• InfoComm18: An Inside Look

  • By Kevin Watson, CTS-D, AVL Engineer


    Last week, Las Vegas hosted InfoComm 2018—one of the major audio and video tradeshow events of the year. Thousands of people from the industry congregated to see, hear, and experience the best that AV has to offer. I was fortunate to attend and had four days of taking classes, walking the show floor, interacting with products, and drinking lots of coffee—all which has re-energized my desire to design great AV systems. Undoubtedly, I imagine I only saw half of what InfoComm had to offer due how large the event is, but the following are some of my highlights and observations from this year’s Infocomm show.

    Class Highlight

    I flew to Vegas on Tuesday and was able to sit in on numerous classes, some by manufacturers and others by industry professionals.  One class I found encouraging was called, “The Exceptional Audio Experience” presented by three industry veterans on the Avixa standards committee.  They presented on the currently released “Audio Coverage Uniformity” standard and the soon to be released “Spectrum Analysis” and “Dynamic Range” standards.  My hope is that these standards will help to reduce the number of “it depends” statements that fly around our meetings because there are so many factors while designing and implementing an AV system.  The Audio Coverage Uniformity standard provides a way to measure the loudspeaker coverage at numerous points around a venue to then place a “grade” on how the coverage is.  This can be helpful in explaining to clients the potential cost differences of one design verses another, and to show them they received what they expected.  The Spectrum Analysis standard is in review and has many of the same measurement steps, but will characterize the spectral balance of the system and how it measured up to the expectations. The nerd in me likes the thought of taking measurements and then seeing how my systems rate.  As a professional I appreciate the intention to provide a statistical classification on a highly subjective matter.

    Video Highlight

    Once again, the show floor was lit up with bright, clear, beautiful displays of all shapes, sizes, and display type.  One particular thing I noted this year was the projector—especially the projection screen manufacturers, ramping up their offerings.  As more LED and large flat panel displays have been announced, the screen manufacturers have come out with better ambient light rejecting surfaces, as well as thinner, sleeker-looking framed screens.  Pairing the right projector with one of these newer screens can provide an amazing image, most times at a lower cost than the LED video walls.  With that said, though LED can be the right solution in some venues, it was great to see some new tools in the projection world.

    Audio highlight

    Once I made my way towards “audio world”, I honed-in on trying out a few mixing consoles.  Infocomm can be a great place to put your hands on a console, see how it feels compared to others, and hear a few tricks direct from the manufacturer.  One I was particularly interested in is the semi-new Allen and Heath SQ series.  They have combined a number of user friendly ideas from the QU series with 96kHz processing of a dLive to offer a great priced digital console.  I also received a lesson on the Soundcraft Vi series consoles, but also remain a great console for professional applications.  Overall, a fun time which I could have used another day or two of playing around!

    Loudspeaker Highlight

    Each time I have attended Infocomm, I have high hopes of hearing many demos of loudspeakers as there is an area dedicated for manufacturers to demo their systems.  This year I was able to visit a few, which were well worth it!  I started first at d&b Audiotechnik which demonstrated their new Soundscape system.  I had heard an intro to it last year, but they have come a long way with actual products and a great demo.  The premise is that traditionally you will have a center mono, or left/right loudspeaker design for a stage which rarely has presenters or performers always in the positions of the loudspeakers.  This means you hear the audio from the speakers, but see the people elsewhere and therefore there is a disconnect.  The Soundscape, similar to a highly sophisticated surround sound, uses multiple loudspeakers across the width of the stage, and even around the audience, to match the aural image between the sound source and the visual source.  The outcome engages the audience since they are not distracted by the disconnect the brain perceives.  Then, when you add an immersive element, as though you’re sitting in the middle of a big band, it’s quite an experience!

    Though my feet do not agree that the show went quick, it really did pass by. If you attended InfoComm18, I hope you had a great time to see, hear, and experience what I briefly shared above. I know I came away with many other highlights I could have noted. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at kevin.watson@escocommunications.com if you have any questions!

    Kevin Watson is currently an AVL-Engineer for ESCO Communications and brings 12 years of experience in AV system design and acoustics. His certifications include a CTS-D (Certified Technology Specialist in Design) from Avixa (new name for InfoComm International) and an EIT (Engineer in Training) by National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).