Audio Routers: Increasing Integration With Video Routing

Audio routers have gotten far more sophisticated in the past year. They had to: convergence with video-signal routing is making the move to the fully integrated multisignal router an inevitability. Here’s a look at some of the choices sports-broadcast professionals have now.

The latest from Evertz is EMR, a multi-format modular router that provides a high density solution that the company says does not compromise functionality as it provides a unified platform for routing digital audio, analog audio, MADI audio, data, and time code. The EMR uses a packet routing core that allows for highly dense applications and also provides the flexibility for expansion as demands grow.

A single 6RU frame can accommodate 288×288 AES, 288 data ports, 288×288 time code signals, or a mix of everything in between. Expansion beyond this is as easy as adding another frame. With two 6RU frames, the EMR can accommodate 576×576 AES signals with full redundancy.

The modular design of the EMR means that there are no limitations to the signal formats that can be added to the router, or limitations to the size at which it can be expanded to. Other products that can be combined with the EMR are master controller switchers, multi-viewers and more.

Harris Broadcast
The new Platinum IP3 router, the first to accommodate separate video, audio, and data paths within the same frame, is also the first that can scale to multiframe configurations using a common architecture for very large broadcast operations. It can scale seamlessly to 2kx2k and beyond with no external distribution amplifiers or combiners, eliminating the need to take stations off the air while expanding a system. An enhanced control system enables fast, on-air setup and reconfiguration.

Like the rest of the Platinum line, the new large router integrates mixed-format video and audio routing, multiviewer functionality, mux/demux, frame sync, and advanced I/O options such as MADI and fiber, all within a single, space-saving frame. The optional frame-sync input card enables up to eight wild video signals to be synchronized to house reference without the need for external frames or wiring. It also performs demultiplexing of up to 16 channels of embedded audio in each video stream, which can then be routed independently and discretely. To simplify facility wiring and the management of multiple audio feeds, all Platinum routers offer MADI interfaces that can accept up to 128 signals of mono audio for presentation to a TDM crosspoint. Up to four audio consoles can effectively connect to the router over coax or fiber, quadrupling the number of potential audio signals and permitting much higher-density audio-signal routing.

The Nova73 HD offers 48- and 96-kHz operation, Dolby-E–compatibility, and clock-synchronized switching to video frames or internal DSP, as well as a potential of up to 8,192 inputs/outputs, available via AES3, MADI, HD-SDI, ATM, and Ravenna interfaces, all in a compact 10RU package. It features a hot-plug capability and online configuration that allows users to expand and change the system during live broadcasts. In terms of security, Lawo’s STAR² technology provides maximum redundancy and fail-safe operation. Other features include interface versatility via I/O system DALLIS with fiber-optic infrastructure and with direct ATM/SDH connection and unique Dual Self-Healing Star topology.

The Nova73 HD compact offers the same feature set as the Nova73 HD but in a 7RU package. It provides a routing capacity of 5120×5120 I/O and up to 600 fully equipped DSP channels. Systems include comprehensive control protocol remote MNOPL (TCP/IP) and error surveillance via SNMP.

Based on MADI technology, the Nova29 network hub features 16 MADI ports, 1024×1024 I/O (in addition to internal signal), transparent signal routing, 1RU design, fast visual feedback with colored LED indicators above each MADI port, configuration/maintenance via zirkon.exe software and SOP Explorer, sample-rate–switchability between 44.1 and 48 kHz, 256 loopbacks, and a 40×40 talkback matrix.

The Nova17 has an extensive set of features within a broad performance spectrum, with up to 128 inputs/outputs and up to four optional MADI interfaces to enable another 256 channels. All the channels are interconnectable, and mono routing is possible for AES interfaces. In addition, the system provides internal signal processing, gain control, a summing matrix, and equalization.

NVISION 8500 Hybrid routers combine resilience with the benefits of cost, space, and power efficiencies provided by integrated audio processing, as well as simplified cable management that takes advantage of high-density cabling, direct fiber connectivity, and audio concentrators. The product line comprises five frame sizes, with matrices from 144×144 to 1152×1152, or larger if required. For audio-only applications, the embedded audio router can create a mono matrix larger than 16,000×16,000. NVISION 8500 Hybrids integrate digital video/audio routing and 16-channel de-embedding/shuffling/embedding and breakaway. Patented ultra-low audio-to-video latency eliminates the possibility of the hybrid router’s introducing lip-sync issues.

If required, the routers also provide full support for direct MADI connections to/from an audio console. They also offer patented N-on-1 crosspoint redundancy, fully protecting all video and audio paths. Because video and audio crosspoints are located on the same module, troubleshooting and system management are simplified. The routers provide a zero-downtime capability, with a backup system for the largest possible impact block within the router. A redundant crosspoint array continuously shadows the main array, and a single action can repair any failure by “gang-switching” all paths to a functioning redundant crosspoint card during the next vertical interval. Further efficiencies can be realized by incorporating the use of Miranda’s NVISION 8900 audio concentrators. Their ability to aggregate 32 discrete audio-channel pairs to/from a single MADI stream — whether some distance from a router or adjacent to it — coupled with the ability to convert analog or AES to MADI and vice versa dramatically reduces the number of audio cables typically required for a broadcast infrastructure.

The PESA PRO line of professional HD-video-routing switchers is expanded with the new PRO-3GSDI-1616 routing switcher. It supports all common SMPTE- and ITU-standard serial digital video signals, as well as embedded audio and other ancillary data required for HD-SDI and DVB/ASI sources. Positioned at a competitive price point, the PESA PRO line includes several new features that make it attractive for small to midsize video-switching environments. The product line is suited to SD-SDI, HD-SDI, and 3G-SDI switching applications for small to medium-size live venue routing-switcher requirements.

Two models are available: the PRO-3GSDI-1616-C and the PRO-3GSDI-1616-PB, which includes a local pushbutton control panel. Both models feature an internal power supply and can have multiple remote control panels added via Ethernet interface. The PRO-3GSDI-1616 supports standard data rates from 50 Mbps to 3 Gbps and video transports up to 1080p/60. All inputs are auto-equalized. For digital cinema HD-video distribution, it can be configured to switch SMPTE 372M dual-link HD-SDI in configurations up to 8×8.

With standard SMPTE-formatted outputs, each signal is auto-sensed and reclocked to the appropriate transport stream. Signals can be reclocked up to 100 m for 1080p/60. For non-standard formats, reclocking circuitry can be set to bypass mode.

Two independent reference inputs allow easy selection of genlock from a black burst or trilevel sync source. The PRO-3GSDI-1616’s compact 1RU frame design features front-load, hot-swappable card sets and includes space for an optional redundant power supply and controller module. It is also compatible with PESA’s Cattrax graphical user control interface, which supports comprehensive configuration, diagnostics, and monitoring of the full line of PESA router frames. The software is installed on a host PC running the Windows operating system and communicates via an Ethernet port located on each router. Priced at $5,995, the PRO-3GSDI-1616 is available now.

Stagetec USA
The NEXUS distributed-architecture I/O routing system provides up to several thousand inputs and several thousand outputs, using a TDMB backplane network that can be configured as a ring, a point-to-point, or a combination of the two. NEXUS base devices are linked via fiber-optic cables directly or through a NEXUS Star router. Fiber can be doubled up for redundancy with no loss of signal output if any path is cut or otherwise lost. I/O options include analog, AES/EBU, MADI, HD-SDI, 3G embedder/de-embedders, Dolby-E, and S/PDIF. Stagetec’s proprietary TrueMatch 32-bit mic inputs offer 158-dB(C) dynamic range and with up to four splits per mic input, each with its own independent gain control.

Audinate’s DANTE audio-over-IP technology has been added to NEXUS with Stagetec’s new XDIP (NeXus Dante over IP) card providing 64 I/O, all with Stagetec sample-rate converters. The NEXUS XDIP Dante card also complies with the emerging AVB standard IEEE 802.1BA.

Loudness metering, RTA, and Dialnorm GUIs are offered via a software option running on the XCPU controller cards in the various base devices in a NEXUS system. Also available are data transport (RS232/422/485 and MIDI) and GPI/O ports. The NEXUS can be controlled by its own GUI and, if desired, by various video routers, including those from Evertz, Grass Valley, Harris, and NVISION.

Utah Scientific
Embedded-audio signal processing is offered on the UTAH-400 series digital routing switchers. The new capability comes via a new line of SDI, AES, analog stereo, and MADI I/O boards that rely on advanced FPGA (field-programmable gate array) technology to perform signal processing. In the past five years, embedded and MADI audio has become the norm in media operations of any significant size. Embedded audio supports a more streamlined system overall, but its inflexibility can make it difficult to shuffle audio channels as needed in larger, integrated facilities, where quick changes to live feeds are common.

With the UTAH-400 systems, advanced signal processing is built into the router’s I/O board, enabling it to deserialize and decode a signal into its component data streams without compromising the router’s overall operational reliability. As a result, audio channels are shuffled automatically without an outboard device or manual intervention. The enhanced UTAH-400 routing systems also incorporate a virtual control panel to provide an easy-to-read display of the video signals and their associated audio positions. The GUI design enables control of digital signal-processing functions and other signal-configuration information.

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