2016 Product Review: Audio
At this year’s NAB Show the march toward full AoIP connectivity and interoperability continued apace, with products offering one or more flavors of networking, including AES67 compliance, popping up everywhere. With the FCC’s incentive auction looming large, intercom companies, in particular, have responded with a slew of products for production staff that operate higher up the frequency spectrum, leaving more room—for the moment, anyway—for critical talent microphones in UHF’s more desirable neighborhood.
Calrec BrioAUDIO MIXERS
Calrec Audio’s Brio measures 35 inches wide and has 36 dual-layer faders, analog and digital I/O and GPIO built into the surface, and incorporates surround, down-mixing and loudness metering features. Calrec’s new 2U RP1 remote production engine is an FPGA-based DSP core that enables remote operation of mixing, IFB routing and monitor mixes from a distant console surface plus connectivity with any Calrec Hydra2 I/O box.
Wheatstone launched its new 32-fader LXE mixing console, on which every switch, rotary control, and control screen is programmable for any function using the console’s configuration software, and which is networkable via WheatNet-IP. The company also announced that its Gibraltar IP Mix Engine is now available for the company’s Dimension Three, Series Four, Series Two, D-8EX and IP-64 digital mixing consoles, providing direct connectivity into AES67-compatible WheatNet-IP networks. Wheatstone also announced that its WheatNet-IP audio network I/O BLADEs now include 5.1 surround input and routing, which may be managed through WheatNet-IP’s NAVIGATOR software and controlled via scripting and the WheatNet-IP BLADE ACI.
Yamaha introduced v4.0 firmware update for its CL and QL Series consoles, with new features and enhanced operation, including new EQ algorithms, a new four-band multiband compressor and control and monitoring integration of Shure’s ULX-D digital wireless systems.
AUDIO RECORDING & PLAYOUT
Aaton Digital launched a completely new mixing surface, the Cantaress, which extends the operational capabilities of the company’s CantarX3 digital sound recorder.
Sound Devices introduced v3.00 firmware, adding Dan Dugan Sound Design’s Dugan automixing to the 688 mixer/recorder plus enhancements to Sound Devices’ MixAssist automixing feature. Sound Devices also debuted its new RF Scan feature for the 688 mixer/recorder and SL-6 powering and wireless system, which works with SuperSlot-compatible receivers.
AUDIO MONITORING & METERING
Renegade Labs debuted M3G, which can monitor multiple channels of audio from a SD/HD/3G SDI stream, and the M3G-XT, which includes lip sync delay compensation; both offer other I/O options.
TSL PAM-IPTSL’s new PAM-IP range can monitor video, audio and its associated metadata from either a traditional 3G-SDI connection or—a world’s first—an uncompressed S2022-6 IP video stream. Also new is the remotely web-addressable MPA (Monitor Plus Audio) Solo, which offers the ability to listen to any channel, while the MPA series Mix enables a user to create a simple monitoring mix. Both offer MADI, SDI, AES3, and analogue connectivity plus support for Dante and Ravenna.
MONITOR SPEAKERS & HEADPHONES
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50xMG professional headphones, featuring 45mm large-aperture drivers and sound-isolating earcups, are now available in a limited-edition matte gray version.
DaySequerra iMix 5.1 headphone monitorDaySequerra’s new iMix 5.1 headphone monitor does not require artificial ambience or special encoding to accurately reproduce multichannel audio. It features the latest version ITU-R BS.1770 loudness measurement system, and works with any type of headphone.
Genelec showed its 8430A SAM Studio Monitor, supporting AES67/Ravenna standards via an XLR-housed RJ45 connector while also offering a balanced analog XLR connector input.
Waves’ Nx virtual monitoring plug-in simulates the ideal acoustics of the sweet spot of a high-end professional mix room inside a pair of headphones and also offers head tracking.
AUDIO DISTRIBUTION, ROUTING & CODECS
DTS and Nowtilus have partnered on a market-ready solution for converting a broadcast signal and delivering it with multichannel surround sound to mobile and connected OTT devices that include DTS Headphone:X technology.
Focusrite launched Red 4Pre, a 58-in/64- out Thunderbolt interface combining four digitally-controlled Focusrite mic preamps plus instrument inputs, with dual Pro Tools HD DigiLink and Dante network audio connectivity.
CEDAR Audio has developed a new rackmount 2-channel DNS 2 noise suppressor with a new DNS algorithm offering a Learn function that identifies and adapts to background noise.
Cobalt Digital announced that its 9433 series of openGear fiber-optic audio embedder and de-embedder products are now available in a single-channel, unidirectional EO to OE configuration and as a dual channel EOOE bidirectional transport solution.
DPA Microphones’ d:facto handheld micMICROPHONES
DPA Microphones debuted a new linear version of the d:facto handheld mic range featuring a new isolation-optimized super-cardioid capsule designed to augment the human vocal range. DPA’s new GM1600 gooseneck, compatible with DPA’s entire range of instrument-mounting clips, enables the d:screet 4061 omni mic to be used as a plant mic in location sound applications.
Sanken introduced the CSS-50 three-diaphragm electret condenser short stereo shotgun microphone, which offers mono, stereo and wide stereo modes.
Sennheiser MKE 440Sennheiser previewed a new action microphone for GoPro cameras, based on a lavalier design, able to withstand adverse conditions including underwater. The company also unveiled the MKE 440 twin-shotgun stereo DSLR microphone designed to capture audio within the camera’s field of view. The new digital version of Sennheiser’s large-diaphragm MK 4 connects directly to OS, iOS and Windows devices via USB cable or Lightning cable and features a converter from Apogee Electronics. The company also previewed its Hand-Mic cardioid dynamic handheld digital mic with Apogee A/D converter and preamp is resistant to cell phone interference and is intended for recording to a handheld device via Lightning or USB connection.
Sennheiser’s EK 6042 2-channel slot-in camera receiver, in a world first, can work with both analog and digital Sennheiser transmitters across 184 MHz of UHF spectrum between 470 and 654 MHz and works with Sony as well as Unislot- and SuperSlot-compatible cameras.
Sony’s URX-P03D is the first 2-channel portable receiver in its UWP-D series, supports an external input for an additional wired microphone and includes 3-channel mixer functionality.
Joquebed Colin (L) of Clear-Com discusses the company’s DX series headsets and belt pack with Rick Dowling of the University of Alabama.INTERCOM & REMOTE CONTRIBUTION
Clear-Com’s new FreeSpeak II Base Station operates at both 1.9 GHz and 2.4 GHz, supports up to 25 full-duplex wireless beltpacks and covers a large production area with 10 distributed-antenna transceivers and two transceiver splitters spanning up to 3,200 feet away from the base station. Clear-Com also introduced its PIC-4744 IFB Router, with an integrated 4-channel source and destination matrix. It complements the company’s partyline intercom systems to support multi-channel IFB requirements, simplifying management and operation.
Glensound launched new Dante versions of three of its products, including the Express IP commentary unit, GS-FW012 IP 4-wire unit and Vita 4-wire unit. Glensound also announced that its Dante-enabled products now include the DARK1616 analog and AES network audio interface, DARK88 analog network audio interface and AoIP 44 analog network audio interface. The company also introduced the Glensound Expedition, a 4G LTE, 3G UMTS and 2G GSM broadcast phone with HD Voice, allowing 7 kHz audio links across mobile voice networks, with two mic/48V/line inputs and two headphone outputs.
Pliant Technologies CrewComPliant Technologies , a new company under the CoachCom umbrella, launched CrewCom, a wireless intercom system operating simultaneously in the 2.4 GHz and 900 MHz ISM (where legal) bands with a CAT5e distribution backbone, and software monitoring and management.
Riedel ESP-2324 expansion keypanelRiedel Communications introduced the ESP-2324 compact new expansion keypanel, which provides an additional 24 keys and four high-resolution multitouch color displays for the company’s RSP-2318 Smartpanel.
RTS introduced three new keypanel models for its KP-Series intercoms. The new models can be connected to OMNEO (KP- 3016 only) and analog RTS matrices ports for more basic intercom applications, while still offering the same HD color displays and intuitive operation as the fuller-featured versions.
Wisycom announced its updated firmware for the MTK952 dual transmitter, integrating Wisycom’s new ENS compander and enabling collaboration with the company’s new MPR50-IEM and MPR30-IEM, and adding factory presets for quick setup during on-location broadcasts.
iZotope added new features to its RX 5 editing software, including the ability to remove vocal plosives with level smoothing, cloning of backgrounds to extend scene beds through Ambience Match, and Instant Process, which enables audio repairs on a spectrogram graphic.
Linear Acoustic announced an update for its AERO.soft enterprise-wide audio and loudness management system, which is deployed on new processing engine hardware using AoIP to connect to xNodes and adds an option for AMX5x2 processing, providing five stereo loudness managers in a single instance.
Minnetonka Audio introduced v4.1 AudioTools Server, with new features including Linear Acoustic APTO adaptive loudness processing, available as an OEM module for direct integration or used in AudioTools Server in a file-based mode. Minnetonka also showcased how its AudioTools CLOUD enables on-demand, cloud-based processing with payment on a case-by-case basis via Amazon AWS. Also new from Minnetonka is the SurCode for Dolby Digital Plus Encoder and Decoder plug-ins, the first solution to bring Dolby Digital Plus to the Avid platform, with support for up to eight channels and configurations from 5.1 plus stereo to four independent stereo channels.
Linear Acoustic AERO.10 DTV Audio ProcessorLOUDNESS
Linear Acoustic announced updates for its AERO.10 DTV Audio Processor, including an option for a 2+2+2+2+2 configuration to support up to five simultaneous stereo programs. The option for the AMX5x2 processing instance, which provides five stereo loudness managers (2+2+2+2+2) per instance, has also been added to Linear Acoustic’s AERO.100 DTV Audio Processor and AERO.2000 Audio/Loudness.
RTW debuted its new audio processor hardware, APRO-CLC01, for Continuous Loudness Control (CLC), a platform that allows integrators or processor manufacturers to use RTW’s OEM-PCB processing algorithm for continuous loudness and dynamic control of a live signal within their products.
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Steve Harvey began writing for Pro Sound News and Surround Professional in 2000 and is currently senior content producer for Mix and a contributor to TV Tech. He has worked in the pro audio industry—as a touring musician, in live production, installed sound, and equipment sales and marketing—since November 1980.