Product Hits of AES 2016

by George Petersen
in Feature
The entrance to the 2016 AES show
The entrance to the 2016 AES show

Live Consoles Shine in the City of Angels

From Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, 2016, thousands of audio professionals made the annual trek to the Audio Engineering Society convention. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the more interesting product debuts for live sound. 

Live Consoles

Avid demoed the new Venue 5.3 software for its S6L live console, which gives engineers the ability to record/play back up to 128 tracks to/from Pro Tools over Ethernet AVB with no separate interface required—great for archiving or Virtual Soundchecks. The Venue 5.3 software supports the new MADI-192 option card for bi-directional MADI connectivity to a host of industry devices, including Waves SoundGrid systems. Engineers can now run their favorite Waves plug-ins alongside S6L’s onboard AAX DSP plugs.

The new Cadac seven.
The new Cadac seven.

CADAC launched the CDC seven, which builds on the heritage of the flagship CDC eight and success of the medium-format CDC six. The CDC seven also adds some significant horsepower, upping the number of inputs to 96, with 56 buses (48 are configurable). It is also preconfigured with an integrated 64 x 64 Waves interface; this allows direct connection to a Waves MultiRack SoundGrid server with access to the vast Waves’ library of effects, and also enables multitrack recording straight to a laptop.

The DiGiCo S31
The DiGiCo S31

DiGiCo expanded its S Range of compact digital consoles with the S31, a larger version of DiGiCo’s popular S21 console, sporting an expanded work surface with 10 additional faders for more control and a third 10-inch multi-touch screen for faster access and more visual feedback. 

The QSC TouchMix 30 Pro
The QSC TouchMix 30 Pro

QSC made a splash by unveiling its new TouchMix 30 Pro digital console the opening day of the show. Essentially, the TouchMix 30 Pro improves on the original, offering 32 mixing channels (24 Mic/Line, 6 Line, Stereo USB) and 16 outputs, a 10-inch touch screen, expanded DSP and a host of other enhancements. 

The new Yamaha TF-Rack.
The new Yamaha TF-Rack.

Yamaha unveiled the TF-Rack, a compact rack-mount version of its TF Series digital consoles. Features include 16+1 stereo inputs, 16 outputs; 1-knob Comp and 1-knob EQ; QuickPro Presets optimized settings for popular Audio-Technica, Sennheiser and Shure mics; expansion capability for up to two stage boxes; touchscreen operation; rear-panel I/O connections and optional NY64-D Dante I/O card. 

Microphone Mania!

ADK’s 3 Zigma line has added a mellow-toned lollipop capsule to its Modular/Hybrid System of interchangeable capsule mics. The C-Lol-47 has a dark, almost ribbon-like large-diameter capsule that is equally flattering on distorted guitar cabs, tube bass amps, cello, piano and brass instruments. 

The new Audio-Technica ATM350a mics
The new Audio-Technica ATM350a mics

Audio-Technica had plenty of activity. The big news was the announcement of Alteros, a new U.S.-based technology subsidiary that will develop high-end solutions for professional wireless applications. AT also announced that its line of ATM350a cardioid condenser instrument mics are slated to begin shipping next month. The series comes in six systems, promising discreet, rock-solid mounting solutions for a host of instruments via optional mounts, for woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion, drums and the magnetic piano mount shown here. 

Shure—to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its SM58—unveiled a special 50th anniversary model, with a silver finish, printed 50th anniversary notation on the handle and historically-inspired packaging. Retail is $109

Production Essentials

The front grill on Astro Spatial Audio’s new Sara 3D Audio Rendering Engine
The front grill on Astro Spatial Audio’s new Sara 3D Audio Rendering Engine

Astro Spatial Audio’s provided the show’s most impressive demos with its SARA 3D audio rendering engine. With immersive 3D audio a trend on everyone’s list, the system uses state of the art object-based audio technology (developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute) to deliver a true 3D experience. Features include integration with commercially available DAW’s such as Avid Pro Tools, support for Dante audio networking and an HTML5-based GUI. Astro Spatial Audio just named Masque Sound as its first U.S. dealer.

The DACS Audio Test Lab cable tester.
The DACS Audio Test Lab cable tester.

DACS Audio was showing its Test Lab—probably described as the ultimate cable tester, but on steroids. The built-like-a-tank unit checks cable and signal path integrity of both remote and local signals using an LED bar graph, indicator lights and an onboard signal generator with loudspeaker. This may be the last test unit you’ll ever buy.