Monday, March 17, 2014

Alcons demonstrates pro-ribbon systems at Prolight+Sound 2014

As well as showing new products and its annual ‘glimpse into the future’ at the stand at Prolight+Sound 2014, for the first time at the show Alcons Audio is giving comprehensive demonstrations of its ground-breaking pro-ribbon sound systems.
 
All four acoustic formats of Alcons systems will be demonstrated - the VR8 point-source monitor, the QR24 line source column, LR7 micro line array and RR12 point source array. Highlight will be the demonstration of the larger-format LR24 3-way pro-ribbon line array.

Loaded with the multiple-patented RBN1402rsr 14” pro-ribbon transducer, with unmatched flat SPL up to 20kHz., and up to 90% les distortion than compression-drivers, the LR24 sets a new benchmark for throw, projection control and linear sound quality. “What You Mix Is What You Get!”

In addition to extensive listening opportunities there will be presentations on the evolutionary aspect of pro-ribbon transducer technology and the benefits behind the design.

Here’s the chance to find out why Alcons sound systems are quickly gaining recognition in reference installation and live-sound projects around the world!

To reserve your seat, email your contact information to info@alconsaudio.com, or make an appointment on the Alcons stand, Hall 8 stand G60.
We look forward to seeing you in Frankfurt!

For more info on Alcons’ LR24 system, go to www.wymiwyg.info

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Monday, June 03, 2013

JBL HiQnet Performance Manager™ version 1.5 released

HARMAN’S New JBL HiQnet Performance Manager™ Version 1.5 Puts The Power Of One Platform, One Programming Interface And One Point Of Accountability In The Hands Of Live Sound System Professionals

HARMAN Professional today introduced JBL HiQnet Performance Manager™ version 1.5, a significant upgrade confirming the software application as the professional AV industry’s most comprehensive, uniform and useful live sound system configuration and control tool. This newest iteration adds support for more JBL loudspeakers, provides enhanced cardioid subwoofer array support, and broadens the capability to create custom, mixed-model racks of Crown amplifiers.
NewImage
JBL HiQnet Performance Manager offers touring and performance-venue installation professionals a true workflow-based user experience for designing, deploying and controlling any configuration of HiQnet live performance systems. New to version 1.5 is support for JBL Professional’s VRX Series Constant Curvature loudspeakers, including a new generation of V5 DSP presets providing significant performance enhancements by leveraging the BSS Audio OMNIDRIVE HD™ linear phase FIR processing capability of Crown® I-Tech HD DSP power amplifiers. VRX V5 presets provide dramatic improvements in on-axis and power response due to the use of higher-order asymmetric filters, superior sound quality through the use of arbitrary coefficient FIR phase linearization, and the advanced system protection benefits of Crown’s LevelMAX™ limiter suite. In addition, the refined tonal balance consistency introduced in the new V5 presets makes the VRX Series compatible with VTX and VERTEC® Series V5 processing, allowing VRX enclosures to be effectively used as a fill system complement for tour sound and portable rental applications. The VRX Series V5 Preset Data includes bi-amp (2-way) and passive processing options for VRX928LA, VRX932LA-1 and VRX915M models including 2-way and 3-way options for use with VRX915S and VRX918S subwoofers.

JBL HiQnet Performance Manager also introduces JBL V5 Preset updates for VERTEC Series compact and subcompact models VT4887A/VT4887, VT4886 and VT4883. The new V5 preset release similarly enhances a number of performance attributes of JBL VERTEC VT4887A, VT4887 and VT4886 line array loudspeakers with cardioid subwoofer processing introduced for all VERTEC subwoofers including VT4883, VT4882, VT4881A, VT4880 and VT4880A models. JBL STX Series passive portable PA loudspeakers are also supported in Performance Manager version 1.5, providing an even greater set of sound design tools for complementary fill speaker purposes and medium- to small-format Front-of-House system design applications.

For enhanced configuration flexibility, custom racks can now be designed with mixed Crown amplifier models and can include any number of Crown amplifiers up to a total of eight. Additionally, a new amplifier sleep-mode utility that greatly reduces the system’s AC current draw when not in use can now be controlled through Performance Manager.

Commenting on the launch of JBL HiQnet Performance Manager 1.5, Paul Bauman, Senior Manager – Tour Sound for JBL Professional, noted, “Because Performance Manager is the direct result of customer input and objectives, we are now able to provide the most efficient and goal-oriented software application of its kind. With the embedded system intelligence upon which the Performance Manager user interface is based, it can benefit from ongoing exponential improvements in software technology. Today’s introduction features improvements in a wide array of product areas, backed by our continued commitment to training and support. As we make JBL tour sound products sound better with a new generation of V5 processing, and easier to use in the field via Performance Manager, we are providing our customers with a serious competitive edge while also enabling them to achieve the best possible results.”

The powerful new software can be evaluated free of charge in an offline state without the ability to connect to HiQnet devices. For communication with online devices a license key, available for purchase from the HiQnet website, is required.
For more in-depth help and information, please view the step-by-step video tutorials which can be found on the HiQnet website.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

SFX Audio Playback and Show Control FREE Update

Stage Research Updates SFX

Stage Research released an update to SFX Audio Playback and Show Control. This release contains a number of new features including support for the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. Free to any user of SFX with or without a subscription.

Stage Research released a FREE update to SFX Audio Playback and Show Control.  This release contains a number of new features including support for the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. 
Software developed by Stage Research includes a year subscription with an option to renew annually for updates.   However this release of SFX is available at no cost to any user who has a SFX 6 license.   "We've been working for some time now with a few users who reported an elusive bug in SFX.   Only a handful of users were affected by this, however we acknowledge that it might affect a greater amount of users and will provide this update at no cost to anyone who contacts us."  Said Carlton Guc of Stage Research.
Until June 30th, 2013, all users should email their current serial number (From Help | About) to support@stageresearch.com Users who have an expired serial number will be able to download the latest version of SFX until the deadline of June 30th, 2013 after you obtain an upgrade code.
Users who have a current subscription will be sent an upgrade code to extend their subscription.
For a complete list of changes to SFX, visit this WIKI page.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best Practices In Flying Loudspeakers

 (this is a great article on line array rigging safety...worth the read)...

loudspeakers


Some in audio think that the term “rigging” only applies when loudspeakers are flown, but it also pertains to lesser endeavors such as placing a single loudspeaker on a tripod stand. The bottom line is that for any piece of production gear not sitting directly on the ground, steps must be in place to insure that it does not fall and injure someone (or worse).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. agency that sets and enforces work safety standards, states a company must have “competent” and “qualified” persons in charge of rigging. A competent person is described as one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings, which are dangerous to employees and has authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.
Meanwhile, a qualified person is defined as one who by possession of a recognized degree, certificate or by extensive knowledge, training and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve problems relating to the subject matter and the project. Therefore, a qualified person designs a rigging system, and a competent person installs and monitors the rig, and inspects its components.
While OSHA rules and standards are mainly focused toward rigging in the construction industry and are geared toward safety of employees, we also need to look after the safety of performers and members of the public who attend events. Not everyone at a gig may be at the level of a qualified or competent person, but all should focused on safety. Anyone on a production crew who sees a problem with rigging (or any other safety issue, for that matter) can call “stop” and point out the issue so it can be addressed and corrected to avoid an accident or injury.
Good places to look for training and information are manufacturers who make rigging equipment or loudspeakers that fly. They provide specific safety and operating instructions for their own gear. Two organizations focused on entertainment rigging training are the ESTA Foundation (estafoundation.org) and PLASA, which offers the ETCP rigging certification program (etcp.plasa.org) for entertainment riggers who work in theaters or arenas.

There are also several independent rigging schools and manufacturers that offer training and certification programs as well. A good reference book is Entertainment Rigging by Harry Donovan. While reading about proper rigging practices is highly recommended, it’s not the same as getting hands-on training. Experience along with knowledge is required for a person to be designated as competent.

The Essentials
Before we talking about specific rigging approaches, let’s look at a few terms. Initials often seen on stands and rigging equipment are “WLL” (Working Load Limit), “SWL” (Safe Working Load), or “MRL” (Maximum Rated Load). For practical purposes, they mean basically the same thing: the maximum amount of static weight that the item will safely hold continuously, when it is used correctly as intended. The key here is a static load, or a load that does not move. Any movement like loudspeakers swinging in the wind or even the act of raising or lowering a chain motor puts additional stresses on rigging equipment. Safe working load limits should never be exceeded.
Another term to be familiar with is “Safety Factor,” the margin of safety added to an item that takes into account loadings over and above the weight being hoisted and for reductions in capacity due to the extra loads imposed by acceleration and inertia (movement).
Some European countries have mandated 10:1 safety margins, while those in the U.S. are still largely self-enforced. Many production companies in the U.S. have adopted a 7:1 safety factor, with margins for life safety (fall arrest, performer aerial acts, etc.) using a 10:1 ratio.
In short, an item’s safe working load is derived by dividing the breaking strength (the point of failure) by the safety factor. An example would be a shackle with a breaking strength of 7 tons would have a safe working load of 1 ton here in the U.S. (SWL= Breaking Strength (7 tons)/safety factor (7:1).
System design plays a large part in the rating of individual components. Like a chain, a rigging system is only as strong as its weakest link. Pull angles and side loadings de-rate the SWL of many items including eye bolts and shackles.
The splay angle of bridles (two or more legs of wire attached to a ring that spreads the load across a larger area) affects their weight loading. Spansets and wire rope slings will have different capacities based on their positioning (i.e., straight vertical pull versus a basket configuration).
All of these factors need to be taken into account by a qualified person who will design the rigging system.
In addition, a competent person should inspect all rigging equipment and hardware before use and periodically do a major inspection for signs of wear, abuse and general adequacy, as well as perform any manufacturer recommended preventive maintenance.
Follow the rules and don’t cut corners when it comes to rigging. Use only loudspeaker cabinets designed by the manufacturer to fly, and use only hardware approved for that specific model. Follow all manufacturer recommendations concerning their individual products. Never modify any rigging hardware as it may affect the weight loading capacity of the item. Purchase only known quality rigging equipment.
Further, factor in enough time to do rigging correctly and make sure the crew isn’t tired—rushing and fatigue cause accidents. Double check everything before it goes up in the air. Once items leave the ground, they better be rigged properly or gravity will demonstrate why it’s the most powerful force in the universe!
Only finger tighten shackle bolts, never use a tool. If you’re worried that a pin might vibrate out, mouse (secure) the pin in place with twine or wire. Always load a shackle pin to end, never from side to side. When attaching to a beam or other structural component, always pad the beam edges so a sharp edge doesn’t injure the wire rope or sling. Never leave any slack in guy wires.

Plenty Of Methods
Now let’s move on to looking at ways loudspeakers can be deployed and positioned.
Ground Stack. The easiest way to set up a PA is by placing it on the ground or stage. While this method seems to have no dangers associated with it, there are a few lurking. Loudspeakers stacked on top on each other can fall from the stack due to vibrations. Truck straps are commonly employed to keep them from vibrating apart.
Keep in mind, however, that strapped stacks can be top heavy and can topple over, either from vibrations or from a crowd pushing to get closer to the stage.  Using a larger subwoofer that provides a bigger footprint as the base of a stack can add stability to a strapped stack of loudspeakers.
Many line arrays are designed to be ground stacked by inverting the fly bar and using it as a base. The cabinets are connected to each other and the base with their fly hardware, making a stable ground stack with the angles being able to be adjusted for coverage same as when flown. Loudspeakers placed on uneven terrain will be unstable and if used on a grass or dirt surface could shift during rain. A common remedy is to place a stage or plywood platform on the ground and level it. Then the loudspeaker stack will have a solid level surface to rest upon and not sink into mud after a rain storm.
Scaffolding. Before flying PA was common practice, stacking loudspeaker boxes on scaffolding towers was a common approach at larger shows. It’s still a common way of elevating horizontal arrays and delay stacks at festivals and fairs. On uneven ground, screw jack leveling legs should be used to ensure the scaffolding is level and all cross and diagonal bracing needs to be in place before loading the tower. Make sure all decking is securely in place before any speakers placed on the tower and they should be strapped down so they can’t vibrate off.

If used outdoors, the tower needs to be guyed down in case of winds. Signage and banners placed on the scaffolding act like sails and will transmit high wind loading to the system. Using an open weave fabric for the signage will allow some wind the blow through, reducing the wind loading on the tower.
Banners should have a quick release system in place so they can be removed rapidly in case of unexpected high winds. Line arrays can be flown inside scaffolding towers, with the chain motor for the array usually connected to a beam secured across the top of the tower. Make sure the beam is secured to the tower and not just held in place by the weight of the PA.
Stands. Tripod stands are commonly employed for loudspeakers at smaller shows. While very safe, the tripod legs should be extended to their largest footprint when possible so they provide maximum stability for the stand. Make sure the top of the stand is correctly sized for the loudspeaker socket or the cabinet could tilt and its center of gravity will not be directly over the pole.

Also, position the stand where the tripod legs will not be a trip hazard as a fall could cause a person injury, as well as possibly knock over the stand (and loudspeaker).

Use fixed leg tripod stands only on level ground. Saddle style sandbags can be used with tripod stands to add a bit of weight to the bottom for increased stability. The sandbag should straddle the leg, not hang from any bracing. To avoid crew injury, larger loudspeakers should be hoisted onto stands by two people.

Truss Totem. Particularly popular on corporate gigs, truss sections are bolted to bases and used in an upright position for lighting trees, projector and delay speaker stands. Totems can be very top heavy so additional weight, usually sandbags, are placed on the base to help with stability.
When used with a single loudspeaker on the top, make sure that the cabinet’s center of gravity is located directly over the center of the truss. When used with a column-type loudspeaker attached to the side of the truss, make sure that additional weight is placed on the base on the opposite side to offset any leaning tendency caused by the side loading of the loudspeaker. Totems should only be used on level ground. If used outdoors, these systems need to be guyed down.

Pole Mounted On Sub. Pole mounting a loudspeaker on a subwoofer provides a clean and easy setup for many gigs. It allows the top cabinet to be raised to a good operating height while eliminating the tripod base that may become a trip hazard.  Some systems allow for the use of two poles for larger top cabinets or line array-style boxes. To avoid problems, use only the manufacturer’s recommended poles with these systems, as different poles may not be compatible or as stable as the factory units.

Crank Towers. These come in many forms from larger versions of tripods to heavy-duty units that can hold 600-plus pounds. Crank towers are becoming a popular option to fly a smaller array without having to use motors. Make sure that all outriggers and legs are extended and the tower is leveled correctly before raising the load. Factor in the rigging hardware weight and speaker cable weight when figuring out the total weight you will be lifting. Check with the manufacturer before using the lift outdoors and follow their recommendations on using the system outside.

Pair Of Towers & Truss. This is a common setup at medium-sized shows and corporates that utilizes a pair of crank towers and a span of truss that goes across the front of the stage. The truss usually does double duty and supports some front stage wash lights as well as the loudspeakers. It can give the ability to provide a small left, center and right array without requiring any ceiling points.
Care should be taken to not overload the systems, because total working load on horizontal truss is based on an evenly distributed load. Also take into consideration the weight of the loudspeaker and lighting cables when figuring out the total weight of the system. This type of setup is considered a system and needs to be designed by a qualified rigger.

Line Array Tower Truss. A relatively new option for positioning loudspeakers is the line array tower. Made from truss sections and specialty hardware fittings, these systems can be disassembled for transport or storage and easily bolted together on the job site to support a wide variety of speaker arrays.
Smaller towers may use a manual hoist to lift the array, while larger units utilize a powered hoist. Make sure the tower is leveled correctly before use. When deployed outdoors, the tower must be guyed down per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Some tower systems allow placing subwoofers on top of the forward outrigger legs so they can act as additional ballast.

Dead Hang Flown. Dead hang means that an item is connected to a support structure without a motor or lift system. The attachment point can be an exposed ceiling beam, tent pole, section of truss, etc. An engineer should be called in to certify the weight loading ability of any ceiling point before use if it is not known.
Only competent or qualified riggers should dead hang cabinets as each hanging point needs to be individually assessed by a person with knowledge and experience to determine what hardware is required to safely support and position the loudspeakers.
Access to dead hang points may involve a personnel lift. Make sure fall protection systems are used by anybody in the lift and that the systems are inspected before use. A spotter may be required to assist the lift operator as many types of equipment have blind spots.

Air Wall Tracks. Air walls are the moveable walls in large meeting spaces and ballrooms. These tracks are often utilized as ceiling points for video screens, lighting and audio delay speakers when they are not being used by the wall sections. While technically considered a dead hang, air walls pose a few specific challenges to production crews. All air walls are not the same, and each requires specific fittings dedicated for that track style.

There are also a few universal type air wall hangers that will fit a wide variety of common track styles—but they don’t fit all. Be sure to use the correct fitting or hanger for the track because some models may seem to fit into the wrong tracks, but they’re not providing the correct support. Air walls have limited weight bearing capacity per point, so it’s critical not to overload any point on the track. Because of their limited single point capacities, air walls are commonly limited to flying lightweight objects, or used as cable supports.

A building’s engineering department should be able to tell you how much weight and at what intervals you can fly from the track. One important thing to consider is whether the room needs to be reconfigured and the walls moved during or immediately after the event. If the walls need the tracks, nothing else can be installed on them.
Unistrut Tracks. It’s very common for convention centers and newer hotel ballrooms to have Unistrut tracks installed in ceilings and sometimes even walls. Like air walls, they require a specific connector to be safely used. Different sized tracks have different safe working loads. Again, a building’s engineering department should be able to tell you the weight limits and spacing required for utilizing the tracks.
Motors. They can be used singly to hoist individual loudspeakers and small arrays, and in multiples to hoist larger arrays. A motor attached to the rear of an array can be used to help tilt and aim the array. Only competent or qualified persons should perform any rigging with motors.

Before use, check the motor hooks and inspect the chain for any signs of damage. Make sure the chain bag is attached correctly and is in good shape. Before any motor is operated, the rigger needs to make sure that everybody on the deck is aware that something will be moving. Before an array or truss is lifted, one competent person should double check all rigging hardware and fittings.

Construction Lifts. They’re sometimes used to elevate or fly loudspeakers at festivals. Scissor lifts are popular when small horizontal arrays need to be raised, moved or relocated at events like airshows. Larger festivals might utilize construction cranes or large extendable boom forklifts to fly the main PA system.
Make sure the equipment operators are certified on that model unit, and that an operator is monitoring the equipment continuously during use. Weight loading changes depending on the angle of the boom so it’s vital to no overload the equipment during use. Tag lines should be used to keep an array from swinging in the wind. An engineer should determine the maximum wind speeds the systems can operate in, and if the wind reaches that limit, the PA should be lowered immediately to the ground.

Remember, safety is the most important thing. Rigging is dangerous, but using the proper equipment and procedures, skilled people can overcome gravity, one loudspeaker at a time.

In addition to being the owner of Las Vegas-based production company Tech Works, Craig Leerman is also a U.S. Navy trained and certified rigger.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Make It Stop! There’s No Excuse For Loud, Bad Sound

Are we part of the solution or part of the problem?


Preserving our hearing is critically important, but that’s not what motivated me to write this piece. Really, I just can’t stand bad sound!
To a certain extent, it used to be somewhat excusable if a live show was loud and didn’t sound all that great.
Sound reinforcement systems have come a long way in the past decade alone, but ‘back in the day’” good clean power was harder to come by, and loudspeakers just were not designed to produce high-fidelity audio.
In fact, it was generally considered that you either had reliable speakers OR ht-fl speakers, but not both.
The late Albert Lecesse’s oft-quoted list of priorities goes like this: “Make sound. Keep making sound. Make good sound.”
And for legions of engineers, this has been the mantra, i.e., that high quality sound is not the first priority. And I agree with this for the most part.
However, with the advent of in-ear monitoring, processor-controlled loudspeakers, line arrays, plenty of good, inexpensive power, good wireless systems, higher quality microphones than ever before, etc., etc., the equipment has ceased to be the problem. In fact, it’s become part of the solution.
But what about us, the operators? Are we part of the solution or part of the problem?
I’ve encountered the resistance to using better microphones in a lot of places: “This warhorse mic has been good enough for the last 30 years so why change now?” Indeed.
But when was “good enough” ever really good enough? Those standard mtcs became a standard for a reason:  they were the best thing available at the time. Are you using the best tools and techniques available to you right now?
Instead of just pointing the finger and expecting to get your middle finger in response, I thought it might be useful to cover some of the things, I think, that are fairly easy to implement and that can make a huge difference in the quality of our product, i.e., the sound of the events we mix.
Previously I’ve talked about some general topics related to listening, thinking and related audio issues. This time, let’s get more specific.

HEARD IT BEFORE
Gain Structure. This has probably come up more times than any other concept in sound reinforcement, and for good reason. It’s the basis of how the signal goes from one device to another and within devices, and understanding it fully goes a long way towards at least giving us a fighting chance at producing good sound.
Here are the main points: Avoid excess noise and maintain enough headroom to keep signal from distorting.
First, it’s not a good idea to be combining consumer, semi-pro (whatever that means) and pro equipment in a single system. But sometimes it’s unavoidable, particularly when you need to pipe in some CD material or feed a mix to a video camera.
However, understanding that not all ‘line level’ signals are alike is a good place to start towards integrating these devices, For example, there is roughly a 14 dB difference between the output level of consumer gear and that for pro gear!
But let’s say that you have gain structure knowledge under control and levels are carefully managed throughout the system, yet the system has a fairly high amount of harmonic distortion. Wait, let’s back up: how would you know?  I’ve run into a lot of sound engineers that aren’t readily able to identify modest levels of distortion, or if they can, they still can’t identify which type of distortion is predominant.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Setting the Stage for Safety

The Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) is an industry-wide program that has brought together an unprecedented group of industry organizations, businesses and individuals to create a program of rigorous assessments for professional technicians.
Under the auspices of the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA), ETCP is being developed with the following organizations: Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology (CITT), InfoComm International, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), The League of American Theatres and Producers, Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), and United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).
The ETCP Certification Council membership also includes the following enterainment business leaders: BASE Entertainment, Cirque du Soleil / MGM MIRAGE, Live Nation, and PRG.
Personnel certification is the voluntary process by which a nongovernmental organization grants recognition to an individual who has demonstrated certain abilities, skills and knowledge. ETCP encompasses the creation of exams based upon identified bodies of knowledge, the conducting of those examinations, the awarding of certifications, and re-certifying individuals.
ETCP focuses on disciplines that directly affect the health and safety of crews, performers, and audiences. Two key areas were identified for initial development - electrical skills and rigging skills, and there are currently three certifications: Rigger – Arena, Rigger – Theatre, and Entertainment Electrician.

Additional info: http://www.usitt.org/ USITT -- the association of design, production, and technology professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry