Updated: Nov 30, 2021
By April 2019, MFi Productions had built a solid long-term reputation for visual, lighting, pro audio expertise, and live event production. President & CEO Denis Gosselin sensed a shift in the market; the technology and capabilities were expanding, customer needs had become more specific and complex, and systems were now making regular use of network infrastructure protocols and computer technology.
This opened up a myriad of configuration and installation possibilities for many current and potential clients. It also explained the uptick in A/V Installations and System Integration.
Gosselin explained: “I wanted to bring a number of individuals from the industry together in a realistic setting and environment. What better way to showcase equipment than with practical demonstrations by seasoned professionals and in a space that replicates many of the venues or organizations that would directly benefit from these product lines. The result was far more interactive and engaging than simply pointing to a product catalog and telling a customer, I can install that equipment in your space”.
He didn’t have to look far. MFi Pro has had a longstanding relationship with the historic Capital Center for the Arts in downtown Concord, NH. They graciously lent their stage and the entire theater for an unencumbered and unique Expo experience. Originally opened in 1927 as the Capitol Theatre, the Capital Center has been host to countless live music events, Broadway shows, etc.
Attendee tables were assembled on the stage itself and presenters made use of two 80” flat panel displays, flagship Yamaha digital mixing consoles, and columns of Nexo line array speaker systems hung carefully from the theater’s steel grid.
Yamaha Digital: a featured Expo Presenter
Martin Dombey, District Manager of Yamaha Corporation of America, gave a presentation on their Digital Mixer product line and the advantages over Analog. Specifically, the TL, QL, and CL Series. They originally debuted their digital line in 1986. Their digital line of mixers provide for iPad Control and Zones, which are extremely helpful in a theater application.
There are controls for individual EQ’s, simultaneous control of multiple sources/channels, Store and Edit Preset Parameters, MIDI integration – for Audio Mix settings and Trigger presets, and the ability to capture these Presets on a USB Storage device – a real time saver which helps minimize setup.
The QL and CL Series mixers feature a “Premium Rack” of onboard modeled Neve Portico, LA2A, and other key signal processors & EQ’s which require no “hard-wire” connections. This is extreme “value-added” and available via a free firmware upgrade. Dombey indicates that the Neve 5045 processor in particular is widely used to lift speech/vocals while reducing ambient noise, an application used frequently by the NFL and was also used during the Pope’s visit to Fenway Park.
While Dombey says that all digital consoles are generally quite good today, Yamaha stands out in three specific areas. First is Reputation. They have been in the digital mixing market for 34 years. Second, all Yamaha mixers speak in ALL Audio formats (Analog, Digital, ADAT, Ether Sound, Network, Pro Tools, Specialty, etc.) to ensure cross-compatibility. Lastly, Yamaha has superior Training and Support Resources. He spoke at length about Yamaha Audioversity; Pro Audio Education and Training and an area where a number of customer R&D upgrades have been both tested and implemented.
Lisa Guyer and David Stefanelli - true acoustic magic
For as many sound sample demos that could be put through the on hand Yamaha/Nexo system, some of the attendees might wonder how “live music” would sound through these products? MFi Pro had that covered too. Local musicians Lisa Guyer and David Stefanelli agreed to perform songs from their recent 12 song collection, Message Of Love. Guyer recalled her long-time patronage of MFi (which had begun as the retail store The Music Factory) and attendees were treated to quite an exclusive and great-sounding set by this duo, with the choice of ANY seat in the house!
Both Guyer (an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston) and Stefanelli had elements of the “Boston” family tree well represented. Guyer had worked with both Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau. She also worked with Sully Erna of Godsmack in addition to her bands Mama Kicks and The Lisa Guyer Band.
Stefanelli, was a drummer for the Boston side project RTZ and had previously worked with producer Nick Lowe in England. In addition to his collaborations on projects with Lisa, he also provided drums and percussion on Erna’s first solo album “Avalon” and follow-up album “Hometown Life”.
Nexo STM Speaker Arrays - Scale Through Modularity
One of the major focuses of the Expo event was Nexo, a world leader in the design and manufacture of loudspeaker systems for sound reinforcement. We’ve all been to a concert and observed large vertical stacks of speakers hanging from the ceiling. This is representative of the type of speakers that Nexo specializes in.
Speaker Preston Gray (also a District Manager of Yamaha Corporation of America) began his interest in the field by running audio for his local church and supporting a number of acts in the Nashville area. From there, he became the systems engineer for Kenny Chesney; which was the first major tour to use all Nexo STM's. Yamaha and Nexo are two brands that often find themselves paired in the Pro-Audio field. Gray was an integral part of our Expo planning and preparation.
He provided two (2) sound file demos played through Nexo’s most compact system; the ID-24. Here is where the Expo really became interactive. Gray encouraged attendees to roam the open theater. This was an experiment on the challenges of “sound placement”, a huge consideration for pro-audio installation where your system must provide quality sound coverage for every seat.
Nexo offers a free downloadable tool called NS-1 which was used to model the Chubb Theatre in 3D. It’s a powerful and intuitive system configuration and simulation tool enabling NEXO users to configure and optimize the performance of any NEXO system by predicting its behavior in any venue to ensure uniform SPL coverage. True Geometric “Placement” science at work.
It’s also integrated into their speaker design. Compression drivers are mounted to waveguides which help “shape” the output as well as the angle of reflection. The result is an “acoustically correct” box versus correcting sound issues with onboard Digital Signal Processing (DSP). Their Subwoofers also have jet engine nozzle pattern and ports which can “direct” the low end as desired.
Yamaha Commercial Installations - "Aesthetic" Sound Solutions
Jonathan McGarry of Yamaha Commercial Installations also spoke. The infancy of Yamaha’s business grew out of live sound for such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Warsaw Opera House. Commercial installed sound design is aimed at customers just as concerned with “aesthetics” as they are about quality sound. They produce a number of small form factor amplifiers and speakers which are designed to be hidden as part of low profile installations.
In the digital and privacy ages, Yamaha boasts features which will appeal to Corporate and Medical facilities. As part of their DSP, Echo Cancellation and Speech Privacy are two features that will accommodate Board Room and Hospital environments where both discretion and HIPPA compliance are a must.
In rooms where glass walls have the potential to produce sound reflections, Yamaha produces the VXL Series of line array speakers; a unique combination of outstanding sound quality and slim form-factor that is ideal for a variety of environments. VXL line source loudspeakers offer excellent projection as well as uniform volume and sound quality over a wide listening area, making them a great choice for highly reflective rooms, lecture halls, conference rooms, and other facilities that require maximum intelligibility throughout the listening area. High Pass filtering through onboard DSP can help to control feedback and eliminate rumble and handling noise from the microphone in Conference or Presenter situations.
In keeping with the software side of offerings, Yamaha also has a Commercial Installation Solutions Speaker Calculator (CISSCA). When used in conjunction with the Yamaha Sound System Simulator (YS-3), a quick estimation of the required number of speakers in an optimal way can be determine by setting a room scale and application; and by selecting the type and the layout pattern of speakers. For those desiring tablet or laptop control over Yamaha Commercial PA Systems, Pro Visionaire Touch for Apple iPad users and Pro Visionaire Control for the Windows PC are also available.
Shure Wireless Microphones and Theater Applications
Speaker Adam Morrison from Richard Dean Associates spoke about Shure wireless microphone systems and the ongoing “FCC Auction” for wireless devices operating in the 614 to 698 MHz range. With the influx of Digital TV Stations and mobile data growth, this range had become a crowded place to say the least. Many older wireless microphone systems occupy the same space, unfortunately. It sounds eerily familiar to the shortage of IPV4 Network protocol addresses which drove the alternative; IPV6. For wireless microphone systems, this led to a number of incentive and buyback programs on this outdated equipment.
Morrison introduced the Axient Digital and the new Twinplex lavalier microphones. The Axient Digital wireless microphone system offers true digital diversity featuring next-generation digital signaling with encryption. Sound is void of intermodulation artifacts found with typical analog systems. With impressively low latency, flat frequency response, and multiple digital audio output options, it provides clean and clear vocal sound that fills every corner of the venue or space.
The Twinplex Series are high-quality lavalier microphones well suited for professional theater applications. They provide natural sound, various sensitivities, high max SPL, and interchangeable sweat-resistant frequency caps. The paintable cables are extremely durable with both LEMO or TAF connector and are easily concealed in a costume or wig.
Software includes Wireless Workbench, an application which allows you to remotely monitor and manage every piece of gear connected to your system without interrupting the production.
Frequency calculation and analysis for supported devices allows you to coordinate the entire show from one application. The Timeline feature even lets you track RF data and review it later. Advanced Zone Management makes calculating and organizing frequencies for large or distributed environments more manageable. You can even create inventory, coordination, and network reports. It’s compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10 and Mac OS X High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina.
ETC and Swaney Lighting Associates Inc.
No Professional Audio Expo would be complete without professional Stage Lighting and Rigging. Jay Lehrhaupt of Swaney Lighting Associates Inc. was on hand to showcase some of the latest offerings from ETC; (on the eve of their 45th Anniversary at the time of our Expo) a global leader in the manufacturing of lighting and rigging technology. Lehrhaupt has been involved in systems design and integration for lighting controls and theatrical rigging in the New England area for the past 20 years. He also has over 30 years of experience ranging from theatrical systems to entertainment and commercial building designs.
One of the bigger challenges for most, if not all, of his clientele is matching the correct lighting fixture to the intended application. This is where his expertise is highly regarded. Jay has instructed in schools and has presented for regional trade shows around New England on the topics of Lighting Controls, Entertainment Rigging, and LED fixtures. He holds factory technician certifications for more than 10 lighting controls manufacturers along with a degree in technical theater and an ETCP rigging certification.
MFi Pro’s first Expo was a huge success. It was highly educational and a great networking opportunity for A/V Professionals. Tenured Audio professionals from Yamaha, Nexo, and Shure were available to answer any technical product or application inquiries. MFi Pro would like to thank the Capital Center for the Arts, Martin Dombey, Preston Gray, Jonathan McGarry, Adam Morrison, David Stefanelli, Lisa Guyer, Jay Lehrhaupt, and the MFi Pro Staff for helping to contribute to the event’s success; paving the way for potential future Expo events.
CAPITAL CENTER FOR THE ARTS: https://ccanh.com/
YAMAHA PROFESSIONAL AUDIO: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/proaudio/mixers/index.html
YAMAHA COMMERCIAL INSTALLED SOUND: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/contents/proaudio/commercialinstalledsound/index.html
LISA GUYER & DAVID STEFANELLI: http://www.lisadavidmusic.com/
SWANEY LIGHTING ASSOCIATES INC: https://swaneylighting.com/