When Adamson announced its new MILAN enabled ‘Intelligent Loudspeaker’ range, the CS-Series, at InfoComm Connected 2020, it felt like AVB had grown up. The five mid-high line array and point source boxes, two subs, four power and data units, and new Control Suite software create an entire AVB environment offering granular control of the PA, along with the ease–of-use of network cabling and active speakers.
What was surprising about the announcement was that owners of the existing passive Adamson S-Series could retrofit their inventory to bring themselves into the new ecosystem with a simple upgrade module and a screwdriver. Melbourne audio specialists Monitor City, headed by directors Matt Dufty and Adrian Barnard, have opted to do just that, and at the time of this interview with Matt, were opening up their pallet of CS Upgrade Kits, screwdrivers at the ready.
Not only have Matt and Adrian opted to upgrade, they’ve extended their existing S10 line array and S119 subwoofer fleet with more CS10s, CS119 subs, and a raft of CS7p point source boxes. In a year that felt like it was made of nothing but bad news, hearing that a production company in Melbourne (of all places) was investing in their future in late 2020 was like seeing green shoots growing after a devastating bushfire. Which of course we also had in 2020.
Back on the Tools
“Like everyone in production, the year we’ve had has been a real hit,” admits Matt. “However, the timeline for this kind of investment is long. This is a 10 to 15-year commitment. We made these plans a while back, and while the timing isn’t fantastic financially, we didn’t want to cancel. At least we’re not super busy while we’re commissioning the new system!”
Matt is sanguine about the prospects for recovery in 2021, as well you might be when you’ve been part of the world-leading Melbourne response to the second wave. “While we’re still unsure of timelines regarding further easing of restrictions, there’s now a reasonably open economy for business events and festivals,” he observes. “We’re hopeful, and we know there’s a massive appetite for getting out and doing events, which is pent-up demand after lockdown.”
Monitor City first invested in their S-Series PA as a supplement to their flagship Adamson E-Series system. They first deployed their S10s as fill, before sending them out as standalone or distributed systems, often ground stacked on their S119 subs. Their success as an all-rounder has led to the decision to double their inventory while converting the lot to CS.
“When Adamson first announced CS, we had a lot of questions,” explains Matt. “We needed to know how the MILAN environment worked, how interoperability was guaranteed with other gear, and most importantly, how it would all integrate with our existing E-Series rig. Both Adamson and local distributor CMI have been hugely supportive of us through this process, even Involving us in beta testing of the new Control Suite software. After going through this whole journey, we decided to press the go button.”
“What is most exciting to me about the conversion is the flexibility it gives us in show design,” Matt enthuses. “We’ve got a broad client base and do everything from a couple of speakers on sticks to major sporting events, festivals, and corporate. A lot of the time, it’s way more than just a left-right PA; we do lot of distributed systems. For example, our arrays might be hanging off a truss for an in-the-round event, pointing in every direction. Or it might be an event with a plenary at one end, and a circular stage in the middle. Going to CS-Series means the cable runs and organisation for systems like this becomes a lot easier.”
With every CS-Series box sporting its own DSP and amp, Monitor City will have total control over every parameter of every box in their systems. “It gives us granular abilities,” Matt illustrates. “When you’re using passive point source boxes, you put four on an amp channel and that’s your zone. With CS-Series, every box can be its own zone. This is incredibly useful for things like broadcast jobs with audiences sat around multiple stages – we can focus all audio so there’s no bleed into broadcast mics. It can come down to just a few decibels here and there, but that’s what it takes to keep everyone happy sometimes.”
The new version of Adamson’s Control Suite software has added a proprietary Array Optimization algorithm, which will let Matt and the team fine-tune every aspect of their CS10 hangs. With DSP and amplification in every box, Monitor City and their customers will be able to use the software to determine the best way to hang the arrays, have the tonal response unified automatically with FIR filters, and then be able to alter the level and even the phase response of every single element as required, all without adding any further latency to the system.
Matt’s not going to miss managing amp racks and speaker cable runs. “We’ve done 60 and 70 metre speaker cable runs to different zones, and this is the end of that!” laughs Matt. “And in terms of inventory management, because every box has an amp, we don’t have to work out what racks are available, or where to put them at the gig. With all the processing in-the-box, we just plug in a laptop and get it all up and running. Even the integrated power modules in CS-Series talk to the software. The scope of what you can do with this system is amazing. It makes ‘tricky’ easier.”
While the CS10 line array element is the rock star of the new system, the workhorse is the CS7p point source cabinet. It’s a two-way sporting dual 7” Kevlar drivers and a 3” compression driver, MILAN connectivity with the ability to daisy-chain, and analog XLR in and out. “We’ve got a stack of them, with rigging for each box for when we hang them off truss,” reports Matt. “The CS7p is our all-rounder, and because they have their own processing, we can drop them in individually to cover one section or area. They’re ideal to help with difficult rooms with acoustical issues. For example, we can design a gig in-the-round with arrays pointing at the top tier of seats, to which we then add multiple sources pointing at 200 seats each in the lower sections. Now we can do that with CS7ps, each zoned and granular, to get the best result without exciting the room too much.”
Poised to begin work on the conversion of their existing stock, Matt outlines how simple the procedure is. “All we have to do is take four screws out, remove the existing back panel, put the new CS-Series Module in, connect some internal cables, and change the grille to a new one with a different logo,” lists Matt. “It’s almost certainly going to take us longer to decommission our old serial numbers and create new ones in our inventory database than it will be to physically change the cabinets!”
CS-Series At A Glance
CS7 – Ultra-compact line array cabinet. 2x 7-inch Kevlar Neodymium transducers, 3” compression driver.
CS7p – Two-way point source cabinet. 2x 7-inch Kevlar Neodymium transducers, 3” compression driver.
CS10 – Sub-compact line array cabinet. 2x 10-inch Kevlar Neodymium transducers, 3” compression driver.
CS10n – Sub-compact narrow dispersion line array cabinet. 2x 10-inch Kevlar Neodymium transducers, 3” compression driver. Dispersion pattern of 80° x 10° (H x V).
CS10p – Sub-compact point source cabinet. 2x 10-inch Kevlar Neodymium transducers, 3” compression driver.
CS118 – Ultra-compact front-loaded subwoofer. Front-loaded long excursion 18” ND18-S Kevlar Neodymium driver with a 4” voice coil.
CS119 – Sub-compact front-loaded subwoofer. Front-loaded long excursion 19” ND19 Kevlar Neodymium driver.
Power and Data
CS Gateway – AVB on-ramp with 16×16 matrix and 16 channels of user accessible DSP, fitted with dual-LAN, MILAN-ready AVB, AES/EBU, and analog connections.
CS Bridge – AVB to AES bridge for connection to existing Lab.gruppen amplifiers, plus six channels of DSP.
CS Power Distribution System (PDS) – Six circuits of 208V or 230V, 16A power via powerCON or Socapex, and integrated data port.
CS Network Distribution System (NDS) – network and analog patch bay that allows users to send redundant audio and control to CS-Series loudspeakers on a single network cable.
Adamson Control Suite software – design, deploy, optimize, control, and monitor in both mobile and installation environments.
CS Upgrade Kit
The turnkey CS Upgrade Kit allows any existing S-Series cabinets to be easily converted to CS models in minutes. Each kit contains all the components required to add amplification, DSP and AVB connectivity to existing S-Series enclosures: a CS-Series jackplate, the new-look front grille, Wago connectors, and screws.