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AES 133: the news from San Francisco

Plenty of new pro-audio products were launched on the show floor of the Moscone Center in San Francisco at the 133rd AES Convention. PSNEurope has rounded up as many as possible for those of you not able to make it.

There was no shortage of technical presentations at the 133rd AES Convention in San Francisco this year. Two were made by Audio-Technica; ‘On the Study of Ionic Microphones’ and the juried paper session ‘Transducers’, both of which took place on Saturday, along with ‘Wireless Frequency Wrangling at Large Events’ chaired by Bob Green, Audio-Technica’s US director of digital and technical wireless engineering.

There was also plenty of new product on the floor of the Moscone Convention Center too: the UK’s Unity Audio previewed its forthcoming Avalanche subwoofer, its third monitoring product, designed to complement the company’s existing Rock and Boulder.
The Avalanche uses a downward firing 12” woofer in a 65-litre enclosure. The input circuitry uses two transformer balanced XLR inputs feeding Burr Brown op amps. Amplification is by two Rock low-frequency custom E.A.R discrete Class A/B amplifiers running in parallel, for a total of 150W. The cabinet sits on four large, adjustable solid brass spikes to stop any unwanted movement. The Avalanche extends low frequencies down to 30Hz with the -3dB point down at 23Hz.
Among its new products, Nugen Audio released its line of audio-metering plug-ins in the Avid AAX format, starting with the Nugen ISL true-peak limiter. AAX updates for the rest of Nugen Audio’s product line are to follow. “Many of our customers use Avid editing tools, so it was a natural course of action for us to create AAX plug-ins,” said Jon Schorah, Nugen Audio creative director.
Elsewhere, Prism Sound launched its Lyra family of audio interfaces, based on the Orpheus audio path and clock circuitry, but in a package and price point aimed at project/home studio owners. Lyra 1 offers two analogue input channels – one for instrument/line and one for mic/line – plus two D-A output channels and optical-only digital I/O. Lyra 2 takes the concept a little further by offering two A-D input channels with switchable microphone, instrument or line input modes and four D-A output channels. In addition to the optical-only digital I/O and copper S/PDIF, the Lyra 2 also offers wordclock In/Out enabling synchronisation with other digital devices.
Danish audio company NTP Technology introduced the DAD AX32 mastering-quality audio A-D/D-A converter in San Francisco. Housed in a 2U chassis, the AX32 allows large multi-microphone arrays to be accommodated without the need to transport a second processor. All 32 microphone feeds can be connected back to the control room along a single Cat5 cable.
Compatible with all standard sampling rates up to 384kHz, the AX32 allows production of future-proof master-quality Digital eXtreme Definition (DXD) and Direct Stream Digital (DSD) audio data formats as well as the 44.1 to 192kHz formats commonly used for audio editing and distribution.
Also launching a new converter was Antelope Audio, which introduced the Orion 32: a 32-channel A-D/D-A converter and audio master clock in a 1U rack. The new device supports both MADI and USB interfaces, clocked by Antelope’s 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking (AFC) technology.

The Orion 32 allows 192kHz I/O streaming of 32-channel digital audio through its custom-built USB chip, which provides simple connectivity to any USB-enabled DAW or computer. The converter also provides 32 channels of 96kHz audio through its fibre optic MADI I/O connections.

Introducing new hardware for the first time in several years, a recently-renewed Fairlight debuted two products, the first of which is XSTREAM, a tactile, ultra-compact desktop control surface for its CC-1 Media. The XSTREAM is a cost-effective option suited for audio and video engineers working in post production.
The second offering is QUANTUM – a mid-size audio post-production console. The console is available in both 12- and 24-fader configurations, and supports large projects up to 192 tracks feeding a 230 channel mix into 72 bus elements. Bus elements can be combined into standard busses from mono to 7.1, plus custom format buses of any size.
Solid State Logic unveiled an enhanced version of its Duality console, the Duality Pro-Station. The new shape allows the console centre section to accommodate a 27″Apple Cinema Display mounted on an articulated arm, enabling it to be pulled forward towards the operator for more intensive arrangement and editing work. In addition, SSL confirmed it will be adding its A-FADA (Analogue Fader Accesses DAW Automation) system, first introduced with the AWS 948, to Duality consoles. Also debuting at the show were the E-Series EQ Module and E-Series Dynamics Module for the popular API 500 Series modular rack format.
Grace Design introduced its m905 stereo reference monitor controller to the industry at the AES show. The m905’s main audio circuitry and power supply is housed in a 2U, 19” rackmount mainframe, while system control is managed by a desktop remote control. The rear panel of the mainframe provides balanced analogue inputs on XLR connectors, and a pair of unbalanced inputs on RCA’s.

Wrapping up the new product launches is US manufacturer Phoenix Audio, which launched its N90-DRC/500 compressor, also known as the David Rees Compressor. The API 500 series format compressor/gate completes the Phoenix Audio 500 series line up. The N90-DRC/500 was originally conceived 20 years ago by David Rees but was never fully released. It’s designed around a VCA control with Class A discrete input and Class A transformer balanced output.

In a final piece of AES news, it has been confirmed that in 2014, the 137th AES Convention will move back to Los Angeles. So long, San Francisco, hello