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IP at NAB: Showcasing the Future

By Steve Harvey. The IP Showcase at this year’s NAB Show is an affirmation that networking infrastructures are beginning to see wider adoption in the broadcast industry.

Las Vegas, NV—Featuring 60 manufacturers and eight standards bodies, the IP Showcase at this year’s NAB Show is an affirmation that networking infrastructures are beginning to see wider adoption in the broadcast industry. The tipping point for more mainstream acceptance undoubtedly came about because of several standards and recommendations falling into place over the past year, as indicated by the eight industry organizations and alliances co-hosting the showcase: AES, AIMS, AMWA, EBU, IABM, NAB Show, SMPTE and VSF.

The more widespread adoption of IP networking will not occur overnight; many facilities are initially making a transition from SDI to hybrid IP/SDI systems and workflows. But with SMPTE 2110 (which adopts AES67 for audio), AMWA NMOS discovery and registration specifications, and the ATSC 3.0 Next Gen standard all now in place, the industry has a roadmap. There will be plenty of new products on the show floor in Las Vegas to help take us there; the following are just a few examples of the products enabling this all-IP future.

Audio-over-IP is at the very core of Solid State Logic’s System T family of dedicated live-to-air broadcast production consoles and controllers. The technology leverages off-the-shelf switching infrastructure to reduce the overall system design cost and improve redundancy topologies. The 2018 NAB Show will see the global debut of the latest addition to the line: the System T S300 compact control surface, available with 16 or 32 faders, which can connect to either a Tempest T25 (256 paths @ 48 kHz) or a T80 (800 paths @ 48 kHz) processor engine. It runs the same software as the larger S500 surface and TCR (Tempest Control Rack). System T S300 includes a fully integrated Dante control API; with more than 1,000 Dante devices available from approximately 350 manufacturers, System T control surfaces can act as direct routing controllers to extremely large, multi-manufacturer-based AoIP routing systems.

Related: SSL’s System T Software Gets Immersive, Pro Sound News, March 20, 2018

A v2.0 software update for System T offers improvements including immersive audio, another important path to broadcast audio’s future. The release reportedly places support of immersive audio for ATSC 3.0, Dolby Atmos and MPEG-H at the heart of the console architecture: new 3-axis coordinate panning for System T incorporates 2- or 4-channel overhead speakers into the available channel and bus formats.

Audiotonix acquired SSL at the end of 2017, which means the brand is now stablemates with Allen & Heath, Calrec and DiGiCo. Calrec has been coyly dropping hints on social media regarding a new mixer for radio applications, but details are under wraps until the show.

In the meantime, DiGiCo has already announced its 4REA4 processing engine, which debuted recently in Europe. The system offers 128 input channels, 48 bus output processing strips and four dedicated mix areas, or zones, each with its own stereo master output, CGs and allocated effects, managed via proprietary Ethernet or Dante connectivity. “4REA4 will allow our customers and new facilities to expand the function and reach of our live consoles,” according to James Gordon, DiGiCo’s managing director. While 4REA4 appears aimed more at the install market, there are certainly potential broadcast applications.

Related: DiGiCo’s 4REA4 to Make U.S. Debut at NAB Show, Pro Sound News, March 20, 2018

Conveniently interfacing with Dante AoIP networks, ProCo Sound’s new AoD Output Module will be at the NAB Show. It features a Dante audio input and two channels of analog output from an aluminum extrusion housing with hand-soldered, 3-foot analog audio tails. The D-to-A converters support a 44.1, 48 and 96 KHz sample rate and up to 24-bit depths.

Related: ProCo Sound Debuts AoD Output Module, Pro Sound News, Feb. 20, 2018

“Given the positive feedback we have received since we initially developed this product, we’re thrilled to be shipping our AoD Output Modules,” says Darius Seabaugh, vice president of marketing for RHC Audio. “The AoD is an asset for anyone using Dante networks, as its design is intuitive and truly plug-and-play. We’re looking forward to debuting these modules at NAB and presenting broadcasters with a durable, dependable solution for delivering high-quality audio.”

The modules use Power over Ethernet (PoE), with power sourced through standard Ethernet cable via a PoE-capable network switch. The free Dante Controller software provides configuration of device names, channel labels, signal routing, sample rates and latency.

TSL Products’ approach to product design has allowed it to continually update its audio monitoring products as the nascent AES67, SMPTE 2022-6, SMPTE 2110 and other standards have developed. The company’s PAM1-IP and PAM2-IP precision audio monitors now support SMPTE 2022-6 and SMPTE 2110 audio and video networks plus Ember+. All TSL MPA1 devices now offer SNMP support.

Related: TSL Products Previews 2018 NAB Show Updates, Pro Sound News, March 21, 2018

As audio product manager Stephen Brownsill’s comment indicates, TSL Products is fully aware that its customers are making the transition to IP one step at a time. “The solutions we offer today are for both SDI and IP infrastructures. We understand that a key challenge for any audio solution is to create and present an operational experience that is both simple and intuitive, regardless of the method being used to carry audio through a broadcast facility.”

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Jünger Audio, too, takes a software-defined product design approach. The company will launch a new audio processing platform and a new product, AIXpressor, at the NAB Show that use Jünger’s Flexible Audio Infrastructure, flexAI, to customize the system for specific requirements. The 1RU device is based on x86 processors and is equipped with a range of built-in interfaces, including AES67 and SMPTE ST2110 redundant AoIP.

Related: Jünger Audio Bows AIXpressor Platform, Pro Sound News, March 9, 2018

The software products created using flexAI will be licensed flexibly, according to the company, allowing users to incorporate additional functionality, increase channel count or shift licenses between devices. The system scales by cascading additional AIXpressors or servers via Jünger’s new optical connection, tieLight, which can reportedly transmit up to 1,152 audio channels in each direction.

NAB Show IP Showcase •