IBC Audio Wrap-Up: Key Product Intros
By Dan Daley
IBC2014, which concluded Tuesday in Amsterdam, had more than its share of broadcast-audio product introductions, in a number of key product categories.
Consoles saw a lot of action.
Studer’s Vista series line had several additions. Introduced at the show, the 52-fader Vista V is based on the same Quad Star technology as the Vista X launched this year but in a more compact footprint intended for smaller studios, OB trucks, and location productions. Also, Studer introduced the Infinity Core 200 v.5.2 software upgrade to Vista X, Vista V, Vista 1, and Vista 5 digital consoles, as well as AES67 interfacing via a D23m card. New features in the 5.2 software are the ability to assign Strip Setups as CUE events, support of the Soundcraft Realtime Rack (UAD plug-ins), support of Lexicon PCM96 Surround reverbs with Infinity Core, input-gain unfold for multiformat channels, Spill Zone for contributing channels, GUI enhancements, and new patch groups.
Release v.3.0 updates for Yamaha’s CL and QL digital audio consoles will be available early next year. Added features and functionality include 5.1 panning and monitoring for surround broadcasts and a newly developed buss compressor for insertion into the stereo-mix buss. For broadcast, 5.1 pan positioning can be set via the touch panel or knobs, Mix to Matrix can be used for international-feed production, and Mix to Stereo can be used for stereo mixdown. Besides surround mixing, CL/QL V3.0 adds basic surround monitoring. Monitor-alignment capability is also provided, with adjustment of relative speaker levels and delays. Also for broadcast applications, Dan Dugan Sound Design automatic microphone mixers, already included in QL Series, are now included in CL Series consoles, allowing gain distribution for up to 16 speech-microphone channels to be automatically optimized in real time.
IBC2014 marked the world premiere for the Lawo mc²36 “all in one” audio console, aimed at broadcast and live-sound markets. The compact console offers a DSP micro-core with internal 512×512 port audio matrix and with integrated I/O is also natively equipped with RAVENNA/AES67 technology, allowing the mc²36 to integrate into IP infrastructures. The console’s 21.5-in. Full HD touchscreens work with touch-sensitive color-illuminated rotary encoders for intuitive operation: for example, when the dynamics encoders are touched, the dynamics window will automatically pop up, and, after the parameters are adjusted, the auto-close function will close the window without additional user action to restore the full overview. In terms of connectivity, the console’s interfaces include 32 mic/line inputs, 32 line outputs, eight digital AES3 inputs, eight digital AES3 outputs, eight GPIO ports, one MADI (SFP) port, three RAVENNA/AES67 channels, and a headphone jack. In addition to the onboard I/O, a MADI tie-line connection and three RAVENNA/AES67 Audio-over-IP (AoIP) ports provide connectivity for up to 384 external inputs and outputs, offering a total capacity of 496 physical inputs and outputs.
Riedel Communications released Tango TNG-200, the company’s first fully networked platform based on the AES67 and AVB standards. It features two integrated Riedel Digital partylines, two AES67 and AVB-compatible ports, two Ethernet ports, one option slot, and redundant power supplies. It is fully compatible with all of Riedel’s current and legacy intercom panels, including its new RSP-2318 Smartpanel. Users can tailor the intercom system according to their needs, including choice of matrix size starting with 40×80.
Released at IBC2014, RSP-2318 Smartpanel is the first designed to serve as a multifunctional user interface. Features include three high-resolution, sunlight-readable, multitouch color displays; premium-quality stereo audio; a multilingual character set; and 18 keys in just 1 RU. Offering AES67 and AVB connectivity as standard and AES3 over CAT/coax optionally, RSP-2318 Smartpanel provides exchangeable headset connectors for mono or stereo applications, an integrated power supply, individual volume controls for each key, two USB ports, two Ethernet connectors, GPIO, audio I/O, an option slot, a removable gooseneck microphone, an SD card slot, and HDMI output.
Speaking of AES67, Studer announced integration for Infinity Core, which drives the company’s flagship Vista X and Vista V digital audio consoles. AES67 compatibility makes Infinity Core the first x86-based AoIP core, incorporating standard off-the-shelf IT components and a Linux operating system. Infinity Core also features a real-time mixer application for standard servers, while allowing distributed DSP processing on the customer’s platform. It also uses the Digigram LX-IP AES67 PCIe sound card to interface with real-time AoIP networks. AES67 compatibility enables I/O signals to be shared across Studer’s Vista and OnAir digital-console ranges and over different audio networks.
Sennheiser introduced a Dante card for its EM 9046 receiver, enabling its Digital 9000 microphone system to be integrated into Dante AoIP networks. The EM 9046 DAN extension card is inserted into the expansion slot of the EM 9046 eight-channel receiver. Internally, the card provides 16 audio inputs to send the digital audio and command signals over the Dante network. The card works with sampling rates of 44.1/48/88.2 and 96 kHz at a resolution of 24 bits. The EM 9046 DAN will be available in mid October. Sennheiser also adapted its Wireless Systems Manager software to include a monitoring function for the Dante card. The new version 4.2, also slated to be available in October, will allow users to listen to and monitor the EM 9046’s Dante audio streams from any point in the network.
Most interesting if not best-named product at the show? Studer’s new Ball Chaser allows broadcast engineers to use a joystick to open the shotgun microphone closest to the action on the playing area while keeping the other microphones closed. “Sports broadcasters often place 12 or more shotgun microphones around the playing area to pick up as much of the action as possible,” company literature explains. “However, leaving all 12 microphones fully or partially open for the whole match results in a lack of detail in the audio mix. Manually opening the microphone closest to the action and closing all the rest for the length of a game is virtually impossible, but the Studer Ball Chaser simplifies this complex task. Ball Chaser connects directly to any Vista console and is a simple joystick mounted on a small, portable box. The operator configures the unit with a simple Web GUI interface, setting the layout of the physical microphones around the pitch (up to 24 microphones may be used) and linking these to the faders on the desk (mono and stereo faders may be controlled). During the game, moving the joystick opens and closes the relevant faders with smooth cross fades. The operator can [monitor] the pitch events and open the necessary microphone without looking down at the joystick. Desk faders will respond in real time to the joystick movement and open only the microphone fader nearest to where the action is taking place. In fact, the faders do not even have to be on the active layer of the desk, freeing up valuable fader space. The Ball Chaser link to the desk is a simple Ethernet connection, so the operator can be some distance from the Vista desk, even watching the action from the stand rather than taking space in the OB truck.”