To celebrate the centennial of the first radio broadcast in Belgium, the country’s Dutch-language public broadcaster, VRT, launched a major refurbishment of two studios belonging to its Radio 2 station, the most popular in Flanders.
The assignment was carried out by the VRT project and support team, with Amptec taking on cabling and the technical integration. Both studios – Radio 2 West Flanders, based in Kortrijk (Courtray), and Radio 2 Limburg, in Hasselt – date from 2003; as does the radio production landscape.
The first major change was moving the ground floor on-air studio, located in the station’s entrance hall, to the upper floor, allowing direct visual contact with the local editorial team. The ground floor room will be further used as production studio, for programmes with a live audience or events. The technical configuration will consist of a basic mobile studio set-up, allowing maximal flexibility and interaction, and will be operational after summer. The idea is to integrate it in the building’s DHD audio environment, either as a standalone unit or mobile, flightcased kit.
The former control rooms in Kortrijk and Hasselt will further serve as a remote studio for the broadcaster’s news service, with a high-quality audio link to the main news studio and TV cameras in Brussels.
The new on-air studio philosophy is for as a ‘box-in-the-box’ room, with lots of natural daylight and a wide open space over the public entrance downstairs. “The basic idea with our new studios was to have minimal technical equipment in the studio,” explains Wim Ermens, studio project engineer with VRT radio. “We go for the ‘clean studio’ principle, concentrating on the presenter’s job in a self-op environment.”
In addition to the standard configuration of Neumann U 89 microphones, Genelec 8240 monitors and Fostex 6301 advance listening speakers, the new Radio 2 studios are equipped with DHD 52/MX consoles. “The new DHD XC core copes with more distributed I/O and is better suited to serve the whole radio building: the technical room, the on-air studio, the recording and editing booths and the editorial desks,” Ermens (pictured right) says.
Programming and configuration of the DHD consoles has been realised by VRT support, while desk layout has been kept clean, using the DHD touchscreens for more in-depth audio console operations.
The two studios were also the first VRT networks to be equipped with the new Dalet+ playout system. “Dalet+ establishes a link to the I-news newsroom system allowing our presenters to work from paperless desks,” continues Ermens. “The system displays also offer a new rundown for news items, allowing the [pre-]production of news bulletins by the station’s local editorial team.”
A new AVT TH6 telephone hybrid system and the latest AVT AC1 codecs complete the studio set-up.
The VRT project team also rethought the microphone chain. A Dan Dugan E3 microphone mixer automatically decides, based on smart algorithms, which microphone faders should be opened: the presenter opens the microphone group fader, and the intelligent microphone management system takes it from there.