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Good vibrations: ‘Consistent sound in every seat’ with d&b’s ArrayProcessing

d&b gives system engineers excitations with ArrayProcessing, a new, free, update to the company's ArrayCalc software, writes Erica Basnicki

In the days just prior to Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt, d&b audiotechnik hosted partners, distributors, and select media at the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany.

The event was a sneak preview of a major update to its ArrayCalc V8 simulation software; the introduction of ArrayProcessing. Touted as “the next level of democracy for listeners”, ArrayProcessing optmises both the tonal balance and SPL levels of d&b line array systems over the entire listening area using extremely complex mathematical calculations neatly built into the existing ArrayCalc workflow.

“There’s a downside to current line array technology,” explains Werner ‘Vier’ Bayer, product manager at d&b audiotechnik. “You can influence the SPL level at the back (of the audience) but the balance of the sound between low, mids and highs changes over distance and there’s nothing you can do about it. Until now.”

With ArrayProcessing each box in a line array is processed individually. Target frequency responses are calculated over 240 different frequency bands, every 20cm of the listening area, and a specific combination of FIR and IIR filters are then applied to each loudspeaker to achieve a consistent sound throughout the venue.

Additionally, system designers can programme multiple slots for different performance characteristics of the same array without the need to make any mechanical adjustments. The constant additional latency of just 5.9ms remains unchanged, while the entire system can be altered during an event as required.

“The outcome of all of this is that the future is just a download away,” says Bayer. “We’re not talking about a major investment, we’re talking about using our current top three line array systems with new generation amplifiers and being able to do things like that. It’s just software.” ArrayProcessing is compatible with d&b’s large format J-Series as well as the V- and Y-Series line array systems.

To illustrate the power of ArrayProcessing, guests are invited to walk up and down the steps of the SAP arena, listening for tonal changes in both speech and recorded music. Then, to really drive the point home (and your correspondent’s knees to despair) we do it all again with ArrayProcessing both engaged and in bypass mode. The sonic differences are remarkable.

“The whole message to our customers is that nothing changes for you,” explains Amnon Harman, CEO of d&B audiotechnik. “You have a choice. You have additional functionality that puts you ahead of the competition, and we are securing the investment you have already made with us. Not only for the future but also retroactively. You can use the same technology and we are guaranteeing that in the future, whatever comes into the market, will run using the same workflow.”

In addition to the new ArrayProcessing functionality, d&b also made public that company is in a position to offer even greater financing solutions in order to facilitate investment in new systems.

“For us innovation is also thinking about processes,” explains Harman. “If a customer wants to make an investment in a system, then that has to do with money. Not all of our customers can make a half-million or million Euro investment, so we have to help them a little bit. We treat [financing] like a product.”

Rather than subject a potential customer to the lengthy administration process of securing its own financing, d&b will take on the financing on their behalf.

“We come up with the position ourselves, and give an early indication of whether or not it’s possible and then we do the financing on ourselves and transfer it to a bank later on, which speeds up the process tremendously. We were talking about weeks before – now we’re talking about days,” explains Harman. The company has financed system purchases over the last 3-4 years, “with tremendous success” but is now in a position to double the amount of money available.

“It sounds risky, but we’ve simply turned the process around. We have enough experience with it that we can say, ‘This is a risk a bank would take on’ or not. We work out a model with [the customer] that they can pay off, so that they can get the equipment. We finance it for them and they are paying the equipment off over three years, to a maximum of five years.”

Two days after the SAP Arena visit, d&b audiotechnik will introduce the D20, its new 4-channel, two rack unit (2RU) amplifier (pictured above). The D20 amplifier has four independent 1,600W channels, each with two 16-band EQs which feature parametric, notch, shelving and asymmetric filters and up to 10 seconds of delay. The digital signal processing (DSP) power of the D20 means that external system processors are not required, reducing the equipment in the signal chain.