 502P for 500 Series: Two-channels in a two-slot 500 Series package, the 502P is a Pultec-style stereo/dual mono analog equalizer with recall of up to 399 presets. It can be fully automated and all settings can be saved within the current DAW project, using the supplied software plug-in (AU, VST, RTAS, AXX; 32- and 64-bit); it appears as a MIDI device via computer interface or sound card.

Elysia xfilter for 500 Series: German manufacturer elysia has expanded their 500 Series product offering with its xfilter 500 true stereo EQ featuring fully Class A circuitry, “resulting in an exceptionally open ‘boutique’ sound with impeccable transient projection and solid punch,” describes company promotional material.

Radial Engineering Q4 for 500 Series: The Q4 is a four-band, discrete state-variable class-A parametric equalizer built in Canada. Fixed low and high frequency shelving resides at 100 Hz and 10 kHz with two semi-parametric mid bands that span between 300 Hz to 2.4 kHz and 1 kHz to 12 kHz, respectively. Each mid band is also equipped with choice of wide or narrow Q; all frequencies are set with up to 12 dB of boost or cut.

Solid State Logic 611 EQ for 500 Series: The 611 EQ is the four-band EQ from the venerable SSL E Series desk, minus the filter section. Features include top (HF) and bottom (LF) peak/shelving and two mid-frequency bands with fully variable Q. The only exception to the original is an added switch to change EQ curves between the “Brown-02” and “Black-242” console versions; “brown” has HPF and LPF 12 dB/octave filter slopes while “black” features a switchable filter bypass, fully eliminating filters the circuit, if desired. PAR Contributor Randy Poole gushes, “The 611 EQ yields some of the fastest and most satisfying drums sounds of any EQ I have tried.”

Converters, DAW I/O, Interfaces & Networking

Apogee Quartet: The Quartet specifically approaches professional studio quality with its 24-bit/192 kHz capabilities and its mic preamps (with selectable 48 VDC phantom power), inherited from the flagship Symphony I/O. As an added value, previous owners of the Quartet now in possession of an iPad can download firmware enabling iOS support.

Antelope Audio Orion 32: “There’s a lot to love about this box,” explains PAR Technical Editor Lynn Fuston. “It features a full 32-channels of not just A-D but also D-A converters, with sampling frequencies (Fs) up to 192 kHz, in a single rack space unit that is only 9-inches deep. Plus it draws a max of 20 W of power (less than an average lightbulb).” Then there’s the price: $2,995—”a tremendous value per channel.”

Focusrite Forte: Operating solely on USB power, Forte is Focusrite’s flagship two-input, four-output bus-powered USB 2.0 audio interface for Mac or PC. Featuring two remote control mic preamps as used in Focusrite's RedNet range of professional audio interfaces and 24-bit/192 kHz converters, Forte is centered around an OLED (Organic LED) based GUI indicating input and output signal levels, mic preamp gain and other information.

Prism Sound Lyra Series: Based on the Prism’s Orpheus, Lyra interfaces incorporate new ARM Cortex-based Xcore processor design, offering class-compliant USB interfacing, plus DSP and a low latency “console-quality” digital mixer for foldback monitoring. Lyra 1 offers two analog input channels, one for instrument/line and one for mic/line, plus two D/A output channels and optical-only digital I/O. Lyra 2 offers two A/D input channels with switchable microphone, instrument or line input modes and four DA output channels.

Universal Audio Apollo 16: Building on the wildly successful Apollo line, Universal Audio now offers the Apollo 16 Audio Interface with 16x16 analog I/O conversion. The FireWire/Thunderbolt-ready interface offers UAD-2 QUAD processing, DB-25 connectivity and multi-unit cascading for up to 32x32 analog I/O. With its standard UAD-2 QUAD processing onboard, Apollo 16 provides real time processing with UAD Powered Plug-Ins with as low as sub-2 ms latency. Apollo 16's onboard UAD processing is also available during mixing and mastering, so that users can employ UAD plug-ins (VST, RTAS, AU) throughout the creative process.

Studio Monitors

ADAM Audio F7 F Series: The F7 features ADAM’s X-ART tweet and a larger seven-inch woofer, powered by a 40 W RMS A/B and 60 W RMS A/B amplifier, respectively. “There are no gimmicks and few frills to be found in the F Series,” explains PAR Editor Strother Bullins, “just solid performance for the discriminating, yet budget-conscious and/or space-limited audio producer.”

Emotiva Pro Stealth 8: Weighing 41.5 lbs. and measuring 16.5” x 12” X 15”, the Stealth 8 features a fully discrete amplifier design with 200 W of power per driver, allowing for a rated peak output in the 120 dB range. A 10.5” x 5/8” rear-facing port expels low frequency energy from the Stealth 8. Its proprietary airmotiv high-frequency driver is a 60 x 32 mm folded ribbon, while the 8-inch low frequency driver is made of woven polypropylene. “A combination of plentiful power, notable depth and clarity and an impressive price/performance ratio makes the Stealth 8 nothing short of stunning,” tells PAR Contributor Randy Poole.

Genelec M Series M030: From Genelec’s new Music Creation Series, the M030 features “unique aesthetics and physicality”: trademarked, Finnish-made Natural Composite Enclosure (NCE) material (50% wood fiber, 50% polymer/recycled materials), which doesn't require a lot of handling during manufacturing; Class D amps; and much more. Offers PAR Editor Strother Bullins: “I appreciate the effort of Genelec to provide, for lack of a better phrase, a ‘stripped down Gennie’ for the guys in the band that do know what ‘the good monitors’ sound like.”

JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor: The largest speaker in JBL’s studio monitor line, the M2 Master Reference Monitor integrates new JBL transducer technologies in a free-standing, 2-way system. The M2 design includes JBL’s new D2 Compression Driver, which uses two annular diaphragms and two voice coils; JBL’s new 2216ND Differential Drive 15-inch woofer, also with dual voice coils; and a patented wire application said to reduce power compression and enable linear output regardless of playback level.

Neumann KH 310 A: Neumann’s KH 310 three-way active tri-amplified monitor features their trademarked Mathematically Modeled Dispersion Waveguide, 290 W of Class AB amplification per enclosure, flexible acoustical controls, various input options and a variety of mounting hardware options. Featuring a 8.25” woofer, 3” midrange driver, and 1” tweeter, the KH 310 A is designed for diverse acoustical conditions—as a near-field monitor, as a front loudspeaker in mid-sized multi-channel systems, or as a rear loudspeaker in a larger multi-channel system.

PMC twotwo: PMC’s new active line employs “the design approach of PMC’s top lines available at a lower price range,” explains the company. It employs PMC’s ATL (Advanced Transmission Line) bass loading/extension approach along with built-in amplification and high resolution digital filtering. The onboard DSP engine is derived from PMC's IB2S-A; the built-in Class D dual-amplification system builds on the amplifiers developed for PMC's powered range, with 50 W to the tweeter and 150 W to the bass driver.

Sonodyne SM 200AK: The new SM 200AK monitor, the largest in Sonodyne’s Reference Series line, incorporates an eight-inch Kevlar woofer and one-inch metal dome tweeter, respectively powered by 150 W and 100 W class A/B amplifier modules, room compensation electronics, and a die-cast aluminum front baffle with non-parallel wood sides—premium components and construction made affordable.


AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition: Handcrafted in Vienna, Austria, this open-back dynamic studio-grade headphone is built like the original, only updated in the right places. It features AKG’s patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm, now with a flat wire voice coil and new soft leather headband. The K702 sounds full and open, seem to work particularly well on vocalist and mix reference applications.

beyerdynamic T90: Made in Germany, the dynamic open-back T90 is a unique design, featuring Tesla driver technology: they’re efficient, comfortable, and open-sounding. While they’ve become most popular outside of the recording studio, we believe they could be the premium headphone of many engineers, producers and recording facilities.

V-Moda Crossfade M-100: Looking for great headphone sound on the go? V-Moda isn’t a brand associated with pro audio, but it’s a notable find, offers PAR Contributor Tony Ware. Closed back with impressive isolating properties, the M-100 is notably full sounding and well-built, even offering customizable “custom shield kits” featuring multi-colored, laser-engraved logos. It even collapses down for transport and easily fits in to a portable “exoskeleton” case.

Studio Controllers/Mixers/Worksurfaces

Dangerous Music Dangerous Source: The Dangerous Source fits beneath a 13-inch laptop or within close reach for volume, input selection, speaker switching, and headphone control. Features include USB connectivity, speaker switching for two sets of speakers; speaker volume; AES/SPDIF digital in; two stereo analog ins; and dual headphone out with a separate level control. The Dangerous Source is capable of up to 24-bit, 192 kHz on both digital inputs.

Grace Design m905: The m905 stereo reference monitor controller is housed in a 2U, 19” rack mount mainframe, while system control is managed by a desktop remote control. The rear panel of the mainframe provides balanced analog inputs on XLR connectors, and a pair of unbalanced inputs on RCAs. Balanced Cue system inputs are available via XLRs, and a balanced talkback mic input and output is also provided. 24-bit, 192 kHz inputs are supplied in AES3, S/PDIF, ADAT and TOSLINK formats. In addition, a 24-bit/192 kHz USB Class 2 asynchronous input is provided. The m905’s remote is a combination of hardware and a color graphical LCD display, with primary monitoring features accessed via hardware switches and a level knob/encoder, while all system information is displayed on the LCD.

Rupert Neve Designs 5059: A 16x2+2 summing mixer, the 5059 is “built around many of the topologies and custom transformers of the RND 5088 analog studio mixer and popular Portico II Series analog processors. Ideal for those tired of mixing all digital “in the box,” the 5059’s sweet circuitry and channel inserts deliver all the analog tone and quality you can inject into a modern, world-class mix.

Slate Pro Audio Raven MTX: The MTX Multitouch Production Console is a unique mixing console/DAW controller featuring Slate’s own custom-built 46-inch “Nano Glide” touchscreen displaying their Raven Mixer and user-customizable multifunction Toolbar, plus a fully-featured analog monitoring section based on 100 percent digitally-controlled analog circuits. Built to work with the user’s digital audio workstation of choice, the Raven MTX’s GUI is essentially the user’s GUI, allowing complete touch access to faders, pans, mutes, solos, sends, automation, and plug-in inserts. As such, plug-ins, for example, can become the size of 19” outboard gear, as tweak-able as their hardware counterparts, “a world-first in DAW control,” offers Steven Slate.

Steinberg CMC Series: “The series includes six reasonably priced modular surfaces, each with a different control set,” reports PAR Senior Contributor Russ Long. “Up to nine controllers—four instances of the CMC-FD controller and a single instance of the remaining five—can be mixed and matched to create the user’s optimum workspace. The paperback-sized footprint of the CMC controllers is perfect, making them small enough to throw in your computer bag or jacket pocket and effortless to place virtually anywhere in a work space.”

Multitrack Digital Recorders

JoeCo BlackBox Recorders with 2.7.7x software and iXML plug-in: The latest incarnation of JoeCo’s popular and value-packed BlackBox recorder—featuring 2.7.7 software an the iXML plug-in—allows users to record PolyWAV files. Aimed specifically at TV and film location recordists, this feature is ideal for clients who need audio in large single files. “Multiple stereo files up to 24- or 64-channel PolyWAV files are supported, and you can even use mono, stereo, and multi-channel files in the same song,” notes JoeCo documentation.

iZ RADAR 6: Following extensive testing for his PAR review, “It is quite possibly the best sounding digital recorder in the world,” declares PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione of the RADAR 6. Further,”it seems to me that RADAR 6 is a more reliable recording platform than any DAW or any digital recorder I've used ... Do you court classical music clients, audiophile labels, and/or producers who demand “reference quality” audio? Do you record major concerts and well-budgeted artists all live, on location? Do you record popular music, but require a rock-solid front-end and an “analog tape” approach to your sessions? Then RADAR 6, coupled with a complete software-based DAW, is a no-brainer for your level of work.”

Roland R-88: The Roland R-88 features eight discrete channels of audio recording plus a stereo mix, plus a full on-board mixer, various timecode modes and slate tone/mic for memos. The stereo mix output on the R-88 is designed for location sound recording applications, enabling a stereo mix back to the camera to record reference audio or providing a stereo monitor output while simultaneously recording individual tracks.

Acoustical Treatment/Acoustic Isolation Tools/Speaker Stands

Auralex ProFusor II Fabric Wrapped Sound Diffusor: Auralex’s ProFusor II is a quadratic residue diffusor, battling flutter echo “without removing acoustic frequency content of the sound,” offers company promotional material. Made of a Class A fire-rated foam core and covered in one of five color options—Ebony, Pumice, Mesa, Sand and Shadow— the three-inch deep ProFusor II is available in two sizes, 2’x2’ and 2’x4’.

IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R430 Speaker Stands: IsoAcoustics’ new ISO-L8R430 stands, patented acoustic isolating stands, are specifically designed to support subwoofers, guitar, bass and other musical instrument amplifiers as well as large studio monitors such as the Focal SM9 and Adam A77X.

Primacoustic Paintables Acoustic Panels: With Primacoustic Paintables—Radial Engineering’s industry-proven acoustic products division—studio owners can install professional grade acoustical panels, then paint them any color to compliment their environment without affecting their acoustic properties. Paintables are available in a wide variety of sizes, too.

Studio Accessories

Argosy Aura Sit-Stand Workstation Line: Simply put, the Aura Sit-Stand Workstation Line lets users raise or lower their workstation from 27” to 42” height at the push of a button, thus allowing them to alternatively sit and stand without disrupting their workflow. The Aura’s electric lifting columns reportedly ensure stability of the workstation at any height. The Aura Sit-Stand line is available in a larger studio-size (520) as well as personal-size (260). All models feature under-mount racks on the left and right. For the upper work area, users can choose from a wrap-around desk surface, or add upward facing racks on the left and/or right wing of the desk.

Galaxy Audio Standformer MST-C Series Microphone Stands: Standformers have a non-telescoping, non-counterweighted boom arm that can slip back inside the stand's center tube, “effectively making a straight stand into a ‘convertible,’ if you will,” explains PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione. “It’s elegant and sturdy in use, not to mention weight efficient; one might be able to travel with fewer Standformers than standard stands, as they are rather lightweight.”

Line 6 Sonic Port for iOS: Line 6‘s Sonic Port guitar system for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad is a compact digital audio interface using an Apple 30-pin or Lightning connectivity. With it, users can record to CoreAudio music apps and access Line 6’s own Mobile POD app. Sonic Port features an all-digital signal path, 110 dB of guitar dynamic range and up to 24-bit/48 kHz audio quality throughout. I/O includes quarter-inch mono and eighth-inch stereo inputs as well as a quarter-inch guitar/line-level output.

Radial Engineering Gold Digger 4-Channel Mic Selector: The Gold Digger is a 4-channel mic selector that enables the engineer to easily compare the sound of four different microphones while sharing the same preamp. PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione has employed the Gold Digger in evaluating microphones for several months in review, with great results.

Radial Engineering Cherry Picker 4-Channel Preamp Selector: Similar in concept to Radial’s Gold Digger, the Cherry Picker allows engineers to audition four mic preamps via the same reference microphone. For those discriminating engineers that want to know what their amps add (or take away) sonically from their mic of choice, this is the ultimate tool.

Triad-Orbit T1 and T2 Microphone Stands with 01 and 02 Booms: “You can build a better mousetrap,” declares PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione of Triad-Orbit’s truly innovative mic stands. “Combine their sturdy T1 or T2 stands with the powerful O1 or O2 booms, all coupled with precison hex connections and easy interlockability.”

Combine their sturdy T1 or T2 stands with their powerful O1 or O2 booms, all coupled with precison hex connections and easy interlockability.


Digital Audio Workstations

Ableton Live 9 Suite: Featuring new tools such as Audio to MIDI importation, “Live 9 Suite is evolutionary rather than revolutionary,” explains PAR Contributor Tony Ware. “It won’t negate the need for multitrack recorders and standard linear tools, but with these kinds of creativity translation features, it will steal even more hours from other DAWs by doing what a good upgrade should do: adding features without complicating the process of achieving results.”

Pro Tools 11: Our industry’s most popular DAW now goes to 11, offering features including all-new A/V engines, 64-bit functionality, the “faster than real-time” offline bounce feature, and more. Stay tuned to the pages of PAR for our feature-sized PT11 review offering insight from our most PT-prolific Contributors.

MOTU Digital Performer 8: “(Plug-in) power to the people!” is what DP8 is all about, offers PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione. “MOTU brings production power to the masses with a set of stock plugs (everything from premium processors to vintage stomp pedal modelers to pitch correction) that is, in fact, the overall best in the industry. A first, DP8 is Windows OS-compatible, too.”

Nuendo 6: The sixth major version of Steinberg’s flagship, fully-professional DAW includes a new mixing console and channel strip; Anymix Pro surround tool from IOSONO; an ADR taker solution for VO/language dubs; Voxengo CurveEQ featuring sound-matching technology; MemZap quick-jump function; Pro Sound Effects library, and more.

Sony Sound Forge Pro for Mac: Sound Forge Pro Mac 1.0 is a multichannel audio recording and editing application, shipping with a suite of audio mastering and repair plug-ins. The software features a new user interface designed specifically for OS X, built around dedicated viewing panels for recording, monitoring, editing, applying plug-in processing and browsing for content. As a result, users toggle between features to view only the windows needed during a particular editing task.

Propellerhead Reason 7: V7 of Reason incorporates the best features of Propellerhead’s Record DAW into a singular package that encapsulates both sound creation and capture, simply presented in a logical GUI. With a very recognizable, “studio grade” inspired built-in mixer, new bus channels, built-in spectrum analyzer window, and expanded sound bank, Reason 7 is now a most comprehensive DAW.

iOS Software

Audiobus: It’s a third-party solution to the biggest iOS problem,” explains PAR Contributor Tony Ware. “Audiobus allows compatible apps to send/effect/receive audio with other apps that have integrated the API and its simple tab interface. It’s only a single channel–for example, running a synthesizer into a guitar amp simulator into a loop recorder–but it’s a direct conduit where before there was none.”

WaveMachine Labs Auria: “A DAW that runs on an iPad and will handle 48 tracks? Seriously?” That’s the question asked by PAR Technical Editor Lynn Fuston, who found Auria to be a compelling tool. “Compared to the tools I used to make my first recordings, the Auria/iPad combination is light years ahead and incredibly inexpensive. Could I make a great sounding record using this paradigm? Without a doubt.”

Plug-ins, Channel

Eventide H3000 Factory Native: A re-creation of several algorithms that combine pitch, delay, modulation and filtering, the H3000 Factory combines over 450 presets including over 100 new “celebrity” presets and 100 original presets from the original hardware unit.

iZotope Trash 2: iZotope calls its Trash 2 package “the ultimate distortion tool for any instrument,” as it’s all about the manipulation: Trash 2 offers over 60 distinct distortion algorithms; parameters to create unique distortions with the new customizable multiband Waveshaper; the new Convolve module with over 100 impulse responses; two redesigned Filter modules; and more.

Sonnox Limiter for AAX: According to PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli, “The Oxford Limiter does just what you want it to; it makes things louder with no sonic degradation. In fact, it has a unique Enhance feature that I use on just about every mix, adding harmonic excitement in a way that an EQ cannot. It’s very easy to use, as there are only three sections: Input, Pre-Process and Output.”

Universal Audio Ocean Way Studios: Touted as “rewriting the book on what’s possible with acoustic space emulation,” UA teamed up with Ocean Way’s Allen Sides for emulations of his studio’s Studio A and Studio B spaces and sonic profiles from Sides’ world-renowned collection of vintage microphones. Combined, the signature acoustics and microphone emulations allow for eight instrument/vocal source types with unique dispersion patterns, real-time blending of vintage mic pairs from different distances, wet/dry signal combining, and more.

Waves GEQ: A 31-band mono and stereo graphic EQ that comes in two flavors—Modern and Classic, GEQ “is all about ease of use, flexibility and effectiveness,” explains PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli. “I can get aggressive with the Modern version or make subtle changes with the Classic version. I can imagine this gets quite a bit of use on the road, but for now, I like it right here in my studio.”

Plug-ins, Stereo Bus

CEDAR Studio AAX: CEDAR Studio brought select elements of the company’s famed sound restoration algorithms and trend-setting processes to the Avid Pro Tools platform for mix and individual track processing. The CEDAR Studio AAX version accommodates the AAX Native platform with Pro Tools 10 and 11. Buzzes, hum, clipping distortion and extraneous noise begone! Additionally, the Adaptive Limiter module offers sophisticated, leading edge, dynamics control while still sounding natural.

Sonnox Oxford Pro-Codec V2: V2 of the Oxford Pro-Codec introduces the ability to master for iTunes and supports the latest multi-channel audio codecs—MPEG Surround, Advanced Audio Coding Low Complexity (AAC-LC) multi-channel and High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC) multi-channel support. It continues to support all major MPEG audio codecs and lossless codecs such as mp3 High Definition (mp3HD) and High Definition Advanced Audio Coding (HD-AAC).

Universal Audio Shadow Hills Compressor: “This is one piece of gear that I’m glad is now available in plug-in form,” states PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli. Originally built to serve mastering jobs, the software version retains a “sonic character best described as beefy, spongy and warm. Placed across the Master Fader of a mix, it can increase the high presence and widen the stereo image. I also use it on vocals, bass, guitars and drum loops. I’ll often place a limiter after it to prevent clips, and push the unit hard for some nasty tones.“

Plug-in Suites/Bundles

iZotope Ozone 5 Advanced: A comprehensive mastering suite that integrates eight essential mastering/mixing tools including Maximizer, Equalizer, Multiband Dynamics, Multiband Stereo Imaging, Multiband Harmonic Exciter, Reverb, Dithering, and Meter Bridge, Ozone 5 Advanced also includes a meter bridge. “It’s the only full-function mastering plug-in suite that I’ve encountered that includes everything needed to transform a final mix into a final master within a single plug-in,” explains PAR Senior Contributor Russ Long. “And to top it off, it’s one of the best sounding plug-ins available today.”

Universal Audio LA2A Classic: What UA calls a “digital copy” of the legendary Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier, the LA2A Classic UAD plug-in provides the frequency-dependent compression that engineers have sought after and employed for decades in popular music production. The GUI looks identical to the hardware that inspired it, offering Input Gain and Peak Reduction Adjustment knobs and the lag-free, distortion-free optical attenuation of the original.

Universal Audio API 500 Series EQ: This API-endorsed, UAD-based plug-in collection features emulations of the legendary API 550A 3-Band bell/shelf filter set and API 560 10-band graphic filters—”two of the most popular and enduring audio equalizers ever made,” explains UA promotional material. Complete with presets from API-loving celebrity engineers, this plug-in was emulated via the entire electronic path, including custom API 2520 op-amps and transformers, band interactions, and internal clipped filter nonlinearities.

Microphones, Studio & Stage

Large Diaphragm Condensers (LDCs, non-handheld)

Audio-Technica AT5040: Featuring a radical, brave new design, the hand-built AT5040 side-address condenser features a proprietary element design with four ultra-thin (2 micron) rectangular diaphragms “that function together providing combined surface area unachievable in a standard round diaphragm,” explains A-T documentation. “AT5040 is a well-built, respectable mic with a proud heritage and lots of unique design features,” discovered PAR Technical Editor and Nashville engineer Lynn Fuston in his in-depth review.

MXL CR89: In an exclusive first review for PAR, Senior Contributor Russ Long claims the CR89 “performs well beyond its street value” and can adapt to most any studio recording needs. “The mic features impressive build quality, both inside and out, and has a lovely, sleek flat black finish. The mic’s FET design incorporates a transformerless output.” The brass-bodied CR89 measures 2.5 inches by 7.25 inches and features a 1 1/4-inch diameter, 6-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm behind its tuned grill cavity.

Nevaton MC-50 QUAD: St. Petersburg, Russia-based microphone manufacturer Nevaton’s MC50-QUAD condenser microphone was designed for single-point source pick-up of a “three-dimensional sound image without phase-related anomalies”——mono; X/Y, Blumlein, M/S stereo; Quad “and everything in between,” emphasizes Nevaton promotional material. “A simple but deceptively powerful microphone, it can deliver the ultimate in polar pattern and stereo technique versatility with a rich sound and virtually no self-noise,” explains PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione.

Sanken CU-55: From Sanken’s Chromatic Series, the CU-55 houses a side-firing 16mm capsule with a resonant chamber tuned to create a cardioid pattern, and is omnidirectional below 50 Hz. The microphone is flat at 90 degrees and flat on axis, with reportedly very little proximity effect. Designed for acoustic instruments like guitars, cello, harp and piano, the CU-55 can also handle the levels of big brass and pounding tympani. Notably, it is already METAlliance-certified.

Small Diaphragm Condensers (SDCs, non-handheld)

AKG C451 65th Anniversary Edition: The C451 needs no introduction, though this 65th Anniversary Edition deserves it. In attractive gun-metal grey with silver screenprinted text and subtle blue highlights, the AKG C451 works on virtually everything requiring an SDC. It provides a stunning, legendary sound, recognizable alongside other ubiquitous models we know well and love tremendously—those with names such as U87 and SM57, for example.

DPA 2011: DPA’s 2011C is a compact cardioid microphone, part of the DPA Reference Standard series. It features the MMP-C compact preamplifier combined with the new Twin Diaphragm capsule—a phantom-powered mic that’s only 3.6 inches long and a whopping 2.3 ounces. “The value of any mic comes down to how much you will use it and how it delivers versus what have to pay for it,” explains PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli. “In this case, I feel the 2011C delivers across the spectrum.”

Dynamic Microphones (non-handheld, including Ribbon mics)

AEA R88 mk2 Stereo Ribbon: “The AEA R88 mk2 Stereo Ribbon Microphone packs two matched, pressure-gradient pure aluminum ribbon transducers into a single elongated body, making it convenient to set up and record with,” explains PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli. “Overall, this mic delivers in several different ways. It’s easy to setup for stereo recording; it maintains a solid center image with a wide soundstage. It provides just what you would expect out of a high-end ribbon–huge, smooth, creamy sound with a massive bottom.”

AKG D12VR: Featuring the original AKG C414 transformer, the D12 VR also capable of running with phantom power for more flexibility; without phantom power, it translates “the pure character of the sound source,” and with phantom power, one of three switchable active-filter presets are available. It’s “a big beefy dynamic in that long standing AKG tradition, bolstered by active electronics and enough voicing flexibility to please anybody in the room,” explains PAR Contributor Rob Tavaglione.

Lewitt Audio DTP 640 REX: The flagship of the DTP Percusion Series, the DTP 640 REX, combines the slide control-activated Dynamic Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR)—in which the dynamic element emphasizes frequencies from 70 Hz to 150 Hz and 3 kHz to 5 kHz, which is specially optimized for use on kick drums—with the advantages of dual-element technology. It features a dynamic element and condenser element, both positioned in the housing, which remain on separate channels on the user’s mixer of choice.

Miktek R99 Dual Model Ribbon: The R99 ribbon is designed to “capture the classic sound of a world class vintage ribbon microphone,” offers Miktek promotional material, yet is essentially two-mics-in-one, as it allows the engineer to select the “classic” path, or a modern active electronic amplifier “simply by applying standard phantom power. The R99 is capable of handling high SPL, features a custom-designed AMI transformer and ribbon element made from “precision Japanese aluminum,” and comes standard with a case, clip and shockmount.

Telefunken Elektroakustik M82: Hand-assembled and tested in the company’s Connecticut manufacturing facility, Telefunken Elektroakustik’s new M82 dynamic cardioid microphone features a 35mm diaphragm and “superb low frequency capabilities,” notes M82 promotional material. An end-address microphone, the M82 features two separate EQ switches, High Boost and Kick EQ, which operate independently of each other to provide four unique settings.

Handheld Wired Microphones

DPA d:facto II: A supercardioid handheld condenser, the d:facto II “provides the live sound engineer with great dexterity in vocal capture, superb construction, dead quiet electronics, and impressive rejection of outside audio sources,” explains PAR Contributor Will James. “If you are in need of an exotic flagship vocal microphone in your rig, I would highly recommend the d:facto II.”

Shure KSM9HS: Shure’s new KSM9HS handheld vocal microphone offers users the detailed, smooth and balanced sound of the original KSM9, but with a different pair of polar pattern selections:

hypercardioid or subcardioid. “I really like the subcardioid pattern, which makes the KSM9HS unique in the wide range of common live condensers in the marketplace,” offers PAR Editor Strother Bullins. “Paired with a half-dozen SM57s, KSM9HS users will have a solid collection of transducers for most any gig, at any professional level.”

Holophone Super C: A visually-striking “customizable” supercardioid handheld condenser, the Super C “allows the user to quickly customize the mic's appearance on the fly,” explains Holophone promotional material. “Each microphone's casing, windscreen, and grille can be instantly changed to any of a wide range of custom colors, providing unprecedented on-stage and on-camera visual versatility, as well as a whole new level of hygienic appeal.”

USB/iOS Microphones

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+: A-T’s latest large-diaphragm condenser based on the popular cardioid AT2020 features USB connectivity plus a new, built-in headphone jack with volume control for “delay free” monitoring, plus a mix control that blends mic and pre-recorded audio.

BLUE Spark Digital: Touted as “the world's first studio condenser microphone to offer both USB and iPad connectivity,” the cardioid Spark Digital features same studio-grade condenser capsule and fully discrete Class A circuitry as the BLUE Spark XLR studio mic. It also offers Focus Control, “which provides two completely different sonic options from the mic,” explains PAR Senior Contributor Russ Long. It’s “the perfect recording solution for any budget-conscious recorder who insists on exceptional audio quality.”

RØDE iXY Stereo Microphone: The iXY is “a crossed-pair of condensers in XY configuration connected to the Apple 30-pin adapter that will plug directly into an iPhone 4/4S or iPad 3 (or earlier) with built-in ADC that is capable of 24-bit/96 kHz recording,” describes PAR Technical Editor Lynn Fuston. “What an ingenious and convenient idea ... it could not be simpler.”

Wireless Microphone Systems

beyerdynamic TG 1000: A 24-bit digital wireless mic system providing 319 MHz of operating bandwidth, the TG 1000 covers a 470 to 789 MHz of UHF frequency range with a dynamic range of 128 dB. Five interchangeable capsules can be used with the TG 1000’s handheld transmitter: dynamics, condensers, and even the TG V90r ribbon capsule. Beyer’s proprietary TriplePlay Codec facilitates very short latency times (2.1 ms) while the system’s range is more than 900 feet.

Line 6 Relay V75-SC: A 24-bit, 14-channel digital wireless handheld microphone/transmitter with super-cardioid dynamic capsule, the V75-SC offers a dynamic range of up to 118dB (A weighted). The Relay V75-SC also offers four exceptional microphone models—”including three based on the world’s most celebrated super-cardioid live mics,” offers Line 6. It’s built ruggedly built of metal and comes in a road-worthy pelican-style composite case.

Sennheiser Digital 9000: Billed as “the wireless masterpiece” by Sennheiser, the Digital 9000 series is the German manufacturer’s premium wireless system collection, featuring 470 MHz to 798 MHz reception, compatibility with the best Neumann and Sennheiser capsules available, powerful, compact transmitters, highly advanced antennas, and more.

Sony DWZ: Sony’s award-winning DWZ digital wireless systems are a broad range of handheld microphone, lavalier, headset and instrument wireless kits of impressively high quality and suprisingly affordable price. PAR Software Editor Rich Tozzoli reviewed the DWZ-G30GB Digital Guitar Wireless System. “It sounds great, is solid and compact, has respectable battery life and can be used effectively both onstage and in the studio.”

Shure GLX-D: GLX-D systems combine a variety of appealing features, most notably the new proprietary LINKFREQ Automatic Frequency Management; “it analyzes the RF spectrum, determines the best available frequencies, and automatically deploys frequencies to the transmitter and receiver,” illustrates Shure promotional material. With RF interference, “the GLX-D receiver and transmitter will move together to clean frequencies with no audio signal interruption.”

Live Sound Hardware

Small Live Controllers/Mixers/Worksurfaces (under $2,500 list)

Allen & Heath MixWizard4 Analog: The fourth generation MixWizard Series features an EQ bypass mode per channel; new effects engine with EQ, reverb and delay algorithms derived from the iLive and GLD Series; and an optional USB interface—all still available for the same price.

Mackie DL806: Mackie’s hot iPad based digital mixer now comes in a smaller, more affordable 8-channel version, the DL806. Perfect for small venue and acoustic music gigging, the DL806 offers the same features as its bigger 16-channel brother, but is available under $1,000 street.

Mackie VLZ4 Analog Series: The latest incarnation of Mackie’s popular VLZ Series of analog workhorse mixers, the VLZ4, now offers Onyx preamplifiers, Mackie’s impressively quiet, pro-aspiring amps, plus their M80 op-amps. Combined with further refined ergonomics and aesthetics, Mackie clearly raises the bar for this mixer series birthed by the historically popular Mackie 1604.

Yamaha MGP Series MGP32X/MGP24X Analog: This year, Yamaha introduced two large-channel count mixers to its MGP analog mixer Series—the MGP32X and MGP24X models, at 32- and 24-inputs, respectively. Also new to these two new MGP mixers are a trio of notable digital features: USB device recording and playback, a graphic EQ, and multiband compressor.

Live Controllers/Mixers/Worksurfaces (over $2,500 list)

Allen & Heath Qu-16: Incorporating technologies pioneered on Allen & Heath’s GLD and iLive digital mixing systems, the Qu-16 is complete with comprehensive I/O, cutting edge features, and the company’s renowned built quality. Features include 16 AnalogiQTM total recall preamps, 16 buses, 12 mix outputs, four effects engines, Qu-Drive direct multitrack recording, iPad control, fully-featured digital channel strips, and more.

Behringer X32: Packed with Midas-gleaned technology, the X32 has been one of the hottest stories in live digital mixing of 2012/2013. PAR Contributor Dan Wothke found it to be ideal in use at his Music Row-based house-of-worship in Nashville, where he resides as Media Director: “The X32’s layout lends itself to good mixing, as does its internal processing. I was recently discussing getting a new board for one of our rooms and one of the engineers immediately asked about the X32, based on his use of it. I think that endorsement rings the loudest.”

Roland M-200i: The M-200i, a compact mixing solution for the iPad, aimed at live sound, contains all necessary parameters within its slick iPad app, offering Preamp control, Pan, high pass filters, extensive PEQ and GEQ control, plus store and recall scene features, adjustable compressors and gates, fader sends, effects editing and many other controls.

Soundcraft Si Performer Series: Soundcraft has packed a historic number of features in its Si Performer Series of digital mixers—every parameter an engineer could need or name, then some that will completely surprise, such as DMX Lighting Control, available on certain models in the line. Thus, with Si Performer, an engineer can broaden his resume and add value by simultaneously providing audio and lighting services.

Loudspeaker Systems/Cabinets

Community VERIS 2: VERIS 2 is an expanded, evolved collection of 11 new VERIS models. Gen 2 enhancements include newly designed 1-inch exit HF drivers, improved crossovers, with individually voiced crossovers (on 64 and 96 degree models), a fully rotatable square horn (on smaller models). With three ranges of compact, large two-way, and three-way systems and a new dual 15-inch subwoofer, Community deems the VERIS 2 series as ideally suited for everything from concert halls, theaters and auditoria to restaurants, pubs, health clubs, and houses of worship, where the original VERIS has a proven track record.

Danley SM80:In the good things in (relatively) small package category, the SM-80 is the latest in Danley Sound Labs SM series of lightweight, molded-horn loudspeakers. The SM-80 weighs 65 lbs. and is designed for small to mid-sized live sound and installed sound applications. It sports an 80x80 coverage pattern and its frequency response is spec’d as extending from 110 Hz to 20 kHz, with 102 dB SPL sensitivity. Its continuous power rating is 400 W in and 128 dB SPL out, peaking at 1600 W and 134 dB SPL, respectively. Its single 12-inch coaxial driver and paired horn offer an 8 ohm impedance. Constructed out of 13-ply Baltic birch, the SM-80 measures 25.5 inches high by 24 inches wide by 12.75 inches deep.

ISP Technologies HDDS SM2110: Bringing fidelity to the installed sound, ISP’s HDDS high definition distributed sound system’s new SM2110 cabinet is a 220 watt; self powered speaker, capable of an output of 122 peak dB SPL over an operating frequency range of 42 Hz to 20 kHz with a nominal coverage angle of 80 degree horizontal x 70 degree vertical. Signal is pumped through a 10” cone speaker and a 1.3” titanium diaphragm compression driver with a 4th order LR high pass and low pass crossover and a switchable high pass filter of 40 Hz or 90 Hz for use with a HDDS SB400 subwoofer.

JBL JRX200: Designed to affordably deliver JBL performance, JBL says they “kept everything that makes a speaker perform and sound its best and we eliminated things that don’t,” and minimized cost through high-volume production. The portable, passive line includes 12- and 15-inch, two-way models, a dual 15-inch two-way and a compact 18-inch subwoofer.

KV2 SL Series: Using KV2’s VHD (Very High Definition) technology, KV2 Audio says their SL series offers “full and wide sound propagation exactly where it is required” from a slim-line installation package. The SL412 loudspeaker utilizes 4 x 12” low mid-range components and a horn assembly with a single 8” mid-range and 3” large format NPVD compression driver. The mid-high horn has “an extremely coherent-wide horizontal dispersion of over 110° while the purpose designed 4 x 12” configuration dramatically reduces the most common problem of immediate reflections within the 300 Hz to 800 Hz range.” The SL2.15 is a 2 x 15” shallow cabinet design.

QSC Audio AcousticPerformance: The AcousticPerformance line of professional, two-way loudspeakers, all feature a 3-inch voice coil compression driver combined with high-output woofers to deliver full bandwidth reproduction. Key to the line’s performance is QSC’s DMT (Directivity Matched Transition) design approach that matches the compression driver to the natural coverage angle of the woofer in the cross-over region paired with axisymmetric waveguides which help deliver consistent coverage with smooth and accurate reproduction both on and off-axis. Woofer configurations of 10-, 12- and 15-inch are available, with one 12-inch model configured to be optionally used as a stage monitor.

Line Array Systems/Cabinets

Adamson Energia E12: Adamson Systems’ road-proven e-capsule aluminum framework with birch ply enclosures provide a precision and rigid structure (that a lone tech can rig) for the Adamson Systems e12. The cabinets can serve as a mid-sized, standalone line array option, or be used to complement the bigger e15 cabinet in down fill or side fill roles. The 3-way system uses the Adamson ND12S 12-inch neodymium Kevlar cone driver as well as 2 x YX7 7-inch Kevlar cone drivers and 2 x 4-inch (1.5-inch-exit) Adamson NH4 compression drivers, Kevlar providing excellent performance and weather resistance.

DAS Aero 40A: With acoustic performance that is winning fans, but the rigging alone is also turning heads. The Aero 40A is a 3-way powered line array system which incorporates connectivity for remote monitoring and control. The Aero 40A Advanced Line Array System (ALAS) uniquely incorporates a rear-loaded 12” transducer in a bass-horn configuration for low-end reproduction. The mid-range is handled by a new 8” transducer while high frequency reproduction relies on two D.A.S. M-75N compression drivers attached to a new BPS-2912 waveguide. The aero 40A has on-board DSP, protection circuitry and is powered by three-channel, high efficiency Class D amplifier.

Martin Audio MLA Mini: The MLA Mini combines “lightweight, radical design inspiration” and a compact footprint with the award-winning cell-dedicated DSP MLA technology to produce a small-scale, portable system for installed and live sound applications, either ground-stacked, pole-mounted or flown. Martin reports that a 12-box array will throw 35 m and deliver audio comfortably in venues of 750 to 1,000 people. Each MLA Mini enclosure houses 2 x 6.5” LF drivers with 2” voice coils and a vertical column of 3 x 1.4” aluminum dome HF drivers on a 100° horizontal dispersion horn. The 15” reflex loaded MSX subwoofer provides system amplification and processing and can be integrated into flown arrays or ground-stacked separately.

Meyer Sound LEO: The new flagship line array for Meyer Sound, LEO is billed as a linear large-scale sound reinforcement system. Company founder and inventor John Meyer says, “In linear systems, the loudspeaker does just one thing: it faithfully reproduces every sonic element, only louder, without any change in tonality.” LEO arrays can be augmented with the 1100LFC low frequency control element, for lowfrequency content, and the MICA compact high power curvilinear array loudspeaker for downfill applications. Meyer Sound’s Galileo Callisto array processor can drive entire systems. The result is a sound reinforcement system “with a tremendous amount of headroom and exceptional fidelity for large-scale live events.”

Nexo STM: Nexo’s STM (Scale Through Modularity) Series enables users to assemble a wide range of systems from four core modules. STM was conceived to deliver flexibility while reducing inventory demands dictated by a desire for versatility, without compromising (and even improving) system performance. NEXO’s Universal Amp Rack (NUAR), comprised of NXAMP4x4 amplifiers, 2 digital input patches, two digital output patches and an optional EtherNet or Dante network card, forms a compact, powerful and scalable amplification solution for STM systems. A single NUAR can feed 12 STM modules in any combination in groups of three.

Vue Audiotechnik al-4 Subcompact: Vue’s al-4 subcompact line array acoustic element measures a relatively diminutive 18.9” x 5.5” x 10.3” and weighs in and just 18 lbs. It sports a center mounted 1-inch exit neodymium magnet/beryllium diaphragm compression driver mounted to a 90° horizontal waveguide. Symmetrically flanking the horn are two 4-inch Kevlar cone neodymium woofers. The 2U rack-mount V4 Systems Engine is a 2-in/4-out configuration with onboard DSP capable of powering up to eight al-4 elements with two channels at 1600 W each for the low frequency and two channels at 550 W each for the high frequency (pure, sine wave rating). “Easily scalable and extremely versatile” is how Vue bills the al-4.

Portable PA/Powered Speakers

Bose L1 Model 1S with B2 and ToneMatch: A “personal line array,” this incredibly well designed portable PA is well built, easily transportable and super intuitive. “The beauty of the Bose L1 Model 1S system lies in two key features: its finely engineered components and its brain, the T1 ToneMatch mixer,” reports PAR Editor Strother Bullins. “The T1 was so easy to use, I didn’t open the manual until after my first three gigs with it, then simply to check my knowledge of its features. This mixer comes close to exemplifying the label ‘idiot proof.’”

Cerwin-Vega P Series: Built solidly and boldly touting “Vega Bass” power, the affordably-priced P Series brings the overbuilt qualities of C-V’s Active Series down street-level gigging musicians and budget-restricted pros. “In each [review] scenario, the P-Series delivered a solid, if not surprising performance while offering improved I/O features that are now becoming the norm in the 1,000 W-plus Class D amp-enabled portable PA category,” found PAR Editor Strother Bullins.

Electro-Voice ZX1-Sub: Expanding on E-V’s great, compact ZX loudspeaker line, the ZX1-Sub is compact, powerful, and one of the most portable sub options on the powered portable PA market, with a maximum SPL of 127 dB. It features two recessed NL4-type connectors wired in parallel, a 15 mm thick, internally braced wooden enclosure with two side handles, a structured coating and a steel grille.

Mackie DLM Series: Clearly, good things come in small boxes. With two-way full-range models in three sizes and an accompanying subwoofer, DLMs are “nearly cube-like, truly compact and lightweight,” not to mention powerful, discovered PAR Editor Strother Bullins. “Even if the DLM Series didn’t sound quite as good as it does, or offer the superb DL2 digital mixer and DLP effects, I’d still enthusiastically recommend it for its power, efficiency, and portability.”


Crown DCi Series: The DCi (DriveCore install) series packages Crown’s patented and proprietary class D amplifier technology with DSP capability, network control and monitoring, analog and digital I/O and programmable GPIO ports in a fully fleshed out line of installation amplifiers that Crown touts as having “the advanced features and flexibility required for challenging 21st century installed sound applications.” Models are available in 2-, 4- and 8-channel versions with power ratings from 150 W to 600 W per channel (up to 1200 W bridged).

Lab.gruppen IPD Series: The IPD series brings Lab.gruppen performance and build quality to a broader market in a compact (1U) and moderately priced amplifier line. Analog and AES3 digital inputs are standard, alongside networked monitoring and control. The line consists of a pair of two-channel models. At 4 ohms, the IPD 1200 delivers 2 x 600 W and the IPD 2400 2 x 1200W. The onboard DSP offew up to 40 parametric EQs and long with delay, gain and sweepable high- and low- pass filters.

In-Ear Monitors

JH Audio JH13 w/ FreqPhase: The JH13 Pro—the first six-driver earpiece—has been updated with JH Audio’s Freqphase Time | Phase Waveguide. Freqphase, says JH, “creates the world's first phase coherent earphone by delivering the low, mid and high frequencies to your ear at once.” LF, Mid and HF drivers each have their own bore through the custom-molded earpiece, designed to time align the three audio bands, with a 10 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. The custom mold design also offers -26 dB of isolation.

Logitech Ultimate Ears UE900: These universal fit earphones were crafted and tuned by Ultimate Ears engineers for professional performance at about half the cost of entry-level custom earpieces. The UE 900s feature a quad armature design—one element each for the highs and mids and two for the lows. The UE900s come with two detachable braided cables, one with mic and on-cord controls, one simply wire. The UE 900s are also packaged with five sizes of silicon and three sizes of foam ear cushions for “maximum comfort and up to 26 dB of noise isolation.”

Sound Reinforcement Processing/System Control/Networking

Avid VenuePack 4: Bundled with all new Avid Venue console systems and available as an option for existing Venue owners, VenuePack 4 offers 30 plug-ins and utilities from Avid and 3rd-party plug-in partners. Alongside classic hardware emulations and a range of other dynamics, EQ and delay/verb processors, VenuePack 4 introduces Flux Pure Analyzer Essential. Flux provides measurement and system analysis via a modular RTA package. The Flux SampleGrabber plug-in even allows “direct signal acquisition” via Ethernet from monitor and mix busses.

CEDAR DNS 8 Live Noise Suppressor: Where there’s sound, there’s often unwanted sound (noise). CEDAR DNS devices are in wide use in post production and live broadcast, and have been adopted for other live event use. The DNS 8 Live was designed specifically for live use, be it sports, news or music. Each of the eight channels offer simplified two-knob set-up and control as well as a more in-depth control mode with greater capability than in previous DNS configurations. I/O is AES3 with near zero latency. Remote control (including wireless) is available via Ethernet, and the unit can operate on 12 VDC when desired.

Drawmer SP2120 Speaker Protector: The SP2120 is a two-channel volume management unit designed to protect against loudspeaker and amplifier damage while providing compliance with noise level restrictions. For installations, user control is accessed through a key-locked front panel—control includes input level required to activate processing and a maximum permitted output level. Simple, practical, straightforward protection through dynamic control, never interrupting the signal throughput.

Electro-Voice RCM-28 DSP and Network Module: An option for EV’s Tour Grade power amplifiers, the RCM-28 is a two-channel digital control module that incorporates the processing power of EV system processors (which means that EV’s entire catalog of algorithms, including FIR-Drive filtering, are supported) and OCA compliant support for OMNEO and DANTE networks. Additionally, AES3 input and loop-through are supports, along with analog I/O. The RCM-28 is the first EV product incorporating OMNEO, which EV says, in the future, “will play a leading role” in new product and system design.

Yamaha Rio Ri8-D, Ro8-D I/O Racks: Options are good—two additions have been added to Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems’ Rio Line: the Yamaha Ri8-D and Ro8- D input and output rack units, designed to use the Dante audio network protocol. The 1U rack mount units provide additional options for system design and implementation, while maintaining the sonics of the CL Series and Rio3224-D and Rio1608-D I/O racks. Using Dante-MY16-AUD card(s) with the new Rio units and a Yamaha PM5D will create a 96kHz system. The new Rio units can also be used with CL Series, M7CL and LS9 Digital Consoles, DME64N Digital Mix Engines, and other compatible Yamaha products such as NEXO NXAmps using an NXDT104 card.

Live Accessories

d&b audiotechnik ArrayCalc V7 Simulation Software: ArrayCalc Version 7 simulation software, says d&b audiotechnik, allows installers and integrators “the ability to perform acoustic simulations quickly, easily and intuitively.” Among the supported d&b point source loudspeaker cabinets are xS-Series from the White range as well as Black range Q and E-Series loudspeakers. While such tools have been readily available for line array systems, d&b specifically designed the ArrayCalc software to simplify the optimization of systems for the integration market.

L-Acoustics LA4-LA8, LA Network Manager Update: This firmware (V2.0.0.2) for the LA4 and LA8 processing amplifiers includes features such as making audio available within nine seconds after power is turned on and output delay extension to 680 ms per channel; and the routing (input selection) for the output channels can be set from the preset parameters menu. LA Network Manager now includes compatibility with Windows 8; a new L-COM network engine “with fast detection of units and improved protocol of data transfer;” reportedly enhanced contour EQ, and more. The new Preset Library 3.0 sports a simplified preset structure and integration of various LA4 presets.

Rational Acoustics Smaart V.1 Di Two-Channel Analysis Software: A streamlined, two-channel version of the standard Smaart v.7 analysis software, Smaart v.7 Di platform is significantly easier to configure and operate, without sacrificing the measurement power of RA’s current Spectrum and Transfer Function measurement engines. Its fixed, two channel architecture provides a nimble, quickly adaptable measurement environment, with all critical configuration and control parameters accessible from a single intuitive UI (user interface). All time domain measurement capabilities in v.7 Di reside in the Live IR display of the TF measurement. It’s “my first Smaart,” with an upgrade path if a user later needs the full Smaart v.7 package.