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Show review: IBC 2015

Like James Bond, IBC will return… In the meantime, however, here’s PSNEurope’s round-up of the pro-audio highlights of 2015’s show, loving compiled by Jon Chapple

In news that will surprise few who attended the event, the 2015 International Broadcasting Convention was “widely agreed to be the most successful yet”, according to organisers.

Total visitor numbers topped out at an eye-watering 55,128, with visitors from across the world pounding the pavements of the RAI to see everything from the latest broadcast product launches to talks, seminars, awards ceremonies, big-screen cinemas, the beach party, a ‘hackfest’ and the mildly terrifying-sounding Drone Zone (think hobbyists and media organisations, not the Tora Bora mountains).

However, PSNEurope, consummate professionals that we are, only ever has eyes for the big pro-audio news – and when the news is of the calibre of the juicy morsels collated for your reading pleasure below, who can blame us?

On the eve of the show, ALC NetworX announced Modulation Index and 2wcom as new partners for its AES67-based RAVENNA networking protocol.

Streaming audio specialist Modulation Index is the developer of the Orban Opticodec-PC codec, which enables aacPlus (HE AAC) streaming for internet radio via HTTP/Shoutcast and RTSP. Its new software, StreamS Audio Encoder, uses Fraunhofer AAC to support new and legacy streaming protocols.

German company 2wcom is a global manufacturer and supplier of professional broadcast products. It offers complete end-to-end DVB-S/S2 audio/IP satellite system solutions, including professional encoders, modulators and an IRD product range.

HHB Communications’ IBC stand played host to the world launch of six new products from Røde Microphones, including new mics, a digital interface, two boom poles and a new wireless audio package. (Pictured is Røde export sales manager Ryan Burke.)

Chief among the launches were two new additions to its VideoMic family of on-camera microphones, the VideoMicro and VideoMic Me.

Measuring 80mm long, the VideoMicro is a small, lightweight, directional on-camera microphone designed for use on compact cameras. Designed to reduce distracting peripheral sounds and focusses on the audio in front of the camera, it features a more forgiving pick-up than Røde’s other on-camera microphones, making it suitable for recording indoors. The VideoMic Me is a high-quality directional microphone designed for Apple iPhone and iPad.

Also new from the Australian manufacturer and software developer were the i-XLR, a digital XLR interface for Apple iOS devices; an updated version of the Røde Rec app; the Newsshooter Kit, an addition to its RØDELink range of digital wireless systems which includes a camera-mounted transmitter and new XLR transmitter (TX-XLR); and two new carbon-fibre boompoles.

In addition to the Røde announcements, stand 8.D56 welcomed for the first time the Roland OHRCA M-5000C, a compact, ~30” version of its M-5000 digital mixing console (pictured).

TC Electronic also chose the HHB Communications booth as the venue for its announcement of updates for the Clarity X monitoring system and Loudness Pilot loudness normalisation controller.

Jünger Audio showed its audio monitoring system working with the Fraunhofer IIS MPEG-H TV Audio System.

The integration of Jünger Audio’s loudness control features into MPEG-H means that broadcasters can easily identify content that has already been processed or levelled for loudness control, enabling them to avoid multiple levelling passes that can affect audio quality.

Robert Bleidt, division general manager at Fraunhofer USA, said: “We are excited to work with Jünger Audio on this product, as it will enable broadcasters to offer better audio quality while satisfying their viewers’ desire for consistent loudness. It is an example of how working with an open standard such as MPEG-H allows rapid innovation.”

(Solutions for immersive and interactive audio were also demonstrated by DTS (DTS:X) and Dolby (AC-4), which we will cover in far more depth next month.)

New for IBC from Lawo was KICK, a patent-pending automated control software solution for ‘close-ball mixing’ in sports. Similar to Calrec’s Soccer Sidekick iPad app (launched at IBC 2013), the application guarantees a “consistent, fully automated close-ball audio mix for sports”, said Christian Struck, Lawo’s senior product manager for audio production.

KICK’s GUI allows for easy adjustment of all of its parameters, including the placement of microphones, their polar patterns and microphone prioritisation.

“Close-ball mixing is very important, but very demanding when done manually,” added Struck. He explained that the system ensures transparent sound pickup with an excellent ‘noise-to-kick’ ratio, significantly reducing crowd noise. It also ensures a consistent audio level without noticeable fades and delivers a mix that is repeatable from match to match.

KICK is available as a both software-only solution for productions using Lawo mc² mixing consoles and a hardware-bundled solution for productions using consoles from other manufacturers.

Linear Acoustic revealed at IBC that Minnetonka Audio Software, a provider of audio solutions for motion picture, video, broadcast, video game and optical disc production, has joined the Telos Alliance through a merger of the two companies.

The Telos Alliance, comprising Telos Systems, Omnia Audio, Axia Audio, 25-Seven Systems and Linear Acoustic/Minnetonka, is also the developer of the Livewire audio-over-Ethernet networking technology.

“Efficient broadcast audio workflow is shifting from reliance on function-per-box hardware to integrated software and cloud-based solutions,” commented Tim Carroll, Linear Acoustic’s founder and Telos Alliance CTO (pictured, right, with Minnetonka’s John Schur). “John Schur, Markus Hintz, Jayson Tomlin and the entire Minnetonka Audio team share a keen understanding of this balance. We are proud to finally be working shoulder-to-shoulder to help our industry move forward with better audio today and towards more personalised and immersive next generation audio.”

The newly united companies will combine their expertise in all aspects of television audio “from production to transmission”, as well as radio, streaming and “future broadcast delivery methods”.

“Our goal has always been to offer world-class, industry-standard audio technology in convenient, ready-to-deploy software kits, plug-ins and enterprise level systems,” added John Schur, president of Minnetonka Audio Software. “This new chapter for our company dramatically increases the technology that we can offer our customers to solve critical workflow issues. Look, or rather, listen for big things from this new relationship.”

RTS Intercoms, part of Bosch Security Systems, celebrated 40 years in business at IBC.

Celebrating on the stand at the show were (L–R) Shawn Anderson, Josef Penker, Nico Lewis, hostess Anita, Guido van Pol and Manuel Brico.

Another IBC anniversary came courtesy of RTW, which marked 50 years since its founding at the show. Andreas Tweitmann, CEO of the German audio metering specialist, said: “We look forward to the next 50 years of providing unparalleled customer service and products.”

At IBC Sennheiser unveiled the EK 6042, a true-diversity, two-channel lot-in camera receiver that works with both analogue and digital transmitters across a bandwidth of 184MHz.

According to the German headphone/microphone company, the EK 6042 (pictured) is an ideal partner for its top-of-the-range Digital 9000 series and can operate with all analogue transmitters that feature Sennheiser’s HiDyn plus or HDX companders.

“This is a true ‘one for all’ receiver,” said Tobias von Allwörden, product manager, broadcast and media, for Sennheiser. “It works with any Sennheiser series from Digital 9000, 5000 and 3000 down to 2000 and evolution wireless G3, and automatically identifies the transmitter via an IR link.”

The camera receiver chooses its own operating mode depending on the transmitter, and also selects the appropriate bandwidth and frequency in the UHF range between 470 and 654MHz. As a true diversity receiver with four separate receiver circuits the EK 6042 is extra-reliable, even in difficult RF environments.

The EK 6042 can be combined with either a 15-pin adaptor to slot directly into Sony cameras, or a 25-pin adaptor for Unislot- and SuperSlot-compatible devices.

The EK 6042 won one of three PSNEurope IBC Best of Show Awards.

The DWX-N series, new from Sony, offers users higher quality sound, shorter audio latency and more reliable transmission, providing a solution that “brings UHF wireless microphone technology into the digital domain”.

According to Sony the DWX-N series, for live, studio, installation, and broadcast applications, was developed following specific feedback from DWX customers. It comprises he DWR-R02DN receiver, DWT-B01N beltpack and DWM-02N wireless microphone.

“The DWX-N Series is our most advanced digital wireless microphone system to date,” said James Leach, product marketing manager at Sony Professional Europe (pictured). “Developed in close consultation with our customers, we’ve not only continued the exceptional audio clarity of our previous solutions, we’ve also improved the reliability of the audio transmission. Crucially, we’ve developed a system that will easily integrate with existing live and studio workflows, making the DWX-N series ideal for multiple different applications.”

On the Sound Devices stand, the US live production specialist paired its new SL-6 powering and wireless system with the 688 12-track portable mixer/recorder, launched earlier this year. (Pictured is sales manager Gabriel Benitez with the 688.)

“We are thrilled to bring the most powerful portable mixer/recorder available in the 688 together with our innovative SL-6 accessory to IBC,” said CEO Matt Anderson. “A mixing bag comprised of [sic] a 688 with SL-6 plus a SuperSlot-compatible wireless receiver offers audio mixing, recording and wireless receiver control all from the mixer, u ltimately simplifying power distribution and interconnection.”

Studer introduced the Vista 1 Black Edition digital mixing console on the first day of IBC.

Owing to its ‘Vistonics’ user interface with 40 on-screen rotary knobs, the Vista 1’s look and feel is identical to that of its larger sister models, the Vista X and Vista V. Features such as true broadcast monitoring, talkback, red light control, GPIO, N-x (Mix Minus) buses, snapshot automation and DAW control make the Vista 1 suitable for broadcast, live and production use.

For theatre productions, the Vista 1 (pictured at IBC with Studer’s Mark Hosking) comes with a complete toolset for sound designers. The enhanced theatre CUE list includes character/actor library event handling, with MUTE and VCA events handling. CUEs can fire MIDI/MMC events as well as loading different strip set-ups and UAD plug-in snapshots.

With an integral DSP engine of 96 channels, the Vista 1 can handle mono, stereo and 5.1 inputs, and is provided with a standard configuration of 32 mic/line inputs, 16 line outputs and four pairs of AES inputs and outputs on rear panel connections (also customisable).

I/O can be expanded using the standard Studer D21m card slot on the rear, to allow MADI, AES, AoIP (including AES67), ADAT, TDIF, CobraNet, Dolby E/Digital, SDI connections, etc. MADI links can connect to any of the Studer Stagebox range for XLR connectivity as well as other formats.

The Vista 1 also features an integral jingle player, played from audio files on a USB jingle stick (such as station ID or background FX) and triggered by a series of eight dedicated keys in the master section.
A redundant PSU is included, and RELINK integration with other Studer Vista and OnAir consoles means the Vista 1 Black Edition can share signals across an entire console network.

TSL Products showcased its newly redesigned Monitor Plus Audio (MPA) family on stand 10.B41.
Rebuilt “from the ground up to offer greater ease of use and excellent sound quality”, the new MPA range offers solutions for both established I/O and audio over IP, with support for Dante and RAVENNA.

The new products are available in two models: Solo offers the ability to listen to any channel, while Mix enables the user to create a simple monitoring mix. The shallow unit depth of 100mm makes both ideal for the broadcast OB environment, and the built-in web server enables all units to be configured, monitored and controlled remotely via an intuitive web interface.

“In redesigning the MPA family, we have really focussed on intuitive and easy use in order to make the range efficient, precise and able to create workflow-specific solutions,” said Matt Colman, TSL audio product manager.

With thanks to Mark Hallinger and Heather McLean.