LED Technology: How It Applies To You

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By: Carol Emmens

LED, which stands for light emitting diode, is a technology used in scores of products and is well-known for its use in specialty IT and audiovisual equipment as well as everyday products such as light bulbs. LED displays are used in a wide variety of ways and their popularity is exploding. But note that home flat screen televisions, often described as LED’s, are actually LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) televisions with LED back lights. Large format LED displays (video walls) are made up of modular tiles which are locked together so that they are seamless. They are extremely versatile:

  • They can be any size.
  • They can be curved.
  • They can be flown.
  • They can be on stands.
  • They can be used indoors.
  • They can be used outdoors.

Because of their versatility, LED’s are extremely popular for these video walls. Whether they are used as a wall or as individual displays, they are seen at live events ranging from commencements to concerts to corporate meetings. Typically LED displays are specified as indoor or outdoor displays. Indoor models are generally higher in resolution but less bright. But keep in mind the resolution is not comparable to a flat screen television or projector since they are designed to be viewed from a distance.

Unlike LCD’s, outdoor LED displays can be seen even in the sunlight and they are weather resistant; the level of weather resistance is measured as an Ingress Protection (IP) number. LED displays are universal; they are used on stage, in stadiums, educational institutions, and corporations. Given the dramatic impact they make, LED displays are very cost effective for advertisers, entertainers, and exhibiters.


LED lights, like LED displays, are widely used for audiovisual effects and are used both indoors and outdoors. They range from small stand- alone lights to complex systems of multiple lights that perform multiple functions in multiple locations. LED lights can be used in numerous ways:

  • To highlight or pin spot an area.
  • To flood an entire wall of a façade or stage.
  • To create a light show.
  • To highlight a landmark or a work of art.

Because LED lights can change colors or create a scene, they are a cost effective way to transform a space. LED lights are used to set the mood for special social occasions such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or holiday parties and they are used to light up dance floors in trendy nightclubs. They are a “must have” for DJ’s.

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LED lights help corporations brand their products and display their logos. They are often a critical component of marketing campaigns and can be customized for important clients. Compared to the neon signs of yesteryear, LED lighting is more energy efficient, is longer lasting, and is better for the environment. Plus, it is appreciably more reliable. Consequently, LED lighting has become the standard for signs and exhibits, providing unsurpassed colors and mixing to create all types of images.

LED lights or “drapes” can be triggered or controlled to change the brightness, the color, and the content. They can display built-in patterns and/or they can fade.  LED lights can be pre-programmed for an event, presentation or show whether it’s a rock performance or a theatrical play. It can be spectacular – or it can be calming and serene.

Your imagination is the only limit to what LED displays or LED lights can do for you. For help in assessing your needs for LED lighting, with rentals or installation, call Zeo Systems; let our experience guide you to the right LED solution(s) for you.

Uses and Impact of Video Walls on Your Business

By: Carol Emmons


A video wall is an example of digital signage.  A video wall consists of multiple monitors, cubes, projectors or panels that are tiled together. Most often they are tiled tightly together to form one large image, but they are sometimes tiled loosely or into several separate sections for multiple images and messages or unique results, especially for performances.

Typically, video wall displays have detailed, high resolution content which makes them engaging and powerful and they receive a lot of attention. Because of the impact and increasing affordability of video walls, they are growing in popularity and they are used in a wide variety of ways:

A flexible tool, video walls can help brand a product, encourage collaboration and interactivity in venues ranging from lobbies, museums, and zoos, to sports and entertainment arenas and shopping malls  – to name a few. They are placed in high traffic areas to attract the most attention.  A video wall can be used indoors or out; it can be flat or curved, and it can be designed for permanent or temporary displays. In short, their uses are almost limitless and your video wall can be as complex and creative as you want.

A very important step when you decide to utilize or install a video wall is to define your goals.  All successful audiovisual systems require a clear set plan of action and results desired. A complete video wall system requires a number of components with a wide range of options available for each, starting with the selection of the type of display. An enormous range of technologies, resolutions and sizes are available on the market today and can make selecting one bewildering. A video wall can be designed with LCD’s, LED’s, cubes or projectors.  Each has its own unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages so you need to understand the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each. What is an ideal type of display for one environment is often a disaster in others.

Do you want one image, called a blending, over all the screens? If so, the image has to be as close to seamless as possible and a very narrow bezel (frame) is vital to avoid lines running through the image or text. High resolution keeps the image sharp. Does your video wall require a touch screen to engage the viewer or to provide information? How many touch points are desired? The number can range from one to 32.  Do you want to allow multiple users to simultaneously interact with video wall without affecting other users?

There are applications that call for 3D video walls such as molecular modeling, engineering, and simulations. Is your display compatible with the graphics cards you want to use? For video walls the software is as critical to the design as the hardware.  All video walls are software based; many have software built in that can fulfill your needs but others require a network based software controller.

Installation presents its own series of challenges in mounting, power, and cooling. Video walls can also be subject to heating problems. Does the video wall have heat sensors and cooling fans that come on automatically when needed? Where the video wall will be installed impacts your decision making as well. Is the infrastructure in place  to hold the weight?  Is the installation hardware integrated as it is for the Chauvet® MVP models (which our Production division has in inventory for rent) or do you need to buy it separately?

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Is a mission critical 24/7 application that requires a redundant power supply module that provides continuous operation even in the event of a power failure required?.Even the number of power outlets and their locations comes into play. There are video walls that do not require the power to be behind the display and that can handle multiple devices. That reduces the rack space and the number of outlets needed and helps reduce the costs.
A video wall is an excellent way to communicate, enhance your presentation and make an impact, but it takes a sufficient budget and level of commitment to the project. We have alerted you to only a few of the questions that need to be answered before you install one. Zeo Systems expert technicians are  capable of designing, installing and servicing your video wall or if your needs are for a single event, our Production division can provide a rental from our in house inventory as an alternative. Give us a call.

Fewer and Fewer Frequencies

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By: Carol R. Emmens

Last December Times Square was packed with people waiting to hear the World AIDS Day concert. But the organizers were worried; they were not sure the microphones were going to work  – the airwaves were as jammed as the Square – they needed open frequencies. True, frequency congestion is at its worst in New York City but it is a nationwide problem and we have all heard the results: buzzing, signal drop out or static.

Radio frequency interference (RFI) is generally caused by a device “listening” for one signal at a specific frequency and “hearing”, and therefore transmitting, a different one. The growing use of wireless microphones and the proliferation of wireless devices has caused already congested airwave channels to become overloaded. As a result, RFI and intermodulation distortion (IMD) occur because the signals cross when there are too many devises in a limited spectrum. And the problems are only going to get worse.

In 2010 the Federal Communications Commission prohibited the operation of wireless microphones and similar devises on the 700 MHz Band and now it is planning to auction or “repurpose” a portion of the TV band spectrum – the 600 MHz Band, possibly the upper 500 MHz band and two ENG channels (channels used exclusively for electronic news gathering). As the space decreases for wireless microphone users, congestion on the remaining UHF TV band will increase as early as 2016. The transition to fewer frequencies will continue until mid-2019.  It is possible that using your current frequency will be illegal in the future.

Microphone operation is classified as licensed and unlicensed; typically professional sports and entertainment producers are licensed and corporations, theaters, houses of worship, and educational institutions are unlicensed. The one bright note (no pun intended) is that the FCC is going to allow more licenses for professionals who regularly use 50 or more devices at major events or productions. If you qualify, begin the application process now.  To do so, visit the FCC website at this link:

Most wireless users will have to deal with the interference on their own and that can waste a lot of time and effort.  To ensure that your wireless audio and video systems will be as reliable as possible, it is necessary to analyze your environment using a diagnostic tool designed to find usable frequencies in your location such as RF Venue’s Clear Waves software.

Clear Waves helps you detect the presence of the RF transmissions that are the source of interference. It offers RF spectrum analysis, intermodulation analysis and automatic charting of open RF frequencies known as white space. It can be used to adjust wireless microphones, in-ear monitors, security, access control and more.  It is sometimes possible to eliminate the source of the “noise”.  More often it will be best to simply change the wireless frequency.

The software Clear Waves runs on a Signal Hound or RF Explorer which connects to a PC via a USB cable and displays graphs showing the optimal channel assignments in your area.  Clear Waves performs the RF spectrum scan and intermodulation analysis in real time; you can specify up to 160 different frequencies to monitor to allow users to coordinate channel assignments for wireless transmitters and troubleshoot RF interference. It is necessary for frequency coordination to be accurate and fast, so in short, it can save your performance or speech.

No computer at the live event? Combine Clear Waves with the RF Explorer RackPRO, which has a front panel LCD and rotary marker. For live applications, it goes wherever a portable rack goes. It can also be integrated in installed audiovisual equipment racks or sound booths.

Now is the time to review your wireless systems and their use. It is necessary to budget and to prepare, to identify current or potential problems.  If you decide to purchase new wireless microphones, purchase those that use frequencies below 600 MHz.

Wireless audio and video systems are often subject to additional problems such as signal drop out, poor choice of equipment and/or its location; for example, the antenna is top quality but it is not installed in the best location.  For a full analysis of your systems and recommendations or a professional installation of your audiovisual or audio systems, rely on Zeo Systems.  Zeo has just launched a partnership with RF Venue for access to the full line of their products. So, whether you have a temporary or permanent wireless need, Zeo Systems or their sister division Zeo Rental/Retail can assist you in solving it.

Wondering how that concert came out? It was a success. Bruce Springsteen and Chris Martin filled in for Bono, who was seriously injured in a bike accident in Central Park and the audio crew worked feverishly throughout the concert to find available frequencies to use in real-time.

Zeo Systems Featured Product: JBL All Weather Speakers

Zeo Systems Featured Product:
JBL All Weather Speakers

JBL All Weather Speakers in a StadiumJBL All Weather series speakers

Today’s events often call for a combination of indoor and outdoor venues to accommodate one’s guests. This variety means that featured speaker(s) or music need to be able to be heard no matter where in the venue the guests may be. Knowing this fact widens an installer’s choices of speakers to be used when constructing an original venue, or replacing or integrating additional speakers in a current system in an existing structure.

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