Studio Technologies Enhances Remote Integration (REMI) Product Suite
Studio Technologies has released enhanced firmware for its Model 5422 Dante Intercom Audio Engine, Model 216 Announcer’s Console, and Model 44D Audio Interface products. The new firmware (embedded software) allows each unit to better meet the unique needs of creating IFB (interrupted foldback or talent cueing) for remote production applications.
Whether referred to as REMI or At-Home, traditional matrix intercom or dedicated hardware simply isn’t up to the task of providing IFB capability where the locations of on-air talent and production personnel are geographically diverse. While the fundamental goals remain the same, new technical challenges require new capabilities to support them. Studio Technologies has responded with a carefully implemented set of software-based resources that are not location dependent.
“We view these firmware updates as an opportunity to significantly improve the tools at our customers’ disposal,” says Gordon Kapes, President of Studio Technologies. “The importance of talent cueing is often overlooked, but it’s really critical to a production’s success. By integrating IFB-support functionality into these products, we can offer a suite of improved solutions that are ideal for REMI and At-Home applications.”
The Model 5422 Dante Intercom Audio Engine is a high-performance and flexible solution for creating party-line (PL) intercom circuits when used with Dante and AES67-compatible products. With the latest firmware release, it is now also capable of creating up to 32 unique IFB signals or “feeds” or a mixture of PL intercom and IFB circuits. Unlike typical IFB implementations, the IFB audio signals, interrupt, and program, can be sourced from wherever the application requires. This allows production personnel at one physical location to send professional-quality IFB signals to an offsite broadcast event via a fiber-based audio path.
The Model 5422’s two IFB modes, voice-operated (VOX) and tone-operated (TOX), offer flexibility for a variety of REMI and At-Home applications. VOX IFB accurately detects voice-band interrupt signals that arrive by way of the digital audio input channels. When the Model 5422 recognizes a voice-band signal, the unit follows its configuration and acts on its associated program audio signal. TOX IFB can provide enhanced performance by recognizing an interrupt condition by detecting a high-frequency tone that’s included with interrupt voice audio. The tone, recommended to be an 18-kHz sine-wave, is added to the voice audio signal to create the interrupt audio signal. With TOX IFB, the resultant talent cue signals will have the same excellent audio quality and characteristics as that of locally-originated IFB signals.
The Model 216 Announcer’s Console was designed to serve as the audio control center for announcers, commentators, and production personnel. Until now, the Model 216’s primary application has been for use by on-air talent associated with live events. With its new firmware, the unit can also serve as an excellent 4-channel IFB master station for remote production applications. Two Model 216 production modes, production with tone and production with dim and tone, are specifically included to support the Model 5422’s TOX IFB function. These modes add an 18-kHz sine-wave signal to the talk audio, allowing direct activation of the Model 5422’s TOX IFB function. A Model 216, located virtually anywhere in the workflow, can serve as a 4-channel IFB master station, while the Model 5422 at the event site can automatically switch between locally-provided program audio and Model 216-provided interrupt audio.
The Model 44D Interface was originally offered to provide a simple yet high-performance means of interfacing two channels of analog line-level audio to and from applications that rely on Dante or AES67 technology. New firmware for the Model 44D adds a tone generator mode for use in REMI or At-Home applications that use the Model 5422 Dante Intercom Audio Engine. When configured for the tone generator mode, an 18-kHz sine-wave audio signal is available in both the analog and digital domains. This tone is intended to be used by matrix intercom systems to assist in creating interrupt audio signals that are compatible with the Model 5422’s TOX IFB function. An audio path from the matrix intercom system’s interrupt audio output to inputs on a Model 5422 at the event site will allow broadcast-standard IFB signals to be created with no location restrictions.
The new firmware is currently shipping with all new Model 5422, 216, and 44D units. It’s also available for download, free of charge, for installation in all previously shipped 5422, 216, and 44D units. “As live-event productions become more and more geographically disbursed, the need for high-quality remote integration solutions will continue to increase,” adds Kapes. “But those changes and new requirements shouldn’t impact the ability of on-air talent and production personnel to effectively perform their jobs. We hope that our firmware updates offer significant improvements in how IFB signals are created and look forward to adding additional features and real-world solutions to our growing product offerings.”