Best Audio Products of NAB 2018


Another year has passed, and with it comes another great year of new products at the 2018 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show. Upon hearing Sound & Picture would be sending me to NAB to check out some of this year’s newest outstanding products yet again, I instantly shouted a triumphant, “Huzzah!” It really happened, I swear. But in all seriousness, NAB 2017 would be quite the show to beat as far as seeing new innovative products coming to the market. But I was determined to accomplish this goal nonetheless. One of the most exhilarating parts of NAB is getting to see these products before they hit the sales floor and honestly, seeing the excitement on the manufacturers’ faces when they discuss their new additions to the market truly makes my job worthwhile. So, with my clipboard, granola bar, a large cup of coffee, and a little pep in my step, I journeyed to Las Vegas, Nevada to discover the pivotal highlights of the show so that YOU, our wonderful readers, could learn all about the exciting new possibilities of the stupendous sound industry.

Sanken CS-M1 Compact Shotgun for Boom Pole and Mobile Camera Mounting

When I first laid eyes on the shiny new Sanken CS-M1, I immediately thought, “My word, this microphone is so small, I will never have to worry about knocking ceilings or doorways again.” Though I’m sure I still will. I’m only human. But this new microphone, measuring only 4.1” (103mm) and weighing less than 2 oz. (55g), will most surely help me with that issue. Not only that, the CS-M1 sounds almost acoustically identical to the well-known crisp sound of its bigger brother, the CS-3e. Many consider the CS-3e to be one of the leading microphones in rear rejection and superior reach, so I was determined to see how the new CS-M1 would match up.

I threw the microphone up on a boom and had two Sanken representatives stand three feet away from each other and have a conversation. After taking a listen to these two in the noisy environment of the NAB Show floor, I am happy to report that the super-cardioid / lobar pickup pattern of the CS-M1 performed wonderfully in both noise reduction and reach. When pointing the mic away from the second rep, I could barely hear the dialogue of his counterpart. Also, because of the microphone’s rather small footprint, the echoey characteristics of the show floor were drastically decreased. Very useful indeed. Though as expected, the microphone did not possess quite the same reach as the CS-3e, but for a microphone at a price point of $895.00 USD, it sounded quite fantastic. The microphone also has a frequency response of 100Hz – 18kHz and is designed with advanced RFI rejection.

If you are in the market for a short shotgun mic to pair with your current Sankens for indoor or outdoor use, or if you’re in need of a proper-sounding microphone to mount on top of your DSLR, the Sanken CS-M1 is well worth its weight in gold. Well, it weighs very little, but you get the point.

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Wisycom LBNA2 Wideband UHF Log Periodic Dipole Array Skeletal Antenna with Booster

Who would have thought a Wisycom product could make my list of Best NAB Products two years in a row? But hey, here they are again, and with such a descriptive product name: LBNA2 Wideband UHF Log Periodic Dipole Array Skeletal Antenna with Booster. Well, I believe this new antenna could have an even longer name to list all of its marvelous capabilities. Not only do these new wideband antennas work anywhere from 420 to 1300 MHz when in Passive mode and from 420 to 870 MHz when in Active mode, they also include a built-in BAA Wideband Amplifier which provides an extra 7dB of gain with the typical beam of 120 degrees. The integrated linear booster can also amp your signal up to 15dB. Whoa, cable runs will never be the same. This amplifier additionally activates an integrated bandpass filter, which narrows your beam to help avoid any unwanted RF. This new feature will be particularly useful in highly RF congested areas such as major cities where no matter what, stray RF always wants to make its way into your mix. Well, not anymore! I also found the LED display to be very user-friendly and easily navigable.

When in tricky shooting situations where RF coordination takes a bit more concentration, I like to have every tool to help me accomplish any task that comes my way. At a price point of only $836.00 USD, the LBNA2 will help mixers fight the good fight against cell towers, producers’ phones, production walkies, or any other imposing RF signal. And thank you Wisycom for not “filtering” out the specific needs of our everyday struggles! Sorry, that joke was not my best.

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DPA d:vote CORE 4099 Instrument Microphone

Almost every production or post sound mixer I’ve spoken with over the years has come from some realm of the music world. And whether it be through recording, engineering, or actually playing instruments themselves, most mixers have an appreciation for the art of music. I myself come from a classical singing background but am currently teaching myself to play the good ol’ timey banjo. So when I took a listen to the new 4099 instrumental condenser microphone at DPA’s NAB booth this year, I knew it would soon find itself in the homes of many a sound mixer. DPA has integrated its patented CORE technology into their well-known lavalier mics for some time now but has just recently implemented this much-needed technology into the music world.

This newly added CORE technology allows the 4099 to truly shine, providing an even clearer and more open sound across the dynamic range while also drastically decreasing distortion across the board. From the quiet acoustic guitar solo to the vivacious violin concerto to a fully-loaded bass bumping drum kit, the 4099 leaves plenty of headroom for the engineer in the final mastering process. That little extra give and take really can make a drastic difference when pushing your mix to its highest potential. One of the most useful characteristics of this new mic is that there are very few mics on the market that have both the durability and versatility to accurately record such a plethora of instruments. I believe major props to DPA are in order for creating such an extremely innovative microphone that has such an abundance of uses. Now, of course, you do need to make sure to have the correct clamps for each particular instrument, but, most of the clamps are pretty versatile so as to not break the bank with many additional purchases.

A microphone with a multitude of uses and the ability to record the most brilliant sound around is an investment that will make its money back in a flash. Of course, it’s up to the professional to have the knowledge to use a microphone to its greatest potential, but a microphone like the d:vote CORE 4099 will make that task a whole lot easier. Bravo, DPA!

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Trying to cover all the new exciting and innovative products at NAB 2018 in just two days could only be described as ridiculous and absurd, and these three products are just a few of the audio standouts of this year’s show. However, I do believe these three products to be truly exceptional because they can be utilized by entertainment professionals all across the sound spectrum. This industry demands some pretty specific tech in order to succeed to the fullest potential, and when you find products that satisfy multiple demands, that’s what you call hitting the audio jackpot.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review, and I do encourage you to research the hundreds of products that debuted at this year’s NAB Show. The more knowledge we acquire about this ever-changing industry we all know and love, the more prepared we shall be for its exciting future and our continued success as industry professionals!


Images courtesy of NAB, Sanken, Wisycom, DPA Microphones


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