Ossining, NY (April 2, 2004)–The Symetrix SymNet Audio Matrix family of network linkable audio matrix DSP processors is so flexible that system designers and installers are continually discovering new and unique applications for it. Recently, Johnson Knowles, resident technical guru at the Dallas-based Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG), integrated SymNet into an all-digital recording studio setup to operate as the 5.1 monitor system controller.
Last year, RBDG designed a brand new studio facility featuring an SSL C200 fully digital mixing console for Bicoastal Music in Ossining, New York, which has just opened for business. Searching for a sonically pure piece of audio equipment with which to control the proprietary RBDG-designed 5.1 monitor speaker system at Bicoastal, Knowles turned to SymNet. “We’ve previously used SymNet in several home theaters and home theater showrooms,” he said. “And now we’ve designed the first control room monitor system with it.”
The SymNet surround monitor control system at Bicoastal Music is centered on the 8×8 DSP, the Audio Matrix system’s core hardware module, which houses four Sharc DSP chips. A DigIO 12×12 DSP and input/output device provides a digital audio interface to the system and is interconnected via CAT5 cable with a pair of HomerLink units, each capable of supporting up to eight channels of AES-3 48kHz/24-bit inputs and outputs. A BreakOut12 unit provides analog outputs from the system.
Knowles explained, “There are six inputs, and for outputs we have left, right, and center, each having three outputs–for low frequency, mid and high. They all also have a sub output that all combine into one. There are four surround loudspeaker outputs that feed hybrid passive boxes.”
He elaborated, “We’re using a partial passive filtered network on the surrounds then making some corrections with SymNet, so we get the best of both worlds. You get the cost savings of a passive with some of the corrective capabilities of a digital system.” The hybrid approach, utilizing the SymNet DSP to make corrections that would otherwise require the introduction of signal-degrading trap filters and response-shaping filters, has allowed him to design a relatively simplistic passive topology using top quality components that have the least intrusive sonics of their own, Knowles explained.
The final step in the installation involves having the SSL console communicate directly with SymNet using the RS-232 or RS-485 capabilities of the system, continued Knowles. “You don’t want to control the volume digitally from the console because you’re truncating the bit depth. The console will let you turn down the bit stream, but we lose resolution as we reduce the amplitude. So, we’re feeding full-bore digital into SymNet, which is great, because once you have you’re level set you know that you’re always where you want to be. Then, you use the console’s monitor level to control the monitor speakers.”
Knowles added that when the manufacturer of his favorite crossover filter network went out of business it left him with a gap in the signal chain. “I gave the SymNet a try and liked what I heard, and certainly liked the interface and the flexibility of it. It goes well beyond what you can do, building block-wise, with most of the competitive products, almost all of which are fixed in their architecture.”