Las Vegas, NV—The National Association of Broadcasters’ 2015 NAB Show this week attracted a reported 103,042 attendees (based on pre-show figures), a nice jump from last year’s 97,915. Spread across more than one million square feet of space, 1,789 exhibitors displayed and demonstrated products and services relating to every aspect of the development, management and delivery of content across every conceivable platform.
With the broadcast industry on the precipice of a major transition from over-the-air TV to media content delivery onto any platform, anywhere, IP and cloud-based workflows were being highlighted, and not just for audio. But as evidenced at the show, the AES67 audio interoperability standard is gaining momentum, with various manufacturers newly trumpeting its adoption. Also on the audio side, channel- and object-based immersive presentations were in the spotlight on the Dolby, DTS, Fraunhofer and other booths, yet 4K—even 8K—and HDR video continued to steal some of that thunder.
Imagine Communications took over The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for its pre-conference ImagineLIVE event, an evening of presentations, a sit-down dinner for the 2,000-plus invitees and a 90-minute performance by Foreigner (pictured is frontman Kelly Hansen), hosted by Imagine CEO Charlie Vogt. Speakers included Vince Roberts, EVP global operations and CTO of the Disney/ABC Television group, who described his company’s transition from a big iron media playout, delivery and network infrastructure to an IP-based unified cloud architecture powered by Imagine’s VersioCloud and Zenium software.
IP audio in TV broadcasting does appear to have finally reached, to borrow Malcolm Gladwell’s overused description, a tipping point. U.S. television and radio broadcast console systems manufacturer Wheatstone addressed that segment of the audio industry’s accelerating interest in AoIP technology with new product introductions at the show. The company’s new IP-64 flagship large-format TV console has been designed as an easy-to-operate surface that frees operators from the impression that they are facing a “sea of knobs,” as the company puts it, and supports HD/SDI, AES, MADI, AoIP, analog or TDM connectivity. Gibraltar, the gateway to the WheatNet-IP audio network system, which also carries control and command functions, supports Wheatstone’s IP-64, Dimension Three, D-8EX, Series Four and Series Two digital mixing consoles and enables AES67 compatibility.
DiGiCo waited until day three of the NAB Show—the opening day of Musikmesse in Frankfurt—to unveil its new baby, the S21. Featuring 80 DSP channels, a total of 46 busses (including a 10 x 8 matrix) and full-time 96 kHz operation, with DMI card options enabling input from Dante, Calrec’s Hydra2 and other transports in addition to the 24 rear panel mic/line connectors, all for $7,000, the console was swarmed from the moment the show opened. The touch screens utilize the now familiar pinch, swipe and drag-and-drop gestures of everyday mobile devices.
Rob Read, Roland’s marketing communications manager, introduced new XI-Card interface cards options for the company’s recently-launched M-5000 live sound mixing console and V-1200HD broadcast and live video production switcher, which made its debut at the NAB Show. Supporting slightly different functionality depending on the platform (which each feature two option slots), the cards enable interoperability with REAC, Dante, MADI, SDI, Waves SoundGrid, DVI and SFP digital audio and video transport protocols. Roland was highlighting broadcast-applicable features of the M-5000 console, including 5.1 support, mix-minus bussing and delay for every channel and buss.
James Gordon, CEO of the ProAudio Group formed by DiGiCo, Allen & Heath and Calrec, announced the first technology collaboration between two of the companies. DiGiCo and Calrec consoles can now interoperate via DiGiCo’s newly-launched Orange Box rackmount interface (which accepts “anything in, anything out,” according to the company) fitted with Calrec’s new Hydra2 interface card. The solution includes a MADI DMI card that allows 112 channels of audio to pass from the Hydra2 network, plus data such as labelling and control input gain along with I/O switching for phantom power and phase.
Gordon also announced two role changes at Calrec: Henry Goodman (pictured) is now director of support and market development and Dave Letson becomes vice president of sales. Goodman will work with the sales and product management teams to focus on the proactive development of Calrec’s customer support. Letson, who has spent the last four years establishing Calrec’s U.S. sales team in Los Angeles, is returning to the U.K. to drive global sales.
Sennheiser, cheekily borrowing from an old ad campaign (“Relax. It’s an SSL.”), introduced its compact AVX wireless microphone system for cameras that is designed to take the stress out of set-up. The AVX receiver, operating in the license-free 1.9 GHz range, plugs directly into a video camera XLR (or via an adaptor into a DSLR) automatically pairs with the microphone and switches on with the camera. The system also automatically adjusts audio levels and inaudibly changes frequency if it detects interference.
Tom Der, Soundcraft USA’s national sales manager—pictured (left) with a visitor—demonstrated a console on the Harman booth, where Studer was highlighting A-Link, a fiber-based interface that uses a 3Gb data rate to offer 1,536 audio channels per connection. A-Link enables Studer’s Infinity Core to handle over 10,000 inputs and 10,000 outputs (12 A-Link interfaces may be fitted using a new PCIe card designed specifically for the task), and also provides direct connection to Riedel’s MediorNet distributed router.
If this year’s NAB Show were to be filmed as a Hollywood movie, its title would have to be “NAB 2015: Attack of the Drones.” Whether you prefer to call them unmanned aerial vehicles or flying robots, they were ubiquitous at the show, and even had their own drone zone in the South Hall. Video equipment manufacturer Blackmagic Design’s booth was watched over by a couple of suspended camera drones; elsewhere, netting kept any errant flying video platform from roaming off course.