>Wembley Loudspeaker was again in evidence at PLASA, and took a surprise order which was a fine testimonial to the audio quality of the company's speakers. Eight of its B-Line 28-20 sub bass cabinets have been sold to a new reggae club opening in Kingston, Jamaica. The boxes are being shipped this month ready for the club's opening. Apparently, the club owners first heard Wembley's B-Line 28-20 cabinets at this summer's Notting Hill Carnival in London. They subsequently visited the PLASA show where they agreed the order with Wembley MD Paul MacCallum. His only regret is that they're so easy to use, he won't need to fly over and install them personally!
>Martin Professional launched the first in a new range of lighting fixtures for the DJ market. Described by the company's Larry Beck as "a return to our roots," the Mania range is intended to be low-cost yet eye-catching and will be manufactured in Martin's new Chinese facility. First in the series, the EF-1, is a dynamic flower effect featuring six coloured patterns which can either be triggered by sound or operate automatically. The range will ultimately include effect lights, colour changers, strobes, deco effects, scanners and smoke machines. Also for the club market was Atomic Colors, an add-on to the Atomic 3000 strobe which features a gel string of 10 colours, plus the Xciter and Fingers light jockey control surfaces. For live music, Martin Pro's MAC 550 profile was being debuted, along with the new MAC 250 Entour and Krypton versions. The Maxxyz lighting console was also on show and is now ready to ship.
>At the start of July, Penn Fabrication renamed to Penn/Elcom having acquired Elcom, its biggest competitor in the USA. New products on show this year included Cablesafe, which comes in 700mm sections and has slots for four cables up to 50mm in diameter. Also on show was the 'N' case system and 19" rack-mountable products.
>Taking a projector's appearance away from a black square box with a lens is a difficult task, but the curves of Barco's new RLM G5 Performer make it surprisingly pleasing to the eye. Featuring sealed optics, 4000 ANSI lumens output, digital zoom and a maximum resolution of 1600x1200, a range of lenses is available. The SLite large format outdoor LED screen system was displayed, available in visual resolutions of 9.3mm and 14mm. Barco was also demonstrating its Events Controller system, designed to integrate lighting, projection, LED screens, smoke machines and mechanics under one control system.
>A new professional DJ mixing console approved by Carl Cox doesn't come along every day. Vestax drew many an admiring glance from aspiring spinners with the PMC-CX - easily recognizable from the many competitors in this market for its large control knobs and well-spaced layout. Main features include notch filters, three-band EQ isolators and fully balanced outputs. Also from Vestax was the PMC 007, a new scratch mixer with a special mute for cross-fade tucked out of harm's way. The 007 has easy clip-in replacement faders, quickly accessed by a neat pop-up top cover.
>New company Scene Change Imaging, sister company to DHA Lighting Services, was created to fill the gap between traditional, professional lighting tools and the need for video solutions in projection. The company provides both video content and hardware, and new products on show for its PLASA debut included 'The Mean Green Video Machine' from Hippotizer and the BeaMover video projector.
>An array of Pixelline LED battens ensured the James Thomas Engineering stand had a bright presence. Controlling the battens was the company's new PixelDrive RADlite-based software system. Several more new products were on show, including the Pixelpar 90L with beam-shaping adaptors; Barlite, an LED edge-lit perspex panel; Pixelline 1044-A, designed for the architectural market and the Highlight 60 edge-lit extrusion. Three new Par 36-sized products were the Pixelpar 12 replacement white light source, Pixelsphere and Pixelsphere-S.
>Corporate bedfellows, and sharing a stand at PLASA, Marantz & Denon both had new niche products of interest to our industry. The Marantz PMD 670 is the offspring of earlier solid-state audio recorders originally developed for radio newsgathering. More robust than its predecessors (it recently withstood a vibration test by Jaguar Racing for use as an in-car recorder), the advent of massive Compact Flash cards and IBM Microdrives (used to store the recordings) means this device is no longer limited, in practical terms, to just making compressed recordings. Four gigabytes of storage make MP3 unnecessary - even recording a full-length concert would be possible. Denon showed two new combination CD/cassette drives, the DN T645 and T625, the 45 featuring mic inputs with both having RS232 inputs for remote control.
>Matrix is one of the largest UK manufacturers of pro audio power amplifiers serving the whole market. The range starts at 200W with the ACT Series, through the UKP with outputs from 500W to 2100W, to the STR series with class H outputs up to 3000W. New at the show was a 150W x 4-channel amplifier.
>In addition to its new LED lighting systems, James Thomas Engineering also had on stand a new Minitower ground support system. Designed to work with JTE's Superlite and Squarelite truss, its 2 mm wall thickness is strengthened with robust diagonal plates whilst the tower features the same, reliable fork connecting system as Squarelite and Superlite. The external dimensions are only 19cm, making it extremely expedient in size and ideal for trade shows, conferences and retail applications.
>The UK arm of Penton, the manufacturer of loudspeakers and microphones for the public address, background sound and voice evacuation markets, reports that 2003 has been a bumper year and that business continues to thrive - not something you hear every day in the current economic climate, but perhaps other aspects of today's climate are driving the demand for life safety and emergency systems installations.
>It's been a busy year for Adam Hall as it has taken on the UK distribution of SKB products. General sales manager Rob Fricker said demand for the cases and 19" racks has been high since selling began in April through a network of UK dealers.
>HK Audio's Cohedra is a so-called 'small' line array system, but with aspirations to large venues, having debuted at Hull stadium just days before PLASA. A mid/high and floor-only sub, the system uses a pair of 8" and a single 1.5" compression driver in each high pack, utilizing an acoustic lens to form the necessary coherent wave for the highs. To optimize the acoustic gap between the stacked enclosures, two different housings are required to produce the classic J-shaped hang and hence even coverage across a stadium.
>From Celco came the DMX512-A Buffer: a bi-directional communicator for the new protocol, it protects both sides against mains failure. Also new from Celco was the the MkII version of the DMX recorder, which can manage up to 32 linked DMX devices for install show playback - no batteries or external cards are required for holding programme data.
>Appointed as the UK distributor for the innovative XP10 MP3 audio pad from Finnish company EKS, Lightfactor launched the device that offers DJs the possibility of carrying all their playing equipment - including music - around in the average-sized briefcase! Also featured on the stand was SGM's growing Giotto 400 family of moving head fixtures and its Regia range of high-end lighting control consoles.
>PLASA was a great success for Allen & Heath, attracting interest in the eight new products launched across its portfolio of ML, GL, Xone, iDR and PA series, impressively displayed on a new two-tier stand. The company's 48-channel version of the ML3000 completed the ML series. The 'B option' enhancement allows for extra stereo channels to be added to any desk in the range. The existing iDR range of installation systems has been expanded with the iDR4 - a 4-input, 4-output digital processor - while for the DJ market the Xone:V6 club mixer now has two new modules giving cross-fade and an EQ Isolator option.
>California-based manufacturer Apogee Sound showed the AFI-8, a new addition to the company's Contractor series of loudspeakers. Designed with theatre and churches in mind, the passively crossed over AFI-8 is available with 60° x 40° or 90° x 40° horn, with a 15" providing the low end, a 2" exit (3" voice coil) compression driver providing the muscle. The AFI-8B is an active, bi-amp version of the above. Apogee also introduced the ADAM (or Apogee Digital Audio Management) system for full remote digital monitoring and configuration of powered, processor-based Apogee speaker systems. With the simple addition of DSP processing modules to existing Apogee APL speakers, the system allows for quick and inexpensive installation using either RS485 or Cat 5 cable. Users can digitally reconfigure their system using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
>Appearing at PLASA last year as Pearl River, the China based manufacturer has re-branded to PR Lighting, the initials standing for 'pure reliability'. Distributed by MilTec, two new products graced the stand this year - the Pilot 575 and the Pilot 1200. Small and neat, the 575 boasts two CMY wheels; seven interchangeable fixed gobos plus five rotating; blade shutters for smooth linear dimming, and many other features. The more powerful 1200 has all the above features and more, the 1200W HMI producing great output but little in the way of excessive heat from the lamp body. Expect a Wash model next year.
>The RT Series is a range of three 3-way speakers from Dare Pro Audio. The main actively crossed over mid/high pack uses a 15", 6.5" and a 1" compression driver. A remarkable Wafer version just 220mm deep exists for installation applications. Two sub bass units, both handling 700W, were also on stand - the Vortex218 is a twin 18", whilst the C1400 uses a single 15" into a cabinet designed for room corner installations. Dare also showed a range of attractive metallic and laminate coatings for any cabinet in its range.
>Jointly exhibiting at PLASA with Projected Image UK was Beacon AB. On display was the Beacon Gobo Catalogue with over 350 new gobo designs. The company now has Gobo Group members in 18 countries and uses its own patented gobo manufacturing process to create ultra-thin gobos. The recently launched Beacon Blackline range uses a special coating that eliminates ghost reflections in the projector.
>In the realms of larger pro moving lights, Amptown presented its new Washlight, with a 2kW tungsten lamp aimed squarely at the TV studio. (In actual fact, the Washlight is powered by an 82V lamp giving comparable output to 2kW at 240V from this shorter filament lamp). Complete with four-leaf barndoor, this Fresnel lamp sports motorized focus between 10° and 45°.
>Le Mark Group
GAF-Fire is a consumable product that has been designed and engineered to reflect the needs of an industry that has become fully aware of its responsibilities concerning safety and the environment.
GAF-Fire is the world's first ever matt black self-adhesive tape which is both self-extinguishing and flame retardant to the rigorous standards of BS5867 part 2 1980 type B. Designed for use in a range of situations, it provides the 'missing link' in the industry's flame retardant armoury. GAF-Fire can be used for many types of applications within the entertainment industry since it provides a non-burn surface for stage, film, TV and concert productions.
It also provides a discreet, yet safe, non-burn cover or surround for pyrotechnic applications; reinforces joins in fabrics or effects the temporary repair of drapes and seating; offers extra protection for clothing worn during explosive stunts; can be laminated directly to timber or stages to provide a slip-resistant non-burn surface; has no solvent retention in the manufacture, dramatically reducing 'adhesive migration' and providing a safe, clean closure for vinyl stage floors and will not burn or drip molten material from overhead in the case of fire. It is available in widths from 12mm up to 1000m from roll lengths of 25m.
Although self-extinguishing, it does this without adding halogens and uses a 'solvent-free' coating system. The fabric of the tape is 100% cotton and the adhesive system is based on natural rubber.
>Show Laser & Audiolight showed a new 150W diode laser mounted in a moving light head, the Matrix. Essentially, this is putting their existing scanning head technology into a simple 'plug and play', device with pre-programmed fixed effects. Off-line new effects and graphics such as logos can be programmed in using PC and ILDA files (Pangolin software, for example). The Matrix requires 11 channels of DMX to control all parameters of the moving head and the laser.
The PLASA Awards for Product Excellence were presented yesterday evening after the close of day three of the PLASA Show. With a record number of new technological innovations nominated this year, the judging panel had a tough challenge on their hands.
This year there were five awards categories and 79 nominations, generating £12,000 for PLASA'S nominated charities - Light Relief, PSA Welfare and Benevolent Fund and the Golden Lions Children's Trust. This system has been running for five years now and every penny of the entry fees is donated. To date this scheme has raised almost £45,000 for charitable causes.
The five product categories this year were Lighting, Sound, Stage Engineering, Software (a new category introduced this year), Audio-Visual, and finally an Award for the product with the most environmental considerations. The PLASA awards were presented by PLASA's Chairman, David Hopkins OBE, and were split into two categories, recognizing both Design Excellence and Technical Innovation.
So, to the winners . . .
Lighting: the winner of the Award for Design Excellence is Element Labs for their Versa Tile - the judges felt that this was a well thought out and engineered concept. The Award for Technical Innovation went to Powergems for their HF575P ballast - which was felt to be a well-engineered, no-nonsense approach to ballast technology.
Sound: the Award for Innovation went to Clearcom for its CellCom system. This was noted for being the first truly integrated wireless intercom system. The Award for Design Excellence went to AKG for their WMS