With increased interoperability of IP-based distribution of audio, video and lighting technologies, professionals from a wide range of content creation and distribution fields arrived in Las Vegas for InfoComm in mid-June and were greeted with a cornucopia of new products for the A/V industry. A commonly overheard term at InfoComm 2016 was “nontraditional technologies,” and such products were plentiful across the exhibition floor. From interference-free wireless systems outside of traditional TV bands, such as 2.4 GHz handheld systems and infrared corporate communications systems, to a wide array of AVL-over-IP products, fresh ways of interconnecting all media elements for distribution and dissemination proved to excite the masses.
Microphone manufacturers Shure and Sennheiser demonstrated microphone solutions for sophisticated use in conferencing and institutional applications— most notably ceiling-installed iterations, posing an attractive alternative to standard tabletop mic systems. Impressive in live demonstration, Shure’s Microflex Advance line gained the ceiling tile-sized Microflex Advance Ceiling Array, an intelligent microphone product that, via Dante AoIP for all power, audio and control functionality, features proprietary Steerable Coverage technology with up to eight pick-up lobes configurable in three dimensions. Meanwhile, Sennheiser offered its TeamConnect Ceiling, the ceiling-mount variant of its TeamConnect fixed-install conferencing system, featuring the SpeechLine Ceiling microphone, also in standard ceiling-tile dimensions, offering “beamforming” technology that automatically recognizes those that are speaking within a range of nearly 200 square feet.
Another popular buzzword— “ecosystem”—was heard around booths featuring comprehensive digital mixing systems, such as American Music & Sound, where Allen & Heath showcased a number of enhancements to its Qu Series of digital mixers, including factory presets from aforementioned microphone manufacturers Shure and Sennheiser, further proving the continued collaboration in A/V technologies across company lines. Among other notable improvements, Shure and Sennheiser now serve the Qu line with channel Library EQ/setting presets for a number of their most popular, industry-accepted microphones. And perhaps more expectedly, new Qu Series innovations include further advanced tablet control of functionalities; Qu-Pad V.1.9 software now fully implements every setting, parameter and control of the Qu mixer line. Coupled with live mixing functions, processing, routing and effects, it now offers comprehensive scene management, control of 15 mixer SoftKeys across the Qu line, auto-mic mixing, I/O patching and Qu-Drive stereo or multitrack recording/playback facilities.
AoIP’s most popularized protocol today, Audinate’s Dante, now has more than 300 manufacturers adopting the technology with 750 products now available in the marketplace. A full 90-plus Dante “partners” exhibited at InfoComm, and like the popular hashtag insisted around each corner of the show, it was literally “#DanteEverywhere.”
An exciting aspect of further AoIP refinements at InfoComm was in several off-the-record stories of promising manufacturer collaborations made possible by the interoperability offered by co-development of networked products under the same protocol banner. We predict future InfoComm exhibits to showcase a number of these exciting product developments.
Learning how new products work together was a key component to InfoComm 2016, and it was most apparent in extracurricular show floor happenings like the Live Events Experience at the Lighting and Staging Pavilion in Central Hall. An interactive opportunity for attendees to receive guided, hands-on experience in live sound, lighting and rigging, sponsors included the likes of Lawo, Mega-Lite/Mega Systems, Inc., Renkus-Heinz; DPA Microphones, myMix and ProCo Sound, among others. For example, microphone and lighting console labs spotlighted the latest in gear options and associated applications and techniques.
Derek Snyder, manager of Strategic Development at Guitar Center Professional, was on site touting the company’s broad-based ability to service the kind of AV clients that largely attend InfoComm, recognizing their increasingly broader range of product considerations. “We’re here for awareness,” he explained. “Most people know Guitar Center for selling guitars, drums and music-related product. GC Pro is that—but much more; we do installation work and consultancy at a higher level, and so we’re also selling to, for instance, houses of worship, fitness studios, restaurants, nightclubs, event production and the full gamut of AVL.”
The increasing interoperability of all audio, video and lighting technologies, explained Snyder, is a boon for broad-based product and service providers. “After all, it’s increasingly everything over IP,” he offered. “We’re here to evangelize Guitar Center Professional, because we offer everything. For example, LinkedIn just built a band rehearsal room for their corporate campus. We provided all the instrumentation for that, but as they need corporate conferencing, multiple video options for the campus and zoned audio for their cafeteria, we can do that, too.”