Rusty Waite, president of STAGETEC USA, sees the migration to fiber as an important technology trend that, properly approached, will handle today's massive 5.1 channel counts while streamlining workflow and connectivity.
In terms of infrastructure, he sees a growing need for a complete networked system, with IP audio the logical choice to transport all those signals.
“Moving multichannel signals over a standard IP network is ideal. There are a lot of advantages to it, and it's something we can do today,” he said. “The problem is that every manufacturer is running a proprietary protocol. To do that efficiently, especially over long distances and at live events, is to have an open standard protocol.”
Waite pointed to Audio Video Bridging (AVB) as a promising open standard IP networking protocol, currently being developed by the IEEE 802.1 Task Group.
Waite sees some changes coming to the control surface as well.
“Audio operators are under immense pressure, working with multiple sources that are in 5.1 that need to be accessed and manipulated,” he said. “Where we used to say ‘one knob per function,’ the truth of the matter is that ‘one knob per critical function’ is the new reality.”
That means more and larger visual displays on tomorrow's control surfaces, but complementing rather than replacing traditional hardware.
“With limited physical space, especially in OB environments, designs will likely continue to become more modular, so a single platform can meet many needs,” Waite said. “It's all about balancing the need to handle many sources and functions with instinctive, split-second access. That's why we'll never see live mixing go totally ‘in-the-box.’ A tactile user interface still works best, which is why faders and knobs will never go away. You can't take the wand away from the wizard.”