Product Reviews

Audio Technica 3000 Series Wireless Microphone Systems

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"What does Audio Technica need to do for you to buy more of our wireless systems?"

That's the question that the Audio-Technica sales reps have been asking us for the past 2-3 years. 

As long as we've been in business, we've made no secret that Audio-Technica products offer tremendous value, but over the past few years, parts of its wireless microphone product line wasn't updated as quickly as we would have liked.  Our primary request has been for A-T to update the 3000 series systems with something more comparable to other manufacturers in terms of features.  Just this summer, the 3000 series received a significant update that might cause you to forget about the more expensive 4000 series (now discontinued) and other similarly priced systems from other manufacturers. 

In light of the FCC-mandated reduction to the radio spectrum in which wireless microphone systems are allowed to operate, the addition of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and a general increase to wireless connected-ness, the ability of wireless microphone systems to operate using less of the available radio waves, and to allow more systems to operate simultaneously has become critical, especially in larger installations.  The 4th Generation 3000 Series is the lowest-price system that we know of that allows up to 40 systems to work together. 

Read more: Audio Technica 3000 Series Wireless Microphone Systems

 

Bose S1 Pro - the do-everything portable powered speaker

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You need one of these…not kidding!

Every few years, something special crosses our path and I get excited. Since we started into business, we’ve been a part of changing the technology game for you with the very first affordable audio mixers from Mackie Designs, video projectors, early adoption earset microphones from Countryman, digital audio mixers from Behringer, and laser projectors from Panasonic, Eiki and others. Everyone needs all of those things, right?! Well, maybe not everyone.

I’d like to propose that everyone (truly) needs another portable personal powered loudspeaker.

Stop it! I can hear you snickering. And I get it. I chuckled, too, when I heard about the 2018 NAMM announcement for this product.

Does the world really need another smallish powered speaker? Well, this one has Bluetooth. OK, big deal, they all do. It features a 3-channel mixer. It has reverb. Sure there's just one setting, but it’s pretty darned good. It has an accelerometer that makes subtle changes to tone when used in its tilt-back position as a monitor instead of upright or on a speaker stand. Oh wait, that’s cool. Its included battery lasts 6-10 hours, if you don’t have access to an electrical outlet. Not even The Boss plays shows that long! It sounds great and weighs in at just 15 pounds.

You can use this powered speaker as a small sound system for house concerts, worship services, meetings, as a monitor speaker, a practice amp for rehearsal, outdoor special events, coffeehouse shows, easy rehearsal/playback in your choir or band room, setting up for any unexpected event in less than 5 minutes, or on your patio at home when your MP3 player doesn’t quite rock it enough. It has two microphone/line inputs for vocals and/or instruments and an auxiliary audio input for wired or Bluetooth connections.

I don’t know how Bose cooks up this magic, but the S1 Pro has a deep (yet tight) bass response and beautifully articulate vocal quality in a package that defies logic. And the S1 Pro has a perfect feature set with something for everyone to like – music pro, audio technician, educator, public speaker, backyard party-thrower, and pastor.

The Bose S1 Pro is $599. Get one online or by calling 800-747-7301, call to get in line for our demo unit, and if you don’t agree that you’ll find a way to use it, I’ll be very surprised. Everybody needs one.

   

Direct Boxes - aren't they all the same?

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We're often asked what the difference is between direct boxes, and this is a great question. So, let’s have a look at three different models from Radial, and explore what makes a JDI a JDI, and what makes a Stagebug a Stagebug. For this comparison we will look at passive DIs, starting with the Stagebug SB-2, continuing to the Pro DI, and finally we will have a look at the DI that changed the game -- the JDI.

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In each of their direct boxes Radial features a transformer that is designed specifically for the job. The transformer in the Radial SB-2 is designed to be compact and offers amazing performance in a small package. In addition, the SB-2 offers a ground lift, as well as a pad to help with extreme signal levels. This enables this compact DI to handle nearly anything you throw at it. Finally, the SB-2 gives you a Thru to send your signal on to an amplifier or any other instrument level input. All of these features are housed in a rugged metal chassis that can handle the rigors of the road, all at $69.99.

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The next step up from the SB-2 is the Radial Pro DI.

Read more: Direct Boxes - aren't they all the same?

   

Panasonic PT-RZ570 - 24/7 Workhorse, perfect for churches and business use.

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It's not the least expensive 5000 lumen laser projector, but if you're interested in a 100% maintenance-free projector for your church, restaurant, school or business, look no further.  The Panasonic PT-RZ570 features a sealed light engine and no need for filter cleanings, and lamp or bulb changes.  It's totally maintenance-free.  And the video quality is impressive. 

The PT-RZ570 has become the projector of choice for corporate-owned Buffalo Wild Wings stores because it can operate all day, every day while providing an exceptional picture.  BWW pairs these projectors with Da-Lite's new Parallax projection screen material for ultimate viewing angle and ambient light rejection.  If you've been in a BWW restaurant and have noticed screens that appear to be as bright as the smaller televisions beside them, that combination of PT-RZ570 and Parallax at 58x104" is what you're looking it. 

In addition to exceptional video performance with great contrast and shadow details, the BWW franchise owners that we work with also don't have to worry about doing maintenance, someone being injured while doing maintenance and/or spending the time of the manager or owner (the only people most stores allow to climb a ladder - or do something silly like standing on a bar stool).

Read more: Panasonic PT-RZ570 - 24/7 Workhorse, perfect for churches and business use.

   

The best way to connect your computer audio to your audio mixer.

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focusrite scarlett 2i2 rightI did it.  After too much messing around with cables and computer direct boxes of different types, I broke down and bought a USB audio interface for our church's presentation computer (ProPresenter, PowerPoint, etc.) in order to replace the PC direct box used to connect the unbalanced stereo audio signal from the computer's headphone output to the balanced input on the audio mixer. 

No matter what we did with the new all-in-one computer (one that someone else picked out), the self-noise at the headphone jack (its only analog audio output) was simply more than I could bear.  When playing music, the noise was not noticeable, but between songs (no matter the gain staging), anyone could hear just a bit of constant "hashy" noise, if they listened for it. 

Some people blame this type of noise on electrical grounding, some on radio frequency noise from spinning hard drives, some describe it as clock noise.  Whatever caused it in this case, it's not something that could be addressed by converting the unbalanced signal to a balanced line with a direct box, by proper system grounding, or by anything conventional, so I gave in and spent some of our fiercely-guarded budget money, and the noise is gone. 

There are lots of USB audio interfaces out there, but everywhere I look lately (even in places where we didn't sell them), we see the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or other Focusrite variants.  The Scarlett 2i2 is a 2x2 USB audio interface that can be used to play back or to record audio.  In most cases, people buy USB interfaces in order to record, but in this application, stereo playback is what we're after.  And the Scarlett 2i2 does it really well. 

We use the 2i2 for our SMAART system analysis setups, for recording and for playback.  Focusrite interfaces are the perfect partner for Pro Tools, so Scarlett 2i2 comes with Pro Tools | First recording software, as well as Ableton Live Lite and a suite of software and samples so you can start recording straight away. As you’d expect, it works flawlessly with all major DAWs on Mac and PC.  It's a handy device, for sure.  And at $149.99, it may just be exactly what you need.

Get more information or order online here.  Or call us anytime. 

 

   

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