CTW LDI 2014 Coverage: Roland M5000 Mixer

OK, so it's not a lighting product. But LDI was the first time we were able to get eyes on the new M5000 mixer and the new OHRCA platform. With 128 processing paths, a full configurable architecture and a very aggressive price point, the M5000 will be a mixer to contend with. Here's a high-level overview. To learn more, visit http://proav.roland.com/OHRCA/.

Roland

Today's post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.

CTW LDI 2014 Coverage: High End SolaSpot Pro 1500

The new SolaSpot Pro1500 is an amazing LED-engine moving head. With an 8-45 degree zoom, a 400W LED engine and full effects and a very fast pan/tilt mechanism, it's quite remarkable. And, it has a price that is remarkable as well. To learn more, visit their website.

“Gear

Today's post is brought to you by CCI Solutions. With a reputation for excellence, technical expertise and competitive pricing, CCI Solutions has served churches across the US in their media, equipment, design and installation needs for over 35 years.

This post is brought to you by Shure Wireless. The new ULX D Dual and Quad wireless systems feature RF Cascade ports, a high density mode with significantly more simultaneous operating channels and bodypack diversity for mission critical applications. Visit their website at Shure.com.

CTW Coverage of LDI 2014: Chauvet Ovation FD-165WW and ED-190WW

The F-165WW and E-190WW have been extremely popular and effective LED Fresnel and Leko-style fixtures, respectively. But for the venue that already has a solid installed base of dimmers, these new fixtures make 1:1 replacement easier than ever. By creating a power supply that works with line-voltage dimming, the new fixtures deliver the same great results we're used to, without the hassle of switching to relays or running DMX everywhere.  For more information, visit www.chauvetlighting.com.

“Gear

Today's post is brought to you by DiGiCo. DiGiCo audio mixing consoles deliver solutions that provide extreme flexibility, are easy to use and have an expandable infrastructure, while still providing the best possible audio quality. Visit their website to learn more.

CTA Review: Pathway DMX Ultimate Converter

It may seem like DMX is the universal language of lighting control. And for just about any fixture or dimmer made in the last 10 years or so, it is. But there is still a pretty large installed base of older dimmers and probably a few fixtures that speak another language. A few months ago, I ran into such a system. The church was built in the 70s and had an old dimming system that still worked, and that they couldn’t afford to replace just yet. But they needed a new console, so we installed a Jands Vista S1. That worked just great with the new LED lights we installed on stage, but when it came time to tie into the existing dimming system, I discovered it wasn’t DMX, but AMX. 

Enter the Rosetta Stone

It was just a few months earlier that we met with the Pathway Connectivity rep. We were looking mostly at their DMX over Cat 5 systems, which are excellent. Almost in passing, he mentioned that the also had a translator box that would convert DMX to just about anything else. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but that conversation came back when I saw that 4-pin XLR starring back at me. 

Van and I have long been asking for a Rosetta stone for the audio world; one that would take in any digital format and spit out any other digital format. Aside from licensing, it doesn’t seem that hard. But what do I know. While that doesn’t really exist in the audio world—save perhaps for the KlarkTeknik DN9652—it does in the lighting control world. 

Protocols For Days

The DMX Ultimate Converter will convert DMX into the following formats:

  • DMX512/1990 and DMX512-A
  • AMX192 - all versions
  • Kliegl( K96 & K100)
  • Colortran (CMX & D192)
  • Electro Controls (ECMux)
  • Micro-Plex 1 & 2 (NSI and Lightronics/Leprecon)
  • Strand D54
  • AVAB - 240 & 252 channels

The back of the unit provides several 5- and 4-pin output connectors for the various protocols, as well as a DMX through. The front of the device has an easy to read LCD menu and a set of controls for selecting the various modes. After a brief skim through the manual, it’s quick and easy to get what you want out of it. 

Helpful Tools, To Boot

It is pretty much a plug and play operation, but they have thoughtfully included several tools that will make your life a lot easier. There is an Analyze Input mode that will show you the values of your incoming DMX signal so you can be sure you are sending what you think you are sending. This is especially helpful when setting up the patch for a legacy system. 

The tool I found the most helpful is the output test. This enables you to send level information individually to the channels of the output. So if you are working in an old dimming system, it’s much easier to figure out which lights are patched to which dimmers. By scrolling through the outputs, and lighting them up one at a time, you can easily construct a light plot that can be written into your new console. 

Sometimes the older dimmers and protocols don’t work at the same speed of modern gear, and to that end, you can adjust the timings to keep the buffers from overflowing. The instructions provided give you a clear procedure for making adjustments if needed. In my case, I simply plugged DMX in and out (this lived inline on the way to the DMX distro at the stage) and AMX out. I selected a DMX to AMX conversion and started turning lights on. It was surprisingly simple. A lockout function is also provided so no one accidentally adjusts the settings once everything is locked in and working. 

I spent a fair amount of time testing the system for lag or dimming curve anomalies and found none. When I moved a fader on the console, the lights responded immediately. If I programmed a long fade, the lights dimmed properly without any stutter. I couldn’t test this on all protocols, but for AMX, it worked great.

Saving the Day

When I first saw that 4-pin AMX connector, my heart sank. Initially I thought our installation was doomed. But when this little box showed up, it truly saved the day. After several months of continuous operation, I’ve not received a single call from the church that they’ve had any issues with it. While it’s not cheap—it lists for $1595—it’s well worth it as we didn’t have to spend tens of thousands on new dimming or all new LED fixtures. At least not yet. This isn’t a box everyone needs, but when you do need it, it saves your bacon.

“Gear

Today's post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.