Changing Light - VUE Audiotechnik

Changing Light - VUE Audiotechnik
September 2015
entertainment, presentation, installation
Changing Light
Switching to LED?
Also Inside:
On Tour: AC/DC
Profile: Nexo
Mediatech Africa
VL4000 BeamWash
Live from Glasgow
From Paris with love
LSi reports from Johannesburg
Technical Focus, in-depth
PLUS: PLASA Show Preview Pt:1 • Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular • d&b’s Amnon Harman
Fix8Group • Eilon Engineering • BBC: Advances in Audio • Summer Lights Shootout
Tech: VUE’s h-12 speaker • RCF at Harrogate’s Royal Hall • DBSL’s Festival Season . . . and more!
Download our FREE Apple & NEW Android apps at
VUE Audiotechnik H-12 High-Definition
Full-Range Loudspeaker
by Mark Johnson
A new speaker from a team of pro audio heavyweights . . .
quite often scaleable
from just a pair of
“speakers on sticks”
to multiple cabinets
configured into arrays
for covering
a mid-sized corporate
or music event, to fill
speakers for largescale concert
systems, or even
permanently installed
as a main PA system.
Quite often, a family
of complementary
larger or smaller
designs is available, or
subwoofer options that
allow for application in
many different circumstances.
What happens when three people with long
and distinguished careers in pro audio get
together and combine their collective
talents? You get VUE Audiotechnik, formed
in 2012 by Ken Berger, Jim Sides and
Michael Adams.
All three have serious loudspeaker
pedigrees: Ken Berger was co-founder and
CEO of Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) and
Pro Sound Web. Jim Sides was part of the
founding management team at Apogee
Sound (Apogee Sound is a loudspeaker
manufacturer founded in 1985 and is not
Apogee Electronics, which manufactures
digital audio converters, and interfaces).
Sides also founded the US subsidiary of
Nexo, and served as CEO and managing
director of Meyer Sound Germany. Michael
Adams took years of practical experience
mixing front-of-house and monitors for the
likes of Jimmy Buffet, Jackson Browne and
Emmylou Harris, and combined it with the
science of loudspeaker design, to go on and
develop loudspeaker systems for Yamaha (IS
Series) and QSC (Wideline) that are used by
many in the industry today. It’s quite a brain
trust, to be sure. With VUE, Berger has
shifted his base of operations from
Massachusetts, to the sunny climes of
Southern California - Escondido, to be exact.
I have always appreciated the portable PA
market segment. These products are the
ultimate in utility. They can be used in many
different applications and the systems are
94 LSi - September 2015
Vue hit the ground running, releasing its first
systems, designated as “h-Class”. Initial
offerings included the hs-28 subwoofer hClass full range loudspeakers, comprising
the h-12, h-15 and the h-8. The company
added to its product lineup significantly,
offering single and dual 12” stage monitors
to the h-Class as well as the hs-20 (dual
10”), hs-25 (dual 15”) subwoofers.
Shortly thereafter, Vue introduced other
loudspeaker systems, including the
al-Class line array systems and a- and i-Class
full range systems. These guys work fast.
Even though it’s one of the more mature
products in Vue’s lineup, we’ll be taking a look
at the h-12 system. KOR Lighting, of Miami,
was kind enough to provide me with a loan
system for the review. The pair of h-12s came
packed in a road case with the Vue logo
stenciled on the sides. I don’t know if this was
for promotional purposes, or an available
option, but it makes for a nice package.
As with most of Vue’s loudspeakers, the
h-Class system features high-frequency
drivers that utilise beryllium diaphragms. The
company has made a significant investment
in utilising beryllium diaphragms for its highfrequency designs, citing greater stiffness,
lower mass, and higher resonance than
diaphragms manufactured with aluminium or
titanium. The h-12 comes in ‘W’ and ‘N’
versions, which denote the high frequency
coverage (W is for wide which provides 100°
by 50°coverage, and N is for narrow, with
60°by 40° coverage).
On-board amplification
The h-12 utilises a two-channel Class D
amplifier module that provides 2,000W peak
for the low-frequency driver and 400W peak
for the highs. For a self-powered design, the
amplifier module provides fairly
comprehensive I/O capabilities and status
indication. Looking at the amplifier I/O panel
from left to right, top to bottom, the I/O and
indicators are as folllows: analogue input and
loop, AES/EBU digital input and loop, power,
protect, low-frequency limit, and highfrequency limit indicators. Also included are
sleep mode, user config, temperature, LF6dB, and HF-6dB indicators. The next row has
a recessed sleep on/off switch, recessed
system reset switch, a wink indicator and then
LF and HF signal present LEDs. Sleep mode
turns off the main power supply/amplifier rails,
but the power supply for networking and DSP
remain on, although you have to put it to
sleep manually, either by the recessed sleep
on/off switch or remotely via the System VUE
software. Wink LEDs are positioned on the
front and rear of the speaker. Through the
SystemVUE software, Wink allows you to
identify a specific unit on a network, so you
can make sure the speaker you are controlling
is the physical unit you want.
At the bottom of the panel is a Neutrik
powerCon AC power input with a looping
connector and an Ethernet network
connector. There is a good deal of I/O
flexibility, along with facilities for user
configuration and the capability for remote
control and monitoring. It’s a lot going on in
an approximately 6” x 6” area on the rear
amplifier module panel. A blue LED on the
front of the speaker, behind the grille and just
above the Vue logo, glows for a few
moments after power is applied to the
system, then goes out so as not to be
visually distracting during an event.
Typically, in order to design a portable PA
product that will appeal to a broad audience
and cover a multitude of market niches,
flexibility with regards to I/O and control are
built into the amplifier module. The doubleedged sword here is that switches can be
engaged, and knobs can be turned
accidentally, especially during transport and
setup. As a result, ensuring speakers that are
part of a larger system are all set identically can
occasionally present challenges. With the h-12s,
the few controls that are accessible on the amp
module panel are recessed and can be
activated intentionally. The remainder of the
control is via the SystemVUE networking,
monitoring, and control software control panel
(more about that soon). That’s
a feature I appreciate. Depending on the gig,
the system could be preset at the shop, prior to
being delivered to the event site, or configured
once they are deployed.
The switch-mode power supply features
auto-voltage detection circuitry that enables
operation with AC mains from 120-230V. And,
combining form and function, the aluminum
heat sink has the Vue logo machined into it.
As a guiding principle, Vue from its inception
wanted to incorporate technology
advancements in the design and manufacture
of loudspeaker systems. In addition to utilising
Beryllium for HF diaphragms, the amplifier
module features Class D circuitry, DSP, and
networking capabilities.
The h-12s are not lightweights, weighing in at
a hefty 78lb (35kg). I’m sure the multi-ply birch
cabinet accounts for some of the weight.
There’s no plastic here. The speakers are just
a hair over 2ft (61cm) tall, 14.49” (37cm) wide
(at the front of the trapezoidal cabinet), and
15.24” (39cm) deep. They come finished in
black, with a black perforated metal grille.
There are four rubber “feet” at the bottom of
the enclosure to help prevent movement of the
cabinet when deployed in a ground-stacked
system due to vibration when things really get
rocking. The feet are low-profile, so they won’t
get knocked off during transport.
There is also the obligatory pole-mount socket,
but it will take a couple of people to get these
brutes up to working height. For permanent
install there are also integrated rigging points
for attaching optional rigging hardware. The
h-12 is loaded with a 12” woofer comprised of
a paper cone with a cloth surround and a 4”
voice coil with a ferrite magnet. The highs
come from the previously mentioned Neo
Truextent beryllium diaphragm high driver with
a 4” voice coil. The system provides
a frequency response of 55Hz to 21kHz with
a maximum long term SPL of 119dB and
a maximum measured peak SPL of 125dB (the
maximum calculated SPL is 134dB) at 1m.
System with a Vue
Any self-respecting loudspeaker nowadays is
sure to include the ability to network and the
h-12 is no exception. In fact, all Vue
loudspeakers or processors with DSP come
factory equipped with SystemVUE. I like the fact
that SystemVUE works with either platform (Mac
or PC). It’s nice that Vue recognises that both
operating systems are used in the pro audio
industry. Other than a computer, all that’s
needed is a wired or wireless Ethernet
connection. SystemVUE provides the ability to
monitor the amplifier heat-sink temperature,
limiting and protection as well as providing
alerts to fault conditions. Additionally,
SystemVUE allows the enabling of system sleep
and muting, changing of input and output levels,
and input EQ, adjusting delays, and selection of
input sources. The beauty of much of the digital
technology available today is that updates and
improvements can often be effected by issuing
a new software release. And, that’s the case
with the h-class; new software recently released
at the NAMM show adds 10-band, softwarecontrolled EQ functions to all h-class systems.
The beauty of powered portable PA is that it is
plug-and-play, allowing for very fast setup. The
h-12 has facilities for really enabling you to dial
it in, but if you just need to get sound going
quick, the h-12s will oblige. That functionality
also holds true with the SystemVUE software.
Once you connect your speaker, SystemVUE
recognises the device and starts working.
How does it sound?
As advertised, the high frequencies that emit
from the Truextent Beryllium diaphragm were
extended and very smooth. The upper
frequencies for both music and voice were very
well-defined. Whenever I mix a live production
that features popular music, I like to be able to
hear the crack of the snare and the shimmer of
the cymbals. I really appreciate good high end
in a loudspeaker. That’s not to say the low end
is lacking, but the highs are definitely the
calling card for the h-12. The directional
characteristics of the h-12 were also very good.
The pair that I had was the wide version, which
provides 100°of horizontal coverage and 50°of
vertical coverage (-6 dB at the outside edges
of the stated coverage).
It’s obvious the attention to detail that was put
into designing and manufacturing the h-12s,
from both a performance standpoint as well as
considering logistics (even the handles
afforded a good, secure grip). If you are in the
market for a well-thought-out, small to midsized, self-powered loudspeaker system, the
h-12s definitely deserve an audition.
All Access
B&K Braun
City Theatrical
Clay Paky
Coda GmbH
Current RMS
d&b audiotechnik
DWR Distribution
Eaton/Zero 88
EM Acoustics
ER Productions
Fix8 Group
Green Hippo
High End Systems
Highlite International
Hoist UK
Le Maitre
Lee Filters
Look Solutions
Meyer Sound
Painting With Light
Pearce Hire
PLASA 2015
Pro Tapes
Rose Bruford
Rubber Box
Stageco / Liveculture
Unusual Rigging
Wireless Solutions
LSi - September 2015
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