Derry, Ireland (June 8, 2020)—Following an architectural refurbishment and technical systems upgrade to match, St. Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry, Ireland, now sports a sizable d&b audiotechnik xC-Series system to help parishioners hear sermons within the massive stone house of worship.
Built in 1873, the cathedral is from an era before audio systems, and has the reflections and reverberations to prove it. Looking to tame them, however, the church turned to acoustical consultant Michael Kielty of Belfast-based MK Audio, who in turn recommended a distributed system, and contacted Absolute Technologies for a specific solution recommendation that would meet the church’s requirements.
Absolute Technologies brought on the xC-Series column loudspeakers from d&b audiotechnik. Supported by Oran Burns from d&b’s Application Support team, Absolute made an initial design for the church using d&b ArrayCalc software to predict coverage and decide on suitable loudspeaker positions. Following this, an in-situ system demonstration was arranged and was decided upon as the solution for the church.
The design uses an inner pair of d&b 24C-E cabinets at the front and an outer pair of 24C serving the aisles; further down the room are two more pairs of 24Cs as delays, again arranged as inner and outer pairs. The system is powered by two d&b D10 amplifiers. For control, simplicity was key, with as little user interaction required as possible. An Allen & Heath Qu-Pac mixer is provided, with presets for the various regular services.
Aside from intelligibility, St. Eugene’s presented another major challenge: building restrictions forbid the fixing of hardware to walls and pillars. The only option was the creation of custom floor-mount brackets. Designed in conjunction with the architect and a specialist engineering company, each bracket is unique, to account for floor height and pan angle, and incorporates a plate for mounting beneath the floorboards and a rear cover to hide mounting bolts and cable. The back plate is finished in the same RAL colour as the loudspeaker, and the base plate in stainless steel to reflect its surroundings.
Flagstaff, AZ (May 20, 2020)—The Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff hosts a myriad of concerts, performing arts events and more—enough so that its PA system was ready to call it a day after 16 years. Teaming with Sound Image (Escondido, CA), the Orpheum Theater’s audio production manager Scotty J. demoed various systems and ultimately decided upon an EAW KF810P Line Array, backed by SB818P Single 18-inch flyable subwoofers.
Originally built in 1914 and then later rebuilt in 1917 following a major snowstorm, the Orpheum Theater is located in the center of downtown Flagstaff. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as one of the West’s most significant theater structures. The classic 650-seat space with additional standing room up to 1,000 people, hosts major bands, plays, classical concerts, film screenings, community events and occasionally TV shows.
“The theater doesn’t specialize in one type of music or event, so we needed a versatile PA that could not only handle speech intelligibility, but also the decibel level of hip-hop and EDM shows,” says Scotty J. “Numerous times, I was worried that we had been pushing the existing PA to its last watt. The older PA’s amplitude was never a problem as we could make it loud, but the coverage, because of the design of the theater itself and the number of boxes we had, just wasn’t adequate for the room.”
Scotty worked directly with Ben Davis from Sound Image who advised on the purchase and design of the rig. “Ben came out, looked at the room, took his measurements and discussed with us what was available within our budget,” says Scotty J. “We looked at several different systems and EAW was clearly the best option. I heard the EAW rig in a few different environments and it always sounded amazing. Through my interaction with the EAW team, I knew I wanted to work with them. Also, a lot of the acts/engineers that come through the venue know EAW, which added to my confidence in the brand.”
The new EAW PA system consists of 12 KF810P line arrays with six boxes on the left and right respectively, 12 SB818P Single 18-inch flyable subwoofers and four RSX129 2-way self-powered loudspeakers for front fills. When spec’ing the system, Davis wanted to make sure the PA could generate enough SPL from the mains and didn’t want to rely too heavily on the subs. In addition, the venue is a long rectangular space with a balcony on one end, so making sure the balcony was covered was another important factor.
“We made a very significant investment for the theater in order to attract more national acts,” adds Scotty J. “We are excited to unveil it in the very near future, once the theater re-opens.”
Silicon Valley, CA (May 19, 2020)—According to a new industry survey, women currently working in AV have a growing global presence, with the greatest impact being felt in the U.S. and Europe. The 2020 Women + Girls in AV survey was conducted by Women in AV; the organization canvased 506 professional women worldwide between February and March this year.
The 32-page report provides an extensive breakdown of demographic and industry-based statistics, outlining not only who is working in the industry, but also highlighting recommendations to further help foster women’s presence in the AV workplace.
Among its findings, the survey noted 80 percent of its respondents were White/Caucasian, 92 percent live in either the U.S. or Europe, and 67 percent “fell into” their AV career path. A full 60 percent of the women surveyed were 36 or older, with 31 percent 46 or older, which may signal positive implications about the feasibility of a long-term career in the industry. That view is bolstered by the finding that 49% of those surveyed have been in the industry for 10 or more years.
Roughly 60 percent of females in the AV industry work in management at a supervisory or higher-level role, according to the report, and coinciding with that finding, 58 percent holding non-technical positions, with the highest concentrations found in sales (25%), PR/marketing (20%) and project management (13%), while engineer and technician roles each garnered 12.5% of respondents. Out of those surveyed, 83% were earning enough that they did not need a second job, and 52% have “families to care for,” the report stated.
While many of these are encouraging numbers, the survey nonetheless illustrates a need for and some pathways toward improvement within the AV industry. 52% of those surveyed felt the industry “could be better at valuing women’s representation and diversity.” Meanwhile, 44 percent of women did not have a mentor for their career, and only 27 percent had a female mentor. Women surveyed identified Leadership, Career Advancement, and Technical Training as the prime growth opportunities they’d like to see—a finding which could be interpreted as correlating with the tendency for females in AV to work in management roles.
“This is a thrilling, game-changing moment for all women working in the AV industry and another huge win for advancing gender equality in technology industries,” said Jennifer Willard, founder of Women in AV. “For the first time, we truly have meaningful data about who our female colleagues are around the world, what we do, and where to develop effective career training initiatives to improve our professional skills and inspire more women and young girls to be excited about joining us as Women in AV.”
The report, downloadable for free from the Women in AV website, concludes with a variety of key recommendations to improve female representation and professional satisfaction.
This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of Pro Sound News. Innovations is a monthly column in which different pro audio manufacturers are invited to discuss the thought process behind creating their products of note.
It’s not common to set out to design a product that can truly be utilized by everyone in your industry. Typically, in product development, a team is tasked with solving a problem for a specific market, a standard use case, or in response to customer demand. To say “make this product fit for 99 percent of the market you serve” is rare—but, at Renkus-Heinz, we consider ourselves to be a team with a rare pedigree.
The journey to create the ICLive X Series goes back roughly two decades. It ends with a confident declaration that we have developed a solution for 99 percent of the pro-audio market, but it begins with the discovery of a beautifully unique algorithm in The Netherlands.
About 20 years ago, I was busy working on horn-loaded boxes. I had just come up with the formula for Complex Conic Horns and Renkus-Heinz was gaining credibility amongst peer engineers. That credibility led to me giving a few presentations on our technologies around the globe. After a presentation in The Netherlands on our CoEntrant designs, I was approached by Johann van der Werff of Peutz about a unique technology he and his firm had developed. It was the algorithm behind “side lobe” free digital beam steering.
For those who might not know, digital beam steering is the technology that allows you to expertly place audio exactly where you want it: on the audience. It keeps sound away from hard, reverberant sources and allows for extremely high levels of intelligibility in all areas of a room, no matter the configuration or architectural peculiarities that may be in play. With precise placement of audio, you ensure everyone is receiving the same high-quality sound. It has truly matured as a technology—but 20 years ago? Not so much.
A test case of beam-steerable loudspeakers had been installed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The example worked well, but it was truly an R&D system in the wild, with analog technology being used to provide elements such as delay and low-pass filters. Still, it was quite a marvel to look at.
The reason Renkus-Heinz was approached with this information was that Johann believed we were the right folks to commercialize it and bring it into the world. Thus began our decades of work to not just develop the technology of digital beam steering, but truly harness it in a way that provides extreme benefits to those who rely on pro audio.
There have been many challenges we’ve successfully tackled over the years—things such as keeping our loudspeaker footprints small despite implementing cutting-edge technology, for example—but one key obstacle was what we call the “constant lambda array.”
To succinctly explain the challenge, we learned very quickly that with higher quality beams, you ran into an issue where you got solid coverage only in one half of a room – either the front or back. Our solution to this was exciting: We mathematically superimposed multiple beams onto one another to gain the coverage we needed.
It was an almost “point and shoot” solution. We used short, medium and long throw beams, all coming from the same virtual acoustic center, to create excellent coverage across a space. It was an excellent technical fix—but in practice, there was always a lot of training and support involved. While we at Renkus-Heinz dive into the technology every hour, we recognized that our integrator partners might be approaching it only on a monthly basis, and that meant a constantly steep learning curve.
To tackle this challenge, we developed the very first Unibeam—an algorithm creating asymmetric beams that utilizes the entire array for all frequencies. This results in a beam that is louder, can be thrown farther and had the potential to make setup more manageable.
I say “potential” because, at first, the Unibeam was a bit of an R&D oddity. We knew it could not only provide more effective coverage, but also reduce the level of manual input required from an installer. It had every sign of being a great enabler; we just had to find a way to manipulate and generalize it.
And thus we set to task to develop the software that could achieve this. But first, we asked ourselves: When designing the application to control this, what would be the best way to make it accessible to all? It was a question of if we could enable the solution for 99 percent of the market.
As we tackled that development, we soon developed an answer: Streamline the software down to a few button presses. In this moment, the ICLive X Series was born.
Our ICLive X Series are the first speakers in our range that allow for an elegant streamlining in digital beam steering setup. You’re asked for the angle from the bottom of the array to the front of the room and the angle from the top of the array to the back of the room. It then calculates that difference for you. That number is the Unibeam angle you want to deploy—and it is selectable in the software from a drop-down menu.
The result is that more venues can now quickly achieve the uniform results of digital beam steering without the pain points of the past.
The ICLive X is a culmination of a belief we had long held at our creative cores: that digital beam steering could be successfully implemented by all.
With the ICLive X, we have taken the power of digital beam steering from the hands of just the specialists and have given it to everyone, which means every installation now has specialist results.
The result? A solution that works for 99 percent of the market thanks to elegant setup, meticulous intention in design, and the provision of expertly placed audio precisely where you want it: on the audience.