All right, so DTV has yet to set the world on fire so what. With the proliferation of satellite systems and the onset of digital cable boxes, broadcast surround sound is now entering many homes and that number will increase exponentially over the next few years. If you arent able to broadcast in 5.1, it’s time to start gearing up. To help you along your way, here is a brief description of the 5.1-capable desks currently available. If you need more information, the Web sites for each company have been provided.
So read up, log on, and, when you’re ready to buy, remember to tell em Surround Pro sent you (it wont get you a discount, but it shows you have good taste in magazines) .
Surround features on Amek’s board include multiformat mixing up to 5.1 channels and monitoring of up to 7.1 channels. It also has an optional joystick panel and monitoring for up to four stem mixes. Highlights include several Rupert Neve-designed stages, including a mic pre with 0 to +66 dBu gain, a 4-band equalizer, and swept high- and low-pass filters. The Media 51 comes equipped with Amek’s Supertrue automation, and is available in frame sizes ranging from 28 to 60 input modules. It also includes Virtual Dynamics (long-fader only), settings recall, machine control, and Visual FX.
Like the Media 51, the 9098i also includes 5.1 mixing capabilities. It can monitor up to 5.1 channels, has an inline architecture, and balanced inserts on both signal paths. The Rupert Neve-designed goodies on this board include a mic amp with 0 to 78 dB gain and a 4-band equalizer and swept filters. It includes Supertrue automation with both signal paths automated on P&G faders, Virtual Dynamics on both paths, Recall, machine control, and Visual FX. An automated joystick can be added as an option, and an LCRS bus is included along with four additional stereo busses.
The BTC is an analog board that is available in frame sizes from 24 to 56, and features LCRS and 5.1 surround sound monitoring. All input includes Neve 4-band EQ, as well as direct output/mix-minus output. You can have any combination of mono and stereo inputs, silent electronic switching, and input pre-selectors with a snapshot system. Options include moving fader automation and VCA faders.
Libra Live Series II
The Libra Live Series II was launched at last year’s NAB, but this year’s show adds new features to the board, including further Dolby E support, simplified surround sound operation, and a second center channel strip. The board also includes a new meter package that allows two layers of inputs to be displayed simultaneously. Some of the old features include 24-bit analog and digital interfacing and full processing in every channel.
Calrec is a Dolby E partner, which, in this case, means that it offers remote control of Dolby’s DP570 multichannel audio tool. It also includes eight stereo or mono groups and four main outputs that are configurable for 5.1, Lt/Rt, or stereo. The Alpha 100’s two-layer design allows for channel path per fader or dual-path arrangement, and the board has a maximum configuration of 96 stereo or 48 mono channels. It can also handle restarts well according to the company, the system can boot from power off to passing audio in less than 15 seconds.
New at NAB. The just-introduced Sigma is a medium-format digital console that is based on the Alpha 100, and includes, among other things, that board’s Dolby E compatibility. All of Sigma’s channels include 4-band EQ, separate filters, compressor/limiter/expander gate, surround and stereo panning, and mix-minus outputs. The board also includes four surround main outputs, 12 auxes, 24 MT, and eight groups with both 5.1 and stereo monitoring.
This is the broadcast version of Euphonix’s popular System 5, and is specifically configured for live and live-to-tape production. The board’s channels can be set up for mixing in stereo, LCR, LCRS, 5.1, and 7.1. One of the key features of the System 5-B is its fail safe and diagnostic system, which offers hot-swappable redundant proccessing modules and cards that automatically take over in the event of a DSP or control failure. You can even swap out the bad cards without having to reboot. And the diagnostics system keep the paranoia down with reports of all system components and a confidence check.
New at NAB. Although we dont have too many facts at press time, we wanted you to know that Euphonix hit NAB with a new digital broadcast board, as well as broadcast-specific enhancements to the System 5 range through Version 2.6 of the board’s software. We’ll provide more information in our next issue.
All right, this one is really more of a workstation than a straight-ahead console, but the console is one of its components, it can be used for broadcast, and it has surround features, so we thought wed include it here. Those multichannel features include 12 auxes, each capable of supporting up to 7.1 channels, a multiformat main bus that supports up to 7.1, and eight multiformat busses that can handle you guessed it up to 7.1 channels each. All busses have dynamics and EQ on them, and the system comes with a surround panning system.
Need a lot of sound elements in your productions? Check out the Prodigy2’s 32 busses, 48 tracks, 24 live feeds, and up to 64 independent I/Os (32 analog and 32 digital). Full 5.1 monitoring with automated joystick panners is included, as are motorized faders, 24-bit A/D and D/A converters, and an all-digital signal path with internal routing and patching. The board is also compatible with 96 kHz operation.
The TV5.1 is a DTV-ready analog console that features integral 5.1 surround panning and monitoring busses, a modular layout, and multiple mix-minus options with talkback. Fader starts are assignable, and you can have up to eight discrete stereo group busses. The board comes with either mechanical pointer VU meters or switchable VU/PPM LED array meters. The TV5.1 also includes gold-plated switches, contacts, and connectors, and a 4-band switchable EQ on every input channel. You can also have up to four studio feeds with automatic muting logic.
Harrison’s TVD is a scaled-down digital board that, according to the company, takes away some bells and whistles to offer a more simplified, task-specific approach. Gone are features like automation to timecode functions, but in are things such as 5.1 monitoring, routing, and panning, touch-sensitive motorized faders, and instant reset and snapshot recall automation of all functions. The board has four stereo program busses that can also be run as one 5.1 bus and one stereo program bus.
The Broadcast 2000, or B2000, can mix in mono, stereo, and surround sound. It features eight stereo subgroups, six of which become 5.1 master outputs when mixing in surround mode. Each module features Midas EQ, and inputs have a separate mix-minus bus and limiter per input, automated input gain adjustment, mic/line selection, and an 8-input pre-selector option. The B2000 is available in board sizes that range from 24 to 72 channels, and the master section can be located in either the left, center, or right of the console.
Sony Oxford OXF-R3
The OXF-R3 features 24-bit digital sound, internal 32-bit processing, and A/D and D/A converters that have made Oxford converts out of many an engineer. The console supports all surround formats, including LCRS, 5.1, and 7.1, with multistem operation. Panning can be done by pan pots or by joystick. Standard functions include snapshot recall, full dynamic automation, and 5-band parametric EQ with four selectable styles. Tailor your OXF-R3 to your needs and budget with the four available software versions. Options include software plug-ins of the George Massenburg 8200 EQ and 8600 dynamics processor.
The DPC-II has 160 digital channels, 124 output busses, 24-bit conversion and LCRS, 5.1, and 7.1 operation (stereo, too, if you’re into that type of thing). It also includes 96 kHz operation from 16 to 96 motorized faders, and both full dynamic and snapshot automation. A dedicated joystick allows alterations to be made to all of the parameters of the EQ and surround panning on whatever channel is selected. Each bus outputs includes an output limiter, and surround groups can be split into their individual stems.
While 4-channel surround is included on the Virtua, 6-channel surround is available as an option. The console is actually very flexible, with any fader being able to control any channel and a nine-motorized-fader control panel that can be extended to offer 35 motorized faders. Snapshot and dynamic automation are supported, and the board can store presets libraries for EQ, compressor, and gate effects. The Virtua also supports SMPTE and MTC at all frame rates, and has clocking via word clock, ADAT, AES/EBU, or internal PLL circuits.
Solid State Logic
Based on SSL’s MT Plus digital console, the MT Production features SSL’s inline knob-per-function design and mixing architecture with simultaneous multichannel surround sound outputs. Panning and output bus structure are configurable to allow the console’s 12 main mix busses to support several arrangements, including, for example, two simultaneous but different output feeds for international versions with both version in 5.1 surround. Other features include SSL’s NiTECH Super-Pre analog-to-digital input stage and INFO faders that are designed to give extensive visual and mechanical feedback of null points.
Like the MT Production, the SC digital console has the INFO faders and the HS control processor, which provides greater feedback to engineers (all right, we know we didnt mention it on the MT, but trust us). Stereo or 5.1 surround operation is possible, and the traditional 32-fader and channel strip is designed to make the transition from an analog to a digital board easier. The 96 channels have a variety of configuration options, including remote controlled mic preamps or analog or digital line inputs.
It’s now been about a year and a half since Studer introduced their innovative D950 M2 digital console, and at this NAB they have announced the debut of the latest software version V3.0. This version adds Studer’s AutoTouch Plus automations, which extends the D950 M2’s touch-sensitive operation to the board’s dynamic switch automation, and an enhanced router system, which provides internal patching facilities that, if required, negate the need for an outboard patchbay or front-end router. The D950 M2 also includes Studer’s Virtual Surround Panning (VSP) architecture, which can create a 5.1 soundfield that is modeled around a few parameters that are set within each VSP-equipped channel.
New at NAB. This digital board includes the Virtual Surround Panning panning like the D950 M2, but the real story here appears to be Studer’s Vistonics operating concept. Vistonics integrates touch-sensitive rotary controls and buttons within a flat-screen display. The main channel controls are on this screen, while other channel-specific controls are arranged above and below the screen. The Vista 7 can be used in 48 kHz or 96 kHz mode, and full 24-bit resolution can be achieved.