Audio Technology At InfoComm08

Hidden Audio

When one talks about trying to hide audio one often thinks of hiding speakers in products like rock or tree trunk speakers (left). However this year there was a lot of products that allowed one to embed audio in walls where it would be impossible to tell exactly where the sound was coming from. One really neat technology was from Holosonics. Their product allows one to embed a holophonic speaker that directs sound into a a tight beam. Their AS-16 and AS-24 Audio Spotlight Panels are unique to the marketplace. The technology means that only when you are in the beam can you actually hear the sound. It’s great for replacing ceiling tiles almost side-by-side to create a different acoustic environment under each tile.

Below is a YouTube Video that explains the Audio Spotlight technology;

Below is an American TV report that shows how this technology is being used in advertising;

Stealth Acoustics was showing their three-way, full-range loudspeaker system that becomes completely invisible after installation. The loudspeaker has a rigid frame and the technology includes a paintable active diaphragm face.

Below is a video on Stealth Acoustics’ Invisible Speakers;

Below is a competitors promotional video on their invisible speakers;

Below is a competitors video on how invisible speakers are installed;

Automated Live Audio Capture

One area that’s growing in our work is the ability to capture live sound with limited manpower. We saw a few technologies at InfoComm08 that assists us in this area. Sabine’s series of Phantom Mic Rider microphones combines both DSP processing and an Infra Red detector that provides gated technology to turn microphone on and off as people approach the microphone. Depending on the series purchased the distance at which the microphone becomes active can be adjusted as can the amount of digital signal processing.

FullSound from the Conference Technology Group was another technology that impressed us. It’s a fully engineered system that employs embedded ceiling microphones, and can even work with speaker support systems in the room. It works in small conference rooms and can scale out to full sized classrooms. It can even follow peoples voices around the room as they change locations.
Headset Microphones

We’ve been thinking about implementing headset microphones for some of our audio work in the department. The problem is with these kind of microphones is that the high end versions are expensive ($500.00), can break easily and in some cases are actually fine pieces of jewellery or instruments depending on how one wants to classify them. We came across a series of these headset microphones at Galaxy Audio that are more affordable than some of the higher end models that we’ve been looking at.

Speciality Microphones

Earthworks Audio showed two specialty microphones that caught my attention. Earthworks PianoMic system. It has been designed to fit inside a grand piano. It’s part of Earthworks High Definition Microphone series which is explained at this link.

The video below demonstrates the microphone in action;

The other series of mics that looked really good was their Earthworks Flex Series microphones. Earthworks claims a patented pick-up pattern allows an orator to move up to 90 degrees off-axis and still be heard with intelligibility and sound quality. This is a real advantage for church, civic and corporate podium speech applications. The Flex Mics smooth off-axis response will provide more gain before feedback. The flexible neck has been designed for the adjustment of microphones positioning with no handling noise.

Handheld Recorders

In wandering around the floor at InfoComm08 we came across Samson’s Handy H4 and Handy H2 handheld recorders along with SONY’s PCM-D50 handheld unit. All these have been in the market for some time. New this year was Roland’s R-09HR handheld recorder. The R-09HR is a professional, high-definition recorder that records 24bit/96kHz fidelity.

Below is the promotional video on the R-09HR recorder;

Below is a “lunch and learn” video on the R-09HR recorder that I found on YouTube;

Below is a more detailed operational video on the R-09HR recorder that I also found on YouTube;

Below is a video on the various handheld recorders that are currently on the market;

While not a handheld Roland’s R-44 appears to be a great machine to replace most desktop recording devices. The Edirol R-44 is designed for professional capturing up to 4 channels of uncompressed audio with selectable bit depths (16-bit or 24-bit) and sampling frequencies of 44.1kHz/48kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz. For recording media the R-44 employs SD cards or large capacity SDHC cards while employing no moving parts to record audio.

Gilderfluke & Co. showed a unique series of products. Their Sd-10 is a complete stereo audio repeater. It can be used anywhere you need a solid state, high quality audio system that will play for years. The Sd-10 can be dropped right into an audio system in place of a CD player. Their product line also includes an amplifier that will operate with the Sd-10 and a combo unit that includes both the player and amplifier.

Speaker Systems

Anchor Audio’s Beacon Sound System

A number of manufacturers were displaying products using Array speakers as their base technology. Anchor Audio was showing their Beacon® Sound System line array tower can be opened and operational in less than a minute.

The training video below explains how quickly the Beacon can be deployed;

This video below –from NAB 2008– quickly shows many of the features of the Beacon system from Anchor Audio’s booth. (Please note the demo starts approx. 2 minutes into the video.)

PHA – Pragmatic High Performance Array Speakers

We came across Pragmatic designs small, portable and wireless PA system in a briefcase. It uses a small PHA-4 array speaker that contains 4 high performance, full range drivers that has a well-defined dispersion pattern with no hot spots. When mounted vertically, the speakers offer a uniform sound field 360 degrees around the speaker.

Firewire Interconnectivity for Makie Onyx Mixer

The Onyx FireWire Card for an Makie’s Onyx mixer series is a user-installable 24-bit/96kHz card transforms the Onyx 1220, 1620 and 1640 mixers into digital audio interfaces capable of sending up to 18 channels of audio to a Mac or PC without the need for additional converter boxes or hardware.

The Onyx FireWire card contains two 6-pin FireWire connectors that each supply all 16 channels plus the L/R mix. With the dual connectors the Onyx mixer can be placed anywhere within a chain of FireWire-equipped devices. It’s possible to daisy-chain two 16-channel Onyx mixers via FireWire and send up to 32 mic signals right to your laptop.

Other Audio Links

QDP Invisible Motorized Speakers – http://qpdspeakers.com

NVIDIA’s new mobile platform Tegra

We’re all quite used to the miniaturization but the sheer size of NVIDIA’s Tegra platform is something to marvel at. The videos below take you through the system and I think they are worth watching…..

Grid Computing – A Big Part Of the Future

Grid Computing is not something all that far off. In fact it’s widely in use in Academia today. Two of my co-workers were away last week at an Access Grid conference and, as some of you know, we at Ryerson belong to the CineGrid. Both of theseare examples of Grid computing in action. Just in case you are wondering what Grid Computing is I placed a 5 minute video (below) on the subject of Grid computing.