Volume 5, Issue 8 — August 31, 2016
|The Church Market for AVL in Two Words — Big Opportunity|
By Anthony Coppedge
House of Worship Technology Consultant
Compared to huge government contracts or big commercial deals, the church market may not seem nearly as compelling for manufacturers and systems integrators selling audio, video, and lighting technology. And while there won’t be $50MM dollar AVL deals in the House of Worship space, there also won’t be the massive complexity and low margins of those ginormous RFPs, either. Instead, there’s a big opportunity to sell into a vertical market that has a need for the technology, design, installation and ongoing service for years to come.
Today’s modern church in North America, and increasingly around the world, is tied to AVL technology. Video on demand, theatrical lighting, high levels of system automation, production studios, and quality audio systems for venues big and small are all needs and opportunities of portable churches, growing churches and, of course, the mega churches (2,000+ weekly attendance). Even in many mainline churches, technology has become more of a focus as venues are updated and new, young clergy are added to leadership, eager to bring their congregations forward with technology.
Churches and SLAs
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are a term the AVL industry is familiar with, but they’re not associated with churches. This is a big opportunity because churches have a zero tolerance for AVL tech failure during events and services. More and more often, churches have insisted on redundancy in their systems to ensure critical AVL technologies continue to function without interruption. A smart manufacturer should either build in some level of redundancy (stackable projectors, extra lighting instruments, backup power supplies for mixing consoles) as an option or simply offer these as ‘standard’ equipment specs for church venues. I often double-stacked projectors and ran both in low-power mode for this exact reason. If a lamp or power supply failed in one, it required only a single button push to send the remaining projector into high power mode.
SLAs for churches should include a guarantee of minimal system/equipment performance for the hardware and software. Additionally, no SLA is complete without the define ‘if/then’ parameters to provide a clearly defined set of actions that happen if a failure occurs. Here is the big opportunity for an SLA to call out the service contracts and emergency personnel that systems integrators have long made a staple of their business. For churches, this will require weekend support and service options, as well as short windows for response and recovery.
It may surprise some readers to learn that more than a few churches rent external generators for instant backup power for church AVL systems during what are known as ‘high attendance weekends’ — such as Easter, Mother’s Day, and Christmas. With the chance to make a great first impression, these churches understand the importance of keeping the lights on — literally — during these weekends and will spend the extra money to ensure the technology remains on. This could easily be part of an SLA for systems integrators to promote to churches, as a simple cross-rental saves the church the time and headache of coordinating these high voltage backup systems.
There’s a big difference in selling something ‘extra’ as opposed to selling something that ensures consistency and dependability. When the stakes are high — and they are for weekend services — and the price of failure is either fiscally quantifiable or has a high opportunity cost, the need for redundancy becomes clear. These are not line-item expenses listing ‘quantity: 2’, but proper technology and system design that ensures continuous performance for weekly services and events.
As with any venue during a live event, major technical failures are a worst-case scenario. And like other venues, they feel the pain just as acutely. I’ve written about this before here on rAVe in my article “Mission-Critical Upgrades.”
Sunday comes every seven days. Churches have less than a week to either completely solve the problem or come up with a viable temporary solution.
Manufacturers would do well to consider adding SLAs as options to their equipment purchases as both a profit center and as a means to both support and supplant the typical product warranties.
Systems integrators should be introducing SLAs early into the conversation with church prospects to plant the seed of a disruption-free technology offering.
Churches Need Training
Amazing technology needs amazing training to help produce amazing results. A missed big opportunity manufacturers and systems integrators alike is to provide training — at tradeshows, at lunch ‘n learns, at church product demonstrations, and at on-site church training sessions — so that the largely volunteer-enabled staff has the insight to leverage the AVL technology with consistent results.
The initial training provided during a new installation or upgrade is nice, but what these churches need is consistent training so that their staff is better equipped and the turnover of volunteer ranks benefits from the ongoing training opportunities. I’ve often hired freelance professionals to spend several weekends with church tech staff and volunteers so that the repetition of instruction helps make the training ‘stick’ for these operators. There’s a great deal of comfort that comes when the Front of House (FOH) position changes from ‘the hot seat’ to the fun seat!
Churches need your expertise: Demonstrate, then Educate. Educate, then Initiate. Don’t Sell, Illustrate.
I simply cannot overstate this enough. Don’t lead with your product or solution – lead churches to it. The biggest problem I’ve personally experienced during many manufacturer training sessions is the propensity for it to be a soft (or hard) sales pitch for even more gear. This is a huge mistake and one that churches would like to avoid.
When – not if – gear fails, wouldn’t you rather have your brand noted for great training and service than blamed (right or wrong) because an operator didn’t have the expertise or experience to solve the issue? Of course you would, and churches will pay for peace of mind.
This is why I can sum up the church market for AVL in two words — Big Opportunity. Provide peace of mind and continuity of service through SLAs and training. You make money coming and going and the church has the confidence in their solution (and your brand). That is the very definition of a win-win scenario!
Are you providing SLAs and training for churches? Share your views and opinions in the comments below.Leave a Comment
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|Contracting Staff for Three Months at Churches|
By Anthony Coppedge
House of Worship Technology Consultant
In my experience, churches need professional training over time to grow their volunteer tech teams. Selling contracted professional services for extended times helps address this huge need in the house of worship market.
On-Site Training for Three Months
1) Mentoring by a Pro — There’s something powerful about being invited and asked to participate in something bigger than ourselves. Most of the best volunteers I’ve met at hundreds of churches came because someone asked them if they’d like a chance to see what it was like to do what we do! And by having a hired professional behind the console, the opportunity to watch and train side-by-side with a pro is both a safe way to introduce volunteers to the position and provide real-world, in-their-environment, with-their-gear hands-on training.
There’s a saying that the front of house mix position is the ‘hot seat’ in churches. But your pros have the experience in a lot of live venues to handle the pressure with competence and class. Consistency is key, and it simply takes time to learn the ropes, so selling a three-month on-site pro for weekend services is a cost many churches would gladly pay to smooth out the consistency of operation and invest in their existing volunteers. Perhaps best of all, when there’s a pro with humble confidence mentoring, volunteers will step up even more to learn without the pressures of the job that keep many from serving in these critical roles due to a lack of experience and training.
On countless occasions in my own church tech ministry and on the road consulting with churches, there would often be a person peering into the booth to look at the equipment. Their curiosity is often the first step in having a volunteer (not the pro) talk with them about what’s going on and inviting them to come and shadow along during a weekend service. Teach churches that their pool of current volunteers are the best possible recruiters. Why? Because, chances are, they are friends with people similar to themselves. That means techies know more techies. It also means that the non-techie volunteers (more on that below) know people like them, too. Leveraging the spheres of influence that volunteers have is the best way to invite new people to try out the Tech Arts and expand the volunteer base.
Another important recruiting tip is to find college interns, stay-at-home parents and retirees who have the time to give on a Monday through Friday basis. Unlike your other volunteers with full-time jobs, these folks have more flexible schedules and can help you with a host of necessary areas including volunteer scheduling, administrative support, copywriting, organizing, documenting and encouraging other volunteers with handwritten notes. I have had men and women help me out during the week so that I was freed up to do the work that only I could do instead of work that anyone could do. One of my best volunteers was a brilliant administrator; she just kept me organized and helped me with myriad daily tasks that I didn’t like or have the time to do.
When churches use interns, have them keep a log of what the interns do and give them the chance to apply their time and effort towards their high school or college credits. It may mean the church tech leader will need to go and visit with their high school counselor or college professor, but those real world on-the-job training hours can result in applicable hours towards their degree. Plus, with a professional mentor, there are ample training opportunities Monday-Friday that are great training ground without the pressure of live services.
2) No-pressure Shadowing — Guide someone through the process of a new technical role, initiating them slowly through the ropes and giving them a lot of freedom to watch and observe is perhaps the best way to weed out those serious about taking on the responsibility of technical positions. There’s a great deal of safety in knowing that an invitation to come into the tech booth with zero expectation for them to perform. By partnering your hired professional with an observer, the de-mystifying of church tech is a big part of alleviating the fears of new volunteer talent.
Because these are contract roles, I often recommend the paid church staff tech members shadow the pros on the weekend, too. The real-world experience of church is great for the church techs, but your professionals have more experience in a wider variety of situations and venues to pour into these church tech leaders. After 90 days, it’s important that your pro has invested into the staff person responsible for carrying the torch once the contract is complete. Even then, it’s valuable to sell bi-annual or quarterly weekend check-ups to address any new technology additions and evaluate the training needs of new volunteers.
Teach the Staff How to Teach
3) Train the Trainer — Develop the volunteers who show the most interest, have the best servant attitudes and are teachable. I’d much rather have a person who is inexperienced and teachable than an ‘expert’ who can’t be taught. If you’ve got a soccer mom who doesn’t know technology but is highly teachable, pour into her and see where she can serve. I’ve quite often found these volunteers make some of the best presentation software volunteers and excellent camera operators.
While your contracted professional is there to ‘do’ and make the technical easier to understand, empower your contract staff to train the church staff on how to do the job and how to train others to do the job. In the classic ‘train the trainer’ scenario, your pros should be contractually required to spend time teaching the soft skills of how to teach, not just what to do.
Teach church tech leaders that they don’t need a ‘techie person.’ In many tech roles, volunteers often don’t have to know the operating system or even how to calibrate a video camera; they just operate with confidence and style when they’re trained and equipped to succeed.
Evaluate & Recommend
4) Evaluate honestly — Hurting feelings doesn’t have to be a part of the job, so teach your contracted pros to be gentle when they have to redirect people out of areas where they can’t accomplish the job. Your pros can tell when someone ‘gets it’ — or not. The church staff ultimately get to make the call, but private conversations after services between your pros and the church tech leadership are vital so that feedback about volunteer competence is constructive and candid.
Evaluation is easier when done against a set of predefined expectations — a job/role description. It’s hard for a volunteer to hear they missed a mark they didn’t know they were supposed to hit on in the first place! While the pros are there to ‘do a job’ (the technical role), they are instrumental in helping church tech leaders set up volunteers for long-term success. I’ve found it’s useful for professional contracts to bring in technical riders (contracts/lists) that define expectations around operation of a particular role. These are often good starting places for churches to adopt ‘role/job descriptions’ so that their volunteers know what’s expected before jumping into a new technical position.
Solve the Tech Shortage Problem in Churches
5) Reproduce trained volunteers — Reproduction should be a natural part of someone becoming seriously qualified and competent in their role. Far too many churches have “the sound guy” (as in ONLY ONE PERSON). I have been alarmed at the frequency I’ve encountered churches where the tech is run by only one person, week-in and week-out. Not only is this a recipe for burnout, it’s a huge pain point when that one person is sick or out of town. Churches often don’t seem to address this issue well, but the intervention of a trained professional for 90 days will both identify the failure in this setup and address the problem with a solution of reproducing tech volunteers with a larger pool of new volunteers (see above).
While there can (and should) be a leader for decision-making and administration, a team of trained leaders is the only way to obtain consistency, quality and growth. An example of this reproduction came from my own life as a volunteer. One of my roles at a large church was as a volunteer trainer. Sure it was training, but I looked at it as loving on volunteers. It was also the first time I viewed myself as a volunteer pastor, by taking the time to connect with these other volunteers outside of weekend services to listen, encourage and share life with them.
Your contracted professionals have a lot to offer churches, and it’s an additional revenue-generating activity that grows the reach of your business into the church market. Moreover, these churches learn to trust your professionals, which opens the door to future technology upgrades and new venue technology for your firm.
How is your firm training churches on the use of A/V/L technology? Leave your comments below and share your successes, lessons and failures of training church techies.
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|KanexPro Launches SDI Pro Series|KanexPro just announced its new SDI Pro Series of products. The lineup includes:
- SDI to HDMI Converter (SDI-SDHDXPRO) is a signal equalizer and re-clocker designed for connecting professional SDI video equipment to any HDMI display or consumer based TVs. Ideal for surveillance systems, rental and staging facilities, post-production and digital cinema, the converter has two SDI loop outputs for sending re-clocked SDI signals and connecting to down-stream equipment.
- HDMI to SDI Converter (SDI-HDSDXPRO) features signal equalizer and re-clocker designed for converting single HDMI signal into two 3G-SDI, HD-SDI signals in professional applications involving broadcasting, post-production and filming. Ideal for surveillance systems, rental and staging facilities, post-production, television studios and digital cinema, the converter auto detects input signals converting the output resolution to correct format.
- SDI Repeater (SDI-HDRPTPRO) with 3D, SDI and HD-SDI, is designed for extending AV signals at longer runs up to 300 meters using single RG6 cable. Additionally, it embeds audio up to 7.1 channels passing ancillary data.
- Fiber Optic SDI Extender (SDI-EXTFIBERPRO) is designed for extending 3G to SDI and HD to SID signals over fiber up to a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) with resolutions up to HD 1080p/60. The Extender is a reliable and secure method of delivering digital HD video, audio, data over long fiber optic cables, commonly found in government command and control systems and digital signage.
- Multi-Video Cross Converter to SDI (SDI-SDI2MULTIPRO), a 3G-SDI to multi-video cross converter and switcher designed to convert SDI and HDMI video and audio to multiple outputs, such as DVI, VGA, component, S-video or composite video. With a powerful up and down video scaler, the Converter supports resolutions up to 1080p60/59.94Hz and 1080p/29.97Hz.
- SDI to Multi-Video Cross Converter (SDI-MULTI2SDIPRO), a multi-cast cross converter providing multiple input conversions from HDMI, DVI, VGA, component, to 3G, HD, SD to SDI and HDMI. Additionally, the converter also features a scaler with resolutions up to 1080p60/59.94Hz and 1080p/29.97Hz.
All the specs are here.Leave a Comment
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|CAD Audio Debuts StageSelect 1600 Series UHF Wireless|
CAD Audio has introduced the new StageSelect 1600 Series UHF high performance wireless system. The StageSelect system features frequency agile UHF operation for maximum operating range along with CAD ScanLink technology to precisely scan, select and link to the optimum channel in any RF environment.
The system also includes True Diversity operation to minimize multi-path interference along with CADLock Automatic Tone Encoded Squelch that eliminates unauthorized transmissions in the signal path. Optimized XLR and ¼” TRS outputs on the WX1600 receiver provide greater user flexibility. Audio performance has been optimized with a dynamic range greater than 110dB.
StageSelect includes the WX1600 Handheld System with the acclaimed CADLive D90 capsule and the WX1610 Bodypack System featuring the Equitek E19 Broadcast and Production miniature condenser earworn mic, Cardioid Lav and Guitar Cable.
Handheld and body pack transmitters have soft touch multi-function On-Off/Mute/Low Battery/ScanLink status switches with multi-color LED indicators. High quality alkaline double AA batteries provide more than 15 hours of transmitter battery life.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Matrox Monarch LCS Ships|
Matrox Video has announced that the Matrox Monarch LCS, a two-input lecture capture device, is now shipping.
Priced at just $2,495 US (€2,495, £1,949), the Monarch LCS accepts video from any SDI or HDMI camera and presentation content from computers over HDMI. The inputs can be encoded independently and in sync for use with the latest multi-stream video players. Alternatively, the inputs can be combined prior to encoding in a variety of production layouts, including picture-in-picture and side-by-side, for use with standard video players.
Monarch LCS is a reliable, standalone network appliance that IT administrators will find easy to set up and integrate into video management systems (VMS), such as Opencast and Kaltura, and learning management systems (LMS) such as Moodle. An intuitive web interface lets users define profiles for live streamed and recorded lectures, mixing camera and presentation material from SDI and HDMI sources. Powerful scaling, deinterlacing and noise reduction engines ensure only pristine images are sent from the encoders. For streaming purposes, the encoders use either RTMP or RTSP protocols to deliver live streams to local media servers or cloud-based CDNs. In recording applications, the encoders write MP4 or MOV files directly to network-mapped drives, eliminating the need for post-lecture file transfer, or alternatively to local USB drives or SD cards.
Monarch LCS comes with a comprehensive set of HTTP-based control APIs that let network- or cloud-based video management platform developers and A/V integrators harness the streaming and recording capabilities of Monarch LCS appliances from within their own environments to create customized user experiences. A control module for Crestron room media controllers is also available.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Videon Partners with Intel for Video Streaming Products|
Videon’s Greylock HD H.264 Encoder/Decoder is a high performance encoder/decoder that supports both HDMI and SDI inputs. Based on the Intel Atom CE5300 Dual Core media processor, it’s designed to convert their camera’s HDMI or SDI data into an encoded stream that can be sent online.
Greylock supports resolutions up to 1080p60 and claims to offer push-button streaming and multiple streaming formats (including unicast, multicast and RTMP). Greylock’s encoder is aimed at education, digital signage, live events, houses of worship and broadcast applications.
The input resolutions supported include both 720 and 1080 and output can be anything from 480 to 1080. Bit rate is 1 Mbps to 20 Mbps and encode latency is spec’d at 250ms. Inputs are HDMI, SDI, USB and it works on standard Ethernet networks.
Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|BASSBOSS Intros Budget VS21 SubwooferAustin-based powered loudspeaker manufacturer BASSBOSS just launched their new VS21 powered subwoofer. The VS21’s hybrid vented short horn enclosure delivers exceptional transient response thanks to performance efficiencies at the upper end of its operating range. This is expressed as a fast attack, which is highly desirable for acoustic instruments like kick drums and bass guitars. At the same time, the enclosure is optimized for low frequency performance and depth, thanks to a large acoustical volume, low tuning and the massive displacement of a long-excursion 21″ woofer — up to 58 millimeters of excursion peak-to-peak. With a frequency response of 27-100 Hz and 132 dB of continuous output at the ready, the VS21 offers much deeper and smoother response than similarly-sized horn-loaded boxes, while still delivering high-impact power and tremendous dynamics.
The VS21’s dimensions (36”x24”x36”) allow for easy integration into existing speaker cubbyholes, providing a cost-effective and straightforward path for venues to upgrade the low-end performance of their systems without a ‘rip and replace’ renovation. Its smaller frontal area also allows more output to be focused forward from a limited area than a typical set up with dual 18” subs. The VS21’s enclosure is made from 18mm Baltic Birch plywood with dado joints and stainless steel hardware. It is finished with a rugged, touring-grade, waterproof, polyurea coating. This enables it to stand up to the demands of day-to-day life in the club or on the road. Covers and wheel carts are also available.
Like all BASSBOSS loudspeakers, the VS21 is powered by a built-in 2400W RMS amplifier that includes all of the necessary processing for seamless ‘plug-and-play’ operation. An included low-pass filter provides a broad, flat frequency response without the need for any EQ. The VS21 also features a sophisticated limiter system, which protects the woofer from thermal and overexcursion damage. This enables users to achieve maximum output from the loudspeaker without concerns about overdriving it.
The BASSBOSS VS21 will be shipping in late August and is priced at $3,995 and here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Go Getter Now Includes AIR Wireless Companion Speaker|
Anchor Audio has announced the Go Getter AIR wireless companion speaker. Anchor Audio’s Go Getter AIR is battery powered, operates 6-8 hours or more on a single charge, and can be placed 150+ feet from the transmitter. Transmitters come as an optional built-in upgrade to the main sound system. One transmitter can connect to an unlimited number of AIR wireless companion speakers. The AIR wireless technology offers 100 user-selectable channels operating within the 900 MHz frequency, which is one of the few clear channel ranges available and, therefore, limits interference from competing signals. Furthermore, the 900 MHz band offers expanded wireless range for an increased transmission distance. AIR companion speakers can also operate in ‘wired mode,’ which includes simply flipping a switch and plugging in a cable. The Go Getter is a lightweight and easy to transport. Delivering 109 dB of clear sound, it is meant for both music and voice amplification.
Currently, Anchor Audio’s Go Getter Portable Sound System, Liberty Platinum Portable Sound System and MegaVox Pro Portable PA System offer AIR wireless companion speakers.
The AIR companion transmitter also connects with Anchor Audio’s Assistive Listening Devices (ALB-9000), which operate on the same 902-928 MHz, resulting in an immediate ADA-compliant portable sound system. Main-unit systems are available with up to two wireless microphone receivers in addition to the AIR wireless companion transmitter.
The Go Getter AIR wireless companion speaker is priced at $450. Here are the tech specs.Leave a Comment
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|TURBOSOUND Ships Flagship FLASHLINE Monitors|
TURBOSOUND has today announced the shipping of its flagship FLASHLINE MONITORS range of two-way loudspeakers. Designed primarily as stage monitors, they also accommodate a wide range of portable speech and music sound reinforcement applications. The flagship range consists of four models, two 12” and two 15” models, the TFM122M and TFM152M switchable passive/bi-amp loudspeakers, as well as the TFM122M-AN and TFM152M-AN powered loudspeakers.
The new two-way switchable passive/bi-amp TFM122M and TFM152M monitors feature 1,400 Watts of peak power designed to work in conjunction with LAB GRUPPEN amplification and loudspeaker management systems.
Specifically the TFM122M features a carbon fiber loaded 12” neodymium motor low frequency driver with a titanium dome 1.4” neodymium motor compression driver with the larger TFM152M featuring a carbon fiber loaded 15” neodymium motor low frequency driver with the titanium dome 1.4” neodymium motor compression driver.
The powered models in the range, the TFM122M-AN and TFM152M-AN, deliver 2,500 watts of peak power while featuring the same custom engineered driver technology as the switchable passive/bi-amp models in the range. These models are designed to work individually without a controller so feature an intuitive user interface via LCD display or remote control via TURBOSOUND PC Edit software.
You can see them here.Leave a Comment
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|Apogee Intros MiC 96K USB Microphone|
Apogee Electronics has announced the MiC 96k for Windows and Mac. MiC 96k is a professional 96kHz, 24-bit USB microphone that’s designed to capture vocals, voice overs, podcasts and acoustic musical instruments on a Windows or Mac computer. With MiC 96k and your laptop you can make studio-quality recordings anywhere.
- Cardioid condenser microphone
- Up to 96kHz, 24-bit analog-to-digital recording
- Works on Mac and Windows 10 computers (and iOS devices)
- Apogee engineered microphone preamp with up to 40dB of gain
- Control knob allows easy input level adjustment
- Multi-color LED for status indication and input level monitoring
The MiC 96K lists for $199 and here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|Elite Screen’s Manual Grande Large-Venue Screens Debut|
Elite Screens believes there’s a strong demand for manual screens again — so they are launching a new line of them. The Manual Grande is designed to accommodate large group presentations and its operation incorporates a bead-chain-clutch system similar to the mechanism used in controlling large window drapes. Elite Screens claims this is important because it gives more versatility in the screen’s height settings.
Although lower pricing is an advantage, the Manual Grande fulfills a role in providing a retractable big-screen installation that does not require an electrical source. Various facilities may not be adequately wired to provide outlets for ceiling or near-ceiling attachments. This is especially true with precast concrete buildings and subterranean structures. A larger non-electric screen may also be more appropriate for use in thin-walled structures that have a limited weight tolerance and local code requirements may not permit the necessary wiring for this application. The Manual Grande is GREENGUARD / GREENGUARD Gold (UL 2818) certified.
Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|Bose Professional Ships New Line of PowerShare Adaptable Amplifiers|
Bose is now shipping its new PowerShare adaptable power amplifier line, consisting of three 1U models: two- and four-channel fixed-install models (PS602 and PS604) and one two-channel portable amplifier (PS602P). Each model delivers 600 watts of power that can be shared across all output channels. With support for both low- and high-impedance loads up to 100V, PowerShare amplifiers adapt to a wide range of applications. Onboard configurable loudspeaker processing and direct access to zone controllers eliminate the need for an additional signal processor in many installations, while outstanding audio performance and reliability are assured with patented technologies inherited from the field-proven PowerMatch line.
Patented PowerShare technology allows installers to use total amplifier power in the application. This enables more flexibility during the initial design, or later on-site when making unplanned changes that take advantage of surplus power.
For applications requiring additional signal processing, the PowerShare Editor software offers real-time selection and control of Bose loudspeaker EQs, 9-band PEQs, mixing, crossover, limiters, delay and mute/output polarity through a USB connection. For basic setups without a PC, rear-panel settings allow installers to recall Bose loudspeaker equalization and protection per output channel. These features eliminate the need for an external signal processor in many applications.
Bose PowerShare products are here.Leave a Comment
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