At the 2010 NAB Show, Qualis Audio showed AES/EBU and SDI versions of Sentinel, its network-based automated surround-sound monitor. The AES/EBU digital input version is available now; the SDI input version will be available in May. The Qualis Sentinel uses advanced signal-processing algorithms to directly answer a broadcaster’s fundamental questions, rather than merely displaying information requiring further analysis by experienced staff. Coupled with an intuitive human interface and hardware designed to fit into existing infrastructure, the Sentinel enables significant reductions in operating costs while improving the quality of delivered audio.
The Qualis Sentinel is designed for automated, unattended monitoring of surround program material. Qualis has now revised the interface software to include graphical display of loudness and other measurements versus time. These graphs display both real-time and logged data with seamless transitions between the two. Histograms may be generated from user-selected portions of the time graphs, enabling easy assessment of loudness across and between programs.
Unlike traditional approaches, which require the operator to interpret interchannel phase information, the Sentinel performs stereo and mono downmixes internally, and then compares them to the original surround mix. If content present in the surround mix is missing from either the stereo or mono mix, Sentinel flags a warning or error. Thus, the user is freed from continuously watching and interpreting a screen, allowing more attention to other aspects of producing, evaluating and transmitting the program.
The Sentinel also addresses numerous other potential audio problems. The new digital input versions catch problems unique to digital signals such as metadata inconsistency, word length discrepancies, sample rate mismatch, etc., that traditionally require staff with extensive technical training and experience. The Sentinel eliminates the need for skilled personnel and allows 24/7 automated monitoring.
The Sentinel converts all measurements to a simple green/yellow/red stoplight display. Any one or more of a user-defined list of error conditions (red light) may trigger an alarm. Alarm notification may be via traditional means such as audible sounder or contact closure and may also result in e-mails to multiple recipients.