AES Show Preview: Enhanced Audio Track Covers Broadcast Products, Systems

This year’s AES Show, in San Francisco Oct. 26-29 at the Moscone Convention Center, will have an expanded broadcast-audio track, bolstered by the inclusion again this year of streaming-technology focus. Session categories cover amplifiers, networked audio, codecs, postproduction, acoustics, and processing.

Sports-audio broadcasting, which pioneered such developments as discrete-surround audio, isn’t on the agenda this year, but, as Mets fans are fond of saying, Just wait’ll next year. Or better yet, talk to David K. Bialik, chairman of the broadcast and streaming-media conference track for about the past 25 years.

Bialik tells SVG that he did look into panels on audio for the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the Olympics — all topics that have been covered in previous broadcast tracks, incidentally — but key panelists weren’t available this year. He says that some of the sports-themed panels have been very successful — he cites the Vancouver Olympics panel at the 2010 AES Show as being standing-room only — while others have drawn just mixed interest.

“Over time, you learn to pick and choose your topics,” he says. “But much of what we do, if it’s not directly about sports, has implications for sports,” such as the panels this year on the CALM Act and mobile television.

The AES Show has attractions for broadcasters: the DTV Audio Group will host a panel, Friday Oct. 26 noon-3 p.m., that will address such issues as how multiplatform content delivery is eclipsing traditional digital television; whether practices for loudness, dynamic range management, and format interoperability are making the transition quickly enough to keep up; and the ongoing challenges of live 5.1 DTV production and incompatibility with legacy two-channel workflows.

On the show floor, expect to see pro-audio manufacturers whose product lines — microphones, monitors, signal processing — traverse broadcast, and other pro-audio sectors like music recording and live sound will be there in force. Most of those that don’t exhibit will usually have a sales rep or two patrolling the floor, looking for trends.

Some choose not to formally exhibit, citing, interestingly enough, the show’s location rather than its core constituency. Calrec, for instance, won’t be there. According to Regional Director of Sales Dave Letson, the company does exhibit when the show is in New York, where it has historically been every other year and where there is a substantial base of broadcast clients.

“The New York show is still generally very positive for us,” he says. “We found that very few broadcasters attend the AES in San Francisco, and it has become less relevant for broadcasters. My opinion is that, for broadcasters to join the show, it should really be in Los Angeles, where there [are] more broadcasters with larger facilities.”

But there will still be plenty of stuff to see and hear, and here is a look at some of it ahead of the opening bell.

Audio-Technica is offering rebates on its professional wireless gear — including the 4000 Series, 3000 Series, and 2000 Series Wireless Systems — from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. All customers who purchase systems in these three series from an authorized U.S. A-T dealer during the rebate period will be eligible for a rebate. Claims must be received by Jan. 31 to be valid. For the sake of convenience, faster payment, and real-time tracking, buyers may register online at audio-technicaus.4myrebate.com. Alternatively, buyers can manually complete and mail in the rebate form with the required documents, which include the original sales receipts for the Audio-Technica wireless products, showing store name, date of purchase, model number, and price paid, along with the original UPC cut from the carton of each product purchased.

Clear-Com will exhibit its HelixNet Partyline intercom system. The industry’s first networked partyline intercom arrives at the AES show having successfully showcased its capabilities in 50 HelixNet main stations and 550 HelixNet beltpacks operating at 31 sports venues during the 2012 London Summer Games. The HBP-2X HelixNet beltpack offers high channel density and selectable channels to save resources. The durable, ergonomically designed unit is a two-channel beltpack that can access two of any four system channels, connect program audio, and provide individual level control over just one single cable, while distributing networked audio over a twisted pair. These features decrease the required number of cables. The beltpacks offer optimally positioned buttons and volume knobs that are easy to locate, identify, and control. Channel labels are simple to read on the high-contrast, 10-character OLED displays. The units’ flexibility allows them to be set up in daisy-chain or star configuration, with no need for active split boxes.

Fairlight will debut the XSTREAM, a tactile, ultra-compact desktop control surface for its CC-1 Media Engine. The XSTREAM provides control without the use of a mouse, tabs, or drop-down menus. The picture keys self-label instantly for easy navigation with fewer keystrokes, providing increased efficiency. The control surface reinvents itself for each task performed, presenting the commands at the right time. Fairlight’s new iCan (Integrated Control Across Network) technology with drag-and-drop layout editor allows audio engineers to design their own button layout for specialized functions and greater accessibility. This technology allows easy modification of the layout of the functions on the keys and also allows the controller to be used with other applications. Up to 24 faders can be added in blocks of six to enhance the mixing capability of XSTREAM.

Genelec will introduce its new Smart Active Monitor (SAM) concept. As part of a new streamlined marketing effort, the company has folded its line of DSP monitors under the SAM classification, which now includes all Genelec monitors with an 82xx product name. Models in the SAM range are capable of automatically adapting to acoustical environments to offer an indispensable tool for sound professionals in broadcasting, postproduction, music studios, and more. A SAM system can be controlled with digital networking, enabling users to build highly flexible computer-controlled systems of monitors.

Lawo will introduce the second-generation mc²56 production console. Featuring cross-platform compatibility with its two larger mc² Series siblings — the flagship mc²90 and mc²66 — the new mc²56 introduces features aimed at streamlining workflow efficiencies and increasing productivity. Among the mc²56’s new features is real, two-person operation with fully decentralized control of all parameters, including bank and layer selection, EQ, dynamics, and bus assignment. The new console also provides expanded, simplified touch operation, making workflow more intuitive. This applies to such operational aspects as VCA allocation, bus assignment, meter pickup/mode select, and mix-minus configuration. This enhanced operation is further accentuated by the console’s new button-glow provisions for color-coding the channel strips. The Overbridge now features an integrated Reveal Panel — making it easier, for example, to identify the components of a 5.1-surround mix assigned to an individual fader. The mc²56 provides full support of RAVENNA technology for real-time processing of audio signals in IP-based networked environments.

Neyrinck’s new SoundCode LtRt Tools for Pro Tools 10 features Lt-Rt encoding and Pro Logic IIx decoding for broadcasters and audio post facilities. The company’s older SoundCode Stereo LtRt plug-in for Pro Tools can be upgraded to add the new Pro Logic decoding features. SoundCode LtRt Tools is a suite of Pro Tools AAX Native, AAX DSP, and Audiosuite plug-ins designed for postproduction studios, TV mixers, videogame mixers, and broadcasters that monitor or deliver stereo downmixed and Lt-Rt–encoded audio compatible with Pro Logic I and II decoders. SoundCode LtRt Tools includes a Pro Logic IIx decoder licensed from Dolby Laboratories. It provides 7.1, 5.1, and LCRS decoding so mixers can simulate consumer-system playback environments.

Radial Engineering will show the Q4, asserted to be the world’s first 100%-discrete state-variable Class-A parametric equalizer. The line-level device is designed to interface with balanced pro-audio recording systems. It features four EQ bands with fixed low- and high-frequency shelving at 100 Hz and 10 kHz, plus two semiparametric mid bands that span 300 Hz-2.4 kHz and 1 kHz-12 kHz, respectively. Each mid band is also equipped with choice of wide or narrow Q to open up the sweet spot or tighten it for surgical precision. All frequencies are set with up to 12 dB of boost or cut. The EQ may be bypassed to compare the pre and post effect.

Shure will introduce rechargeable accessories: the SBC210 portable charger and SBC-DC bodypack power insert for extended usage times and battery life. Built with a rapid-charging function, the portable accessory can charge two SB900 batteries to 50% capacity within one hour. A full charge for both batteries can be achieved within three hours. SB900 batteries are compatible with the Shure P9RA and P10R wireless bodypack receivers, the ULX-D digital wireless handheld transmitters, and the UR5 portable diversity receiver. Compatible with SB900-powered devices, the SBC-DC connects to a PS41 power supply for consistent and continuous operation without batteries. It can be used with P9RA and P10R wireless bodypack receivers, the ULXD1 wireless bodypack transmitter, and the UR5 portable diversity receiver.

Sennheiser will unveil Digital 9000, a digital wireless system that can transmit completely uncompressed audio artifact-free and with superb dynamics. The Digital 9000 includes the EM 9046 receiver, SKM 9000 handheld, and SK 9000 bodypack transmitters, along with a comprehensive suite of accessories; it features two transmission modes: the high-definition (HD) mode will transmit entirely uncompressed, artifact-free audio; the long-range (LR) mode has been designed for difficult transmission environments with many sources of interference. In addition to providing IR synchronization between receivers and transmitters and a convenient antenna loop-through for creating larger receiving systems, Digital 9000 does not generate any intermodulation products, and the receiver also automatically measures the RF cable loss between the receiver and the booster and adjusts the gain accordingly. The modular EM 9046 receiver is a mainframe that accommodates up to eight receivers internally. The receiver system covers the UHF range from 470 to 798 MHz (328-MHz bandwidth). To easily integrate the system into an existing infrastructure, the user can choose between transformer-balanced analog or digital AES3 audio output modules, or a mix of both.

Sound Devices introduces the 664 field production mixer, the latest addition to the company’s mixer line. This flagship 664 mixer builds on the features of the popular 552 production mixer and offers expanded input/output connectivity, additional recording capabilities, and full-featured timecode. Key 664 features include six high-bandwidth, low-noise microphone preamplifiers with phantom, limiters, high-pass, pan, and direct outputs per channel; four output buses (Left, Right, Aux 1, Aux 2); transformer-balanced for freedom from ground loops; and multiple output connectors, including dual multipins. A built-in production recorder records all inputs and output buses, 10 tracks. With CL-6 input expander, 16 tracks can be recorded.

The V 1.0 edition of Soundcraft’s Audio Calc Toolkit, an audio-calculation app for iOS devices, is based on a dBu-dBv volts converter, an audio-delay converter, and a timecode-offset converter. The volts converter calculates levels between dBu, dBV, and volts. Converting delay times to distance and vice versa, the audio-delay converter shows distance in meters or feet, time in seconds or milliseconds, and number of samples. It can use sample rates of 44.1, 48, and 96kHz. The timecode offset calculator provides master/slave timecode-offset values from given timecodes. According to Soundcraft, more tools are in development and will be added in future updates.