Tech Focus: Immersive Audio, Part 3 — Consoles Evolve as Software-Based Solutions
Traditional desks aren’t going anywhere, but the broadcast-audio landscape is increasingly fluid
Broadcast audio consoles are the foundational work surfaces for immersive sound on television: no one will be mixing 7.1.4 “in the box” anytime soon. The industry is in the midst of its transition to the immersive formats that will underpin Next Gen Audio, and it’s beginning to show. What until recent years looked like a visible evolutionary path for audio desks is giving way to more software-based black-box solutions.
For years, consoles retained their basic form factors. Any audio engineer anywhere in the past 70 years would recognize, for example, SSL’s System T as an audio-mix console. On the other hand, Calrec’s ImPulse Core and Lawo’s A__UHD Core are software-based. The conventional console will be with us for years to come — Calrec’s Artemis and Apollo desks are still the gold standard for remote-production applications in the U.S. — and standard 5.1-capable consoles are being adapted for larger mix matrixes via a combination of hardware and software upgrades. But the established form factors are making room for the way broadcast audio is becoming a much more fluid landscape.
Calrec’s ImPulse Core, the next-generation–audio processing platform for its Apollo and Artemis control surfaces, provides a powerful audio-processing and routing engine with AES67 and SMPTE 2110 connectivity. With control connectivity via IP, surfaces can be physically remote and connected over standard networks using COTS hardware. This technology enables all Calrec users to make the transition to next-generation audio (NGA) and IP infrastructures, and provides the flexibility to do so without an overhaul of production equipment. ImPulse provides 3D immersive-path widths and panning for NGA applications; and 5.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1, 7.1.2, and 7.1.4 input channels, buses, monitoring, and metering are available. An integral AoIP router fully supports NMOS discovery and connection management, as well as mDNS/RAVENNA discovery. Two 5RU ImPulse cores can be combined to provide full redundancy and can be physically remote from each other for disaster recovery.
Lawo’s A__UHD Core is a network-based, software-defined next-generation IP audio engine with ultra-high processing density and up to 1,024 DSP channels for mc² consoles. Its flexible licensing system allows functionality and performance to be tailored to the application’s requirements. Lawo mc² consoles accept immersive-mixing configurations up to 22.2. In addition to high channel counts, the feature set comprises the required busing, monitoring, and mixing infrastructure as well as downmix to 5.1, stereo, and mono.
SSL’s System T platform places immersive audio at the operator’s fingertips. Multichannel 3D input path and bus structures provide an intuitive interface for mixing in three dimensions without complex workarounds. Both XYZ and rotational Theta panning can be used on any channel or bus. Full support for multichannel signals is provided in the monitor section, onboard effect rack, metering, and routing GUIs. Ambisonics and binaural tools within the effects rack complete the immersive audio package. The increased signal and processing capacity required for immersive productions is served by System T’s Tempest processing engines. The new TE1 and TE2 variants offer scalable and agile capacity with a variety of processing-pack licenses. Increasing capacity for a one-off immersive show is as simple as renting a license for the console. Native Dante, AES67, and ST 2110 connectivity provides the additional I/O without extra hardware. On-console AoIP routing control and automatic third-party I/O discovery fulfills the plug-and-play promise of audio routing on COTS switching hardware. Remote, decentralized, and distributed deployments allow immersive mixes to be managed from conformable and dedicated control rooms, away from the venues, or collaboratively from different geographical locations.
Click here for Tech Focus: Immersive Audio, Part 1 — Infrastructure Waits Out the Pandemic
Click here for Tech Focus: Immersive Audio, Part 2 — Surround Microphones Come of Age.