European Championships: SSL System T delivers immersive audio mixes
Solid State Logic played a pivotal role in broadcast trials conducted at the recent European Championships athletics competition in Berlin. The network-native SSL System T broadcast production environment mixed to both AC-4 and MPEG-H 7.0.4 channel-based formats with object channels, and fed channel direct outputs for an MPEG-H High Order Ambisonic mix simultaneously.
The event was regarded by many as a major step forward for both Next Generation Audio (NGA), and Ultra High Definition (UHD) and High Frame Rate (HFR) video.
The trials covered two track and field events each day for four days. A number of broadcast engineers were invited to take the helm and mix individual events, producing immersive 7.0.4 beds and four object channels: English and French commentary, and English and French Audio Description.
Field sources were a combination of the Schoeps ORTF-3D microphone (4.0.4), mh acoustics’ 32 element em32 Eigenmike array, plus a variety of spot, crowd, and ambient microphones (both mono and stereo). The SSL System T environment consisted of the new 32-fader S300 control surface and the T25 Tempest Audio Engine.
To cope with the high channel counts and complex routing requirements, SSL Network I/O was deployed, alongside Dante AoIP I/O from other manufacturers, including Audinate’s own Dante Virtual Soundcard. This was all connected to a redundant CoTs network with two Cisco SG500 and two Cisco SG300 switches, providing a 1024 x 1024 audio routing system.
I/O management, creation of logical devices, and network-wide routing were managed directly from the System T S300 GUI. This meant real channel numbers and varying channel orders could be hidden from the operators, who instead simply routed complete 7.1.4 and 4.0.4 logical devices.
SSL’s Tom Knowles, Product Manager – Broadcast Systems, was present at the trials, guiding engineers on System T and its new immersive features. “The operators coped really well,” he noted. “It was gratifying to see them get to grips with the console, the routing, and the NGA features so quickly. We weren’t telling people how to mix, we were facilitating their preferences.
“With the mix of sources and formats we were dealing with, the console’s 3D panner was essential. It was instrumental in building the ambient beds and moving a big variety of source material in the 3D space without having to use aux channels for height, for example.
“It was a great pleasure collaborating with all the companies involved this event. On the audio side, we worked directly with B-com, Dolby, EBU, Fraunhofer IIS, Junger, and Qualcomm to prove that we are already delivering immersive, next generation audio.”
To enable emerging demand for Next Generation Audio, the recently launched version 2 of SSL System T’s software-based architecture now incorporates the channel, bus, panning, and monitoring requirements of immersive audio standards, including 3-axis coordinate panning, wider channels and busses, Intelligent downmixing, 12-channel monitoring, and upgraded processing tools.