The Most Important Thing You Missed at InfoComm 2015
By Brad Gallagher Principal, Base4 Technology
In addition to being an audio and video design consultant, I’m a technology geek. It should go without saying that InfoComm is a big deal for me and something that I look forward to. It’s not just the gear. In fact, it’s mostly not about the gear. It’s about the conversations with people developing and working with the hardware (and increasingly the software and support).
These conversations are enormously interesting to me. I’ve grown much more interested in applications and trends than how thing plug together. A decade ago, it was mostly about just getting the technology to work. Everyone was in much more of a presentation mindset and you were doing pretty good if you could just get a clean image and intelligible sound.
Today, every manufacturer seems to be pitching that they have some “unique” way of resolving these issues. Yet, when you get down to it, there are more similarities than differences. Why? Dirty little secret that’s not so secret — Because virtually everyone is using the same hardware. For example, in UTP video transmission, manufacturers have their choice of HDBaseT chipsets, from Valens, Valens or Valens.
This doesn’t mean that there is no differentiation between manufacturers. It just means that the differentiation is increasingly defined by software, quality of support, and extra features. To a large degree, the quality of these three components is determined by how well the manufacturer understands its end-users. This statement is increasingly true for integrators and consultants, as well.
Take Crestron as one example. Recognizing the increasing oversight of the CTO/CIO in a primary stakeholder in buying decisions for several of their key market verticals, they have chosen to frame their product offering in a way that is immediately familiar to this group. They offer to increase your warranty, decrease your cost, and add other assorted perks if you buy an end to end Crestron solution. Not a bad deal. Where do I sign?
Essentially, they are saying “buy everything from us and we’ll be a sole source that guarantees interoperability, reduces points of contact, and provides ‘one throat to choke.’” They want to be the Cisco of AV, which is a conversation that resonates with the IT suite. They are wisely framing the conversation in the lingua franca of their market. Crestron has arguably done more than any other manufacturer to push the limits of high quality video transmission in the AV space. They’re in a unique position to pitch this USP and other manufacturers ignore it at their peril.
The shift from hardware to software and support isn’t limited to the manufacturer’s sphere. Look at Waveguide Consulting, as an example. CEO Scott Walker has spoken at length about the need for the AV industry to move towards a more service oriented business. More importantly, he has literally put his money where his mouth is, re-inventing a consulting business model, based on the actual business needs of his key market segments.
All of the points above are at the crux of this article, but if you’ve already read this far, I suppose it’s time for some payoff on the title of the article. While walking the floor, several manufacturers were displaying new video transmission and routing products that will soon be shipping. All offered low cost transmission of 4k/60Hz/4:4:4 content. Since they all utilized the same chipset, I decided to seek out the chipset manufacturer, who was also present on the show floor.
The AptoVision booth provided the answers I was seeking. After an in-depth conversation, their hardware designer and product manager had to run to another meeting. I spent the remainder of the time chatting with the CEO and co-founder Kamran Ahmed. All three gentlemen were extremely helpful in outlining the technology in a way that was refreshingly free from marketing hype.
At its core, AptoVision is utilizing off the shelf 10Gb fiber and UTP components to distribute uncompressed video with zero frame latency. This is truly game changing for several reasons, which we will see momentarily. To put this in context, I’ve borrowed a few graphics from the company’s website, which do an excellent job of explaining the compromises that are currently available in the marketplace. First, here is a quick graphic, which summarizes the implementation of the Blue River NT chipset in a typical application.
The graphic below represents a typical network based AV solution for compressed video over a switched network. This solution is relatively inexpensive, but does not deliver on the requirements for many installations, in terms of resolution, quality (compressed), frame rate, latency, genlocking, etc. The most common example would be a commodity priced H.264 installation.
The next system type delivers high quality and all of the requirements for professional application. High quality video with no frame latency and no artifacts. For application where quality is the most important consideration, these systems are the mainstay of the AV industry. The problem is that they are proprietary and thus relatively expensive to manufacture.
The third type of implementation attempts to lower the component cost of the equipment by implementing Off-The-Shelf networking components, dramatically lowering the price point.
The disadvantage to the implementation above is that it lacks many of the qualities that are essential to AV and broadcast installations, such as zero frame latency, and genlock capability. The reason for this is that nearly all of these components are built for asynchronous data transfer (because that’s how networks operate). Using these components to transmit video requires frame-buffering and re-clocking at the receiving end.
Let me try to state this in a slightly different way. Using standard networking components in the construction of AV equipment is extremely desirable. Why? Because manufacturers build 100x as much of the stuff for the IT industry, so not only is it less expensive, but it is relies upon manufacturing standards that deliver much higher reliability for less money. But there have been several problems.
We are coming from a 1Gb world, which was not even sufficient to transport 1080p video. For the first time in the history of video and networking, networking bandwidth is higher than the mainstream video bandwidth (10G when 1080p/4K(30) require 3.2 and 6.4G respectively). We have reached a tipping point where networking bandwidth is higher than video bandwidth even looking into the future.
Consider where we are headed. 25Gb, 40Gb and 100Gb networking equipment exists already and by the time future video standards become popular (e.g., 8K), such equipment will be mainstream. Gone are the days where AV companies will spend tens of millions of dollars (think Crestron’s investment in DigitalMedia) to make custom AV matrix switches capable of handling the required video bandwidth when higher performance, more scalable, more reliable and less expensive equipment is available off the shelf from companies like Cisco and Netgear investing billions of dollars in R&D to solve the same problems.
The problem is that we are trying to leverage stuff that is built for an asynchronous world of data into an audio-visual world, which requires analog (synchronous) signals. AptoVision’s primary IP to get around this conflict is called Adaptive Clock Re-synchronization (ACR). The value proposition of this technology is stated below:
This technology allows the use of the standard 10Gb networking components, in place of expensive proprietary AV routing hardware to achieve 4k/30Hz/4:4:4 video. This has been possible for years using fiber, but required expensive CWDM optics. With AptoVision’s latest technology, even 4K/60Hz/4:4:4 video is possible over a single cable. This is truly a landmark achievement. Most people in the AV industry are probably familiar with some variation of the diagram below:
The problem is that low-cost networking optics only allow a single channel, which brings us back to the obstacle of the frame buffer requirement. The diagram below is nothing unique in itself. What is unique is that AptoVision is accomplishing synchronous transmission on cost effective hardware.
Below is one implementation of the BlueRiver chipset by ZeeVee. Notice the Utility 1Gb Ethernet port. This is part of the Blue River design that reserves a full 1Gb of bandwidth on the fiber for data. This is an important design criteria. More and more projects are requiring a Unified Communications network. This requirement is designed right into the product.
As opposed to this implementation, Aurora Multimedia includes a number of bells and whistles in their implementation, including an option for Dante. The AptoVision chipset leaves audio implementation to the manufacturer. The upside is that manufacturers will be able to implement any flavor of IP audio transport, such as the emerging AES67 standard. Networked audio will prevent a kludge of receivers at the headend to transition audio onto the DSP platform.
While both of the manufacturers above are obvious partners for this technology, one of the more surprising adopters is DVIGear. Here is a company that is the epitome of the huge, proprietary AV routers that we mentioned earlier. This is a cornerstone of their business. Yet, they are one of the first companies to market pursuing this technology. This tells me two things. The first is that the company is serious about delivering on the best available technology. The second is that this technology is coming like a runaway train.
What does this mean for us as manufacturers, consultants, and systems integrators? It just takes us back to the points that I made in the opening of this article. Hardware is increasingly becoming a commodity component. Software, solutions, and knowledge are where our industry is headed. You don’t need a crystal ball to start connecting the dots. You can just look to the consumer and IT industries. This is where the free market will take the AV industry.
If the above statement isn’t entirely clear, let me phrase it a different way. We are all competing to bring more value to our clients. In business, the phrase “value” has been used so often, it’s almost devoid of meaning, but one thing that always brings increased value is to provide the better solution at a lower price. This is the baseline. If you don’t meet this bar, you simply won’t keep up.
The easiest and fastest way to get to that lower cost is scale. Just as Ford lowered the price of the automobile and Walmart gave us cheap socks, creating a lot of something makes it less expensive. For this reason, the AV industry is inevitably driven by the consumer and IT industries who create exponentially more product than us, due to the sheer size of their market.
Let’s back up a second. I mentioned earlier that the Blue River technology is based on using standard 10Gb network equipment. This may seem like expensive stuff, but that’s only because you’re looking at networking costs for your data needs and not comparing to the cost of proprietary AV equipment (because previously no solution was available to use standard networking equipment).
If you take a look around, you’ll see that the price of this gear is dropping like a rock. It must. If you listen to Gartner and others, you see the huge movement of big data that is coming down the pike is driving the need for huge data networks. Prices for 10Gb equipment continue to decline and should be about 60 percent of the current cost by 2016. Put simply, they already build a lot of this stuff, and as prices fall and demand builds, they will be building WAY more.
Obviously building more create better economies of scale, but there is another advantage. Reliability. The manufacturing standards that are implemented for professional networking equipment (Telco Standards) are simply more robust than most of the AV world. They have to be. Unlike AV systems, they are not closed systems and must interoperate worldwide without fail. This is not to say that there aren’t AV manufacturers building equipment for mission critical environments. It just costs them significantly more to accomplish this level of reliability because we are in two different worlds of manufacturing volume and standardization.
So where does this leave us? If everyone is using the same technology, how do we differentiate ourselves? There are a lot of answers to this question, but the one that immediately comes to my mind is “solutions, rather than gear.” Do what Scott Walker did. Ask your market what they need. Then give it to them.
This can be an enormous opportunity for systems integrators. I see many manufacturers who are starting to get smart about developing product with a better ear to specific markets. They would love to have access to the client relationships that most integrators enjoy.
Go to your clients. Ask them what they need. Bring this information to a manufacturer with whom you have a good relationship. Help them develop a product. Solve a problem for your clients. This builds a relationship and above average margins. Make sure that solution involves programming, engineering and service, so that you are bringing a SOLUTION.
A promise you that manufacturers will be looking for more insight than ever into customer’s needs and pain points. Why? Because this technology will open the playing field and require companies to complete on a software and solution playing field.
Let me break this down one step further. Until now, development of the AV switch has been the most expensive part of the AV distribution system. Crestron spent a huge amount of money and justly earned their place at the top of the hill. Everyone else is using the same HDBaseT Valens chipset. That chipset does not support the use of standard networking equipment (despite the “BaseT” in its name).
By removing this development barrier, the AV manufacturing is about to lower a major barrier to entry. This will allow much smaller companies to compete on the same playing field and will put the focus on the software and solutions side that I mentioned just a moment ago.
Go forth and innovate. Develop relationships. Create solutions. The alternative is to continue trying to exist on increasingly tight margins by responding blindly to RFPs. Progressively, these will be written by users with an incomplete understanding of their needs and answered by respondents with no relationship, who can only compete on the number of corners they are able to cut. Move over Circuit City. Amazon is coming to town. We need to be ready to adapt to the impending evolution of our industry. It’s coming whether you like it or not.
Do you want to be ready for what is coming next in the AV industry? Do you want to know how to be more relevant to your clients, partners and end-users? Go to our blog right now and sign up for email updates, follow me @bradgallagherav, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
con·ver·gence — Part 3: Partnerships and a Technology Spectrum View
By Corey Moss rAVe Blogger
It’s mid-2015 and I believe in terms of what I’m hearing lately we have arrived at convergence, although I’m not sure that all in the industry agree quite yet. However, in supposing that we have arrived closer to that point of being there, it’s still only part of the overall equation. As an industry — the manufacturers, integrators and consultants can potentially arrive at a certain conclusion together — however can the industry agree that convergence could be more than just the AV/IT (or IT/AV for those who see it that way) that many have come to accept, and even larger than that, are we really going beyond “the box” already…
InfoComm 2015 did show us some answers to these questions in terms of certain manufacturers who are helping to drive the industry toward forward thinking (including beyond the box) technology mindsets, and along the lines of common outcomes among the attendees one thing was for certain — that being how Microsoft did fill a booth with more than just couches and charging stations, where people actually sat down to watch product presentations instead of soccer. The Surface Hub was one of the most talked about products at the show as well as prior to it, and If we were to talk about the subject of convergence, this could be one where industry watchers think to themselves that this may just be that connection between AV and IT to help round out conversation. However the recent reported delay in production past the original September 1 launch date, will no doubt be leaving this thought on hold for now. Certain concerns are being voiced by the delay, however I think we can also focus on other things to come from Microsoft, like Windows 10 for one (available July 29th in a free upgrade).
What has come out of this though is an interesting angle on the convergence conversation here — and that’s Crestron’s Surface Hub partnership with Microsoft, as well as their participation in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft’s major annual event for their partners. At an exclusive pre-show event to demo Surface Hub solutions for the enterprise, Crestron showed how they integrate control, automation, and enterprise AV technology with the large format Windows touch appliance. Incorporating the new Crestron .AV Framework OS, it requires no programming and allows for ready use right out of the box.
At the conference, Crestron’s Director, Software Products & Enterprise Solutions Kor Baydurcan was a featured presenter on a panel of Microsoft partners asked to break down best practices for designing solutions that leverage Microsoft IoT and cloud technology. Throughout the panel, he discussed Crestron Pyng and how IoT changes the way people interact with their residential or commercial settings through dynamic system learning. In terms of Crestron’s participation at the WPC, Rodney Clark, Microsoft general manager, IoT Device Experience stated, “We recognize Crestron as a cutting-edge industry pioneer on IoT” and went on to say, “We’re thrilled to have Crestron share their knowledge and experience with our partners at our Worldwide Partner Conference.” And if you do read Baydurcan’s LinkedIn profile — it seems that he does indeed embody IoT.
Microsoft’s true standing in the commercial AV space still remains to be seen (as a result of this production delay), however with the manufacturer and reseller partnerships that have been forged, and with more reportedly to come, it’s likely that when we do see the Surface Hub actually hit the market, the impact could be huge. Here AVI-SPL’s SVP of sales Dale Bottcher, one of Microsoft’s major Surface Hub reseller partners (and of course a major Crestron partner as are other selected Surface Hub integrators) talks Surface Hub adoption at Microsoft WPC 2015:
And while we’ve touched on the subject of IoT…
After the Keynote at InfoComm 2015 which highlighted the present and future of IoT and even discussed it’s potential intersection with AV in the commercial sector (there of course already exists tie-in to the residential/consumer markets), we all are still taking into account whether we walked away from a serious discussion on the eventual merging of commercial AV and “things connected,” or if it was the hot button topic of the day being discussed and debated by industry executives from four major industry manufacturers, each primarily known for UC and collaboration (oh, and IoE), control systems, audio solutions and displays. While I considered those manufacturer representatives present key to the discussion in various manners, I may have even looked towards others to participate — including some that exist fully outside of the realm of AV.
Crestron, who was represented by their Chief Technology Officer on the panel, is certainly a force to be recognized in IoT as they are a leader in the AV home automation market with their control solution Crestron Pyng. In fact, just prior to InfoComm, it was Microsoft who was talking boldly about Crestron’s standing in the realm of IoT. Microsoft extended its Azure cloud computing platform to the Internet of Things with Azure IoT, a suite of services for enabling smart devices to connect with each other and the cloud. Microsoft lauded the Crestron cloud-based home automation platform as an ideal implementation of Azure IoT, and I for one consider this to be a true full-circle representation of convergence in AV and IT.
Convergence that exists in AV, IT — and IoT. Might this even become a potential on-ramp to IoT for the commercial space in the industry (as well as others to be considered in the future)? Key partnerships, those already established and others to come, can continue to bring the industry closer to those desired technology milestones, and Microsoft’s for one could mean even more than we may think – even beyond the wall computer, and Skype for Business.
To be continued…
By the way, a new version of Windows for small footprint IoT devices will be available for free when Windows 10 launches. Through key partnerships with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Intel, Qualcomm and others, Microsoft will provide great options for commercial devices builders, hobbyists and students.
On Architectural Samples and Fighting “Scope Leak”
By Leonard Suskin Pixel and Ink-Stained Wretch
I seem to have acquired a spool of glowing glass.
OK, it’s an architectural sample of Corning’s Fibrance light diffusing fiber, and it landed on my desk as an architectural sample of something which intrigued one of the members of the design team on a project I’m working on. What to do with it? That speaks to the shifting role of the AV consultant in particular and of us in the AV industry in general.
The first answer — the “classic” AV answer — is that I can design a system which could interface with and control whatever light engine they devise for it. It’s obviously a purely decorative element which neither processes, transports, controls, nor displays audio or video information. From the point of view of my scope as an AV designer that’s a perfectly reasonable response: “Tell me how you’re using it, and I’ll make sure the system can control it.”
Do you see what I did there? I just showed you how we can give away scope and reinforce the perception that we are narrowly focused specialists with a bit of tunnel-vision for things outside of our specialty. Mark Coxon recently wrote about what he calls “scope leak,” or the tendency of the role of the AV team to shrink as more of what we do becomes commoditized, commercialized or both. I hope you’re in agreement that now is not the time to give away scope or to do the bare minimum. Coxon is right that parts of our role are shrinking. What we need is to find as many ways as we can to leverage our expertise to the benefit of our clients before someone else steps in and answers the questions we should be asking.
If we shouldn’t look at it as mere decoration and outside of our scope, how should we look at something like fibrance? I’d start by looking at it as an interface. Systems can communicate via status lights, touch-panel icons, messages on web pages… and glowing ribbons of glass. So I started to play with it. Wrap it around the back of a monitor to see how visible it is. Around the front of the monitor to see how distracting it is. Across a keyboard. A mouse.
If you get a sample of something, take advantage of having a sample. Explore it.
This is also a big advantage of working at a firm like SMW with other smart and engaged people; we can explore together, ask and answer questions. Some ideas came forward as we explored:
Placing it across the back of the monitor isn’t very useful; there isn’t enough light to be visible, and there are simpler ways to create that kind of illumination.
Wrapping the front of a monitor does produce a very visible result without being so bright as to cause eye strain. It does create a very specific aesthetic, which feels 1980s retro-future. It’s a strong look which might be jarring in some settings.
A single strip along one edge of a device creates a far different look.
Because it’s a line, it could be used to show interconnects between elements; light up a strand between a video display and associated speakers, for example. Alternatively, like colors could be used to identify which source is connected to which display if you have multiples of both.
It could be used to outline technology which is otherwise invisible. One could, for example, run a ring around an inductive charging pad flush-mounted to a table.
There’s still been no decision on how, if at all, this is to be used in the project. It might be one of those clever ideas which doesn’t go anywhere or it might be a real opportunity to do something interesting and special. Even if not, it gives me another tool in my toolbox for the next project. It also brings us from the AV world to the larger conversation which takes place outside the wires. That’s a place where we’ll increasingly have to live if we want to add value, and to keep our place at the table.
Screen Innovations (SI) has just launched a new design that will create its largest “affordable” screen option to date with their new Slate Micro Seam — they are claiming it to be the world’s largest ambient-light rejecting screen available in sizes up to 390 inches diagonally in 16:9.
With Slate Micro Seam, SI can manufacture large-scale, ambient-light-rejecting screens for any commercial or retail environment imaginable. It is achieved by utilizing a special radio frequency welding technique that creates an airtight seal and permanent bond between two materials — the seam is small enough to be invisible at distances of 20 feet and greater, which is far closer than anyone would care to stand on screens of this magnitude.
Screen Innovations’ Slate Micro Seam screens are here.
Premier is now shipping the new Symmetry Series — designed as a simple mounting solution that is supposed to decrease installation time by more than 40 percent but still allows for precise alignment features to ensure perfect display bezel alignment. Designed for installation efficiency, the Symmetry Series offers the most optimum bundled solutions for scalability and is perfect for single or multi-site deployments of all the Premier solutions.
Symmetry is comprised of a two-component system: an interface bar and display brackets with easily accessible 6-point (x,y,z) adjustment points on the top of each display bracket. The L-brackets used to anchor the interface bar to the wall can be moved anywhere along the bar to match the stud location in the wall, allowing it to be installed in a fraction of the time that it takes to install traditional individual display mounting solutions. This one system can be configured to fit a wide variety of digital signage needs, including video walls, digital menuboards and transportation.
Da-Lite Debuts New 0.8 and UST 0.45 Parallax Screens
By now, it’s likely that everyone knows that the new Da-Lite Parallax screen is an OEM’d dnp screen, but dnp is known for awesome ambient rejection screens. And, it means that it’s available to everyone in the ProAV market.
Parallax features an advanced optical lens system that rejects light, rather than only diffusing light. This new technology mimics the look of a television, but without the glare from windows or lighting fixtures. And, it can be made in sizes up to a 120 inch diagonal.
Parallax is made up of multiple micro-layers to achieve its light blocking properties and superior viewing angles. Each micro-layer has a function in creating the brightly lit display. Layers that are black boost contrast and absorb ambient light from the sides, while a specially shaped layer blocks light from above. This is evident in demos where lights can be shown directly above the screen without washing out the image.
Parallax 0.8 for standard throw projectors and Parallax UST 0.45 for ultra short-throw projectors. Both products are flexible, shipping in a roll, and feature speckle and glare-free surfaces as well as extremely wide viewing angles of 85″ and 80″ respectively.
The PreSonus DigiMax DP88 eight-channel microphone preamplifier and A/D/A converter combines eight remote-controllable mic preamps with remote control features with the new Studio 192 audio interface. The newest member of the company’s DigiMax series, the 24-bit, 96 kHz DigiMax DP88 has an audio path using by Burr-Brown A/D/A converters with 118 dB of dynamic range.
Eight digitally controlled XMAX Class A preamps use analog circuitry, with a separate digital volume control circuit. Phantom power is individually switchable for each preamp. Each channel is equipped with an eight-segment LED input meter and a phantom power indicator. In addition to offering front-panel control, the DP88’s pre-amps use simple MIDI CC messages to control level, phantom power and direct ADC input.
When connected via ADAT Optical to a PreSonus Studio 192 audio interface, the DigiMax DP88’s preamp controls also are accessible from PreSonus’ Studio One DAW and UC Surface control software for Mac OS X and Windows. No additional setup is required; the DigiMax DP88 becomes a natural extension of the Studio 192 inputs and outputs.
The DP88 provides eight channels of ADAT Optical I/O at up to 96 kHz (using dual SMUX). Mic inputs are on XLR and DB25 connectors. Eight direct, analog-to-digital, line-level inputs are available on DB25 and can be accessed per channel with a front-panel button, allowing you to keep all of your gear connected at the same time.
Eight balanced direct outputs are provided on a DB25 connector, as are eight balanced DAC outputs that expand your interface outputs for monitor mixes or speaker switching. You get MIDI I/O on a multi-pin connector and breakout cable and word clock I/O on BNC connectors. Use the DP88 as the master clock, or sync it externally via ADAT or word clock.
Bowers & Wilkins Launches Three New Installation Speakers
Bowers & Wilkins announced three additions to its range of custom installation speakers. The new CCM Cinema 7 in-ceiling speaker and CWM Cinema 7 in-wall speaker get their high performance thanks to the application of Bowers & Wilkins core acoustic technologies. While the new CCM632 offers discreet musical fidelity, clever new fixings now make installation quicker and easier than ever before.
CCM Cinema 7 is designed for down-firing, in-ceiling left, centre and right speaker positions in a discreet home cinema system. It boasts two drivers: a 180mm bass/midrange Kevlar cone and a 25mm Nautilus swirl loaded aluminum dome tweeter.
Both drivers are angled to the mounting surface and can be directed towards listeners so they hear the correct balance of sound. That way, dialogue is crystal clear and special effects come across accurately, according to B&W.
CWM Cinema 7 in-wall speaker does the job of three home cinema speakers — front left, center and front right — but is discreet. It can be mounted beside, above or below the screen.
Both Cinema 7 speakers feature ultra-narrow bezels and magnetically attached metal grilles that can be customized. CCM Cinema 7 is supplied with a round grille but this can be replaced with square.
Cinema 7 speakers are installed in the ceiling or wall using Bowers & Wilkins QuickDogs fixings — spring clamps that rotate and clip into place, so you can fit the speaker frames securely, tool-free, with one hand.
The new CCM632 is designed for musical fidelity with the near-invisibility of an in-ceiling speaker. Its full-range 75mm driver claims to solve a common problem with custom install speakers: Small drivers don’t offer enough bass but two-way speakers with a tweeter positioned in front of a bass/midrange driver lead to sound discoloration.
CCM632 is supplied in stereo pairs and comes with both round and square grille/bezel assemblies that attach magnetically. Pricing starts at $250 and range up to $850. The company’s website is here.
InFocus Lowers Price of ConX Video Conference Solution and Adds Features
InFocus Corporation says it has made it easier for people to connect and collaborate across platforms and the globe with a major expansion of its ConX Video Meeting (pronounced “Connects”) cloud-based group video conferencing service. The enhanced abilities include: the addition of full HD meeting rooms that can connect up to 25 participants, new Web browser plug-ins and mobile apps that make it easier for people to participate from their devices, and more affordable pricing.
ConX Video Meeting works like a traditional audio-only conference bridge; participants dial in from their SIP or H.323 video calling system, Windows or OSX computer, iOS or Android mobile devices, Microsoft Lync or other app such as Jabber. They type in a secure room number and access code and then, through the cloud, ConX joins all the participants together, face to face, and enables data sharing. The virtual meeting room is accessible 24/7 without any scheduling required, giving customers the flexibility to connect with anyone at any time. There is no cost for participants to access a ConX Meeting Room and there are no additional usage fees. Only an Internet connection is required to meet.
ConX enhancements also include a 25-seat HD room, monthly billing options and a room control portal called HostConX. Six and 12-seat HD rooms are also available. The new pricing is as follows:
Up to 6 users – $119/mo or $1,199/yr
Up to 12 users – $199/mo or $1,999/yr
Up to 25 users – $399/mo or $3,999/yr
Details on the InFocus ConX Video Meeting are here.
Aviom has launched three complete personal mixing system packages, the Mix320-A Personal Mixing System, the Mix320-Y Personal Mixing System, and the Mix320-D Personal Mixing System. All three packages are available immediately, and will be sold in the US only.
Each system is built around the A320 Personal Mixer, Aviom’s most affordable Personal Mixer to date. Designed to accommodate six users live on stage or in the recording studio, each system comes complete with everything required to connect and configure the products, including mic stand mounts and Cat-5 cables.
The Mix320-A Personal Mixing System features the analog AN-16/i v.2 Input Module with 16 TRS balanced inputs as the front end of the system. The AN-16/i v.2 connects to a D400 A-Net® Distributor with supplies digital data and DC power to its eight A-Net ports. Six A320 Personal Mixers, six MT-1a Mic Stand Mounts, and seven 25-foot Cat-5 cable round out the package.
Created for users of Yamaha digital mixing consoles, the Mix320-Y Personal Mixing System includes a Y1 A-Net card to get digital audio from the mixing console into the Aviom system. The Y1 card’s A-Net output connects to a D400 A-Net Distributor, and from there Cat-5 cables connect the six A320 Personal Mixers. Mic stand mounts and Cat-5 cables are included in this system as well.
The Mix320-D Personal Mixing System has been designed specifically for use with Dante enabled consoles and audio networks. The Mix320-D includes a D400-Dante A-Net Distributor that allows up to 32 channels to be patched from the Dante network to the personal mixing system inputs.
No input device is required; simply connect the Dante network to the D400-Dante. The D400-Dante is also used to supply A-Net digital data and DC power to the personal mixers. The system includes six A320 Personal Mixers for the performers, six MT-1a Mic Stand Mounts for attaching the A320 mixers to mic stands, plus all the Cat-5e cables needed to connect the products.
Extron has started shipping its new IN1608 HDBT, a new model of the IN1608 product family integrated with HDBaseT-compatible output for streamlined integration with HDBaseT-enabled displays. This twisted pair output can be used to send digital video and embedded audio, plus bi-directional RS-232 and IR signals up to 330 feet (100 meters) over shielded CATx cable. The IN1608 is a highly versatile scaling presentation switcher that delivers all of the technologically advanced capabilities you need to design and integrate a complete AV system in one box. This includes an HDCP-compliant, multi-format video switcher, an advanced scaling engine, integrated DTP signal extension, an available high performance mono or stereo amplifier and an available built-in IPCP Pro 350 control processor for complete AV system control.
The IN1608 supports both local and remote displays as the two DTP twisted pair inputs are compatible with Extron’s DTP 230 and DTP 330 Series transmitters for extending audio, video and control signals up to 330 feet (100 meters) over a shielded CATx cable. The IN1608 can also remotely power each of the DTP transmitters over the same CATx cable, streamlining system design and installation. In addition, the IN1608 features an advanced scaling engine that can scale HDMI, RGB, component, and standard definition video signals to a common high resolution output. It provides 30-bit color processing to deliver optimal image quality, as well as motion-adaptive de-interlacing for input signals up to 1080i. With Extron exclusive EDID Minder, Key Minder and SpeedSwitch, integrators can easily connect sources and displays with plug-and-play simplicity, automatic device negotiation, and nearly instantaneous switching.
The IN1608 can serve as the central component for audio system integration. It includes eight-input audio switching, two mic/line inputs, HDMI audio embedding and de-embedding, and several audio processing features for mixing, ducking, tone adjustments and more. IN1608 SA models feature a two 50 watt Class D stereo power amplifiers, while IN1608 MA models include a 100 watt Class D mono power amplifier.
CorpComm Expo 2015 Day 2 Keynote Features Three Fortune 500 Panelists
CorpComm Expo (CCE) today announced that its Thurs., Oct. 1 keynote will present a panel discussion featuring representatives from a trio of Fortune 500 companies — Aramark, Wells Fargo and Mohawk Industries — at its inaugural educational conference taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2015 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Greg Lennox, senior manager of digital communications at Aramark; Steve Kline, video content executive producer for corporate communications at Wells Fargo; and Vincent Gross, systems manager at Mohawk Industries will make up the panel for the hour-long discussion.
The discussion, moderated by Jason Douglas, senior communications project manager for FedEx, is entitled, “Taking Aim at the Future – Insights into Employee Communication for the Next Generation.” Panelists will discuss the outlook of the corporate communications environment and how to ensure not only that the correct message is being delivered, but also that it doesn’t get lost on what is now a technologically advanced workforce.
Douglas, who serves on the CCE Advisory Board, said, “Many conferences address best practices, but CorpComm Expo will provide a deeper dive into internal communication trends, approaches and ROI with the use of technologies to better aid organizations in communicating with one voice.”
Smart-e has launched a range of “cost effective” HDMI extenders and splitters that distribute signals over a single Cat6 cable, including some 4K signals. Starting at just £142 (approximately $222) for the 4K-700, a 3D compatible and HDCP compliant transmitter and receiver pair to extend HDMI, DVI or DP++, together with IR signals over a single 70-meter CAT5e-8 cable, the 4K-700. It uses HDBaseT Lite technology to extend 12 bit Deep Colour, 3D, 4K and 2K resolutions together with 1080p @60Hz. Other extenders in the family include: 4K-710, 4K-800 and 4K-810, which add RS232 and Ethernet capabilities up to 100 meters of cable.
In addition, they launched six HDMI/HDBaseT splitters starting at £178 for the 4K-TX720, just one of a collection of 4K compatible self-contained HDBaseT one input by multiple outputs capable of transmitting HDMI signals up to 4K UHD resolutions over 70 meters or 100 meters of Cat6 cable. The single HDMI input can be connected to the rear of the unit where it is split internally and fed to two outputs. Each HDBaseT connection also allows for IR signals to be received back from the receiver enabling remote control of the source device. Other splitters in the family include: 4K-TX740/780 and 4K-TX820/840/880 for two, four and eight outputs respectively which add RS232 pass-through and Ethernet capabilities up to 100m of cable.
Extron’s Quantum Connect videowall processor is now offered in two HDMI configurations with new, lower pricing. The Quantum Connect 82 and Quantum Connect 84 feature eight HDMI inputs and two or four HDMI outputs. Extron says they are integrated with the same video scaling, windowing capability, and performance as Extron’s flagship Quantum Elite processors. Quantum Connect is designed for videowalls with two to four displays, delivering video processing with flexible windowing capabilities.
The Quantum Connect 82 and Quantum Connect 84 maintain optimal full frame rate performance with a high-speed, 10 Gbps RAPT – Real-Time Asymmetric Packetized Transfer video/graphic bus that allows all inputs to be processed simultaneously, while preserving real-time control response and image performance.
A variety of display scenarios can be pre-programmed or created on-the-fly using Quantum Connect Control Software, an intuitive control interface for setup and system operation. Restriction-free windowing allows complete flexibility when designing window layouts. All of this is complemented by high performance image scaling technology, which accurately preserves the original image quality at all window sizes.
For more information on the Quantum Connect, go here.
New AmpliVox Mity-Lite PA Uses Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery
AmpliVox Sound Systems launched the SW300 Mity-Lite PA system, a compact PA that’s designed for rooms up to 1,500 square feet and audiences of up to 350. Weighing only 6.5 pounds, the Mity-Lite can be placed on a tripod or simply worn on a shoulder strap and outputs 35W sound while running on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to ten hours of use time.
The Mity-Lite PA features a built-in 16 channel wireless frequency receiver with 16 user-selectable channels connecting to a wireless handheld mic, a Bluetooth module allows for wireless music streaming and includes a line-in for CD or mp3 players and other audio sources and a line-out for mic inputs. The entire unit is housed in a plastic enclosure that can attach to a shoulder strap.
For wireless applications, the Mity-Lite includes a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that lasts up to ten hours. AmpliVox says the battery recharges in under five hours, and can be recharged while the system is in use with an AC power source.
Da-Lite Unveils New Product for Large Venue Installs
When designing large venues, ballrooms or architecturally appealing rooms, a consultant, integrator or architect may feel conflicted when installing a traditional screen in a room with high ceilings that will require a lot of black drop to accommodate the AV needs and an appropriate screen viewing height. The Wireline Advantage from Da-Lite is the aesthetic solution to this design challenge.
The Wireline Advantage is a projection screen for large venues that uses thin steel cables instead of black drop to lower the viewing area to an appropriate height for the audience. The result is stunning with a large screen that is almost invisibly suspended at the right viewing height, leaving the architecture of the room exposed.
The Wireline Advantage housing can be ceiling recessed and features the easy installation brackets and self-trimming edge that is inherent to the Advantage line. The Wireline Advantage will feature cable lengths up to 29 feet, and will be available to order in November 2015.
Extron is shipping its TLP Pro 1520TG TouchLink Pro Touchpanel. This configurable 15” tabletop touchpanel has a capacitive, edge-to-edge glass touchscreen; and, as with all TouchLink Pro models, it features faster processing and more memory. The 1366×768 touchscreen is all one giant responsive control surface and it features video preview inputs that support high resolution HDCP-compliant video from HDMI sources and Extron XTP devices. PoE+ allows the touchpanel to receive power and communications over a single Ethernet cable.
The TLP Pro 1520TG works in conjunction with any Extron IP Link Pro control processor and is designed for use in AV system applications that require complete, interactive control of a broad range of AV system devices. TouchLink Pro touchpanels operate using standard network infrastructure and are easy to install with reliable and cost effective Ethernet cable. The TLP Pro 1520TG can be removed from its base and mounted on any VESA standard mounting arm or bracket that uses a 100 mm mounting pattern.
All TouchLink Pro touchpanels are customized using Extron GUI Designer software.
AV Stumpfl Intros Three-Stream Uncompressed 4K60 Media Server
Austria’s AV Stumpfl claims the world’s first triple-stream 4K uncompressed media server in their new Wings Engine Raw. Using a single custom engineered RAID 10 system, Wings Engine Raw is capable of delivering constant data stream of three channels of true 4K (4096×2304 pixels) uncompressed video content at 60fps plus up to 16 text and picture layers, and up to 24 uncompressed audio streams. The server removes the need to convert content into any intermediate codec format. Content can include native picture sequences such as TGA or TIFF and even instant PNG image format processing.
Wings Engine Raw is capable of processing and delivering video content at the full 4:4:4 color sampling ensuring picture perfect quality and color accuracy for the most demanding of installation environments. And, their system also features redundancy so if one of the SSDs fail, the data rate and the system’s functionality in general will not be impaired.
Wings Engine Raw hosts the new WingsRX render core engine which has been developed and optimized especially for premium picture quality applications. Its 64-bit program architecture and clever usage of SSE CPU instructions ensures unequaled decentralized processing power. The software has been designed for a wide range of applications such as themed attractions, digital signage, trade shows, live events and full dome systems.
AV Stumpfl says its Wings Engine Raw is based on professional server technology derived from IT data center equipment. Inside the rack mount system is a Xeon CPU, redundant high performance power supply, 2×10 GBit LAN, server chipset, up to 8 3G-SDI live inputs and Displayport 1.2 and DVI-D output connectors.
Aviom Ships the D400 and D400-Dante A-Net Distributors
Aviom is already shipping its new D400 and D400-Dante A-Net Distributors. The D400 and D400-Dante A-Net Distributors are designed to distribute power and digital audio data to an Aviom personal mixing system and provide users with an easy and affordable way to get into Aviom personal mixing for live performance or recording applications.
The D400-Dante allows up to 32 Dante channels to be routed to the personal mixing system, which makes connecting to a Dante-enable digital console or audio network as simple as plugging in a Cat-5 cable.
The standard D400 has an A-Net input for those using an analog input module or a digital console card as the front end of their system, while the D400-Dante has Dante I/O instead of the A-Net input. Up to eight personal mixers can be connected to each D400 or D400-Dante’s A-Net outputs, and an unlimited number of distributors can be used when creating larger systems with more than eight performers.
The D400 and D400-Dante are compatible with both the original Pro16 version of A-Net and the new Pro16e version of A-Net, the technology driving the A360 and A320 Personal Mixers which allows multiple 16-channel banks of monitoring content to be delivered over a single Cat-5 cable. The new distributors can also be used with Aviom’s legacy products including the A-16II Personal Mixer.
For all you REGULAR readers of rAVe AVBuyers.Club out there, hopefully you enjoyed another opinion-packed issue!
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read how we are — we are 100 percent opinionated. We not only report the news and new product stories of the ProAV and HomeAV industries, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories — that’s why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write or say anything good (or bad).
To send me feedback, don’t reply to this newsletter. Instead, write directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or for editorial ideas, Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at email@example.com.
A little about me: I graduated from Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I am adjunct faculty). I’ve been in the AV industry since 1987 where I started with Extron and eventually moved to AMX. So, I guess I am an industry veteran (although I don’t think I am that old). I have been an opinionated columnist for a number of industry publications and in the late 1990s I started the widely read KNews eNewsletter (the first in the AV market) and also created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue, which is now known as InfoComm IQ. rAVe [Publications] has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter, rAVe ProAV Edition.
rAVe ProAV Edition is our flagship newsletter with what we believe is a reach of virtually everyone in the ProAV market. rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA and launched in February 2004, is, by far, the largest ePub in the HomeAV market. We added rAVe Rental [and Staging] in November 2007, rAVe ED [Education] in May 2008 and then rAVe DS [Digital Signage] in January 2009. We added rAVe GHGav [Green, Healthcare & Government AV] in August 2010 and rAVe HOW [House of Worship] in July 2012. rAVe Radio, our podcast network, was launched in 2012. AVBuyers.Club, our first publications targeted at end users, launched in May 2015. You can subscribe to any of those publication or see ALL our archives by going to: http://www.ravepubs.com
Copyright 2015 – rAVe [Publications] – All rights reserved – All rights reserved. For reprint policies, contact rAVe [Publications], 210 Old Barn Ln. – Chapel Hill, NC 27517 – (919) 969-7501. Email: Sara@rAVePubs.com
rAVe contains the opinions of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other persons or companies or its sponsors.