EXCLUSIVE: Lab.gruppen D Series: PLM power for install17 June 2014
Amplifier manufacturer Lab.gruppen aims to establish another technology benchmark at InfoComm 2014 with the launch of the D Series, representing “the most advanced and capable install-dedicated platform ever conceived” by the 35-year-old Swedish company.
Effectively Lab.gruppen’s experience of seeing the flagship PLM20000Q used as an installation amplifier, particularly in sports arenas in the US, and reacting accordingly, the D Series demonstrates advances in three key areas: system interoperability; smart power handling; and superlative green credentials.
“We have taken much of the technology that made PLM so appealing to this market, and evolved it to meet what are really quite application-specific demands in large-scale venue audio, fully integrating new technologies and features that have been developed over the past four or five years, now thoroughly proven ‘in the field’,” says Hakan Gustafsson, product manager (pictured, left, with Klas Dalbjorn, product research manager). “The result is an entirely new and highly innovative 4-channel platform, one that offers unprecedented levels of efficiency, flexibility and power dynamics.”
The D Series design seeks “genuinely open interoperability”, as the engineers have created a product that can “integrate seamlessly with a wide range of digital audio and control protocols”. Thus the InfoComm debut showcases two variants of the device, at three power configurations (8,000W, 12,000W and 20,000W). The Lake variant offers a well-established package of Lake Processing DSP with analogue, AES and a dual-redundant Dante network solution, supported by the development of new custom software to provide extensive integration potential with most key systems manufacturers. The Tesira model introduces a new collaboration between Lab.gruppen and installation specialist Biamp Systems, again, ensuring “seamless interoperability” between respective systems.
(At InfoComm time, the Tesira variant will carry a proprietary AVB – Audio Video Bridging – implementation, but this has not yet been AVnu-certified. It is understood that Biamp actively supports the AVB standard and will be seeking AVnu ratification at a future date.)
D Series also heralds the debut of Lab.gruppen’s Rational Power Management (RPM) technology. With a nod to QSC’s FAST technology, but taking the concept further, RPM allows “truly flexible power allocation across all channels to ensure the most efficient and rational use of total amplifier inventory”.
At the heart of RPM lies the ability for each model to deliver up to 5,000W output on any one channel, even on the 8,000W model, leaving the remaining available power to be allocated freely to the other channels. Therefore, a more optimised system design is the outcome. (Lab.gruppen confirms that, yes, the 20,000W variant will deliver 4 x 5,000W per channel.)
The third key product advantage is “green” technology. Lab.gruppen has taken proven PLM implementation (such as low peak mains current draw to power output ratio) and augmented it with a software suite called CAFE (Configuring Amplifiers For the Environment). CAFE features a design tool that provides an optimised recommendation for specifying D Series into an installation project, including model and number of amps, heat generated, channel distribution and current draw. This, in effect, reduces other infrastructure costs by enabling more accurate mains management, avoiding over-specification of UPS, installed cooling systems and so on.
“D Series is about offering freedom – freedom to use any network, any loudspeaker, any third party control system, and in any configuration,” says Klas Dalbjorn, product research manager for Lab.gruppen. “We believe D Series is now the most compelling choice of amplifier on the market when it comes to large scale performance installations.”