Installation 263 May 2024

Page 36 | AV Integration in a Networked World May 2024 Issue 263

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"With so many opportunities for integrators to make a buck, the sky really is the limit for the AV industry "

With so many opportunities for integrators to make a buck, as our front cover boasts, the sky really is the limit for the AV industry in 2024. And as this issue’s resimercial and prosumer feature outlines, there are now multiple ways of approaching installation work. This could be the traditional pro AV approach: commercial kit specified for commercial projects. Or utilising residential tech for light commercial work. Perhaps even specifying pro projection gear for a high-end home cinema setup. It’s all installation! Our feature also coined a new term for AV, premsumer: premium products, in particular luxury hi-fi equipment, specified for high-end residential installations – or even for restaurants and bars.

Indeed, as our feature looking at virtual production (VP) in education shows, further opportunities for integrators continue to proliferate in what was traditionally seen as the preserve of broadcast-facing businesses. But with educational facilities in particular – alongside corporate institutions –looking to add VP to their tech offer, AV integrators should ensure they don’t miss out on these opportunities.

Elsewhere in this issue, our pro audio update looks at the myriad ways that sound technology is helping the AV industry to grow, with immersive audio in particular making a lot of noise. And our latest look at issues with supply shows that AV learned lessons from Covid, as it navigates choppy waters churned by current world events.

Returning to our front cover, and Europe’s largest LED ceiling – in Manchester’s Printworks venue – is one of a number of ‘eye-popping’ installations featured in this edition. Also look out for the recent Digital Projection project at the 2024 Sharjah Light Festival in the emirate of Sharjah, UAE, where nearly 60 laser projectors were deployed; and the Ed Sheeran concert in India which featured a large number of line array systems from Meyer Sound. New content writer, David Smith, now heads up the Install Insights section of the magazine, as well as our website news and daily newsletter. Welcome aboard David! 3 FOLLOW US The new annual AV technology special report from Installation THE 2021 INSTALLATION PRO AV TECH OUTLOOK TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION, DEPLOYMENT, AND THE DRIVERS OF CHANGE IN PROFESSIONAL AV CONTACT NATHALIE.ADAMS@FUTURENET.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTENT Editor: Rob Lane, Content Writer: David Smith, Graphic Designer: Sam Richwood, Production Manager: Chris Blake, Contributors: David Davies, Ken Dunn, Kevin Hilton, Steve May ADVERTISING SALES Account Manager: Sadie Thomas, SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact for more information. LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS Installation is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw licensing@ MANAGEMENT SVP MD, B2B Amanda Darman-Allen VP, Global Head of Content, B2B Carmel King MD, Content, AV Anthony Savona VP, Global Head of Sales, B2B John Sellazzo Managing VP of Sales, B2B Tech Adam Goldstein VP, Global Head of Strategy & Ops, B2B Allison Markert VP, Product & Marketing, B2B Scott Lowe Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Head of Design, B2B Nicole Cobban ISSN number: 2050-6104 Future PLC 121-141 Westbourne Terrace Paddington London, W2 6JR All contents © 2024 Future Publishing Limited or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/ or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions. Future PLC is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association
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In this issue...

6 Install insights

New Installation content writer David Smith rounds up the best of the latest installations, including the largest LED ceiling in Europe at Printworks, Manchester UK, Meyer Sound powering Ed Sheeran in India, Daktronics delighting Buffaloes fans, and loads more!

12 Are premium, immersive streams just a dream?

The tech for lossless, immersive audio streams is available now, so where are the streaming services, asks Jonathan Reicbach, founder of Artist Connection

13 Key factors in transmitting audio across networks

Greg Kopchinski, product marketing manager, audio, at Audinate, on the rise of AV networking

14 Empowering higher education in a hybrid world

Phil Waterhouse, regional sales manager at Shure, looks at how audio is front and centre in hybrid learning

15 Commercial AV’s USB-C sunrise

Brandon White, director of product development, Vanco, discusses the “era of USB-C sunrise”

16 The growing popularity of resimercial & prosumer

A booming home entertainment market, live entertainment, and the superyacht market are all helping fuel a red hot resimerical and prosumer market – not to mention the newly-coined premsumer audio! Steve May talks to those enjoying the heat RESIMERCIAL & PROSUMER MARKETS BUOYANT BOOSTED BY HOME ENTERTAINMENT, LIVE EVENTS & SUPERYACHTS

6 4



24 Taking outdoor entertainment to the next level

Snap One outlines the market opportunity for garden systems, discussing its unique Radiance range

26 Transforming the pro audio landscape

Pro audio has experienced more than the usual highs and lows of business in recent years. The severe drop caused by Covid was followed by a massive boost in touring, accompanied by supply and trading difficulties. Kevin Hilton looks at how the sector has coped and where it might be heading in the future

34 Importance of new tech in the hybrid workplace

Latest research by video conferencing technology innovator Jabra underlines the importance of hybrid workplaces for Gen Z

35 Blaze Audio’s Dante-enabled amplifier series

Having listened to integrators, Blaze Audio has incorporated Dante into select products and is now shipping four new Dante-enabled PowerZone Connect amplifier models

36 Next-gen education: Visions of virtual production

Although film and TV applications continue to provide huge momentum to the development of virtual production, education is rapidly becoming another important source of growth – and innovation, writes David Davies

44 Holding steady against new supply chain fears

The crisis in the Middle East has compounded an already precarious international situation, but fortunately it appears that lessons learned during the pandemic have helped – so far at least – to minimise the impact on pro AV, writes Ken Dunn

48 Movers & shakers

Key appointments, including new hires for Genelec, Christie, RTI, d&b Group, and USSI Global

50 Inside Track

Mark Wadsworth, vice-president of global marketing for Digital Projection, discusses his InfoComm baptism of fire, his favourite sports, Covid, and how he sees the future of AV

44 5


Installation content writer David Smith rounds up the best of the latest installations, including the largest LED ceiling in Europe at Printworks, Manchester, Meyer Sound powering Ed Sheeran in India, Daktronics delighting Buffaloes fans, and loads more!

Largest LED ceiling in Europe unveiled at

Printworks, in Manchester, UK

Europe’s largest LED ceiling was recently installed at Printworks, one of Manchester’s principal leisure and entertainment venues. The 1,000m² LED ceiling, which was designed and manufactured by venue transformation specialists ADI, covers the scheme’s internal streets and integrates with lighting, audio and creative content.

The ceiling has more than 10,720,900 pixels and is around 115 metres long. The design enables the screen to change the ambience inside Printworks to suit different audiences, live events and brand activations.

In total, ADI installed around 1,550 m² of LED ceiling, digital signage and large-format screens – from its MT Series – across the interior and exterior façades of Printworks in Manchester, England. They include a 90m² interactive gaming screen, as well as other new features, such as Wayfinders and highlevel LED ribbon.

ADI worked in partnership with Manchester animation studio Flipbook to produce a variety of content-driven experiences for the ceiling, from AI-generated animations to story-led video. “There are nearly 100 pieces of content... ranging from live action filming to advanced 3D animation, through to AI-generated artwork and collaborations with international creatives,” explained Jim Lynch, creative lead, at ADI.

ADI will provide remote production and event broadcast services over its Live Venue network, which connects over 90 UK stadia and leisure destinations to its centralised production studios, in Preston, over dedicated fibre connectivity.


Digital Projection moves mountains at Sharjah Light Festival

Nearly 60 Digital Projection laser projectors, including 46 TITAN Laser 37000 WU and 13 M-Vision 23000 WU, were behind eye-catching displays at the recent 2024 Sharjah Light Festival in the emirate of Sharjah, UAE.

The installations included a 300m x 50m projection onto a mountain for The Jewel of Al Rafisah Dam 3D show, and the illumination of the mammoth Sharjah Mosque.

Dubai-based videomapping specialist Artabesk created all of the visual experiences, including digital projections onto a mountain at the Al Rafisah Dam, approximately an hour from Sharjah city.

It was the venue for The Jewel of Al Rafisah Dam, a 3D projection mapping show focusing on the ancient city of Khorfakkan, and was the first time visual content had been mapped onto a mountain of that size during the festival.

There were two main challenges. First, the brightness, as the mountain is a brownish, stone colour, and second its multiple shadows.

Artabesk used the TITAN Laser 37000 WU, a 3-Chip DLP projector, whose 37000 (WUXGA)/31000 (4K-UHD)-lumen output makes it suitable for large outdoor applications. “We also switched off the street lights so we could create a completely dark environment,” said Mounir Harbaoui, founder and managing director, Artabesk.

The second challenge was resolved by concentrating all 16 TITAN Laser 37000 WU projectors on one point on the mountain, creating a “super clear” image, Harbaoui added.

Meanwhile, at Sharjah Mosque, located on a 190,000m² site, Artabesk used 21 TITAN Laser 37000 WU to create a 400m² linear projection, divided into eight areas across the mammoth mosque, whose minarets are almost 40m high. This particular installation was limited to still images, given the sensitivities of projecting onto a religious site.

Meyer Sound arrays deployed for Ed Sheeran concert in India

A large deployment of PANTHER & LEOPARD line array systems from Meyer Sound powered a recent concert by the English pop superstar Ed Sheeran, in Mumbai, India, as part of his global +-=÷x Tour, or “The Mathematics Tour”.

Phoenix Networks planned the deployment of the Meyer Sound system inventory with the aim of creating a stereo sonic effect to match the scale of the stage design. The 360-degree circular stage, which rotated on its axis, ensured views of Sheeran from every corner of the venue, while a giant circular ‘HALO screen’ positioned at the topcentre of the stage further enhanced the visual experience.

The audio amplification had a large deployment of PANTHER & LEOPARD line array systems from Meyer Sound, which were installed on a gigantic trussing arrangement. It was easily the largest deployment of a Meyer Sound system ever seen in India.

Starting off with the main rig, the audio team installed 128 units of the PANTHER line array modules. The deployment featured two array hangs of 16 units each suspended on each of the stage pillars, with a total of 32 units across two sets being suspended off of each pillar.

Positioned at a height of 17 metres above the ground and inclined at a precise angle of six degrees downwards, the main rig ensured optimal sound coverage at the farthest distances from the stage. To further ensure consistent sound dispersion, an additional array configuration was deployed, which comprised 12 units of the 80-degree longthrow PANTHER line array modules at the top of the array and four units of the 110-degree wide-throw PANTHER line array modules at the bottom. 7 Eye-popping installations

Eye-popping installations

Potato Head Beach Club in Bali, Indonesia, upgrades to 1 SOUND

Melodia, 1 SOUND’s distributor in Indonesia, has provided the Potato Head Beach Club, in Bali, Indonesia with 1 SOUND loudspeakers for the entire distributed system, including upper-level dining indoor and outdoor spaces, the main dance floor and bar, the lawn with daybeds, and beachfront pool. The goal was to build a system to handle DJs ‘ music daily 10am-2am, while not creating noise pollution.

Named one of the world’s best beach clubs by Condé Nast Traveller, the Potato Head Beach Club decided to upgrade its audio system and contracted audio consultant Michael Boyle, as well as Sontastic for the system installation.

The installation consisted of around 60 loudspeakers all built with stainless steel 316 A4 hardware and accessories. For the seated dining areas on the upper level and under the overhang, Cannon C5 coaxials were deployed for music. These Cannons have an extended low-frequency response, so bass is heard and subwoofers are not needed.

For the main bar and dance floor area with VIP tables, two Contour CT212 and SUB2112 systems were chosen. For the lawn full of daybeds there are clusters of two CT28s and a SUB310 providing a long throw. Seating by the beach and pool is supported with cardioid Tower LCC44s, SUB310s, and Cannon C6s. Sontastic mounted these loudspeakers to the palm trees.

Christie projectors chosen for historic cinemas in Paris and Switzerland

Christie projectors have been installed at two of Europe’s most historic movie theatres: Le Grand Rex, which opened in Paris, France, in 1932; and the Kiwi Centre, which has been showing films for 100 years in Winterthur’s old town, in Switzerland. A Christie CP2415-RGB pure laser projector was the choice for the new INFINITE room at Le Grand Rex. The Parisian institution’s most recently refurbished space is a 296-seat screen featuring Dolby ATMOS, a RealD Ultimate screen and 2km of LED lighting throughout. CineDigital provided the projector to CINEMECCANICA France, who carried out the installation for the new 9.5-metre-wide (31-foot) screen at Le Grand Rex.

Featuring CineLife+ electronics and Real|Laser illumination technology, the CP2415-RGB is designed for screens up to 16 metres (52 feet).

Pixotope drives ‘virtual’ Asian Games in China

Pixotope powered the opening and closing ceremonies of The 19th Asian Games and The 4th Asian Para Games held in Hangzhou, China, showcasing the potential of virtual technology, including digital robots and AR effects. Multiple Pixotope VS/AR engines were used by the event’s official virtual technology provider, 4U Technology, which spearheaded the content creation.


Stage Precision recreates Super Bowl in live AR world

Silver Spoon used Stage Precision, an SP tracking and control solutions, during the 2024 Super Bowl, for live broadcasts. Part of the vision was to bring the Super Bowl to a younger audience with a simulcast on broadcast channel, Nickelodeon. It recreated the action in an alternate reality, from the SpongeBob SquarePants world of Bikini Bottom, with over three hours of live AR coverage.

Silver Spoon also handled operations for the CBS Studio shows at the Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, and the game broadcast on CBS.

Daktronics designs LED display for Buffaloes fans

Daktronics has partnered with the University of Colorado (CU) to design, manufacture and install six LED displays for Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado. The displays total 8,800 square feet and will be installed and operational ahead of kickoff for the 2024 season for fans of the Buffaloes – CU’s American football team –to enjoy.

The main south end zone display at Folsom Field will measure nearly 40 feet high by 116.5 feet wide, for a total of more than 4,600 square feet of digital canvas.

Smode Tech partners with LABLAB artistic laboratory in Lyon, France

Smode Tech has announced a new partnership with a Lyonbased artistic laboratory LABLAB, which is using Smode software to control its experimental video and audio workflows.

LABLAB defines itself as a “digital experimentation factory” and offers a research and creation space for audiovisual, immersive and interactive experiences, in Pôle Pixel, the creative cluster home to innovative businesses in the French city.

Samsung and VirnetX help study of paranormal phenomena at US ranch

Samsung has partnered with VirnetX to outfit the Skinwalker Ranch investigation team’s command centre, in eastern Utah, US, with cutting-edge displays and collaboration tools. The team uses the technology to document and analyse unidentified aerial phenomena at the 512-acre ranch, where its work is the subject of the History Channel show, “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.”

The investigation team worked with Samsung and VirnetX to create a technology-enabled command centre for researching paranormal phenomena. They use VirnetX’s military-grade videoconferencing solution, War Room, for encrypted communications. 9 Eye-popping installations

KGEAR arrays installed throughout Malaysian hotel

K-array solutions were chosen for the Mercure Hotel Miri, on the Borneo coast, Malaysia.

In the lobby, four KGEAR GF82 ultra-compact 8×2-inch column line array loudspeakers deliver audio discreetly, powered by a KGEAR GA201 amplifier.

At Cavakita rooftop bar and restaurant, 18 KGEAR GF82 loudspeakers were selected, alongside two KGEAR GS18 subwoofers and another GP8A column array. A GA43 amplifier and two GA201 amplifiers power the entire system.

Scalable provides immersive study experience at US university lab

Scalable Display Technologies has been selected by WorldViz to simplify projection mapping and edge blending at Yale University’s BEEM Lab, a resource to explore collaborative experiences encompassing immersive technologies. The camera-based technology is used for the automatic warping and blending of multiple projectors, resulting in a 360-degree projection.

L-Acoustics ‘lighter’ K Series selected for André Rieu world tour

L-Acoustics certified partner Solotech has chosen an L-Acoustics K Series concert sound system for the global concerts of Dutch violinist André Rieu. Solotech has partnered Rieu throughout his career, but this is the first time it has chosen the K Series. Alexandre Dugas, audio crew chief, Solotech, notes that the rigging department was behind the wish for a lighter professional sound system. “They wanted to get rid of those monster two-ton motors and some of the mandatory ‘safety steels’ in venues with stricter rigging standards. We now use three 1T with a delta plate, making the rigger’s life a lot easier.”


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Are premium, immersive streams just a dream?

The technology for lossless, immersive audio streams is available now, so where are the streaming services, asks Jonathan Reichbach, founder of Artist Connection

Delivering a lossless immersive audio streaming service isn’t easy. Many companies have tiptoed around it, but can it really be done? If so, why haven’t we seen it yet in the market?

Companies have struggled with lossless immersive streaming services for various reasons. The biggest is the high cost associated with providing such a service. Lossless immersive streaming requires significant bandwidth and cloud storage capacity, which can be expensive to maintain. Additionally, a lack of broad consumer demand for lossless immersive streaming makes it less attractive for big companies and record labels to invest in.


There is a market for lossless immersive audio streaming, and audiophiles, especially, are willing to pay for premium audio experiences. They will purchase Blu-rays at $25–$40 or download FLAC or other hi-res files from download-only sites to enjoy lossless audio. However, these solutions come at the expense of needing to locally store these files on something like network-attached storage and maintain a Blu-ray player, not to mention pay for the content itself.

Then there are the technical challenges in delivering lossless audio and video content over the public internet without any degradation in quality. Ensuring that the content remains lossless and immersive throughout the streaming process is a complex task that requires advanced technology and expertise. Few companies have cracked this code.

Immersive audio format creators, such as AURO-3D, have technology that allows lossless immersive streaming. Audio enthusiasts have already expressed interest in AURO-CX, released at CES 2024. This is AURO-3D’s Next Generation Audio Codec that delivers scalable quality, channel count, sample rate, and objects, all in one powerful bitstream, saving content creators, producers, and streaming services time and money.


The technology for lossless immersive audio streaming is available. There is an audience interested in such a service. So what about content? There are thousands of lossless immersive tracks waiting to be enjoyed. Now, we just need the content creators to start taking notice to push the agenda of a streaming platform with the technical back end to support premium streams. A service should support both headphone and home theatre setups, meaning it should be compatible with stereo/binaural or lossless immersive audio to AV receivers.

Artist Connection, for one, supports streaming immersive audio and can marry it with high-resolution video. The platform was originally designed for approval of immersive content – allowing musicians, artists, and movie studios to remotely approve content in immersive audio without having to leave their homes. But it has other applications in pro AV, such as streaming live concerts in immersive direct from the venue.

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Commentary 12

Key factors in transmitting audio across network environments

Greg Kopchinski, product marketing manager, audio, at Audinate, on the rise of AV networking

AV networking has come a long way since its infancy, having moved into the mature, stable phase of its lifecycle. While there are still valid use cases for connector-specific applications like HDMI and XLR, many products now eschew legacy-style connectors in favour of only featuring RJ-45 or USB-C. [Seepage15formoreon USB-C.] While connecting devices to the network is increasingly approaching true “plug and play” functionality, there’s still a lot of planning and consideration needed to run AV over the network successfully.


One of the biggest challenges of networking AV products is the large number of manufacturers and the myriad ways they implement networking. A classic fix for the interoperability challenge is the “walled garden” approach – a single-brand universe of products. The advantage of a walled garden is that the products work well together, like so many building blocks. But the disadvantage is that you're limited to that one brand, and the manufacturer doesn’t have what you need or stop making something you like; then you're stuck with few ways out unless you can buy a lot of hardware to try and break out of the walls.

Another potential fix for interoperability challenges is the establishment of standards. Standards create agreed-upon technology elements but don't provide the implementation or support of the underlying technology. Any measure of quality is not inherent in the standard. Depending on how the

standard is written, many leave the door open for enough interpretation to cause interoperability issues between manufacturers.

An alternate case for interoperability is having a third party develop a fully-supported holistic transport solution like Dante. The advantage is that if something goes wrong with the implementation, there’s a company that supports the platform, has a deep understanding of the technology, and wants to help integrators and manufacturers alike.


The primary advantage of a converged network is everything runs over the same cable, and you can use fewer software/ instances to manage the network. You plug in an endpoint –it doesn’t matter the nature of the endpoint – and instantly have access to whatever AV resources you need in addition to getting to files, messaging systems, etc.

Every network, converged or not, requires considerable planning to succeed. Converged networks are gaining popularity as AV devices behave more intrinsically like IT endpoints. However, creating a converged network and managing it effectively are two separate issues. More tools are available for AV network management – software that can manage the devices, monitor device security, provide remote access, and more.

One of the biggest keys to the success of any sizable converged network is how easy it is to manage, so take the time to choose wisely.

Commentary 13
this bitly: MORE ONLINE:
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High quality audio: Empowering higher education in a hybrid

Phil Waterhouse, regional sales manager at Shure, looks at how audio is front and centre in hybrid learning

There's no question that the higher education world has gone through significant changes over the past few years. From advancements in technology to evolving societal needs, colleges and universities have had to continuously reassess their approach to teaching.

With that in mind, one of the most notable changes impacting higher education is the shift to hybrid and remote learning. This transition has brought on many new challenges that only technology can solve – with audio being at the centre of it all.

The shift to remote and hybrid learning, accelerated by the pandemic, underscored the importance of audio quality for both students and teachers. When the sound is poor in an educational environment, lessons are at risk of being unengaging, disrupted, or unheard altogether.

Campuses should (and must!) evaluate their audio technology – from wireless microphones to speaker systems to training room controls – to ensure it meets the needs of in-person, hybrid and fully remote students and faculty. Good audio solutions should not only facilitate clear communication but also be easy to install and use all day, offer various lesson modes, seamlessly integrate with existing collaboration tools and support lecture capture systems for classes to be recorded and replayed at a later stage.

With premium audio technology, higher education institutions can significantly enhance academic success for both students and faculty. For students, clear audio is the

foundation for active listening and comprehension, minimising communication challenges that might otherwise interfere with learning.

In highly collaborative learning environments, clear audio also helps facilitate effective teamwork, project discussions, and idea sharing while minimising technical difficulties, making group classes more productive overall.

Additionally, advanced AV tools further empower students to receive an equitable and inclusive education regardless of their learning environment. Cutting-edge features such as noise-cancelling capabilities and adaptive audio algorithms enable clear communication even in noisy surroundings, bridging the gap between remote and in-person learners and ensuring access to an equally enriching educational experience for all.


The future of technology in higher education will be built on the foundation of superior audio solutions. As interoperability becomes the standard for unified communication and collaboration tools, institutions should invest in audio technology that can be easily integrated, certified and used across diverse platforms and devices – ensuring it’s adaptable as technology and educational needs evolve.

In the coming years, institutions will be able to tap into emerging technologies such as spatial audio, AI-driven enhancements, and even virtual reality, offering immersive and personalised learning experiences.

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Commentary 14

Commercial AV’s USB-C sunrise

Brandon White, director of product development, Vanco, discusses the “era of USB-C sunrise”

We are living in the era of USB-C sunrise. With Apple finally rolling out USB-C ports on phones and tablets, it’s a near-universal port for personal devices – and as we learned from HDMI, where consumers go, the commercial industry often follows.

USB-C is a remarkably versatile connection, with the ability to support multiple protocols through a single port. USB-C’s capacity to handle data, power, UHD video, and audio over a single cable make it a very attractive option for streamlining commercial AV setups. USB-C is not quite as “universal” as it looks at first glance, however. To unlock its full potential for commercial applications, integrators need a keen awareness of the many optional features, capabilities, and limitations of USB-C cables and protocols.

USB-C cables can support USB 3.1 Gen 2 Alternative Modes, or “Alt Modes.” Alt Modes are central to expanding the utility of USB-C in commercial AV settings because they allow a USB-C cable to carry non-USB signals, including DisplayPort, HDMI, and Thunderbolt. With Alt Modes, integrators can leverage USB-C to connect and power sources, displays, projectors, and more.

Here’s the catch: Alt Modes optional features are not implemented on every USB-C port. Some ports are labelled with their Alt Mode capabilities, but sometimes, the integrator just has to hook up a signal generator and verify. You can absolutely use USB-C for AV signal transportation, but doing so requires careful product qualification to ensure every port in the signal chain supports the required Alt Modes.

In the bad old days, many manufacturers implemented proprietary USB-C fast-charging protocols. If you mismatched device, cable, and charger brands, the device might charge at a glacial pace – or worse, the charger might damage the device by delivering too much power.

Now, many newer devices have adopted the USB Power Delivery (USB PD) charging standard. USB PD is a universal charging solution: a chip embedded in the connector allows USB PD-enables cables to negotiate with host and hub devices to determine their capabilities and deliver the optimal amount of power. With USB-PD, a display can power a source or vice versa. However, not all USB-C cables support this standard. If you’re planning to use USB-C cables for power delivery, I strongly recommend seeking out cables with USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) certification to ensure compatibility with USB PD.


USB-C is more of a sprinter than a distance runner: it can deliver a lot, but only over short distances. There’s no specified maximum length for USB-C cables, but for practical purposes, passive USB cables used for AV transport shouldn’t exceed 1m. Active cables can reach 2-3m – but for any distance beyond that, you will need to explore extension solutions. We're already seeing an emerging class of Cat cable and fibre extenders for USB-C signals. As USB-C continues its march towards ubiquity, I anticipate that more capable and affordable solutions will enter the market.

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Commentary 15




16 Feature
A booming home entertainment market, live entertainment, and the superyacht market are all helping fuel a red hot resimerical and prosumer market. Steve May talks to those enjoying the heat

The crossover between commercial AV and high-end residential was more overt than ever at this year’s ISE. Even as familiar consumer facing brands were looking to court AV installers, commercial giants could be seen exploring verticals adjacent to their core business. To say the show was buzzing with opportunities is an understatement.

There’s no doubt that a booming home entertainment market is helping drive interest in upscale residential AV. According to the latest statistics from Futuresource, the video entertainment industry was worth $324 billion in 2023, a growth of 6 per cent, year on year.

James Duvall, head of entertainment, Futuresource Consulting, reports “strong positive signals across the breadth of the video landscape", despite a variety of inflationary pressures weighing heavy on consumers. "This year we expect a further $10 billion to go into the pot," he adds.

Consumers are clearly hungry for content, and movies are in vogue. “SVoD is the sector’s golden child, punching through the $100 billion barrier during 2023, and ending the year on $112 billion,” says Duvall.

Commercial cinema also bounced back with a 35 per cent uplift last year, helped in no small part by the success of Barbie and Oppenheimer– and it seems consumers are prepared to pay for a comparable theatre experience at home.

But what of the residential crossovers with pro AV, resimercial (residential AV kit into commercial premises) and its reverse rabbit, prosumer (commercial AV kit into consumer premises)? Certainly, consumer favourites continue to find their way into commercial environments, and it appears to be a growing trend.

Sonos reports that CI is the second largest segment of its vertical business: “Architecture is number one, but home theatre is now positioned as a significant aspect of our installed solutions business.”

So how is the resimercial trend working for CI specialists? “We are finding that in the resimercial sector, our product of choice for commercial installation is either our plug-in all-in-one Era 100, or our Amp with architectural in-ceiling speakers,” says Rhead. “Hybrid installers are our main point of call, those that work in both residential and commercial, rather than pure commercial. That said, we are increasingly seeing business from big international pro installers using Sonos for smaller spaces within a larger-scale project. These areas fall into the market that we know exists for our products today, and include green rooms, reception areas and staff cafes.”


The booming home entertainment market – which was likely rocket-boosted by Covid lockdowns – is also seeing an increase in premium hi-fi products being specified by integrators for residential installations, where perhaps in the past more easily-integrated but inferior audio would have been chosen. Let's call this trend premsumer, a close cousin of prosumer!

Premium AV distributor dbM (distributed by Meridian) currently offers integrators class leading products across home cinema and high-end hi-fi.

Above: Sony’sBRAVIA Seriesisbeing increasingly specifiedby integratorsfor high-endhome installations

“There is a significant crossover between CI and pro AV for Sonos these days, particularly as we find Sonos products increasingly appearing in light commercial premises such as restaurants, hairdressers, beauty salons and hospitality,” says Stephen Rhead, IS manager UK & Ireland. “As a brand, we are very aware of this growth and potential, and this is reflected in our global lifestyle imagery which now includes several light commercial scenarios.”

In many cases, the crossover into commercial premises is down to business owners having Sonos at home, observes Rhead. “Based on this user experience they want to see the products brought into their business and installed by a professional.”

Its brand portfolio includes Meridian, French audio auteur Waterfall and US outdoor music specialist Ambisonic. The latter can bring an unprecedented level of audio clarity to exterior spaces, while Waterfall and Meridian provide high-end interior audio systems that challenge the mainstream both in terms of design and performance.

We asked Des Ford, Meridian’s technical marketing manager, if he was tracking the appetite for high-end AV solutions.

“As the number of households featuring some form of audio integration increases across the whole gamut of budgets, it follows that the higher end of the market has grown accordingly,” he figures.

“We see customers who start out by looking to have distributed audio in a few rooms, or better sound for their gaming or TV viewing, then inadvertently gain awareness of the amazing things that are possible. Their experience of hi-fi may be limited to memories of an eccentric relative while they were growing up. 17

However, the wide range of differing aesthetics now offered by audio equipment, especially loudspeakers, means that, even with a large dollop of subjectivity, there is almost always something that every individual thinks is really cool!”

The issue, as ever, is getting these products onto a potential customer’s radar.

At ISE, Meridian presented its flagship DS9 active loudspeakers, the very epitome of high-end audio. “This was the first ISE for our DSP9 loudspeakers,” says Ford. “We’d like to think people want to talk to us anyway, but having three DSP9s in differing finishes and colours, was like fishing with a lure, drawing plenty of attention into our part of the pond!

“The better systems available today can produce phenomenal performance, and they often feature gorgeous industrial design and top-notch buildquality. This can mean the non-specialist customer is empowered to buy very expensive systems with confidence.”

So is this design-led audio, let’s call it haute couture hi-fi for premsumer installations, a new development, or are AV pros just late to the party?

“We think that the venue for the party may have changed!” quips Ford.

Building a high-end system became perceived as a skill comparable with being a Michelin-starred chef or a top sommelier, he says.

“Now, there are high-end solutions offered by

manufacturers and distributors which have been designed as an integrated whole. These can be streets ahead of the one-brand systems we used to see back in the day of traditional hi-fi separates, when every manufacturer offered a whole rack of black or silver boxes as well as passive speakers!”

Of course, high-end AV and custom install are two different animals. Just how does dbM plan on servicing them both?

“We plan on continuing to listen to integrators!” insists Ford. “We invest very heavily in pure research, as well as more conventional product development. We’re always glad if the market gives us a direction in which to direct our gaze; it can unlock the door for solving a problem or otherwise improving what we can do for integrators.”


When it comes to prosumer video, commercial-facing products that also appeal to the resimercial market tend to combine the best of consumer design and quality with the benefits of professional displays, according to Adam Dover, trade & segment marketing manager, Sony Professional Displays and Solutions.

“Models such as [our] VPL-PHZ51 and VPL-PHZ61 are very popular across the traditional B2B markets of corporate, retail and education as well as large exhibitions and gallery spaces, but thanks to their superb brightness and performance enhancements,

18 Feature
Above: MarqueeAV selectedamixof L-Acoustics ASeriesand XSerieslivemusic loudspeakersfor SexyFish restaurantin Manchester,UK

they are also seeing substantial take-up in the highend residential market. They are ideally suited for media rooms and at-home sports simulators – golf and driving, for instance.”

Sony is also reporting a market crossover with its BRAVIA BZ L lineups and the new value EZ20L series.

“The 100-inch BRAVIA 4K Ultra HD HDR Professional Display, the FW-100BZ40J, is popular in both high-end residential and marine applications,” says Dover.

“We find the BZ40L series is appreciated by both commercial markets, digital signage for instance, and consumer markets, for example in bright rooms such as conservatories. Again, the FW-98BZ50L is ideal for busy retail showrooms or corporate lobbies but also crosses over into residential markets.”

When it comes to resimercial, Sony's FWD line of high-end consumer displays are proving popular with commercial integrators.

Bournemouth-based integration company Halo Audio Visual specialises in residential installations, but it undertook a commercial project with London retail research company, Assosia. The brief was to kit out boardrooms, meeting rooms and a recreational space with high-end displays. The client opted for Sony Bravia professional displays sourced from specialist distributor AWE.

The Sony Bravia BZ40 Professional Display series was used across meeting rooms, with screens between 65- to 85-inches; a total of six Sony Bravia

BZ40 went in, the largest finding a home in the company’scommunalarea.TheBZ40Seriesisan4K Ultra HD HDR professional display, with brightness rated up to 850 nits, ideal for video conferencing.

The big BZ40 was partnered with a 7.2 Denon AV receiver,theAVR-X2800H,acomponentmorereadily found in mainstream home theatres.


LivemusicspecialistL-Acousticsrecentlyabsorbedits L-AcousticsCreationsbrandandquicklyfollowedthat by launching its Xi Series of loudspeakers, having identifiedagrowingappetiteforhigh-endAVsolutions in the residential arena – and indeed, live music venue loudspeakers in restaurants and bars (see image).

“The Xi Series is designed to meet the demands of integration projects requiring powerful, premium sound in a discrete format that can blend into any room,” explains Nick Fichte, business development director, home & yacht.

“The X4i comes in at an ultra-compact 100mm per side and integrates discreetly into any architecture while offering premium sound quality, high maximum SPL and a wide dispersion pattern. The X6i and X8i offer larger, more powerful variants in cabinets easily wall mounted at a variety of angles, and shallow enough to use behind acoustically transparent walls.”

A key feature of the Xi Series is its coaxial driver technology, which allows for a compact design and constant tonal balance over distance. This ensures smooth coverage for off-axis audiences thanks to its 90° axisymmetric directivity.


Fichte believes the appeal in high-end resimercial solutions mirrors the boom in immersive experiences in the commercial sector. “Live concerts, cinema, art exhibitions and even in houses of worship, are driving demand for the same kind of spatial audio experience in the home,” he says.

“Thescaleofmanyhomesandsuperyachtsthatwe work on are akin to some of the commercial premises we have been involved with in the live sector. No matter the final use, integrators are looking for solutions that are designed to meet the demanding client’s expectations on this scale.”

There’s a consumer imperative for slicker experiences in the home, he says, and the resimercial market is no longer about discreet control.

“In addition to the typical home living room installation, where the owner wants to have a great audioexperiencetoenhancetheirtelevisionwatching, but it all needs to integrate seamlessly into the living space, we are beginning to see many new, creative demands for audio outside of the living room.

"We’ve completed premium installations in party

Feature 19

barns, in home nightclubs and in multi-purpose spaces, both on land at sea for live entertainment not just playback of recorded content and in these types of installations, there is less of a call to hide the systems, as the technology is also a central focus of the space and the way that owners are using it.”


It’s clear that the residential and commercial markets, from hospitality spaces and clubs to residential and yachts, are overlapping, continues Fichte.

“In reality, the term hospitality covers an incredibly wide range of projects, and therefore a wide range of technical solutions. On one end of the spectrum, many average hospitality spaces like bars or restaurants often have a basic stereo sound system on which some form of streaming device is being played or, at the most, some sort of mass market audio products installed to perform simple background music.

“But when you step up to a high-end space, this world is very similar to the residential world. Where you have an owner who is looking to create a visual identity for the space. These high-end restaurant groups have dedicated creative teams focused on the atmosphere, including the audio atmosphere, and many of these teams have come from a residential background. We’ve seen this in recent projects like The Wolseley and Bacchanalia restaurants in London and Manchester’s Sexy Fish. All spaces where the sound experience plays a part as crucial as the exquisite décor in creating the required ambiance.”


Big screen specialist Digital Projection is another commercial AV specialist finding a prosumer audience in the residential sector.

Mark Wadsworth, VP of global marketing at Digital projection, says that while the residential market has been strong Stateside, growth in Europe is now being driven in part by yacht owners.

“Residential has always been very important in the US where it accounted for a large segment of our business,” says Wadsworth,” but historically it hasn’t been that strong in EMEA. However, we have seen a strong uptick in demand in the region. There are some really interesting installations that we are currently getting involved in, especially around the superyacht market where there is a great mix of traditional highend home theatres and multi-functions rooms.”

One high-end projection solution in particular is proving popular. “The resurgence in EMEA has been predominantly driven by our Satellite MLS system," says Wadsworth. "In the past, if someone wanted a pure RGB laser projector installed, they needed a big, heavy, and noisy D-Cinema projector. This obviously

wasn’t always feasible due to space concerns, let alone desirable.

“The Satellite MLS system ,which was initially designed as a commercial projector, has allowed RGB laser projectors, with all its benefits such as REC2020 colour space, to be installed in places where traditional projectors cannot go.”

Wadsworth says that when retrofitting a space, in an old building for example, there is often no room for big, heavy projectors, but the compact satellite system solves this problem.

“With heads weighing 19 kg and roughly 30cm boxed, they can be placed in almost any environment, without the need to sound-proof enclosures. The modular light sources can then be placed up to 100m away in a rack along with all the other IT equipment that powers the building.

"This also makes maintenance much easier as there is very little to go wrong in the projector head, and everything else can be managed at floor level in the server rack!”

20 Feature
Above: Sonoswallspeaker beinginstalledina hospitality environment Right: DigitalProjection’s SatelliteMLS system,initially designedasa commercial solution,hasbeen installedinnoncommercial venuestoo

CI integrators and commercial AV professionals need to be in tune with premium design to better address the most exclusivepremsumerclientele attracted by niche market products, says Nadine Aubriot, export manager at Waterfall Audio.

“We have witnessed this growing demand as more integratorsarechoosingtooffertheircustomershighend sound solutions rather than ordinary in ceiling multiroom systems.”

At ISE, Waterfall Audio introduced three new speakerstocomplementitsexistingUltimateNiagara speaker range, thereby providing customers with customisable options in their quest for perfection in sound and design.

The Niagara XT designer floorstanders boast a striking wood horn and Nappa leather top, and comprise the XT1, XT2 and XT3 models. The rangetopping Niagara XT3 boasts a clean, luxurious body with its unique glass horn tweeter design. Mechanically decoupled from the main speaker body, this tweeter reproduces medium-high frequencies and comprises 11 mechanical, precision engineered glass parts.

The Niagara XT1 and XT2 both feature a signature wood horn tweeter and are available in a Classic version with an oiled beech wood tweeter finish.

Aubriot estimates that the high-end crossover business has grown by at least 70 per cent, resulting in far fewer enquiries for residential in-walls speaker solutions.

“The market is becoming more sensitive to high end sound solutions using more sophisticated electronics equipment. Customers want to know that they have luxury high-end sound solutions in their home rather than mass market products, and they are prepared to pay the bigger price tag that comes with this.”


MediaroomsareanotherdriverofAVcrossovers. They may have originated on the other side of the tlantic, but it’s undergoing a few changes for the European market, says Alex Munro, Brand director of audio specialist Q Acoustics.

“InsmallerEuropeanhomesthereislesslikelytobe a space dedicated to this, especially now that one or two home offices are also required. Buyers are certainly looking for more design-oriented systems.”

Buyersareturningawayfromtraditionalseparates, preferring to see either a single device or have the technology completely absorbed into the loudspeakers. “This was the thinking behind our new M40 micro-tower powered speakers and our Q Active range.Webelievethereisanappetiteforaconvenient and compact Bluetooth music system that doesn’t compromise on a true, powerful, stereo hi-fi

Feature 21


More andmore integratorsare choosingtooffer theircustomers high-endaudio solutions,suchas theWaterfall AudioNiagaraXT, ratherthan in-ceiling multiroom systems

performance. Our designers and acoustic engineers were able to meet this brief through the unique microtower profile, allowing full-size floor standing sound without big, imposing cabinets.”


Lenbrook International straddles both commercial and residential markets, manufacturing home audio and residential install applications, from the likes of NAD Electronics, PSB Speakers, and Bluesound, a platform for both wireless multi-room players and Bluesound Professional commercial audio.

We asked Peter Gibb, NAD CI product manager & channel development for custom install, how he thinks the installation business has evolved over the past 18 months or so.

“From the residential and marine install side, we definitely see more of our traditional residential integrators getting involved with commercial projects,” he says.

“These tend to be light commercial systems in independent hospitality venues. [At the same time] many technologies from the professional AV side are now finding their way into residential projects, including AVoIP platforms such as Dante, PoE and remote monitoring, which has been around in CI for a while.”

Partnership integrations are a key enabler in the resimercial space. Lenbrook is already a Crestron

Partner, and offers integrated solutions with them in both markets. It has also announced integrations with Xyte and Domotz.

Gibb suggests that there are many shared tech requirements in commercial and residential products, while the applications are slightly different.

“In smaller markets we see much more crossover as it is more challenging to specialise in one or the other, so the integrators are required to be skilled on both sides, and they’ll often find innovative ways to use the same products in various use cases.”


It’s clear that the demand for resimercial solutions for commercial spaces, alongside prosumer and premsumer solutions in the home, and a desire for music venue loudspeakers in high-end restaurants and bars, is set to continue growing as we move towards next year’s edition of ISE, with the joins blurring further.

What’s evident is that pro AV professionals cannot ignore residential audio products from the likes of Sonos, when it comes to restaurants and bars in particular, and residential integrators with bigspending clients need to keep abreast of commercial AV solutions – particularly vision-led kit from Sony, Digital Projection and others – and premium hi-fi kit from the Waterfalls of this world. It’s all grist to a very high-quality AV mill.

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Snap One: Taking outdoor entertainment to the next level

Snap One outlines the market opportunity for garden entertainment systems, discussing its unique Radiance range, which is set to help integrators enhance the experience for their customers, and save installation time and cost

It's been a long, cold and miserably wet Winter for many of us. However, everything is blooming again, Summer is approaching rapidly and homeowners and their families can’t wait to be back outdoors enjoying their garden spaces to the max.

So, what can installers do to tap into this wave of optimism and positivity? Well, now is a great time to connect with new and existing clients and feed into this yearning for getting outside as smart home integrators can provide the services and innovative solutions that will help enhance their outdoor experience.

After all, outdoor entertainment continues to be a major growth category for integrators. According to the latest Professional Smart Home Market Analysis 2023 report by CEDIA, 81% of integrators participating in the study said they now install outdoor entertainment, with the sector highlighted as a significant area for expansion in the year ahead. Those surveyed expected the category to grow by 34% in 2024.

The consumer appetite for insideoutside living that was boosted by various lockdowns during the pandemic

years is set to continue. By spending more time in their gardens, people rediscovered their beauty and also appreciated more the benefits that they could provide. This has fuelled an interest in more thoughtfully designed outside spaces, where garden areas can function as additional rooms: versatile, attractive spaces for socialising, entertaining and even partying.


In recent times, clients have shown a willingness to invest in a whole range of features to help them extend hours of use and the enjoyment that an outdoor space can provide. Quick-drying, comfortable outdoor furniture, fire pits, lighting and waterproof pergola roofs and canopies are all now potentially realistic investments. Integrators are well placed to help transform these spaces even more, with a sensory experience that can breathe new life into garden entertainment for their customers, whilst at the same time boosting well-being and mental health.

Primarily, integrators have a growing range of technology options to enhance


the outdoor experience. At Snap One, we already offer an extensive selection of outdoor audio products across two speaker brands: Triad and Episode.

The Triad Garden Array is a family of premium, all-weather landscape speakers that are the perfect combination of elegance, sound, and durability. This family includes the unique GA4 Satellite and powerful GA10 Subwoofer speakers, designed to be placed throughout flowerbeds or around the garden, blanketing outdoor spaces with rich, beautiful audio.

Meanwhile, Episode outdoor speakers include a broad selection of landscape, mounted and rock speakers, all-weather soundbars and burial or hardscape subwoofers for great sound and installation flexibility across 8Ohm, 70V or hybrid systems.

At Snap One, we recognise that it’s important to stay ahead of outdoor trends and invest to make sure that our Partners can meet their customer’s expectations and maximise the business opportunity. For this reason, we recently launched Episode Radiance, a completely new outdoor bollard-style

solution that combines audio and lighting on a single wire, opening up new possibilities in landscape installation and control.

There is nothing else available quite like Radiance. It’s designed and engineered to enhance not only the entertainment value for customers, but also improve safety, security, and the overall aesthetics of the property.

The range is built on our exclusive, patent-pending technology which combines both an audio signal and a lowvoltage lighting signal on a single, easyto-install two-conductor burial wire. The design of the bollard speaker will allow for a 360-degree radiating sound signature, compared with the more focused directional sound signature of today’s landscape product offerings. Perfect for small to medium-size outdoor environments (<3,000 sq ft) but scalable to suit any size space, Radiance is a modular solution where the lighting can be added to speakers or speaker blanks for flexible placement and usage.

To simplify installation, the full range of bollards within Radiance are designed for 70V amplification. Selectable 70V tap settings allow for detailed tuning and balancing of the sound at each bollard, which means the individual volume can be set while the entire system is adjusted as a whole. The subwoofer utilises a 10inch long-throw woofer mounted in a completely sealed cabinet, allowing for both above-ground (hardscape) and in-ground (burial) installation. The line-up is offered in either black or white finishes to complement a wide variety of tastes and designs. And, for a lifetime of dependable entertainment, each model is finished in a UV-protected finish and IP66 certified.

The lighting installation is just as simple as the speaker. Power for the lighting can be supplied from any off-the-shelf low-voltage transformer, delivered over the same 2-conductor wire used for the audio signal. The patented technology supplies distortionfree audio signals while delivering ample power for the lighting modules. Multiple LEDs in the light module will output up to 300

lumens depending on the setting (path, spot, or both). From wall wash to direct path lighting, the options offer a wide variety of lighting solutions with the simple, classy shape of the speaker working well in any landscape lighting design.

As an additional benefit, the Radiance System does not require any special control programming to operate. Each feature, lighting and audio, are separate functions that can be operated independently without a dedicated control system, or integrated and managed through a control platform, such as Control4, which is a Snap One brand.


By combining audio and lighting into a single, quick and easy-to-install and control solution, Radiance is a gamechanger for outdoor spaces. It also gives a great opportunity for every integrator to reconnect with their clients and talk about a new type of solution that can genuinely enhance the outdoor experience. Radiance is available now to Snap One and Control4 Partners in EMEA, so now is the time to act. Existing Partners can learn more at the Control4 Dealer Portal.

ForintegratorskeentoaccessRadiance and boost their outdoor entertainment options,thenbecomeaSnapOne Partnertodaybyvisiting New Partner Application 25 Advertorial
Radiance combines audio andlightingintoa singlesolution


Pro audio has experienced more than the usual highs and lows of business in recent years. The severe drop caused by Covid was followed by a massive boost in touring, accompanied by supply and trading difficulties. Kevin Hilton looks at how the sector has coped and where it might be heading in the future

Feature U2'sresidencyatthe LasVegasSphereis perhapsthebest exampleofthegrowth of immersive audio (Image:RichFury.) ALL TOGETHER NOW:

Businesses and market sectors change over time, either responding to or being affected by national and world economic conditions, new requirements and requests from end users and emerging technologies. Professional audio has had to react to all of these since its earliest days, but it would not be an exaggeration to say that the last 20 years have seen been amongst the most demanding and transformative the sector has faced in its history – with the period from 2020 the most tumultuous.

The Covid pandemic turned life in general upside down, having a dramatic, negative impact on entertainment production and commercial AV installations. This was exacerbated by a component shortage, although this was already starting to make itself felt by the end of 2019, while UK manufacturers, systems integrators and hire companies faced the additional disruption caused by the country's withdrawal from the European Union.

Pre-2020, the sector had not only been growing in size and financial worth but was seeing greater diversification, with areas such as commercial and PA installation – along with so-called 'resimercial' seeing the use of pro audio equipment that would have once been the preserve of broadcasting, live concert touring and music recording, in the home. (Formoreonthis,seepage16, or click here.)


In 2022 the value of the international pro audio equipment market was reported by Business ResearchInsights to be $4.316 billion. In the same report, updated on 19 March this year, it was estimated that the pro audio sector would hit $5.691 billion by 2028, showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7 percent. According to more focused reports published in 2023 by Futuresource, the professional microphone and professional loudspeaker segments in particular are doing well, with some specific areas within them driving growth. The installed commercial vertical is identified as the "most stable and steady" for mics. Despite a drop of 12 percent in 2020, this was balanced out by an increase of 17 percent the following year, with a forecast CAGR of 7.1 percent. A major factor in this was the demand for good quality mics in video conferencing, both in office meeting rooms and for employees working remotely either at home or in other locations. As the world starting to come out of lockdown in 2022, demand for loudspeakers rose considerably – together with mixing consoles, amplifiers and mics – as live events started up again. The continuing boom in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) has additionally called for good quality audio gear to help create a realistically immersive environment.

Grant Youngman, senior market analyst at Futuresource, explains that pro audio companies are now looking beyond their core equipment or technology areas so they can be involved in broader audio systems. "We are seeing growth across the board in many product categories, with brands now very much interested in the entire ecosystem in addition to their own product areas," he says. "Many companies are restructuring by vertical – touring, installed leisure/commercial and so on – which shows an increased focus on the audio process as a whole."


James King, director of marketing at Martin Audio, confirms the market came back with something of a vengeance immediately after the Covid crisis, but that more recently it has fallen back to more realistic levels.

"Last year saw sharp growth, as much as 20-30 percent, due to the industry bouncing back from the pandemic," he says. "But also because prices increased almost universally across manufacturers, creating a new playing field. This year industry growth is much more measured, with less than 10 percentpredictedasthesupplychainstabilises,lead timesreduceandcompetitionincreases.Priceshave also remained more consistent. The market has, in effect, returned to pre-pandemic norms where well run brands can continue to outpace market growth."

On the product front, Martin has filled what King describes as "previous holes" in its portfolio by adding the TORUS constant curvature array and a wide selection of point source systems as part of the FlexPoint range.

He acknowledges that the company was affected bysupplychainproblems,withleadtimelengthening from six to 24 months "overnight", but not as seriously as some others. "That was due to us being able to continue investing in the supply chain during the pandemic," he explains. "We were also fortunate that our parent company, Focusrite, benefited from people buying audio equipment for the home during lockdown, which allowed us to retain all our staff and continue to invest in stock and R&D."


In the UK, when it comes to the thorny issue of Brexit, which even some of the most ardent supportersofitnowrefusetomentionbyname,King says there were problems but that its impact goes beyond the import and export of products. "It was challenging but we have been able to manage the logistical issues over time," he explains. "What has happened since is that the knock-on impact on the touring industry has increasingly hit UK-based rental 27

companies, which were used to having regular work and tours in Europe. That work has now become increasingly scarce, so it has meant we have had to strengthen our rental partners in Europe."

The increasing use of immersive technologies in consumer as well as professional or commercial environments is picked up on by Paul McMullan, head of sales for northern Europe at L-Acoustics.

"I believe we are on the precipice of a fundamental change in the expectation of end users," he comments. "Much as the adoption of higher quality home hi-fi in the 80s and 90s drove similar development of more powerful, controllable and refined live audio systems; the proliferation we're seeing today of immersive audio through platforms like Apple Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos is driving demand for spatial content in live experiences."

McMullan adds that L-Acoustics has seen this in real terms with its L-ISA system being used for Adele's Las Vegas Weekends residency and the Broadway production of David Byrne's Here Lies Love musical.

He says the pro audio market has "experienced

significant growth and transformation over the last few years", although some sectors have grown more quickly than others. "Those that support the live events industry have seen considerable expansion post-pandemic," he says. "MIDiA Research has put the growth of live events at almost 37 percent from 2022 to 2023, which contrasts with just 12 percent for streaming. In the UK, the gross added value [GVA] of the live music industry to the economy in 2023 was roughly £610 million, which proves we continue to play an important role in both the cultural fabric and economy of the country."


A similar kind of market development is being experienced outside the UK, with Simon Godfrey, director of sales for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region at AtlasIED, describing pro audio as "one of the most exciting industries to be involved in right now". This is, he says, due to companies introducing innovative technologies and expanding their product portfolios into different market sectors.

Above: Renkus-Heinz ICLiveX steerable arrayinstalled attheCyprian Norwid Theatre in JeleniaGóra, Poland

"Customers are always looking for new products," he comments. "For example, immersive and beam steering technologies are now more established and available. Additionally, artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning [ML] are becoming a significant factor in many AV product offerings."

This, Godfrey continues, can be seen in new styles of concert experiences using AI-generated animation in conjunction with motion capture technology. "This allows producers to create a dynamic and exciting performance for the paying audience," he says, "and all of these productions need pro audio to adapt and deliver a comprehensive system design. Another aspect that people are looking for and which most manufacturers aspire to but sometimes miss is value-added service. It is vitally important to have a strategy and pre- and post-sales support for your brand, ensuring you are providing your customers with a valuable experience as they work with your products."

Additional value and services are not just the responsibility of manufacturers, as Karl Brunvoll, vice president of international sales for RenkusHeinz, observes: "A lot of distributors are now focusing on providing added value and moving away from the traditional distribution role of buying products and selling them into the market. Today, there is more focus on training and educating customers and employees, delivering more expertise to the clients and going into more depth with the products. It's not just about the equipment any more, they've got to provide know-how as well."

Brunvoll also sees growth in pro audio following the pandemic, both for the market as a whole and for

Renkus-Heinz's business specifically.

"There is growth in transportation, auditoria, lecture halls and houses of worship," he says. "But for our company, there is more growth in the theatre world with our beam steering products. This is a growing area in loudspeaker technology because it gives greater control and enables the audio to be focused on the audience. This means a venue is not as dependent on the acoustics of a room and can improve voice intelligibility, which is why this tech is now being used not only for speech but also music."


Over the last 30 years a key enabler in live event production has been the RF-based device. This has been primarily in the form of wireless microphones but these are now matched in importance by in-ear monitors (IEMs). Having two sets of devices requiring radio frequencies has put even greater pressure on the spectrum available for PMSE (programmemaking and special events) work, which was already straining as live concerts and broadcast productions grew ever larger in terms of mic channels.

The spectrum allocation situation remains stable but still a concern. The last World Radio Conference (WRC-23) at the end of last year confirmed that the UHF band would remain available for PMSE for the foreseeable future, although there will be a review in 2031 to reassess the allocation for wireless mics and whether mobile phones and broadband should have more access to the 600MHz frequency range. In the meantime, wireless pro audio developers have been working on new technologies to make optimum use of existing frequencies. 29
Left: Pliant CrewCom intercomrange

The most prominent of these right now is Sennheiser's WMAS (wireless multi-channel audio system), which is intended to enable more audio channels to be multiplexed into a single wideband frequency. While WMAS is still in its early stages, it was demonstrated at WRC-23 during the US Reception where rock band Sonic Crusaders played using a prototype IEM system based on the new multiplexing technology.

Kyle Sullivan, head of marketing for Sennheiser's pro audio division, comments that after a "massive decrease" during the pandemic, wireless technology for live audio is seeing "substantial growth" again. "There is a hunger for live events and concerts, which continue to be a beacon for pro audio," he says. "During 2023 we saw significant demand for memorable live experiences and anticipate the trend continuing this year."

Sullivan observes that end-users are now being more creative when using their technology, with the "maturity of standard protocols" allowing for smoother workflows. "Operators expect more from wireless microphone systems in terms of seamless workflow and set-up," he adds. "This is one reason why WMAS has become a major topic this year, because the way RF systems are configured and managed must adapt to the ever-congested RF spectrum."


Like other pro audio manufacturers, Sennheiser felt the impact of the chip crisis; Sullivan suggests the sector was hit harder because of its market size and value compared to the wider electronics and automotive industries, which had the financial clout to buy scarce chips at higher prices. "As with many other industries that produce electronic devices, audio manufacturers had to increase prices as the cost for chips exploded," he acknowledges. "In view of the havoc the pandemic created, we tried to keep these price increases as modest as possible."

The pandemic caused further financial problems, with Sullivan saying that live music, theatre and events – core businesses for Sennheiser – "went down to zero." But, he says, there were some positives, with investment in hybrid audio systems for education, home studios and streaming. There was also a sudden demand for high quality microphones – together with higher resolution, automated cameras – on video conferencing calls both in employees' homes and office meetings rooms, leading to the creation of a new discipline: hybrid working.

While pro audio companies such as Sennheiser, Shure and Audio-Technica continued to move into this new sector and offices in general with beam

forming and array microphones, manufacturers that had previously been regarded as more on the commercial or consumer side raised their profiles as providers of professional sound equipment. Among these is Jabra, which produces a range of headsets and ear buds for office, home and on the move listening. While purists might see the Danish company as consumer or semi-pro, it promotes itself as a "professional audio brand for work and life".


Product manager Richard Trestain explains further by describing Jabra as providing "audio for professionals", which includes business people or "knowledge workers" looking for higher quality sound to make communications in their work easier and more efficient.

"We've always produced headsets for remote and flexible working but over the last four years since the pandemic began the technology has changed and the way we're developing different products for different use cases has also evolved," he says. "During the pandemic we saw some key changes in the market, including people demanding even more flexibility, with more of them working in a third location such as a cafe or an airport lounge. There was also a sky-rocketing of collaboration in general, because people weren't able to pass their colleagues at the water cooler to catch up. You had to call them and get online."

Trestain adds that despite a return to the office by many companies, remote working remains at a

Feature 30
Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex headphonesshownused for Zoom calls in the office

"relatively high" level. "It's a great way of doing things but it also means people are wearing their headsets for much longer and using them for more complex tasks, often in noisier and more difficult environments than before. Because of this we have put Jabra ClearVoice microphones on all our Evolve2 headsets, which pick up the user's voice and not those around them. We used Microsoft Open Office guidelines in creating these mics, which are based on beam forming technology and our own algorithms."


The use of residential audio products in commercial settings isn't new, with restaurants and bars in particular leaning into brands such as Bose and Sonos, but this resimercial approach to installations is expanding as more and more brands smell the opportunities.

AudioControl, part of the AVPro Global Group, established itself in home theatre and in-car sound, and has recently been moving that experience more into the pro audio field.

"Some of the best consumer audio can be found in the home theatre category," comments Tom

Devine, marketing director of AVPro Global. "When those same engineers devote their attention to pro audio, they bring the principles that have driven them to deliver exceptional quality and performance. Pro audio installers have been welcoming towards new brands that bring a fresh perspective to pro AV systems and installations and we're seeing multi-zone sound being used to draw us closer to the sensation of a live concert experience."


Much has also been made recently of the crossover between AV and broadcast. Part of this naturally includes audio, with 'broadcast quality' microphones and processors, amongst other equipment, being used for presentations and commercial productions. Less talked about but something that has happened over the years – and continues today – is pro audio manufacturers with a firm background in music recording either adapting products for AV or producing completely new ones for that market.

The latest to do this is Prism Sound, which develops multi-channel converters, Pro Tools and Firewire interfaces, AD-DA converters and pre amps for recording and production. Its most recent release, however, is aimed as much at the installation sector as the company's usual customer base. The Dream ADA-128 is an audio conversion system that can host up to 20 plug-in modules, which right now include eight-channel analogue inputs and outputs, an eight-channel AES3 module and Pro Tools HDX and Dante hosts.

"Installed sound has historically been a much smaller part of our market, " comments Prism Sound sales director Mark Evans. "And it's the advent of our newest product, the ADA-128, that brings us closer and offers the kind of features that installers look for in a way that's different to most of our product range. It's not that the older products couldn't be used for this kind of application but with the new product we definitely had the install market in our minds when it was conceived."

To this end the Dream ADA-128 was designed to be robust with the capability to handle a large number of channels and offer multiple types of connectivity. "It's a product that can sit at the heart of installations, feeding audio, taking various audio over IP [AoIP] sources and sending them to other places," Evans says. "No market is without its challenges today. World economic conditions don't make any of them easy at the moment.

However, one of the good things about the 128 and the fact it can be used in different applications is it allows us to capitalise on the ebbs and flows of

Feature 31
MissionSanLuisRey churchinCalifornia, featuringaMartinAudio TORUST820system

the different markets. If recording is stagnating and people aren't buying products, chances are the live or install market is increasing. All these markets are growing but just slower than in previous years."


Views on whether having more players in the pro audio market is a good thing or a bad thing are split. Kyle Sullivan at Sennheiser observes that "although pro audio appears to be saturated with manufacturers", it continues to show signs of "healthy growth". On the other hand, Gary Rosen, vice president of global sales at wireless intercom manufacturer Pliant Technologies, sees it as potentially having a negative effect on business and customer satisfaction.

"Some companies see the pro side and integration as their next growth area," he says. "Unfortunately, some of the larger companies are bringing in successful but generic management that does appreciate how important the relationships are with the customers. There are many aspects of pro audio beyond just the gear. Many end users are small companies that need to feel like they have an advocate when they buy expensive systems. As for consumer and

resimercial companies moving into pro, it is segmenting the market. There is less mid-line product and we see either top-end quality or lowend, unsupported 'Amazon' level gear that is disposable but which people view as 'good enough for now'."


There are, however, more positive aspects to the broader today's pro audio sector. One of these is the greater availability of open and shared technologies, with more companies now working together in developing neXw standards. As Grant Youngman states, a good example of this is L-Acoustics and d&b audiotechnik working jointly on the Milan AoIP protocol. "Typically pro audio brands are very private and there are minimal collaborations," he says. "But we are hoping this is the start of continued shared developments."

With business levels returning to pre-pandemic levels, boosted by crossovers across residential and commercial, live music/immersive and residential/commercial, and the AV and broadcast industries – as well as the possibility of more collaborative R&D, things are looking, albeit cautiously, encouraging for pro audio.

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Above: The Sonic Crusaders during WRC-23, usinga Sennheiser Digital9000 wireless mic systemand prototype IEMs based on WMAS tech

Studies reveal importance of new tech in the hybrid workplace

Latest research by video conferencing technology innovator Jabra underlines the need for employers to think very carefully about how they deliver a successful hybrid workplace that meets the needs of Gen Z – and beyond

The importance of responding to more flexible working patterns and ensuring that effective faceto-face communication remains embedded in the workplace are among the key findings of recent research undertaken by Jabra, a leading developer of AV conferencing technologies.

Generation Z – which is generally regarded as relating to people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s – is a primary focus of the research contained in Jabra’s MindtheGap:HowGenZis DisruptingtheWorkplacein2024

Jabra’s HybridWaysofWorkingGlobal Report also addresses the challenges currently shaping the workplace, the role of video-conferencing and other technologies in effective hybrid working, as well as the need for organisations to stay one step ahead as the expectations of younger employees continue to evolve.

Whilst revealing that a partial return to the office is occurring, Jabra’s global report confirms that hybrid working remains the dominant work trend. A remarkable 62% of all meetings now occur in meeting rooms, with 80% of all gatherings including at least one remote participant. Within this trend, the growing significance of the digital-native generations is in no doubt; at present, Gen Zers and millennials make up approximately 38% of the worldwide workforce, and this percentage is set to rise to about 58% by 2030, according to the MindtheGap… report.

The research also underlines the enduring importance of face-to-face communication among Gen Z, with 34% of respondents declaring this to be a key factor in making them feel connected with their colleagues. In addition, seeing and interacting with colleagues –

whether in-person or on video – was found to be the most important reason for employees feeling a sense of belonging at work.


But if the impulse to have high-quality video-conferencing systems that support remote meetings could hardly be clearer, it’s a surprise to find that more than 80 million meeting rooms globally are yet to be equipped with video technology, which confirms that there is still much to be done in equipping workplaces for the hybrid era.

Jabra is at the forefront of technology developers addressing the hybrid workplace, with a host of powerful and easy-to-use products, including fullroom and BYOD solutions such as the Jabra PanaCast 20 camera for hybrid working (pictured), and the Jabra PanaCast 50 portfolio, offering choice and flexibility for meeting room and video-conferencing needs.

Specific products in the PanaCast 50 range include the Video Bar System, which incorporates a world class-leading Android collaboration bar equipped with everything customers need for the best Microsoft Teams Room and Zoom Room experience. The Video Bar System is also easy-to-use, manage and install; affords a unique 180-degree field of view to ensure all participants are captured and feel engaged; and benefits from the latest AI-powered features, including Virtual Director, automatically detecting who is speaking, focusing on them.

In a fast-changing workplace communications marketplace, Jabra is continuing to evolve its portfolio so that customers can benefit from new features and functionality that mean they are always able to adjust swiftly to new video conferencing needs.

To find out more about Jabra’s hybridlatestworkplaceresearchand JabraPanaCast50videosolutions, pleaseclick here

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Jabra PanaCast 20 isaconferencing cameraforhybrid working

Blaze Audio answers integrator demands with Dante-enabled amplifier series

Having listened to integrators, Blaze Audio has incorporated Dante into select products and is now shipping four Dante-enabled PowerZone Connect amplifier series models

When integrators speak, Blaze Audio responds. “We were getting a huge demand from our integration teams,” says Eric Huber, CX marketing manager at Blaze Audio, of the company’s decision to add four new Dante-enabled models. “They needed something more flexible, and Dante was the clear choice."

PowerZone Connect plus Dante unleashes many more opportunities from an integration standpoint. “We're talking larger scale projects, multizoning, long cable runs, and seamless integration,” Huber goes on. “The flexibility is just endless. Once you incorporate this with our built- in PowerZone Control DSP, add Dante to the mix, and it's very simple.”

Dante Controller provides point-andclick routing. “Dante eliminates all the analog cable patching that would need to be done,” Huber explains. There's no IP configuration needed because the Dante device is automatically recognised and gets assigned to an IP once you plug into the network. If a room or a zone gets added, all the integrator needs to do is use the existing network that's in place.

Each Dante-enabled PowerZone Connect amplifier has the Dante Ultimo chip built in and delivers up to 4x4

channels at 44.1 and 48 kHz. Cable lengths are extended; multi-channel digital audio is sent over a single Ethernet cable, allowing for a noise-free signal path over long distances with a default latency of 1 millisecond.


Dante allows for more flexibility and scalability in integration projects and simplifies the installation and expansion process. “Plus, Dante is compatible with other Dante-enabled devices, making it easy to integrate with existing systems,” Huber says.

The four PowerZone Connect plus Dante amplifiers (including the 3004D, pictured) cover 125 to 3000 watts, handling most commercial- based applications.

“The cool thing about them is that they're dual impedance, making it flexible for many scenarios,” Huber notes. “If you want to run a low

impedance output for a stage or performance area and want to do an additional two channels or a single channel at 70 volts, you can do that with our four channel amps. It becomes a hybrid amp at that point, and with Dante, you can send signals wherever you want.”


Blaze Audio solutions are widely used in retail, hospitality, college campuses, small- to medium- sized performance venues, and houses of worship. Incorporating Dante into Blaze Audio's PowerZone Connect series of amplifiers provides integrators more options and opportunities for their clients.

“It's about giving integrators the tools they need to grow individually and help their clients to the best of their ability. So many doors are opened when you add Dante and network audio,” Huber concludes.

Learn more about the core concepts of Audinate Dante®️ and discover its advantages. Access Blaze Audio’s free Dante guide, designed for easy understanding, by scanning the QR code.

For additional information and support regarding Dante technology, please visit:

Advertorial 35



Although film and TV applications continue to provide huge momentum to the development of virtual production, education is rapidly becoming another important source of growth – and innovation, writes

Feature SonyVirtual Production Toolset (picturedinuse)willbe utilisedatUniversityof the Arts London VP stagewhencompleted

The relatively sudden arrival of a huge new industry in the form of virtual production (VP) cannot be denied. Enabling film and TV producers to shoot against real-time virtual interactive backgrounds in studio environments, VP began to mature around the same time as the Covid lockdowns arrived and made location or large-ensemble shooting highly problematic and often impossible. No wonder, then, that an unprecedented flurry of new VP studio spaces and solutions have hit the market since the early months of 2020.

Although not all of the dedicated studio environments have survived – in particular, there has lately been a more cost-conscious trend towards the use of temporary or multi-purpose spaces – VP is still growing rapidly. According to Grand View Research, the global VP market size was valued at USD 2.10 billion last year and is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% from 2023 to 2030.

Inevitably, applications in film and TV production continue to drive the sector, with many media companies also clocking that it can be an invaluable tool in decarbonising their operations. But there are also increasing signs that VP technologies and techniques are being applied to other sectors, including corporate and – in particular – education.


For vendors, systems integrators (SIs) and the purposes of this article, VP in education can be split into two distinct strands. The first concerns the development of VP-specific degrees and other training in an increasing number of universities, aimed primarily at enabling the technology’s evolution in film/TV by providing the necessary, highly-skilled talent.

The second focuses on the use of VP to support immersive and collaborative learning in other areas of education, especially those involving multiple disciplines like art and fashion. A VP facility currently being installed at the University of the Arts London – outlined later on in this article –gives a good indication of what is now possible. Both strands will be explored here.

As Sony Europe’s senior trade & segment marketing manager Adam Dover told Installation in late 2023, ultimately pre-empting the focus of this overview: “In the education world, I think virtual production is a massive thing at the moment. We’re seeing a lot of universities making significant investments in VP technologies, [which means]

LED walls, camera technologies, and so on.”

For many colleges and universities, many VP courses are being introduced as additions or extensions to existing creative technology qualifications. This is the case at the University of Portsmouth (UoP), which this autumn is due to receive its first intake for a new Virtual Production BSc (Hons) degree that will give students access to specialist equipment from the University’s School of Creative Technologies. The course will hone both technical and creative skills, providing an opportunity for “creating high-quality content for LED screens behind the actors, virtual mapping using VR and game technology, and capturing performances for characters and fantasy creatures using motion capture.”


Senior lecturer Niki Wakefield brings to the course a wealth of experience as a screenwriter and freelance compositor, whose credits in the latter capacity include Children of Men and the first four Harry Potter films. Having won a government grant some years ago, the UoP already had a “really big motion capture studio” and other facilities that made VP a logical addition: “I teach on computer animation special effects and we kept hearing about virtual production," she says. "It was a really big buzzword going around, so we wanted to establish this [new course] and give students the chance to get really involved with it.”

Modules in the first few years focused on coding for Unreal Engine – the 3D creation tool that underpins many VP projects – as well as modelling, VP research and practical studio experience are followed in the third and final year by major independent and group creative projects. “We’ve essentially done a crossover with modules from film, games, computer animation and effects, and added bespoke virtual production modules that bring all of this technology together,” explains Wakefield. It’s an approach that also ensures students are “not just stuck in game engines all the time" – they will also be learning about physical filmmaking.

But whilst Wakefield’s enthusiasm for the new degree is palpable, she confirms that it hasn’t necessarily been easy to connect with potential students – an inevitable byproduct, perhaps, of a technology that has evolved much more rapidly than the public discourse around it. “The industry is obviously buzzing about [VP], but it can be difficult for college and school kids to really know what it is. So part of the duty of the university is to 37

give college students the chance to come in and visit the studio [on open days] so they can get super-excited about it and realise that it is a potential career for them.”

More generally, it’s probable that the scope of VP training and research as a whole will be improved by greater collaboration between academic institutions. A prime example here is the UK’s XR Network+ Virtual Production in the Digital Economy initiative, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and intends to establish “a ten-year research agenda for VP-related content and consumption for the creative and digital economies.”


Led by the University of York and providing funding and support to researchers working in VP technologies, the scheme is being conducted in collaboration with other institutions including the University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University. This kind of collaboration is likely to become even more critical as media technologies and disciplines evolve and intermesh – sometimes in unpredictable and/or highly intricate ways. Indeed, Wakefield indicates that getting a foothold in the high-tech areas of the industry is harder now that access to the main software tools is “so democratised and anyone can start making anything now", which means that students do have to be much better, from the early stages of their career, "in order to secure the jobs".

Simultaneously, VP-related education is also being provided from other quarters – including the vendor community. Hence, therefore, the training Academy set up by Mo-Sys Engineering, which is a leading manufacturer of VP solutions, camera tracking, image robotics and remote production.

Explaining the initial inspiration for the Academy, Mo-Sys CEO Michael Geissler says that the company wanted to give people the opportunity to understand and learn VP. "It’s quite a responsibility to turn up to a shoot and, as the DP [director of photography], everybody’s looking to you to perform with [VP], which is still a relatively new technology," he says.

"So a big priority for the Academy is to give people the space to become confident with the technology, which we achieve by having small groups of no more than three or four people around one camera system – meaning that they are really able to get muscle memory.”

In addition to its own Academy – which operates in London, Los Angeles and Bangkok, and offers 3-day, 5-day and full Foundation courses – Mo-Sys is working closely with universities as demand for VP education increases. “We have a strong focus on education now,” confirms Geissler, who suggests that the VP trend is now at a point where it is becoming a significant criteria for some students in choosing where they want to study.

Meanwhile, a project exemplifying the potential of VP for education beyond its application in the film and TV worlds is represented by an installation taking place this spring at the aforementioned

Above: CJPequipped avirtualstudio andpost production facility –The Creative DigitalLab–for StartUp Croydon

University of the Arts London (UAL). The University has signed the first deal to install Sony’s Crystal LED VERONA Displays as part of a new virtual production stage at its London College of Fashion Campus at East Bank. Delivered via UAL’s Fashion Textiles and Technology Institute, the new VP initiative aims “to create capacity for innovative, trans-disciplinary practice-led research in VP/XR textiles and dress.”

UAL worked with display technology specialist Lux Machina to test all major brands, ultimately concluding that the Sony solution was best suited to delivering “both deep black image expression and low-reflection performance that greatly reduces the contrast loss caused by light from adjacent LED panels and studio lighting equipment.”

The University will also utilise Sony’s Virtual Production Tool Set – a software-based solution that allows users to design the picture they need for VP for creative projects – while researchers will be able to pre-visualise scenes and creative concepts using Virtual VENICE for Unreal Engine to develop, pre-visualise and configure the Crystal LED displays for rapid deployment of VP projects.

Surveying the development of VP as a whole, Jee Hee Lee – Sony’s European product manager, Crystal LED – highlights the likelihood of further simplification and benefits for the creative industries as technologies evolve.

In terms of education, she says Sony will continue to be engaged in “broadening the understanding of its virtual production solutions, which hold significant potential in educational settings". These solutions enable the blending of physical and digital elements to create immersive environments, offering "numerous opportunities"

for collaborative creativity.

Echoing the sentiment of Wakefield’s remark, Lee alludes to the scope of VP as a wider creative tool that can help to bring together different educational disciplines. “Students can develop skills in many areas by working in the virtual world. So yes, there is a lot of potential to deliver this expertise to the education market,” she says.


It’s an observation to which CJP Broadcast Service Solutions – a Herefordshire, UK-based company SI and solutions provider specialising in VP environments for cinema, broadcast, education, corporate and sports – can also attest. The growth of the sector as a whole, suggests sales & marketing director Kieran Phillips, is due in no small part to the fact that the technology has "finally caught up".

“Affordable processors can now provide enough power, and of course the Unreal engine delivers very good quality, photorealistic graphics in realtime," he says. "Large LED screens and volumes, aligned with precision camera-tracking, mean you can shoot very complex scenes live."

Consequently, the constraint now is not the technology, but the creative and technical staff to make it happen on a wider scale. "Universities have rapidly responded to this crisis, and we will see the situation easing in the near-future," he adds. "[But] whilst the talent has caught up, we are still far off from seeing the talent demands being met.”

CJP is certainly doing its part to address this shortfall by working extensively on projects in colleges and universities. Education, confirms Phillips, is “very much" a specialist field for CJP. "The future depends upon a rapidly growing number of young people entering the media industry who have a real understanding of modern production methods and can hit the ground running with a new creativity," he says.

"We have built facilities – including virtual production studios for broadcast, film and games –for a number of UK universities, including University of Sunderland, the University of the Creative Arts and Southampton Solent University.” Just announced at the time of writing was the development of a new VP suite for Basingstoke College of Technology.

Echoing a view voiced widely during interviews for this article, Phillips perceives great potential for VP in a myriad of creative disciplines. “These university facilities prepare media students for careers by giving them access to the tools they will be using in the professional world. But their influence is bigger than that: they introduce other 39
Below: Leyard'svideo walls and floors are beingusedto create a wide rangeof immersive virtual environments

disciplines to new forms of creativity which can have a transformative effect on their specialist fields.”

He goes on to quote Professor Arabella Plouviez of the University of Sunderland, who remarked: “What really interests me is the opportunity to involve students from across the faculty: writers, musicians, performers. It can involve animators or fashion students; it may bring in colleagues in business law or tourism. The potential is here for a whole lot of students to work together and create.”


CJP is also mindful of the need to “upskill existing talent” – a recognition that has involved the construction of its own XR Studio: “This means we can now introduce any person from any background to the latest operational and technical workflows involved with virtual production," says Phillips. "[In addition], providing training to existing professionals in the industry will allow for the longer development of new talent coming through from further education and higher education.”

Meanwhile, the company is continuing to work closely with leading developers in virtual studio

technology – such as Mo-Sys for camera tracking and graphics generation, Xsens and Faceware for motion capture, and Aoto for LED volumes – and is “constantly reviewing what technology is coming to market”. Like many others, Phillips is also of the opinion that VP will be employed in a variety of other contexts and points to a recent initiative with StartUp Croydon to develop the Creative Digital Lab in South London, which is a complete VP environment available to anyone in the business and charity sector.

As he points out: “The core benefit of virtual production – the ability to conjure up a complete environment which may be too fantastical to realise or too expensive to shoot in – at the click of a mouse in a controlled space is applicable in so many fields.”


Leyard Europe – whose video walls and floors scale to any size and offer small pixel pitches that allow for high-resolution images – is another vendor to have recognised the opportunities heralded by new learning practices. “When we look into education, the main driving factor for using VP technology is

Feature 41
Above: RiseUp Academy Summer School 2022 at the Global Academyin Hayes, Middlesex, UK, allowed students to work with the Mo-Sys Academy team on VP

the rise of hybrid learning,” says VP product Cris Tanghe. “But in order to keep the students interested the content needs to be compelling. You want to break the monotony of an hour spent watching the same wide-angle shot of the professor; [therefore] VP set-ups are used to give it a more television feel.”

As Tanghe acknowledges, however, “to run such a set-up there is a lot of know-how needed”. LED walls form part of a complete solution that should be easy to operate and encompass “content creation, rendering engines, tracking, camera, recording, LED volume, etc".


Looking ahead, Tanghe is also enthusiastic about the rise of “tier 2 studios” – which include capacity for “broader use outside the movie industry” – and would welcome more standardisation around VP-related technologies, although he knows it won’t be easy. “With VP there is a lot of confusion out there in the market. You have XR/VR/AR/MR, all different sub-domains of the VP market, and [in addition] each use case is different. Setting standards is always helpful to create a guide for the

community, but as it is so broad in terms of use cases, I believe it’s going to be very tricky to get one set that fits all.”

It’s also a challenge given that VP is continuing to evolve as a technical art-form. George Murphy, creative director of visual effects and animation studio DNEG, highlights VP’s scope for “previsualisation” in a wide variety of applications, ranging from commercials and music videos to fulllength films and environments in the corporate and educational worlds.

VP also resonates with the trend for more variable working patterns: “One of the great strengths is that you can have team members collaborate together even if they’re in remote locations," says Murphy. "Having the flexibility to work in that way can be very beneficial.”

Nonetheless, with VP increasingly approaching a point of maturity, it’s likely that more standard practices and technical standardisation – not least around the metadata involved in capture and image processing – will begin to emerge. In the meantime, there is every sign that VP will go on expanding its reach into other areas, of which education is set to be one of the most dynamic.

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Above: Southampton Solent University’s VP studio, builtbyCJP



The crisis in the Middle East has compounded an already precarious international situation, but fortunately it appears that lessons learned during the pandemic have helped – so far at least – to minimise the impact on pro AV, writes Ken Dunn

One of the many unwelcome consequences of the dramatic increase in Middle East tensions since last autumn has been a surge in potential new pressure points for global supply chains – a fear made more acute by the fact that supply problems accruing during the three previous years relating to Covid have only recently subsided.

In particular, the sudden restriction of access to Red Sea routes was bound to have a significant impact on the transportation of goods. Recent JP Morgan research revealed that 30% of global container trade passes through the Suez Canal – the artificial waterway that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea –while shipping costs on some cargo routes have surged nearly five-fold in recent months.

Simultaneously, tensions in East Asia have continued to rise in light of China’s stated wish to re-unify Taiwan –which has been governed independently since 1949 –with the mainland. Conflict in this area would be especially challenging for the AV technology industry as Taiwan possesses a huge market share of the global semi-conductor foundry market – more than 61% according to a recent study issued by Statista.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to look far for other potential flash-points – from an increasingly hawkish North Korea to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, where there are legitimate fears that tactical nuclear weapons

could still be used. All of which could, of course, have catastrophic implications for trade – literally overnight. Despite this, the mood of those who spoke to Installationfor this supply chain update was generally positive. A renewed commitment by manufacturers and distributors to building inventory has meant supply times are much improved from the peak-Covid period. Meanwhile, there are also plenty of fresh initiatives –from the development of alternative components to new chip factory projects and EU legislation – that promise to reduce the impact of further crises.


Peter Hansen, economist at AVIXA, comments: “For pro AV, the supply situation is in increasingly good shape. Yes, there are new issues: Houthi attacks reducing traffic through the Red Sea and the ongoing closure of the Port of Baltimore in the US [due to a bridge collapse in March 2024]. But the reality is things were so bad for so long that issues like these can’t compare. The data shows supply difficulties continue to resolve and fade into the background. For example, in our most recent monthly pulse survey (March 2024), just 7% of respondents identified supply constraints as their biggest challenge. That’s down from 36% a year ago in March 2023, and down from 18.4% six months ago in September 2023.”

Feature 44 45
Crestronopenedits most advanced productionfacilityin Orangeburg,NewYork state,inJuly2019

“Immense challenges” during the pandemic meant that supply issues became more familiar, although Hansen says that “in normal times supply chains are fairly robust. Between all stages of the chain –manufacturer, distributor, integrator – there are usually two to three months of supply available.”

Nonetheless, AVIXA continues to make supply chains an important facet of its research work. It published “two major deep dives” into the topic during the pandemic, whilst a monthly “pulse check” in the Pro AV Business Index keeps an eye on "how difficult supply is in the mix of challenges for AV companies". Supply challenges are also a key component of AVIXA's Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA) research, which measures industry revenue by vertical market, solution area, product and geography.


Toni Moss, managing director of systems integrator Strive AV, is among those to suggest that, in the wake of the pandemic, important lessons have been learned across large swathes of the industry.

“I think that a lot of the distributors and manufacturers have realised they don’t ever want to get into the situation they had a couple of years ago,” she says. “So first and foremost their stock levels are definitely higher than they used to be. There were some manufacturers where previous supply problems must have had a serious impact on sales and turnover, and it’s a matter of debate as to if and when they can regain lost customers. So I think there has been a real change in terms of having larger stocks available at one time, whilst more coordination on the delivery side – for example, with regard to a supplier making all the deliveries in one area during the same time-period –has also improved the situation.”

Consequently, Moss says that lead-times for the projects Strive AV has worked on this spring – which include a flurry of university and college installations, as well as an increasing number of commitments in the corporate world – have generally been fairly short. Alluding to a recent AV modernisation effort at the University of Sussex Business School, Moss says that “was a really big project and we basically received all of the stock we needed within three weeks” – in other words, the kind of lead-time that would have been commonplace before 2020.

Brad Hintze, EVP of global marketing at Crestron, also indicates that increased industry pro-activity is proving beneficial. “Supply chain experts have warned about disruptions like this for over a decade, even beyond our industry,” he says.

“The pandemic created a perfect storm for everyone to feel those disruptions directly. One good outcome is that everyone is now taking this more seriously and is anxiously engaged in looking for long-term solutions. We have gotten much closer to key partners; rather than just being a customer that buys components, we

Technologyanddata createanintegrated ecosystematthe Orangeburgfacility

now actively have dialogues to find new solutions. We hope everyone in the industry stays engaged in these types of conversations and will continually look for new ways to partner and build greater technologies.”

For Crestron, Hintze says there has been a return to a “steady product flow” into warehouses and out to customers: “Some individual components continue to have longer than usual lead times, but we have been proactively planning in such a way that it is not impacting our ability to build and ship products. We have gotten better at forecasting demand and, in many cases, maintaining higher-than-normal levels of inventory in our warehouses.”

The company also maintains its policy to “continually evaluate” manufacturing operations and partners. “In many cases, we have started to build in choice/ flexibility in the components we use on key products; in others, we have started to identify key products that must always be in stock and build up safety stock with product on our shelves.”

AV stakeholders can also take encouragement from broader industrial and political moves to improve technology supply resilience. In the US, Joe Biden’s administration recently announced new funding for a computer-chip factory in New York state, while a cluster of semiconductor facilities are in the planning stages in Europe in the wake of the EU European Chips Act that went into force last September. Staying in the EU, the

Feature 46
Thereisgrowing interestinfinding alternatives to silicon-basedchips

recent passage of the Critical Raw Material Acts also looks set to be an important development.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), professor and senior expert at the European Commission, Dr Cristina Vanberghen, described the act as a “significant step forward for Europe’s pursuit of strategic digital autonomy and resilience in the face of supply chain vulnerabilities. The act addresses pressing concerns stemming from supply shortages during the pandemic and escalating geopolitical tensions, underlining the imperative for Europe to reduce its dependence on external sources for critical materials.”


There is also a growing interest in pursuing alternatives to silicon-based chip production. For example, Installationrecently reported on nanotechnology company Chiral’s announcement of a US$3.8m funding round to address the challenge of silicon-based chip shortages, innovating the way nanomaterials are integrated into devices. More generally, the prospect of the industry hitting a ceiling in terms of silicon technology capacity is also sparking increasing interest in nanomaterials like carbon nanotube and graphene.

Still, with the timescales for developing new silicon chip foundries, in particular, bound to be distinctly protracted, it’s just as well to remain vigilant – especially in a world where peace feels more precarious than at any time since 1945. Futuresource Consulting’s head of professional displays and principal analyst, Ted Romanowitz, implies that uncertainty itself constitutes an ongoing challenge.

“There are so many variables when you look at it –from a military perspective, from a political perspective, there is so much going on in the world that could potentially impact the supply chain,” he says, alluding to recent research suggesting that, in some areas of tech, “the people actually making the purchase decisions are being ultra-cautious" There is also the issue of inflation, which is affecting the "ability to get capital and invest in infrastructure, whilst we also have critical elections taking place in several countries". He adds that this could have some real impacts in terms of how governments view international business.

In short: it’s best to stay on your guard during a period of instability that Romanowitz compares to the notoriously uncertain era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But if it’s impossible to fully prepare for every conceivable scenario – remember everyone, EMP means there’s likely to be no mains power after a fullscale nuclear war! – then at least pro AV seems to have taken onboard valuable lessons about inventory building and contingency planning that will serve it well during any future crises.

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USHIO, the Tokyo-based parent company to Christie Digital Systems, has announced the appointment of Takabumi Asahi as chief executive officer of Christie Digital Systems USA. Asahi will assume his new role immediately, succeeding Koji Naito.

Asahi previously held the role of managing executive officer and chief financial officer at Ushio. He has held positions of increasing responsibility since joining Ushio in 2017 as deputy general manager.

Asahi boasts over 30 years of experience. Previous to Ushio, Asahi worked for Oki Electric Industry, a Japanese information and communications services company, where he acquired global business management experience in technology fields, including semiconductor, information and telecommunication technology, as well as office automation.


ZTRANSFORM has appointed Dewey Cash to the new position of senior design engineer. Cash has worked as a consultant and design engineer specialising in complex broadcast and AV projects for over 35 years.

Cash will be responsible for the design and implementation of all SMPTE ST 2110 systems, leading projects and supporting the company’s growth strategy.

In 2015, Cash joined Imagine Communications as project manager, when the shift toward IP-based infrastructure first began. Over the course of eight years, he helped to design and deploy ST 2110 systems for master control, routing and digital signage applications.

Cash has overseen large system ZTransform installations, including Arizona Cardinals Stadium (ST 2110 control room), Lucas Oil Stadium (ST 2110 control room), and Microsoft (ST 2110 routing).


RTI has announced the appointment of Ben Mahoney as the company’s new global training manager. In this new role, Mahoney will lead online and in-person training and education initiatives for RTI’s commercial and residential market segments.

Mahoney brings 20 years of training and leadership experience to RTI, including roles at Control4 and ClearOne. Recently he was director of education at Nice North America, leading development programs across all Nice business units. He is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Part of our core philosophy is that integrators choose a control system based on market-leading training opportunities provided by the manufacturer. The programme we will implement during the coming months will help elevate our dealer experience,” said Mahoney.


GENELEC has appointed Steen Tychsen as international sales manager, with responsibility for SE Asia, Eastern Europe and Canada. With over 25 years of professional audio experience in senior roles, previous high-profile roles at both DPA and Neumann have given Tychsen experience of overseeing sales and business development in both EMEA and the US, Genelec says.

“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to represent a brand synonymous with excellence in audio technology,” said Tychsen. “Genelec’s commitment to innovation and superior sound quality aligns with my passion for delivering exceptional experiences to customers around the world. As I take on this role, I feel a mixture of excitement and responsibility, and I see it as an exciting challenge to drive growth and expand Genelec’s presence in global markets.”

48 Latest appointments



MELANIE STEGEMANN has been appointed vice president of brand and corporate communications at d&b group. Stegemann will head a diverse team and take on a range of responsibilities, from brand positioning to content production, thought leadership and strategic decision-making.

Before joining d&b, Stegemann spent nine years at Zumtobel Group, an international lighting business, including as recent head of brand marketing. She has also served as head of PR for Zumtobel Group’s technology brand, Tridonic, and as PR and marketing manager for Metro Group. She holds an MA in American Studies, Computer Linguistics and Business Informatics.

“Joining the vibrant pulse of d&b, a beacon of global innovation and leadership, fills me with an electrifying sense of purpose,” said Stegemann.


USSI Global has promoted Amanda Flynn to the new role of chief revenue officer. Flynn will oversee USSI Global’s sales, marketing, customer success and revenue operations. Working with the operations and accounting teams, she will seek to drive profitability while building a strategic plan.

Flynn started with USSI Global in 2008, in business development, and was promoted to director of business development and customer relations in 2018. In 2021, she became vice president of customer relations, growing the company’s digital signage and electronic business and consumer solutions.

“She’s taken our customer service standards to new heights,” said David Christiano, CEO, USSI Global.

Flynn will remain based at USSI Global’s corporate headquarters in Melbourne.

BOB JACOBS has joined Visionary as technical support engineer. The company is seeking to expand its in-house customer service and technical support operations, and Jacobs has been tasked with providing personal assistance to system integrators.

Prior to joining Visionary, Jacobs served as an AV designer engineer for a prominent commercial integration company, where he worked closely with Visionary’s technology. He will provide Visionary’s customers with technical support and troubleshooting, systems design and integration, and technical training.

“I’m excited to join their expanding team and contribute to the company’s mission of providing reliable, feature-rich AV-over-IP solutions with unparalleled technical support to integrators,” said Jacobs.


RUSTY WAGNER has joined SNA Displays’ sales division as sales director, central, working out of the company’s Dallas office. Wagner brings 25 years of AV industry experience, recently from AVI Systems where he was the area vice president responsible for building and coaching sales teams. His focus will be serving client accounts and growing new business.

“I bring a cross-functional mindset in my approach, working with operations, engineering, project management, and marketing to ensure clients receive detailed and thorough care,” Wagner said.

SNA Displays chose Wagner for the role because of his reputation for cultivating long-term relationships and closing high-value projects. Wagner is renowned among friends and family for his BBQ skills. He and his wife have five kids and two dogs, Junior and Ellie. 49
Latest appointments
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Mark Wadsworth, vice-president of global marketing for Digital Projection, discusses his InfoComm baptism of fire, his favourite sports, Covid, and how he sees the future of AV

Where do you hail from and where do you reside?

I currently live in Saddleworth, about 45 minutes north of Manchester, England, and was born close by too.

How did you get into AV?

Like many people it seems, quite by accident. I saw a job advertised that looked interesting, but I didn’t know the industry even existed. I was on gardening leave but undecided, until the then sales director called me and asked me if I wanted to go to Vegas for a show called InfoComm the week after. It was the first major trade show that I had ever visited, and I was hooked from then on. The passion that people displayed for their brands and their products was something that really resonated with me and I realised this is an industry I wanted to be a part of.

What do you do for kicks in your spare time? Any favourite sports teams?

Now being from near Manchester, I’m often asked whether I’m red or blue, but the answer is neither. It’s rugby league and cricket all the way for me. I was brought up playing both sports and continued for as long as I could until after university, when work and “real life” got in the way!

Luckily there are a few great teams in the villages around where I live so it’s easy enough to walk there on a Saturday afternoon and spend a few hours watching the local cricket teams and catch up with some people I played with in the same teams while growing up.

How do you feel the AV industry has fared post-Covid?

It was rocky for a time while everyone adapted to what was the “new normal”, but there were, and continue to be so many other factors ranging from the economy to global conflicts that everything seems to have rolled into one. I think the industry has shown a maturity and resilience that is enviable, and many companies we work with looked after their people well, and are now in a strong position for doing so.

I think the pause also allowed for some breathing space for R&D teams, especially here at Digital Projection. With less projectors going into the field during this period, the team could spend more time working on new cutting-edge technologies such as the Satellite Modular Laser system without the distraction of in-field issues.

What are your thoughts on its future, including potential pinch points?

I’m positive about the future of the industry. It must engage with and attract new, young talent from a wider variety of backgrounds and ideas, but as long as this happens and the current incumbents continue to grow and develop this new cohort, then the industry should stay strong.

How’s business at Digital Projection?

Business is good at the moment and we’re enjoying a period of time where new technology (the Satellite Modular Laser System) is mature, widely accepted and being adopted is some really interesting installations.

Adding to this we have a whole range of integrated projectors that are new to the market, which build upon our current models but boasting a completely new electronics platform that are designed to really simplify the installers and end users life. With more launches to come throughout the year we’re in a strong position regarding our projector line-up.

Any exciting news you’d like to share – forthcoming products/developments etc – and plans for 2024 and beyond?

It’s more of the same – with the new projectors just launched, and new ones on the horizon, we will continue to focus on bringing the best image quality to the market. We are currently also looking at the whole software piece that works alongside our new electronics platform, again with the singular aim of making our users' lives easier.

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