Archives for November 1996

U of Colorado Upgrades Folsom Stadium Reinforcement with Community Leviathan II

Denver, CO. A recent installation at the 53,000 seat Folsom Stadium at the University of Colorado is designed around four Leviathan II horn-loaded speaker systems by Community Professional Loudspeakers.

The reinforcement system upgrade was supervised by U of C Senior Audio Engineer John Templeton. His challenge was to create a new audio system for the Stadium that would be large and powerful enough to face any demand now and well into the future.

“The old system was basically designed for voice reinforcement only,” Templeton says. “While it was good for its time, it had its limitations in context of our current needs. Coverage was a bit uneven, and we couldn’t get very loud with it.”

Templeton designed a full-range, concert level system to deal with the heavy use of sound effects and music. He chose the Community Leviathans for their ability to deliver high sound levels with full-range response, intelligibility, and tight pattern control.

The Levi II’s are massive tri-axial systems. At the low end, they feature a radial array of six 15-inch Ferro-fluid cooled low frequency drivers, coupled to a 6 ft. x 6 ft. x 7 ft. deep 34 Hz flare rate fiberglass horn. This section has power handling rated at 1200 watts RMS, and produces a maximum continuous level in excess of 136 dB.

Inside each Leviathan’s low-frequency horn sits a Community 200 watt M4 midrange compression driver. The M4 is coupled to a PC1542M 40 x 20 Pattern Control horn, and it covers the spectrum from 250 Hz up to 1800 Hz. The high end is covered by a pair of Community 160 watt EM282 compression drivers with carbon-fiber diaphragms, mated to a dual-driver 40 x 20 horn.

Templeton added two pairs of Community M4 CoAx systems for additional coverage to the sides, and directly below the mounting positions of the Leviathan II’s at the opposing ends of the scoreboard at the Stadium’s north end. These units consist of large-format PC1564M horns coupled with an M4 driver for the low/mid bands, plus a high frequency section coaxially mounted within the low/mid horn.

According to Templeton, the new system has no problem delivering the goods evenly and intelligibly to every seat in the house. “Directivity and pattern control is unbelievable too,” he adds. “The Stadium is located right smack in the center of the campus, and not far from residential areas. The horns are so focused that we don’t have a problem. If the situation warrants, we can really cut loose with our firepower, and still keep everything within the Stadium’s walls where it belongs.”

Beyerdynamic Unveils First Digital Condenser Mic

Farmingdale, NY. Beyerdynamic has unveiled a radical departure from its well-respected and relatively traditional line of microphones. The company claims a first for its MCD 100 Digital Condenser Mic, shown in pre-production form at the Fall’96 AES Convention, and due to ship in early 1997.

Beyerdynamic designed the innovative mic — the first professional mic available with on-board analog-to-digital conversion — as a joint venture with digital console maker StageTec. The MCD 100 incorporates A-to-D conversion and standard AES/EBU output within its housing, along with a conventional cardioid condenser capsule, pre-amp, and associated circuitry.

The key advantage of housing digital processing within the mic body is that it allows the signal to be digitized as early as possible in the signal chain. This avoids the possibility of noise being produced in analog amplifiers and/or line drivers. As well, the A-to-D converter can be matched precisely to the characteristics of the condenser capsule and pre-amplifier, to optimize the performance of all parts.

The MCD 100 uses an ultra-low-noise pre-amplifier, in conjunction with a 22-bit TrueMatch ADC. The converter works together with a DSP that generates AES/EBU format digital output. The mic can be connected directly to digital consoles via a standard XLR cable. No external mic preamp is required.

Phantom power is provided by a choice of supply units. The basic option is a stand-alone unit with inputs for 2 MCD 100 mics and a single stereo AES/EBU output, along with a sample rate converter. The company also plans to offer a rack-mount unit with eight inputs and various extra functions. The supply units can be synchronized with an external word clock signal.

The MCD 100 will come with a remote control that allows attenuation of the gain of the capsule pre-amp from the power supply unit, switchable to -10dB and -20dB. This gives the mic a wider potential dynamic range and increases the maximum sound pressure level. It is also possible to change the onboard EPROM software, to vary the frequency roll-off characteristics of the mic.

Beyerdynamic says that the capsule and enclosure design of the MCD 100 makes it a versatile mic that can be used for vocals or speech, as well as piano, percussion, brass and strings. The company also claims that the new mic can be operated with cable lengths of 300m without any loss or degradation of the signal (up to 500m with a special cable).

Some performance claims for the MCD 100:

  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >115 dBA
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • SPL Capability: 150 dBSPL
  • Dynamic Range: 113 dBCCIR, 115 dBA
  • Rear attenuation: >22 dB at 180° (1 kHz)

Pacific Research & Engineering Launches Web Site: Features Product Guide, Tech Tips, Corporate Info

San Diego, CA. Broadcast studio equipment and solution provider Pacific Research & Engineering (PR&E) has announced the launch of its site on the world wide web, at

The new site is aimed at three audiences: clients, prospective customers, and investors seeking product and company information.

“Broadcasting customers and investors demand round-the-clock information about products and the Company,” commented PR&E COO Michael Dosch. “The Internet is the medium that provides that access, and our web site is the portal to information on PR&E products and services, as well as company background and news.”

The site has been up officially for a week. A quick scan of the pages today shows a nicely implemented design, with a useful selection of information, lots of product photos and specs, and a cleancut interface that makes it easy to find broad categories of interest. However, some of the more interesting material is buried deep within the site, and it can be a little hard to find.

For current owners of PR&E gear, the web site provides a new channel for obtaining technical support. At the moment, this consists of email links to the tech support department, and a couple of brief application notes. It would certainly be useful to see this section expanded to include answers and suggestions regarding common concerns. Company representatives have stressed that the web site is an ongoing development, and that lots more material will be coming along soon.

Another technical info section is Tech Tips, a projected series of monthly articles written by broadcast engineers. “The tips are written for general consumption by the broadcasting public,” explains Dosch. “The articles supply boradcasters with valuable maintenance and technical tips for application on all types of production and boradcasting equipment, in an array of studio settings.”

The Tech Tips shape up as one of the most interesting parts of the PR&E site, especially for non clients. The most recent Tech Tip is a discussion of console headroom, and some of the design considerations that influence the trade off between headroom and signal-to-noise ratio. It’s a pity that these items are among the most deeply-buried pages. You may have to hunt a little to find them. Hint: they’re linked to each issue of the “AirCheck” newsletter, within the Industry News section.

Product descriptions are brief, but comprehensive. Everything from on-air consoles and studio peripherals, to cabinetry and digital audio workstations is listed and pictured, with feature lists. A key missing detail is pricing.

The PR&E web site also offers information for investors and others interested in the business side of the operation. There are details of the company’s 27-year history, biographies of top management, and corporate news such as PR&E’s recent public offering, copies of recent press coverage, and listings of job openings.

Market for Professional Audio Gear to Grow 14% Annually Through 2002

A new study of patterns in the purchasing of professional audio and video production hardware has been released by analysts Frost & Sullivan. The study shows a continuing trend towards conversion from analog to digital technologies, which is fueling growth in overall sales.

The audio production equipment market is expected to generate an annual compound growth rate of more than 14 percent until 2002. Audio products considered in the report include digital open reel recorders, digital modular multi-track tape recorders, professional audio mini-disk recorders, digital hard-disk recorders and microphones. Frost & Sullivan project that digital open-reel equipment will lose substantial market share during this period to digital hard-disk and professional Mini-Disk.

Frost & Sullivan is an international marketing consulting company that monitors the telecommunications industry for market trends, market measurements, and strategies. Among the many audio companies that took part in the study: AKG, Amek U.S., AMS Neve, Beyerdynamics, Crest Audio, Euphonix, Harrison by GLW, Mackie Designs, Otari, Panasonic/Ramsa, Sennheiser, SSL, Soundcraft and Studer-Editech.

Motorola Gets BYTE Magazine Best Technology Award for Speech Recognition

Las Vegas, NV. Every year at COMDEX, BYTE Magazine distributes its “Best of Show” awards. These recognize new products and technologies that are innovative and will have a large impact on the industry. The awards are co-sponsored by SOFTBANK, the COMDEX hosting organization.

For this year’s round, with COMDEX wrapping up in Las Vegas today, the prestigious Best Technology award went to an audio processing technology. The Lexicus Division of Motorola, won the award for the Mandarin Chinese version of its speech recognition algorithms.

Lexicus edged out a couple of very high-profile runners-up: Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system (for handheld computers), and Digital Versatile Disc (Toshiba, Sony, Philips, Pioneer, the fast-rising star of mass multimedia storage for consumer applications.

The Lexicus software runs on several DSP platforms, including Motorola’s own 56000 DSP series and Motorola MemOS, ARM microprocessors, Windows ’95, and Microware. It delivers continuous voice dictation for people speaking Mandarin. Motorola positions the technology for applications such as car phones home portable phones and answering machines, low cost toys and video games.