NAB 2016: Blue Sky’s AMC Room Optimization Nears 150 Units
Acoustics has long been regarded like the weather: something more talked about than managed. That has changed in recent years with the arrival of room-optimization systems that can analyze the acoustical characteristics of a listening or mixing environment and adapt speaker parameters, such as delay and EQ, to accommodate the room’s quirks. One of those, Blue Sky’s Audio Management Controller (AMC), which was announced at last year’s NAB Show, has crossed a milestone, with about 150 sold so far. That, says Blue Sky/Group One Ltd. VP of Sales Chris Fichera, reflects the fact that broadcast A1s are increasingly proactive about managing their mix environments aboard production trucks.
“These are acoustically toxic environments,” he says of most audio compartments on production trucks, an assessment that most A1s would likely agree with. “Room-optimization systems like the AMC give A1s a fighting chance.”
The AMC is an eight-channel DSP-based system, and each channel features ⅓-octave EQ, eight bands of filters, and parametric EQ (10 bands of parametric EQ on the bass channel), as well as variable delay for time alignment.
Although the AMC was based on Blue Sky’s previous-generation Bass Management Controller and intended as a match with the company’s Sat 6D satellite speakers and Sub 12D subwoofer, it was designed to be compatible with virtually all other studio monitors. That, says Fichera, is one of the reasons for its market success. The AMC was also designed to enable two units to be used together to accommodate a 7.4 configuration of Dolby’s Atmos surround system, an important capability as broadcast edges closer to immersive formats.
In a related development, Blue Sky has moved its manufacturing from China back to the U.S., to a facility in Moorpark, CA. Fichera says the volume demands of China-based manufacturing proved incompatible with the quality control necessary for a boutique brand like Blue Sky. (The move is part of a larger recent trend that has seen record numbers of manufacturing jobs returning to the U.S. from overseas.)
“This puts manufacturing back under our direct control,” he says, “which is better for us and better for our customers in the long term.”