New York, NY (December 24, 2020)—With the end of 2020 upon us (and not a second too soon), we look back at the year that was, presenting the Top 10 Pro Sound News articles of 2020 that appeared on prosoundnetwork.com, as ranked by the site’s Google Analytics readership statistics. Intriguingly, while the biggest news of the year was the pandemic, virtually none of these articles even mention it. Instead, audio pros like yourself were mostly interested in either looking ahead to when things would get back to normal by checking out the latest gear, or looking back at great moments in audio, whether it was the recording of classic albums or the earliest known stereo recordings. No one knows what 2021 will bring, but for now, enjoy the most popular articles from our site, and we’ll see you in the new year.
8. The METAlliance Report: The Recording of Steely Dan’s Aja By The METAlliance. Widely considered a pinnacle of recording excellence, Steely Dan’s 1977 album Aja had an occasionally tortured gestation—but it won the Grammy for Best Engineered Album. Now METAlliance members Al Schmitt and Elliot Scheiner share the inside scoop on how…
6. Inside the Live Sound of Live Aid, Part 1: London By Steve Harvey. We look back at the live sound effort that went into the legendary charity concert Live Aid, held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. With 60+ acts on the bill and 160,000 in attendance—not to mention 1.9 billion watching it…
3. Tool Tours with Intricate, Immersive Sound By Steve Harvey. Touring the world behind Fear Inoculum, Tool’s first album in 13 years, the prog-metal heroes are filling arenas with a massive audio system that takes a new approach to immersive live sound.
2020 will be remembered as the year we’d like to forget, but when 2021 is recalled one day as the year everything bounced back, much of that will be due to groundwork laid down in the preceding 12 months. That includes the pro-audio industry—next year, when live events and concerts return, new hits rule the airwaves and the latest must-hear podcasts land in your listening queue, many of them will be created using pro-audio equipment that was introduced over the last 12 months. With that in mind, here’s the Gear of the Year for 2020.
So what was the Gear of the Year? That’s not an easy thing to determine, so rather than weigh a hot new plug-in against an arena-filling P.A. or an audio console years in development, we decided to let our readers show the way.
Product announcements have always been among the most popular stories on prosoundnetwork.com, so we dug through our Google Analytics (readership statistics), sifting through all the “new product” stories we ran 2020 (well into the triple digits!) to determine which ones were the most popular with PSN readers. With that in mind, here’s the Gear of the Year that YOU unknowingly picked—a true Top-20 for 2020.
1. YAMAHA RIVAGE PM3 AND PM5 DIGITAL MIXING SYSTEMS
This dual product launch in May was far and away the most popular product announcement of 2020 with our readers. Yamaha introduced two consoles—the PM5 and PM3—as well as a pair of DSP engines—DSPRX and DSP-RX-EX—and version 4 firmware that provides features to new and legacy Rivage systems.
Both of the new consoles feature large capacitive touchscreens that allow users to use multi-finger gestures, with the PM5 sporting three screens and the PM3 getting one. As with their predecessors, the PM5 and PM3 sport 38 faders—three bays of 12, with two masters—but each of the new control surfaces is laid out with an eye toward increased efficiency.
2. SOLID STATE LOGIC 2 AND 2+ USB AUDIO INTERFACES Solid State Logic unveiled its first personal studio-market products—the USB-powered SSL 2 (2-in/2-out) and SSL 2+ (2-in/4-out) audio interfaces—at the Winter NAMM Show. The 2+ in particular caught our readers’ eyes, with a 4K analog enhancement mode “inspired by classic SSL consoles,” monitoring and an SSL Production Pack software bundle. Offering expanded I/O for musicians collaborating, it includes two analog mic preamps, 24-bit/192 kHz AD/DA AKM converters, multiple headphone outputs with independent monitor mix, MIDI I/O, and additional unbalanced outputs for DJ mixers.
3. JBL 4349 STUDIO MONITOR
The JBL 4349 studio monitor is a compact, high-performance monitor loudspeaker built around the JBL D2415K dual 1.5-inch compression driver mated to a large format, High-Definition Imaging (HDI) horn, paired with a 12-inch cast-frame and pure-pulp cone woofer. The JBL D2415K compression driver features a pair of lightweight polymer annular diaphragms with reduced diaphragm mass, while the V-shaped geometry of the annular diaphragm reduces breakup modes, eliminates time smear and reduces distortion, according to JBL.
4. APPLE LOGIC PRO X 10.5 Apple updated Logic Pro X with a “professional” version of Live Loops, new sampling features and new and revamped beatmaking tools. Live Loops lets users arrange loops, samples and recordings on a grid to build musical ideas, which can then be further developed on Logic’s timeline. Remix FX brings effects to Live Loops that can be used in real time, while the updated Sampler augments the EXS24 plug-in with new sound shaping controls. Other new tools include Quick Sampler, Step Sequencer, Drum Synth and Drum Machine Designer.
5. AMS NEVE 8424 CONSOLE
The AMS Neve 8424 is a small-format desk based on the 80-series console range. Intended for hybrid studios, the desk provides a center point between analog outboard gear, synths and the like, and the digital world of DAW workflows, software plug-ins and session recall. As an analog mixing platform, the 8424 offers 24 DAW returns across 24 channel faders or, for larger DAW sessions, a 48-Mix mode that allows a total of 48 mono inputs with individual level and pan controls to be mixed through the stereo mix bus.
6. MILLENNIA MEDIA HV-316 MIC PREAMP Millennia Media bowed its fully remote-controllable microphone preamplifier, the HV-316. Offering 12V battery operation, the HV-316 is housed in a 10-pound, 1U aluminum chassis housing 16 channels of Millennia HV-3 microphone preamplifiers with simultaneous analog and Dante 32-bit/192 kHz Ethernet outputs. Other digital audio output options are planned, including USB and MADI. The unit is designed for high-temperature continuous operation (up to 150° F), is powered by both 12V DC and worldwide 80–264V AC, and features “pi filter” shielding on audio and digital feeds to prevent interference.
7. SHURE SLX-D DIGITAL WIRELESS SYSTEM
The Shure SLX-D, offered in single- and dual-channel models, provides operation of up to 32 channels per frequency band. Transmitters run on standard AA batteries or an optional lithium-ion rechargeable battery solution with a dual-docking charging station. For less technically inclined users, it offers Guided Frequency Setup and a Group Scan feature that sets up multiple channels by assigning frequencies to all receivers automatically via Ethernet connections, allowing a 30-plus channel system can be set up via Group Scan within a few seconds.
8. MEYER SOUND SPACEMAP GO
The Meyer Sound Spacemap Go is a free Apple iPad app for spatial sound design and mixing. Working with the company’s Galaxy Network Platform, Spacemap Go can control Galaxy processors using a single or multiple iPads as long as the units have current firmware and Compass control software. Spacemap Go is compatible with various sound design/show control programs such as QLab, so designs assembled using them can be implemented into a multichannel spatial mix using Spacemap Go’s templates for common multichannel configurations.
9. D&B AUDIOTECHNIK 44S LOUDSPEAKER
Housed in a flush-mountable cabinet, the d&b audiotechnik 44S is a two-way passive, point source installation loudspeaker with 2 x 4.5-inch neodymium LF drivers and 2 x 1.25-inch HF dome tweeters, delivering a frequency response of 90 Hz–17 kHz. The 44S features a waveguide and baffle design intended to provide horizontal dispersion down to the lower frequencies while being focused vertically, providing a 90° x 30° dispersion pattern to direct sound to specific spaces.
10. BEYERDYNAMIC TG D70 AND TG 151 MICS Beyerdynamic made two additions to its Touring Gear (TG) series. The second-generation TG D70 dynamic kickdrum mic is meant for capturing the impact of bass drums and similar low-frequency-intensive instruments, while the TG 151 instrument mic is a lean microphone with a short shaft that can be used on everything from snares and toms to brass instruments and guitar amplifiers.
11. QSC Q-SYS CORE PROCESSORS QSC’s Q-SYS Core 8 Flex and Nano audio, video and control processors provide scalable DSP processing, video routing and bridging for web conferencing, as well as third-party endpoint integration without the need for separate dedicated control processors. The 8 Flex includes onboard analog audio I/O and GPIO plus network I/O, while Nano offers network-only audio I/O processing and control.
12. TELEFUNKEN TF11 MICROPHONE Telefunken‘s TF11 is the company’s first phantom-powered large-diaphragm condenser mic. The CK12-style edge-terminated capsule is a single-membrane version of the capsule featured in the TF51, and the amplifier is a proprietary take on the FET mic amplifier similar to the M60, coupled with a custom large-format nickel-iron core transformer.
13. L-ACOUSTICS K3 LOUDSPEAKER
K3 is a compact loudspeaker from L-Acoustics that is intended as a main system to cover up to 10,000 people, or for use as outfills or delays for K1 or K2 systems. Designed as a full-range line source, K3 integrates 12-inch transducers for large-format system performance in the form factor of a 10-inch design.
14. CLEAR-COM HEADSET SANITIZATION KITS Clear-Com has sanitization kits for its CC-300, CC-400, CC-110, CC-220 and CC-26K headsets. They include replacement ear pads, pop filters, sanitizing wipes, ear sock covers and temple pads in a cloth bag. Items for each kit vary depending on the headset, and can also be purchased separately.
15. ZOOM PODTRAK P8 PODCAST STUDIO
The Zoom PodTrak P8 provides recording, editing and mixing capabilities all in one unit. Six mics, a smartphone and PC can be recorded simultaneously, each with its own fader and preamp with 70 dB of gain. A touchscreen controls monitoring, adjusting, onboard editing and more.
16. WAVES SHIPS KALEIDOSCOPES PLUG-IN Waves’ Kaleidoscopes plug-in creates classic analog studio effects such as 1960s phasing and tape flanging, 1970s stadium tremolo-guitar vibes and 1980s chorus sounds.
17. OUTLINE STADIA 28 LINE ARRAY SYSTEM
The Outline Stadia 28 is a medium-throw system intended for use in permanent outdoor installations. A single enclosure weighs 46.2 pounds and can reportedly reach 139 dB SPL.
18. LAB.GRUPPEN FA SERIES AMPLIFIERS Lab.gruppen‘s FA Series Energy Star-certified amplifiers are intended for commercial and industrial applications, and are offered in 2 x 60W, 2 x 120W and 2 x 240W.
19. D.W. FEARN VT-2 PREAMPLIFIER
The updated D.W. Fearn VT-2 Dual-Channel Vacuum Tube Microphone Preamplifier now features an integrated, switchable 43 dB pad, aiding patching into a master bus.
20. KEF LS50 META SPEAKER
Our Gear of the Year list concludes with the LS50, featuring KEF’s Metamaterial Absorption Technology driver array, a cone neck decoupler, offset flexible bass port, low-diffraction curved baffle and more.
Q: What is your new position, and what does it entail?
I am excited to take on the role of director of marketing for Pro Audio at Yamaha Corp. of America. We are responsible for developing strategies to reach and engage new customers for Yamaha, Nexo and Steinberg products. At a deeper, more human level, I believe a simple melody, or even a few notes, can trigger an emotional bond with another person, and that sound and music have a transformational impact on individuals and the world around us. Our job in Yamaha’s Pro Audio team is to make sure those notes are heard, and to facilitate that connection between people.
Q: How has your background prepared you for your new role?
I am fortunate that I have been able to follow my passion for music and technology from day one of my career. I spent time touring with national artists in arenas and stadiums, where I gained firsthand experience with how the Yamaha, Nexo and Steinberg products perform cohesively as integrated systems in the real world. I experienced daily how Yamaha’s unique and intimate connection with music and musical instruments shines through in the sound quality of our pro audio systems.
While most pro audio systems are designed to amplify music, Yamaha uniquely knows exactly what that music should sound like, as we empower artists to create music by developing musical instruments. My role in the field, touring and tuning our systems, confirmed this confidence and excellence in sonic performance, and I can’t wait to share that experience with the world.
Q: What new marketing initiatives are we likely to see from the company?
Yamaha empowers artists to make waves with sound and music. We will focus on initiatives that provide the systems and solutions to amplify art and voices that inspire connection to make waves.
Q: What are your short- and long-term goals?
In the short-term, we want to continue to be a solid and trusted partner to our customers, building on our strong brand image and reputation. As we look further into the future, we will continue to share our expertise in music and sonic quality across every aspect of our pro audio systems, from recording and creation with Steinberg, to processing, mixing and performance with Yamaha, and powerful, linear sound reinforcement from Nexo.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you face?
As the world faces changes and uncertainty, we know that music has the ability to unite and connect us. We must not lose sight of the fact that, as professionals in the pro audio industry, we have the power to amplify the voices of those around us to make an impact, progress personally and come together with others. At the same time, we will continue to support our customers in every way as the live event and commercial sound industries embrace new opportunities.
Asheville, NC (November 30, 2020)—Vinyl record sales have been steadily rising over recent years, a fact that did not go unnoticed by 30-year music industry veteran Gar Ragland. Following a visit to musician Jack White’s pressing plant in Detroit several years ago, he decided to open his own vinyl facility in the mountains of North Carolina.
“It was seeing what Third Man Pressing are doing that really helped affirm my gut instinct that a similar concept would do well in Asheville,” says Ragland. “Not only because of our homegrown love of music and history of craft here in North Carolina, but also because we have 12 million tourists coming through town, many of whom are seeking a cultural adventure.”
Ragland’s Citizen Vinyl plant, on the first floor of the historic three-story Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper building, has plenty to appeal to tourists. The pressing plant, operated under the guidance of German native Peter Schaper, is behind glass and open to view. Ragland’s business concept has evolved to include a collective of local craftspeople.
“Under one business entity, we have vinyl pressing along with a vinyl record-themed cocktail bar, a farm-to-table café, and a store, Coda, that features new vinyl records and an art gallery featuring local visual artists. We call it analog sound and art,” he says. Staff curate Daily Sides, an in-store vinyl playlist that’s posted on Instagram and soon will be streamed on Citizen Vinyl’s website.
The newspaper built broadcast studios for its WWNC-AM radio station on the third floor in 1939, introducing a national listening audience to bluegrass music. “Hundreds of acts would play in Studio A, including Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys,” says Ragland.
Having rented a room for years at the nearby Echo Mountain Recording facility, Ragland, a musician, composer, producer and owner of the New-Song Music label, saw an opportunity to open his own studio. The building’s owner was days from turning WWNC’s studios into office space when Ragland took a tour: “I pleaded with him to put the sledgehammers down and give us some time to figure out how we could save this piece of Asheville and American roots music history.”
The Citizen Studios are in WWNC’s former Studio A, with 32 tielines to the high-ceilinged Studio B, now a multipurpose live and event space. “We’ve tracked a few projects in there and are still figuring out what the room’s strengths and weaknesses are,” he says.
“We hired David Rochester of Technical Audio Services to work on our restoration and treatment. He’s also a dealer for Rupert Neve Designs, so I worked with him to get a 5088 console in here and he helped with the wiring and installation. He’s been a great member of the Citizen Vinyl team.”
Ragland, a Rupert Neve fan, says, “What I love about this console is that it’s a new, warrantied piece of equipment, but it has all the mojo and vibe of the classic Neve sound. It’s got a lot of depth and breadth and horsepower, but it’s also simple and elegant in its design, which I find empowering.”
He has since added some Shelford modules in the desk’s penthouse. “Those sound so good—the EQs are amazing. Over time, and as our needs grow, I can pick up more.”
Ragland’s moved in his collection of gear and added some new pieces, including pairs of ATC SCM25A Pro and Yamaha NS-10M nearfield monitors. “I’m really into analog sound and trying to do as much out of the box as I can,” says Ragland. “I find it’s a much more enjoyable workflow and a more creative way to put mixes together.”
Ragland intends to continue taking projects to Echo Mountain. “We have no aspirations of being a commercial recording studio. In addition to my own workload, there are a couple of younger producers and engineers coming in a few days a month, but we’re not advertising day rates.”
Mastering engineer Ryan Schilling of American Vinyl Company has now moved his Neumann VMS 66 lathe into WWNC’s former control room. “We’re going to be able to offer vinyl mastering services on site for our pressing clients,” says Ragland. He plans to engage Schilling’s services to offer local and touring artists and their fans limited-edition vinyl keepsakes of in-store performances in the first-floor space.
“It’s not the ideal time to be starting a business,” Ragland admits, “but vinyl sales are up 17 percent from last year. It’s one of these industries that’s grown—not despite the pandemic but because of it.”
Los Angeles, CA (November 9, 2020)—From the moment Roddy Ricch’s platinum-certified debut album, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, existed as a thought in mid-March, 2019, until it was released on December 6, 2019, recording engineer Chris Dennis was at the artist’s side, helping him perfect its sound. The pair recorded in various studios such as Record Plant, Glenwood Place Recording, Ameraycan, as well as New York’s Jungle City, where “The Box” was created. That hit was celebrating its ninth week atop the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-March 2020 when the preventive measures against COVID-19 postponed or canceled virtually all shows—and shuttered recording studios—for the foreseeable future. The music industry had paused, but the need to build on Ricch’s success had not, so the pair got to work.
With a new personal studio in his Los Angeles home centered around a Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface, Redco Audio Little Red Cue Box, Yamaha HS8 studio monitors, and Sony C800G microphone, the 22-year-old chart-topping phenom and Dennis have mostly eschewed professional studio spaces while crafting Ricch’s upcoming sophomore album. The result is that while the multi-platinum engineer told Pro Sound News in May that they had recorded 45 new songs by early April, when we caught back up with him in late September, the number had ballooned to more than 100.
“We’re kind of slowing down on the amount that we record, and spending more time on the songs we have recorded,” says Dennis. “Adding second verses, maybe features, and just adding stuff on them. We’re really just exploring different sounds.”
That would explain why Ricch implied in an August GQ interview that he had enough material recorded to drop an album at any point, but wasn’t going to just yet. At the time, he reasoned he was looking to make a body of work. Dennis says now instead of simply getting beats from producers and finding how to fit Ricch into the producer’s already-completed sonic vision, he and Ricch have been reaching out to different musicians for specific sonic needs and congealing the disparate sounds into a complete statement.
Dennis explains, “I think he’s really trying to tell a real story from song one to whatever the last song may be, with not only the lyrics but also the actual music. He’s getting more into an executive producer role now.”
A typical recording session in a pandemic doesn’t exist for Ricch and Dennis. No longer having to partly structure their days around studio availability, Ricch records whenever creativity strikes and for however long. Dennis might get a call one night to pull up to the studio and they’ll lock in for three hours. The same thing can happen the next night, but the session stretches into 18 hours.
The results have apparently been undeniable. “We have some amazing records, but Roddy is a true artist,” says Dennis. “He knows his music and puts a lot of work into making sure it’s something he’s happy with and not making it sound like something he’s already released.” Dennis adds that outside of periodic check-ins on the progress of the album, Ricch’s label Atlantic Records “gives him a lot of freedom when it comes to his music and when he wants to release it.”
While the pandemic provides the pair with time to work, it can still fence a creative in. Recording from home hasn’t necessarily precluded Ricch from collaborating with artists, but it has limited the ways in which that collaboration can take shape. “Sometimes he would prefer an artist or someone he was to work with pulls up, so he could feel out their vibe, just like any other artist,” Dennis explains. “It’s mainly been people sending us stuff over email, text, or whatever I may be.”
Working in a home studio is, by its very nature, a more personal experience. That has revealed itself in the music being created—said to be more intimate than his previous album, delving deeper into Ricch’s personal life—and in the friendship between Ricch and Dennis that inspired the engineer to move to L.A. in August, during a pandemic, primarily so he could be closer to Ricch and be available whenever needed. “We used to pull up to the studio and we get into work mode right away. When I’m working at his house, it gives you an opportunity to see them in their own personal space and see them be more of themselves.”
Whether we get the new album this year or not, one thing is certain, it will be an effort influenced by the world around him, from the sequencing of the album to its reflection of the world that we’ll hear in it. “People can only write about what they’re experiencing and seeing,” says Dennis. “Right now, we’re all seeing this right now, so it’s going to influence you, the way you’re writing, the way you move. It’s definitely creeping into the music for sure.”
North Hollywood, CA (November 3, 2020—Fever Recording owner Eric Milos recently swapped out the aging Solid State Logic 4048G console for an SSL Duality Delta Pro-Station desk in the facility’s main control room. “It sounds great, it looks great and the functionality, with Pro Tools control on the surface and the marriage of the console automation with the Pro Tools automation system, really gives you the best of both worlds,” he says.
Milos acquired Fever Recording, formerly owned and operated by multi-Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Warryn Campbell, at the tail end of 2016. The main studio, with its own tracking room, lounge and kitchen, is separate from the rest of the building, the other half of which houses three production rooms, rented to long-term clients, with shared amenities.
“There’s a gated back parking lot where you can pull in and walk straight into the studio. We’ve had a number of artists in who appreciate that privacy,” he says.
Milos, originally from Ohio, graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2010 and cut his engineering teeth at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood. He subsequently hired on as an engineer at Clear Lake Recording, which chief audio engineer Brian Levi established in 1987. In 2012, Milos purchased the Clear Lake facility and much of the equipment in it.
Clear Lake’s Studio A was designed by George Augspurger. “It’s got a really great Trident 80B console. It has been a great tracking room for all of its life, with a wonderful sounding drum room and a great grand piano. We do everything—every style, every type of session,” says Milos, from large ensembles to solo vocals.
Pro Tools Ultimate and a Studer A827 tape machine are both available. Outboard, there is a Neve sidecar and various pieces of vintage Pultec, Eventide and Lexicon gear alongside some of the newer studio standard gear, plus classic Neumann, Sony and other tube mics. “There’s also a nice smattering of modern mics. We’ve never not had enough microphones for a session,” he says.
“When I took over, probably half the cool vintage equipment there. I could never dream of spending the money you would have to pay for it now.”
Milos built a B room in 2016 to handle overdubs, vocals, tracking and mixing. “It’s got an Avid D-Command and a basic set of outboard. We do a lot of vocal overdubs in there, for all genres of music, and we do a little bit of 5.1 mixing and some ADR.”
Two small production rooms, designated C and D, are leased out on a monthly basis. “In one room, we have a composer who has been with us for three or four years,” he says.
Fever Recording, located a couple of miles west along Burbank Blvd., underwent a bit of a remodel along with the Duality desk upgrade, says Milos, to give it more of a boutique hotel vibe. “We also got a few pieces of outboard gear, like the SSL Fusion, which everybody has been loving. The price-to-fun ratio has been excellent.”
The control room door barely cleared the old short-loaded 64-frame 4000G desk. “It was too big for the room. This Duality fits, and it looks like a spaceship,” says Milos, who bought the console, formerly at a N. Hollywood recording school, through Vintage King.
“I’ve done a couple of mixes on it; it’s so much fun and clients have been loving the Duality. I couldn’t be happier.”
The Duality behaves more like an SSL 9000 series desk, he says. “We can push it a little bit harder than a 4k. There have been occasions where we were getting a little bit of distortion on the master buss of the 4k, because we didn’t have the headroom for a massive 808.”
On the subject of headroom and 808 kick drums, Milos has also bolstered the Bryston-powered Augspurger main monitor system at Fever. “I added some dual-18 Meyer Sound subwoofers that I saw on Craigslist. It’s a great full-range system when you switch up to the mains. For the most part, people are up on the mains when they’re doing production and getting a feel for the song. Then they switch to the ATC25A nearfields for tracking and mixing, for more detail.” There is also a pair of Yamaha NS-10s.
“Anybody familiar with the 4k pretty much gets the Duality right away. In that studio, we do a lot of hip-hop and top-40 stuff, so there’s a lot of production—keyboards and that kind of stuff—and not a lot of full tracking. The Duality is nice for the situation where there are 20 people in the control room, and everything is interfaced, and being able to control Pro Tools.”
Producer and DJ Derrick Carter is selling a selection of rare studio gear from his collection, including synthesizers, drum machines and controllers.
Aiming to ‘de-bulk’ his studio, the 59-item sale includes a Roland TB-303, a Moog Minimoog Voyager Signature Edition, a Technics SX-WSA1R Synthesizer, a Roland TR-909 drum machine once used by Jeff Mills in a live show, an AKAI MPC-3000, and the Yamaha DX7IIFD synth Carter used on his 2012 album Squaredancing in a Roundhouse.
“I was a completist. I collected things, and my idea was to complete these collections and then have an original one — the OEM one—and then one that’s the ultra-modded one, and then levels of varying degrees in between, as if I was some kind of museum curator,” Carter shares.
“I want my life to be less cluttered, less incidental, less interstitial, just more intuitive to who I am now. Think of me as a monk or a nun — I’m going to let go of all this stuff before I go on my journey of a thousand miles.”
Head here to check out the shop, and watch Carter walk through highlights from the sale below.
Sudbury, MA (September 2, 2020)—Yamaha Unified Communications has announced ADECIA, a family of conferencing products intended for enterprise or meeting spaces.
The conferencing solution introduces the RM-CG ceiling microphone and RM-CR room control processor, as well as Yamaha PoE switches and VXL Series line array speakers.
“Achieving professional audio quality — be it a training room, conference room, classroom, multi-purpose room, or the boardroom — can require an incredible amount of time and costs to design, install, and set up,” said Michael Fitch, VP of sales and marketing. “The introduction of ADECIA now allows customers and integrators to easily customize and configure a full-room UC solution that’s not only user friendly and delivers the best audio results but also allows for social distancing and contactless conferencing to fit arising health safety requirements.”
Every component of the system, from the microphones to speakers as well as the required networking and communication equipment, automatically integrates. The complete solution immediately detects all components of the system and configures them to be optimized for the room environment, accounting for the location of speakers and microphones, reverberation, and echo behavior. Setting up a room is done through the system’s configurator in four steps. The system offers USB, Bluetooth, Dante and analog connections.
The ADECIA solution combines Yamaha’s new dynamic beamforming ceiling microphone (RM-CG), room control processor (RM-CR), a Yamaha Dante-optimized network switch, and VXL Series line-array PoE+ powered speakers. Together, the system supports multi-beam tracking technology, human voice activity detection, noise reduction algorithms, speaker tracking, adaptive acoustic echo cancellation and more. These automatic, smart audio technologies empower crystal clear, stress-free remote communications.
“What makes this solution even more innovative is the flexibility built into the room solution,” said Fitch. “Utilizing an open control interface, the RM-CG microphone and RM-CR can be incorporated into a conferencing design using other Yamaha or third-party components. From installation to control, it’s simple.”
L-Acoustics started in France back in 1984, and it’s no exaggeration to say that its impact has been felt around the world since then. Founder Christian Heil, Ph.D., took the largely abandoned concept of the line array and reinvented it for a new era with the landmark V-Dosc series, transforming how live sound has been presented ever since. Since then, L-Acoustics has been a major presence in the U.S. live sound industry, and the company has changed with the times, as seen by its product offerings and also the recent launch of its Americas division, led by its newly appointed CEO, industry veteran Alan Macpherson.
For Macpherson, joining L-Acoustics is the latest step in a career that has always had music and technology at its core. “I started out as a guitar player and singer, playing in bands back in Toronto, Canada, some decades ago,” he said. “Early on in my musical journey, I became entranced with the live sound aspect of the performance and quickly became the P.A. owner/operator in addition to being the front man. This love of the gear, and music in general, led me to Yamaha when it became clear that playing music was not going to be a full-time career. Pretty soon after starting with that company in a sales role, I moved into product management, and a few years later into sales and marketing leadership, where I had my first taste of the B2B business that is commercial audio. I moved to the U.S. in 2008 to take on the challenge of growing [Yamaha subsidiary] Steinberg’s presence and thereafter accepted other leadership roles at Yamaha that were mostly pro audio-focused.”
Spending those years working in the pro audio and MI marketplaces, Macpherson took on a variety of roles ranging from corporate communications leader to divisional general manager to vice president of integrated marketing—all experiences that now inform his work at L-Acoustics: “I am truly fortunate to have been able to acquire extensive experience in leadership and team building, combined with a strong understanding of the market. Also, I think that being responsible for P&L, sales, support and marketing in most of these prior roles gives me a unique viewpoint of the market from a very high level.”
Of course, that market has changed pretty radically in the last few months—a fact not lost on Macpherson, who joined L-Acoustics in February 2020, just as the coronavirus was starting to have an impact on the United States. COVID-19 is testing the mettle of every pro audio manufacturer, but Macpherson is confident in the ability of his company—and the industry—to ride out the worst of the pandemic: “A strong European heritage combined with a focus on premium product has allowed L-Acoustics to buck the tide and prosper in spite of economic upheavals over the decades. I believe that a quality brand with the very best people on board can weather virtually any storm—economic or pandemic. L-Acoustics’ leadership remains committed to the team, our market partners and the U.S. market, where we have managed to grow our installation side of the business dramatically this year. We remain hopeful that the mobile side of the market—touring, event production, et cetera—will rebound relatively quickly.”
That confidence in L-Acoustics is well-founded. Today, the company has more than 500 employees worldwide, with 20 percent of the team working in R&D and another 40 percent in manufacturing. That production work is based around three facilities in France—metal components, wood components and assembly—as well as another facility in Germany that develops and manufactures the company’s electronics.
While production is centrally located in Europe, sales and operations are broadly spread out around the globe. The company’s main offices are in Paris, London and Los Angeles, and there are additional offices in Stuttgart, New York City and Singapore. “The CEO of L-Acoustics, Laurent Vaissié, is based in Los Angeles and drives the business teams globally, while the CEO of L-Acoustics Group, Hervé Guillaume, is based in Paris, overseeing global operations,” explained Macpherson. “Our sales and applications teams have off-site team members spread throughout the world, organized into mobile- and installation-facing teams that we feel better suit the unique needs of our customers in each master segment.” Meanwhile, Heil is hardly out of the picture—no, he heads the upstart L-Acoustics Creations division based in London, bringing the company’s insights and technologies to private residential, architectural, artistic and cultural settings.
L-Acoustics’ global reach speaks to the breadth of products it offers, from its A-Series constant curvature loudspeaker lineup launched in 2019 to its much-discussed L-ISA technology. Macpherson said, “L-ISA sets a new benchmark for truly inspiring, immersive audio experiences in live music, theatrical performance, worship and even in our Creations product designed for more personal immersive listening. We are just getting started with L-ISA and think it will finally disrupt the ‘stereo’ paradigm in much the same way we revolutionized array technology!”
Not that array technology is going away, even with a pandemic on. “From a vertical perspective, we see large growth opportunities in house of worship, Broadway/theatrical, stadium/arena and others on the installation side of our business,” he noted. “We remain bullish over the medium term with regard to our mobile business segment, especially once there is some sort of viable therapy or vaccine for the current pandemic so that audiences are able to return to ‘raising the roof.’ Our new Creations line—distinct from L-Acoustics’ series of product aimed at the professional audio market—offers an exciting new direction for the residential, marine and architectural segments.”
That diversification will undoubtedly stead L-Acoustics well in the immediate future while live sound is largely sidelined, but it also is indicative of the company’s broadminded view of what its objectives can be and how to accomplish them. Indeed, Macpherson sees the pandemic slowdown not as an obstacle but rather an opportunity to set the stage for future successes.
“As our world is challenged by a viral enemy that has forced economies to lock down into self-induced comas, I think companies that keep their focus on future strategic goals by way of continuous improvement will ultimately stay on top,” he said. “Thanks to the forward-thinking, relentlessly improvement-oriented and very human-focused culture at L-Acoustics, I think that we are very well positioned to come out of this global crisis in an even stronger leadership position.”
Plailly, France (July 29, 2020)—Nexo is launching its new ID14 point source speaker and companion S108 subwoofer as part of its ID Series of high-power compact cabinets.
Intended for use as a standalone point source solution or in a distributed system for front fill, the Nexo ID14 weighs just under 4 lbs. and is housed in a compact 5-inch cubed enclosure. The speaker sports a dual concentric design based around a 4” LF driver with a 1.3” voice coil, and a 1.4” diaphragm compression driver. Despite its diminutive size, the point source loudspeaker is reportedly capable of up to 116 dB SPL (peak) and has a frequency response of 120 Hz – 20 kHz. Available in two directivity options, a 100×100 dispersion pattern and an asymmetric alternative offering 90×140 dispersion, ID14 enclosures hold an IP-55 rating.
Available in black, white or any RAL color, the ID14 is aimed for installation applications in houses of worship, airports, hotels and the hospitality industry, as well as used within surround sound and FX applications.
The two versions of the ID14 share common acoustic components. The Installation version features an acoustic fabric fitted front grille and a cable gland with 2-core cable for audio input, which offers IP55 protection. The Touring version of the ID14, which uses a Magnelis steel grille, features a back plate that holds two Speakon connectors.
Meanwhile, the ID S108 companion subwoofer cabinet features a long excursion 8″ Neodymium driver tuned to match the frequency response of the ID14. Like the ID14, the ID S108 is available in touring or installation versions, and in black, white or custom colors on request.
Accessories include a dedicated U bracket for installation on a microphone stand, while two M6 inserts (73 mm pitch) on the rear of the speaker allow for wall-mount applications.