Hollywood (January 18, 2005)–With an audience of Harman Pro Group reps and dealers, HPG president Mark Terry introduced the development of the HiQnet connectivity and control protocol yesterday in a private presentation at the Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles. Calling the initiative “not evolutionary, but revolutionary,” Terry set the stage for the newly announced System Development and Integration Group, headed by SDIG director Rick Kreifeldt who, with along with SDIG members from each of the Harman Pro brands, laid out the scope of HiQnet.
Kreifeldt called the launch the “world’s first complete audio system from microphone to speaker.” As the demonstration system was unveiled, piece by piece, an Ethernet based HiQnet integrated system was shown to include AKG wireless microphones, BSS and dbx processing, a Studer digital console, Crown amplifiers and JBL speakers. HiQnet is a scalable protocol that is carrier platform agnostic, integrating full system control and Cobranet digital audio. A central System Architect utility used product specific plug-ins for control, while control elements from BSS and wireless tablet PC control were also integrated. HiQnet was likened to a common language to be shared by HiQnet equipped products, regardless of the physical communications link.
In what Terry told Pro Sound News was a “technological process, and very large human process,” the SDIG and HiQnet represent the fruition of his vision of inter-Harman cooperation and communication, with a goal of presenting unified Harman solutions to the marketplace. On the business side, the initiative is paralleled by a consolidation of Harman products with their rep force so each rep is a partner in the presentation of all Harman solutions.
“Each of our brands is a guarantee of category-leading product quality and performance,” Terry said in a company statement. “Now, in addition, being HiQnet enabled is an assurance of advanced connectivity and control. The Harman Pro Group is unique in its commitment to R&D at the product and systems levels and we’re similarly unique in our ability to deliver on that commitment. HiQnet is a resounding affirmation of the advantage the Harman Pro Group brings to audio professionals everywhere.”
The first products to incorporate the HiQnet protocol are the AKG WMS 4000 wireless microphone system including hub, receiver and transmitter components; BSS Soundweb London, the new flagship audio distribution system, whose design/control application, London Architect, utilizes HiQnet’s unified communications protocol by including error reporting and status monitoring of Crown’s intelligent PIP modules; the Crown I-Tech Series amplifiers and PIP modules, DSP/monitoring modules for the CTs Series and other Crown PIP2-compatible amplifiers; the dbx ZonePro and DriveRack 4800, a new 4×8 loudspeaker management product; JBL Professional’s Vertec DP Series, new integrated audio systems with self-amplification and onboard DSP, co-developed with dbx and Crown for the Vertec Series Line Arrays; and the Studer Vista 8 theatre/performance install digital console.
The HiQnet protocol includes unified layout of product configuration on screen; simple preset configuration of an entire system of products across multiple brands; common configuration of networked audio-routing across all components of an entire system; custom control panel creation consisting of interfaces from multiple products across multiple brands; copy/paste of like parameter values from and to multiple products across multiple brands; unified event logging and error reporting for entire system; advanced remote control and diagnostic capabilities; compatibility with the UpnP (Universal Plug and Play) standard; configurable cue list within Studer Vista 8 or other future HiQnet-enabled consoles allows simple recall of presets on all connected HiQnet devices; and a standardized, accessible set of JBL speaker tuning files, which can be loaded into any suitable product for consistent performance. HiQnet automatically detects which types of connections are being used in a given system, as shown in the demonstration by the immediate availability of control for a Vertec DP series monitor when it was plugged into the live demo system.
The SDIG was assembled in 2003 and has been working on the HiQnet project since its inception. “We waited to announce the formation of the group until we had a tangible, compelling achievement,” Kreifeldt said. “HiQnet is that achievement. It seamlessly integrates the industry’s best-performing mixers, consoles, wireless microphone systems, signal processors, speakers and speaker controllers – and provides a single, unified platform for creating fully connected, globally communicating professional audio systems that can be scaled to any size.”
The SDIG Team includes…
Rick Kreifeldt: Director
Adam Holladay: Market Manager
Robert Boatright: Senior Hardware Engineer
Steve Hatch: Senior Software Engineer
Steve Booth: Software Engineer
Scott Gardner: Software Engineer
Craig Gunther: Software Engineer
Mike Hamling: Software Engineer
Scott Zollinger: Software Engineer
Chris Groscost: Application Engineer
“The advanced performance, connectivity and control that is enabled by the HiQnet protocol has been a goal of this organization since I first set the agenda for the group in 2000,” Terry said. “Every acquisition has been driven by this vision, every research effort influenced by it and every product development informed by it. Today’s introduction is an important milestone in the evolution of the Harman Pro Group. We’ve managed to successfully keep the independence and energy of the individual brands while at the same time achieving a shared brain trust and commitment to advanced integration and control.”
Several leading audio integrators, designers and consultants were involved in the development of HiQnet. “The beauty of HiQnet is that brings all the separate, independent components of today’s premiere pro audio system under the control of a single user,” said Dave Shadoan, President, Sound Image. “There are a lot of graphic user interfaces (GUIs) out there but they are always product specific. HiQnet democratizes the field, uniting all components, regardless of its stand-alone control capabilities, and give the operator complete control of a system at his fingertips. The industry has waited a long time for this and Harman has delivered a truly groundbreaking product.”
“For many years I have been seeking ways where all parts of the audio chain can be controlled as a truly integrated system,” said Roland Hemming, Live Business International. “Whilst many have tried to head in this direction, they have failed. Harman seems to have a clear vision, a number of new ideas and the resources to finally achieve this extremely complex task.”
Michael Abbott, audio coordinator, System Designer and Consultant for numerous television and live products, such as the Grammy Awards and Survivor, stated that HiQnet will change the way system design is approached. “In the pro audio world, the typical platforms offered for control are not so much solutions as they are challenges,” said Abbott. “I work with 10 to 15 systems a year and I’m always in search of a way to unite the variety of technologies – consoles, amplifiers, networking technologies, audio processors–all on a single platform. HiQnet does just that, finally giving the operator the horsepower and control they need. It’s going to change the entire process of how an operator approaches his tasks and the system he designs. HiQnet is a true integrated system solution, in earnest, and an industry first.”
Jonathan Laney, senior audio consultant, Talaske Group, remarked how HiQnet underscores the Harman commitment to offering a family of products that are fully integrated and work together with seamless performance. “Harman is leveraging the strength of each of their DSP brands to create a greater whole, one which will allow better system control, seamless audio networking and a more intuitive user interface,” said Laney.
Jim Risgin, senior vice president, On Stage Audio, praised HiQnet as a superb tool for integrators and designers to deliver better service to their clients. “Our goal when we design and implement our systems is to be able to provide our engineers with performance, intelligence, consistency and comprehensive control where it matters,” said Risgin. “Up until now no manufacturer or group of companies has offered a single control platform for the signal chain. Because of this we have had to operate multiple programs, networks and at times even separate machines. With HiQnet Harman Professional has finally addressed this problem. HiQnet facilitates this process more emphatically and comprehensively than any other technology I’ve seen. It provides us with a platform that allows complete control for our engineers with a single interface, giving them seamless and intuitive control from one source. Ultimately this allows OSA the ability to deliver the high quality and service that our customers demand with less effort and time, greater consistency, and most importantly with lower installation and operating costs.”
Ken Koceski, chief engineer, Ford Audio Video, highlighted Harman’s inclusion of integrators in the development process, ensuring their needs would be met. “It’s nice that a manufacturer (Harman) takes the time to gather input from contractors and consultants,” said Koceski. “From the initial meetings I’ve been involved in, it appears that they take our comments into consideration. Looking forward to the finished product.”
Cost control was also part of HiQnet’s strategic initiative. For instance, a common set of JBL speaker-tuning files can be loaded into any suitable product for consistent performance. The benefit: once a user has created a set of parameters that work for a given project, it can be dealt with as a macro, applicable to any other system from a single GUI, such as a laptop computer, said Keifeldt.
“HiQnet was developed with systems and tour professionals for systems and tour professionals,” Kreifeldt continued. “HiQnet removes a level of complexity from the systems design process by providing integrators with a singular protocol for integration AND control thereby eliminating the biggest speed bump of all in the building of audio systems.”