2023’s Pro Audio Highlights of the year

With 2024 firmly ushered in, Headliner has rounded up the standout pro audio moments from a year that introduced us to next gen 3D audio technology, AI-powered mastering and plugins, and a raft of new advancements for the studio, stage and more. If 2023 is anything to go by, this year is going to be another big one for the pro audio world…

Holoplot Sphere Immersive Sound dubbed “world’s most advanced audio system”

Sphere Entertainment Co unveiled Sphere Immersive Sound, powered by HOLOPLOT, which it is calling “the world’s most advanced audio system” – optimised to provide crystal-clear, individualised sound to every seat in Sphere, a next generation entertainment medium that opened in Las Vegas in the Autumn.

Sphere Studios partnered with HOLOPLOT, a leader in 3D audio technology, to create Sphere Immersive Sound – the world’s largest, fully integrated concert-grade audio system that revolutionises immersive audio experiences.

Sphere Immersive Sound is the world’s largest concert-grade audio system and was specifically developed for Sphere’s unique curved interior. The system consists of approximately 1,600 permanently installed and 300 mobile HOLOPLOT X1 Matrix Array loudspeaker modules and includes a total of 167,000 individually amplified loudspeaker drivers. The system utilises HOLOPLOT’s 3D Audio-Beamforming and Wave Field Synthesis technology to transform how audio is delivered in large-scale venues.

This results in controlled, consistent, and crystal-clear concert-grade audio for audiences of up to 20,000 people, providing each audience member with a personalised listening experience.

Jean-Michel Jarre helps Coda Audio launch new AV solution SPACE

Iconic electronic musician and composer, Jean-Michel Jarre and contemporary French artist Eric Decastro teamed up with CODA Audio to unveil SPACE by CODA at ISE 2023.

SPACE by CODA integrates high-end, immersive 3D audio, a 4K projector screen, ambient lighting and advanced acoustical treatment with the art or projection of the users choice into a united system solution to transform spaces with audio. The result is the SPACE Panel.

At 70mm deep, SPACE Panels have been designed to offer sound quality and performance surpassing that of conventionally designed (cabinet) loudspeakers. Its driver-equipped canvas can transform spaces to feature invisible audio, enabling high quality, full-range sound in previously limitative environments. Unique ‘instafit’ magnetic waveguides native to the SPACE audio modules facilitate production of directable sound with capability for immersive audio, all from within the panel.

Sound diffusers and acoustic treatments may be interleaved between loudspeaker modules for better control over sound reverberation in the room. Optional sensor-controlled sub-bass modules can be deployed to deliver even lower frequencies to concert sound proportions. Matching CODA LINUS DSP amplifiers complete the package, while the addition of the SPACE Hub processor opens up the possibility for true 3D immersive audio.

The loudspeaker modules and diffuser/acoustic panels are arranged and connected like building blocks - and then completely hidden behind an acoustically transparent 4K projector screen - or a SPACE Art high-resolution digital canvas print.

Waves launches AI-powered audio mastering service

Waves Audio introduced the AI-powered Waves Online Mastering service, allowing users to get high-quality masters quickly and easily.

Waves has leveraged over 30 years of audio technology and expertise to offer an online mastering service that produces accurate, release-ready, custom-tailored masters for any uploaded track, reportedly guaranteeing “exceptional sound quality”. Waves Online Mastering is optimised to get a song’s quality on par with other songs on the market, ensuring that tracks sound professionally mastered on any platform.

This has been accomplished by integrating Waves Neural Networks technology in an advanced AI mastering engine, along with invaluable input from top-tier mastering engineers. The result is a service that is unparalleled in the AI mastering space, says Waves.

Together with the release of Waves Creative Access, Waves also unveiled StudioVerse - an AI-powered community for plugin chains that opens from within the Waves StudioRack plugin chainer. StudioVerse is a vast online network of plugin chains, available directly in a user’s DAW. It includes thousands of presets for entire plugin chains, with easy Musical AI search.

DiGiCo unveils new Quantum852 console

DiGiCo announced the launch of its next generation of large format live audio production mixing consoles, the Quantum852.

With improved audio quality via enhanced algorithms, Quantum852 delivers a massive leap forward in processing power. It is neatly packaged with 1000 nit LCD screens for full daylight operation and a newly designed worksurface.

Quantum852’s lightweight alloy construction reduces weight, which in turn helps mitigate its environmental impact during transportation. It has a reduced operating power, thermal cooling fans along with convection cooling and temperature dependent cooling. Further reducing Quantum 852’s environmental footprint is the inclusion of sustainable and recyclable materials.

Quantum 852’s tech spec is equally as impressive. Featuring fully redundant processing, each engine is powered by five of the latest 7th generation FPGAs and next generation SHARC DSP processors. Quantum 852’s input count increases to 384 mono channels, with 192 Aux / Sub-Group busses, plus the familiar LR / LCR / 5.1 Master busses. It comes with a 64 x 64 Processing Matrix, 36 Control Groups, two Solo busses and 64 FX Rack slots. There are 48 Graphic EQs, 384 Nodal Processors, 128 Mustard Processors and 32 Spice Racks.

Steinberg launches Cubase 13

Steinberg released Cubase 13, which delivers significant user interface redesigns along with new features and workflow enhancements for composing, producing and mixing.

Cubase 13 is optimised to be more streamlined than ever. From the most advanced version, Cubase Pro, through to Cubase Elements for those taking their first steps in music production, the comprehensive feature set in Cubase 13 provides all the tools needed to create music for every genre, from complex compositions for film and TV to studio-grade pop productions.

The MixConsole has been given an overhaul with a slick, streamlined user interface design to aid better focus on mixing. The Project window features a new channel tab which gives direct access to the most important mixing parameters of each channel, without leaving the song’s arrangement. The new design lets users intuitively adjust their mix in the production process, in a compact, per channel view.

The VocalChain plugin combines all processing steps of the vocal mixing workflow in one ultra-flexible plugin, helping to make vocal recordings sound professional – quickly and easily.

Available as a highlight in the VocalChain plug-in as well as a separate plugin, the new VoxComp in Cubase Pro and Cubase Artist is a compressor specifically designed for vocals, gently taming recordings without compromising clarity, transients or expression.

JBL Professional introduces IRX ONE all-in-one column PA

Harman Professional Solutions launched JBL Professional’s JBL IRX ONE All-in-One Column PA. Featuring an advanced acoustic package, three-channel mixer and Bluetooth 5.0 audio streaming, IRX ONE is designed to be an easy-to-use system that’s road-tested and can be carried with one hand.

IRX ONE incorporates concert line array-inspired directivity control, resulting in a custom-tuned, C-shaped array. Equipped with six 2" high-frequency drivers, the array delivers clarity, a wide sweet spot, and seamless front-to-back coverage. Additionally, the 8" woofer employs a bass-reflex design, ensuring accurate low-frequency response down to 40 Hz.

Designed to cater to a diverse range of users, IRX ONE includes a convenient three-channel mixer with support for the most popular connection types as well as integrated iconic dbx automatic feedback suppression (AFS) and Soundcraft-powered audio ducking.

Genelec debuts UNIO Audio Monitoring Platform and 9320A Reference Controller

Genelec introduced the 9320A Reference Controller as a bridge to its brand new UNIO Audio Monitoring Service Platform.

UNIO brings together all the benefits of Genelec Smart Active Monitors, GLM 5.0 calibration software and Aural ID 2.0 technology to create seamless integration between professional in-room loudspeaker and headphone monitoring services.

With flexible connectivity, a reference grade headphone output and tactile hardware control of Smart Active Monitors, GLM and Aural ID, the 9320A provides a compact hub for both static and mobile professional audio monitoring applications. At the heart of the UNIO platform is Genelec’s range of Smart Active Monitors, which utilise auto-calibration and cloud computing to enable the production of accurate, reliable mixes that translate consistently to other rooms and systems.

For professional headphone users, Genelec’s Aural ID technology provides a completely personal and truthful headphone listening experience with the natural sense of space and imaging provided by good in-room monitoring.

L-Acoustics ushers line array technology into the future with L Series

L-Acoustics announced the new L Series, featuring patented Progressive Ultra-Dense Line Source (PULS) technology.

L Series comprises two elements that are designed to work together or on their own: L2 above and L2D below. One L2 or L2D element provides the same contour as four K2 elements in a format that is 46% smaller and 40% lighter.

The audio benefits of L Series encompass SPL per size, consistency over the audience area, and improved rejection everywhere else. L Series revolutionises deployment with a smaller, lighter footprint that reduces truck space and requires fewer elements, cutting the number of actions needed to load in and out.

The power density of the new L Series is unprecedented, says L-Acoustics. Each element contains eight three-inch high-frequency drivers with eight 10-inch low-frequency drivers, complemented by four side-loaded 12-inch drivers with front and back exits to deliver efficient, high precision broadband coverage with a choice of cardioid or supercardioid patterns.

L Series also features L-Acoustics Panflex technology, which provides sound designers with quick access to a choice of four horizontal directivity patterns: 70° or 110° symmetrical, or 90° asymmetrical on either side.

Each L2 element includes four Panflex modules, while L2D contains two Panflex modules on the top elements, and two fixed L-Fins progressing from 110° to 140° on the bottom elements.

Augspurger Monitors unveils MX65-Sub12 nearfield speaker

Augspurger Monitors unveiled its new MX65-Sub12 nearfield speaker at The NAMM Show 2023.

This desktop sized speaker can be used as both a nearfield and main monitor when combined with the Augspurger Monitors Sub12, and is available with a matching stand that sits between the sub and main, when positioned as freestanding.

The system includes a pair of the Augspurger Monitors SXE-3D 3-way DSPTune-powered amplifiers with on board DSP control and amplifier outputs for sub, mid and high – totalling 3500 watts.

Each system can be tuned either in person or remotely by a certified Augspurger Monitors tuning engineer.

LD Systems launches new TICA Series for the installation market

LD Systems launched a brand new product range specifically for the installation market called the TICA Series, offering compact solutions for any size project that are flexible, easy to install and packed with features that deliver better sound and control.

The series includes everything from media streaming and mixing preamplifiers to a range of amps with different channel and power outputs. There are also Dante networked audio interfaces, transformers, headphone amplifiers and control interfaces.

Installers can build entire systems using products from the series, or the TICA Series can be integrated into an existing installation providing additional connections or zones. The DIO 44 and DIO 22 Dante interfaces feature four-step gain control and 24V phantom power per channel. Additionally, all interfaces have signal indicators and can be daisy-chained together.

QSC introduces L Class Intelligent Active Loudspeakers

In the spring, QSC launched L Class, its next generation of intelligent active loudspeakers for applications ranging from simple, portable, plug-and-play setups, to networked AV productions and fixed installations.

L Class delivers via high-output amplification, powerful DSP, extensive system intelligence and an intuitive user interface. Onboard Dante connects L Class to networked AV systems and connected stages. The new LA108 (two-way, eight inch) and LA112 (two-way, 12 inch) active line array loudspeakers are complemented by the LS118 (single 18 inch) active subwoofer.

The LA108 and LA112 include the proprietary QSC LEAF (Length-Equalized Acoustic Flare) waveguide, the QSC RapidDeploy rigging system, and QSC AWARE (Automatic Wireless Array Recognition) system intelligence, which also provides one-button single box or full array intelligence and optimisation.

The LS118 active subwoofer’s on-board DSP further optimises and protects system performance while also offering advanced capabilities such as the ability to array two units in a cardioid arrangement, maximising low frequency output in front while minimising unwanted energy around the sides and rear of the system. DEEP mode provides additional low frequency extension and driver excursion processing. All models feature QSC Acoustic Linear Phase (ALP) design, allowing cohesive phase response when deployed with other QSC loudspeakers in a given environment.

Merging Technologies launches Dolby Atmos Bundle

Merging Technologies announced the launch of the Merging Technologies Atmos Bundle, an all-in-one product solution offering comprehensive monitoring and calibration facilities in a compact footprint.

Sold for the first time as a complete hardware and software solution package, the bundle has been designed to provide an efficient Dolby Atmos solution across a variety of applications. The bundle includes a Hapi MkII interface with DA8 cards, Anubis Pro SPS and Sonarworks SoundID Reference for multichannel including microphone, providing the fastest route to calibrate a room for Dolby Atmos.

SoundID Reference guides the user through an automated measurement to identify room issues and build various correction profiles for different workflows. The corrections are then exported to run inside Anubis for the lowest latency, consistency and convenience.

For acousticians or Dolby consultants calibrating systems manually, Anubis provides trims, delays and 336 EQs - enough for the most challenging rooms. A comprehensive monitoring engine, Anubis utilises 128 inputs and can handle sources, stems, speaker sets and cues in a huge variety of formats with full control. Whether mixing with the mouse or with faders, Anubis’ compact size makes it fit nicely along any controller.