This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Pro Sound News. Innovations is a monthly column in which different pro audio manufacturers are invited to discuss the thought process behind creating their products of note.
Wilsonville, OR (March 12, 2021)—For over three decades, Audix has built a legacy of high performance, innovative microphones and related products for the professional audio industry. Our latest offering, the patent-pending TM2 Integrated Acoustic Coupler for In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), is destined to become another must-have tool for every audio engineer.
Ear simulator couplers are the measurement devices used by manufacturers of IEMs during research and development, final production and quality control of IEMs. The TM2 incorporates the functionality of lab-type testing equipment into an integrated compact package, ideal for live sound engineers who want a simple, yet effective way to test IEM performance. Featuring precision-machined components made completely at Audix’s Wilsonville, Oregon Facility, the TM2 is built for the road and includes adapters to fit a wide range of IEMs, including custom molds.
We were approached by Mark Frink—longtime professional sound engineer and program director of the AES Academy in 2018, 2019 and 2020—about developing an adapter for our TM1 measurement microphone to test IEMs in the field. At the time, Audix was only starting our research and development of branded headphones and earphones, and realized quickly that to build something accurate, reliable and versatile for the monitor engineer world, this request was not going to be simple.
“We saw the ongoing need for a tool that didn’t exist, so we built it,” says Steve Young, director of US Sales at Audix. “The TM2 is just another example of how innovation is alive and well at Audix.”
How did Audix manage to incorporate so much functionality into a device that fits in your hand?
“The TM2 is purpose built and it had to be compact,” says Fred Bigeh, director of Manufacturing for Audix. “Lab gear is intended for the lab environment. It’s calibrated, it’s stable, you can trust it. However, it can take up a lot of bench space and be expensive. We knew that if you were going to take such functionality on the road, it needed to be much more integrated with an XLR male connector and operate on 48V phantom power. It needed to be road-worthy. It needed to be able to go into a backpack.
So, we looked for how we could take an IEM coupler and integrate it with the microphone and a high-quality pre-amp into a hockey-puck sized product that would be both durable and up to the task of providing repeatable lab-grade measurements on the road. It wasn’t an easy task because lab-grade couplers have very complex internal structures.”
The TM2 is not intended to replace lab equipment; it’s meant for real-world applications outside of the lab. For monitor engineers who are often faced with questions from performers regarding the functionality of their IEMs, there was no way to test them reliably and consistently in the field. With the TM2 and readily available measurement software such as Rational Acoustic’s SMAART or Studio Six Digital’s Audio Tools, a monitor engineer can easily confirm the functionality of each performer’s IEMs using an original reference measurement against real-time measurements in the field.
“By comparing original responses to current responses, the monitor engineer can be confident that the IEMs are functioning properly before giving them to the talent,” says Steve Johnson, VP of Sales and Marketing for Audix. “Sound companies will also be able to check their IEMs before they leave the shop and when they’re returned.”
“IEMs have drastically improved the onstage experience for performers,” Johnson explains. “Being able to hear what you want to hear through your IEMs is the key to a better performance. With the TM2, the monitor engineer can make sure the IEMs—the last step in the monitor chain—are doing their job. It’s about confidence. What’s that worth?”
Audix • www.audixusa.com