Remarkable photos shared by RockComms in Singapore, of Technomad loudspeakers and subwoofers installed at the Adventure Cove Waterpark (Bluewater Bay). The water park is part of Resorts World Sentosa which operates
the Universal Studio franchise in Singapore.
In addition to the awesome flying whale sculptures (!) you can see the Technomad Berlin 6040 full range loudspeaker in Desert Sand color, some Oslo 18 subwoofers (originally developed for Disney Imagineering) also in Desert Sand, and pole–mounted Paris 616 loudspeakers.
Singapore presents a tough environment for loudspeakers, with average temperatures around 31º C (88º F) during the day with little seasonal variation. Singapore receives a considerable amount of rainfall – approximately 2340mm (92 inches) annually. The region is extremely humid, with humidity levels usually between 70% and 90%. (Source: World Travel Guide).
That’s just the standard weather – add the corrosive environment of a chlorinated pool and you have an extraordinary challenge for any loudspeaker. Fortunately Technomad’s military-grade construction and no-compromises audio design is ready to meet the challenge.
Technomad Centralizes Green Manufacturing Operations at New England Facility, Contributes to Local and U.S. Economy
Headlines around the world continue to broadcast the dire state of the U.S. economy, along with the associated business closings and job losses. Manufacturing is one such industry that has been hit hard across the country, with seemingly new announcements every day about another company closing its doors for good.
While the big picture seems challenging at best, plenty of manufacturers large and small are reporting success in a variety of different businesses. One needs to look no further than New England to discover a thriving local manufacturing scene among the professional audio industry, a niche business that has shown vitality in these challenging economic times thanks to creative, high-quality products and engineering. Pro audio manufacturers are moving loudspeakers, signal processing equipment and other gear to a variety of customers; cruise ships, theme parks, and stadiums and arenas are among the more active segments. Sales are steady-to-brisk both in the U.S. and internationally, further helping the bottom line for many companies.
Technomad, a leading manufacturer of weatherproof outdoor loudspeakers and Turnkey PA systems since 1995, is one of these companies contributing to the success of the pro audio industry as well as the economy. The company recently celebrated its 13th anniversary of boutique manufacturing in the U.S.A., and has shipped more than 23,700loudspeakers from its manufacturing facility in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. And in a market where many firms are reducing product innovations and cutting budgets for research and development, Technomad recently introduced two game-changing new products: Schedulon, a new automatic mp3 player and recording system for pro audio and commercial security applications; and PowerChiton, a series of compact weatherproof outdoor amplifier modules that allows system designers to place amplifiers closer to the loudspeaker in challenging indoor/outdoor installations.
“Technomad is proud to contribute to the long-standing tradition of New England manufacturing. New England has long been recognized as a prominent region for the production and export of electronics including pro audio equipment, and Technomad is just one of many companies that play a role in this ongoing success,” said Rodger Von Kries, Vice President of Technomad. “We’re also committed to manufacturing all of our products in the U.S.A. to ensure the careful craftsmanship of all Technomad loudspeakers and pro audio products is centralized in our Massachusetts facility, while also contributing to the local, regional and national economy.”
The manufacturing side of the business employs small teams to work on the same hand-built loudspeaker from start to finish, with multiple quality checks along the way. This process creates a highly consistent production environment that ultimately reflects the cost and quality of the loudspeakers. Performance data for each loudspeaker is recorded, which consultants and design engineers often use to plan installation points and audio directivity throughout a new venue. This includes the new GLL (Generic Loudspeaker Library) format, of which Technomad is an early adopter. GLL format data gives design engineers, consultants and contractors more options in positioning and simulating loudspeakers in large sports, entertainment and other venues that require array or clustered installations.
The company also employs a green approach to its manufacturing approach, using 100-percent recycled plastic for its black loudspeakers and eliminating lead from the soldering process to comply with strict RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) regulations in Europe. RoHS compliance has raised Technomad’s profile in Europe and elsewhere overseas, and the company has begun to stock its products overseas to enable faster response times to European orders, and more cost- and time-efficient deliveries.
Technomad’s use of recycled plastic and localized manufacturing operation has led to an increase in LEED-certified projects in recent months. Functional Devices, a MUZAK affiliate in upstate New York, is one example; the company recently ordered 42 Technomad Vernal loudspeakers for a LEED-certified installation. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
Technomad was the first professional loudspeaker manufacturer to introduce Mil-Spec weatherproof loudspeaker systems with exceptional voice intelligibility and superior musical output for the professional audio industry. All Technomad loudspeakers also have an IP56 rating from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for maximum protection against hazardous materials, shock, and dirt and water ingression — meaning it can survive outdoor elements in the harshest of conditions.
“Pro audio manufacturers in general put a large amount of care into product development, which has allowed our industry to persevere through economic downturns,” said Von Kries. “Technomad has always been careful to support research and development efforts, and maintain a specific production process that results in a consistent product. This careful attention to detail is important to our growth as a company, and niche manufacturers such as Technomad, although not household names, are working hard to contribute positively to the economy — in New England and beyond.”
We must thank the consumer electronics (PCs included) people who have developed cost-effective technologies that us pro audio folks can benefit from. Case in point is the advent of portable digital audio players (MP3 players). In the pro audio world, there is a number of manufactures that have developed and bring to market cost-effective digital or solid state audio recorders/players which have gained acceptance in many applications for field recording broadcast, sound reinforcement, and public address systems. It is not unusual now to hear these devices in use in many public spaces such as department stores, where a customer can press a call button on a pillar, which triggers a pre-produced announcement over the PA system alerting staff that “a customer requires service in the sports department,” or an announcement at the airport reminding us that the airport is a non- smoking environment.
There are many environments where a message has to be communicated to the masses either by immediate command through the push of a button, or triggered by a third-party control or by some internal scheduler. There is a number of fruitful choices from a number of manufacturers (TOA, Nel-Tech Labs, Raicom, TASCAM, Stop & Listen, etc.) that have developed products for common commercial audio applications. A recent addition to this arena of digital audio players is the Schedulon from Technomad (check out http://www.technomad. com). Yes, the folks who bring us military/ weatherproof-grade loudspeakers.
The Schedulon is a rackmount (1U) MP3 player/recorder with a built-in scheduler. With the use of a web browser or by navigating via a front panel knob and display, the Schedulon offers the ability to upload audio files, schedule playback of audio files, and automate playback of audio files. The unit utilizes flash-RAM memory, which makes this unit more dependable than a PC-based solution. Although the unit has an onboard clock, audio files can also be triggered by an external clock server.
The Schedulon can record audio from its stereo line-in jacks Â audio is encoded as high-quality (192 kbps) MP3 sound files and assigned to any desired knob location for playback. The better option is to upload the audio file using the browser application or to upload files to Schedulon’s USB memory drive from your computer.
The applications for the Schedulon and many similar units are numerous: repeat messaging at airports, department stores, malls, training facility scheduling (schools, airports, hospitals), corporate audio (no CDs to misplace), training, sports facilities (load team music or special effects for instant playback), automatic safety announcements, theme park audio, sound effects, pool-side music or DJ applications, and much more. Upon evaluation, it did not take much time to connect the unit and navigate through the browser.
Once connected and logged to the unit, you will discover six tabs (Status, Settings, Control, MP3 Upload, Knob Set, Scheduler) allowing you to view and enter values via drop-down selection. All but the Status tabs permit entering and adjustments to the unit. Without the use of a computer, you can navigate through the functions with the front knob and display, but this makes it taxing.
Different play modes can be assigned to each knob position: play forever/unit stopped by user (for sirens); play once, then stop automatically (for songs like the national anthem); and play while button held in (for sound effects). The fact that each knob position can store a different audio file AND play behavior is unique in the marketplace, I believe. The evaluation unit had 50 or so preloaded audio files, most of which, to no surprise, had military applications. One surprise that happened when I logged on was that the unit announced its IP address, which could inadvertently be announced over the PA system for all to hear.
Generally, the unit worked to expectation, and can be recommended for applications as previously noted.
The unit we evaluated did not offer any contact closure or RS232 port for interconnectivity to other control systems. The audio outputs are unbalanced (not-so-pro audio), and the device’s “current time” is found at the Status tab; however, the current time should also be at the Scheduler tab for ease of reference during programming. Additionally, the unit data port is found in the front panel, something I would not expect if this unit is to be driven by external IP-based timer or clock. Projects or systems requiring additional features may not find this unit appropriate, but overall, the Schedulon is a good performer and is basic in operation and functionality.
Devy Breda, CET, CTS, is an Audio Visual Systems Designer at Mulvey & Banani A/V, a division of Mulvey & Banani International Inc. ( http://www.mbii.com ).
The announcement of IP address can be turned off as an option. The unit can have sounds triggered by CGI commands via Ethernet/LAN, and the unit can automatically synch itself to an external time server
These are two different things. Both use the network. The time-server synch is critical if you need things to happen exactly on time, for years at a time. The Data Port (Ethernet port) can be located on the rear if requested at time of order. – Technomad LLP
This review appeared in the December 2008 issue of Professional Sound.
Solid scheduling-enabled audio player and recorder that fits the simplicity bill.
By John McJunkin
Technomad, manufacturer of military-oriented audio equipment (particularly PA systems) has introduced its Schedulon scheduling-enabled audio player/recorder. This device is nearly identical to Technomad’s SuperConductor, which is the purely military version of the device. As a manufacturer of military-grade technology, Technomad is known to make its products figuratively bulletproof, and the Schedulon was developed with this notion in mind. It records to and plays back from RAM, so there are no moving hard-disk parts to cause problems. It’s distinguished from similar computer-based solutions by the fact that it is a standalone device, immune to viruses or operating system crashes or hang-ups. I’ve always been a great believer in over-engineering, which helps avoid embarrassment and, more importantly, the potential loss of clients that can be caused by equipment failures. The Schedulon very much appeals to my sensibilities in this regard.
The military recognizes that much of its equipment is destined to be operated by 18-year-olds who have little experience with technology, so simplicity is the key word. The Schedulon’s 1RU front and rear panels very clearly fit that bill. There are just five features on the front panel: From left to right, there’s an LCD display, a data-input knob, a removable thumb-drive access panel, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, and a large bat-handle power switch. The LCD displays 32 characters on two lines, and it is very reminiscent of the old-school Yamaha processors and synthesizers. The data-entry knob is of the large variety colloquially described as “chicken-head”; it spins continuously for data input and can also be depressed as a pushbutton switch. It doesn’t get much simpler than a single knob and a basic LCD display for control and feedback.
The rear panel is also simple. From left to right, you’ll find a fuse holder, the unit’s integrated AC power cord, a Neutrik 1/4in. TRS output jack, a second RJ-45 Ethernet port, and two stereo RCA pairs representing audio in and rec in. Again, the Schedulon sports a very straightforward, no-nonsense design, which is right in line with the requirements you’d expect from the military.
The Schedulon is essentially designed to do one thing: automatically play audio at prescheduled times or immediately under human control if desired. There are obviously numerous applications for such a device. In an educational setting, specifically a school, the Schedulon can be used to play tones or recorded speech intended to alert students that class begins in 10 minutes, again 5 minutes later, and then a final alert 1 minute prior to the start of each class hour. The minimum time resolution of the scheduling is 1 minute, so countdowns that update every minute are possible. Additionally, emergency messages can be delivered, alerting students of a fire or other dangers. For numerous applications, the ability to play hourly chimes to indicate the time is nice, particularly since a specific number of chime strokes can be played or even a pleasant voice can announce that it’s 10 o’clock, for example. Up to 100 scheduled playback events can be programmed into the system. In military settings, the device can be used to play Reveille in the morning, Taps at dusk, and other military-oriented sounds. As a matter of fact, the device ships from Technomad with quite a number of military sounds, including alarm sirens and bugle calls. Among other applications, the Schedulon would also be useful in subways, airports, hospitals, or other public buildings, even to provide BGM. For that matter, this system would be useful for any application in which you would otherwise use a flash-drive-based recording/playback system.
In addition to scheduled automatic playback, immediate manual playback is easily accomplished by the Schedulon, which would be useful in the case of an emergency or other situation that necessitates immediate, spontaneous playback of certain messages or alerts. The unit allows a maximum of 99 slots for audio. The maximum length of the audio is determined by the size of the removable flash thumb drive. The unit ships from the factory with a 1GB drive, but larger drives can be installed. The unit compresses audio into .mp3 files, with resolution ranging from 32kbps to 320kbps. Audio is recorded by the unit at 192kbps, which is difficult to distinguish from CD quality by most listeners without the benefit of an A-B comparison. At the nominally standard rate of 128kbps, hundreds of songs could be stored on a system with a 1GB thumb drive. Technomad says that a future version of the system will support the recording and playback of uncompressed 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV audio. The unit’s thumb drive is upgraded very easily by removing the front access panel, pulling the original drive out, and replacing it with the new one. Also, all system parameters, scheduling, and audio are stored on the thumb drive, so it can be transferred into another Schedulon unit — in effect cloning the original.
In line with the military aversion to computer viruses, complete control of all system parameters can be accomplished from the front panel, but computer control via Ethernet is indeed an option; this is the only way that externally recorded .mp3 files can be introduced to the Schedulon. It’s possible that the system would be loaded with all desired audio files and then installed with the intention of only front-panel control. On the other hand, since the system can be controlled remotely via IP, it is beneficial to maintain a network connection — particularly if you’re practicing good network security. Password protection prevents a malicious user from making changes, both from the front panel and via the network. Another major benefit to maintaining a network connection to the unit is that it can connect to a time server, keeping its internal clock precisely correct at all times. On a related note, the Schedulon has an optional backup battery available, which is again in line with the military notion of ongoing technology performance regardless of external circumstances. I discovered this battery feature when I jokingly flipped on the power switch before the unit was plugged in. Imagine my surprise when it fired up.
Among other advantages over similar audio-streaming-over-IP solutions is a network interruption that will not halt playback of critical audio from the Schedulon, since all the audio is stored internally. Additionally, IP bandwidth is not expended by audio streaming. I was prepared to announce that my only criticism of the unit was the somewhat unorthodox 1/4in. TRS audio output. I would normally expect Euro-style or barrier strips or a stereo pair of 1/4in. TRS jacks. As it transpires, however, I was shipped a beta unit. The production version will actually have stereo RCA pairs for input and output, which is a little more orthodox.
In spite of these minor inconveniences, this unit is very solid and would be a great choice for any application in which good-quality scheduled audio playback is necessary. I’d recommend taking a look at it.
John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations, and he provides high-quality podcast-production services.
UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIFORNIA – Doused with 4.2 million gallons of water per day for over a year, Technomad loudspeakers still perform flawlessly at Universal Studio’s Jurassic Park attraction.
In October 1996, Direction Sound/Vision of Los Angeles, California, installed Technomad loudspeakers in scene 12 of the prestigious Jurassic Park attraction in Universal Studios Hollywood. Scene 12, the climacteric indoor section of the America’s largest water-ride, features the world-renown 20 foot tall, animatronics Tyrannosaurus Rex.
As originally reported in December 1996, two of the six Technomad Berlin 15/H loudspeakers were installed in the huge mist cloud, one meter in front of the huge, and three story tall waterfall. Due to a planned Waterfall modification four weeks after the Berlin loudspeakers were installed, a newly routed chute delivers a daily deluge of water over the Berlin loudspeakers. The massive waterfall of Jurassic Park’s scene 12 recirculates 4.2 million gallons of water around the huge animatronics Tyrannosaurus Rex, and directly onto the Technomad Berlin loudspeakers, everyday. Since being installed in the waterfall in October 20, 1996, over 2 BILLION gallons of water have poured directly onto the two Technomad Berlin loudspeakers.
All of the T-Rex sound effects on scene 12 roar out of a Technomad sound system consisting of six Berlin 15/H two-way, full-range loudspeakers and eight Chicago 15/12 subwoofers. The Chicago subs are distributed on the platforms, four subs on each side of the boat track, to deliver T-Rex’s ominous footstep sound effects. Six Berlin loudspeakers deliver the blood-curdling roar of T-Rex, as the animatronics beast lunges at the spectators in the final moments of the ride. Two Berlin loudspeakers are installed approximately 25 feet above the boat track, and fire directly down on the spectators. Two additional Berlin are positioned left and right of the boat track, one per side, parallel to the overhead Berlin loudspeakers, again within 25 feet of the spectators. The final two of six Berlins are suspended in the waterfall, positioned left and right of the animatronics T-Rex, approximately 35 feet above the floor, and approximately 60 feet from the spectators. The volumes of the six Berlins are EQ-ed and blended to deliver the most effectively terrifying sound effect in the themed entertainment industry.
According to Mr. Jim Schmidt, Manager of Attraction Engineering, “We are continually amazed the Technomads continue to perform under these conditions. After several weeks, we simply decided to leave them in place just to see how long they would last. Fifteen months later, they are still in perfect working order.”
Mr. Schmidt concludes, “Universal is really the proving ground for new products and technology. We burn it up, blow it up or try to drown it. If a product can survive this environment, it can survive just about anywhere. The Technomad loudspeakers have proven they are survivors.”