IBC 2013 characterised by abundance of new commentary systems

Commentary is a key, if sometimes derided, part of sports TV coverage and its continuing importance was reflected at this year’s IBC. Console manufacturer Lawo entered the field with a Ravenna, Audio over IP (AoIP)-based system, while established commentary system manufacturers Glensound Electronics and AEQ showed new and recently released units respectively.

The Lawo Commentary Unit (LCU) was developed in conjunction with Host Broadcast Services (HBS), which will be using it during next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Lawo director of marketing Andreas Hilmer explained that AoIP has been used to do away with the central control processor usually found in larger commentary systems. Instead, a software controller with a touch screen interface is connected to the commentary units, which have been designed to be familiar and easy to use for commentators, and is able to handle up to 20 commentator feeds simultaneously.

HBS chief technical officer Jörg Sander commented on the LCU: “Good commentary plays a key role in the success of global events. The Lawo commentary solution was developed in the very best interest of the rights holding broadcasters of these events.”

IP also features in the latest release from Glensound. The GS-GC5 USB is a new media take on the company’s established ISDN-based commentary units, offering the Luci Live IP codec along with other coding formats, including MP2, AAC, AAC-HE, G711 and G722.

The unit has a four-channel mixer and four headphone connections, with all audio I/O on USB ports. Glensound sales and marketing manager Marc Wilson says customers had been asking when its products would be available with IP. Rather than develop its own IP codec, Wilson explains that the company decided to work with Luci to include the Live software, while designing a hardware interface to operate it that would be familiar to commentators. The GS-GC5 USB is due to begin shipping in November.

Spanish company AEQ is a long-time supplier of broadcast equipment for coverage of the Olympics. In recent years this has included the DCS-10 digital commentary system and now the manufacturer has further recognised its association with the Games by naming its new commentator unit the Olympia.

This featured during London 2012 and will be used at the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. Designed to succeed the DCS-10, the Olympia is based on the TITAN – BC 2000D router and so has for more than 5000×5000 audio channels.

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