Plenty of IP innovation... but some are still mad for MADI

Lawo MC2 56XT
June 11th 2015 at 12:33PM

NAB 2015 audio round-up

Although full-networking and IP continue to gain ground, NAB Show 2015 proved that there is still plenty of life left in some familiar heritage audio technologies too, as David Davies reveals.

NAB Show 2015 certainly brought forth its customary variety of video-related innovations, spanning everything from miniature drone-mounted cameras to the latest equipment for 4K and 8K production. But whilst it may have been less rich in dramatic developments, Central Hall’s cluster of audio-for-broadcast vendors was certainly responsible for its share of innovative solutions.

Perhaps inevitably, a fair few of these revolved around allowing operators to make
as painless a shift as possible from traditional, point-to-point connectivity, to IP-based operation.

In this spirit, Lawo introduced the Lawo A__mic8, the first member of the company’s new A__family of audio-to-IP interfaces. This new product line, explains Lawo, is designed to provide easy and reliable options for transporting analogue and digital audio signals via IP network environments.

Based on the Ravenna networking technology developed by ALC NetworX, all A__line devices are also compatible with the AES67 audio-over-IP interoperability standard and include the company’s new VisCon_Navigator, a software application for easy set-up of audio and video streams in IP networks without the necessity for ‘deep’ IP knowledge.

Continued presence

Underlining its continued presence at the cutting edge of console design, Lawo also unveiled the MC256XT desk which doubles the fader count capability of the existing MC256 whilst retaining the same footprint. The XT model can be configured to offer 48 to 144 faders arranged in a dual-fader layout, with further expansion achieved using 16 or 32 fader standalone extenders.

Ahead of NAB Show 2015, Digigram president and chief executive Philippe Delacroix observed that “the benefits of making this transition [to IP-based media transport and cloud-based applications] are enormous, and we’re continually refining our IP audio and IP video solutions to help broadcasters move forward in realising
these benefits.”

A fair few innovations revolved around allowing operators to make as painless a shift as possible from traditional, point-to-point connectivity to IP-based operation.

Accordingly, the company highlighted the addition of Ravenna/AES67 connectivity to its IQOYA range of audio-over-IP codecs, which now enable users to get audio programmes directly from an in-studio Ravenna network and subsequently encode and stream them over IP to transmitter sites via a WAN in compliance with EBU ACIP. Users likewise may decode EBU ACIP streams from a WAN to their in-studio Ravenna network.

Whilst the continued rise of Ravenna was also underlined by Digigram’s introduction of the LX-IP RAVENNA PCIe sound card, there was plenty of evidence too that one of connectivity’s most enduring stalwarts – MADI – isn’t going away anytime soon. To which end, Digigram announced an optical MADI interface option for the LX-IP RAVENNA PCIe sound card, whilst BroaMan previewed a new, MADI-compatible addition to its MUX22 series of video, audio and intercom modules.

As with all MUX22 devices, the new MUX22 MADI will support up to eight video channels with a selectable number of dual inputs and dual outputs; it is also equipped with RS485 or GPIO ports, and can provide fibre tunnels for any third-party products.

Going down the Dante route

Recent integrator comments to this writer along the lines of “we’ve gone the Dante route” or “we’re doing a lot of Dante projects” indicate that – for many – the Audinate-developed media networking technology and networking per se are now synonymous with each other. NAB 2015 brought more confirmation of its already-declared support for the AES67 standard (via the release of the Dante Brooklyn II firmware update).

Meanwhile, Audinate also discussed its recent work with Avid to develop a Dante option card for Avid’s VENUE | S6L live sound system, whilst the addition of Dante support to NewTek’s TriCaster HD production and steaming product line indicated that Audinate is set fare for a growing presence in the broadcast market.

“The partnership between Audinate and NewTek to enable Dante in [video calling production system] TalkShow has been extremely well received by our customer base,” said Michael Kornet, executive vice-president of business development, NewTek. “As Dante has become the de facto standard for audio-over-IP, it was a natural evolution to extend Dante connectivity to our flagship product, TriCaster.”

Sturdy and reliable workhorses never go out of fashion in the hard-wearing world of pro-audio

Elsewhere on the showfloor, there was further evidence that immersive sound continues to gain ground both as concept and reality. Fairlight, for example, showcased its 3D object-orientated audio capability with the 3D Audio Workspace (3DAW), which allows users to deliver immersive sound in formats such as Auro-3D, Dolby Atmos and DTS MDA without having to replace existing 2D tools and workflows.

The Australian company also doffed its cap towards greater convergence between market segments with consoles that combine live and post capabilities. To which end, its range now features a 200-plus channel live processor for large-scale events, fly-in FX to enhance productions, and extensive customisation tools including optional lighting integration.

Reliable workhorse

Sturdy and reliable workhorses never go out of fashion in the hard-wearing world of pro-audio, and in this context Genelec introduced the latest in a long line of robust subwoofers.

Designed to complement the 8010, 8020 and M030 active monitors, the 7040A’s compact form-factor make it suitable for music creation and sound design applications, as well as audio and video production work in small rooms.

Harman’s Studer, meanwhile, put the emphasis on streamlining workflows and maximising efficiency with products including the Vista X and Vista V digital consoles, whose Infinity Core CPU-based processors provide high DSP channel counts for large-scale, high-resolution processing and mixing. Also on display was the OnAir 3000 networked radio system running the latest software offering AoIP.

Another NAB stalwart, TC Electronic, sought to address an enduring problem – speech intelligibility – with the new Clarity X. A multi-format monitor controller that works with any professional loudspeaker, Clarity X offers a palette of dedicated metering and calibration tools intended to help audio engineers make the right mixing decisions for an optimal balance, spectrum and increased intelligibility of their final productions.

A short while after the show concluded it emerged that TC Electronic parent TC Group is to be acquired by Uli Behringer’s MUSIC Group. This very much underlines the fact that a month is now a very short time in pro-audio.

Moreover, whilst NAB 2015 caught many vendors in apparently rude creative health, it is necessarily only a transitory snapshot of an industry where R&D and production cycles continue to accelerate.