Licht en Liefde is a non-profit organisation formed to help the blind and visually impaired, one of whose activities is recording books and manuscripts in audio formats. It operates six studios in Flanders, with one or two voice booths each. In September, the Laeken, Brussels, studio was the first of Licht en Liefde’s facilities be equipped with a configuration.
The Laeken studio produces some 120 audiobooks per year, and consists of a control room and two voice booths. The modal design of the voice booths allows for their relocation if necessary.
“We opted for an Axia DESQ because of its remote-control option, which allows us to monitor the status of the console; control and programming of faders and presets; and the backup and restor[ing] of settings,” says Hannes Roygens, IT engineer at Licht en Liefde (literally ‘Love and Light’, but known as ‘Solidarity in Sight’ in English). “And then there’s the Livewire solution, establishing a fully digital audio signal between the console and the recording PC, resulting in less interference. Last but not least, the Axia serves two recording booths, allowing simultaneous recording of two sessions and doubling the content output.”
Roygens adds that the remote-control aspect of the Axia is crucial, not only for the central studio staff in Varsenare, but because in future the association plans to include blind or visually impaired people as studio staffers. “The Laeken studio is a pilot-project – the idea is to gradually replace the current inventory of analogue consoles (Dateq, Mackie, Allen & Heath) in our studios with the Axia DESQ, allowing us to install presets and backups, making operation easy for everyone.”
The Axia is connected, via the Livewire network, to the recording PC, equipped with DAISY recording software. “The DAISY content is stored as WAV files on our server; two engineers in our main studio in Varsenare then edit the audio files and prepare them for playback on DAISY readers,” continues Dirk Declercq, coordinator of the Licht en Liefde studios. “Every month, the files are routed to Luisterpunt, the Flemish public library for audiobooks, offering a collection of over 20,000 DAISY books.” (Declercq says he hopes Luisterpunt will implement an option to make DAISY files available online before the year-end.)
It was Edo Dijkstra of TVV Sound who supplied and installed the configuration for the recording studio in Laeken. “Alongside the Axia DESQ, we also put in place two Neumann TLM 102 microphones (pictured above right), directly connected with the Axia core, a Monacor ECM-500 talkback microphone and two beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headsets. Another asset of the Axia is that the remote control allows intervention from our offices, PCs or even smartphones, ensuring 100 per cent backup.”
The parameter for the beyerdynamic headphones, says Laeken studio coordinator Ekrem Gashi, was, alongside high-quality sound, the listening comfort. “Our studio readers, mostly former radio or TV presenters, work on a voluntary basis. Each reading session takes about 90 minutes. A perfectly fitting headphone, with comfortably velour ear-pads, is essential,” he comments.
Following the Laeken installation, Declercq plans to bring the organisation’s Varsenare and Ghent studios to the Axia platform next year.