Tech Focus: Remote Audio Consoles, Part 2 — Product Wrap-Up

Remote audio-mixing consoles for broadcast are still a relatively rarefied cohort at the high end of the market, but there’s more diversity within the group, thanks to demand for more consoles of varying sizes and functionality. Here’s an overview of the leading contenders.

Click here for Tech Focus: Remote Audio Consoles, Part 1 — The Future Is in IT

Flagship console Apollo uses Bluefin2, the second generation of Bluefin high-density signal processing, which provides 1,020 channel-processing paths, 128 program buses, 96 IFB/track outputs, and 48 auxiliaries. In addition, Apollo has a second dynamics section in each channel, more than 70 minutes of assignable delay and three independent AFL/PFL systems for multiple operator use. The control surface manages all these channels over 12 layers and up to 320 physical faders. With single- and dual-fader options, Apollo has a higher fader density within its footprint than any other console. In addition, featuring full-color displays and touchscreens to provide high-resolution feedback of function and status, the control surface also has light-emitting knobs that change color depending on function for immediate recognition. The surface can be configured into different operational settings to suit the operator.

The smaller Artemis is based on the Apollo platform and uses the same Bluefin2 and Hydra2 core technologies. Combining full-color displays, touchscreens, and light-emitting knobs, the soft Artemis control surface provides instant visual feedback and the flexibility to reconfigure the desk on the fly. Artemis is available in three sizes: Bluefin2 gives 680 channel-processing paths to Artemis Shine, 340 to Artemis Beam, and 240 to Artemis Light, with up to 128 program buses, 64 IFB/track outputs, and 32 auxiliaries. Artemis Light packs all this into a 4RU enclosure. An integrated router means that all I/O functions can be performed by Hydra2, using high-capacity crosspoint routers and a variety of I/O units.

Summa and Summa 128 consoles are designed for broadcasting that may not require as many resources as Apollo and Artemis. Control is via a 17-in. multitouch screen inspired by familiar tablet technology, with a straightforward interface using established finger gestures for navigation. Summa’s considered control simplifies complex workflow tasks, such as creating mix-minus feeds. Bluefin2 technology gives Summa a pool of either 180 or 128 channel-processing paths, eight groups, four mains, 16 auxes, and 32 tracks. Its Hydra2 router core provides Summa with the same integral router technology as the Apollo and Artemis consoles.

Hydra2 audio-routing system features plug-and-play architecture, which means that connecting consoles together is as simple as connecting their routers. A single connection between routers provides 512 audio signals in both directions and enormous network expansion. Because the router does not require an entire console system to function, complex networks can be created with minimal cost. Hydra2 allows connection of audio sources and system components over copper or fiber, with signals routed to any consoles or I/O boxes on the same network.

The new S21 console features 40 flexi input channels; 16 flexi aux/subgroup buses; L-R master bus; 10×8 full-processing matrix; two solo, four assignable dynamic equalizers; four assignable DiGiTubes; four assignable multiband compressors; eight digital FX; 16 assignable graphic equalizers; optional waves integration; 96-kHz sample rate, optional (with DMI) optics.

The SD10B follows in the footsteps of the SD7B, offering Stealth Digital Processing with Super FPGA processing, floating-point precision, and superior analog conversion. The console has 96 channels, 48 buses, two discrete backstop PFL solo buses, and Smart Key macro triggers. A 15-in. touchscreen, 37 touch-sensitive faders, and an on-the-fly customizable work surface allow the user to quickly access console parameters. The DiGiCo Optocore optical network can support up to five consoles and 14 DiGiCo SD-Racks totaling 504 inputs and outputs; an optional second network doubles this. The new audio router allows any input source to be routed to any output source, including to and from MADI. The modular SD-Rack can be configured with everything from analog to AES, Aviom, HD-SDI, Dante, and more. Two new additions include the SD-Mini Rack (four slots) and SD-Nano Rack (two slots). Sources can be injected directly into another console’s monitor matrix, allowing monitoring of any source on the network without additional DSP channels. Also, 5.1-surround inputs can be stacked onto a single fader, linked, then folded and unfolded on the surface with the touch of a button. Assignable macros facilitate such functions as fader start and stop commands, as well as snapshot scene recall. New is the Waves plug-ins expansion to 32 racks on all consoles with Dugan Auto-Mixer, WLM loudness meter, and WNS dialog noise suppressor. The newer SD9B and SD11B offer flexibility in smaller packages. With 48 and 32 mono and/or stereo channels, respectively, the SD9B and SD11B use the same large touchscreen and processing engine as the SD10B and can now be integrated into the same Optocore network. Optocore FX series can be used for additional analog AES intercom and MADI connections. The ultra-compact 12-fader SD11B is rack-mountable; the SD9B doubles up at 24 faders in a desktop package.

The mc2 Series mixing consoles — the mc²66, mc²56, and new mc236 — are offered in multiple configurations and channel counts with frames optimized for everything from mobiles and flypacks to large production consoles. Highlights include the ability to quickly modify and configure systems and DSP resources, including assignment of any channels as mono, stereo, or up to 7.1 surround, with built-in loudness metering, up/downmix capabilities, highly programmable audio-follow-video functionality, and an auto-mix feature that automatically adjusts levels of multiple microphones while keeping a constant ambient level. All consoles are IP-ready, with full support for both Ravenna and the AES67 standard, and emphasis is placed on the ability to create highly reliable and redundant infrastructures to support demanding 24/7/365 environments. To further streamline workflow, the system offers external GUI operation and the ability to prepare, store, and recall snapshots and productions that can be used to rapidly bring the consoles online in a variety of configurations supporting two or more operators. The console cores and Nova central routers offer multiple configuration options, enabling mc² Series surfaces to be linked within a large broadcasting complex. EMBER+ protocols are supported for automation and studio/remote management applications. Additional audio-management features — embedding, de-embedding, channel shuffling, delay, audio-channel mapping — are supported via Lawo’s V_pro8 and the new V_link4.

Recently added to the Studer product line are the Vista X digital console and Studer Infinity Processing Engine. Vista X retains the patented Vistonics and FaderGlow user interface, providing control of 800 or more audio DSP channels and more than 5,000 inputs and outputs. At the heart of the system is the Infinity DSP core, which uses CPU-based processors to provide huge numbers of DSP channels for large-scale, high-resolution audio processing and mixing. This offers significant advantages, as CPU processing provides a scalable system, faster development of new signal-processing designs, huge channel counts, full system redundancy without a single point of failure, and the possibility of running third-party algorithms. The Infinity DSP engine offers 12 A-Link high-capacity fiber digital audio interfaces. The D23m, a newly designed high-density I/O system, is used to break out these A-Link connections to standard analog, digital, and video interfaces. The A-Link interface also provides direct connection to the Riedel MediorNet distributed router, allowing many Infinity systems to be connected together with router capacities of 10,000×10,000 or more. A key element in the design of the Infinity Series is to prevent the possibility of a single fault’s causing loss of audio. The new Vista X console features four processors, offering complete redundancy of the control surface with instant switchover between main and standby system without audio break.

Three consoles offered for on-air broadcast feature similar modular surface designs, DSP, and I/O routing architecture. Designed specifically for live work, they all feature hot-swap capability, up to four independently controlled mic splits, full redundancy up to double optical lines, light weight, and extremely low power consumption.

The Aurus flagship multiformat production console is available in 16-96 faders and 300 DSP channels with 128 buses. In both 5.1 and 7.1 surround, stereo and mono can be done simultaneously with on-board down/upmix capabilities and separate multiple bus configurations. The console offers fully motorized fader dynamic automation and editable snapshot and scene automation.

The Crescendo mixing console is a response to the increased demand for a slimmed-down control surface and price but with the DSP power of the larger Aurus when needed. All controls are within easy reach of the seated operator. Snapshot automation is extensive, with the ability to set glide times between snapshots for enhanced audio-follow-video control. AFV muting and level changes via external control are readily available through the Nexus Logic system.

The On Air Flex 24 is Stagetec’s latest digital mixing system aimed at the radio– and smaller-TV–broadcast markets. It is a modular, flexible, and scalable system with control surfaces laid out to broadcaster specification for combo, studio, or edit operation. The work surface consists of self-contained fader modules (four in each and up to 24 faders maximum per system) and a monitor module. The GUI software runs on any PC linked via Ethernet to the controller unit mounted in the system frame. Once set up and running, the GUI simulates all the control elements, allowing operators full access to every control found on the physical control surface, including all metering, faders and encoders.

Solid State Logic
The C100 HD Plus is a fully scalable digital broadcast console that offers an ergonomic user interface and delivers fully redundant dual-operator–capable operation in a compact, convection-cooled frame suitable for OB-vehicle installation. Its production-assistant–type features are designed to streamline broadcast-audio production: Dialogue Automix, 5.1 upmix, DAW control, and C-Play (an embedded dual-player playout system). C100 and its range of I/Os provide system-wide integration with comprehensive connectivity options; compatibility with Grass Valley, Ross, Sony, and Mosart production-automation systems; compatibility with Riedel RockNet and Optocore installed audio networks; and interfacing to Dante IP audio networks via the SSL MADI-Bridge.

The C10 HD Plus is a compact, midscale broadcast console with a user-friendly interface delivering the power of SSL’s C100 console in a smaller footprint. The C10 SSL’s Blackrock processor is built into the convection-cooled control surface, suiting it to OB vehicle installation. C10 shares the same range of I/O options and software features as the larger C100 including production-assistant–type features designed to streamline broadcast audio production: Dialogue Automix, 5.1 upmix, DAW control, and C-Play (an embedded dual-player playout system). C10 and its range of I/Os provide system-wide integration with comprehensive connectivity options; compatibility with Grass Valley, Ross, Sony, and Mosart production-automation systems; compatibility with Riedel RockNet and Optocore installed audio networks; and interfacing to Dante IP audio networks via the SSL MADI-Bridge.

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