Beijing Games to feature crisp, clean audio

By Dan Daley
SVG Audio Editor

There still might be a lot of particles in the air over Beijing when the Olympics commence on Aug. 8, but at least the audio signal passing through the air is going to be really clean. Beijing Broadcasting Company Ltd (BOB), China Central Television (CCTV) and Beijing Television Station (BTV) are coordinating their coverage of the events at 36 venues in and around Beijing in August. Surround audio is high on the agenda, along with HDTV. They’re being helped in a critical aspect of that with the addition of 58 ATI DSA106-XLR non-reclocking digital audio distribution amplifiers and 15 ATI ADAC-2 simultaneous A/DD/A & sample rate converters.

“Dolby E gave sports broadcasters a manageable way to get the equivalent of three twisted pairs into two discrete channels using the AES3 standard,” says Art Constantine, director of sales for ATI Group. “The challenge is to take that multichannel audio data and distribute it to many locations after it’s been encoded by Dolby E.”

Typically, he says, if a digital distribution amplifier has a distorted incoming signal, it reshapes it by reclocking it. That results in a clean signal but it destroys the Dolby E data. For this issue, the solution is the ATI DSA106-XLR non-reclocking digital audio distribution amplifier. It’s a single input X 6-output distribution amp that does not reclock the signal, assuring that the Dolby E encoding stays coherent.”

A second piece of gear, the ATI ADAC-2, is capable of doing digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital audio conversions, with both functions able to operate independently of each other at up to 24-bit word length and 192 kHz sampling rate. Three independent audio paths through the unit allow users to convert one stereo program from analog to digital, a second stereo program from digital to analog and a third digital audio program from one sample rate to another, all simultaneously and without interaction. The unit has A/D and D/A dynamic range in excess of 100dB, D/A THD+noise less than 0.001 percent, and sample rate converter SNR greater than 128dB, according to ATI’s specs.

“It’s kind of like a Swiss Army knife,” says Constantine. “This is going to be a complex Olympics games this year, in a place where the infrastructure to broadcast the games is being put together very quickly. But the tools and the expertise are available, and the Chinese seem to be taking good advantage of it.”

Other gear imported in the pursuit of pristine sound in Beijing includes a Calrec Alpha digital console with 480 channel processing paths packaged as 162 stereo and 156 mono channels, which will help NBC broadcast discrete surround sound elements during the games. A second 56-fader Alpha console with Bluefin networking has been chosen by NBC for use at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing where it will be used for swimming and diving events, bringing the total number of Calrec audio boards to be used form the games to eight. — two Sigma consoles with Bluefin at the International Broadcast Center, and five Omega consoles in fly-packs at various locations in the city. Calrec consoles with Bluefin will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field, gymnastics, and beach volleyball.

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