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Diversifi cation: Hybrid systems and beyond

A grizzly–polar hybrid, or grolar, bear: the ultimate hybrid system

The FF 220T, a ‘Flat Field’ ceiling speaker by US-based Extron


Extron’s eminent position in the world of AV interfaces and switchers should require no introduction. But perhaps less well known to the casual observer is its long-running interest in high-performance ceiling speakers for 8Ω and 70/100V operation in classrooms, conference rooms, lecture halls and auditoria.

The INTEGRATOR SI Speaker Series and SpeedMount Ceiling Speaker System are among the results of continued labour in a product area that Extron presents as a logical extension of its desire to facilitate the creation of complete AV systems. “As a leading manufacturer of AV system integration products, we make it our aim to provide system integrators with what they need to design complete AV systems that meet the needs of their clients,” says Rainer Stiehl, vice- president of marketing, Europe, for Extron. “We are uniquely able to do that through our ongoing commitment to quality and innovation.” Reaching for a specifi c example, Stiehl points to Extron’s ‘Flat Field’

“It is challenging because obviously you have certain manufacturers who do nothing but loudspeakers”

Christie’s Richard Nye on the projection specialists’s venture into audio

Vive Audio is the result of

a three-year effort drawing on the services of both existing personnel and select hires from some of the biggest names in the business, including Dolby. Operating as part of the Christie Entertainment Solutions division, Vive was unveiled in June last year with a range encompassing line array speakers – incorporating Christie’s own proprietary ribbon driver technology – and amplifi ers. “As we see it, the range really

has two core strengths,” explains Nye. “Firstly, in contrast to other ribbon systems, we’ve gone for a line array arrangement, so you have all the normal benefi ts of maximum directivity and audio placement. Then there is the Christie-designed ribbon driver technology, which is the core of the system and delivers several advantages over existing compression drivers in that it offers a very linear sound – as opposed to just an ‘explosion’

from the speaker where you risk experiencing interference from the diaphragm.” With a range that also includes Class D amplifi ers of powers ranging from 2kW to 5kW, Christie insists that it has solutions fi t to service all sizes and shapes of cinema. But with EMEA only gaining full availability of the system in the last few months (it launched in the US last year), it’s still very early days, and there is no doubt that the company has much work to do in terms of convincing the market that it is also a credible audio player.

“It is challenging because

obviously you have certain manufacturers who do nothing but loudspeakers,” admits Nye. “We have a good customer base and a great technology and I do think it will [take off], but at the moment it is diffi cult for customers to buy these products without hearing them. So the priority right now is to work on

reference sites across the region that will make it much easier to demonstrate the systems.” Only time will tell whether Christie is able to join the likes of JBL, Meyer Sound and Dolby at

the top table of cinema audio. It’s clear, however, that the company isn’t taking this diversifi cation lark lightly: alongside cinema, Nye also recognises opportunities in the conference and auditoria markets, noting that “there are possibilities for taking our audio technology to other applications”.

GIVE ME STARLIGHT If Christie has sought to combine audio and visual in one division, then several companies have been taken the philosophy one stage further with integrated

Extron Europe’s Rainer Stiehl: an “ongoing commitment to quality and innovation”

technology, developed to address the problems associated with designing even, predictable room sound fi elds. And the pragmatic process of feeding customer input into new products is ongoing: “Our commitment to listening to customer needs for reduced installation costs resulted in the development of our SpeedMount ceiling and surface mount speakers that save time and installation costs for AV system contractors.”

‘hybrid’ systems. Exhibit one for your consideration: the Starlight PA system from Studiomaster. As R&D director Paul Belcher

makes clear, the origin of the system was one of those lightbulb moments that thankfully continues to strike pro audio on a regular basis. For new bands starting out, selecting a speaker, monitor and lighting inventory able to cope with the varying requirements of the small-gig circuit can be a time-consuming – not to mention potentially costly – business. So, then, reasoned the R&D team at

RCF’s L-PAD 12CX. The company is hoping to bring a “fresh perspective” with its new dedicated mixer division PSNLIVE 2014 l 25

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