Sometimes it’s hard in our day and age to find new ways to innovate with location sound gear. “Reinventing the wheel” or “game changer” are phrases which get used far too often in my opinion. Much of time time, a lot of the advances that we actually see are “quality of life” changes which make our day to day work easier. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as we all love it when we can simplify, diversify, or otherwise enhance our workflow. What I have sitting in front of me right now, does just that.
Enter the BPS Battery Power System from Coga Sound!
What we have here is a slick new battery distribution system (BDS) that does actually innovate in a number of ways.
First off, this is for Inspired Energy Smart Batteries, which now are offered by several manufacturers and retailers, for very very good reason. It used to be that the gold standard for BDS power was the NP1 battery. Ever since the smart batteries have come onto the scene, that is increasingly no longer the case. Smart batteries have numerous advantages over traditional NP1’s in that they are lower profile, have curved instead of rectangular hard edges, generally higher capacity, and most importantly a chip inside that supports telemetry. Instead of metering off of voltage alone, you now can access detailed analytics about volts, amps, watts, number of charge cycles, time remaining, etc. Let’s just say that I haven’t had any interest in NP1’s for a while (even if they have recently started to try and upgrade them recently).
This is all why the BPS system made a great call. It’s possible that they come out with another model to accommodate NP1’s in the future, but for now it’s only smart batteries. Given the boxy shape of NP1’s, I can’t imagine that the BPS system would look as cool, with its curves and raised designs.
Here is a better view of those designs, where you can see Coga Sound’s signature 3D printed style. However unlike their fantastic 3D printed Glowpots, there’s a lot here going on under the hood.
Traditionally, a BDS system would have a central switching unit, with a separate cup for the battery, and then outputs for your powered devices. With the BPS system, the battery cup IS the central switching unit. This saves space, and works to simplify the workflow. Also, at only 4oz (114g), it is not going to add a lot of weight to your setup, plus the materials that Coga Sound uses in their chassis printing are very durable. Hopefully you’re not banging around your batteries, but it’s nice to know since these can very easily be mounted to the outside of the bag.
Speaking of mounting them to the outside of the bag, Coga Sound offers many different options for doing that, tailored to specific bags. Above you can see a few of them, plus I believe that there is also one for Orca Bags as well.
Since I use a K-Tek Stingray Small X bag with My Sound Devices 833, I grabbed the Molle Clip. Above, you can see how easy that it is to swap between clips. There’s a little tab that you can pull back to release the clip once it’s been slid in. The single screw which fastens on the clip can easily be added or removed with the included allen wrench. The clip can be mounted in either direction, depending on your needs.
And BAM! There it is. Very securely attached to the front of the bag. Often times, this is to save space inside. I would probably mount this on the inside of the bag personally, but it’s dealer’s choice with all of the options available. This mounting position would be especially helpful in very small, tight setups. It’s also extremely easy to slide in and remove the battery, yet I wouldn’t ever think that it could pop out on its own.
The specs (pictured above) are no slouch. This is going to easily be able to distribute and power anything that you’re going to have in a bag or even a small cart setup. What the BPS can also do is daisy chain! That’s a really big deal. One of the things that people will often do with their PSC, Remote Audio, or Audioroot BDS systems is to use a double battery cup. This allows them to hot swap and have more battery capacity. With the BPS system (also as pictured above), you can connect the 4th outputs together between two units and they will function as one.
Let’s say that this is how you want to go. Two of the BPS systems connected together. You’re going to have a hard lined output on each of them (either TA4 or Hirose [I have TA4 for the Sound Devices 8 series]). Chances are that you only need one, which is a big reason why Coga Sound made these hard lined cables user-swappable or user-removable, using only that included allen wrench. You could definitely keep them both and use it to power something else. But, again, it’s great to have all of these options. No other BDS allows you to switch out hard lined cables like this.
Now here’s where it pays to have a Sound Devices 8 series: battery telemetry. The 8 series, through its TA4 power input, can receive much more detailed information from the smart batteries than anything that a voltage meter could tell you. That’s incredibly helpful, and great that the BPS system supports because this is all that you need. You can see exactly how much time, at this power draw, that your battery will last in hours and minutes. It’s virtually dead-on accurate. I love knowing just how long that I can go before I absolutely need to swap the battery. Voltage alone doesn’t always present like a perfect downhill slope. It never hurts to have more information.
Let’s say that you aren’t using a Sound Devices 8 series device. Most mixer/recorders will show you their voltage on the home screen, and that could work just fine. But let’s also say that you really would like smart battery telemetry. In that case, I would recommend using the Audioroot eSmart Neo series. They will show you most of the same information that you would see on an 8 series screen. The only drawback is that they are a little pricier than the regular smart batteries. However, I personally think that it’s a small enough difference if you want that telemetry. If I didn’t have an 8 series device, I would use these batteries.
What you see above is not your standard usage for the BPS system, but it’s an example of how it can be used. In the real world, if you were going to use it to power a hop like this, or some sort of relay station, it would probably be best to remove the hard lined cable so that it isn’t in your way. In a pinch, this would work well, plus you have other battery outputs to use if needed.
In essence, what we have here is innovation. It is the only BDS to date which can carry smart battery telemetry to a powered device. It is the only lightweight, 3D printed BDS to date. It is the only BDS to date which can be taken apart with a simple tool, for user modification. It is the only BDS to date which can be daisy chained together in this manner. I have to say that the BPS system surprised me, but not because I expected it to be a bad tool. It surprised me rather because before now, Coga Sound was only known for their excellent glow-in-the-dark and colored 3D printed potentiometer knobs, as well as their fix for the Zaxcom Nova strangely not having any bag or strap loops.
This is a great step up for Coga Sound, and anyone who gets to see one up close can immediately see and feel the work that went into designing it. Instead of just building their flavor of BDS so that they could enter this part of the market, they made sure to set their units apart from the competition. I think that anyone who understands the benefits and joys of Inspired Energy smart batteries should be taking a very very good look at the BPS system. And by “very very good look,” I really mean “picking one or two up”. Two thumbs up Coga Sound. Keep ’em coming.
Jared Elkin is a production sound mixer based out of Minneapolis, MN