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September / October 2014

R35.00

AV System Integration | Installations | Live Events | Studio PRO Audio

Cover Armin Story Only Intense SuperSport Studio 6 Oppikoppi Odyssey grandMA2 User Review Alcons LR24 Saphila Conference 2014 Philippine Arena


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In This Issue Managing Editor It’s a sad day today for the lighting industry, as news just in that Clay Paky’s founder and chairman, Pasquale ’Paky‘ Quadri, has passed away. This news comes shortly after Wild and Marr bid farewell to a long standing employee, Blackie Swart (aka Uncle Blackie). Our thoughts are with our friends at Clay Paky and Wild & Marr and all their extended friends and family. On a lighter note, I’d like to welcome Joanne Taylor to the Pro-Systems News team. Joanne dived in head first in July and has already tackled some articles in this issue. Joanne has taken over Chanelle Ellaya’s role, who has since moved over to our sister publication Screen Africa. Claire Badenhorst

CONTENTS NEWS

Live Events

4k central topic at SACIA’s annual

Philippine Arena.........................................32

Infocomm Survivor’s Breakfast...................3

Oppikoppi Odyssey...................................36

Christie acquires Arsenal Media

Hot desking.................................................38

to expand digital signage options............3

Intense Armin reaches for the sky............42

Gearhouse Group launches

John Vlismass – Revelations......................48

West African operation...............................4

grandMA2 user review..............................50

Three console companies

Alcons Audio LR24.....................................58

form new pro audio group.........................4

Out of the box conferencing...................60

Clay Paky founder passes away................6

Tracking Technology..........................64 – 67

Peripheral Vision introduces two new

PLASA London 2014...................................68

agencies at new products launch............6

On a Quest for quality – A review...........70

TC Group ups its pro-audio offering for South Africa..............................6 Matrix Sound opens US office.....................8

Studio PRO AUDIO

Tributes to Uncle Blackie flood in...............8

m.phase DAW controller app...................72

Wild & Marr celebrates

Recording and mixing drums

20 years with Shure......................................8

in the modern DAW part 5 – Compression................................74

Company Profile

Deputy Editor

A Wild & Marr vision...................................10

Social Peripheral Vision’s Beauty and the Geek...............................75

Well folks, it’s September already and I’m sure most of you are giving that last push towards the holiday season. It seems like the year has just zoomed by and it’s hard to believe we’re already onto our 14th issue! As usual, content just seems to be growing and growing and it’s getting more difficult to fit it all in but, nevertheless, this issue is chock-a-block with stories such as the new Studio 6 installation at SuperSport; a focus on what it takes to design and light a world-class broadcast facility to international standards. We also cover the dance sensation Armin Only Intense, which saw one of the largest lighting rigs in South Africa’s history dazzle a packed CocaCola Dome. We finally get a look at the much-awaited Alcons Audio LR24 and speak to founder Tom Back about its design and development. We also, for the first time, cover the Oppikoppi festival from an audio and lighting point of view and bring you yet another user review, focussing on the grandMA2 lighting console. This amongst much more is packed within the pages you have before you so, until next issue, enjoy! Greg Bester

Integration & INSTALLATION

DPA Microphones Workshop ...................75

The Innovation Factory.............................14

DWR Distribution’s Big Bash.......................75

Kicking off the World Cup at Studio 6.....16

SACIA’s Infocomm Survivors Breakfast....76

Tracking Technology..........................18 – 21

Yamaha QL-series launch.........................76

Take Me Out SA..........................................22

JBL / Soundcraft

Powering loudspeakers

new products launch................................76

– the ‘soft’ way...........................................26

Cover image by Erik Forster

Contributors Joanne Taylor | Completing her Creative Writing degree, Joanne is an experienced trade journalist and photographer in many different industries. Joanne is learning the ropes of the audio and AV industries and has a keen interest in lighting, particularly for live events and theatre productions.

David Davies| A journalist who has been covering professional AV and broadcast technology for 14 years. He is reelance managing editor of Sports Video Group (SVG) Europe and continues to contribute to a host of trade publications, including PSNEurope, PSNLive and Installation. He has also been a part of the team for The AES Daily, The IBC Daily and, since 2005, The ISE Daily, for which he served as an executive editor in 2013 and 2014. In addition, he is active as a copywriter and sub-editor.

Louise Stickland | Professional journalist and photographer with huge passion and enthusiasm for technology and the production industry. Louise initially worked and toured as a lighting designer after graduating from university. She has many years experience in the music and live event sector, and works closely with leading international designers, production companies and technology manufacturers.

Publisher| Simon Robinson | simon@sun-circle.co.za Managing Editor | Claire Badenhorst | editor@pro-systems.co.za Deputy Editor | Greg Bester | greg@pro-systems.co.za In-house Journalist | Joanne Taylor | news@pro-systems.co.za Sub-Editor | Tina Heron Advertising Sales | Simone de Beer | sales@pro-systems.co.za Design | Trevor Ou Tim | design@sun-circle.co.za Subscriptions | Albertina Tserere | data@sun-circle.co.za Accounts | Natasha Glavovic | accounts@sun-circle.co.za Sun Circle Publishers (Pty) Ltd | Tel: +27 11 025-3180 | Epsom Downs Office Park, 13 Sloane Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg | PO Box 559 Fourways North 2086, South Africa

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www. pro-systems.co.za

Publishers & Projects


news

4k central topic at SACIA annual InfoComm Survivors’ Breakfast The South African Communications Industry Association (SACIA) held its annual InfoComm Survivors’ Breakfast at Blandford Manor in northern Johannesburg on 15 July 2014. Attended by many AV integration industry stalwarts and a reassuring crowd of new faces, the event was moderated by SACIA executive director Kevan Jones and chaired by newly appointed Wynand Langenhoven. The panel of notable show attendees included Dimension Data’s JP Van Niekerk, Matrix Sound’s Trevor Peters, and Electrosonic’s Bruce Genricks, to give their impression of this year’s show and highlight products or technologies that caught their eye. Undoubtedly the biggest topic of interest and debate amongst the attendees and panellists was 4k video. Questions and comments around the technology included when 4k would break into the mainstream market, its limitations and advantages, gearing clients for 4k infrastructure and

JP Van Niekerk, Bruce Genricks and Trevor Peters

discussions around current and future pricing. “4k is a reality,” says Van Niekerk, “I think most of us have thought that 4k might be a bit of a ‘3D gimmick’ but it seems like it’s here to stay. The pricing of the displays and projectors are still quite high but they do seem to be coming down, so as integrators I think it is a conversation that I believe we should have with our clients. Although you don’t necessarily need to sell them 4k equipment right now, at least your back-end needs to be there for when it does become

Christie acquires Arsenal Media to expand digital signage options Visual displays and audio technology company Christie has announced the acquisition of Montreal-based Arsenal Media, a digital signage agency specialising in experiential installations, interactive content and strategic digital signage installations. Arsenal Media will become Christie Creative Media Services, operating within Christie’s Global Professional Services group. Founded in 1999, Arsenal Media boasts an enviable track record in delivering high impact digital signage and experiential installations that include collaborations with clients such as Viacom, Caterpillar, Nielsen, Cineplex, Morguard, Freeman XP, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Gemological Institute of America, and TAD. Associates, and the Montreal Convention Center. Past collaborations between Christie

Denys Lavigne – Arsenal Media co-founder

and Arsenal Media have included the Miami Dolphins’ BuzzWall, Sun Life Financial’s branded gesture-based display at the Dolby Theatre, and Christie’s award-winning 24K and 8K lobbies in Cypress, California and Kitchener, Ontario. As part of the acquisition, Arsenal Media’s co-founder, Denys Lavigne, will join Christie as the senior director, Experience Strategy and Creative Services within Global Professional Services. Sean James, vice president, Global

economical to implement it.” Content, of course, is central to the 4k issue, and Peters concluded: “One thing that was interesting for me was that I found at least two exhibitors at InfoComm that base their business on creating 4k content. In my opinion that’s a sign that it’s not a matter of yes, you’ve got the technology, but what are you going to display on it? As a sound guy my question was, how much better is 4k, actually? Well, in my opinion it’s infinitely better and I think that it will indeed bring a lot to the market when it goes mainstream.”

Professional Services, added that Arsenal Media’s expertise in creating award-winning content, supported by a common thread strategy from concept to implementation, will allow Christie to broaden its digital signage capabilities. To date, Christie’s digital signage products and solutions have included indoor and outdoor HD LCD flat panels, LED-based MicroTiles with proven DLP technology, Christie Spyder image processors, the multi-touch Christie Interactivity Kit and the Christie JumpStart content management system for large-format displays. Complementing these proven products and solutions are services offered by Christie’s Global Professional Services division. Christie can drive projects through to completion from consultation to design and installation by experienced field application engineers. Christie’s Network Operations Center (NOC) keeps systems running 24/7 with monitoring and maintenance of digital signage installations. Projects completed by Christie Global Professional Services have included installations for The Walt Disney Company, Barneys New York, and LVMH Moët Hennessy’s Fresh retail stores.

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Gearhouse Group launches West African operation The Gearhouse Group of Companies is prominent in the equipment rental market for live events in South Africa, and has recently announced that it is advancing the service onto the African continent with the establishment of Gearhouse Ghana, a fully stocked operation located in Accra. Over the past few years, the Group has experienced a steady increase in the demand for cross border services in line with the escalating interest in the African continent as an event destination. Gearhouse regularly services events in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Brunei, Tunisia, Congo, Namibia, Egypt, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Zambia, and Tanzania. Local live event industry suppliers are generally unable to provide technical equipment and expertise to the standard required, making eventing in these areas an expensive exercise with freighting of equipment and personnel, adding unavoidable costs. Gearhouse can now provide West African events with the same level of technical services as there is available in any other major event destination, both quickly and cost effectively. Heading up the new company are Bill and Nicky Lawford whose African events experience is extensive and who both have many years of experience within the South African operation.

Photo courtesy Gearhouse Ghana

news

Oracle event Ghana

Gearhouse Ghana offers a full technical solution with a fast turnaround and professional delivery, an approach which is proving attractive to a host of corporates, event managers, destination management companies, professional conference organisers, venues, television companies and promoters wanting to mount events in West Africa. The establishment of the West African arm of Gearhouse was designed to meet the ever increasing need for events within Africa and beyond, with a specific focus on contributing to the development of the live event industry in West Africa.

Three console companies form new pro audio group Premium power distribution systems

Te l : 0 8 3 6 01 13 0 0 E m a i l : p e d r o @ g e a r s h a c kd a n d . c o . z a W W W . G E A R S H A C K D A N D . C O . Z A

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The DiGiCo team spent 18 months consulting with Electra Partners about the possible combination of both Allen & Heath and Calrec with the DiGiCo family. The culmination of this brings together three British console companies to create a new professional audio group, while retaining their unique skills, customer relationships, and the identities of each brand. James Gordon will become Group CEO supported by a strong and talented management team from across the new group. “We have bold plans for the group but it is imperative that each company maintain its own independence and style. None of these brands needs to trade off each other’s technology or reputation. The strategy is to share technology and resources across the group and allow some interconnectivity across the product lines.” The combined research and development teams are about to enter a new world of possibilities and the group intends to take full advantage of their resources, passion, and experience. The complexity of this combination required the effort and support of two of London’s top Private Equity houses. For the first time, Electra Partners and ISIS have pooled resources to support the management of this ambitious vision for the future of UK pro audio. “DiGiCo augments our existing investment in the professional audio sector. We have worked hard to bring together these three successful businesses. We look forward to working with Gordon and his team to grow the group, while also preserving the brand identity and customer relationships of each business,” concludes Charles Elkington, investment partner at Electra Partners.


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news

Clay Paky founder passes away Pasquale “Paky” Quadri, founder and chairman of Clay Paky SpA, passed away on Sunday, 7 September 2014 at his home in Torre De Roveri, Italy. Quadri was a highly successful entrepreneur, and the creative soul of Clay Paky. Quadri was passionate about technology and the culture of innovation, and remained closely intertwined with the history of show business. Quadri conceived most of the Clay Paky products, from the very first lighting effects such as Astrodisco, which became an icon in the discotheques of the 1970s and 1980s, to the legendary automated lights used in rock concerts and TV, such as Golden Scan and Sharpy, up to today’s innovative B-EYE.  Quadri founded Clay Paky in 1976 and thanks to him, the company has obtained more than 50 of the most prestigious international awards in the sector of professional show lighting. In March this year, Quadri was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the MIPA Awards held in Frankfurt during Musikmesse, a world trade show for musical instruments, professional sound and equipment for stage shows. Quadri was the first representative

Clay Paky founder Pasquale Quadri

from the lighting industry to receive this prestigious prize. In August, Quadri signed an agreement to transfer the ownership of Clay Paky SpA to OSRAM, with the objective of securing further expansion for the company, also thanks to the current management team, confirmed by the German company. Pasquale Quadri, 67, is survived by his wife Antonella, his daughters Alessandra and Francesca, and granddaughters Melissa and Martina.

Peripheral Vision introduces two new agencies at new products launch Local AV equipment distributors, the first in their range of Peripheral Vision, unveiled a motorised brand new logo along with two videoconferencing new agencies and associated camera cubbies, products at an industry breakfast. which can be The launch, aptly named ‘Beauty customised to match and the Geek’, was held at the the décor. Cedar Park Conference Centre The second agency on 13 and 14 August, 2014. revealed at the event The exciting new logo was Sound Control represents Peripheral Vision’s Technologies (SCT), a involvement in the analog to US-based company David Neaderland from SCT digital transition that the AV specialising in extension kits industry is experiencing. that deliver video, audio, Arthur Holm, the first agency presented, power, control and IR over single or dual specialises in beautifully crafted, state of the CAT5e or CAT6 cabling, depending on the art motorised, retractable monitors and application. The presentation was given by other devices for the conferencing industry. SCT president and co-founder Their sister company, Albiral Display Solutions, David Neaderland. produces Pixtron broadcast industry displays. SCT manufactures transmitter and receiver The presentation, given by Albiral Display boxes, with all the required cabling and Solutions CEO Henrik Holm, detailed Arthur connecting hardware, for long-distance Holm’s entire range of products. This transmission of media and control signals included their Dynamic range of retractable between videoconferencing cameras and LCD monitors and microphones, along with the codec.

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TC Group ups its pro-audio offering for South Africa TC Group is delighted to announce the appointment of TID as the exclusive distributor of Tannoy, Lab.gruppen and Lake products in South Africa. The deal will see TID, located in Ranburg, become the primary contact for all three brands in the country, with exclusive access to Tannoy professional loudspeakers, as well as exclusive access to the extensive library of Lab. gruppen and Lake amplification and processing products. Tiaan Hoogstad at TID, comments: “The TC Group Install and Tour ranges are products that will enhance our offering to our customers. Tannoy, Lab.gruppen and Lake are some of the most respected brands in the pro-audio business, and we are extremely happy to bring them all on board. With a comprehensive training and support programme already in place, TID look forward to enhancing the reputation of these leading brands across South Africa.” “We appreciate TID’s professional attitude and their sustainable way of doing business. We know that as a company they are well accepted in the region and have access to the Install and Tour market in South Africa, so this partnership strengthens our presence in the market,” concludes Stephan Grawe, TC Group’s international sales manager for Install and Tour.

At the end of the event, Kevan Jones, executive director of SACIA presented at the event and explained what SACIA stands for, especially in terms of the Code of Ethics that needs to be signed by any new member. He said that Peripheral Vision was one of the founder members of SACIA, and Wynand Langenhoven has been a director of the association since its inception, and is the current chairman of SACIA.

Erratum In the news article headed “Harman completes acquisition of AMX” in the July / August Dinesh C. Paliwal 2014 issue of Pro-Systems Magazine, we accidentally captioned the picture of Dinesh C. Paliwal as Pio Nahum. We apologise to Dinesh C. Paliwal, The Harman Group and Pio Nahum for the error.


Lenses and accessories shown are not included

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news

Matrix Sound opens US office

Having a good knowledge of the product offerings Matrix Sound has opened an office emanating from in Orlando, Florida, in the US. The Europe, we recent restructuring within the decided to Johannesburg-based company has investigate what facilitated renewed focus on the American sales division and enabled the manufacturers had Trevor Peters company to explore distribution deals to offer.” with manufacturers in new regions. Peters has spent the past two years “For the past 14 years we have maintained becoming familiar with the US market and its distribution agreements for pro-audio specific offerings. “On returning from products manufactured in Europe and more InfoComm 2014, I felt that we had enough of recently in Australia. We have proudly a sense of what was available, and more associated ourselves with what we believe to importantly suitable to us, to take the next be among the best professional audio step. The establishment of an office in product available in the world today,” says Orlando will allow us to consolidate orders Trevor Peters of Matrix Sound. from all over the US and ship them home The company is now expanding the more cost effectively.” scope of its sales division and in this regard The intention is to introduce the plans to act primarily as an importer and companies’ product and service offerings to distributor for a number of additional new a broader market, a move integral to their product ranges. “Our most recent challenge plans for growth. “We love that we are has been to identify brands that offer quality associated with quality in everything that we and reliability in what is effectively a new do and we wouldn’t dream of changing venture for us, supplying to the music industry what we have spent the past 16 years and contractors market. It’s a very establishing. We would however like to competitive segment of our industry, embrace a wider market sector moving particularly when you’ve committed to forward and this will be the first step in that maintaining specific equipment standards. direction.”

Tributes to Uncle Blackie flood in Legendary senior service device perform the technician Blackie ‘Uncle seemingly impossible. Blackie’ Swart passed away on The Blackie Box was 16 July 2014 at the age of 72, essentially a problem and has left a saddened team solver or an interface behind at Wild & Marr. component for system Uncle Blackie worked at Wild integration. & Marr for 32 years, and his In a number of colleague Jeff Isaacs says that instances a complete he was an outstanding tutor to system solution many of the Wild & Marr team: necessitated the “Blackie Swart was a man incorporation of Blackie ‘Uncle Blackie’ Swart who faithfully lived his values; electronic units which a teacher of all things. His were generally not method was simple. He taught by example. available ‘off the shelf.’ He never let anyone down. He fulfilled every Blackie’s exceptional electronic obligation he ever undertook. He was proud knowledge and expertise enabled him to of his profession and was always keen to design and build these electronic solutions. share all of his knowledge. He respected all “Wild & Marr would not have been the and he was respected by all.” same market leader today without the Uncle Blackie was an electronics genius Blackie box, created by a man that who solved every challenge with ease, and without doubt will be sorely missed by all invented the famous ‘Blackie box’ that could that knew him for many years,” and would make any electronic or electrical adds Isaacs.

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Wild & Marr celebrates 20 years with Shure

Freddy Sicko, Joe Copans and Chicco Hiranandani

Shure are synonymous in producing legendary performance microphones. A legend that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year is the Unidyne Microphone. The Unidyne was the first directional microphone that used a single dynamic mic element and its iconic classic mic appearance has seen it being used by entertainers and celebrities since its introduction in 1939. Another milestone was recently achieved with southern African Shure Distributor Wild & Marr, when they were awarded a gold plated Unidyne. The award is a mark of appreciation for their long term relationship of 20 years as a Shure distributor. Joe Copans, managing director at Wild & Marr, received the award at a recent distributor meeting with Shure. “Wild & Marr has always been driven to provide integrated solutions,” he says. “In 1994 we were looking for a microphone that would complement our products. Shure has always been a standard of reference in microphones and so I believed that it would be the right product in our professional audio bouquet.” Freddy Sicko, general manager at Shure MEA says: “We are proud and happy to have a distribution partner offering excellent service and support for the region. Wild & Marr and their employees are passionate about the brand, focused on the customer and one of the most reliable business partners you can have. We are looking forward to working together with Joe and Arline Copans and their team for decades to come.” Wild & Marr are importers and distributors of professional audio products. They employ over 80 people and also have a technical department of engineers that offer design solutions, training and engineering to their customer base.


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COMPANY PROFILE

A Wild & Marr vision Joe Copans’ vision of offering a complete audio solution is what drove him to direct Wild & Marr to where it is today… The brains behind the success of audio turnkey solutions distributor Wild & Marr has always been that of managing director Joe Copans. Without his determination and vision to turn the company into what it is today, it would still be the consumer electronics components, spares and accessories distributor it was up until 1981, when Joe took over from his late father. “My vision was to market and build brands to offer solutions to customers,” he says.

The beginning Wild & Marr was opened by two men – Mr Wild and Mr Marr – in the Johannesburg city centre in the 1940s, and Copans’ father, Morris, and Morris’s brother-in-law, purchased the business from the two original owners. Until 1981, during Morris’s reign, the company’s core business was distributing consumer electronic components, spares and accessories. It was, however, becoming increasingly evident that to survive as a distributor, there was a desperate need for products that exhibited meaningful differentiation. Joe Copans always had a love for music, and an interest in audio acoustics. When word got out that the JBL distribution had become available, Wild & Marr were able to successfully negotiate the distribution of the JBL Professional Loudspeaker agency. Wild & Marr were officially appointed as the sub-sales and distributor of JBL in 1992. In 1994, Wild & Marr acquired the Shure Microphone distribution. The launching of the EON Loudspeakers seemed to indicate a turning point in the strategy which JBL took to market. EON was genuinely a product that evolved out of market demand. JBL is the flagship area of what has today become the Harman Pro division of Harman. Harman Pro adopted a strategy of acquiring companies that were top quality manufacturers in all the various segments, such as processors, mixing consoles and amplifiers, these include DBX, BSS, Soundcraft, Lexicon and Crown. In and around 2002, Harman adopted a strategy to integrate the distribution of all brands both in the US and worldwide. Wild & Marr was then fortunate to be appointed the sole sub-sales and distributor of all these brands. Although Wild & Marr did not initially distribute the Studer brand, which is also a Harman Pro product, it was awarded this distribution some time later, and had in recent years been able to acquire meaningful market share in this area. Between 1993 and 1996, Wild & Marr acquired the Harman range of products which included Soundcraft, dbx, BSS, Crown, and Lexicon.

The Wild & Marr offices

Today Wild & Marr is currently one of southern Africa’s renowned forerunners, and a turnkey project solutions company in the distribution and installation of professional audio. The company is strategically planned to provide tailored professional audio solutions. “Timeous, relevant, accurate input as well as excellent after sales service and repairs have cemented the company, and its focus of building and maintaining customer relationships, places Wild & Marr as a trusted brand,” says Copans. Apart from the Harman and Shure brands, Wild & Marr distributes a number of other peripheral solution products. Wild & Marr specialises in custom audio engineering, audio / video integration, computer aided design, and acoustic analysis in the portable PA, contracting, and live events. The company has also received a number of awards through the years; the most recent was the Shure Gold Plated Unidyne Microphone that was awarded in appreciation of 20 years of commitment and excellence. The Unidyne Microphone was the first directional microphone that used a single dynamic mic element and its iconic classic mic appearance has seen it being used by entertainers since its introduction in 1939. Other recent awards have been Harman’s Presidents Award in

Wild & Marr was opened by two men – Mr Wild and Mr Marr – in the Johannesburg city centre in the 1940s, and Copans’ father, Morris, and Morris’s brother-in-law, purchased the business from the two original owners. 10


COMPANY PROFILE

2011, which is the top award in the Harman group. In 2013 it won the Soundcraft Distributor of the Year award.

Biggest project Wild & Marr’s single largest project to date was the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which was constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The project began in 2008 and gained Wild & Marr an enormous amount of credibility, and was the first company to receive practical completion on site. The stadium includes three amplifier rooms and two control rooms, and the kit list includes; 136 x JBL Vertec boxes; about 1 500 x JBL Control ceiling speakers; a number of JBL AM5212 speakers; about 70 x iTec 1 200 amplifiers; 65 x CTS Cobranet amplifiers; 18 x BSS Soundweb London processors; Soundcraft RM 100 for use in the control rooms; and the design was a complete Cobranet fully redundant signal path system, with 70 kilometres of cabling.

The people Wild & Marr has a reputation of retaining staff for many years, and its longest serving employees (other than Copans himself!) are Jeff Isaacs who started in 1978 and the late ‘Uncle Blackie’, who spent 32 years at Wild & Marr developing his expertise and passing on his skills and knowledge to newcomers through the years. Other employees that have been with the company for more than 10 years are: Darren Durbach, Farouk Moosa, Kas Naidoo, Aadil Matwadia, Hassen Karolia, Lisa Masia, Reggie Naidoo, Phillip Pela,

Distributed by

+27 11 791 7009

sales@tadco.co.za

www.tadco.co.za

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COMPANY PROFILE

Wild & Marr’s biggest project – Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban

The stadium includes three

Edson Nguyule, Gustav Teitge, Perlaine Parish, Neil Kasselman and Bonga Maluleka.

amplifier rooms and two control

The future

rooms, and the kit list includes; 136 x JBL Vertec boxes; about 1 500 x JBL Control ceiling speakers; a number of JBL AM5212 speakers; about 70 x iTec 1 200 amplifiers; 65 x CTS Cobranet amplifiers; 18 x BSS Soundweb London processors; Soundcraft RM 100 for use in the control rooms; and the design was a complete Cobranet fully redundant signal path system, with 70 kilometres of cabling.

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“We are what we offer,” says Copans, adding that Wild & Marr have got some ‘nice things’ in the pipeline for the not too distant future. The technical expertise that Wild & Marr have in terms of its infrastructure offer turnkey solutions with high levels of consultancy, information and expertise, to find the absolute best possible solution for its customers. “Our future is directly dependent on us continuing to maintain and build our customer relationships and offering the best turnkey solutions.” Service is a key quality going forward, continues Copans, and to keep growing and improving, based on the company’s idea that quality service is non-negotiable. The Johannesburg office moved from the city centre to Kew in the 1980s, and has now been located in Isando on the East Rand for eight years. The service department opened in 1992 soon after Wild & Marr became a JBL distributor and now services all products offered by Wild & Marr. The Cape Town branch of Wild & Marr opened in 2000 and now has a staff complement of 18. It has a sales department, qualified technicians that provide technical support, repairs and installations. The Durban branch opened in 2004 and has four employees that concentrate on sales and customer service solutions. So, in answering the big question of what sets Wild & Marr apart from others, Copans says: “Our customer service, prestigious products, customer relationships, and technical expertise. Our winning spirit, collaborative efforts and successful partnerships drive us closer to our goal of establishing ourselves as the recognised extraordinary player in the southern African audio arena.”


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Integration & Installation AV Solution

The Innovation Factory

The collaboration space

Paul Lowther with the Lowther Wing

You have to wonder where all the great ideas come from that drive business. A sudden flash of brilliance in a single pondering mind? A whole team of white-coat research and development personnel labouring over complex solutions? A lucky tinkerer? While I’m sure that at some point all of these have come to pass, there are indeed dedicated and business-sponsored ‘nests’ that establish fertile ground for young, intelligent and eager minds to develop their ideas into tangible solutions. This is the Innovation Factory.

and inputs. Then, installation and training expertise were paramount, as was on-going product support. Finally, the installation had to be ‘future proof’ and able to accommodate new innovations. The installation includes the aforementioned Lowther Wing, a local innovation developed by Paul Lowther of Lowther Communication, which is a mobile frame complete with all relevant connections, cabling and wireless connectivity that accommodates two large flat panel LED screens up to 65”. “We use the WING for presentations for larger audiences,” says Meintjes. “You can add a VC unit in the middle which makes it ideal for that application. This is one of Paul Lowther’s solutions we actually love to use here.” On T-Systems adoption of the WING, Lowther says: “The WING is a device that we have designed and patented and this is T-System’s second one that they own. The first one is at the head office. It’s fully configured with all the video conferencing equipment and it’s interesting, because they use it in four different locations every single day of the week. The old VC trolleys, that always used to bug me, are very difficult to move and get into a lift. People aren’t inclined to move them around very much because of this. So we’ve designed something that is flat-backed, takes half an hour to assemble with one Allen key, has triangulated wheel mechanism for ease of transportation and is integrated with the wePresent platform which allows you to seamlessly connect mobile devices to display presentations.” As stipulated, the core idea behind the Innovation Factory was to get down to business instead of stifling presentations with getting the technology to work. This is why you won’t find one hard-wire connection in the facility; everything is connected wirelessly in normal presentation conditions. However, for redundancy, a NET-QC-12580 wall plate was provided in the demonstration room in case of a wireless system failure. (This was actually not installed however there is an analogue and digital cable input) The demonstration room, probably the central focus of the AV installation, features a NEC UM280Wi short throw interactive projector that can be fed wirelessly via a variety of devices via the Awind WiPG WePresent 1500 platform, mounted in a device rack and on the WING. “These allow the client and customers to simultaneously connect up to 64 presentation devices and display a mix of any four of them concurrently onto the big screens,” comments Lowther. “This includes connectivity to any Android, Apple or Windows based device – smartphones, laptops etc. It works fantastically!”

The Innovation Factory was borne out of a partnership between T-Systems and Maxum Business Incubator, located in the heart of business solutions central in Pretoria, The Innovation Hub; also collaborators in the project. Modelled after the T-Systems Innovation Centre in Munich, Germany, the 200m2 facility features three distinct zones: a ‘hot desking’ area that can accommodate up to 20 people; a collaboration space where ideas can be brainstormed, designed and crafted; and a fully equipped boardroom (called the demonstration room) with a plethora of audio visual devices for formally presenting ideas and solutions. Of course, in order to harvest the fruit of percolating young and brilliant minds, the workflow needs to be unrestrictive and the processes in place, including the technology, have to be easy to use, efficient and effective. Local technology experts Lowther Communications, inventors of the 2013 Technology Top 100 Emerging Enterprise qualifier, the Lowther WING, were called upon to install all the necessary technologies to form a solution suited to real-world, ‘proof of concept’ and test systems applications. T-Systems manager of the Innovation Factory Morné Meintjes says the brief was to “provide an innovative AV solution that is scalable, reliable and can make use of existing mobile technologies like Smart phones and tablet devices (all three major OSs) for control and display purposes.” “We wanted a wireless display solution as well as electronic whiteboard facilities,” adds Meintjes. When deciding on a technology partner for the installation at the Innovation Factory there were a few important points that needed to be addressed. First, the technologies employed had to consist of reliable and proven solutions that could facilitate multiple displays

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Hydraport retractable boardroom pop-ups Modular cable retractor cartridges for: HDMI, VGA, Ethernet and Display Port

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The demonstration room

Interestingly, the projection screen, which is also an annotation whiteboard system via NEC e-Beam technology, is a custom creation that is actually a piece of sturdy glass table top covered in white vinyl mounted to the wall. The brushed metal wall mounts combined with the glass border around the vinyl gives it a somewhat tech-noir look while saving costs and offering an effective solution. The rest of the boardroom AV equipment includes a Crestron CP3 control system processor, a Crestron DIN1-DIM-U4 four-channel universal dimmer, a Crestron HD SCALER video scalar, a Crestron TPM-C3-SMBS ISYS 2.8” touch panel, a Kramer VM-4HxI four-way HDMI switcher and a Yamaha RX-V375 5.1 channel AV receiver and Blu-Ray player. For conference calling, a Polycom SoundStation2W 1.8GHz DECT wireless unit was supplied which includes the base station. “Based on our client brief of Innovation, reliability, portability (the WING) accessibility, ease of use and wireless connectivity,” says Lowther, “we felt that the equipment schedule would not only help us in delivering upon that brief, but that we were comfortable that it would delight the client now with its form and function and would do this for many years to come. By selecting the latest Crestron Control Processor, the CP3, the client has also invested in redundant capacity that allows them to add and control many more venues and equipment from this one master processor.” Lowther adds: “Our design is also completely modular, allowing the client to expand and add features and equipment as and when needed. Based on our huge exposure to the Crestron and NEC range of products over many years of implementing such solutions, Lowther Communications has great comfort too knowing that the excellent support and backup from the distributors, allows us to always deliver and fulfil our mandate.”

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The wrap The Innovation Factory at the Innovation Hub is a virtual crucible for innovation and design. The open plan layout and the seamlessly integrated technology installed by Lowther Communications easily fosters the environment where up and coming idea-forgers can develop their concepts without the hurdles of cumbersome, difficult-to-operate technology. Given the expandability of the installation and capacity to implement future developments, I’m sure the facility will be a fecund environment for young, burgeoning minds for years to come.

www.peripheralvision.co.za sales@peripheralvision.co.za +27.11.840.0860

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Integration & Installation STUDIO Solution

Kicking off the World Cup at Studio 6 Photos by Duncan Riley

By Greg Bester

SuperSport’s Studio 6 set up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while a footballers paradise of a tournament, was also the next step in local broadcasting technology with the refurbishment and upgrade of SuperSport’s Studio 6; their flagship production centre. Supersport is no stranger to football. With its myriad SD and HD channels (both locally and to some 40 sub-Saharan African countries), its long list of broadcasting rights of many high profile football tournaments the world over, its ownership of multichampionship winning SuperSport United to bringing the FIFA World Cup 2010 to the world at large, you wouldn’t be ostracised for saying they are the overseers of broadcasting football culture in South Africa. Indeed, while we’re on the topic of the 2010 World Cup, many are unaware of the feat that was accomplished by our local boys to bring the tournament to world from Africa for the first time in history. So, before we get into the upgrade of the new Studio 6 for the 2014 FIFA World Cup broadcast, let’s take a look at what they were building on.

Foundations The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a giant leap forward, not just in football broadcasting, but in South African broadcasting in general. All 64 matches were broadcast in SD and HD in four languages across the world and SuperSport was the gateway. In a FIFA TV interview at the time, then SuperSport senior producer, Max Tshunungwa remarked: “In terms of scale, it’s very big. It’s the biggest thing we’ve done to date. We definitely had to up our game, especially on the HD front. We had done some smaller, lower-scale productions already in HD but now to cover the whole tournament for the whole duration in HD was a big challenge and a big learning curve for us as well.”

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Of course, if you’re the host country you want to make your mark and that includes the set where you’re broadcasting from. The set had to have a professional, cutting edge look and that certainly was accomplished at the time. It was primarily based around shades of dark blue to match the SuperSport corporate identity and featured large narrow-bezel display walls throughout the backdrop of the two-level set, backlit Perspex floorboards and wall panels and multiple zones of presentation. While great looking, four years is an aeon technologically speaking so when set designer Michael Gill and his team at Michael Gill Designs were once again approached to design the new set, the bar had to be raised once more. While the new set was designed by Gill and his associates, it was installed by Craig Pretorius and his team at Gearhouse SDS.

Out with the old, in with the new Accordingly, building on the foundation laid during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, SuperSport’s aim was to commission a set that was in accordance with the growth they had seen over the past four years and essentially to make it future proof. Therefore, it had to age well. For the actual layout and design of the set, Gill was inspired by stadiums found throughout the world. He felt this would keep the look of the set current and lend an aesthetic to the material that was set to be broadcast there. “[SuperSport asked us to make it] bigger, better and more


STUDIO Solution Integration & Installation

technologically advanced,” explains Gill. “Previously we had just one single set, which had to be used for multiple purposes, but the thing was that it always looked like one and the same set. What we have put into the new design is a number of smaller ‘sets within a set’, which will each suit different purposes, and look like separate sets while at the same time still looking very much a part of the bigger picture. On the wide shot you’ll see the set in its entirety but then we can go in close into the smaller sets. We have the main presenter set, an entertainment stage and some interview areas.” While other set designers, including Gill, use 3D drawings to create models of their sets, Gill is known for his additional scale-model recreations that he pitches to clients, enabling them to get an up-close, tangible view. This was something he picked up in university while studying architecture. In this case, Gill met with SuperSport head of production Alvin Naicker and showed him the scale model in of the SuperSport passages between meetings. Naicker was instantly sold on the idea and approved the plans with minimal changes and negotiation. In comparison to the real set the scale model is precise. Indeed, the model took two months to build but once Gill was given the go-ahead it took Gearhouse SDS three months to build the set in its entirety and the set itself was CNC cut. The entire project, from conception to realisation, took eight months and the finished product was quite big at 25m wide by 10m deep and 7.5m high. An interesting aspect to the new set is that it can be shot in 360 degrees and has seven areas of presentation. Previously, it was only possible to shoot from one angle along the panorama of the set but now, because of the added interview areas and the entertainment stage, it is possible to shoot from the reverse angle which offers viewers a new background in the same studio space. According to Ryan Toerin, SuperSport director, producer and project manager for the new set’s construction, the camera count remains the same but “the versatility of the area has been dramatically improved”. In many ways, a TV set and lighting go hand in hand. Gill has had a long time relationship with leading South African lighting designer Joshua Cutts because to him, lighting is what gives a set its allure and produces a live, dynamic environment that pops on screen. The goal was to create dramatic, switchable ambiances with the application of lighting through a clever layout of the lighting installation. One of these aspects was the liberal use of LED backlit light boxes, of which Gill has been at the forefront for years.

The emergence of usable LED technology over recent years has enabled Gill to accomplish what he set out to; forgoing the traditional way of lighting a set with white Tungsten light which tends to dull the definition of the set and causes it to look ‘flat’ on screen. The new set has a more open and brighter feel with a primarily white trim, which doesn’t usually work so well on television under Tungsten. However, because of LED technology, this was made a possibility. “With the technology of LED fixtures for camera,” says Cutts, “the light spills everywhere and as much as that spill can sometimes be negative, if you use it positively it can spill and wash your set and your audience very quickly and easily. With white Tungsten light things become flat very quickly. The challenge was to keep the lighting contained in all the areas.” While LED lights – 272 Anolis fixtures; most of them ArcLink 3s – are installed in the wall and floor panel boxes finished with opaque Perspex and glass fronts, Cutts’ responsibility was lighting up the set, which was accomplished via Robe CitySkapes 48 LED Washes and Robe Robin Actor 6s to light up the presenters while Martin Mac 401s handled back lighting. Interestingly, the Anolis fixtures all run on a bespoke ArcPower transformer system constructed specially for the Studio 6 set: five ArcPower 16 x 12s and four ArcPower 144s. Additionally, 1.3km of LED strips were used, both in the studio and in the refurbished studio garden; these were used to display team colours of the duelling teams on any given match. However, this proved to be one of the challenges for DWR’s team under Bruce Riley as each strip had to be on an individual, dedicated circuit to differentiate their identities.

The wrap Once again South Africans show that we can design, build and light sets with the best of them. While Gill and his team, along with Cutts, were integral in bringing the new Studio 6 set to fruition, Gill humbly admits that it was a team effort. Indeed, with DWR’s support, Gearhouse’s set building expertise and the camaraderie between all involved; the result was slick, professional and delivered the look SuperSport was looking for with precision.

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Integration & Installation TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

The Crestron TSS-752: 7” Room Scheduling Touch Screen is stylish and versatile with a 7” capacitive

touch display, Smart Graphics, and multiple mounting options. It includes out-of-the-box room scheduling to use with Crestron Fusion RV Remote Asset Management Software. Crestron Room Scheduling Touch Screens provide a productivity tool for organisations with multiple conference rooms and meeting spaces. Mounted on the wall outside each room, they allow anyone to see at a glance if a room is available or in use, and view details about the current meeting. A swipe of the finger across the colour touch screen reveals the room’s entire schedule. Upcoming meetings and open time slots are clearly displayed on a scrolling calendar ribbon, and users can even reserve a room right on the spot from the touch screen. It is designed to be installed as part of a complete enterprise room scheduling solution using Fusion RV Remote Asset Management Software. Distributed by Electrosonic SA: www.crestron.co.za

DB Technologies DVA Mini

offers the same hallmark user-friendliness and sound quality of its DVA predecessors, and sets the new benchmark for easy-to-use systems with top-range sound performance. The innovative Master + Slave design makes for simplified system wiring and less total weight, making this series equally ideal for permanent installation in theatres, places of worship, convention centres, and for concert tours and live music performances. The low and mid-range reproduction is performed by the two 6,5” neodymium woofers, whose disposition and efficiency is extremely optimised thanks to a custom dual phase-plug. The two 1” drivers, finely tuned for the DVA M2 custom designed array horns deliver a crystalline clear sound in high frequency, in order to provide to the audience the same intelligibility of the DVA line array systems. The quality reinforced polypropylene enclosure, and the internal hard-wearing anti-vibration structure, makes the M2M and M2S boxes very tough and able to work as heavy duty professional tools. These features, together with neodymium transducers and the lightest amplifier ever engineered by dBTechnologies research and development, contributes to realise an exceptionally light, durable and powerful line array module for the well-known DVA Series. DVA Mini is characterised by a very clean aesthetic and a very discreet look. Even the mechanics are hidden behind the frontal panel, and the elegant curvature of the frontal hexagonal grille contributes to create a very nice looking system for any kind of fixed installation purposes or live music events where the system should be totally invisible. Distributed by Viva Afrika Sound and Light: www.hybrid.co.za

Sound Control Technologies RemoteCam2-Director extension solution offers a

cost and time saving alternative to traditional infrastructure cabling for EagleEye Director Power, Control, IR, Stereo Audio and Video. The RemoteCam2-Director kits provide a reliable ‘transparent’ link between the camera and head-end. The RemoteCam2-Director kits provide EagleEye Director power, HD analogue component video, camera control, wired IR, upstream stereo audio for camera tracking, distances up to 300’ on Dual CAT5e or CAT6, and EQ, Gain and Skew adjustment at the touch of a button. Distributed by Peripheral Vision: www.peripheralvision.co.za

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TRACKING TECHNOLOGY Integration & Installation

The round bezel Arthur Holm Dynamic X2

is available in 15”, 17”, 19” and 22” widescreen sizes and optionally features touch screen, camera and built-in audio capabilities (microphones and speakers). The Dynamic X2 has vertical and horizontal movement capabilities and tilts backwards by 20 degrees for an optimum viewing angle. A variety of finishes are available for both the monitor itself and the faceplate. The latter can be customised to match the finish of the conference table in materials such as leather, corian or wood finishes to seamlessly integrate with the table work surface. Other options include USB connectivity or delegate system function buttons (eg. Bosch) which can be integrated into the faceplate upon request. Distributed by Peripheral Vision: www.peripheralvision.co.za

The Christie GS Series uses laser phosphor illumination,

providing 20 000 hours of operation and eliminates the need for lamp and filter replacements. The solid state illumination, high-resolution, 1-chip DLP laser-diode projectors come in WXGA, HD and WUXGA resolutions and provide a cost-effective solution with outstanding colour matching and optional blending and warping for curved surfaces. Christie GS Series is perfect for fixed installation applications, including boardrooms and conference rooms, government facilities, higher education, houses of worship and selected location-based entertainment venues such as casinos and live event theatres. Features include wireless connectivity and a suite of optional lenses for greater installation flexibility. Easy to install and use with input options such as Display Port, HDMI, DVI and HDBaseT, Christie GS Series provides clean, radiant images with up to 5400 ANSI lumens with picture-in-picture functionality. www.christiedigital.co.uk

The Powersoft X Series raises power amplification to a

new standard of quality and usability. Powersoft X Series innovates the concept of amplifier platform: it implements a new system of channel routing, new worldwide compatible three-phase power supply and a revolutionary full featured DSP. Powersoft X Series natively supports AES3, two redundant Dante by Audinate digital streams and analogue inputs, providing up to four different selectable input sources per channel. Distributed by Surgesound: www.surgesound.co.za

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Integration & Installation TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

The Galaxy Express Videowall Processor

has the same features and functionality as the Galaxy Pro but offers a slightly smaller Quad Core processor for more standard spec solutions. This Galaxy Express processor is still sufficient for many a video wall and offers single or redundant dual power supply systems and it still comes standard with dual Raid1 hard drives. The benefit of this smaller processor reflects clearly in the bottom line of any Galaxy quotation. Standard video wall functionality is now much more affordable, and features include one to 40 display channels using the Wall4 graphics card, four to 128 video capture channels using the various capture cards, one to 32 RGB/HD/DVI capture channels using the DVI-RGB capture cards, one or two Galaxy3X expansion chassis providing a maximum of 25 PCI express slots, and wall control software. Distributed by Electrosonic SA: www.electrosonic.co.za

The AMX Sereno Video Conferencing Camera

is a video conferencing camera designed to support conferencing applications in huddle spaces and smaller meeting rooms. Sereno provides HD quality video with outstanding voice capture to deliver exceptional conferences. Use Sereno in huddle rooms for video conferencing in combination with Enzo and/or in conference rooms and boardrooms where microphone/video mechanical shutoff is critical for privacy when camera is not in use. Features include: 1080p HD Video, 120° Field-of-View, beamforming microphones focuses on voice capture – filters out unwanted noise, making it easier for participants in a web conference to hear the person speaking, mechanical shutter blocks video and microphones – provides security for confidential applications, flexible mounting options, and works out-of-the-box with Enzo. The Sereno is 44 mm x 185 mm x 39 mm and includes a swivel base that can be used to mount the camera above or below as display (base includes a tripod mount). The camera specs include a resolution of up to 1920x1080p 30 fps, and field of view: 120 degree wide angle. Distributed by Peripheral Vision: www.peripheralvision.co.za

The ETC SmartPack is now with ThruPower technology which was originally introduced for their flagship

Sensor3 power control system to cater for today’s wide range of loads: conventional tungsten lights, low voltage fixtures, moving lights and LEDs. Now, the same technology is available for ETC’s budget friendly SmartPack wall mount racks, bringing advanced low cost control to theatres, churches, restaurants, schools and offices. The system comes as either dual function dimming / hot power switch; or triple function dimming / hot power switch / remote controlled relay circuits. Both deliver a smooth dimming curve for tungsten luminaires, or can be locked on for LEDs and other fixtures which need constant power. The introduction of ETC ThruPower technology been driven in part by the growing number of energy saving LED fixtures in use in modern rigs, and the associated need for flexible power handling. All versions offered with 12 x 2.3kW/10A single pole or two pole breaker circuits with option for RCD protection. Distributed by Prosound: www.prosound.co.za

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The new Kramer K-Touch Pack

system allows you to easily integrate common touch devices as user interfaces in your Kramer-based control system. Configure your Kramer room controller to communicate over standard IT networks with your iOS or Android touch device. Design the required control screen on the cloud screen designer (no need to install it on your PC), for an easily designed, advanced, touch-based room control system. This Professional Android based Panel PC delivers the right message to your potential customer, at the right moment, using the best possible medium. The interactivity is maximised through its Capacitive Multi Touch Screen that enables you to get the most from your applications. Features include mini HDMI out, RJ45 LAN connector for a wired network connection, USB connector, micro USB connector, and VESA 75 Mountable. Distributed by Electrosonic SA: www.electrosonic.co.za

The Audio Technica 8-in-8 Digital Matrix Mixer with automatic mix function is compatible with both

Crestron and AMX systems, the AT-DMM828 allows up to 16 units to be linked for a total of 128 input channels. Each of the AT-DMM828’s eight balanced inputs provide selectable 48v phantom power, individual gain and volume controls, adjustable gate attenuation and a low-cut filter – each input can accept both mic and line-level input sources. Flexibility and operational simplicity are at the heart of the AT-DMM828’s design and both USB and RS232 data ports allow connection to a PC running SmartMixer software, opening up significant additional functionality. The SmartMixer software can activate external devices (via Sub D-25 connection) – controlling volume and turning inputs on and off – while selectable NOMA circuitry helps to minimise feedback, microphone priority can be preselected and assigned and eight balanced audio outputs can drive amplification systems or other equipment via Phoenix connector. Distributed by Prosound: www.prosound.co.za


Integration & Installation Broadcast Lighting Installation

Take Me Out SA

By Joanne Taylor

Lighting designer for SA’s own Take Me Out show shares the details and challenges of lighting for the show…

The studio for Take Me Out SA

The South African version of the UK’s famous Take Me Out dating game show was brought here by Archie Tigere of Tigere Productions. The 13-episode show began airing in July on SABC1 at 21H00 on Tuesday nights. Tigere contracted Keystone Productions’ Chris Bolton to do the lighting design, which posed some interesting challenges due to the nature of the show. The set was shipped in containers from the UK and set up and rigged up in the Durban Convention Centre. “The convention centre is obviously not your typical studio, but was the chosen location due to the sheer height needed for the trussing and rigging. The highest point of the rig is 8.5 metres,” explains Bolton. Gearhouse subsidiary LEDVision supplied most of the LED screens while Gearhouse supplied the rigging, lighting and power supply, including all set lighting as well as show lighting elements, and Bolton was responsible for the lighting control, using a Hippotizer media server for the video lighting elements. “The entire crew had only eight days to build and shoot all 13 episodes, so challenges along the way were somewhat inevitable.”

The show The objective of the show is for one single man to get a date with one of 30 single women. The women stand on stage underneath 60 white lights, each with a button in front of them. The man is then brought down on stage via the ‘Love Lift’ and tries to persuade the women to

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agree to a date in a series of rounds, playing a pre-recorded video discussing his background, displaying a skill (such as dancing or playing a musical instrument), or playing another video in which the man’s friends or family reveal more about his virtues and philosophy. Each woman stands at a lighted podium with a switch that controls her fate for a date: if she thinks it’s a match, she keeps her light on; if her attraction has been short-circuited, then the lights turn red on her and she waits for the next potential Mr Right.

The lights Each girl’s button on the podium in front of her is connected to the lighting console and media server. Each girl also has a Martin Mac Viper lighting her from the front and a 101 beam from the back. As the girls vote, the LED screen in front of their podium and the lights above them are synchronised, so the girl and the screen go red, explains Bolton. “It’s an intricate system. The bulk of the show is lit very brightly, and the girls needed to be lit individually, so strong contrasting colours were needed to get them to pop on TV,” says Bolton. “The challenge involved lighting up the girls perfectly and not letting any of the light beams cross over each other as the gap between each girl was only 200mm.” The Mac Vipers were chosen because they allowed Bolton to colour correct the output properly for TV and they make for very


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Integration & Installation Broadcast Lighting Installation good tight beams. “I needed to be able to go from a wide smooth white light into columns of red when the girls vote – so I needed to wash and beam each girl,” he says, adding that it took a lot of time to program the Vipers and set them up in such a way. One of the challenges Bolton had with the Vipers was that they were all different intensities because the bulbs had different lamp hours, which is very noticeable on TV. “We then selected one of the Vipers and matched all of the lamps on the lights to it. The functionality of the Vipers were phenomenal.” Other lights included 24 x Vari-Lite VLX to wash the set with and 18 x Robe Robin 600s to light the audience. All of the rigging was done from a big rigging truss that circled the set, supplied by A single contestant being highlighted. Gearhouse, and throughout the show, animations run across the LED screens on the podiums as well as the strip LEDs above and behind the action of the show. Gearhouse also supplied two large side LED screens to show video to the girls. In the centre circle of the set, where the host, Phat Joe, and the single man stand, there are 61 x par 36 LED fixtures which were pixel mapped with a media server. “All of the Longman LED battens that go all the way round the set, including the ones at the top, were pixel mapped, making a really nice animation movement through the lighting in the set,” explains Bolton. – Chris Bolton The dating show proved to be a success in the UK and in Australia where the original concept was birthed. The South African show promises to provide viewers with a whole new level of entertaining TV – full of fun and romance.

“We selected one of the Vipers and matched all of the lamps on the lights to it. The functionality of the Vipers were phenomenal.”

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Integration & Installation PRODUCT PROFILE

Powering loudspeakers – the ‘soft’ way By Greg Bester

Audio power amplifiers originated all the way back in 1909, invented by Lee De Forest when he assembled the first operational triode vacuum tube. We’ve come a long way since then. The technical definition of a power amplifier is an electronic device that amplifies a low-level audio signal to a level that is suitable to drive a loudspeaker. Early power amplifiers, or ‘amps’, as they’re abbreviately known, were based on vacuum tubes (known here in South Africa as valves) and some of them were very high quality, such as the Williamson amplifier of 1947 to ‘49 which produced an output with less than 0.1% harmonic distortion at full rated power. So, fast forward into the 21st Century, look back and what do we see? We see progress in the form of revised power amplifier designs, grouped into ‘classes’: class A, class B, class AB, class C and class D, etc. There are more, to be sure, but in this day and age we seek power amplifiers for our expensive loudspeaker systems that are not only powerful and sound good, but are light, power efficient and possibly even have on-board DSP to manage the system without any additional hardware. Well, there is a company that does all that and more while supplying thousands of watts from a 1U rack space. I present to you Powersoft, the Florence, Italy-based amplifier manufacturer that is becoming famous for its innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.

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Some background Florence, Italy was one of the epicentres of the Renaissance. How apt, then, that one of the most innovative audio companies in the world is located there, creating their own revolution in the audio sciences. Powersoft was founded in 1995 by brothers Luca and Claudio Lastrucci and mutual friend Antonio Peruch and still remains a family-owned business today. One of the hallmarks of the Powersoft story is that they are one of the leading companies in the world making use of class D, or switch mode technology, in their amplifiers which allows them to do amazing things, resulting in high efficiency and high power in a very lightweight and compact design. Indeed, they were the first amplifier manufacturer to introduce Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and Power Factor Correction (PFC) technologies in their amplifiers and these technologies, among others as we shall see, are what seem to have set Powersoft apart in the amplifier market. Interestingly, to date they have announced that they have produced over 600 million watts in products since the company’s founding; all manufactured in Italy. Try to get your head around a system big enough to handle that power! Today Powersoft is represented in over 50 countries and South Africa is no exception. Local audio equipment distributors Surgesound were recently appointed the regional agents and service centre for southern Africa so I was invited to the Surgesound offices in northern Johannesburg to take a look at the range of Powersoft amps, get a feel for their technologies and find out what makes the company a little different. Turns out, a lot!


PRODUCT PROFILE Integration & Installation

Technologies Green Audio Power One of the main tenets of the Powersoft philosophy is conservation of energy because it stands to reason that the more efficient an amplifier is, the less power it consumes and is therefore better for the environment. This embodies the Powersoft design ethos. The economic and environmental advantages of products that consume less electricity and are highly efficient are obvious. Green Audio Power is a Powersoft trademark that categorises environmentally friendly products via a green stamp on the front side of the product and combines two technologies that, together, embody the concept. These two technologies are: • Power Factor Correction (PFC) integrated into a switching mode power supply; and • Class-D Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) high efficiency output stage.

Power Factor Correction (PFC) PFC improves amplifier performance and contains the mains current draw and consumption in Powersoft amplifier PSUs. Now, there is not a lot of information available on how exactly Powersoft achieves this, but suffice to say that without PFC, a power supply can produce huge peaks and generate harmonics which can in turn agitate the mains. With a PFC enabled amplifier the result is lower RMS and peak currents and higher instantaneous and average power. All in all, PFC has the following advantages: • An energy saving of approximately 40%. • A reduction in required generator size. • A reduction in cable sections since lower RMS currents are reached during use. • Fewer cable emissions because of lower harmonics in the mains frequency. This produces less hum and induced distortion resulting from a disturbed mains. • An audio amplifier that delivers its full output regardless of mains voltage fluctuations and load impedance. The PFC PSU regulates itself automatically. • A product that is usable worldwide, regardless of mains voltage differences.

Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) PWM technology was introduced by Powersoft in 1995. PWM, according to Powersoft: “...transforms all energy from the mains into usable power”. It also recycles reactive energy returned from the speakers. Interestingly, this is a similar technology to how Formula One cars return energy back into the drive train from energy produced during braking. The knock-on effects of this is ultra-high efficiency, a reduction in the required energy for equivalent output power, less strain on the cooling system and less amplifiers required to run an equivalent PA system with non-PWM amps.

Differential Pressure Control (DPC) DFC is another notable Powersoft patented technology and is the core of IPAL, or Integrated Power Adaptive Loudspeaker (21IPAL and 18IPAL). DPC is essentially a sensor system placed inside a subwoofer enclosure that measures transducer and acoustical load parameters which, in turn through a “zero-latency” DSP, corrects any inconsistencies in the acoustical system. The DSP is very quick – a mere 10 microseconds – and processes the performance of the loudspeaker to the parameters of a ‘virtual speaker model’, defined by the speaker designer.

Smart Rails Management (SRM) SRM tracks real time voltage in the amplifier PSU and minimises the differences between the output voltage rails. This improves overall efficiency. According to Powersoft SRM: “...feeds back the output signal to the power supply and modulates the rails voltage in order to reduce heat dissipation and improve efficiency”. The advantages of SRM technology include lower idle consumption, lower audible noise floor and reduced EMC (electromagnetic compatibility).

Amplifiers Powersoft has become famous for their high power, highly efficient and intelligent amplifiers in compact sizes. They offer solutions for the installation and touring market and most of them can be purchased in either the standard configuration or with optional on-board DSP and AES-over-Ethernet. The installation amplifiers and some of the touring amplifiers can operate in high impedance, 70V or 100V and almost all their amplifiers, except the X8 and Ottocanali K4 range, come in a 1RU size, hence the designation ‘compact’.

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Integration & Installation PRODUCT PROFILE

M-series

X-series

The X-series is Powersoft’s newest line of flagship multi-channel amplifiers. The range includes the X4 and the X8, both exhibiting the same specifications albeit over four channels and eight channels, respectively. The only additional difference is the size difference between the two boxes; 1RU for the X4 and 2RU for the X8. The TI C6000 DSP-driven amplifier is managed by an ARM Cortex A-8 processor and features 3000W per channel into 4 Ohms; universal, single-, bi- or three-phase power acceptance from 85VAC up to 440VAC; switching mode PFC power supplies, SRM technology and real time output signal measurement and processing via Powersoft’s Armonia Pro Audio Suite. The DSP offers non-boolean routing and mixing, multi-stage EQ with raised-cosine, IIR and FIR filters, input delay up to 4s, 200ms time alignment delay, gain and polarity, crossover, peak limiters, TruePower limiters and Active DampingControl. Inputs include standard XLR analogue inputs and AES3.

K-series

The K-series range of touring amplifiers is the benchmark standard workhorses of the Powersoft range and the icons on which the brand is based. Six stereo models are on offer at various power ratings (all power ratings are listed at 4Ohms and per channel): • K20: 5200W • K10: 4000W • K8: 3000W • K6: 2500W • K3: 2600W • K2: 1950W All K-series amps are available with or without SHARC DSP and AES-over-Ethernet and can be run in high impedance, 70V or 100V configurations. All the usual technologies we have covered such as PFC, PWM and SRM are found, along with full digital control via Powersoft’s Armonia Pro Audio Suite. The DSP offers independent input and output PEQ, raised cosine, shelving IIR filters and custom output FIR filters, time alignment delay up to 1s, Active DampingControl for cable compensation, power limiters (TruePower, RMS voltage, RMS current) and peak limiters per channel. Firmware, presets and power pgrades can be initiated via purchasing ‘step-up’ cards.

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The M-series is the entry level range in the Powersoft line. Four models are on offer with various wattage and channel variations (power ratings are given at 4Ohms): • M50Q: four channels, 1250W per channel • M28Q: four channels, 700W per channel • M30D: two channels, 1500W per channel • M20D: two channels, 1200W per channel All models are also available in the HDSP+ETH versions which provide on-board DSP with Ethernet interfaces. Like the other ranges, monitoring and amp settings can be achieved via the Armonia Pro Audio Suite. Additionally the HDSP+ETH versions allow the user to access up to four presets per button (there are two) on the rear panel. Also, like the other ranges, EQ with numerous filters, limiting and delay are available.

Installation amplifiers

Powersoft makes a range of installation-grade power amplifiers that can run in high-impedance, 70V or 100V configurations. The amplifiers include all technologies such as PFC, PWM and SRM. The amplifiers include: • Ottocanali 1204: eight channels, 1280W (total power), 1RU, optional DSP and Ethernet in the DSP+ETH versions. • Duecanali series • Duecanali 5204: two channels, 2600W per channel (4Ohms), 1RU, optional DSP and AES-over-Ethernet with DSP+AESOP versions. • Duecanali 3904: two channels, 1950W per channel (4Ohms), 1RU, optional DSP and AES-over-Ethernet with DSP+AESOP versions. • Ottocanali series • Ottocanali 12K4: eight channels, 1500W per channel (4Ohms), 2RU • Ottocanali 8K4: eight channels, 1000W per channel (4Ohms), 2RU • Ottocanali 4K4: eight channels, 500W per channel (4Ohms), 2RU

The wrap Powersoft obviously is a powerhouse of a company that takes big steps in pushing progress. Their patented technologies and smart thinking speaks for itself and given the name that they’ve made worldwide, it might just be exciting to see what they come up with in the future.


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LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT

Philippine Arena

Oratorium performance with choir and orchestra

The Philippine arena, the flagship venue of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (NIC) church opened on Sunday 28 July 2014. The venue, north of Manila, is the largest indoor auditorium in the world and has the largest single-span roof structure. Seating 55 000, it is twice as large as any similar venue in Europe or the USA. Prosound South Africa was there. Prosound‘s involvement in the opening events at Philippine Arena was the culmination of 18 months of planning the sound system for this mammoth project. In early 2013, via Bosch/Electro-Voice international, Prosound was introduced to EVI Philippines who commissioned the company to design and supply the specialist electro-mechanical services for the installation of the EV sound system. This sound set-up is rated as the largest indoor system in the world. It comprises 24 large format line arrays and four arrays of subs. Prosound built the spines and rigging for the arrays, the 34 pre-wired racks at 40u for the amps in the catwalks, 12 racks for the control room, speaker cabling and power distribution. A number of containers were shipped to Manila followed by Prosound specialists for rigging, wiring and electrics all overseen by the company’s technical director, Mark Malherbe.

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Due to the success in implementing the unique and complex install of this gigantic sound system, EVI asked Prosound to oversee sound and general show co-ordination for the week-long opening ceremonies. Ceremonies that were planned to compliment the magnitude of the Arena structure as well as celebrating the centenary of NIC Church. Malherbe was the obvious person to look after this job. He has led Prosound technical teams for very large events including the Pope (twice), Mandela’s release, Namibian independence, Mandela’s inauguration and the sound and comms for the 2010 WCS opening and closing ceremonies. He certainly needed all of his experience to handle the INC events! Malherbe takes up the story: ‘’When the commission finally came through I knew I needed qualified assistance but the relevant Prosound guys were all committed. The company has recently concentrated on supplying independent technical support services for events and installations so our own staff was difficult to get hold of! “I suspected that despite the multiple events planned at the Arena there would be no central production manager/co-ordinator. The limitations therein would be compounded by the Philippine way of wanting to please and struggling to say NO. “Fortunately Revel Baselga was available. I have worked with him and knew he would have the skills and stamina to deal with the unknown we were walking into. And wow, did Revel perform 24/7 in the real sense of that number. He was a perfect technical partner helping to keep a lid on the potential chaos.


“The audience of 50 000 was also turned around in preparation for 07H00 on Sunday 27 July when the main worship and praise ceremony would take place for two hours followed by the Guinness Records presentation.” – Mark Malherbe

“The two of us arrived in Manila late on Tuesday 22 July. We immediately held meetings with the EV international people to establish the status of the electro-acoustic commissioning of the installed sound. With the EVI Philippines team we reviewed the programme for the opening ceremonies. “From midnight on Saturday there would be an hour long firework display (also an attempted Guinness record) outside the Arena followed by a 4 750 piece choir in the arena, and this too was to be a Guinness record. On the day the choir was on until about five in the morning when we had to turn around staging. “The audience of 50 000 was also turned around in preparation for 07H00 on Sunday 27 July when the main worship and praise

Some of the sound team from EVI Philippines and Xn3 Radio techs from Singapore with Mark Malherbe and Revel Baselga.

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LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT

Mark Malherbe at the console during rehearsals.

ceremony would take place for two hours followed by the Guinness Records presentation. “[We would then] strike staging and prepare for the 10H00 Oratorium; a classical piece of music specifically written for the occasion and featuring artists from all over the world. The orchestra was 125 pieces with 450 person choir and eight soloists performing for two hours. “Here it has to be mentioned that to deal with this Sunday event we drove for six hours on the Saturday (normally a half hour trip) to get to the venue with literally a million people arriving either to get into the arena or onto the outside fields and stadium. There was sound and screens all over the place outside and we had to ensure suitable feeds for these events as well as outside broadcast vans. “We worked right through from Saturday midday to Sunday midday when we managed to claw our way to the hotel to regroup for the next event. “On Tuesday 29 July there was to be a musical spectacular. This musical was specifically written to depict the history of NIC Church. The performance would include an orchestra, a rock band, 350 performers and a 1 500 piece choir. “The closing ceremony was on Saturday 2 August; a quiz show followed by worship and evangelical mission. As things turned out on that day parts of the musical performed on the Tuesday were re-performed without any warning. “As expected the flow of events was controlled chaos. The venue is so large, the presentations had these huge numbers of performers and there was just so much going on with virtually no rehearsal. Besides working 20-hour days and relying on caffeine to survive we focussed on three core areas: Six-hour traffic jam on the way to the arena ensuring the sound system was as accurate as possible, pre-planning the stage and making sure everything worked! “The first major challenge was to tackle the loudspeaker system for balance, alignment and tone. This system and venue is one of a kind and the cavernous nature of the

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venue required continual listening and tweaking throughout the venue; an excellent fitness regimen… “The system had been setup with analysers and machinery but our Prosound experience is that these devices are merely tools and the first call for acoustic commissioning. Experience, ears, understanding of the staging and source materials are extremely important factors in optimising a sound system, especially of this size. “As things turned out, while working with ad-hoc rehearsals and changing stage requests, we spent two days working on the main sound system to get a predictable performance. We spent time with the EVI techs getting the microphone types and placement correct. The other concern on stage was monitoring which we had to clean up as somebody had the crazy idea of side-fills on a 60m wide stage. Yes, 60m wide! “Fortunately the compliment of mics was largely DPA and Audio Technica. Besides knowing these mics well, and our preferred choice, they are accurate and reliable when you need them most. Both products offer excellent capsules for choral pick-up and for orchestral instruments. “Another ’win’ was the Dynacord co-axial monitors suited to the style of music and vocals we were expecting on stage. Dynacord, an EV company, produces predictable, high-quality loudspeakers, a must for very trying acoustic conditions. “The sound consoles provided were the Avid/Digidesign VENUE Profiles working in banks. Of course these are excellent digital mixing boards but I am used to the Midas Pro-series with the quick VCA POP access. I also found the EQ and Waves FX took some getting used to compared to the convenience in the Midas generic route in dynamics and FX.”

The wrap “In conclusion, the overriding challenge of very limited rehearsals and often no sound checks meant that our planning had to be predictive. The help of the industrious EVI techs was paramount and first class. The 500 odd EV line array elements performed with all the power and articulation we needed and it was certainly a privilege to have Glicerio Santos Jnr, the 2 IC of this vast organisation NIC, personally meet with me and to thank Prosound for a job well done,” adds Malherbe.


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LIVE EVENTs Festival REPORT

Oppikoppi Odyssey

By Greg Bester

Wesley’s Dome stage at Oppikoppi 2014

The dust, oh, the dust. This year the iconic, three day festival that exemplifies pure South African ‘skiet, skop en donner’ attitude, Oppikoppi, celebrated its 20th year; a huge milestone that once again had thousands of rough and ready festival-goers stream to a remote farm near Northam, Limpopo to fare the filth, camp in what can only be described as ‘beyond Thunderdome’ conditions, and rock their heart out to local and international music. Oppikoppi has its origins in 1995 with only 27 local artists performing to a small enclave of music enthusiasts. Rock music was, for want of a better phrase, in its infancy in South Africa at the dawn of our democracy, mostly due to the insular atmosphere that apartheid thrust upon us. However, Oppikoppi has been hailed as the festival that kick started the rock music scene in South Africa and created fertile ground for the plethora of artists that we enjoy here today. Of course, as the festival grows, so does its technical requirements. The festival now boasts several stages – six, in fact – scattered around and on top of the infamous koppie where it all started. This year two companies were involved in supplying the lighting and sound for the four stages in the main entertainment area at the foot of the koppie: Blue Array Productions, headed up by Kobus van Rensburg and Marinus Visser who handled the audio requirements and Stage Effects, headed up by Theo Papenfus, who handled the lighting and visual systems.

The Bruilof stage The Bruilof stage is the first stage you are presented with as you walk into the festival from the East end through the media and VIP areas and in part why I was there – to work with local psychedelic postrockers albinobeach. As mentioned, it is a simple 8m x 6m x 4.5m stage structure with a quasi-cubic roof built out of truss and is probably the smallest of the four stages in the main entertainment area. The stage structure itself was supplied by Stage Effects. Sound check was a pretty laid back and easy affair. Local freelancer Gavan Eckhart handled FOH duties while I handled on-stage affairs such as placing microphones, helping to get tones going on the unfamiliar amplifiers, getting monitors placed in the right

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position and making sure the backline was placed where it needed to be. Why two sound engineers? We thought there was going to be a monitor console! There wasn’t, obviously, because monitors and FOH were being handled by one console – a Soundcraft Si Compact 24, supplied by Blue Array. In fact, from here on out, all audio gear mentioned was supplied by them. The rest of the audio kit was quite simple, being that it was the smallest stage of the four. There were four JBL VRX 932A line array elements a side with three JBL SRX 728s a side; all powered by six Crown IT5000HD amplifiers. Eight self-powered JBL PRX 615s were supplied for monitors. Despite the otherwise modest system, the coverage was good and the system was balanced well. I walked around quite extensively and was very surprised at how well the listening area was covered. The VRXs have always been quite bright to my ears but in outdoor applications where you need the throw, that sometimes comes in handy. Lighting control was achieved via an Avolites Pearl Tiger and a Martin optical splitter, supplied by Stage Effects. Hazing came courtesy of a JEM Magnum 1800. Fixtures used at Bruilof included just eight Martin MAC250 Entours and eight Robe REDWASH 3-192 LED RGBs.

The James Philips stage The next stage, if you’re heading East from the Bruilof stage, is the James Philips stage. The James Philips stage is a permanent structure and the original main stage at Oppikoppi in the early years that features a brick foundation and a lapa-style thatched roof which gives it an uncannily African feel.


Festival REPORT LIVE EVENTs

The James Philips stage

The Skellum stage

At this point we caught Newtown Knife Gang, the explosive metalcore emo-punk quintet that was ripping the crowd to shreds with their cutting energy. I must say that the sound quality of the James Philips stage in the past, for one reason or another, never quite hit the spot for me but this year it seemed to have improved dramatically. This piqued my interest and made me wonder what kit was up there so I moved in for a squizz. Well, the main PA was a d&b Q1 with 14 enclosures a side while six further Q1s (three a side) were stacked for front fill. Subwoofers included 12 d&b B2s stacked in a tight centre cluster, which made sense since the shape of the surrounding topography tends to concentrate the crowd in power alley. The system was powered by eight networked D80 amps running on AES3 at 48kHz. The FOH console was a Soundcraft Vi1. Monitors included eight d&b M4 wedges and two d&B QSUBS for the drums, powered by three D80 amplifiers. The monitor console was also a Vi1. The lighting rig was controlled via an Avolites Pearl 2008 along with an Electron 6 channel dimmer and one Martin optical splitter. A JEM ZR44 handled hazing. The rest of the lighting fixtures included: • 12 x Martin MAC350 Entours • 12 x Martin MAC600s • 4 x four cell Moles

Monitors included eight d&B M2 wedges, two M4 wedges and four QSUBS; all powered via eight D12 amplifiers. A further four JBL VRX 932As and two JBL SRX 728 subs were used for side fills, powered by two Crown IT5000 amplifiers. Lighting control was handled by an Avolites Sapphire Touch console, an Avolites T2 dimmer and four LSC optical splitters. Lighting fixtures supplied included: • 12 x Martin MAC Viper Profile • 8 x Martin MAC Viper Wash • 32 x Martin MAC101 LED RGB • 8 x Martin Atomic Strobe/colour scrollers • 6 x Robe Robin 600E BEAM • 4 x 8 Cell Mole • 2 x 2kW Super Trouper long throw follow spots Two JEM 24/7 smoke machines and an MDG atmospheric haze generator handled, well, smoke and haze. Visual elements were also a big part of the show and included a Vuepix 3.6m x 6.4m P6 LED screen hung as a backdrop inside the dome. Two Christie LX1500 projectors were deployed for projection while Arkaos MediaMaster Pro and a Folsom Image Pro/3G handled video processing, scaling and switching.

Wesley’s Dome Wesley’s dome is the next stage when travelling farther Eastward, past the food stalls and into the next, larger entertainment area. This could be thought of as the ‘main’ stage of Oppikoppi as it’s a massive orbital dome stage structure reminiscent of such that you would see at Glastonbury, supplied by Wesley Groenewald of Orbit Stage Structures in Bloemfontein. It is named after Groenewald himself. Wesley’s stage is where the ‘big guns’ are pulled out, along with all the stops. At this point at about 21H00 local masked metallers Boargasm was unleashing their unique brand of trashy metal upon the slowly melting faces of the frenetic crowd and, despite standing about 60 metres from the stage, the sound was just chest-punishing. Wesley’s Dome featured a full d&b Audiotechnik J-series system flown 16 elements a side along with eight J-Subs a side. On the floor was a centre cluster stack of twelve d&b B2s. An additional six Q7 enclosures were spaced along the stage edge for front fill while a staggering 41 d&b D12 amplifiers powered the system, fed via an R70 CAN bus network interface converted from LAN to SC-multimode fibre via media converters at 96kHz on the AES3 protocol. The FOH console of choice was a Soundcraft Vi6 with dual redundant MADI fibre connections to a Vi6 stage rack (64 in/32 out). A Waves Multirack was integrated to run plugins on a MacBook Pro via an RME MADI FX in a thunderbolt chassis. System processing was accomplished via two Lake LM44 processors. Monitor world featured two consoles: a Soundcraft Vi1 connected to a Vi6 stage rack via MADI fibre and a Midas Pro2 with 48 in/24 out.

The Skellum stage The skellum stage is the stage in the Far East of the festival and where we ended up around midnight. Local metal heads the Drift were laying down their unique brand of grindy metal and, if I’m honest, I felt this was the best sounding stage of the festival. The Skellum stage featured a full d&b Q-series system flown six elements a side along with sixteen ground-stacked QSUBS powered by five networked D80 amplifiers running at 48kHz over AES3. The FOH console was a Soundcraft Vi1. Monitors included eight d&b MAX wedges powered by three D12 amplifiers. A Yamaha LS-9 handled monitor duties. Lighting for the Skellum stage was controlled via an Avolites Pearl Tiger and a Martin optical splitter. A JEM Magnum 1800 smoke machine handled hazing. Lighting fixtures included four Martin MAC250 Entours and 10 Versa-light 3W LED battons.

The wrap Oppikoppi is about much more than the music. While a lot more went on than can explain in the pages that I was afforded to write this article, the main attractions were undoubtedly the two main stages: Wesley’s Dome and the James Philips stage. Year on year the quality and the attendance of the festival improve and alongside them, so does the quality of the technical aspects of the show. If this is any indication of what we’re to expect of the future, the future looks good for Oppikoppi.

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LIVE EVENTs Expert Choice

Hot desking

To what extent do today’s all-singing, all-dancing digital consoles provide live sound engineers with everything they need‌ or do they still have cause to revert to tried-and-trusted outboard gear? And what about the new generation of consoles set to offer lighting control and other non-audio functionality? David Davies samples opinion from some of the best in the business.

Garrick Van Der Tuin Favoured console? Yamaha CL5 Why? Many consoles today seem to be offering more and more of the same tools. The thing I really enjoy about the CL5 and most other Yamaha consoles is the nature of the workflow and the ability to navigate in an easy and familiar way. The Dante capability and DAW control are amazing, while I am also excited by the collaborations with Steinberg and Rupert Neve regarding integration into the studio world. On top of all this, the console has a small footprint and operates equally well in theatre, studio or live concert environments. Negates the need for outboard? Entirely – both in the studio and for live. On top of the basic channel strip and standard effects, the CL5 is packed full of premium plugins which use VCM modelling technology

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with classic studio hardware emulations. Recent projects with this desk? A performance in the garden of the residence of the Governor of Calabar in Nigeria, featuring [trumpet legend] Hugh Masekela. View on consoles featuring lighting control etc? I would imagine that the technology is there and it should work well, but frankly it sounds like a real pain to me!

Mark Malherbe (from Prosound) Favoured console? Midas PRO9 (or any other PRO Series console) Why? Essentially I have been a Midas boy since the late 1970s and I find the PRO9 a very quick console to navigate, especially in a


multi-radio mic format where the rapid and easy changes between VCAs in cues allow for rapid location of my ever-changing primary mics. The analogue feel works in my favour, although this is not to overlook the Midas EQ and front-end, which I am very used to and which work very well for me. Negates the need for outboard? The Midas dynamics have never let me down and the supplied units [for effects] have also always met my requirements. However, I do have a few outboard units that I return to – primarily for reasons of familiarity – such as TC Electronic’s M6000 reverb. Recent projects with this desk? Rewind Festival, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, the Nelson Mandela Memorial and many more. View on consoles featuring lighting control etc? I generally find this a really strange concept. My opinion is that the evolution of the digital audio console should be aimed at making our lives easier in terms of control so that we can concentrate on the overall audio quality – not to make time for us to operate lights or read a novel during a show!

Richard Smith (from Sound Harmonics) Favoured console? Cadac CDC four:m Why? Sound Harmonics is driven by quality and so our choices in equipment need to reflect it at all times. Cadac has had a long heritage of pristine audio quality and exceptional build quality, and the CDC four:m continues this tradition. Its preamps, EQ and dynamics sound more smooth and natural than consoles that are many times the price. Negates the need for outboard? For the most part, yes it does. It is application-dependent but I would estimate that I probably use minimal outboard gear 5% of the time. I do have one particular artist that insists on an Avalon Mic Pre on his vocals and he prefers the way Yamaha delays work to most others, so typically on his shows I will use the Avalon along with two Yamaha SPX2000s for his vocal effects. Recent projects with this desk? South African rock band The Parlotones, The Comics Choice Awards, [UK light operatic singer] Paul Potts. View on consoles featuring lighting control? I can see why certain users might want it, but for the most part I don’t think it has a place in the high-end professional market. Most shows I’ve seen that have required a single operator have had lighting, audio and video all sync’d, and at the moment there isn’t a single product that could handle that level of sophistication.

Trevor Peters (from Matrix Sound) Favoured console? Soundcraft Vi6 Why? The speed of operation and accessibility of all features. First up, you have 32 input faders at your disposal on the operating surface,

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LIVE EVENTs Expert Choice so you are not excessively switching between pages / layers to access inputs. Also, you can store inputs in an up / down manner, ie. left channel on layer A and right channel directly below it on B. In effect this gives you many additional channels without changing layers. The ability to make the last eight channels absolutely any input or output by simply touching the control screen is very useful, too. Negates the need for outboard? I have seldom employed additional outboard when using the Vi6. The majority of the bands, large corporate events and sound designs that I do can be serviced by the onboard dynamics and effects on the Vi6. My favourite piece of kit used to be the BSS Audio DPR-901 frequency sensitive compressor, but I don’t use outboard any longer. Recent projects with this desk? Discovery Conference at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Views on consoles featuring lighting control? I can see the benefits in terms of cost- and space-saving for theatre musicals or small installations, but would be hesitant to embrace this kind of desk for larger events.

Wes Maebe Favoured console? Yamaha CL series. Why? During my time with Sting, I was using a lot of M7CLs, PM5Ds, DM1ks and even LS9s, and my main gripe with those was that I needed a lot of analogue front-end to warm up the sound. I always found the Yamaha pre-amps a little harsh. When Yamaha brought out the CL, they got me over to the warehouse in Milton Keynes, UK, to test-drive one and it immediately became clear that they had done a lot of work on the pre-amps. They are a lot warmer and yet haven’t lost any of their clarity. [More

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generally] Yamahas have never crashed on me, where as others have, and [as a manufacturer] they try and lay things out as humanly as possible. Negates the need for outboard? The CL series have onboard effects and they now have some really cool plug-ins like the Neve Porticos, the Universal Audio compressors and the Pultec Style EQ. So, if I really want to, I can just turn up, turn on the console and it is all there. [But I also] generally carry an API Lunchbox, loaded with 525 compressors and 550b EQs, and a rack with an 1176 comp for parallel compression, a TC Voice Live rack and a dbx 120. Recent projects with this desk? [In a live context] I have worked on several consoles – including Yamaha, Digidesign, Midas, DiGiCo and Allen & Heath – for artists including Jahmene Douglas, Paul Rodgers, Praying Mantis and the Deborah Bonham Band. Views on consoles featuring lighting control etc? It is possible to design a product that incorporates FOH and monitors, lights, video and even pyro. But you cannot yet design a human being that can focus 100% on all these factors of a live event. You simply can’t be good at all those things at the same time!

Console creation Our featured engineers’ preferences for audio consoles are highly diverse, but what unites all the manufacturers is their consistent demonstration of creativity these past few years. For it’s undeniable that in the digital era, the pace of upgrades and new system launches has accelerated considerably. In the case of Yamaha, the most recent developments include the launch of the QL1 and QL5 mixers at Pro Light + Sound 2014. Featuring most of the facilities of the larger CL series desks, the QL consoles incorporate Dan Dugan’s innovative auto-mixing technology, making them suitable for applications including speech and broadcast. The latest addition to the Midas PRO series, the PRO X, was also on display in Frankfurt. The live performance digital console features 168 inputs and 99 mix or 103 output channels simultaneously, while the NEUTRON Audio System Engine is capable of up to 800 audio channels that can be routed on a point-to-point basis. At the same show, Cadac turned the spotlight on its CDC eight ‘flagship’ digital live sound console. Designed specifically for the demanding worlds of concert touring and fixed installation, the desk incorporates a ‘high agility’ user interface accessed by 24-inch touchscreen. Further emphasising the impression that after a general industry focus on compact consoles there is a renewed emphasis on larger-format desks, Soundcraft has recently introduced the Vi3000 digital live sound console, including internal DSP Soundcraft SpiderCore, a new industrial design, 96 channels to mix, Dante compatibility and more. Finally, although they are not directly addressed by our featured engineers, plenty of other manufacturers have brought fresh product to market during the first three quarters of 2014, not least DiGiCo (new D-2 Rack for use with the SD8 and SD9 consoles) and Allen & Heath (Qu-24 compact digital mixer).


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LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT

By Greg Bester

Photos by Erik Forster

Intense Armin reaches for the sky

Armin van Buuren concert at The Coca-Cola Dome

A glowing white ball descends from darkness to the stage. Flashes of light send irises into a panic. The hum of the growing ambiance pulls excitement from the adrenal glands and the anxiety in the venue starts to pulsate. God-sized hands appear. They lift the glowing ball back into the void from which it came and reveals the man everyone has been waiting to see and hear: Armin van Buuren.

EDM – electronic dance music for the uninitiated – seems to be gaining constant momentum worldwide with an increasing penchant for spectacular, mind blowing visual effects and chest thumping sound to quell the dance-thirsty masses. EDM artists are constantly raising the bar and that is evident in international tours such as Tomorrowland, Sensations and Ultra; the latter two already having visited our shores with great success. Who knows what comes next? What can ultimately be achieved and what is the limit? The sky, it seems.

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The latest international EDM tour to touch down in South Africa was the one-night-only Armin Only Intense, brought to us by electronic music giants Big Electronic in collaboration with Big Concerts, G&G Productions and Rusco Events, held at the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg on 14 June 2014. The show set a couple of records in both the lighting and the audio domains along with notable video effects on a virtual behemoth of an LED wall rig that is sure to have people talking until the next tour comes around and raises the bar once more. However, when talking about pushing the limit on this scale from a technical point of view there’s a pretty good idea of the company that could have been involved. Of course, I am talking about the Gearhouse Group of companies that all machinated to bring Intense to fruition. However, they were not alone. Other companies involved included Fireworks for Africa that supplied the pyrotechnics displays; LaserX and that supplied the laser effects and Tadco that sent out their DiGiCo console guru Kyle Robson for support and configuration. On-site project manager for the show was Gearhouse’s Anthony Banks assisted by Trevor Mojela along with a technical crew of 48 personnel. Mushroom Productions handled production management. Needless to say, this show was absolutely massive on all ends so let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at who did what.


CONCERT REPORT LIVE EVENTs

Staging

Audio

Being a one-man show, the stage element of Intense was very important and therefore set the scene for what transpired. Disregarding the LED screens (comprising a wall behind the main stage, a wall on the front skirt of the stage and two sideways L-shaped screens either side of the stage), which we will get to later, the main stage was 3m high by 20.7m wide and 8.54m deep and consisted of two levels; the lower level was occupied most of the show by Van Buuren while the upper level was reserved for entertainment. The total height, including the LED backdrop, was 14m. Probably one of the most interesting aspects of this unique stage is that the main stage included trampoline acrobatics. Two at 5m wide and 3m deep trampolines of strict proportions were nestled right into the floor of the main stage area with safety platforms in between the two. For further safety the trampolines were International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) certified. Flanking each side of the stage and positioned slightly forward into the crowd were two 2m high by 4m wide by 4m deep satellite stages where additional instrumentation – a piano on one and a drum kit on the other – was placed for live performances along with Van Buuren at specific points in the show. Guitarists and singers also joined the throng. This broke the show up nicely and brought a bit more of an organic feel to the performances, which for the most part was electronic. The six-hour show ended with Van Buuren even playing an ‘old school’ vinyl set from FOH where an additional stage was placed behind the audio console and brought a more up-close and personal conclusion to the event.

According to Gearhouse audio operations manager Jako De Wit, the audio system was the largest Gearhouse has rigged in the Dome in the venue’s history. It is a widely known fact that the dome is a troublesome venue for sound for a variety of reasons – mostly because it is a circular venue with a dome-shaped roof with lots of reflective surfaces – so the utmost care must be taken to make sure coverage is controlled in all areas. But with a bit of planning a suitable system configuration was agreed upon by all parties. “We negotiated a bit with them (Van Buuren’s team) with some of the hangs, which was weight-related,” says De Wit. “From there on we just met what they requested. They had a very detailed rider of what they wanted, where they wanted it and how they wanted it so we gave it to them and they were happy. A good crew and a good rider: that’s pretty much what makes a successful show.” The central point when discussing the intricacies of delivering the technical requirements that Armin Van Buuren’s team requested was the specific nature of their rider. The show was highly choreographed which obliged all parties involved to work together towards the final result. The tour rider was the bible for this as far as all parties were concerned. “To give you an idea, their rider even had the names that they wanted to appear on the belt packs they requested,” says De Wit. “So, for example, beforehand they want eight packs and they must be labelled as requested. If the rider is on point you can do 70% of the work in prep so it makes a pleasant experience for everyone.” The audio system for the event was simply massive. The main hangs comprised of 14 L-Acoustics K1 enclosures per side with an additional 9 Kudo out fills while low end duties were handled by a staggering 48 SB-28 subs.

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Photo by Erik Forster

LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT

Armin working the crowd

An additional 12 Kudos were positioned for front fill, six KARA were utilised for additional fill and five hangs of four V-Dosc elements were hung for delay fills. “Deploying an intricate system of this size in a successful manner required a very long trail of emails between their production office and the team at Gearhouse,” says Adriaan van der Walt, audio crew chief at Intense. “In particular Llewellyn Reinecke, who did various revisions of Soundvision to predict coverage of the system and Jako de Wit who took care of operational delivery, spent a considerable amount of pre-production time to ensure that our team had a fairly easy task of rigging and testing the system before handing it over the international team. [Wouter] Asselman and his team only requested minor adjustments after they physically walked the venue which meant all the planning and refining of many ideas paid off.” The sound design for Intense is based on DiGiCo SD8s: one for FOH and one for monitors, which are run by Armin van Buuren’s Wouter Asselman and Casper De Jong, respectively. Both consoles were supplied with their own SD Rack (48 inputs, 16 outputs, 8 AES/EBU i/o) while the system was driven by a Dolby Lake LP4D12 system drive controller with wireless remote access.

Lighting and lasers The lighting rig for Intense was staggering and quite possibly one of the largest South Africa has ever seen, according to our sources. As with the audio, the Intense tech rider was very specific about their requests and it took a massive effort on Gearhouse’s part (through lighting subsidiary Splitbeam) to source all 668 fixtures which included 555 intelligent moving luminaires; the rest being used to light the VIP areas and the surrounds. Interestingly and to put things in perspective, as far as we understand every single Martin Atomic 3000 strobe in the country was deployed at the gig. Intense lighting designer Marc Heinz and operator Michael

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Steeverens were the brains behind the system and all in all the show was run with over 5 000 individual pre-programmed cues and in conjunction with the fixtures at their disposal this created a fantastical extravaganza of beam effects, blinding strobe effects and a smoky, washy ambience of colour. Light was even shone through the LED screens, which were requested to be 50% transparent. Stuart Andrews, lighting operations manager at Gearhouse, was highly involved in the lighting organisation aspects of the show and worked very closely with Van Buuren’s team to make sure the lighting rig met their standards. However, there were challenges and of course, as you would imagine, sourcing all the requested fixtures was the greatest. “We were in constant contact with their team as we were trying to get equipment lists to line up on both ends,” says Andrews. “They come from a European market where every fixture they want is immediately available but here it’s a little different because not every brand they requested is represented. So, there were a couple things that they asked for that weren’t available so suitable substitutes had to be found. Sourcing available fixtures from other sub-hires was also quite a logistical challenge.” The lighting console of choice for Intense was the grandMA2 for which Van Buuren’s team would accept no substitutes as stated in their rider. All in all there were over 20 universes utilised which ran on a redundant fibre network (to another grandMA2) and a hefty rack of NPUs were placed behind the stage to distribute the DMX. “It’s a very versatile control system,” says Steeverens. “At Intense we used a lot of tracks that are time-code programmed which is a very powerful tool in the MA2.” Gearhouse’s men on the ground were Robert Grobler and Herman Wessels who were responsible for getting all 555 moving heads off the ground, under the stage, to each side of the stage and over the audience. To describe the feat before them might lack the punch that was experienced attending the gig but suffice to say that that a


raked, six-finger truss ceiling was suspended over the stage area. Additional trusses were hung over the crowd for an immersive lighting experience while on each side of the stage were matrixes of 60 x Martin Mac 101 fixtures that were used for ‘wall of light’ effects and delicate pixel mapping. A lot of beam work was also witnessed throughout the performance. Robe Pointes, Clay Paky Sharpies and Martin MAC Vipers all colluded like light sabers through the haze, launching the show into outer space and enchanting the already entranced audience.

The following fixtures were rigged at Intense: • 72 x Martin MAC Viper profiles • 67 x Martin Atomic strobes • 120 x Martin MAC 101 • 23 x Varilite VL3000 spots • 19 x Varilite VL3500 spots • 54 x Robe Pointe’s • 68 x Clay Paky Sharpy’s • 96 x LEDForce 18 RGBW LED par cans • 4 x BB4 LED wash light • 24 x Molefay blinders

The laser system supplied for Intense came through local laser experts Laser X, operated by Raymond Enderman. Enderman explains: “We were contacted by Mushroom productions with a brief that Armin wanted to do a ‘retro’ set; so basically a green laser set. When we arrived at the venue we were told that the lasers need to be set up in the catwalk and direct the beams to the DJ box. Usually we set up so that the audience is looking towards the source of the lasers not the other way around.” Because of the somewhat out-of-the-ordinary request, Ray and his team experienced some challenges albeit not insurmountable. “For starters we didn’t have enough cable for the catwalks,” explains Raymond. “After a trip back to the office and 600m of additional cable we rigged the lasers in the catwalks. We set more than one set of projection zone so that there was an illusion of more lasers being used.” Once all kit was rigged and positioned, the request from Van Buuren’s lighting team was to “keep it green and start slowly”. Resultantly, various shades of green were used and the intensity of the laser aspect built with the pace of the set. Laser equipment used for the show included two RTI Nano 4s and two RTI Nano 6s, controlled by Pangolin Beyond lasershow software. A technician doing the serious work of testing the trampoline to be used for the show

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LIVE EVENTs CONCERT REPORT

The stage becomes a red light district

LED The LED screens were supplied by Gearhouse Group subsidiary LEDVision. As mentioned, they consisted of three components: a backdrop upstage behind Van Buuren, the acrobats and dancers, an LED ‘apron’ on the front of the stage, and two sideways L-shaped screens that outlined the top and sides of the lighting matrixes to the left and right of the stage. The four hours of video was very important to the show and just added that extra-dimensional element to what was already a spectacle of sound and lighting. A total of 460 x Lighthouse DuoLED 18 panels were used for the massive LED rig. The upstage backdrop measured 20m wide, 5.7m high while the ‘apron’ measured 20m wide by 2.3m high. The sideways L-shaped screens measured 6.3m wide, 5.7m high and consisted of strips of single DuoLED 18 panels. Interestingly, a bespoke motorised door system was fabricated specifically for the show by Sets, Drapes, Screens; another of the Gearhouse Group companies, which allowed Van Buuren to enter through the LED backdrop.

Pyrotechnics The pyrotechnics for Intense was handled by local pyro experts Fireworks for Africa, run by owner Nick Mitri, who were contacted three months prior to the event. Because no international pyro crew was travelling along with the tour, Mitri and his crew handled the pyro aspects of the show in its entirety, albeit guided by the infamously specific tech rider which listed the desired effects, including specifics such as height and colour. “We worked with two of the production managers and went over everything with them prior to rigging and then again after,” says Mitri. “One of their guys pushed the buttons as the cues were quite tight.” Tight cues aside, as you might expect, there were challenges. “As the rider was so specific, it was a bit of a challenge to get the exact heights and colours of all the pyro here in time. It is rather difficult to get pyro (explosives) to this part of the world quickly. In Europe and the States it’s easy as there are a several manufacturers and distance is not an issue. There are only one or two cargo lines that will fly pyro into SA, so we really have to jump onto riders as soon as we get them and get the stuff here ASAP. We landed up having to swop some of the required effects with what was available as we just could not get everything here in time.”

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In total, the following effects and equipment were used at Intense. • 16 x CO2 jets • 4 x stadium shots (streamer cannons) • 7 x confetti blowers • 14 x Galaxis modules • 8 x Galaxis matrix boards • 2 X Galaxis controllers (one redundant) • 1 x DMX desk • 1 x dimmer rack

Mitri explains how the system was set up: “Basically, we ran the 16 CO2 jets and the four stadium shots off the dimmer. All the stadium shots were on one channel as they were always fired together. The CO2 jets on the two satellite stages (four jets per satellite stage) were each on their own channel and the eight jets on the main stage were all on individual channels. The confetti blowers are manually fed machines, so each machine was manned by an operator. The pyrotechnics were controlled by our Galaxis system. We had four modules (receivers) on the truss above the main stage, eight modules on the main stage and one module per satellite stage.” “It was a good event and it was nice to see how everyone pulled it together from start to finish,” concludes Mitri. “The internationals seem to do these events almost on a weekly basis. It would be good to see more big gigs here. From the amount of kit and pyro used, it is definitely one of the biggest indoor events that we have done.”

The wrap Quite frankly, Armin Only Intense could possibly be one of the best DJ events to reach our shores and could be very difficult to top. While it’s very easy to stand in awe of the sheer size of all of the technical systems employed at the show the overwhelming theme that came out of researching this article was that with adequate communication, a very specific technical rider, sufficient preparation and a professional, reliable crew almost anything can be accomplished. And almost anything certainly was in this case.


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LIVE EVENTs Show Report

John Vlismas – Revelations

By Greg Bester

The stage for the John Vlismas show at The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City.

Traditionally, stand-up comedy used to be a guy in front of a face brick wall on a black stage, microphone in hand and a barstool in close proximity to serve as a place to put his bottle of water and occasionally, along with the mic stand, a handy prop. But that’s all changing now…

John Vlismas is a comedian who likes to do things differently. Anyone that’s seen him live will attest to that. It’s just not his style to follow tradition and, if my assumptions are correct, the man is punk rock at heart and has a penchant for bucking the system. Not to mention his live musings and rants which are sure to leave even the most liberal-hearted a little red in the face. It stands to reason, then, that Vlismas is a man of many facets. It’s no secret that he’s a fan of Brian Eno, the master of ‘behind the scenes’ so he’s quite happy to be involved in off-stage production as much as on-stage which comes out in his other work such as his corporate production of The Gathering, a political debate thrown by The Daily Maverick. His shows are more than a little different than run-of-the-mill because of his passion for production. Revelations, inspired by the biblical Book of Revelations, is Vlismas’ latest live stand-up offering that is interwoven with a twist of vitriol, a large dose of off-the-beaten-track showmanship and a refreshing focus on show-enhancing technology. This is not your average comedy routine; not just because of his flamboyant personal stylings, but because of a flair for technology that most stand-up comedy shows just do not have. Bringing other elements as well, the show also includes a performance by psychobilly band The Spinebenders, which set the stage for the dark humour that follows and visuals inspired by the mini-series True Detective. In fact, lead singer Ryan

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Busta Bolton had a big hand in illustrating some of these visual elements. As we will see, these visuals were central to what made this show a little different. The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City hosted the show on 23 and 24 May 2014 which was recorded for broadcast on Comedy Central. Richard Baker, MD of Gearhouse Group subsidiary LEDVision, was instrumental in bringing Vlismas’ vision to realisation through their long time association and passion for well executed event technical. The goal? A unique show that breaks all the boundaries of traditional comedy and pushes the envelope forward using technology as a conduit. “Comedy is not generally looked at as a show piece,” says Baker. “However, so many things can be done because there are all the same elements that we use in most shows. We have to set a scene. We can take the audience in and out of whatever the gag might be or whatever story needs to be told. John is very interesting and just talking to him about how all his ideas come about I can see that he has a purpose with what he’s trying to do. It’s not fair to say that there haven’t been local comedy shows that have had a technical input, but I think John has done something really artistic with it.” Discussions started between Vlismas and Baker around two years ago. Baker had seen some local comedy productions on television that didn’t quite meet his expectations of what a good production was supposed to be. So he set out to create something with Vlismas that was more of an experience than a bland comedy show with ordinary production values. “It’s not about budget. People always think, ‘oh well, that’s just a low budget show’. Forget about the budget; you can achieve so much with very little if you have a little teamwork and put a little vision into it,” says Baker. Prior to Vlismas’ 40th birthday extravaganza, Vlismas approached Baker and engaged with him on the Revelations show. Baker admits he wanted to do the show with Vlismas as an ‘art escape’ to see what


Show Report LIVE EVENTs

John Vlismas

he could do to push the envelope of comedy production, regardless of budget. Eventually the ball got rolling after a couple of meetings with Vlismas and the show began to morph out of their minds and into reality. “The first thing we did was put a checkered floor down,” comments Baker. “This broke up the floor and didn’t leave everything up to lighting. That being said, the lighting crew at the Lyric are fantastic. Vlismas has got a great vision when it comes to the content which we took and demonstrated to him how it can run within the comedy skit. So there is visual art, there’s comedy, there’s a technical aspect and it’s all related. Without the technology, the visual art doesn’t come into play.” Central to the show was the incorporation of vertical – and in some cases slanted – staggered DuoLED 18mm LED screens that extended from the floor to the rigging system in the stage cavity. Around 80 panels were used in total. This is where most of the True Detective- and Walking Dead-inspired content was displayed and projected a sort of disjointed, frenetic scene to compliment the erratic mind of Vlismas. This was a deliberate design approach by Baker. “I wanted a pixelated look; the deconstructed, broken down thing.

A lot of the imaging was buggered up stairwells, dirty barren wastelands, etc. Vlismas and I sat down and had a conversation and started writing things down so it just started on a notepad,” says Baker. Apart from the LED screens there was also a projection cyclorama at the rear of the stage onto which images were projected throughout the show by a 21K Panasonic hidden behind one of the LED screens. However, there were some challenges due to space constraints. According to Baker, his initial plan was to project onto the entire surface of the cyclorama at the rear of the stage but because of an overhanging wall and space calculation constraints the solution was to cut it down and push it back under the overhang. The content for Revelations was driven by three Arkaos video servers and Resolume VJ software.

The wrap One of the big points I got from talking to Baker was that, as he put it, kit is kit. Indeed, being part of the Gearhouse Group, Baker has access to an immense pool of gear but, according to him, it is incidental to the vision of the show. In conclusion he says: “We have got access to every single piece of equipment imaginable. But it means nothing until we can actually plug it in together with the artists, the content creators and the design visionaries. So, as a show designer, if you don’t have all of that coming together you may as well sit in the warehouse and look at all the kit. But as far as Revelations goes, I am very happy with how it came out.”

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LIVE EVENTs PRODUCT REVIEW

grandMA2 user review

Probably one of the most ubiquitous lighting consoles at large scale events both internationally and at home is the grandMA2 from leading lighting control systems manufacturer MA Lighting. MA lighting has been around for almost 30 years and has a large market footprint in South Africa with many notable users of the grandMA2 platform. Pro-Systems caught up with a few local and international users to get their insight into the functionality of their console and their overall view and these are our findings. But first, a little history.

History Founded in 1983 in Germany by Michael Adenau (hence ‘MA’) and then joined by software specialist Ernst Ebrecht in 1985, MA lighting was known for its innovative lighting control products starting in that same year with the Lightcommander series of control desks that featured real level memory; the hefty LCD120 control desk that was debuted at PLASA London along with the brand itself; the MA Scancommander in 1992 aimed at intelligent lighting; their touringgrade dimmers launched in 1995 and then the giant leap forward in

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the spring of 1997 with the unveiling of the grandMA ‘series one’. The original grandMA, based on the Scancommander and Lightcommander consoles of the past, was a hybrid lighting control console that, according to MA: “brought a new level of hardware sophistication to the lighting world”. It featured full colour touch screens, motorised faders, a built in UPS and an on-board hard drive; features quite advanced for the time. Indeed, these features only seemed to become commonplace in the 21st Century. Eventually, around the turn of millennium, MA released smaller, more portable versions of the grandMA such as the grandMA light, the grandMA replay unit and the grandMA offline editor, enabling lighting designers and operators to design their show beforehand. In the autumn of 2001 the grandMA ultra-light was released. That same year saw MA Lighting International GmbH founding its headquarters in Paderborn, Germany which focussed its attention on distribution of their products worldwide; a testament to their growing popularity. By 2007, MA Lighting had grown from a few products to an entire range that culminated in a complete system solution for lighting professionals. Indeed, the MA system at the time was the only scalable system on the market that could reliably control up to 64 DMX universes. However, in 2008, everything changed slightly if not improved with the introduction of the subject of this user review: the grandMA2 series. The grandMA2 was a result of MA Lighting listening closely to the calls of their customers. They retained the intuitiveness of the original


LIVE EVENTs PRODUCT REVIEW grandMA that their users had come to love, right down to the same command line. The software was updated and optimised and the displays were reorganised for a more ergonomic feel and increased intelligibility. The somewhat garish housing that typified the 90s design of the original grandMA fell away and the new surface boasted a cleaner, flat-black modern look that has remained somewhat timeless in an era of increasing change. The grandMA2, like its predecessor, is an integrated lighting system solution with the MA NPU (Network Processing Unit), the MA NSP (Network Signal Processor) and the dimMA, the digital installation dimmer. All of these units communicate with each other via MA-Net2 over Ethernet; bringing the power of the IP network to the lighting control world.

Features • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Real-time control for up to 65 536 parameters per session in connection with MA NPU (equivalent to 256 DMX universes) 8 192 HTP/LTP parameters 6 DMX outputs 3 internal TFT wide mode touchscreens (15.4” WXGA) 2 external TFT screens can be connected (UXGA, touchscreens accepted) 1 internal command screen – multi-touch (9” SVGA) 30 motorised executor faders Integrated keyboard drawer Built-in uninterruptible power supply (UPS) 2 etherCON connectors, 5 USB 2.0 connectors Motorised monitor wing 2 motorised A/B fader 100mm Individually backlit and dimmable silent (clickless) keys

Now that we know a little about the heritage of MA Lighting and grandMA2, let’s see what its users both locally and abroad have to say about it, shall we?

Tim Dunn lighting designer, Gearhouse SA “We have been using grandMA series one for many years so when grandMA2 was launched it was an easy decision to make. It is also the most internationally specified console. The grandMA2 console was one of the best investments we have made, since their (Gearhouse) purchase of the range they are always out on shows. You can never own enough grandMA2 consoles. “I think what separates the platform from competing brands is its flexibility; it caters for a vast variety of different shows and has a vast variety of features that can be customised for different users. The networking makes it extremely flexible to cater for larger shows with full tracking backup and multiuser capabilities. The GUI is very intuitive and easy to navigate. It’s been well thought out and I find it is easy to find what I am looking for because it just makes sense. Features like Macros make it fast to program complex things in one button press. The MA Tricks feature is an excellent tool for programming big rigs. Dynamic Presets, another great feature that makes for less changing

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views, in turn speeds up my programming time. I could go on all day about a list of features that make my life easier, the grandMA2 platform in general makes my life easier. “As lighting evolves and products become more flexible there will always be an easier way to control them. What makes the grandMA2 so powerful is that it is always evolving. So to answer the question; no, there is nothing that I don’t like about the platform. “grandMA2 support in South Africa is phenomenal. The local distributors are always there when you need help, even if it is just for advice on designing a control system. We get excellent support and it is also one of the reasons that make operating the grandMA2 such a pleasurable experience. DWR Distribution holds regular training sessions and they are always willing to spend some one on one time with us.”

Paul Collison lighting designer, Eleven DESIGN Australia “I own, rent and specify MA control systems almost exclusively. The platform has good pedigree that stems back for decades and that experience has helped get them to this point with a sophisticated and powerful control system. With the introduction of the low-end OnPC command wings, there are now no shows that a grandMA2 control system is not appropriate for. “There are many key advantages I find with using GMA2 over other systems. Firstly there is the networking side and multi-user aspect. My experience on The X Factor in Australia and New Zealand displays this. Three surfaces populate the control room for three operators, white light, creative lighting and video control. We have two surfaces on the studio floor which any operator can access or can be used by the technical crew for service. We can then centralise triggers for lighting, video and audio effects all from one button push. We can preview states in MA3D, with a file that was directly imported from Vectorworks. We communicate with our Pandora’s Box media servers directly via MA-Net2. I can’t think of any other controller that is capable of what we make our GMA2 system do on these shows. “External communications with MA2 systems are a quick and efficient. I use MANet2 for Arkaos Media Master and Pandoras Box. I trigger things on my MA with Artnet or DMX inputs all the time. I use the Telnet communication side of things with Australian developer Hippy’s programmer, TimeLord, which is a great program for those shows where you want to run audio as well as get timecode cues happening. My only wish would be to have a more sophisticated output of things like TCP messages so we can trigger devices that communicate at a TCP level. “Our local MA support is second to none. Show Technology in Australia provides amazing technical support that is efficiently and speedily backed up MA International. The support of both of these companies has meant MA products are at the forefront of the majority of productions in Australia. “My favourite thing about MA is their ability to add features all the time. The relentless development that happens behind the scenes is amazing. I think MA2 is going to be around for a long, long time to come.”


Tim Routledge freelance lighting designer, UK “I bought into the grandMA series-one about 10 years ago and it became my weapon of choice very quickly. As soon as grandMA2 was launched I was the first user in the UK to own the console and now own a large number of the entire range of consoles from wings to full-size. We are known as MA specialists in the UK and we knew the grandMA2 was going to be special from the outset and wanted to be involved from the start. “The technical support is second to none, not that I have needed much but I know there is always someone I can speak to if I want to do something new. Plus MA really just specialises in consoles; they don’t make lights or screens and they are focussed simply on creating the best console platform. “The networking has always been central to MA and for large scale projects there is really only choice for me because I can have several programmers working at the same time. With grandMA2 it is now really simple to take bits and bobs from your various show files, so if something worked really well in one show you can import that effect or fixture straight from another show file. Making up complex show files is now much, much quicker. Artnet is now really super simple on the console and so large networks of Artnet to other nodes really is not an issue. I also use a few third-party software applications for importing patches and cue lists from Excel spread sheets or timecode-reading software. I can now import an entire patch and all the cue lists for a show in the blink of an eye. All the boring admin is done speedily and I can then really concentrate on the art. Layout views and the speed of grabbing and cloning fixtures are really second to none. I can clone in new fixtures for one song, the entire second half of a show or just the colour parameters; it’s all amazingly flexible. “For me in the UK our local distributor is Ambersphere and they are quite simply the most helpful of all the distributors I have ever come across – and any conversation always starts with a cup of tea and probably cake!”

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“For us you don’t buy a lighting console when you buy MA, you buy a system [because] you can scale the system for your event. It also integrates with its own video server and virtualiser, which was the deciding factor for us. I definitely think MA has an edge over its competitors in the market and I think it is the power of the hardware and software that gives them that edge. Also, constant developments keep them ahead. “[In terms of features that I like,] there are no set GUI or screen layouts; you can set it up the way you need to for an event. Also, you can set up the screen layout for the different size consoles and for

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LIVE EVENTs PRODUCT REVIEW different users. That is what appeals to a lot of people. I know the whole world is going on about GUIs, from apps to lighting consoles, but one of the most powerful features that people miss because they are so intrigued by how easy and beautiful the GUI looks like is the command line. “I think with any console there will always be something that you will make you think: ‘It will be nice if it could do that’. What sets MA apart from other manufacturers is that they listen to their users, constantly develop their software and keep adding new features.” Version 3 was released a couple of months ago and is a big update for us and nearly all the features and tweaks we requested were added in, and more. The thing that we need to remember is that technology of lighting is constantly changing and features that we used two years ago might be redundant and features that we will need next year are currently not needed. That is where MA really plays a strong game. The other thing that I dislike is not a manufacturer or console problem, but the perception in the industry that MA is only used for large events. I think if the correct marketing is done a lot more people will use MA on smaller events. “The support locally is unbelievable, not that we need support that much. DWR’s reputation in the industry speaks for itself.”

Joshua Cutts owner/lighting designer, Visual Frontier “I have been using MA2 consoles for four years now. I needed a console change and grandMA2 is the most intuitive and user friendly console I’ve found so it was a natural and simple process to switch over. I haven’t looked back and I don’t see myself changing anytime soon. “I most definitely think the MA2 is a great investment. There are plenty of great lighting consoles out there at the moment; all with fantastic features, but for me the MA2 is a complete package. It allows you keep it simple or get as advanced and complex as you would like. The console has almost unlimited features but never forces you to use them. It lets you do what suits your style. “The main feature for me is the networking capabilities; it’s the most powerful feature. It is very simple to set up and is almost as simple as plug and play. In the time-pressured industry we work in you don’t want to be spending all your time trying to get things to work. I find that MA just works. The fact that the GUI is completely customisable per user makes it very comfortable. I can go to any grandMA2 console and load my user profile and suddenly the desk feels like it belongs to me. “I can’t say there is anything major that I don’t like. There is always room for improvement, hence software updates. It would be nice to have a more powerful built-in pixel mapper so that I don’t have to use media server to achieve this. I have never had a hassle connecting the console with most additional gear that I have needed. I tend to use many different media servers because of all the different suppliers in the industry and the MA now plays nicely with most of them. “Nick Britz at DWR is a great help with MA. He always goes the extra mile to help. He understands the systems extensively so I joke that instead of checking the help file I just call him. It’s easier.”

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Robert Hoey creative director/lighting designer, Dreamsets “Having seen quite an awesome demo on the desk and how versatile this platform is [was our motivation for purchasing the grandMA2]. It was an easy choice for me as an LD. Great after-sales service also helps sell this desk. “It has changed how we light shows and how quick you can create on them. You can setup a quick busk with lots of options, multiple faders and flash buttons make this so great to operate on. The network and expansion options are endless. You can also create complex time-lined systems triggering everything from smoke to pyro to AV servers. The international and local support systems are outstanding and you feel like you have real support. Flexibility, build quality and backup [is what separates this platform from competitors]. “[The grandMA2] is all about flexibility. You can create so many different viewing options and layout formats that this desk seems endless and these options are a button push away. I have used so many different layout and views that all my shows differ in some way or another. I love using pallets to create with and you can change all of them to suit the different types of shows you are working on. The 3D visualisation option is another great system that lets you see your design from various different views from behind the console. The information about your rig and plot from this desk is incredible and it’s all available on the front layer if you need it to be; there is no tedious menu within menu options. “[Features I would like to see in the grandMA2 include] RDM wireless capability, a built in video server, great audio options, a comms interface, a built in camera system with lens options, recording capabilities, a spring loaded timing wheel and parameters buttons for quick button access to pallets and number references. Also, MA2 for Mac; that’s my only problem. Why not, or when? “[Support for the grandMA2 locally has been] fantastic and beyond all expectations. The DWR team have come out at night to our venue in Joburg. This was after two hours’ notice. They brought along the demo desk from the shop. Within one hour they isolated the problem and replaced the broken parts with theirs. Back plotting within three hours. The DWR team rocks so hard, best people around. I have had Duncan Riley and Robert Izzett changing power supplies while the CEO is on the other side of the tabs giving his keynote address. That’s how far these guys will go for you. They have changed how service and support is delivered in our industry.”

Peter Rieck owner/lighting designer, Blond Productions “The real motivation [for purchasing the grandMA2] came from the grandMA series-one, which I considered the best lighting desk at the time until the grandMA2 arrived, which was even better. We needed to purchase another ‘big’ lighting console and the obvious choice was


LIVE EVENTs PRODUCT REVIEW

Mauritz Jacobs lighting designer, Dreamsets

another grandMA2. “It is most definitely worth the investment if you look at the bigger picture and the whole networking side that drives MA. It’s the best. I mean, a lighting desk is a lighting desk but a grandMA2 combined with a VPU (Video Processor Unit) and a NPU (Networking Processor Unit) plus running a backup desk for your show that can take over at anytime works seamlessly together. You just can’t beat that. “MA is constantly improving the software by adding new features to make an already user-friendly system more flexible and reliable. I like the way I can setup different views with all the relevant information I need for a show. I also like the flexibility of each button / fader that I can change for different applications. “The local support is fantastic. You can’t ask for a better team than DWR. We have sat many long nights together and solved problems.”

Michael Seeverens lighting designer, The Art of Light, the Netherlands “Our company owns a grandMA2 full-size and several On PC wings. They are used for pre-programming in our visualisation studio and to take it on the road. The motivation is that it’s a versatile control system. For example, for Armin Only, we use a lot of tracks that are time-code programmed which is a very powerful tool in the MA2. “I’m very sure it is [a worthwhile investment]! Even after a couple of years it will keep his value. Besides that, MA is constantly developing their platform, which is also needed with the rapid movement of the industries technology. It’s a very versatile platform. You can access it in multiple ways. Keeping it an open platform (connecting fader wings, DMX input, macros and commands) makes it very flexible and suitable for speedy and complex programming. This is in contrast with competing manufacturers which obligate you to use their specific user interface. “I like the fact that you can make your own personal layout the way that works best for you, which is an easy way of creating macros. You can put everything exactly there where you want it to be. That makes it on the other hand also very complex, but in the end this flexibility gives you endless options. The great thing about MA is, as long the device sends DMX or MIDI you can connect, for instance, an external fader wing or button pads which gives you even more direct access. For example, the Artnet input / output gives you endless possibilities as we are testing now on Armin van Buuren shows with bracelets that control complete lighting rigs in movement and intensities. In other words, Armin can control the movement of the fixtures we control with the GrandMA2. “Rolight in the Netherlands is the Dutch supplier for MA. They have great after-sales, 24/7 support and service.”

“I had been using the [high end systems] Hog desks when I was at Strike Productions for 10 years from the Hog 1000 right through to the Hog III. They were amazing desks at that time. However there were a lot of issues with those desks regarding software updates, etc. In 2011 Duncan Riley from DWR introduced to us the grandMA2 which we had a look at and were very impressed with its capabilities. Also, the customer care is just simply amazing for the product which the Hogs seriously fell short on. We purchased the grandMa2 full-size shortly after that and we have not looked back one day. “In my opinion it is the best kit we have ever spent money on. The desk just makes sense from the word go. Even when it comes to building your own effects to doing shows on timecode; it’s all so very easy, quick and effective. “If I had to compare the grandMA2 to any desk it would win with flying colours. The backup you have on this equipment is of utmost importance, which we do have. They are continuously upgrading the software to sort out little bugs and improve the consoles. I honestly don’t see how any other brand can compete with this desk as it is a very stable and reliable piece of equipment. I enjoy having everything in front of me. The four screens (on the full-size) are enough to put absolutely everything in that you might need and is as easy to get to at the touch of a button. “Local support has been absolutely mind blowing. You can’t ask for better support.”

Simon King senior lighting technician, South Africa State Theatre “For us, purchasing the grandMA2 was simple: we were upgrading from the grandMA series-one range. It’s a great investment, very easy to use and I have lit shows on different continents and all had grandMA2s. They’re used and recognised worldwide. “It gives you an enormous amount of info at your fingertips and makes it almost impossible for you to use other desks without touch screen capability. If there is anything negative to say it is about editing effects, which sometimes do naughty things. And MA2 has no game built in. “As previously stated the main reason for going with MA was the support and assistance offered by Duncan Riley and his team. No one else comes close. DWR has the best service and support in the country.”

The wrap

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Clearly, MA has ardent support from users both locally and worldwide. In a time when lighting control consoles are becoming increasingly competitive in a market with an escalating number of manufacturers, MA seems to have no problem keeping their shoulders above the rising tides of progress and keeping their customers happy.


It’s all about you You drive what we do. You are our main inspiration and source of ideas. You define what you need day-to-day and we keep listening. Only with your input can we provide the products you really need.

Join the MA family: MA Lighting International GmbH · Germany · Phone: +49 (0) 5251 688865-10 www.malighting.com · info@malighting.com

www.malighting.com/family

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LIVE EVENTs Interview

Alcons Audio LR24 By Greg Bester

The Alcons LR24 has been a long time coming but it is finally here (by ‘here’ I mean, ‘officially launched’, not as in ‘here in South Africa’; not just yet, anyway) and given the hype that’s been circulating not only among ourselves here at Pro Systems but in the industry at large, I’m sure we’re all waiting with bated breath for the system to hit our shores so we can hear it in action once and for all. The Alcons LR24 (a three-way larger format line source loudspeaker used as a vertical array) system has been in development for quite some time and was only launched this year at Prolight + Sound 2014 while here locally we only got a taste of it at Mediatech 2013. Of course, at that point it was still in development. Alcons is different in that they opt to use ribbon drivers – a natural line source – in their line arrays that they call the Pro-Ribbon driver that by nature produces an isophasic, cylindrical wave front that compression driver loaded systems struggle to produce without the use of sophisticated wave guides. This, they claim, delivers up to 90 per cent less distortion than traditional compression driver HF systems and a precise pattern control without any horn-induced distortion. The LR24 is a dual 12-inch, reflex-loaded enclosure with four 6.5-inch mid-frequency drivers and a 3000W (peak) 14-inch long Pro-Ribbon driver. The rigging system is certified for 24 elements per side at a 10:1 safety ratio. Pro Systems deputy editor Greg Bester caught up with Tom Back, Alcons co-founder, for more information on the development and challenges therein of the LR24, more information about the product and where Alcons sees itself in the future.

Give us some background to the development of the LR24 The initial idea for a larger format line-array started with the Phitom design study from 2007. That study was based on the RBN1801, our most-powerful Pro-Ribbon driver at the time with an 18-inch voice coil and a 3000W power handling. The concept showed a three-way, symmetrical design with horn-loaded eight-inch mids and double 15-inch for LF. The Phitom LFE section was an additional LF module, placed left and right of the main line-array, to complement the bass and sub-performance, while at the same time bring the 90 degree horizontal control down to 125Hz. That LFE section was cardioid-loaded with an 18-inch woofer on front and a 15-inch woofer on the rear for rearward LF cancellation. Despite being ahead of the market, we decided the time wasn’t right for a production-ready product because we had larger ambitions for the HF section (proving that our Pro-Ribbon technology would be capable of higher SPL performance than currently available on the market), but also as the brand recognition of Alcons would not bring a sufficient attention level for such a game-changer. Also, our amplification and DSP processing platforms were not up-to-speed with requirements for such a demanding market segment.

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The Alcons LR24

At the same time, with the economic situation uncertain, we decided to spend our R&D efforts on smaller (array) systems that would fit our existing markets very well and would see the quicker return-on-investment. For example: the resulting LR7 micro line-array has sold thousands of units and has become a very important part of our turnover. Also, our RR12 point-source array is a direct result of the extended R&D we did on the acoustical set-up of the LR24.

Why did we not see an official launch of the LR24 for so long, despite seeing it pop up in individual festivals and events? Alcons as a brand doesn’t have a background in the touring market and would thus have some deadline for replacing an existing product. We decided to take our time; build a fairly large rig and do gigs with that to gather experience information. Also, as Alcons’ philosophy is to offer the complete sound experience, the package of LR24 development was just much more than ‘just’ a loudspeaker cabinet. [It is also about] array extension, subwoofer solutions, logistics, and also a completely new amplification and processing platform. Where other manufacturers would go the OEM-route and just rebrand an OEM amp platform, we have developed our proprietary amp and DSP solution, which we call the ‘Sentinel Amplified Loudspeaker Controller’ as the control functions are much more prominent than just the amplification function. The Sentinel plays a crucial role in the future feature development of the LR24 system as well. In the first quarter of 2013 we launched the Launch Partner Program, with which we got in touch with the most interested rental partners (‘early-adopters, if you wish) to get more precise feedback and co-development in the last stage of the development.


Interview LIVE EVENTs designs on the market were limiting the performance of our ProRibbon transducer technology, hence the task of starting development ourselves. We have taken amplification to the next level with custom-designed sample-rate converters with utmost high-end hi-fi response as our goal combined with sound-reinforcement output power capability and a state of the art control and user-interface.

What do you feel the LR24 does differently or offers over other line source systems in its class?

Tom Back

It’s the first time ever in the professional audio industry history that sound can be amplified to the highest SPL’s in such a high quality resolution: lowest distortion combined with full 1:16 dynamics, a flat frequency response up to 20 000Hz, perfect stereo-imaging and depth/width in audio staging. It is a linear responding system with fully predictable performance without any coloration; the perfect tool to amplify sounds as the artist meant it to be. Instead of wrestling with the system, the engineer can fully focus on the artist’s performance without any compromise. The engineer can make a ‘rock ‘n roll system’ out of it, a ‘classical system’ or a flat-response system. It gives the creativity back to the engineer.

Is the Pro-RBN driver in the LR24 a completely new design? What have been the challenges, if any, in designing and developing the LR24? Ha, there were plenty! Of course, our primary challenge was to get our Pro-Ribbon technology suitable (read: loud enough) for the ’Formula One circus’ (as we call the touring market). We felt it would not be suitable to come up with a transducer in the LR24 line array that would produce ‘just-enough’ SPL for the job as the LR24 is more than just a new market segment for Alcons. More than that, it’s ‘proof-of-concept’ to show that the Pro-Ribbon technology is the real-world alternative for the (almost) 100-year old compression driver technology. Besides the HF challenge, to develop a system according to the Alcons ‘engineering-integrity’, it should perform acoustically superbly, primarily, with a secondary role for DSP. Instead of the other way around as we see too often nowadays. A system with symmetrical transducer arrangement and a stable horizontal dispersion behaviour is a pain-staking process of trial-and-error with prototypes, simulations, measurements and listening sessions. Due to the all-natural cylindrical behaviour of the Pro-Ribbon technology, we had an easier job to obtain a side-lobe free projection in the vertical plane. The flying system is a task in itself: minimal hardware, simple but reliable set-up with on-the-ground curve angle pre-setting, all under the highest safety ratios (10:1). We have worked with the University of Delft in this development. At the end of the process, we had a very sophisticated flying system with a very high degree of ‘automation’ but we decided not to continue this design in the production version due to the higher risk of component failure (due to lot of parts) and the significantly reduced involvement of the operator; especially since this last item was something we thought to be an important finding in our research, ie. automated spring-loaded connecting parts create a false sense of security as they enhance the neglect of check, re-check, double-check. So, in the development process we had two development teams working side-by-side, separately, to choose the best solution in the end. Last, but certainly not least, the Sentinel amplified loudspeaker controller has taken us close to four years to develop (to many in the industry, this is a record time! But, it has been the delaying factor in the LR24 launch to some extent). To bring our drive platform at least to the current state-of-art, we needed to go the Class-D amplifier route (coming from a more bulky, heavy Class-G design). In our research, we found during calibrated listening tests that practically all Class-D

Yes, what we call the ‘02-platform’ is a completely new Pro-Ribbon platform, developed by Philip ’Dr Phil‘ de Haan, my partner in the company and initiator of numerous patents in the field of Pro-Ribbon transducer technology since 1986. It sets a new benchmark in terms of efficiency and output capabilities. The RBN1402rsr is a 14-inch Pro-Ribbon transducer with a 14-inch voice-coil, a power handling of 3000W plus an efficiency of 112dB 1W/1m and flat to 20 000Hz. In output performance, this surpasses even the most powerful compression drivers (even in multiples).

Have there been any patents applied for in the design of the LR24? If so, how many and for what components? Yes, there have been. Two new patents on the RBN1402 based on optimising efficiency, a patent on the amplifier technology and a patent on the flying system. In total the RBN1402rsr in the LR24 contains four global patents and pending patents alone. One thing is to have a patent, but the more challenging is to maintain it against the ‘copy-cats’ in this industry!

What do you see as the primary application for the LR24? Well, looking at the output capabilities, the system can be used in even the largest applications (touring, concerts, in / outdoor). But if you look at the sonic qualities, the LR24 could even be used as a studio monitor! If you look at the impulse-response of the LR24 compared to our VR8 compact reference monitor, the LR24 is even better / cleaner! As the system is perfectly linear throughout the SPL range as well as the frequency response and also does not colour [the sound], it is not a typical rock ‘n roll system, or a classical system. As such, it can be used for any type of event; pop / rock / classic / jazz / speech, from low to high SPL applications.

What can we expect from Alcons in the future? The structure of our R&D team enables us to undertake more progressive-focused developments, whereas we stayed more main stream until now – new technology in market-proven concepts. Our pay-off is ‘evolutionary audio solutions’. It may be time to focus on ‘revolutionary audio advancements’. But, for now the LR24 will be further developed; not in terms of hardware, but in terms of software where we can utilise more control options in the DSP processing (ie. beam steering additions).

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LIVE EVENTs CONFERENCE REPORT

Out of the box conferencing

By Joanne Taylor

The venue for the SAPHILA 2014 conference, set in ‘Saphilatown’ at Sun City’s Gary Player car park.

SAPHILA 2014 was an energising conference that brought networking, entertainment and creativity to one outdoor venue. The African SAP User Group’s (AFSUG) SAPHILA 2014 conference and exhibition proved to be a refreshingly different conference with its innovative layout and design. The conference and exhibition featured an entirely outdoor ‘Saphilatown’ at Sun City’s Gary Player car park. The SAPHILA 2014 biennial event was held mid-June and brought together SAP users to connect, create and collaborate through knowledge sharing about innovations, implementation and service delivery. Simon Carpenter, SAP Africa chief operating officer, says SAPHILA 2014 also left a positive impression on international delegates: “Peers from overseas were absolutely blown away. They were stunned, which is good for all of us.” The design was a concept that Paul Warner, owner of 24 Carrots Events Design, had developed a number of years ago but SAPHILA 2014 was the first client to go for it. Warner appointed JDM Unlimited’s

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Dewet Meyer as the designer. AV Unlimited was contracted by 24 Carrots Event Design to handle all the technical requirements of the event, which in essence was 13 events in one, says AV Unlimited’s Guillaume Ducray. “The client brief was that this year they wanted something that is ‘out of the box’ as far as conferencing goes.” Warner’s concept took inspiration from nature, where people were given a space to connect, create and collaborate with like-minded people under the beautiful African sun. Everything about the conference and exhibition was unusual – it was a tailor made outdoor urban metropolis, made from the building blocks of overhauled transport containers. These shipping containers were ingeniously adapted, wrapped in graphic decals, and some stacked on top of one another like gigantic Lego blocks. The container town featured inter-connecting ramps, bridges and spiral staircases that bordered and looked out onto the open air auditorium. The multipurpose community space was the hub around which the entire conference was centred. Multitasking was the order of the day as this core space facilitated social and business networking and doubled up as the venue to host the keynote addresses, refreshment breaks, lunches and the locale for sponsors and exhibitors to receive the exposure they needed.


CONFERENCE REPORT LIVE EVENTs

Everything about the conference and exhibition was unusual – it was a tailor made outdoor urban metropolis, made from the building blocks of overhauled transport containers.

Transport containers used to build up the set

The set, which includes the Saphilatown, the conference rooms and the superbowl, comprised of 44 re-fitted and re-purposed shipping containers, the video component included 90 square metres of LED screens, 370 square metres of projection screens and 112 flat screens, the audio component of the conference and exhibition was made up of 90kW of sound, 50 radio mic systems and six digital mixing consoles. The sound design was provided by Matrix Sound’s Trevor Peters. The lighting involved 192 LED Parcans, 60 automated beams, 90 LED

washes, 38 automated profiles, 30 automated washes, 84 LED beams and 700 metres of LED trim. The lighting designer was Renaldo Van Den Berg. One of the conference’s evening entertainment events included a White Party. Each guest was given a white poncho which had LED strips sewn in on the shoulders to wear on the night. The LED strips were programmed by UK-based Xylobands, which uses its own proprietary software that is downloaded onto a laptop and sent to the event location. The laptop is connected to a transmitter box with

Liberating Imaginations From the Tyranny of Tight Budgets

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LIVE EVENTs CONFERENCE REPORT

“The lighting involved 192 LED Parcans, 60 automated beams, 90 LED washes, 38 automated profiles, 30 automated washes, 84 LED beams and 700 metres of LED trim. The lighting designer was Renaldo Van Den Berg.” antennae, which sends commands via radio frequency to the LED strips. The conference also had a charity element to it and the sponsors gave back to local communities by donating all of the plastic PVC table covers to Managed Executive Services that will reuse the material for hand bags and tablet covers. All proceeds raised are to be used for the rehabilitation of homeless people in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. The chairs in the auditorium were made entirely of cardboard and donated to three local schools. The containers were sold for R1.00 to Skills Village 2030, a practical framework for

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workplace experience that uses festivals and events to identify commodities, goods, services and experiences that are unique to the local community and bring them to market. Skills Village 2030 will use the containers as training rooms for skills development. “The design of this conference and all of the extras, such as the ponchos and the charity elements, came together to be a truly successful and vibrantly energetic networking experience for that attended, and was by far the most successful SAPHILA conference that AFSUG has done,” concludes Warner.


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The attendees sitting on chairs made out of cardboard

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LIVE EVENTs TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

Robe’s Bright Multi-Functional Luminaire (BMFL) Spot is the first in a new series of game changing fixtures. The light source has been custom designed for Robe and produces a staggering 250 000 lux at 5m and weighs just 36kg. The lamp has a CRI of 90/92, a refined optical system offers a 5 to 55 degree zoom and a crisp, high quality fat beam that is truly homogenised and without a hotspot.New colour mixing technology can produce all colours in the spectrum and there are two colour wheels. Two rotating gobo wheels, two rotating prisms and the dual graphic wheels are among its major features. The frost and dimming functions provide further effects. Three grades of frost are available and the dimmer is exceptionally smooth with no distortion. The strobe effect is very authentic with up to 10 flashes per second. Aimed at long through applications, Robe’s newly patented Electronic Motion Stabiliser technology (EMS) enables the BMFL to absorb vibrations. Distributed by DWR Distribution: www.dwrdistribution.co.za

The Martin MAC Quantum Profile

is a fully featured LED profile that sets new standards for combined performance, weight and size. This unit is a departure from traditional LED profiles (that use RGBW colour mixing) in that it uses white light LED with a CMY colour mixing system, as does traditional discharge moving light profiles. The advantage of this is a much brighter white and better rendition of hard to achieve RGB colours such as yellow. This workhorse represents the latest in LED technology which in combination with Martin’s proprietary optical design delivers a crisp and bright output. Any concerns about lamp aging, shifts in colour temperatures, green colour points, misaligned lamps and declining output are eliminated, as consistent LED technology guarantees that the last show on the tour looks as good as the first. The MAC Quantum Profile weighs 22 kg without compromising performance and speed, its compact size and precise movements will wow audiences, designers and technicians alike. The MAC Quantum Profile also offers a speedy return on investment. Key features include a flat field, crisp image, high contrast, first real alternative to a 700 watt HID fixture, very low weight and compact design, super high-speed movements and effects, full feature set including colour mixing and 1:3 zoom, and consistent photometric performance via LED technology. Distributed by Electrosonic SA: www.electrosonic.co.za

LumenRadio CRMXchip is the world’s first wireless DMX

application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) receiver. By using the latest chip technologies, LumenRadio has managed to reduce the size of a wireless DMX receiver to that of less than a fingernail. With the 6mm x 6mm CRMXchip, manufacturers can fully integrate a multi-functional wireless DMX receiver into high volume products where cost and size are prioritised without compromising quality or performance. Built on the award-winning CRMX technology, the patent protected CRMXchip is fully compatible with all existing LumenRadio products. The CRMXchip’s DMX window allows manufacturers to specify a range of the DMX universe they are interested in. The CRMXchip then sends an interrupt when there is a change within this range and makes available only the specified channels via an SPI register. A manufacturer can implement full DMX control by simply reading the relevant data only when the interrupt is received. The CRMXchip can receive signals from all CRMX compatible transmitters, as well as W-DMX transmitters G2, G3, G4 and G4S. Distributed by DWR Distribution: www.dwrdistribution.co.za

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TRACKING TECHNOLOGY LIVE EVENTs

The Chauvet Professional Rogue R1 Spot

brings innovation, offering a rotating 3-facet prism to create stunning visual and aerial effects, plus a motorised iris and motorised focus for easy beam shaping. Rogue R1 Spot features two gobo wheels, one fully rotating / indexing with interchangeable gobos to fit your custom needs, and one wheel with fixed gobos that is fully and variably scrollable. Rogue R1 Spot also features incredibly crisp optics with a 16.5-degree beam angle, making any gobo look fantastic and clear, and an 8-colour plus white colour wheel that is fully and variably scrollable. Rogue R1 Spot comes ready to rock, featuring industry-standard Neutrik powerCON power input / output connections for power linking, and three-pin and five-pin DMX connections for ease of use. Distributed by Audiosure: www.audiosure.co.za

The LightSky Bumblebee F1000 PROFILE-50R improves a system of four fast, smooth,

framing shutters within the optical path design from Spot light. The individual control of each shutter blade position and angle achieve the multiple shadows, together with rotation of the complete framing module. The colour temperature is 6 200K to 6Â 500K, it has 37/42 DMX channel control with options of DMX, DMX wireless and RDM. CMY colour system and linear CTO, the colour wheel is eight colours and white and a bi-directional rainbow effect. The effects feature Framing Shutters System of eight facet and four blades framing shutters modules, a beam angle of 6.5 to 44 degrees, five rotation gobo wheel and blank, seven fixed gobo and blank, a bi-directional rotation four face prism, and one-side doll polish high transparent soft lens, with zoom to reach 10 to 60 degree soft effect. www.lightsky.com.cn

The Electro-Voice ETX speaker family

builds upon the industry-leading innovation and 85-year heritage of Electro-Voice audio engineering to offer advanced professional powered loudspeakers available today for both portable and installed applications. A versatile choice for live entertainment venues, houses of worship, and rental companies, the ETX Powered Loudspeaker family features technologies from EV concert / touring systems. EV-engineered high-efficiency transducers and high-powered Class-D amplifiers, Signal Synchronized Transducers (SST) waveguide design, and FIR-Drive DSP all work together to provide excellent sound quality and precise coverage at the highest SPLs. Three two-way models (10-inch, 12-inch, and 15-inch, all with a precision HF titanium compression driver), a three-way model (15-inch with a 6.5-inch MF driver and a precision HF titanium compression driver), and two subs (15-inch and 18-inch drivers) are available. Distributed by Prosound: www.prosound.co.za

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LIVE EVENTs TRACKING TECHNOLOGY

The Clay Paky SuperSharpy

is an ACL beam type moving head featuring a 470 watt, 7 850K lamp. Its light beam is three times brighter, with a far bigger difference than you would expect by simply comparing the rated wattage of the two lamps (470 vs 190). Thanks to this incredible output, the SuperSharpy can really challenge a searchlight. The SuperSharpy produces a thick column of structured, dense light, not just concentrated, but also with a clear and uniform colour. This is the result of a new optical unit with a large 170mm diameter lens at its end, from which a beam similar to a powerful searchlight emerges. The beam diameter can be modified with a beam size reduction system, offering different diameters right down to a ‘surgical’ micro-beam similar to a laser. The brightness remains the same at any beam angle and the minimum aperture is literally zero degrees, so its beam remains perfectly parallel for its entire length. A frost unit allows it to soften the beam edge to such an extent that SuperSharpy nearly turns into a wash light. The SuperSharpy features a CMY mixing system based on three gradually fading colour wheels. The dichroic filters have been selected and combined to produce a nearly infinite variety of hues and shades. Two CTO filters (3 200K and 2 500K) and one CTB filter are available on each wheel to create even the warmest shades. The SuperSharpy features two gobo wheels. The first has seven high quality rotating dichroic gobos; the second provides 18+1 fixed metal gobos, including a wide selection of beam diameter reducers. Distributed by DWR Distribution: www.dwrdistribution.co.za

The JBL VTX V20

features the advanced technology and extraordinary performance of the ground breaking VTX V25 in a smaller format, high power density three-way system complemented by a new suspension system that provides efficient transport, fast setup and precise configuration. All VTX V20 components have been specifically engineered to provide stable 110 degree horizontal coverage and effective line source array coupling in the vertical plane while delivering linear, transparent sound up to surprisingly high output levels for its diminutive size. Features include differential drive technology, fourth generation advanced high frequency waveguide, small format version of patented D2 Dual Compression Driver, ASM suspension system, and V5 system integration. Distributed by Wild and Marr: www.wildandmarr.co.za

The d&b audiotechnik Y-series

offers unprecedented configuration flexibility in the d&b range for small to medium events. There are six base loudspeaker models in the range: the Y7P and Y10P with the single-18” B6-SUB, which is designed as a point-source system; and the Y8, Y12 and the cardioid Y-SUB that handle line source duties. All Y-series enclosures are passive. The Y7P and the Y10P feature the same dipolar 8” driver arrangement centred on a 1.4” compression driver coupled to a rotatable CD horn. This enables the loudspeaker to be arranged vertically or horizontally. The differences between the boxes are exhibited in their dispersion characteristics. The Y7P features a 75 degree (H) x 40 degree (V) dispersion pattern while the Y10P features a 110° (H) x 40° (V) dispersion. The system can be either ground-stacked or flown. When rigged along with the complimentary bass-reflex B6-SUB the system extends all the way down to 37Hz. The Y8 and Y12 are the line-source elements in the Y-series and utilise the same rigging design as the J- and V-series and feature the same 8” dipolar configuration centred on a 1.4” compression driver as their point-source cousins. The Y8 and Y12 also feature the same 80 degree and 120 degrees dispersion characteristics, respectively, and can be hung in columns of 24 elements with splay angles from 0 degree to 14 degree with a 1 degree resolution. The cardioid Y-SUB features an end-firing 18” and a rear-firing 12” driver and can be driven by a single amplifier. The Y-SUB can be either ground stacked or flown above the Y8/Y12 array within the rigging system. The Y-series conforms to the existing d&b ‘system-orientated’ workflow that encompasses the ArrayCalc simulation software, the R1 Remote software via the CAN bus and existing d&b amplifiers. Distributed by Stage Audio Works: www.stageaudioworks.com

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TRACKING TECHNOLOGY LIVE EVENTs

The Coda Audio Tiray is an ultra compact passive two-way full range line array

module and designed for small venues where high fidelity sound and outstanding intelligibility are required. The system contains two 5” ultra-low distortion cone speakers and a 5” neodymium planar wave driver. Up to 24 units can be arrayed to achieve extreme high levels needed for larger venues. The built-in passive crossover allows multiple modules to be driven with a single channel of the LINUS5 or LINUS8 4-channel DSP amplifiers (up to three enclosures resulting in 2.66Ohm amplifier load). An optional TiLOW bass extension can be added for increased low frequency response. The integrated rigging system allows quick and easy flying or ground stacking. Arrays may be built straight or curved in various angles to obtain the desired vertical coverage. The CODA Venue Optimizer software optimises coverage and frequency response to precisely match the audience area without physically altering the system. When used together with the TiLOW bass extension the TiRAY system gives audio companies a flexible system for a wide range of applications in small or medium sized venues. Distributed by Tadco: www.tadco.co.za

The DPA Microphones d:dicate 4018F

supercardioid capsule can be combined with different lengths of podium booms – 15cm, 30cm or 45cm, due to its modular nature. If longer booms are needed for floor stands with visual elegance, the long booms at 75cm or 120cm makes a high-quality stage voice mic together with our dedicated accessories. The highly directional supercardioid pickup pattern has a smooth and uniform off-axis frequency response. The supercardioid shape is frequency independent, securing an identical sound color around the microphone. The usual rear lobe heard on most supercardioids is minimised on the 4018F making it much more isolated without sudden frequency dependent peaks and dips. For speech it’s all about the voice and no sound source is probably as recognisable as just that. It has a natural response to speak; no equalisation is needed to remove microphone artifacts with the 4018 the voice intelligibility is straight out of the mic. Distributed by Prosound: www.prosound.co.za

The Soundcraft Vi-3000 digital mixing desk

features an all-new appearance with a more efficiently designed control surface, 36 faders, 24 mono / stereo busses and a sweeping black screen panel with four Vistonics II touchscreen interfaces with sleek, updated 3D graphics. Because the Vi3000 has four touchscreens, it’s the only console in its class that can be used by two engineers at the same time. The Soundcraft Vi3000 offers extensive rear panel connectivity. In addition to a full complement of analogue and digital inputs and outputs, the console provides MIDI, USB, Ethernet, DVI out, Dante / MADI record feed outputs, redundant power supply and other connections. The Vi3000 has two expansion bays that can be fitted with MADI Stagebox cards to connect multiple Soundcraft Stagebox input expander modules. The Vi3000 can also accommodate the new Soundcraft Realtime Rack, a hardware / software unit designed in collaboration with plug-in manufacturer Universal Audio that provides access to 74 industry-standard UAD plug-ins. The Vi3000 is the first Soundcraft console to incorporate a Dante interface as standard, for seamless digital audio networking with Dante-enabled devices. The Vi3000 retains all the features that have made the Soundcraft Vi Series the consoles of choice for live sound engineers worldwide, such as FaderGlow illuminated faders that display different colours according to function, the ability to store and recall snapshots and cues, compatibility with Soundcraft’s ViSi app that allows remote control from an iPad, built-in Lexicon reverb / delays, dbx compression, effects and more. Distributed by Wild and Marr: www.wildandmarr.co.za

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LIVE EVENTs PLASA London 2014 overvIEW

PLASA London 2014

PLASA London returns to ExCel in October and promises to attract most creative practitioners in show business…

The PLASA London show was founded in 1977 by PLASA and is the world’s premier pro audio and entertainment lighting event, held each year at ExCel London. The show will be held from 5 to 8 October this year and is a driving force in supporting research and development and the development and promotion of the professional entertainment technology industry. In addition to hosting exciting launches by the world’s greatest designers and engineers, PLASA’s worldwide reputation for attracting the most creative practitioners in show business has made PLASA London a must-attend event for international networking at the highest level. The show is set to welcome an estimated 13 000 visitors. With over 250 exhibiting brands including Robe, Clay Paky, Philips, Sony, Shure, Highlite, Avolites, White Light and AC Entertainment PLASA London is the definitive UK trade show for the Live Entertainment Technology industries.

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In addition to the product launches and demonstrations, PLASA London runs a comprehensive professional development programme (PDP) which involves four days of informative and practical content delivered on the show floor in the ‘Audio & AV’ and ‘Lighting & Stage technology’ seminar theatres, to which entry is free. As ever, running alongside the main show are a raft of networking opportunities and a parallel conference, the PLASA Rigging Conference, which will take place on 6 October. The one-day programme will be packed with relevant content, once again curated by Chris Higgs of Total Solutions. Also, the PLASA PDP hosts the exchange of hundreds of important ideas. Each session features a prominent member of the international pro audio or entertainment technology world, each offering their unique perspective on conceiving, producing, designing, programming, engineering and planning some of the world’s greatest live shows and installations. Over 300 speakers have taken


PLASA London 2014 overvIEW LIVE EVENTs

part in these panels before and more than 3 000 practitioners passed through one or more free educational sessions in 2013. There will also be awards evenings such as the PLASA Awards for Innovation and the Knights of Illumination (KOI) awards. The PLASA Awards for Innovation aim to emphasise this focus on true innovation. The awards will feature innovation that demonstrates a new style of

thinking, improves technical practice, introduces new technology, new materials or new techniques, includes patents or unique intellectual property, offers a new commercial advantage and improves safety. In addition to eight Awards for Innovation, the judges also present the PLASA Award for Sustainability. This award is to recognise products which claim significant reduction of power usage for its product type / application, effective use of renewable energy sources or significant reduction of environmental impact of product lifecycle. The KOI awards, organised by STLD, ALD, Ambersphere and Clay Paky, provide public recognition for the outstanding achievements of experts in lighting design, video and graphic display and projection design who work for UK productions across a range of professional areas. The KOI awards will be held on 5 October at London’s art deco Troxy theatre. With all of these activities on the go, PLASA promises to be a must-attend show to keep up to date with the latest products and industry developments, as well as for visitors and exhibitors to meet customers and suppliers. Interest in PLASA London 2014 is strong with more exhibitors, more pre-registered visitors and more international visitors already signed up. To register for the event and to keep up-to-date with the exhibitors and content line up, visit: www.plasashow.com.

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LIVE EVENTs PRODUCT REVIEW

On a Quest for quality – A review

By Greg Bester

There are a lot of speaker brands out there and some get more attention than others. Market share is a funny thing and here in South Africa we seem to be a little more brand loyal than the rest because, in a land of uncertainty, a man sticks with what he knows best. Amstel or Castle?

Quest QM700 speaker

Just to run with this concept of market share a bit more, you have to stop and wonder why certain brands get the attention they do when there are others out there that are just as good or even outperform the competition. Often it’s a tech rider thing, which is understandable if you work in that sphere. For some it’s about price over performance. Sometimes, when money is no object, it’s about performance over price. More often than not, however, it’s about brand consciousness; the footprints that have been impressed upon the minds of the market and some of them are embedded as deep as BMW, Coca- Cola and Spur Steak Ranches. This is a difficult thing to break through. Australian brand Quest Engineering is one of those brands that, because of their immaculate track record overseas and bang-forbuck sound, is slowly working its way into the consciousness of our local market. In my experience they simply make great sounding, robust and well-designed kit. The newest addition to the Quest loudspeaker range is the QM700 single 15-inch, passive two-way multi-purpose box aimed at small to medium FOH and monitoring applications. If there ever was a bang-for-buck Quest box this is it because I hear the price is too good to miss. But wait. There’s more! German amplifier manufacturer Camco has partnered up with the Quest engineering team and is loading presets in their iD4 DSP-driven amplifier in order to get the most efficient drive possible out of the QM700 while enhancing its performance and sound quality. I had a chance to go to local Quest and Camco distributors Tadco to hear what the shenanigans are all about and to show the Oates boys how to play ping pong. Watch out for Simon’s sneaky left!

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The QM700 The QM700 is a very clean-looking, single 15-inch, two-way enclosure with a simple black steel mesh grille, holes for poles and an angled rear baffle for use as a floor wedge. It is constructed from the same heavy duty birch plywood found in Quest’s high performance HPI systems and is finished in a tough flat black coating. The high frequency driver is a 1.4-inch ferrite compression driver which, in normal operation with the 15-inch woofer, gives the box a frequency response of 50Hz to 16kHz. It has a power handling of 700W program and 1400W peak at 8Ohms, which is nothing to sniff at, while supplying a maximum SPL of 130dB at 1m. It has two Speakon connectors at the back – one input and for through operation when daisy chaining. Now, that’s pretty standard spec stuff. What makes this box special, you may ask? Well, Quest has developed what they call their asymmetrical rotatable wave guide which, in conjunction with the LF driver, provides smooth near field coverage, optimised dispersion and imaging in the far field while keeping room reflections to a minimum. This is achieved by keeping the top end of the wave guide narrower than the bottom which results in a tighter, longer throw up top that spreads nicely to the back of the room while keeping near field spread a little wider and ‘gushy’ up front, if I can put it that way. The wave guide can also be rotated when used as a floor wedge or when horizontally orientating the enclosure for FOH duties. Tend to forget which way you rotated it? Simply pull and rotate the ‘Q’ logo on the front of the box to the correct orientation to remind you later. Clever, ne?


PRODUCT REVIEW LIVE EVENTs

Camco ID4 amplifier

The sound

Camco iD4 As previously stated, Camco and Quest partnered up in order to bring presets for the QM700 to the iD4 DSP-driven amplifier. However, truth be told, Quest and Camco have come together for more than just presets. The upcoming Quest QX4500, which will not be available in South Africa, is basically a Camco iD4 dressed in a Quest suit albeit aimed mainly at its own line of loudspeakers. The reason behind its unavailability here remains unclear but suffice it to say that the Camco iD4 will do exactly the same job and has exactly the same innards as the QX4500. Getting down to business, the iD4 is a 1900W x 2 (4 Ohms) amplifier with on-board 64-bit digital signal processing. It features two analogue inputs, two AES/EBU inputs, two outputs and the can handle an input signal all the way up to +23dBu; more than enough headroom for most modern mixers. DSP-driven amplifiers imply a use of some sort of digital audio conversion in order to digitally process the incoming and outgoing audio. The iD4 features AD/DA conversion that supplies 120dB of dynamic range on the inputs and 117dB on the outputs which is pretty good considering most studio-grade converters exhibit these sorts of specs. The internal sampling rate is 96kHz, ensuring utmost reproduction of your audio source; corresponding to a frequency response up to 40kHz with a latency of only 600 microseconds. Of course, 64-bit DSP provides the utmost precision and almost zero quantisation error; none that the human ear can hear, anyway. With the aid of the DSP each input and output receives 10 bands of parametric EQ with options for bell, shelf, notch or all pass filters. Crossover filters include Butterworth and Bessel and Linkwitz-Riley shapes up to 24dB/octave. Maximum delay comes in at 1s for inputs and 20ms for outputs while each input and output receives both limiters and multiband compressors. Input gain range is -48 to +12dB. All parameters can be accessed by six quick access buttons on the front panel with left and right selector buttons for ‘Channel’, ‘Item’ and ‘Menu’ and an accompanying rotary knob. The only difference I can see between the iD4 and the QX4500 is 100 presets versus 50 presets, respectively.

It’s always difficult in a review like this to give an objective analysis of the ‘sound’ of a specific loudspeaker under conditions that aren’t ideal and when there isn’t a reference point such as comparing them to a known control system you are familiar with. However, given that this speaker’s wave guide technology claims to minimise room reflections, the conditions might have been a bit more ideal than expected. In this case I was at the Tadco head offices in Laser Park and was given a demo of the speaker in their showroom, first without the DSP preset and then with it enabled. My initial impression of the speaker was that it sounded very balanced tonally. It had a nice punchy bottom end that hit me in the chest nicely and the midrange seemed quite smooth without any erroneous bumps in the harsh upper midrange or honky zones. The top end, while on paper extending only to 16kHz, seemed very fast and transparent. Standing in between the two speakers, the stereo spread was enhanced greatly by a very fast transient response which made the stereo mix of the material dance around my ears. It was a pleasing experience. Next I took a walk from front and centre towards the rear-left of the room and made an arc towards the right. The QM700 certainly seemed to tame the room’s reflective surfaces and I could certainly hear evenness in its dispersion. The asymmetrical wave guide seemed to be doing its job. When the preset was enabled the bass end immediately jumped forward and the top end got a bit more sparkle. The midrange, however, didn’t disappear into smiley-face land which was encouraging. I don’t have too much information on what exactly the preset does but according to my sources the DSP doctors at Camco applied some EQ tuning to the cabinet along with some multiband compression for further tweaking. It wasn’t heavy handed by any means but rather just took the speaker from flat, studio monitor-like clarity to a more hi-fi quality with a fuller low end.

The wrap The Quest/Camco combination seems to be working. Granted, I am no expert on either brand because you just don’t see enough of them out in the field to get the full experience of their range but I have reviewed the HPI range in the past and they were equally impressive. Quest is yet to let me down, even in showroom conditions, so if the brand barrier can bend a little I think they have a shot at getting in the hands of more people who will appreciate them for what they are: good, well-made, great sounding loudspeakers. The price ain’t bad, either!

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Studio Pro Audio APP REVIEW

m.phase DAW controller app

By Greg Bester

The m.phase app being used

I have been a student of audio my entire adult life. I started out recording to a Minidisc four-track recorder when I was 17 and then finally got an opportunity to work at a recording studio in the US during my studies there. This was a time when the digital revolution was just kicking off and little did I know how much things were about to change. Of course, a few years later everything changed to being computerbased. The main hurdle when you squeeze an entire studio into a computer and are forced to interface with it through the relatively small window of one or two computer screens is the mouse. Some have got used to it but many found it arduous. So, along came the DAW controller. The first ones (and arguably the best ones) are hardware units that interface with your DAW via a specific protocol, usually an incarnation of MIDI control messaging. There are many: Eucon, Mackie, HUI, JL Cooper, etc. The advantage of these hardware controllers was that you got hands-on experience. You had faders that corresponded to faders in your DAW and you could mix from there as you would on a traditional analogue console. It’s tactile and feels like home. As time went on everything changed. We went from large format analogue recording consoles with lots of outboard processors in massive commercial studios to the ubiquity of the computer-based home and project studio. Now, even the few commercial studios that remain are primarily computer-based. LFACs got replaced with

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infinitely scalable virtual mixers and outboard processing with plugins. One can argue the merits of one or the other but one thing’s for sure; it sped up the workflow and output of just about everyone who chose to forage at technology’s bleeding edge.

m.phase Later on, the iPad and similar devices opened up a whole new world to how we interact with our DAWs. Virtual DAW remote apps now abound and they all basically have similar features: virtual faders and transport controls on a touchscreen interface. Some apps do more or less, like possibly plugin control, however, in some regards, the interaction with traditional faders on a touchscreen can still feel ‘disconnected’. You see a fader; it looks like a fader, but all you feel is a cold, hard touchscreen surface. Enter m.phase, the newest and most radical of the available DAW control apps in the iPad world developed by the Austrian-based company manus.m. To say m.phase is completely different from most DAW control apps is a vast understatement. In fact, if you have not taken the tutorial you may be completely lost as an audio engineer if you attempt to use it for the first time. The first thing you’ll notice is that m.phase throws out anything traditionally thought of as a fader or pan pot. Its design philosophy is to enable the user to ‘blindly’ control their DAW of choice (it supports them all) via hand gestures that quickly become second nature the more you use it. This can be daunting at first because without a fader or a potentiometer an engineer can feel quite alienated. I was no different. But as time went on the workflow began to make sense.


APP REVIEW Studio Pro Audio

A screenshot of the m.phase app

Setup of the app is extremely easy. The first requirement is that your host PC or Mac is networked to the device. This is a simple exercise if you’re utilising a WiFi network. For Mac, simply use the MIDI Setup applet in Audio and Midi Setup to start a new MIDI session via the Network facility. For Windows it is necessary to download an application called rtpMIDI, which basically mimics the Network MIDI session facility of a Mac. The only real procedure is to start m.phase, select your device and press ‘Connect’. Done. In your DAW you will have to add a new remote device on the Mackie Control protocol and select the network MIDI input and output linked to your device. Lastly, you will have to setup m.phase for your DAW of choice and m.phase supports them all: Cubase/Nuendo, Pro Tools, Reaper, Logic, Ableton Live, Studio One and Bitwig Studio. This can be done in the setup by pulling up the bottom left corner tab in the app. In the setup menu you can also change the sensitivity of the touch gestures, change the colours of the interface and configure other options such as clip holding, auto-lock, flash feedback, channel link mode and fade out effects. Everything is setup in m.phase to safeguard you against accidentally engaging an unwanted control and all parameters are controlled via shapes on the screen, which can be used in either split (for two channels) or single mode (single channel). You can select which bank of channels you want to work in, which are selectable by pulling down the bank selector triangles to the left and right of the channel names, which are listed in order in bank of eight at the top of the screen. You can drag down whatever channel you wish to work on into one of the large circles on the screen. To work on either channel in single channel mode, simply swipe in the upper corner of

the respective channel. Other nifty features include record enable, return to zero and channel link which appear at the bottom of the touchscreen as further ‘swipable triangles’. Fader level is controlled by using a single finger within the large circle that represents the channel you’re working on and using an up and down motion. Fine adjustments can be made by using two fingers. You can adjust the pan of the given channel by swiping your thumb to the left or right below the circle while your index finger remains pressed in the circle. Muting a given channel is achieved by performing a three-finger upward swipe and a three-finger downward swipe to unmute. Soloing is vice versa. Play and stop are achieved by using a three-finger tap on the screen at any time. To enter full transport mode for rewind or fast forward, perform a three-finger double tap. An up and down single finger motion will also adjust the master fader in this mode. To exit, simply perform a three-finger double tap to return to the channel strip.

The wrap The m.phase DAW control app is truly unique. Granted, it takes some getting used to but once you get your head around the fact that it is designed to be operated without looking, you begin to see why it was designed the way it was. However, I did find that there were some things that you in fact had to look down for such as selecting which channel to work on. However, this is a small formality and didn’t bother me that much. All in all, the app is intuitive, responsive and is a funky, fresh take on touchscreen DAW control.

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Studio Pro Audio STUDIO Tips

Recording and mixing drums in the modern DAW part 5 – Compression

By Greg Bester

The real helper in processing drums for rock / pop is compression and is why it is one of my favourite processors. There’s no doubt that most of the music we hear today would be hard pressed to succeed if it wasn’t for this great device that is basically an automatic fader designed to control dynamic range and in some cases inject a certain tonal aesthetic and energy.

The basic function of a compressor is outlined as a device that raises the average level of a given source but I have come to feel that a compressor is so much more. Not only does it raise the average level but it can be used as a tone shaping tool and to either suppress or enhance the transients of a waveform to bring out certain characteristics that weren’t as present in the original. The attack and release sections of a compressor are important parameters that, if used correctly, can become your best friends in the fight against boring, lifeless drums. I will go into some settings in more detail as we work our way through this part of the tutorial.

Compression can be a nebulous beast compounded not only by the fact that all compressors are not created equal, but by the shear variety of their design and application. For me, there are two main reasons to reach for a compressor: • To supply an effect • To control dynamic range

reason that you will often find me using the UAD 1176LN plugin to smash rock drums into submission. But inserted where? And how much gain reduction? As time has gone on, I have found myself moving away from using compression at the track level in lieu of compression only at drum bus. I tend to mix ‘into’ the compressor to supply the energy I am looking for while listening for the best gain reduction range for the desired sound as I’m adjusting my balance at the track level. This serves to not only supply a pumping, breathing effect, but also to smooth out the dynamic range in a musical way. It is important to note that the attack and release are quite important here for ‘sculpting’ the transient to poke through for just long enough to be perceived as crisp and then the release set to engage in time with the material. I generally start with a medium attack, generally 10-25ms or around the ‘3’ mark on the 1176LN, and adjust the release until I get at least 60% recovery (back to 0dB) before the next transient. As with all audio equipment, there is a ‘sweet spot’ operating range where the unit will sound its best and all adjustments should be done with the ear, instead of by number. And don’t be afraid of lots of gain reduction if it sounds good!

The Effect

Controlling Dynamic Range

Supplying an effect with compression is completely related to how a particular compressor sounds. You just cannot achieve the same results with one compressor that you did with another differing compressor, especially if it is based on a differing design, i.e. electro-optical vs FET. For this reason there are certain compressors that are well suited for this task and some that aren’t. Most aren’t. When it comes to drums in pop / rock, the general effect is usually a well-tailored attack and release to achieve a pumping sound to the drums and a crisp snap, all executed in a musical manner. Three notable mentions in this category are the DBX 160VU, the Empirical Labs Distressor, and the Universal Audio 1176LN. All three of these compressors are known for their very musical sounding compression for drums and certain mojo that they inject into the material. It is for this

There are times where you may encounter a drummer whose playing has a wide dynamic swing and requires attention. The caveat in a case like this is that compression is not in any way a remedy for this, reason being that while you may get each hit closer in amplitude (level) to one another, each hit will still sound different because the tonal variation of the drum is directly proportional to how hard or soft it’s being played. However, if the desired change in dynamics is subtle and you can achieve it with a compressor, then that is completely acceptable to use one. Particular attention should be paid to the attack in this case and a compressor with more transparent characteristics should likely be chosen. Join us next time for more on transients, ratios and compressing with EQ.

Compressing Drums

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