Monday, March 2, 2015

Tech Tip: Troubleshooting RS-232 command strings to TOA products.

One issue we hear from time to time is that “My Brand X” controller cannot control a TOA product by sending RS-232 commands.

For this example I will refer to a 9000M2 series Matrix / Mixer Amplifier. For you references download this document “9000M2 RS232C Protocol Manual” from:

I’m going to skip the low level detail and get to the point on how make your control surface work for you.

The 9000M2 is looking for a hexadecimal string that it will read then react to the instructions sent.

Here is an excerpt from the “9000M2 RS232C Protocol Manual”:

  • 5.5 Power ON/OFF
  • This command performs ON/OFF setting of the power switch of the 9000M2 Series
  • Amplifier. 9000M2 Series Amplifier responds with the same data as that received.
  • F4H, 01H, <ON/OFF>
  • Example 1: Setting the power switch to OFF
    • F4H, 01H, 00H
  • Example 2: Setting the power switch to ON.
    • F4H, 01H, 01H
 A common misconception is that the H is required in the command string. However is this case it just noting that F4 is going to be a hexadecimal number. There is not a standard on how to format a HEX string for different control manufactures or terminal programs. So the first step to understand how the device you are working with is going want this string formatted.

All of these examples could be valid to power the 9000M2 off depending on the serial tool you are using.




And so forth.

My recommendation would be to have the ability to cross check a string with a Terminal Program. This way if the hardware controller does not work but the software terminal does, then you have isolated the issue most likely to how the device in question wants the string formatted.

A key word search on the internet for “RS-232 terminal emulator” will turn up several programs that provide you the ability to send RS-232 to you TOA product.

You may want to try the Hercules Setup Utility from HW Group
Download from

The first information you need is your PC COM Port settings. From the Windows start menu enter “devmgmt.msc” and enter, this will open the Device Manager.

Click on the arrow to expand Ports (COM & LPT), select your Serial cable, right click and select Properties.
Click on the Port Settings tab and note your settings. Once you have the information, click Cancel to close the window.
Start Hercules SETUP Utility and enter COM port information in the Serial menu. NOTE: use default these 2 defaults:
  • HandShake = OFF
  • Mode = Free
Click the Open button to start the session. Note the screen will now display that your serial port is open.
NOTE: This requires you already have a valid RS-232 connection to the 9000M2 or other equipment you are working with.

Now select the Hex check box, in the Send field you would enter the command you would like to send.
For this example enter F4 01 00 including spaces as seen below. Press the Send button; this will result in your 9000M2 turning off.

Now if you were now send F4 01 00 the 9000M2 would turn back on.
We hope you will find this tutorial useful.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tech Tip: How to have an N-8000AF Time Sync to NTP Server

NTP stands for Network Time Protocol, and it is an Internet protocol used to synchronize the clocks of computers to a time reference.
For this to work requires that the N-8000AF can reach the NTP Server on the Internet.
There will different ways of doing this but it is important to note the N-8000 system does require static IP addressing.  In this example, a request was made to the IT administrator to provide a range of static IP address that could get through a networks gateway to the Internet.
By using these static IP addresses the computer programming the N-8000 system and the N-8000AF would be able to reach the NTP time server.

In the N-8000 Programming Software, open to the General > System Settings Tab.
Set the N-8000AF as the Clock Master and NTP Client.
In the NPT Settings enter the NTP Server address, server port and sync time in hundred hours.
If you now saved and uploaded your program file, the N-8000AF would be ready to send and receive time adjustment.

How does NTP handle the daylight savings time switchovers?

The Ability to synchronize to an NTP Time Server is now possible with the latest N-8000 Programming software ver. 4.1.0 and N-8000AF firmware ver. 4.10. This feature will keep a schools bell schedule on time year after year without ever drifting.
Because NTP is based on UTC which does not have a daylight savings time period, a switchover is not necessary inside the NTP system. The operation systems of servers and clients are solely responsible for switching from/to DST.

You will need to enable DST settings in the N-8000 to keep Bell Schedules on time in the US with only a few exceptions.
Trouble shooting NTP

Here is are a couple examples of when there was a successful and a not so  successful NTP time adjustment.
At 09:45:30 you see the NTP start and then 09:45:30 NTP Complete. Time adjustment was made and system is working as expected. Now see 14:30:34 and you can that there is an NTP error. Let’s explore how to troubleshoot an NTP error.

  • Check to see if the NTP server is sending a Time Adjustment back. There a number way to test an NTP server, here is a simple to use web site
In this result the NASA server at is not sending back command “adjust time server” as it does for the UCLA server at

29 Jan 20:50:43 ntpdate[16444]: ntpdate 4.2.6p5@1.2349-o Mon May 20 14:24:36 UTC 2013 (1) server, stratum 0, offset 0.000000, delay 0.00000

29 Jan 20:52:17 ntpdate[16889]: ntpdate 4.2.6p5@1.2349-o Mon May 20 14:24:36 UTC 2013 (1) server, stratum 1, offset 0.005516, delay 0.19301
29 an 20:52:32 ntpdate[16889]: adjust time server offset 0.005516 sec

Tech Tip: First test to see if the NTP server is sending back a time adjust. If it is and you are still getting an error proceed with these instructions.  Test the NTP Server using the same PC that is programming the N-8000 System. For example if your N-8000AF is set to you should be able to set a PC to that same static IP address and see it get a valid return. Also disconnect the N-8000AF when doing this test so there is not an IP conflict.

  • Check the N-800AF firmware version
    • On the N-8000AF open the browser page to System Management and verify the firmware version is 4.10 or later.
NTP Server Resource
This link will provide a database of possible NTP servers worldwide.

As of this writing these two servers have been tried with success:
UCLA NTP server in UCLA (
NTP Server Port 123

Internet Multifeed (MFEED) –Japan (
NTP Server Port 123

NOTE: The NTP Server Port will always be 123 for all NTP servers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tech Tip: 25 Volt & 70V Cabling Requirements

By Jim McGuinness, Product Support Specialist

We get many calls about distributed audio and the connections associated with those systems.  Sometimes, the applications are new systems and sometimes they are replacement systems.  For new systems it might be a bit easier, since the entire system will be installed fresh and you should have control over most, if not all of the variables.  However, in a replacement system, you don’t always have control over some of the makeup of the system, namely- the wiring, in many cases.  This could be due to cable access and being able to rerun cable, or simply that replacing wiring is labor intensive and it would push the project beyond the budgetary limits set. Therefore, going with existing wiring is often the decision.  You could just have a client that doesn’t want his building knocked apart for wiring if at all possible, as he’s more interested in just replacing the head-end equipment.

Applications for distributed audio installations are all over the place these days.  Typical examples are schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, malls, really…you name it.  When we look at these applications, we have to look at the length of cable versus the farthest distance in the system, as well as the power/current being pushed through the system.  This is a very important consideration on new or replacement systems, but especially replacement systems where cabling will be reused.  70V systems are much more forgiving with respect to cable gauge versus a 25V system.  We usually recommend 70V applications where applicable.  In some cases, it is not possible based on local code.  A couple of examples might be in hospitals or schools.  Often they are 25V systems, not 70V systems.

Now there’s one other factor that also has to be considered when replacing an existing system where cabling will be reused.  Was the cabling adequate for the system from the get go?  Meaning- was the proper gauge of wire used for the wattage load of the system?  This should always be checked.  What if the wattage of the system changes to a higher value?  That’s another wiring consideration.  If you are replacing a system that was originally a 25V speaker system with a 70V speaker system, then generally speaking, you should be ok.  However, going the other way around is a major concern.

Included in this article is a cable guide chart for both 25V and 70V systems.  The yellow highlighted example in the chart shows a 100 watt typical load for both a 25V and 70V system based on keeping about a 225 foot run of cable for both systems.  For a small store, this might be a pretty typical scenario.  The important point is to look at the wire gauge difference for these two systems.  For 70V you can use a relatively light, 18 gauge wire. However, for the same system in 25V, a heavy 12 gauge wire will be needed to get the same job done.  Signal loss was also considered when this chart was made, meaning that the resistance of the wire itself has to be considered as part of the added load to the amplifier.

In the second orange circled example, we looked at it a different way.  We looked at a 70V system where the impedance and wire gauge will be the constants, and using those constants to find the approximate point on the 25V system chart.  Now the distance went up a bit, but the real key here is the resulting power load limit.  Only a 15 watt system can be installed using the same gauge of wire.  In this example that’s a power factor of about 7 to 1!

So, it’s really important to look at these simple things to get a system to perform properly for years to come and not have any issues with the system performance.  Failed systems yield unhappy customers and we all know what that means.

Happy connecting………

Product Spotlight: TOA 5000 Series Wireless Microphone Systems

By Bob Tamburri, Marketing & Technical Support Manager
It may surprise you to learn that TOA has been manufacturing wireless microphones since 1964 (that’s way longer than most currently popular wireless mic manufacturers). We’ve even been the technology supplier for other wireless manufacturers. Needless to say, TOA has a lot of experience when it comes to wireless mics. The 5000 Series represents the latest permutation of that experience.

So, what’s so special about the 5000 Series?

First and foremost (and this is where TOAs long experience comes in) is the very robust UHF transmission & reception system employed by the 5000 Series. TOA uses 3-stage filtering  to help reduce the impact of interfering signals. These filters create a tighter “window” to allow only the desired signals through, while undesired signals are more effectively locked out.

Second, the TOA mics (both hand-held and body-pack) are designed to be extremely efficient (over 10 hrs of operation with a single AA battery) and are extremely lightweight and ergonomic (not big, heavy paperweights). We even provide an anti-roll guard on the hand-held mic body to prevent them from rolling off a table. The 5000 Series mics are also equipped with charging contacts and are compatible with the optional NiMH batteries and charging system, which eliminates the need to continually replace batteries and assures that your wireless system is always ready to perform.

Lastly, the 5000 Series squeezes lots of performance and features into a cost-competitive package. These include features not often found on similarly-priced systems such as frequency-scanning, antenna daisy-chain ports* and comprehensive LCD displays, as well as the ability to operate up to 16 simultaneous systems. And, to help cope with the ever changing UHF spectrum landscape, the 5000 Series models are available on frequencies from 576mHz to 698mHz, so you’ll always find a place to work that’s free from interference.

TOA offers a range of transmitters from hand-held (WM-5225, WM-5265 & WM-5270) to body-pack (WM-5325 with a choice of microphones) as well as Tuners (WT-5800, WT-5805 & WT-5810, plus the modular WTU-4800/WT-4820 system. Add all the necessary options (remote antennas, mics, distributors, etc…) and you’ve got a complete wireless solution that works for just about any situation. If that’s not enough, TOA protects your investment with a 5 year audio warranty (more than any other wireless manufacturer).

For more information, visit out website by clicking here.

Also, check our handy Wireless System Configuration Guide, which will help you choose the system that suits your needs by clicking here.

*WT-5800 & WT-4820 Only

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

9000M2 Preset EQs for TOA Speakers

By Jim McGuinness, Product Support Specialist

In continuing to make installation faster and better for the installer, TOA has included built-in output channel speaker EQ settings in the software that’s available for this mixer amplifier and we wanted to remind our installers of this added benefit.  There are 30+ speaker EQs to choose from for many popular models of our TOA speakers.  These EQs will make your project sound better and sound more uniform, yielding a better installation result.  This should make a happier customer and generate a better potential for a repeat customer or even new business due to positive word of mouth, or should we bring ourselves more up to date like word of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  Dare I say e-mail?

So old school!

Implementing EQ settings is very easy.  First open your software project so that you get the main screen as shown below.  Then click on the Blue EQ button of the channel you want to equalize.  The EQ page will display at the bottom of the screen.
Remember for EQ settings, you will have to click on the EQ button for each channel you want to equalize.  This is different from the other output settings which will display all channels at the bottom of the screen.  This I primarily due to EQ information takes up too much space to be able to display all EQ channels at the same time.

Next, click on the dropdown menu option that by default says “ALL FLAT.”

You will see the list of speaker options to choose from as shown below.
Once you click on the speaker option needed, the EQ curve(s) will be available for review on the lower part of the screen.  The HX-5 speaker is listed in this example.  If you would like to review the EQ frequency points, click on the dropdown for the Select (1-12).  There you will have up to twelve points that can be reviewed if available.  Some speakers may only have 1 or 2 points where other speakers might have 7 or 8 points.  In the case of the HX-5, there are 5 points that you can review.  As you review EQ points, when the next point number to be reviewed lists “Through,” then there are no more points for that speaker.
Now for an additional programming trick.  If you have multiple channels with the same speaker, you can copy paste from one channel to another.  Here are the simple steps for this.

First set the EQ curve desired on the lower part of the screen as previously described above on a channel to be equalized.  In this example Channel 1 was chosen.  Once selected, right button click
 your mouse on the CH1 box
on the top part of your screen and select Copy.

Then right button click on the target channel box you want to copy the EQ curve to and click paste.  In this example channel 2
was chosen.  That’s it.  You will be able to confirm the curve on the bottom of the screen.

Now some final notes regarding Preset EQs.

Preset EQs can only be initially set from the programming software, not by the front panel controls of the mixer amplifier.  Once set and loaded to the mixer amplifier, Preset EQs can be turned on and off via the front panel.

Preset EQs can only be reviewed, not changed.  If you need to change a point in a Preset EQ for your installation application, you will need to review the EQ points as described above and write down the parameters for each point.  Then you can modify the EQ curve as necessary by creating your own EQ curve from the software or the front panel controls.

Importantly remember to save your scene for the EQ settings you have made.  Don’t for get to save the project to your computer as well for backup.  Lastly click on Communication and select Upload PC to 9000 > All Data, to get your changes in the amplifier mixer.

Happy sound shaping……