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Networking, Speakers Rule the Day at InfoComm 2016

According to InfoComm’s official figures, attendance topped 38,833 visitors at this year’s show, nearly 5 percent more than the last time the show was held in Las Vegas (and a tiny fraction less than last year’s get-together in Orlando, FL).

According to InfoComm’s official figures, attendance topped 38,833 visitors at this year’s show, nearly 5 percent more than the last time the show was held in Las Vegas (and a tiny fraction less than last year’s get-together in Orlando, FL). This year’s convocation reportedly attracted a record 1,000 exhibitors, including 211 first-timers, occupying a record amount of floor space at the convention center. Attendance at the 100-plus training and education events more than doubled, according to InfoComm, with in excess of 12,000 registered attendees—approximately one-third more than at past events.

As anyone who follows the installed sound segment of the industry is aware, AV and IT have long since converged. Not surprisingly, then, networked products seemed to be on virtually every booth covering the red-carpeted area delineating the audio-centric exhibitors.

Indeed, it was almost impossible to walk more than a few feet without spotting yet another “Dante spoken here” sign affixed to the floor adjacent to those booths offering Audinate-enabled gear. According to the company’s latest count, there are now 300 manufacturers integrating Dante into over 750 products; 90 of those partners had booths at the show.

No less visible was the AVnu Alliance, which was demonstrating AES67, with Ravenna discovery, running on an AVB backbone, on a setup incorporating a Calrec Summa mixing console. AVB’s TSN control plane protocols guarantee on-time arrival of AES67 data across the network, the demonstrator pointed out.

Also on the show floor, the Open Control Architecture Alliance was exhibiting in the U.S. for the first time since OCA was ratified as the AES70 standard. Live demonstrations incorporated products from Bosch, Beckhoff Automation, d&b audiotechnik and Focusrite. A new addition to the alliance, Beckhoff, well-known in the building and automation sectors, allows PC-based remote control and operation of pro audio systems and the integration of media technology, lighting control, building automation and central logic.

AudioScience was showing off the latest addition to its Hono range of AVB products, the Hono AVB Controller application, which enables AVB signals to be connected and routed across the network. As company founder Richard Gross noted, the future of AVB/TSN looks even rosier now that Cisco, perhaps the largest switch manufacturer in the world, has announced that its Nexus 7000 switch—which was on show at the AVnu Alliance booth—supports AVB.

The Media Networking Alliance, which was set up to promote AES67, also had a working demo on its booth. Technical work group chair Kevin Gross, among others, was on hand to demonstrate components from member companies Focusrite, SSL, Studer, Yamaha, Merging Technologies, Genelec and others interoperating over a standard Ethernet network.

The award for the most innovative use of networking should perhaps go to Arria Live Media, which was showcasing a “smart” system aimed at venues typically utilizing volunteer audio operators, such as schools, community centers and churches. The company, founded by a former Intel marketing executive, is promoting its connect-and-go setup as the intersection of the Internet of Things and digital AV. Network endpoints such as microphones and speakers, each featuring embedded audio processing, connect via Ethernet directly into the switch, without the need for an intermediary mixing console. There is no routing or channel mapping required; a simple iPad app offers level, panning and other DSP functionality.

Arria Live’s system hardly signals the end of mixing consoles, of course. Ashly Audio unveiled its first mixer in more than 40 years. The digiMIX24 is a compact 24-channel desk that leverages the work Ashly has put into its Protea DSP, and offers Dante networking or USB interface options. Aimed at the church, performance space and project studio markets, digiMIX24 operates in either a professional or “EZ” mode for non-technical users.

DiGiCo introduced Core 2 software for its SD series mixers, which offers improved graphics and visual feedback. The software, available for a nominal fee, also increases the channel count to 48 stereo or 96 mono inputs, and adds various DSP features. The Quantum 7 upgrade introduces nodal processing to the SD7, enabling 640 channels of processing and allowing, for example, EQ on every single aux send.

Everywhere you turned, it seemed, there were new speakers—too many to detail here, certainly. Some highlights: EM Acoustics introduced its new M-C12 and M-C15 coaxial stage monitors; dBTechnologies launched its VIO line array system; there was the new CBT1000 column speaker from Harman; Community showed its long-throw, threeway, weather-resistant R6-51MAX; Tectonic Audio Labs showcased its slim-line PL-12 Tectonic Plate, which generates a diffuse, decorrelated output that almost totally eliminates room reflections. Danley Sound Labs launched the J3-94 Jericho Horn, offering a wider horizontal pattern than the existing J3-64 model, added the SBH-20LF to its range of column speakers and unveiled the reworked GO2 8CX indoor/outdoor speaker for smaller-scale applications. Anchor Audio debuted Liberty Air, a battery-powered companion speaker that offers WiFi connection in the 902-928 MHz range up to 150 feet and incorporates all the features of the wired version, for band, school and other portable P.A. applications.

Bose offered a literal peek behind the curtain at its DeltaQ array, which will be offered in modules featuring five-, 10-and 20-degree vertical dispersion and field-swappable 70-and 100-degree horizontal dispersion waveguides (55-and 120-degree waveguides are optionally available). Removable side panels with integrated handles make DeltaQ suitable for both fixed and portable applications.

VUE Audiotechnik introduced the high output al-12, the largest of its al-Class, which enables VUE systems to handle much larger spaces than previously. The new module uses the same technology as the smaller al-4 and al-8, allowing them all to be seamlessly integrated into a continuous source line array.

The network is also increasingly pushing out toward the loudspeaker. At InfoComm, d&b audiotechnik launched the DS10, a Dante-to-AES3 bridge that carries 16 network channels of audio signals and remote control data to the amplifiers on a single category cable. L-Acoustics signed on with the AVnu Alliance at the start of 2015 and now offers AVB capabilities throughout its amplifiers and speaker products, such as the recently introduced Kiva II. Meyer Sound launched its latest generation speaker management system, the Galileo Galaxy, with two units, the 816 and the 408, which network via AVB. Meyer’s new Compass control software matches the sonic profile of the company’s legacy models with its newer products and also introduces a delay matrix.