Digital Broadcast Console Roundup

Two years ago, when we presented the latest innovations in 5.1-capable digital broadcast consoles, we noted that DTV had yet to set the world on fire. Two years later, U.S. broadcasters are still gearing-up for 5.1 broadcast and HDTV systems are still found in only a small percentage of households. But the quality and features of digital mixing systems have made them indispensable to broadcasters, regardless of the audio format being produced. The following information updates that previous guide to include only the equipment and upgrades that have since become available.

AMS Neve
Libra Live Series II
At NAB 2004, AMS Neve will introduce new features for the Libra Live Series II, including networked Encore Automation. Software upgrades for the console, which now features the company’s XSP DSP processing and MIOS I/O suite, allow configurations and surface settings to be shared across a network as well as I/O resource sharing between multiple studios and consoles, providing efficient resource allocation on complex productions. Channel module options allow 64 faders to be fitted in the same space as a traditional 48-fader console in remote OB trucks.

Sigma 100
The medium-format Sigma 100 is available in four processing/input configurations, three frame sizes, and a variety of optional input and output interfaces. All channels include 4-band EQ, separate filters, signal processing, surround and stereo panning, and mix-minus outputs. Sigma 100 also features four surround main outputs, 12 auxes, 24 multitrack, and eight groups, with 5.1 and stereo monitoring. Broadcast-friendly redundancy features include hot-swappable cards, a re-boot in 20 seconds, and a 10-second control surface reset with uninterrupted audio.

Zeta 100
The third console from Calrec’s digital development program, the Zeta 100’s standard features include dynamics on every channel, eight auxes, 16 multitrack/IFB sends, and 99 Flash ROM set-up memories. Features include two main outputs (configurable stereo/5.1) with compressor, eight subgroups (stereo/mono) with compressor, unlimited VCA groups on all channels, and a mix-minus output on every channel. The Zeta 100 is available in three standard frame sizes (24, 32, and 48 faders) with DSP allocation for up to 56 channels. All standard configurations accommodate DSP processing and digital and analog I/O into a single 7U, 19-inch rack.

Max Air
Designed for on-air and live-to-tape broadcast applications, Max Air shares the same DSP core and I/O as the popular System 5-B and also includes much of the same processing and control software. Max Air has 96 channels, 32 mix/group busses, 24 matrix outputs, a flexible mix-minus architecture with a dedicated bus, talkback buttons on every channel, and 12 aux/IFB sends. Bus routing and monitoring support mono, stereo, LCRS, 5.1, and 7.1 configurations. A “Spill” feature allows a single fader to handle a multichannel surround source.

Harrison by GLW, Inc.
At NAB 2004, Harrison is introducing the third-generation TVD SL broadcast console, running the powerful IKIS operating platform. With stereo and 5.1 monitoring, routing, and panning out of the box, the 44- or 60-fader TVD SL is moving toward becoming a total control room solution, offering space for up to 21 optional high-resolution 6.4-inch LCD monitors, eliminating the need for a costly “video wall,” plus operation from up to three additional locations through Harrison’s Satellite Touchscreen technology. The company will also introduce their Satellite Management System that allows related multiple satellite feeds to communicate with each other through the console via a “chat room” off-air.

Lawo AG
mc2 Broadcast
Available in the mc250, mc280, and mc282 variants, the mc” Broadcast is typically integrated with Net technology, allowing the networking of studio complexes, studio switching, and signal arbitration for up to 16 studio control rooms. DSP capabilities include M/S decoder, surround up to 7.1, 32 aux channels, and comprehensive processing on every channel. Options include third-party device integration, remote control panels, an integrated matrix, and advanced AFV functions.
New for NAB 2004, the mc266, operating at 96 kHz with surround capabilities up to 7.1, offers up to 92 faders, and a maximum of 192 fully equipped channels with 144 summing busses. The width allows up to 48 channel strips plus eight main faders in an OB van.

Salzbrenner Stagetec Mediagroup
The Cantus is a fully digital distributed system consisting of a main console, optional slave consoles, a separate audio processor, and a Nexus routing-matrix system, interconnected using fiber-optic duplex cables. Multiple mixing console systems can coexist in a single Nexus system. All sound processing for the Cantus — a maximum of 136 channels — is contained in a 3U, 19-inch module containing DSP, a digital master bus for 64 mix busses, and a TDM audio data bus for 256 signal busses. Up to 8-channel surround mixing and monitoring is supported.

Solid State Logic
C100 Digital Broadcast Console
The compact C100 utilizes SSL’s proprietary Centuri processing technology, offering plethora of fail-safe and resiliency features. The C100 may be configured for 32, 64, 96, or 128 fully featured input channels, which may be defined as mono, stereo, or 5.1, with single fader control. Dedicated N-1 bus, plus two program, eight group, 24 utility, and 24 auxiliary busses are provided, with per-channel direct/N-1 and utility outputs. Master Channel access to all channel controls removes much of the complexity of a typical large-format console. V1.5 software, launching at NAB 2004, reputedly makes the C100 the most comprehensive and fail-safe digital console available for the broadcast industry.

C200 Digital Production Console
The C200 compact, in-line console is designed for multi-bus production with a dedicated “knob per function” control surface. The Centuri processor provides options for 64, 128, or 192 signal paths, with up to 12 programmable main and group outputs, 48 utility busses, 96 direct outputs, 12 auxiliary busses, and 12 stereo direct inputs, plus stereo/5.1 monitoring. The main mix busses can provide multiple 5.1 and/or stereo groups. Broadcast production features include status lock, backstop PFL, and self-healing DSP. V2 software being introduced at NAB 2004 adds UltiPan automated spatial positioning and flexible output bussing options, further enhancing the C200’s 5.1 capabilities.

Launched at NAB 2003, the DS-00 features 64 fully featured channels and 40 busses controlled via two TFT touch screens, and is capable of handling stereo, LCRS, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound. The Broadcast Kit option provides a dedicated mix-minus output available on all channels, with a direct talk-to-output and the ability to source the bus from one of four independent mix-minus busses. Just announced, new software adds solo options including backstop PFL and auto PFL, switched per channel, with a dedicated PFL output. The new features provide an option for two DSP engines running in parallel with instant, automatic switching in case of problems. Safetracs is also built in, enabling a full work surface restart without loss of audio, the console restarting to within a quarter-frame of its previous status using NVRAM.

The DS-3B is a 40-bus multi-purpose broadcast console with a user interface definable bus architecture and supports simultaneous stereo, LCRS, and 5.1 operation. Designed with a compact 25 or 33 motorized fader worksurface, the DS-3B can provide access to 64 or 96 fully featured digital channels with similar features and specification to that of the Soundtracs DPC-II. Features include 4-band parametric EQ, filters, and dynamics presets.

The D4 combines Soundtracs’ touchscreen worksurface topology with up to 320 digital audio channels, all with DSP EQ and dynamics, and 124 output busses. Available in frame sizes from 16 to 96 faders with optional rack expanders, a multi-engine cascade option supports up to 640 audio channels. Multiple consoles may also be cascaded. An 80×8 matrix supports all the main surround formats. Features include 48 kHz and 96 kHz operation, simultaneous stereo, LCRS, 5.1, and 7.1 with divergence, and dynamic and snapshot automation.

D950 M2
The M2 uses the same Studer 24-bit converters as the D950 and similarly includes Studer’s proprietary Virtual Surround Panning (VSP), a unique feature that can create a 5.1 soundfield modeled around a few simple parameters set within each VSP-equipped channel. Broadcast-specific features include up to 48 mono or stereo N-1 busses, from LCRS through 7.1 multichannel functionality, comprehensive talkback and communications facilities, optional fader overpress, redundant self-healing DSP, and complete remote control over any audio system parameter.

Vista 6
Based on Studer’s Vista 7 and similarly incorporating the company’s unique Vistonics user interface, the Vista 6 on-air broadcast console may be configured with 20 to 70 physical faders. The patented Vistonics technology integrates rotary controls and buttons within a flat screen display to bring visualization and operation into close proximity, with immediate access to all controls. Control room monitoring supports standards from stereo, LCR, LCRS, and 5.1 to optional 7.1 and Dolby EX. Options include a remote bay and the ability to incorporate third-party hardware into the console.

The D-9, despite its small footprint, is loaded with TV broadcast features for mid-market facilities. The console offers 5.1 surround mixing and monitoring, a host of mix-minus outputs, individual channel bus-minus outputs, 6-band EQ and dynamic processing, eight stereo subgroups, four stereo aux busses, and four additional DCM/mute busses. An event/memory front panel storage and recall system operates without the need for an external computer. Multiple control surfaces can share common resources.

This live TV console, with a design optimized for news broadcasting, can generate up to 82 mix-minus feeds without impacting on any other auxiliary or group outputs. The D-5.1’s feature list includes 5.1 surround inputs, outputs, and monitors, any combination of analog and AES sources, any source routing to any fader, snapshot recall of every control parameter, dedicated metering, talkback to any output, and 32 faders paging to control 64 sources. Scaleable console surface sizes and system capacities allow customization.

Surround Professional Magazine