Remote Audio-Console Products Wrap-Up

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

Calrec
Calrec’s large presence in the domestic remote-broadcast-audio market underscores a growing lineup of consoles. The Apollo’s control surface incorporates Bluefin2, the second generation of Bluefin high-density signal processing, which provides Apollo with 1,020 channel-processing paths, 128 program busses, 96 IFB/track outputs, and 48 auxiliaries. In addition, Apollo offers 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 Apollo 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, the Calrec A/B path-selection system is retained for users who wish to use the desk in a similar manner to Calrec’s Alpha platform products. If not required, layers and the A/B path system can be disabled. Featuring full-color displays and touchscreens to provide high-resolution feedback of function and status, the Apollo 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.

Apollo’s smaller sibling, Artemis, is based on the Apollo platform and incorporates 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. Available in three sizes, Bluefin2 gives Artemis Shine 680 channel-processing paths, 340 on an Artemis Beam, and 240 on an Artemis Light, with up to 128 program busses, 64 IFB/Track outputs, and 32 auxiliaries. Artemis Light packs all this into a 4RU enclosure. Artemis’s integrated router means that all I/O functions can be performed by Hydra2, using high-capacity 8,192 x 8,192 cross-point routers and a variety of I/O units.

Hydra2 is Calrec’s audio-routing system. Its plug-and-play architecture means that connecting consoles is as simple as connecting their routers, with a single connection between routers providing 512 audio signals in both directions and enormous network expansion. The router does not require an entire console system to function, so complex networks can be created with minimal cost. Based on 8192² router modules, 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. www.calrec.com

DiGiCo
The SD10B follows in the footsteps of the SD7, using Stealth Digital Processing with Super FPGA processing, floating-point precision, and superior analog conversion. The console has 96 channels, 48 busses, two discrete backstop PFL solo busses, 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 448 inputs and outputs. The modular SD-Rack can be configured with formats from analog to AES, Aviom, HD-SDI, Dante, and more. Sources can be injected directly into another console’s monitor matrix, allowing monitoring of any source on the network without using additional DSP channels. 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. MADI outputs can be used as splits or multitrack sends and can be sample-rate–converted for asynchronous applications. Assignable macros facilitate such functions as fader start and stop commands, as well as snapshot scene recall. New for 2012 are a series of processing expansion packages, such as Nitrous for the SD10B, which add such features as a new de-esser with sidechain listen on every input channel, an expanded 16×16 matrix and expanded FX section, and expanded dynamic EQ and multiband compressors. MSRP for the SD10B starts just under $100,000. www.digiconsoles.com

Lawo
The mc² Series mixing consoles (mc²90, mc²66, and mc²56) provide timecode and snapshot automation of any parameter in the system, combined with a high degree of flexibility inside the channel structure, bussing, and router to accommodate any production requirement from monaural to 7.1 surround sound. These consoles offer integration with systems including Pro Tools, Pyramix, Sequoia, and Sadie. Notable highlights of the operating system include loudness metering for every channel, DSP 5.1 upmix module AMBIT, as well as a new 3G SDI embedder/de-embedder card for Lawo’s DALLIS frame that supports 16 channels per SDI stream. Additionally, RAVENNA, a solution for real-time distribution of audio and other media content in IP-based network environments, is now supported. The mc² Series mixing consoles also provide direct-out mute by fader, a buss-reverse page, HTML error diagnostics, and timecode edit for the timecode automation and libraries of the audio settings. To streamline workflow, the system offers offline and online external GUI operation. One can prepare snapshots and productions that can be used to bring the console online for two or more operators. With the optional plug-in server, any VST application, such as multiple Dolby E decoders, are available with all parameters and metering displayed on the console’s GUI. Additionally, the mc² series consoles are able to quickly modify their settings for conversion to a broadcast console for news, sports, and entertainment. www.lawo.ca

Solid State Logic
The C100 HDS fully scalable digital broadcast console offers an ergonomic user interface and the power to handle even the most demanding productions. C100 delivers fully redundant dual-operator-capable operation in a compact, convection-cooled frame suited to OB-vehicle installation. C100 offers a range of 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). The C100’s range of I/O provides system-wide integration with comprehensive connectivity options; compatibility for Ross, Sony, and Mosart production-automation systems; and compatibility with Riedel RockNet and Optocore installed audio networks.

The C10 HD is a compact, mid-scale broadcast console with a user-friendly interface that delivers the power of SSL’s larger C100 console in a smaller footprint. The C10 SSL’s Blackrock Processor is built into the convection-cooled console control surface, making it excellent for OB-vehicle installation. C10 shares the same range of I/O options and software features as the larger C100, including the Production Assistant-type features: dialogue automix, 5.1 upmix, DAW control, and C-Play. C10 and its range of I/O provides system-wide integration with comprehensive connectivity options; compatibility for Ross, Sony, and Mosart production automation systems; and compatibility with Riedel RockNet and Optocore installed audio networks. solid-state-logic.com/

Stagetec
Three consoles for live on-air broadcast share similar modular surface design and DSP and I/O routing architecture but are geared toward specific applications and sizes. The consoles were designed specifically for live broadcast and therefore offer hot-swap capabilities of all hardware elements, full redundancy up to double optical lines, light weight, low power consumption, and thus low heat dissipation. The systems can work independently of the configuration computer and therefore can boot from cold to its last known state in less than 20 seconds.

The AURUS flagship multiformat production console is available with 16-96 faders and 300 DSP channels with 128 busses. In 5.1 and 7.1 surround, stereo and mono can be done simultaneously with on-board downmix/upmix capabilities or separate multiple bus configurations. The console offers dynamic, snapshot, and scene automation.

The CRESCENDO mixing console is a response to the increased demand for slimmed-down control surface and price but with the DSP power available in the larger AURUS when needed. All controls are within easy reach while the operator remains seated. Snapshot automation is extensive, with ability to set glide times between snapshots for enhanced audio-follows-video control.

The ON AIR 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 the broadcaster’s 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. These modules can be flush-mounted into existing studio furniture. 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 so operators have full access to every control found on the physical control surface, including all metering, faders and encoders. www.usa.stagetec.com

Studer
Following on from the Vista 5, 6, 7, and 8 desks, the Vista 9 supplements Studer’s patented Vistonics interface with widescreen-based TFT metering, FaderGlow, and numerous other innovations. The new metering offers precision feedback on signal status. The channel meters are able to show mono through 7.1 channel signals in the upper section of the screen, while the lower portion can show bus assignment or, for surround channels, an image of the surround composite, providing a comprehensive display of the surround signal. Alternatively, the History mode records such events as overloads in the audio path of each channel, and highlights them in red on the channel waveform. The operator can then review which channel had such an event, up to 30 seconds after the event has occurred. All stereo inputs and stereo masters have a correlation meter bar above the bar-graph display. The Control Bay meter section can be configured to show any choice of output busses and input channels and displays up to 40 meters at the time. Each touch-sensitive TFT screen shows 10 channel strips, with rotary encoders and switches mounted directly onto the screen, providing the operator with “Where you look is where you control” ergonomics. www.studer.ch