Audio at IBC: Five Key Intros

Here’s a brief look at five additions to the arsenal of audio tools demonstrated at the IBC broadcasting trade show, which closes tomorrow in Amsterdam.

Artemis Light, the newest member of Calrec’s Artemis family of Bluefin2/Hydra2 audio consoles, adds a compact 4RU processing rack to the line. It incorporates Bluefin2 High Density Signal Processing and Hydra2 networking technologies in the same compact and scalable control surface used by Artemis Shine and Beam. Using the same hardware and software architecture, Artemis Light can be fully integrated with any existing Hydra2 network. The Artemis Light router has eight Hydra2 ports for interfacing with the Hydra2 I/O range, as well as with other Hydra2 routers and their I/O. The flexibility of the Hydra2 I/O range means that a large amount of I/O can be connected in various formats, tailored to the specific needs of each environment.

Artemis Light also supports point-to-multipoint routing, the Calrec H2O router-control GUI, and third-party remote-control protocols SW-P-08 and EMBER, allowing remote control of router and console functions. The Artemis Light DSP card uses the Bluefin2 architecture to provide 240 input channels that can be assigned as mono, stereo, or surround paths. Up to 16 main outputs and 48 audio groups can be assigned as mono, stereo or surround from a pool of 72 busses, as well as 48 track and 24 auxiliary output busses. Combined with a comprehensive multiple-operator monitoring system, these options make Artemis Light suited for complex and demanding production environments.

Tested by the BBC during its Wimbledon broadcasts, Fraunhofer’s new Dialogue Enhancement Technology enables end users to adapt the volume of different audio elements within a single broadcast program. Fraunhofer says that its technology is the first of its kind to enable this level of audio control at the low bitrates required for broadcasting. During the BBC tests, it enabled users of a specifically designed media player to listen to Radio 5 Live’s online stream and adjust the audio volume levels of the commentator or background ambience during live coverage of the match for a tailored audio experience.

The company’s dialogue-enhancement technology enables highly efficient transportation of individual audio objects, such as a commentator’s voice or stadium atmosphere, in a compatible mono or stereo downmix. The audio encoder receives these objects and produces a single mix, as well as a stream of parametric side information. The transmission of the mix, plus side information, is extremely bitrate-efficient: each audio object increases the overall bitrate only slightly. The mix can be produced automatically or by a mix engineer. On the receiving side, the user is able to adjust the volume of each object individually to improve the intelligibility, for example, of the sports commentator. Fraunhofer’s dialogue-enhancement technology is compatible with existing transmission and playback equipment. Devices that are not capable of decoding the parametric side information will play back the mixed audio signal.

Solid State Logic
V3 Software for Solid State Logic’s C10 HD Compact broadcast console, first announced at NAB 2011 and now available as an upgrade, offers a range of new features and options that significantly expand the console’s capability. With V3 software, the Dialogue Automix, 5.1 Upmix, DAW Control, and Production Automation interfacing features are now joined by the C-Play playout system, integration with Mosart Medialab automation, and compatibility with Reidel RockNet Audio Networks. V3 also introduces Loop Redundancy Mode for the SSL MORSE Stagebox and the new Alpha-Link Live-R MADI I/O unit.

Building on the success of the Alpha-Link Live low-cost console I/O unit, the new Alpha-Link Live-R unit adds a set of Redundant MADI optical-fiber connections to the existing Alpha-Link Live low-cost console I/O unit. The Loop Redundancy Mode reduces the number of cables required for redundant fiber-system installation and doubles the number of audio signals that can be passed between the C10/C100 and the modular B-RIO I/O Unit.

Sound Devices
At the heart of Sound Devices’ MixPre-D compact, high-performance portable audio mixer are two studio-grade mic/line-switchable inputs with limiters, high-pass filters, and selectable phantom power. The MixPre-D serves as a flexible, class-compliant USB audio interface with a number of analog-output options, including mic/line-switchable balanced XLR, dedicated consumer mic-level on a locking TA3 connector (designed specifically for DSLR-type inputs), and an aux-level output on 3.5-mm connection. Digital outputs include balanced AES3 on XLR and USB audio connectivity for Mac OS, Windows, or Linux computers. Among other features are MS stereo matrix, tone oscillator, internal slate microphone, return monitoring of both analog and USB audio, high-gain headphone output, and two-AA battery or external 5-18 VDC powering.

An updated version of Stagetec’s new XCPU09 controller board for NEXUS brings significant improvements to the optional Master Monitor software package: each meter can now include three configurations with up to eight channels that operate simultaneously and independently. The XCPU09 Master Monitor features loudness metering in accordance with ITU-R BS.1770-2, ITU-R BS.1771, and EBU R128 standards, real-time spectral analysis, and true-peak metering as integrated NEXUS functions, eliminating the need for external peripherals.

For loudness metering, the software provides three integration options: momentary metering with an integration time of 400 ms; short-term metering with an integration time of 3 seconds; and integrated metering with custom integration time using a gating function. The results of this last measurement can be adopted directly as metadata in a Dolby E stream. On the hardware side, a further improvement equips the XCPU09 with an Ethernet port. This enables direct Ethernet connection to  a control computer running the Nexus Matrix 5 software or to an external remote controller without the need for an XCI board.


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