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NAMM 2013 Best of Show Awards: Product Descriptions

ANAHEIM, CA—The editorial staffs of Pro Audio Review and Pro Sound News magazines are proud to present the 2013 NAMM Show’s ProSoundNetwork Best of Show Awards in Anaheim, California. Twenty 2013 NAMM Show-debuted products cited below are now officially recognized as Best of Show Award winners.

The winners are:

Aphex USB 500 Rack

A four-slot, 500 Series-compatible rack, Aphex’s USB 500 Rack can function as a USB interface, allowing users to directly connect their favorite 500 Series modules and DAWs via USB. Features include stereo monitoring section featuring volume, mono/stereo switch and dim, and HeadPod 4-based headphone stereo output. Any configuration of processors installed in the rack can be applied as inserts into a DAW via USB. The USB 500 Rack can also function as a conventional analog rack, channel strip or linked adjacent modules for stereo operation.

Price: $749 street | Contact:

Behringer X32 Series

Reviewed in the February 2013 issue of PAR, the buzzed-about Behringer X32 digital mixer/DAW controller has reproduced into a family of products: the flagship X32 plus X32 Compact, X32 Producer, X32 Rack and X32 Core. All share the first X32’s performance specifications — notable digital connectivity, effects and I/O; and Klark Teknik-engineered AES50 ports. AES50 functionality allows any X32 component to connect with Behringer’s S16 Digital Snake, controllable using XControl for PC/Mac/Linux, XiControl optimized for iPad, and XiQ for iPhone/iPod Touch.

All feature 40-input channels and 25 buses with 16 programmable Midas-designed preamps, except X32 Core, only lacking preamps, and packed into a 1U rack-mountable chassis; for I/O, one or multiple S16 Digital Snakes accommodates up to 96 remote inputs.

Price: Varies | Contact:

Bettermaker EQ 502P 500 Series EQ

The Bettermaker EQ 502P two-channel analog equalizer, a two-slot 500 Series module, is a Pultec-style stereo/dual mono analog equalizer with recall of up to 399 presets. It can be fully automated, and all settings 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.

It features high- and low-frequency shelving passive filters with boost and attenuation. The HF section also offers variable bandwidth control, similar to the classic Pultec design. The four digital rotary encoders controlling the filter parameters are all velocity sensitive, and an A/B switch enables the user to instantly compare two different EQ settings, similarly to the operation of a DAW plug-in.

Price: TBA | Contact:

Crown USBX Wireless Controller

The Crown USBX provides expanded control options for Crown XTi, CDi and DSi Series amplifiers through Crown’s “Powered by Crown” iPad/iPhone app, allowing users to operate their amplifiers wirelessly. The Crown USBX plugs into any Crown amplifier with a USB port controlled via Ethernet, and allows up to eight compatible Crown USB products to connect at any time. The USBX has built in Wi-Fi, enabling wireless control of connected Crown amplifiers through the iPad/iPhone app, without the need for a separate wireless router.

Price: $249.99 street | Contact:

DPA Microphone d:facto II

DPA Microphones’ new d:facto II Vocal Microphone aims to provide a natural sound with high separation and extreme SPL handling and can reportedly handle up to 160 dB. It includes an adapter system to integrate with many professional wireless systems, including Sony, Lectrosonics, Shure, Wisycom and Sennheiser.

The d:facto II is said to provide strong gain before feedback, and a three-stage pop protection grid built into the microphone to remove unwanted noise.

Price: TBA | Contact:

Electro-Voice ZLX Portable PA

Available in 12- and 15-inch two-way versions, Electro-Voice’s new ZLX line of portable powered loudspeakers are intended for use as either mains or monitors. The ZLX portable powered loudspeakers include a 1000-W Class-D amplifier, single knob DSP control with LCD display and application/location presets, input level meters, independent amplifier control, and patented split-baffle design.

Capable of being pole-mounted, the loudspeaker enclosures feature composite construction with hi/lo grip design.

Price: TBA | Contact:

Focusrite 18i20 USB 2.0 Audio Interface

Focusrite’s new Scarlett 18i20 with 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.

The 18i20 ships with a software suite: Ableton Live Lite, and the compressor, reverb, gate and EQ processors included in the Focusrite Scarlett plug-in bundle. Novation’s Bass Station soft synth is also included, plus over 1GB of royalty-free Loopmasters samples.

Price: $499.99 street | Contact:

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. The M2 Master Reference Monitor delivers extended in-room response of 20 Hz to 40 kHz, and 123 dB SPL at one meter. The M2 also utilizes JBL’s patent-pending waveguide “Image Control,” which reportedly enables neutral frequency response, both on- and off-axis in the vertical and horizontal planes down to the M2’s 800 Hz crossover point.

Price: TBA | Contact:

M-Audio M3-8 Studio Reference Monitor

M-Audio’s M3-8 three-way studio reference monitor features an 8-inch woven Kevlar low-frequency driver, 5-inch woven Kevlar mid-frequency driver and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter with integrated guard. The speaker comes in an attractive, wooden mahogany case with wood internal baffling and delivers 220 watts of tri-amp Class A/B power. Three-band EQ with bypass, switchable low-cut filter, and XLR and quarter-inch balanced, RCA unbalanced input are provided.

Price: TBA | Contact:

MXL Microphones CR89 Large Diaphragm Condenser

MXL rebranded their well-received V89 large diaphragm condenser (LDC) as the MXL CR89, a fixed-cardioid microphone that PAR Senior Contributor Russ Long claims, in an exclusive first review for PAR, “performs well beyond its street value and can easily adapt to most any studio recording requirement.”

“Less than two lbs., 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. It has 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response specs with a signal/noise ratio of 80 dB, a maximum SPL of 138 dB and 124 dB dynamic range.

“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. Included with the CR89 is a wooden storage box, a cleaning cloth, and a heavy-duty shockmount that attaches to the mic via a threaded shaft at the base of the microphone.”

Price: $329 street| Contact:

Nevaton MC50-QUAD Microphone

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.

The MC50-QUAD provides 4 balanced XLR outputs via XLR-Mini-Snap multipin cable, and direct control of both dual 33mm capsules positioned at a 90 degree angle from each other. The MC50-QUAD employs Nevaton’s proprietary transducers, high quality components and notable build quality; Class-A amplification with 4 dBA self-noise; and a dynamic range of more than 130 dB.

Price: TBA | Contact:

PreSonus Sceptre S6 & S8 Studio Monitor

Released in partnership with Fulcrum Acoustic, PreSonus’s Sceptre CoActual Series studio reference monitors sport an 8-inch low/mid-frequency driver and a 1-inch (25 mm), horn-loaded, high-frequency transducer within a single coaxial unit with aligned voice coils. The Sceptre S6 CoActual studio monitor’s coaxial speaker integrates a 6.5-inch low/mid-frequency driver and a 1-inch (25 mm), horn-loaded, high-frequency transducer. Both models have acoustic ports.

The monitors incorporate TQ algorithms, and a four-position Acoustic Space switch controls a second-order shelving filter centered at 100 Hz, with four attenuation settings (no attenuation, -1.5 dB, -3 dB, and -6 dB) so that users can account for the bass response relative to room dimensions and speaker placement.

Price: TBA | Contact:

Radial Engineering PreMax 500 Series Channel Strip

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.

Price: $350 Retail | Contact:

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 Tape Emulator for 500 Series

The analog drive circuit inside the Portico 542 works by feeding a tiny magnetic “record head,” which in turn is coupled to a correctly equalized replay amplifier. As the voltage rises on the “record head,” saturation increases, and a soft clip circuit engages at higher levels to round off peak transients. The sound of the tape circuit can be further modified with selectable 15/30 IPS modes and a pre/post-tape blend control. In addition to the tape circuit, the 542 also has the variable Silk & Texture circuitry found in the Portico II series of modules, allowing the engineer to fine-tune the harmonic ratio and tonality on the output transformer.

Price: TBA | Contact:

Shure GLX-D Digital Wireless Systems

The new Shure GLX-D Wireless Systems feature LINKFREQ Automatic Frequency Management to produce clear and reliable audio, and are powered by lithium-ion batteries that quickly recharge using a charging port on the receiver or through a variety of optional USB connectors.

The GLX-D system is designed for singers, musicians, presentors and more, and operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. GLX-D analyzes, determines and automatically deploys the best available RF frequencies and can move to clean frequencies with no signal interruption.

The GLX-D comes in a traditional bodypack and handheld configurations, including a headset, vocal and presenter systems, as well as a new pedal-mounted guitar option.

Price: TBA | Contact:

Sonnet Technologies Echo Express Pro Thunderbolt-enabled PCIe Expansion Chassis

Echo Express Pro Thunderbolt expansion chassis now supports Avid Pro Tools|HDX PCIe cards, enabling engineers to build a portable audio editing workflow. Supplementary connectors have been added to the chassis to connect power cables to PCIe cards that require additional power, including the Avid card. With this upgraded Thunderbolt technology product plus the purchase of a Sonnet-exclusive power cable kit for Pro Tools|HDX PCIe cards, Mac users no longer have to use a Mac Pro in their workflow in order to use the capabilities of Pro Tools|HDX.

The ProTools|HDX PCIe card joins the long list of expansion cards for audio professionals currently supported by the Sonnet Thunderbolt expansion chassis. Others include the HDSPe MADI FX from RME (Synthax), the Universal Audio UAD-2, Lynx Studio Technology’s AES16e, and Solid State Logic’s MadiXtreme.

Price: TBA| Contact:

Sony DWZ Digital Wireless Series

Built for electric guitar and bass, Sony’s DWZ-G30GB Digital Guitar Wireless System includes a small body pack transmitter and a compact receiver, as well as a belt clip, AC adapter and quarter-inch cable. PAR Contributor Rich Tozzoli, in an exclusive first review of the system, comments, “While some might think that the DWZ-G30GB is a great piece of gear to free them up from onstage cables (as I did), I discovered several other unexpected uses for it.”

“This wireless system works as it should, delivering simple, clean and clear instrument tone. With a street price of $399, it’s very affordable. But even more importantly, it sounds great, is solid and compact, has respectable battery life and can be used effectively both onstage and in the studio.”

Price: $399 | Contact:

Soundtracs DiGiGrid Networking I/O Systems

Created through the partnership of DiGiCo and Waves Audio, DiGiGrid, a collection of hardware and software processing solutions, enables users of Native DAWs, Pro Tools and MADI-enabled live and broadcast mixing consoles to have access to Waves SoundGrid audio networking and real-time processing. DiGiGrid includes SoundGrid I/Os, Pro Tools-to-SoundGrid I/Os and MADI-to-SoundGrid I/Os. The DiGiGrid collection includes: the IOS built-in DSP server; IOX expansion I/O; IOC for control rooms; SWI 5-way network switch; DLS 64 digital inputs/ 64 digital outputs plus built-in SoundGrid DSP server; DLI 64 digital input/ 64 digital output Pro Tools-to-SoundGrid interface; DMI interface option to access DiGiCo SD Racks and D Racks for system input expansion; MGB MADI-to-SoundGrid Coaxial Interface; and MGO MADI-to-SoundGrid Optical Interface.

Price: TBA |

Universal Audio API 500 Series EQ Plug-in Collection

The UA API 500 Series EQ Plug-In Collection works with the UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform and Apollo High-Resolution Audio Interface and features emulations of the API 550A 3-Band and API 560 Graphic equalizers. For the UA API 500 Series EQ Plug-In Collection, UA’s modeling team designed the plug-ins to capture the filter shapes, band interactions and unique filter amplifier clipping behaviors of the vintage API 550A and 560 units. Additionally, this plug-in series includes presets from lauded engineers and producers.

Price: $299 |

Waves Manny Marroquin Signature Series Collection

Waves Audio’s customized Manny Marroquin Signature Series Collection consists of six plug-ins designed by Grammy Award-winning mix engineer Manny Marroquin (Rihanna, Maroon 5, Shakira). The collection includes plug-ins for Delay, Reverb, EQ, Tonal Shaper, Distortion and Triple D (DeEsser, DeHarsher, DeBoxer).

Price: TBA |