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Thread: AES Report from Mike Rivers Pt 1

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Franklin,(Nashville)TN,/Paducah, KY

    AES Report from Mike Rivers Pt 1

    Here is an AES report forwarded to me by our friend Jules Standen from England
    It is long, so you might want to pack a lunch.....It is in parts since this forum has a text limit
    Enjoy...this is part 1

    From: (Mike Rivers)
    Organization: D & D Data, Vienna, VA
    Date: 4 Dec 2001 22:09:56 -0500
    Subject: AES Show Report-December 2001

    AES Show Report
    December 2001
    Copyright 2001

    The Fine Print:
    Here are some notes about things that I found interesting. If it's
    not here, I might have seen it, but I didn't keep any literature or it
    wasn't something that interested me, so don't ask what I thought about
    something that you don't read about here. You won't read much in the
    way of how something sounded. I think anyone who can talk into a mic
    at a trade show, listen to himself on headphones, and say it's awesome
    dude is too easily impressed. My trade show criteria is only that it
    doesn't suck and is potentially useful. Then I'll get one to try where
    I can use and hear it. Corrections are welcome, and may be
    incorporated in a later version of this report if there is one, but
    don't hold your breath. Feel free to post corrections, amplifications,
    or impressions to this thread, but don't ask for apologies. I'm doing
    this for free. Finally, feel free to e-mail this report to someone who
    missed it, or archive it on a friendly web site, but if you make any
    money from it, I want some. Now, on with the show.

    Mics and Preamps

    The rescheduling of the AES show to just a few weeks away from NAMM
    kept many of the suppliers of inexpensive mics targeted primarily to
    home studios and sold through MI dealers away, leaving the mic field
    pretty clear for the higher end suppliers. The Studio Projects and
    Marshall lines were represented, but on the low end, that's about it.
    Nothing new there that hasn't already been reviewed or well
    advertised. Studio Projects will be coming out with a couple of even
    lower cost mics but they weren't shown so we'll leave that for the
    NAMM report. Just an observation here - many, many microphone
    exhibitors were using Mackie mixers to demo their mics.

    Taylor Johnson was there with his full line of THE mics, all newly
    designed, not rebadged imports. These were thoroughly reviewed by Bob
    Ross in the October 2001 issue of Recording Magazine so I won't rehash
    them in detail here. These mics fall in the mid-priced range, with the
    majority based around a $400 preamp and a wide choice of 1/2" capsules
    ($350) , 25 and 33 mm "lollipop" capsules ($550-650), two
    test/measurement super flat omni mics, and a binaural sphere
    configuration. Like BLUE (conspicuous by their absence at the show),
    these are beautifully made mics designed by a true recording

    AKG introduced their 21st century version of the venerable C451, the
    C451-B. They claim that its acoustical behavior (note: not
    necessarily the same as "sound") is identical to the original C451
    with the CK1 cardioid capsule. Electronics have been redesigned for
    lower noise, and the output is now transformerless. A two position
    (75/150 Hz) bass rolloff switch (like the C451EB preamp) is included,
    as well as a switchable 10/20 dB pad. Unlike the original C451, the
    new model has a fixed capsule. This means cardioid-only (which was
    the most popular configuration for the C451), and it also means that
    the weak spot that compromised the otherwise excellent mic's
    reliability - the contact point between the capsule and preamp body -
    has been eliminated. Also new is the AKG C900, a condenser mic
    designed for hand-held vocal use. It's in the same ballpark
    price-wise as one of my favorite budget condenser mics, the AKG C535,
    and I suspect roughly similar in sound. If you're looking for
    primarily a stage mic, the C900 is the right choice between the two,
    but for a more universal mic, the C535 would be my choice. The C900 is
    supplied with an acoustic presence boost filter which provides a
    couple of noise-free dB boost in the 5-9 kHz range for adding some
    vocal sibilance and improved intelligibility of some singers, as well
    as giving it some applicability toward use as a drum overhead or metal
    percussion mic. The filter is removable for a flatter sound
    approaching that of the C535.

    Shure showed the new KSM27 large diaphragm side address studio
    condenser mic priced at $575. It's similar in appearance to other
    Shure mics in this line, and is essentially a single-diaphragm version
    of their multi-pattern KSM44.

    The Soundelux E251 recreation of the Elam 251 microphone was on
    display, but the mic talk of the show was their brand new E47, a
    U47-similar mic brought up to date with designer David Bock's usual

    Royer Labs, who's done more for bringing the ribbon mic to notice in
    recent years than practically any other company was showing their new
    R-121A active ribbon mic. This is their well established R121 studio
    ribbon mic with a built-in phantom powered 15 dB preamp. The preamp
    brings the output level of the mic up to that of typical condenser
    mics of today, and in addition, provides a known interface to the
    ribbon element. Ribbon mics, because of the extremely low impedance
    of the basic element, are more sensitive to the input characteristics
    of a preamp than any other design. By building in the preamp that's
    interfaced to the ribbon element, this variable is eliminated. While
    there will still be some interaction between the output of the
    built-in preamp and the mic preamp to which it's connected, when you
    switch among preamps when using the active Royer, you'll hear more of
    the difference in sound quality of the actual preamp rather than the
    preamp/mic interface. The dynamic range of the internal preamp is
    sufficient to handle up to 135 dB SPL. Physically, the mic body is
    extended by a couple of inches to make room for the electronics.
    There's also an active version of Royer's SF-12 stereo ribbon mic in
    the pipeline, and in the pipe (as in pipe dreams) an active version
    with a tube preamp.

    Neumann showed their first Solution-D digital microphone, and (I
    believe) the first microphone to utilize the AES-42 standard for a
    phantom powered digital microphone interconnect. The mic starts out
    with a conventional-looking condenser capsule and body, but follows it
    with some pretty sophisticated electronics. Since a microphone
    typically produces a wider dynamic range of signals than anything else
    in the recording chain, upwards of 130 dB, it's necessary to capture
    this full range. The best 24-bit A/D converters these days run around
    115-120 dB dynamic range which isn't sufficient. Neumann developed a
    new A/D converter that utilizes a dual path to handle both low and
    high level signals and accurately capture the full dynamic range of
    the mic capsule. Some day all digital consoles will have AES-42 inputs
    and you can just plug the D-01 mic (and no doubt the rest of its
    family) right in. In the meantime, Neumann has provided the DMI-2
    interface which accommodates two AES-42 mics and outputs AES/EBU, once
    connector for each mic. Two mics' clocking is automatically
    synchronized if there's no input to the external word clock BNC, or
    you can synchronize a whole bank of mics using the master clock in and
    out connectors. A USB port connects the DMI-2 to a computer running
    remote control software. The software controls the mic pattern,
    attenuation, gain, low-cut filter, polarity, a built-in transient
    limiter, sample rate (up to 192 kHz) and a bright LED on the mic that
    you can use as an "on air" indicator. In addition, since AES/EBU is in
    most cases a stereo format, through the remote control software you
    can select what comes out the AES/EBU outputs - one mic to left,
    right, or both channels, or if two mics are connected, one mic to each
    channel. I didn't want to ask how much it costs. You probably don't
    George Cumbee, Pres
    Audio Creations Inc., Paducah, KY
    ClassicRecording, Franklin, TN

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Franklin,(Nashville)TN,/Paducah, KY
    Part 2

    If you're an old audiophile, you probably know the name Dick Sequerra,
    a well known designer of some of the most respected audio gear over
    the past 40 years. His new company, Sequerra Audio Labs, was showing
    a new mic preamp. Looking more like a lunchbox Thermos (TM) bottle
    than a preamp, the Model 1070-A is built into an aluminum tube about
    3-1/2" in diameter and 10" long. It's intended to be attached
    directly to the mic stand with a short cable connecting the mic to the
    preamp, and then as long a cable as you need going back to the console
    or recorder at line level. Gain is adjustable in 1 dB steps (there
    are three controls for gain, controlling two different stages) from 10
    to 70 dB. There are switches for input loading, phantom power,
    polarity reverse, high pass filtering, and muting. An LED VU meter
    monitors the output level. The preamp is externally powered, with a
    power supply which handles up to four preamps. The preamp itself is
    currently priced at $1500, the power supply at $1000, and $7500 will
    get you a complete system with four preamps, a power supply, all
    cables, mounting straps, and a flight case. While not ready for show
    yet, the next product coming from Sequerra is a ribbon mic, hopefully
    in the Spring.

    If you've been reading the newsgroup for more than about
    half an hour, you've surely heard of the Great River MP2 preamp, and
    the long awaited MP-2NV preamp is now available. This two channel mic
    preamp, based on the circuitry in the Neve 1073 amplifier, is a
    departure from Great River's traditional accurate-and-transparent
    design. While you can get a clean and accurate sound from this model,
    it's tweakable with input gain and output level controls, input
    impedance switch, and output loading so you can introduce some
    controlled distortion for vintage-style warmth and richness. Input and
    output LED meters provide some guidance in setting the gain structure,
    and let you know if you're getting into trouble when you don't want
    any. There are transformers on the input and output (this is part of
    the classic sound), and there's a high impedance input for an
    instrument which is a buffer that goes into the input transformer, so
    you get the benefit of iron when using the MP-2NV as a DI box.

    Signal Processors - Real ones, no software plug-ins here.

    A couple of updated products from the cost-effective and always
    interesting Joemeek line were new for this show. The MicroQ MQ3 is a
    half-rack sized mic preamp/compressor incorporating the "current
    sense" mic preamp technology developed by Joemeek design engineer Ted
    Fletcher. The design goal of this input circuit is to minimize the
    interaction between the mic and the preamp at the interface,
    optimizing the loading on the mic based on its current-drive
    capability rather than voltage output. Another product update is the
    TwinQ ES stereo voice channel mic preamp/compressor/EQ combo with the
    current sense front end. The compressors are linkable for stereo,
    while the equalizers can be operated independently.

    The Quartet is Pendulum Audio's new front end device incorporating a
    few proven Pendulum designs, the tube mic preamp from the MDP-1, tube
    opto compressor from the OCL-2, a new three-band moderately gentle
    (not surgical) equalizer, and a de-esser. The equalizer has shelving
    response on the high (7, 10, or 15 kHz) and low (50, 100, 200 Hz)
    ends, and peaking in the middle (six switchable frequencies from 700
    Hz to 6.5 kHz). The de-esser is different than the usual de-esser.
    Instead of using the conventional frequency dependent compressor
    design, the Quartet uses a triggered narrow band filter adjustable
    from 3.4 to 11 kHz. The depth of the notch is adjustable from 2 to 10
    dB, as is the trigger threshold. The trigger is based on Pendulum's
    own extra fast optoelectronic variable resistance element which takes
    the filter out of the signal path except when it's working.

    In the "why didn't anyone think of this?" category, Little Labs
    introduced the IBP Analog Phase Alignment Tool. It's a variable
    all-pass filter that allows more control of the phase between signals
    than the console polarity switch. It can be handy for aligning a DI
    with a miced amplifier cabinet or trimming the phase between drum
    mics. While we know that we're supposed to solve that kind of problem
    with proper mic placement, sometimes it's handier just to tweak a
    control, and if you're dealing with tracks that are already recorded,
    it can be a real time-saver.

    The Soundfield mic has been around for many years, producing a set of
    four outputs (known as the Soundfield B-Format) from a single point
    mic which can be processed to steer and effectively reposition the mic
    after the recording has been made. The Soundfield SP451 processor is
    designed to derive the six 5.1 surround format outputs from the
    B-Format microphone signals. Each of the six outputs has its own
    level, plus the pattern of each "mic" in the derived five mic array
    (left, center, right, and L/R surrounds) has its own pattern control.
    This is a specialized processor for a specialized mic, but it's a
    really cool extension of an already cool mic.


    If there was an area where was disappointed with this year's
    offerings, it was in consoles. Sure, SSL was there with their 9000
    series, there's a software update for the Sony DMX-R100, and TASCAM
    had their new DM24 small digital console on display, but where are the
    medium sized analog recording consoles? Nowhere! Still, no
    manufacturer (at least none exhibiting at the trade shows I attend)
    has filled the gap between the Behringer/Mackie/Ghost 8-bus analog
    consoles (or even added to this lot) and $100+ large studio consoles.
    C'mon, guys - we can't go on telling people to look for a used
    Trident, MCI, or Soundcraft forever. With the exception of the TASCAM
    DM24, which is a very nice looking and smart working console if it
    fits your size and needs, the small format digital consoles are
    floundering a bit. With recent reorganizations at both Mackie and
    Sony, while I'm not predicting that their digital console offerings
    will go away (though there are rumors) I expect that development will
    be slowed, at least for a while. The recently announced Yamaha
    small-mid sized digital console wasn't there (nor was Yamaha at all)
    and that was a bit of a disappointment. I guess it's hard to risk new
    hardware development in an industry dominated by console-less software
    workstations. Be that as it may, there were a couple of developments
    worth noting in areas other than recording.

    Midas displayed the new Legend 3000 console. Touted as
    "multi-purpose", it's a medium-large live sound analog console with
    digital control which opens it up to scene recall and VCA automation.
    It's sensibly laid out to work well either as a front of house or
    monitor console, and the EQ and auxiliary sends are more practical and
    flexible than most for those gigs where monitors are mixed from the
    house position. First shown at the Winter NAMM, the Midas Venice
    4-bus series is now shipping. This is the Mackie (in three sizes from
    16 to 32 inputs) that you would have bought if you could pay twice as
    much for it. More sends, more EQ, more output and bus headroom, and
    more logical pre/post routing and muting.

    The Dangerous 2-bus from Dangerous Music is a non-console for people
    who don't really want a console. It's an analog line level console
    with 16 inputs arranged as eight pairs, mixed to stereo outputs. No
    faders, no aux sends, no EQ, just an output level trim with a range of
    -3 to +6 dB and a 6 dB boost button for each input channel pair. A
    MONO button for each input pair sums the left and right inputs in both
    channels, putting the left and right in the middle. So why in the
    heck would you want something like this? It's aimed at the
    workstation market, particularly for those who don't like the sound of
    stereo mixing within the computer. You can still use the workstation
    to control and automate level, panning, and effects, and as long as
    you have D/A converters with multi-channel output, you can do the
    final summing of your tracks in the analog domain.
    George Cumbee, Pres
    Audio Creations Inc., Paducah, KY
    ClassicRecording, Franklin, TN

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Franklin,(Nashville)TN,/Paducah, KY
    Part 3

    A/D/A Converters

    Benchmark Media Systems has managed to pack 48 channels of 24-bit 96
    kHz conversion into a 3 space rack. How do they do it? Four channels
    on a card, stuff the frame as full as you need it. While Benchmark
    doesn't have the glitter of the purple paneled ones, they've
    consistently made extremely low jitter converters and particularly
    with their emphasis on packaging for well integrated systems, they
    have a lot of respect in the industry.

    Speaking of the purple people, Apogee is now shipping their 16-channel
    A/D and D/A converters. New this show is the announcement of a
    trade-up to these converters from the more common ProTools hardware -
    Digidesign 888's and the like. They didn't quite know what they'd
    accept, what it's worth, or what they'd do with what they take in on
    trade (sell it on eBay?), but if you're already a workstation system
    user and are thinking of switching to Apogee, give them a call and see
    what they can do for you.

    The Digigram VXpocket v2 stereo 24-bit PCMCIA stereo sound card has
    been a mainstay of high quality laptop recording for a couple of years
    now. While they haven't upgraded that card, they're now offering a
    new squid cable for it which incorporates a headphone output
    connector. Since the VX Pocket has found its way into theater
    applications for music and sound effects playback, Digigram has made a
    deal to include a sound effects playback software application from
    Stage Research when you get the new cable. Brand new from Digigram is
    the VXpocket 440, a four channel PCMCIA sound card with four balanced
    inputs and four balanced outputs, S/PDIF in and out, and SMPTE time
    code in. Like the stereo card, it's 24-bit resolution with sample rate
    up to 48 kHz.

    Firewire interfaces are starting to catch on, and Metric Halo was
    showing their new Mobile I/O laptop-sized 8-in/8-out plus S/PDIF,
    AES/EBU and ADAT Lightpipe. This is a really impressive package,
    featuring all balanced inputs and outputs. The first four inputs are
    on XLR connectors, all the other inputs and outputs are on 1/4" TRS
    jacks so they can all fit on the panel, but all inputs can provide
    phantom power and mic level gain. Converters are 24-bit with sampling
    rate up to 96 kHz. The +DSP model expands the I/O capability so that
    you can run the analog, lightpipe, and S/PDIF or AES/EBU I/O
    simultaneously for a total of 18 inputs and 20 outputs (counting the
    headphone output). They can be daisy-chained for up to 128 channels of
    96 kHz audio. The front panel has LED ladder meters for the 8 inputs
    and outputs, the setup buttons to select sample rate, clock source (it
    has word clock in and out) and a headphone jack. Included control
    software switches phantom power, polarity, and line/mic gain and has a
    full routing matrix between channels and I/O connectors. There's also
    a simple mixer with panning and mutes, and a full meter display.
    Presently only Macintosh drivers and software are shipping, but
    Windows ASIO drivers and control panel are on the way. Other future
    plans are a plug-in daughterboard to add DSP functions, and an upgrade
    path to the forthcoming Gigawire computer interface.

    The Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) 828 Firewire interface was also on
    display. It's a similar concept, but with fewer features at about
    half the price of the Metric Halo. The 828, for example, has only two
    inputs usable for mics, and no internal phantom power. It does,
    however, do Windows, at least as far as drivers go, and includes
    Waveterminal, a Mac recording and mixing application. One clever
    inclusion is a jack for a footswitch, providing hands-free punch-ins.


    A show floor is no place to listen to speakers, but a few of the
    manufacturers had demo rooms where they could show their stuff, and
    there was some interesting stuff. Earthworks, known for their
    excellent microphones and preamps, introduced a new monitor speaker,
    the Sigma 6.2, claiming highly accurate time coherence and frequency
    response extending beyond 40 kHz. It's rather unusual looking, with
    the tweeter mounted on a movable panel which is adjusted at the
    factory for accurate phase response. In a world of powered monitors,
    the 6.2 is passive, with a built-in crossover, with a power handling
    capacity of 150 watts program, 400 watts peak. Earthworks had a
    little acoustically treated booth on the show floor so listening
    wasn't the greatest, but they're definitely worth hearing under better
    conditions. With the extended high end response, perhaps this is the
    speaker on which to listen to 96 kHz recordings?

    The Truth monitors have been getting impressive reviews. Like the
    Earthworks, they're passive, with 150 watt nominal power rating. Both
    the TA1 and larger TA2 were on display. They're available in either
    passive or active versions. There's a subwoofer, too. Difficult to
    hear on the show floor, but definitely worth a listen under better
    conditions. These are relatively inexpensive, $500 each for the
    smaller ones, $750 for the larger ones, double those prices for the
    active versions.

    Perhaps the most unusual speaker on the floor (and also in a demo
    room, thankfully) was the EMES stereo speaker in a single box. It's
    constructed like two speakers side by side, with a small baffle
    projecting out of the front of the cabinet to separate them, and four
    built-in power amplifiers. It works like an M-S microphone setup in
    reverse. An internal matrix derives mid and side signals from left
    and right inputs sends (approximately) mid+side to one speaker and
    mid-side to the other. Remarkably, it works pretty well. In their
    demo room, they had the stereo speaker set up in the center, with a
    pair of conventionally placed speakers with the same components off to
    the sides. The difference in stereo imaging between the single point
    and left/right speakers was pretty slight. Perhaps it was the source
    material, but I didn't really love the sound of the speaker. It was
    OK, and probably fine for setting up workable stereo playback in a
    less than optimum space, but I'd want to spend more time with it
    before I trusted it for something like location recording work. I
    probably won't follow up on this one since I don't need it, but it was
    one of the more interesting sights at the show.

    Analog Recorders

    I'd love to have reported that they were thriving, but they aren't
    dead yet. A couple of years back, Mike Spitz of ATR Service formed a
    group along with John French (JRF Magnetics) and Dave Hill (Crane
    Song) to study the possibility of manufacturing a new analog tape
    recorder. It proved impractical at the price they'd have to sell it
    for, but Mike continued to develop his machine shop capability, Dave
    continued to work on electronics, and at this show, ATR unveiled the
    ATR-108C 2" analog 8-track recorder. Built around a completely
    refurbished Ampex ATR-100 recorder, Flux Magnetics heads and Dave
    Hill's Aria electronics. The electronics are all discrete class A
    design with performance exceeding that of any analog recorder. Since
    the ATR-100 wasn't originally designed to handle 2" tape, building the
    ATR-108C required fabrication of all new tape path parts, as well as
    new reel motor electronics and a new power supply. For the more
    conservative user, Aria electronics are available to retrofit a 1/4"
    or 1/2" 2- or 4-track ATR-100 deck, and the 2" deck can be fitted with
    alternate heads for 1" or 1/2" stereo mastering, or even 16-track
    recording with an additional set of electronics. Bravo Mike and Dave!
    Keep the flame alive.
    George Cumbee, Pres
    Audio Creations Inc., Paducah, KY
    ClassicRecording, Franklin, TN

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Franklin,(Nashville)TN,/Paducah, KY
    Part 4

    Power to the People

    These days you have to do more than just plug it in, you need to be
    concerned about what you're plugging into. Equi-Tech has been a leader
    in symmetrical (or balanced) power distribution for several years now,
    both by making the equipment and by lobbying to get the use of
    symmetrical power for electronic equipment recognized in the National
    Electrical Code (NEC) and approved for use in permanent
    installations. Largely through Equi-Tech's efforts, the 2002 edition
    of the NEC has broadened the scope of balanced power usage to include
    just about everything. Now, you don't have to confine your balanced
    power system to a rack, you can put a balancing transformer in the
    basement and wire your house according to code without risking
    violations which may affect insurance coverage. To accommodate the new
    code, Equi-Tech's ET12.5W wall mounted cabinet system has been updated
    with more circuits and better EMI filtering, providing 10 circuits
    with a capacity of 125 amps. This should be sufficient for sensitive
    equipment in any reasonable sized professional studio or suite of

    While not a Sequerra product, Dick Sequerra was involved in the design
    of the Alpha Core BP-30 balanced symmetrical power supply. Initially
    designed with home theater installations in mind, this stand-alone
    unit with eight outlets provides 1000 W (8.4 amps) of filtered
    balanced power. That should be plenty for a project studio. The
    brochure says $895, but at the booth, Dick quoted $495, emphasizing
    that it was the lowest cost 1000 watt balanced power source available

    With digital consoles that get unhappy when booting up with live
    external clock signals coming in to connected inputs, and speakers
    that pop a few times when computers or other digital studio gear is
    getting in gear, sequenced power switching, so you don't have to
    remember to do it yourself, is getting more necessary in the studio.
    When you turn on a master switch, a power sequencer switches on
    outlets spaced several seconds, usually up to a minute apart so that
    things which need to be turned on last will do so automatically while
    you're booting up the coffee pot. The clever ones turn things off in
    the opposite sequence. These devices have been around for a while, but
    they're fairly expensive - they don't sell a lot of them, and because
    they involve power line voltages, safety approvals are required. ETA
    Systems showed something that might come in handy for the small studio
    - an outlet that fits a standard electrical quad box that has a
    built-in adjustable time delay which may be all you need to keep
    things starting out cleanly. They didn't have a price for it yet, but
    when I suggested about $100, the rep kind of hedged. I'm hoping it
    will turn out to be a better deal.

    Hodge-Podge (Other stuff I thought was cool)

    Audio Technologies Incorporated (ATI) has a whole catalog full of
    little studio problem solvers that cover a wide range of problems.
    New this year were the Nanoamp DM200 Digital Monitor, DMM100 Digital
    Matchmaker, and HDA400 and HDA600 headphone amplifiers. The HDA400 is
    a basic stereo in, four stereo headphone output amplifier with a level
    control for each output and jacks on both the front and rear to
    accommodate both local and installed applications. The HDA600 has six
    headphone outputs and an additional mic or line level input with a mix
    level control for a cue or "more me" input added to the stereo mix.
    The DMM100 accepts AES/EBU balanced XLR, BNC or RCA unbalanced S/PDIF,
    or TOSLink fiber optic S/PDIF inputs, and outputs all formats
    simultaneously. All inputs and outputs are transformer-isolated. It's
    a great tool for the traveling engineer who has to connect digital
    gear to someone else's system. The DM200 can be inserted in an AES/EBU
    or coaxial S/PDIF data stream (loop-through input and output
    connectors are provided) and provides metering for level monitoring,
    plus a D/A converter and amplifier for headphone monitoring. It
    accommodates sample rates from 27 to 96 kHz, and word length up to 24

    Furman has a new series of 1 rack space monitor panels of various
    configurations which provide LED meters, small loudspeakers, and
    headphone jack. You can get two or four channel versions with analog
    only, or analog (balanced XLR) and digital inputs (24-bit, 16-96 kHz
    sample rate, BNC connector). They even have a model with a little
    color LCD video monitor. It's not high fidelity, but it will tell you
    if there's a signal there, what it is, and let you edit or cue before
    putting a signal on the air or on tape.

    Latest in the line of portable test instruments from Neutrik is the
    DL1 Digilizer, a hand-held test and analysis instrument for digital
    audio signals. Plug in just about any digital signal up to 96 kHz
    sampling rate - AES/EBU, S/PDIF coax or TOSLink, AES3 coax, or ADAT
    lightpipe and it will tell you what it is, indicate signal level,
    check status bits, check for inconsistencies between actual data and
    flags, and give an oscilloscope display that has resolution down to
    the least significant bit of a 24-bit stream, so you can actually see
    dither. It even has a little loudspeaker and headphone jack so you can
    hear what's going down the line. This one is on my gotta-get list.

    Also, new from the connector division of Neutrik is the E011 EtherCon
    series of ruggedized RJ45 Ethernet connectors. The housing is based
    on an XLR connector and provides both protection for the rather
    fragile plastic RJ45 plug, but also a positive lock. This is just the
    ticket for stage setups that incorporate networking. You can drag one
    of these cables across the stage and get the connector stepped on
    without damaging the plug. It could be a show saver.

    I tried really hard to avoid looking at software at this show. but a
    program called Stardraw caught my attention. This is a program for
    system designers and builders that's tailored for drawing
    interconnection diagrams and rack layouts. A particular cool feature
    is that you can draw a block diagram, click on the Convert To Rack
    button, and it puts all the pieces you've drawn into a rack where you
    can re-arrange them in your preferred order just by dragging. It's
    integrated with Windows so you can paste a diagram or rack drawing
    into an instruction manual or other documentation. Cables can be
    imported into an Excel spreadsheet to make a purchasing or building
    list, and for estimating cost of labor and materials. It comes in
    several versions ranging from the Audio Lite set with generic
    equipment symbols through equipment drawings from 100+ manufacturers
    (there's a video version as well as audio) with monthly updates, and a
    3D version with lighting equipment for stage and lighting design. Not
    inexpensive, the program ranges from $700 (generic audio without
    updates) to $3000 for the A/V version with a one-year subscription to
    updates. This one would be on my gotta-get list if I made more money
    drawing up systems for people.

    One piece of fascinating technology shown by Fraunhofer Institute for
    Integrated Circuits is AudioID, an automatic identification system for
    audio program material. Teach it a song and it will recognize it with
    reasonable confidence (it displays the confidence as well as the
    identification) even with pretty badly buggered audio. The intent is
    for automatic logging of airplay. I was impressed.

    Saving the best for last, my pick hit of the show is a new low priced
    label printer for printing on heat shrink tubing manufactured by Kroy
    and distributed by Wireworks. It looks and works like a labeler that
    you might already be using around the studio, but it takes cartridges
    of flattened tubing from 1/8" to 1/2" diameter. Just the thing for
    neatly labeling the thousand or two connections in a typical 24 track
    studio. It has some neat automatic features that can save time like
    sequential numbering - type "Line Input" and tell it you want 1
    through 24 and it prints 24 labels starting with Line Input 1 and
    ending with Line Input 24. Font sizes are selectable, and it will
    tell you if you've selected a font too large for the tubing cartridge
    you have installed. It'll print one or two lines, and for those
    after-the-fact labeling jobs, you can get cartridges for printing on
    self-laminating wrap-around labels. The printer is $250, and 9 foot
    cartridges are in the $25-35 range depending on the size.

    It's A Wrap
    That's the story as I saw it. Many people thought that the most
    amazing thing about this show was that, with rescheduling and travel
    hassles, it happened at all. Many of the larger manufacturers
    originally scheduled to exhibit canceled because the new schedule
    wouldn't allow them sufficient time between this show and NAMM to even
    get their equipment carted from one side of the country to the other.
    In a way, I found it more reminiscent of older shows, with more focus
    on technology and new applications than on glitter. While the exhibit
    space was probably less than half the size of the previous show in the
    Javitts Center, I still felt that there was plenty to see, and I even
    had the chance to attend some technical sessions.

    In conclusion, I want to extend a special thanks to the AES Historical
    Committee, Irv Joel, Paul McManus, and others involved in making the
    When Vinyl Ruled program a success for the second time. As well as a
    display of working studio equipment from the `60s, there was a
    constant flow of guest speakers talking about how it was to work in
    the industry before the age of digital recording and Autotune
    production. 40 year old tapes came out of the closet and were played
    for an eager audience, and they sounded great. I didn't stay around
    through Monday, so I missed the direct-to-disk (lacquer disk, that is)
    recording session, but I'm certain it was an event that some attendees
    won't forget.

    Mike Rivers
    December 4 2001
    George Cumbee, Pres
    Audio Creations Inc., Paducah, KY
    ClassicRecording, Franklin, TN

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    New Zealand

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