Small Tool Tackles Big Jobs

When you need to assemble, adjust or repair just about anything, the first thing to do is pick the right tool for the job. You wouldn’t overhaul a Ferrari with a Swiss army knife, and likewise, you don’t need to drag around a 200- pound tool chest just to snug up some loose connections.
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Powered by Crown Mobile Amp Control iOS App

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When you need to assemble, adjust or repair just about anything, the first thing to do is pick the right tool for the job. You wouldn’t overhaul a Ferrari with a Swiss army knife, and likewise, you don’t need to drag around a 200- pound tool chest just to snug up some loose connections.

That pretty much sums up the thinking behind Powered by Crown, the industry’s first dedicated mobile app for amplifier control. Users have found it to be a flexible, adaptable and extremely handy tool, one that perfectly complements the Crown features available in Harman Professional’s comprehensive System Architect software.

So, what exactly is Powered by Crown? It’s a new app that runs on any device using Apple’s current iOS, including iPad, iPhone and even the iPod Touch. It was developed by a team comprising of myself; Bruce Vander Werf, Crown’s senior software engineer; Brian Pickowitz, market manager for tour sound; and Bradford Benn, director of application engineering. You can use it to monitor and control key parameters of all HiQnet-enabled Crown amplifiers, as well as JBL Vertec line-array cabinets equipped with Crown DrivePack DP-DA modules

Before going further, it’s important to emphasize that Powered by Crown is a standalone, native app. It controls your amplifiers directly through the WiFi connection of the iOS device. All you need is a Wi-Fi access point connected to your Crown amplifier network, and you’re in business. That’s different from some other iOS apps that merely function as “remote desktops” for a separate main computer. Certainly, you can connect a laptop running System Architect to the same network at the same time, but that’s strictly optional. Powered by Crown is completely independent. We’re able to do this because Crown had the foresight to implement Ethernet- based monitoring and control nearly a decade ago.

So, let’s take a quick tour of Powered by Crown. First, you download it from the App Store for a nominal $3.99. Then you log on to your network, which we assume is passwordprotected. If your amplifiers are properly configured and connected to the access point, then the app will automatically detect them, populate a list (ordered by HiQnet ID), and display them on the Devices panel. Everything is extremely fast, taking far less time than just booting Windows.

Next you tap on any device, which opens multiple panels, the exact number and appearance depending on the type of amplifier. On these factorydesigned panels, you can check input selection and routing, and monitor levels, internal temperatures, limiting, load status and even incoming AC line voltage. Control options include input level adjustment (on smooth faders), switching inputs as available (analog, AES3, CobraNet), and insertion of test signals if the amplifier has a built-in signal generator.

Note that only a single panel will be displayed on an iPhone or iPod, requiring swiping across pages, while multiple panels are available simultaneously on the iPad. Also, if you’re curious and don’t have a networked Crown rig, you can configure an offline rig and try out the controls, though, of course, no operating parameters will show.

What we described above is the default setup of Powered by Crown, which comes ready to go “right out of the box.” No prior configuration or setup is necessary. We’ve found that this standard tool set takes care of the majority of user requirements.

However, when developing Powered by Crown, we decided to give it a dual personality. For advanced users, we created an option for importing custom control panels (for Crown products only) from System Architect. Custom panels can control multiple amplifiers, and incorporate the entire range of monitoring and control features. Importing your custom panel files is a simple drag-anddrop process via iTunes.

Out in the field, how you use Powered by Crown will depend on your specific application, the type and size of your amplifier/loudspeaker rig and your imagination. If you’re a small- to midsized portable system operator, perhaps focused on corporate events, you may find that Powered by Crown will provide everything you need for system setup, routine configuration and operation. The deeper-level functionalities of System Architect can be reserved for major system reconfigurations.

Powered by Crown also promises to be a valuable time- and trouble-saver when used as a remote tool for tweaks and troubleshooting. You can go anywhere in the venue and quickly add boost or attenuation to fills and delays, or insert test tones to check drivers. That can be a godsend in when setting up systems in arenas, or multiple systems in hotels or conventions centers, under extreme time pressure.

The same flexibility will prove equally valuable for system integrators on large, complex installations. As one example, slipping Powered by Crown into your pocket can save a trek back to the amp room when you discover that a distant ceiling system isn’t behaving properly. And even when you’re in the amp room, this app is handy when you’re working behind the amp rack. It’s the same as—no, better than—having front-panel displays and controls on the back.

So, whether you’re in the touring or installation business, we’re certain that you’ll find Powered by Crown a handy addition to your toolbox. For big touring rigs, it can save time and trouble, and also enable a degree of system tuning accuracy—particularly in seats away from main array coverage— that will enhance the audience experience. And, as a value-added deliverable, system integrators could present end-users with an iPad that’s pre-loaded with custom panels for the particular installation.

In either case, Powered by Crown adds yet another dimension to the long-established Crown reputation for performance, utility and reliability.

Eric Friedlander is business developer, tour sound for Crown Audio International.

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