RT UK, the new British TV channel from Kremlin-backed news network Russia Today, has installed a Calrec Audio Summa digital audio console in its London bureau to manage audio signals for its live news operation. The sale marks Calrec's first Summa installation in the UK.
"With the number and complexity of news programmes we produce each week, and the number of audio sources required to do it, we needed a console that would keep pace with our dynamic operation, with comprehensive channel processing and bus facilities that could cater to every clean-feed scenario," comments Eric Wisby, RT UK sound supervisor. "The Summa console meets our every requirement."
Wisby (pictured) worked with fellow sound supervisor Tony Cosaitis to manage the console's configuration and installation on behalf of RT UK, with UK systems integrator and Calrec partner CVP also instrumental in the sale and installation. Wisby continues: "Summa's relatively small size makes it useful for small TV control galleries and outside broadcast vehicles. It carries a lot of capability in a reasonably sized footprint – and it is a given that any Calrec mixer is going to produce excellent sound."
RT UK installed a Summa 128 with a 3U modular I/O box furnished with a specific combination of cards to provide 24 mic/line inputs, 32 analogue line inputs, 24 analogue line outputs, eight opto inputs/16 relays and 32 digital AES inputs and outputs. Hydra2 mic pre-amps, six bands of EQ in every channel and four automixers all contribute to "a clean, high-quality sound". Off-air conference and auto-minus facilities provide solutions to RT's often-complex clean-feed requirements, including its need for studio presenters to be able to talk to contributors via Skype or line feed while the programme is on the air and video contribution is being played. This mix-minus talkback capability is also important for allowing operators and presenters to talk to remote guests off the air before those guests contribute to a programme.
With the Summa console, RT UK produces five half-hour live news bulletins every weekday and three in-depth news programmes every week, all of which include studio presentation, interviews with guests in the studio and from remote sources via line feeds and Skype, video and audio inserts played from a server and audio player, stings and bumpers to punctuate different sections of the programmes and varying levels of production value and style. During off-air times, RT UK runs dummy programmes from old news broadcast scripts to aid in cross-training and to give operators a chance to experiment with new techniques. The layout and controls accommodate multiple users and let RT UK's occasional freelance operators come up to speed quickly.
"All the controls are smooth and easy to use. Adjustment of any control is totally calibrated, accurate and reproducible, which is important if several operators are going to use the desk and have their own settings," Wisby said. "The dynamics are transparent and effective, the equalisation is fine-tunable and easy to use live and, because everything does what it says it's doing, you quickly realise you don't need to over-adjust anything to get the desired result."
"The way RT UK is using the Summa console is a prime example of Summa's value in small broadcast operations, which can be every bit as involved and fast-paced as their larger counterparts," says Jim Green, Calrec's UK sales manager. "Summa offers processing power and resilience that are unmatched anywhere at this price point. This installation marks the first step toward establishing Calrec in the small-format broadcast console market in the UK."