Old Fashioned Networking at InfoComm 2012

What makes a trade show worthwhile? You could make an argument for topical educational sessions, decision-making attendees, enthusiastic and knowledgeable exhibitors, media opportunities, onsite logistics support or all of the above and you wouldn’t be wrong. You could also say forgotten nights of partying where the only thing bigger than the bar tab is the hangover and regret the next morning, and some people would agree.

Yet the value of a trade show really lies somewhere in the middle, where onsite and after-hours networking opportunities move business along and allow us to connect person-to-AV-loving-person over a beer, coffee or $3,ooo cocktail.

The best networking events bring people together in a comfortable, pressure-free atmosphere, while raising awareness and support for a worthy cause. As I will be attending my first ever InfoComm in Las Vegas this June, I decided to look into some of the peripheral events happening around the show.

The InfoComm Networking, Special Events and Awards page has all the expected highlights, including an opening keynote and reception, an international reception and a couple award ceremonies. For a noob like me, the First Timers’ Orientation and Tour is of particular interest since it promises to help maximize time spent on the show floor, an important factor to someone easily distracted by shiny objects.

Another resource for networking events is the NSCA InfoComm Networking Events page, which highlights some events specifically geared at raising awareness and support for the trade group’s educational efforts. There’s the NSCA Zone at Booth #C11536, cranking all the time, which gives attendees access to industry research, legislative resources and resources to make the most out of NSCA membership.

Two other events bringing NSCA members together at InfoComm, both in the NSCA Booth #C11536 are:

Women in AV Reception – Wednesday June 13,  3 – 4 p.m.

This popular group on Twitter is joining NSCA to honor the accomplishments of women in the low voltage electronic systems industry. Two award recipients will be recognized for their outstanding achievements in mentoring women.”

NSCA Member Appreciation Reception – Thursday, June 14, 3 – 5 p.m.

“Enjoy drinks and the company of your fellow industry professionals to share challenges and solutions. We’ll also recognize the industry’s up-and-coming Movers & Shakers, the Lifetime Achievement Award winner and more during this casual networking opportunity where YOU are the honored guest!”

My favorite NSCA-affiliated event (and not just because client SurgeX is a sponsor) is the charity concert featuring InfoComm’s finest Drunk Unkles playing to raise money for the NSCA Education Foundation. The concert will take place on Thursday June 14th from 9 P.M. to 11 P.M. at Gilley’s Las Vegas, located in the high-energy Treasure Island Hotel & Casino. Invitations can be picked up at any of the sponsors booths on the floor. All proceeds from the concert support NCSA’s educational initiatives and the continued growth of the commercial electronic systems industry. As one who likes to quaff a few cold beverages  after working nine hours on a trade show floor who also has a a few frequently drunk uncles, this will be a fun time. Below is some footage from the 2010 performance.

There also a useful post in the InfoComm blog post called Partner Education and Networking Opportunities, which will be useful for those in search of higher education. Know of other InfoComm networking events we haven’t mentioned? Please share in the comments, especially if they include complimentary food and beverages.



Anthem Statement M1 Monaural Amplifier – Get to the Head of the Class!

Our favorite audiophile-grade A/V preamplifier, processer, receiver and amplifier manufacturer, Anthem Electronics, is redefining an en entire class amplifiers with the new Anthem Statement M1. Launched at CEDIA 2011 and just now shipping, the one kilowatt, single rack unit Class D mono power amplifier outperforms its class with sophisticated monitoring circuits that maintain proper frequency response, even when powering the heaviest speaker loads using a 120V line.

The M1 has also been honored with both a 2011 Custom Retailer EXC!TE Award and 2011 CE Pro Best Award.

But enough of what we say, let’s get some industry feedback:

The design is basic black with styling similar to other Anthem products, but when I read the specs, my jaw dropped…the M1 can deliver an astonishing 1000W into 8 ohms, and it can “double down” into 4 ohms — meaning 2000W. Reportedly, it won’t even be fazed by a 2-ohm load, or lower. The M1 is, as the company says, “load independent,” and it will run with either a 240V or 120V power source (maximum power is achieved with 240V). That’s a lot of power for your money.” Doug Schneider, SoundstageGlobal – Anthem’s Amazing Statement M1

“The Class D design allowed the Anthem engineers to jam all the amplifier circuitry into a chassis that’s only one rack unit high. To keep things cool, there’s a special heat pipe cooling system – no fans! – and multiple M1s can be rack mounted directly on top of one another. Ideally, you’ll have a dedicated 240V circuit for the M1s in your system; however, Anthem designed the amp to still be able to generate temporary outputs of up to 2400 watts even when connected to a 120V/15A line.” Darryl Wilkinson, Home TheaterWatts Up with Anthem

“Despite is terrific power output limits, the M1, which is based on Anthem’s own proprietary class D circuit topology, is only one rack space high, and is said to run very quietly without requiring the use of cooling fans…the M1 is very compact, features beautiful and well-organized internal component layout, and uses proven, passive “heat pipe’ technologies to enhance cooling capabilities.” Chris Martens, AVGuide.com – High Performance Audio, CEDIA 2011 

Now that the industry experts have spoken, below is the official announcement touting all of the Anthem Statement M1s amazing engineering feats and performance benefits.


Anthem Statement M1 Redefines Class D Amplifier Category

Toronto, ON – November 2011 – Anthem, the leading manufacturer of high-end electronics for music, home theater and distributed audio systems, is now shipping the Anthem Statement M1.  Anthem’s game-changing monaural powerhouse annihilates conventional audiophile wisdom about Class D amplification with flawless fidelity and full dynamic range across all volume levels, flat frequency response and rock-solid stability into even the most difficult loads, no “dead time” crossover distortion, and virtually no noise floor.

What’s more, the M1 makes such radical improvements over previous Class D amplifier designs while still maintaining all of the benefits that Class D design brings to the table. Class D architecture provides tremendous value over traditional Class A and Class AB designs because of its efficient output and smaller form factor, both of which the M1 perfectly embodies. Its heat pipe cooling system and deep side-mounted heat sinks allow multiple M1s, with feet removed, to be rack-mounted directly on one another, each occupying only a single rack unit. Its fanless design also makes the M1 as well-suited for the quietest of listening rooms as it is the most crowded equipment closets.

“The Anthem design team conceptualized the M1 almost 10 years ago, illustrating just how much in-house design and engineering went into producing this amplifier,” said Mark Aling, director of marketing for Anthem. “More than just a slim, technologically advanced monaural, the M1 demonstrates that Class D architecture isn’t fundamentally flawed, it merely hasn’t been implemented well in the past, mainly because it required such a heavy commitment to R&D. We’re fortunate to have the resources necessary to create such a groundbreaking product and strongly believe our customers will appreciate the effort.”

Don’t be confused by the “D” in “Class D”—the Statement M1 is not a digital amplifier. It boasts all the warmth and clarity of a traditional amp, in addition to a temporal resolution more than 80 times that of the audiophile-favorite SACD format, and does so with an astounding amount of power. While Anthem’s own award-winning Statement P5, for example, outputs 500 watts with a 4-ohm load, the M1 delivers 2,000 watts to the same speaker, with total harmonic distortion remaining under 0.1% from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. (Into 8 ohms, it delivers 1000 watts with a less than 0.06% total harmonic distortion.)  And frequency response is load-independent, so the difference in response between a 2-ohm load and an open circuit is an astounding 0.1 dB at 20 kHz. Between 4 ohms and 8 ohms there is absolutely no change in frequency response. 

The Statement M1 attains this level of power, performance, and consistency through the employment of a few key technologies, including a proprietary load monitoring system that relies on a Digital Signal Processor—outside the signal path!—to monitor line voltage, output current, ground fault detection, temperature, and DC voltage at the output to ensure the highest possible output from either a 120V or 240V circuit. Power Factor Correction maximizes available power by marrying the voltage and current cycles, enabling continuous output from the power supply through the entire AC cycle without contaminating the AC line with noise.

While all of this innovation adds up to an amplifier that is admittedly not inexpensive, the Anthem Statement M1 nonetheless represents an unparalleled value in terms of price versus performance, with ample headroom to drive even the most power-hungry speakers, and the utmost in clarity and focus demanded by the most discerning listeners.

The Anthem Statement M1 is shipping now, with a US MRSP of $3499. More information on Anthem can be found at www.anthemAV.com.

About Anthem

Anthem, part of Paradigm Electronics Inc., is a leading manufacturer of award-winning high-end electronics for music, home theater and distributed sound systems sold internationally under the brand names Anthem® and Anthem® Statement. Products are used at all levels of music reproduction and allow you to virtually “be there” every time you listen to a favorite piece of recorded music or experience the excitement of surround-sound home theater. Headquarters are in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Anthem and Anthem Statement are trademarks of Anthem/Sonic Frontiers International, copyright Paradigm Electronics Inc. All rights reserved.


Speaker Reviews offer Slice of Personality

Product reviews can reveal a lot about a person. A good product reviewer weaves a finely strung web of feature sets, functionality descriptions, and critical analysis with a touch of personal experience to help the reader connect on a deeper level. Whether positive or not, if the reader walks away trusting what they read, the review is a success.

Loudspeaker reviews are especially revealing in that they expose a person’s listening habits, often leading the reader to form assumptions about one’s personality. A reviewer who rates on the merits of Brahms or Mussorgsky may be viewed differently than one who highlights Grateful Dead or De La Soul tracks.

As the lucky PR guy for two of the most customer and critically acclaimed speaker/audio brands in the industry, I get to read my fair share of reviews. The different ways people come up with to say, “It sounds good,” is nothing short of astounding, and the people who do it best deserve recognition for their pursuit of eloquently critical analysis.

One example comes from the attuned ears of Ian White, a BigPictureBigSound reviewer who took on a MartinLogan Motion 12 led 7.1 array speaker system in a post titled, The Lords of Lawrence. To set the tone and build rapport, he harkens back to college days and what almost was…

“Back in 1989, I accepted an invitation to attend the University of Kansas (will not even discuss last weekend’s debacle against VCU in the Elite 8), but fate intervened (that’s right…I had the lasagna) and I was forced to attend another institution of higher learning. Lawrence is an interesting town; aside from KU which is a wonderful school, the town was the birthplace of Hugh Beaumont, Erin Brokovich, Centron (the leading industrial and educational film company for decades), and a small but feisty high-end loudspeaker manufacturer called MartinLogan.”

By sharing a little personal history and cultural background, Dave makes readers feel as though they are sitting on the couch next to him, beer in hand, as he prepares to articulate his true feelings for the MartinLogan speakers system.  While the entire review warrants reading, one especially colorful description described the performance in a home theater setting.

I have not watched Die Hard in many years, but it called out to me as I was unpacking the Motion 12 system. Both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman have made some awful movies since then, but they were both at the top of their game in the action-packed drama. The surround track for this film is rather demanding and it can make a poser home theater system go crying home to Agent Johnson. The Motion 12 7.1 system ate this film for breakfast. The soundstage stretched across my entire media room (and living room) and the dialogue was strong and clear as a cold winter’s night. Hans Gruber and friends (doesn’t that sound like some creepy kid’s show in Germany?) loved to show off their Heckler and Koch MP5s and the gunfire was startlingly real sounding. My kids were so scared, they ran from the room. I am so winning “Parent of the Year” for 2011.”

Rather than generically stating that dialogue and soundtrack reproduction was up to snuff, Mr. White uses similes and the visual of running children to drive home the point, again revealing more about the man behind the review.

Our next review takes us to the hallowed threads of the HomeTheaterShack forum, where veteran speaker reviewer Dave Upton tackles a Paradigm Reference Signature S6 led 5.1 system. Retailing for about $17,000, the Signature 5.1 is one of the most expensive Paradigm systems you can own, carrying expectations with it. Leaving the creativity to the actual review, the post was titled, Paradigm Reference Signature Series 5.1 (S6,C3,ADP,SUB 1) Review, and here are some of the highlights:

As a huge fan of organ music I have spent much of my time while in Europe hanging around in churches while an organist practices or performs. I was quite happy with the organ reproduction on my own system but was still eager to hear what sort of differences I would notice… It is very hard for most speakers that I have reviewed to reproduce spatial queues properly. From an imaging perspective organ music recorded in a cavernous cathedral is among the most difficult to faithfully recreate, and I sat there in my chair shocked at just how effortlessly the Paradigms did so.”

However, not all speaker reviews are effortless listening sessions. As anyone who’s ever tested subwoofers knows, the bass-makers are the heaviest part of any home entertainment system, and Paradigm’s 109-lb SUB 1 is no exception. Mr. Upton explains,

A word to the wise: when Paradigm says you need two people to move the SUB 1, believe them. As a former rugby player myself, I still regretted the decision to go it alone. Two hours after the process began, with a not inconsiderable amount of perspiration on my face, I was finally able to see the entire system in all its glory.”

In conclusion, Mr. Upton references the all-important Wife-acceptance-factor (WAF) in summing up the system with a series of rhetorical questions:

“What value did I place on hearing things I had never heard before in my tired old recordings? How much was it worth to have friends come over and spend two hours with a massive grin on their faces as the Paradigm’s did their job with whatever film we had chosen? Finally, what was it worth to have my wife repeatedly ask me to turn it up instead of down? Am I willing to spend that kind of money on audio gear? After hearing these speakers, the answer is a simple and emphatic, YES!”

Product reviews can be so much more than just thumbs up or thumbs down. When personal experiences and tastes are blended with fact-driven critical analysis, the end result is much more believable and enjoyable to read.

If I had to review the reviews, I’d say Mr. White and Mr. Upton masterfully opine on speaker performance while providing just enough about their personal lives to make me want to grab a seat next to them, crack a bottle of Newport Storm, pop in some Raphael Saadiq and let the sound take over.