NAB 2017

Audio SportsTechBuzz at NAB 2017: The Top Audio Stories in Review

While the NAB Show last week had plenty of big sports-technology news, this year’s show was a particularly big one for audio products. In an effort to make the tidal wave of news and announcements more digestible to our readers, here is a breakdown of the Audio SportsTechBuzz at NAB 2017 roundup. This rundown provides snippets of big announcements and what was on display from an audio-product perspective at the LVCC this year. 

Audio-Technica (Booth C2622) is introducing its 6000 Series high-density wireless system, a spectrum-efficient solution that allows users to pack 31 channels in 4 MHz of bandwidth. The 6000 Series’ channels are spaced at 125-kHz intervals and can all be used simultaneously. The system operates in the 944-952 MHz band, which is free of broadcast TV. The FCC has expanded license eligibility for this band beyond broadcasters and content creators to include sound companies and venues that routinely operate 50 wireless microphones or more.

It’s Alteros’s first-ever NAB Show, and the new company, a spinoff of Audio Technica (Booth C2622) that focuses on a post-auction RF landscape, is showing its first products: the SWX-8 and SWX-8C, IP switches that can be used to create receiver zones on audio networks and that provide failover redundancy for microphones on those networks.

Avid (Booth SU902) announced native support for the 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos format. in what Tony Cariddi, director of product and solutions marketing, describes as a “strategic alliance with Dolby.” Avid has released a slew of other upgrades for its foundational Pro Tools audio system, including new panning software for object-based audio and the ability to switch between object and buss outputs on the fly.

Besides showcasing an IP-based remote-production demo, Calrec (Booth C3118) has introduced its Artemis Ray console. Capable of operating at multiple sample rates, at 48 kHz the Artemis Ray provides up to 456 channel-processing paths, 128 program buses, 64 IFB/track outputs, and 32 auxiliaries.

A regulation foosball table at Calrec’s booth (C3118) was set up with four lav effects mics feeding a Calrec Fieldbox and then to the new RP-1 rack-mounted console, Calrec’s entry into the at-home/REMI race, that sent the signals by Cat 5 to an Apollo console, emulating an OB van to studio setup. Fun, but the star of the show was the new entry in the Artemis series, Artemis Ray, which puts yet more faders into an even shorter desk and can add a full-motion video player into the chassis.

Clear-Com’s (Booth C6908) recently released LQ-Series interfaces — which can connect two-wire, four-wire and four-wire with GPIO audio and call signaling over IP networks — have added GPIO (general-purpose I/O) allowing control information to accompany audio. This increased functionality makes the LQ better-suited to at-home/REMI production, according to Product Marketing Manager Vinnie Macri.

Clear-Com (Booth C6908) has announced the release of two V-Series Lever Key-Panels: a 32-key intercom panel (V32LD) and a 16-key expansion panel (V16LDE). The new panels offer higher key density and advanced programmability in the same panel space as the current models. The panels are available with immediate effect.

CrewComPliant’s (Booth C12721) wireless production intercom system that supports simultaneously active 2-wire and 4-wire intercom connections, has added a new feature: a sync port allows the multiple users to operate multiple CrewCom systems simultaneously and with no RF conflicts.

DiGiCo’s (Booth C3118) new SD12 console made its NAB Show debut, with 72 I/O channels each with full processing. Meanwhile, the company’s SD7 flagship console now sports 250% faster processing, thanks to new DSP.

At Sunday’s DTV Audio Group conclave at the Alexis Park Hotel, Karl Malone, director, sound design, NBC Sports & Olympics, got to review the remarkable numbers from the 2016 Rio Olympics: the Peacock Network covered 32 venues over 18 days delivering 2,084 hours of broadcast programming across 11 NBC-owned networks and 3.3 billion total streaming minutes, 2.71 billion of which were live streaming.

Also at the DTV Audio Group conclave, NBC offered some information about the it’s plans for the 2018 Olympics from PyeongChang, South Korea (Feb. 8-25): what are expected to be the largest Winter Games in history will have virtually no copper cabling in the IBC, with heavy reliance on AoIP using Dante and RAVENNA networked formats; 90% of the intercoms used there — RTS Omneo (Booth C5409) and LQ Clear-Com (Booth C6908) — will also use IP.

Dolby’s (Booth SU1702) partnership with BT Sports in the UK continues to further Atmos as a broadcast-sports audio format. “BT is committed to 4K broadcast, and they wanted an audio format that matched 4K quality,” says Rob France, senior product marketing manager, Dolby. Atmos mixing is now aboard two OB vans in the UK (Telegenics) and has done two boxing shows in addition to English Premiere League games. France says European workflows are better initially for Atmos, given the diversity of rights access and station affiliations in the U.S.

Fraunhofer (Booth SU6110) has an ambitious goalpost ahead: the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea — the first using the MPEG-H multichannel audio format — but it is off to a strong start: it is displaying three new postproduction products for the format as well as a 3D reverb plug-in, which, according to Robert Bleidt, GM, Fraunhofer USA, more easily brings much-needed ambience to object-based audio.

Sennheiser-owned speaker maker Neumann debuted its KH80 4-in. powered monitors for broadcast. They’re also ready for Precision Alignment software, the brand’s entry into the automatic-calibration market, with that software expected to be ready by Q4.

Lawo (Booth N1424) brings back the battleship console: the huge Lawo mc²96 Grand Production Console for IP video-production environments set sail at the show. Specifically designed for IP video-production environments through native support for all relevant standards — SMPTE 2110, AES67, RAVENNA, and Dante — the mc²96 is available in frame sizes with 24 to 200 faders and features 21.5-in. Full HD touchscreens as well as multiple mini color-TFTs in channel strips.

Neutrik (Booth C9515) is demonstrating its new XIRIUM PRO Digital Wireless Audio System at its. The cable-replacement system uses FCC license-free, wireless transmission of audio within the 5 GHz band with extremely low (>3.6-ms) latency. “It’s all about more capacity and less cable,” says Applications Engineer Mark Boyadjian.

Q5X (Booth C1539) introduced an entire suite of products based on its QT-5100 remote-control transmitter; the package comprises the Aqua Mic, a new version of its seminal Player Mic, and the Incognito Mic, with a separate power pack for longer battery life. “People want to hear athletes on the field as much as they want to see them,” says Q5X CEO Paul Johnson.

Riedel (Booth C4337) used a press conference to formally launch Bolero, a new wireless intercom product. The 1.9-GHz DECT system uses decentralized antennas running over a standards-based AES67 network. The antennas connect to switches that connect to AES67 client cards in the Riedel Artist mainframes to provide a fully integrated point-to-point intercom ecosystem with seamless roaming capabilities.Microphone manufacturer

Sanken (Booth C3851) showed its array of high-rejection shotgun mics, including the 7-in. CS-1e. But distributor Plus24 President Jim Pace recalls the 2003 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay when Sanken really showed its sports stuff: the league allowed 15 contact mics to be frozen into the ice, where they were able to pick up stick, blade, and even the PA sound without ambience. “The entire rink became a membrane,” Pace points out.

Nothing all wet about Sennheiser’s (Booth C2213) new MKE 2 GoPro-verified microphone for HERO4 Black and Silver cameras. You’ll find it in a water tank at Sennheiser’s booth and hear a demo that shows how its windscreen keeps it dry and ready for action.

Shure (Booth C2218) debuted its Axient Digital Wireless System, its most advanced wireless platform to date, suited for all professional productions and situations. Axient Digital features a receiver that is compatible with its two transmitter offerings, the AD Series and ADX Series, and the Axient Digital ADX Series transmitters incorporate ShowLink, which provides real-time control of all transmitter parameters with interference detection and avoidance.

Solid State Logic (Booth C2627) has released of additions to its System T broadcast mixing platform. These include the Tempest Control Rack (TCR), which allows broadcasters and integrators to build modular systems from System T components where a traditional broadcast console is not required or not appropriate.

Studer (Booth C146) is showcasing its new DIOS (Digital I/O System) I/O routing-automation software designed to manage and simplify complex routing matrices within broadcast workflows. DIOS key features will help broadcasters increase production efficiency and reduce workflow errors. “DIOS is platform-agnostic and works with any number of third-party consoles and routers,” says Mike Franklin, VP, sales for Studio.

Wheatstone (Booth N6531) has introduced its second-generation FM-55 audio processor, the FM-55e. The FM-55e includes all the same features as the FM-55 but adds enhanced iAGC controls as well as an entirely new bass-processing design. The FM-55e is a multi-band audio processor ideal for FM stations requiring sound consistency across a variety of source material. It includes intelligent five-band AGC technology (iAGC) coupled to a five-band limiter and stereo generator, plus five-band stereo enhancement and program adaptive L-R control for multipath mitigation.

Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems (Booth C1725) celebrated its 30th birthday at NAB2017 with a look back at some early digital audio consoles, such as 1991’s DMC 1000 and the following year’s DMR-8. But it wasn’t all nostalgia: Yamaha’s flagship RIVAGE PM10 digital-mixing system has been expanded with the launch of the new CS-R10-S control surface and now supports up to 64 channels of Dan Dugan Sound Design automated mixing.