John McMahon is vice president of Solutions and Strategy at Meyer Sound Laboratories.
Recently introduced at InfoComm 2016 in Las Vegas, the Galileo GALAXY Network Platform extends Meyer Sound’s commitment to providing audio professionals with the hardware and software tools they need to assure the highest possible performance, efficient workflow and consistent results when configuring and optimizing complex loudspeaker systems. As the third generation of the Galileo loudspeaker processing family, GALAXY builds on a solid foundation of pristine audio quality and functional flexibility while further improving sonic performance, augmenting I/O capability and interconnecting the entire platform with an audio network based on open AVB standards.
When it was first introduced in 2005, the original Galileo loudspeaker management system replaced Meyer Sound’s highly regarded series of analog equalizers and line drivers with a single, flexible and user-programmable digital system. It was not the first digital loudspeaker processor on the market, but it was among the first to offer 24-bit/96 kHz I/O processing (48 kHz then being the accepted standard), which John Meyer considered essential to maintain the pristine signal quality of its analog predecessors.
The second-generation Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system was introduced in 2012, coinciding with the debut of the LEO linear large-scale sound reinforcement system. Although the hardware configuration was largely unchanged, Callisto offered significant upgrades in filtering technology to implement the extraordinarily linear characteristics of LEO Family systems.
With GALAXY, the Galileo family now jumps forward with an entirely new hardware and software platform. The changes are both revolutionary and evolutionary. Two significant changes are evident on the rear panel, while others appear only as new features in the companion Compass 4.0 software, in measurements with the SIM3 audio analyzer, or in critical listening sessions.
AVB AND ANALOG: EXPANDED I/O OPTIONS
As evidenced by the dual RJ-45 ports on the rear panel, GALAXY enables multiple processors to be configured in a high-resolution audio network based on the open AVB standards. A GALAXY network can be scaled to the needs of the application, from a modest church or PAC installation to an arena-size touring system. The AVB network replaces multiple analog or AES3 cables with single Cat 5e/6 network cables connected via AVB-compatible switches. All I/O assignments are easily managed in the Compass 4.0 software.
Another significant enhancement revealed on the rear panels of the GALAXY 816 and 816-AES3, when compared to previous generation equivalents, is the addition of two more analog inputs. With eight inputs, a single processor can drive a 7.1 cinema system or handle more complex soundscapes in themed spectaculars.
NEW FGPA TECHNOLOGY BOOSTS PERFORMANCE
The internal circuitry of GALAXY has been redesigned to incorporate the latest generation of advanced FPGA technology. Basic I/0 processing remains 24-bit/96 kHz but the internal processing for GALAXY has been extended up to 64-bit. As one result, analog input-to-output latency has been reduced from 1.5 ms to 0.6 ms, with latencies uniformly controllable at all outputs throughout an extended GALAXY system.
In addition, the upgraded I/O circuitry in GALAXY has extended dynamic range while significantly lowering the noise floor. A lower noise threshold is particularly significant in cinema surround sound applications, where high-powered loudspeakers that reproduce program only intermittently are often in close proximity to listeners.
EQ FILTERS: FURTHER REFINEMENTS
One engineering factor that has not changed since the days of the analog CP-10 complementary phase parametric equalizer is the critical importance of filter design. Whether applied in the digital or the analog domain, all filters are not created equal.
The low-frequency filter algorithms for GALAXY leverage the hardware’s expanded bit depth by using extremely accurate coefficients to further reduce distortion. The smoothness and accuracy of low-frequency filters in the first Galileo processors were audibly superior to those in other systems, and with GALAXY, both high-and low-pass filters have been further refined for better performance with even steeper slopes—up to 48 dB per octave compared to 24 dB per octave with previous Galileo systems. Five-band U-Shaping filters are provided on both inputs and outputs.
Other additions and improvements include external word clock sync on the AES3 versions, an integrated delay matrix for setting up complex imaging with different loudspeakers, and seamless integration with Crestron and other third-party control systems using simple text commands.
COMPASS 4.0: COMPLEMENTARY SOFTWARE
The many improvements and added features of GALAXY require use of a new version 4.0 of the Compass control software. In systems that include GALAXY along with first-or second-generation Galileo processors, a common control interface is available using the Compass Go by Meyer Sound iPad app.
Shipping for Galileo GALAXY units and the concurrent Compass 4.0 release are scheduled for early September 2016. Initial product offerings will be the GALAXY 816 (eight inputs analog or AES3 / 16 analog outputs), the GALAXY 816-AES3 (eight inputs analog or AES3 / 16 AES3 and eight analog outputs) and GALAXY 408 (4 inputs analog or AES3, 8 analog outputs).
In the past, Galileo systems have proven popular as FOH master processors, and several FOH engineers who have Galileo in their personal touring racks have told us they could find no equivalent newer products in terms of features, audio performance and the impeccable quality of filtering algorithms. We expect such broader applications will continue with GALAXY as well.
Meyer Sound Labs