UK: The Klark Teknik business unit of Telex Communications will confirm at PLASA later today (September 11th) that it has acquired the assets of the Sony Oxford SuperMAC and HyperMAC audio networking business. The announcement brings an end to months of industry speculation about the future of this particular approach to audio interconnection and routing, writes David Davies.
Klark Teknik/Midas' association with HyperMAC and SuperMAC (which provides the basis of the Audio Engineering Society's AES50-2005 digital audio engineering standard) stretches back almost exactly two years to its announcement that it would adopt the technology to provide an audio routing and distribution network for the Midas XL8 console. Providing bi-directional, point-to-point connection for multi-channel audio, plus sample clock, over a single Cat 5/6 data network cable, SuperMAC/HyperMAC are said to provide a reliable standard for audio interconnection with the primary benefits of high-bandwidth transportation and low latency. However, with the exception of Midas, Merging Technologies and a few others, it has thus far enjoyed limited adoption elsewhere in the industry.
Telex Communications (UK) managing director John Oakley suggests that today's announcement could mean that situation is now about to change. "AES50, SuperMAC and HyperMAC are at the core of future Midas and Klark Teknik products," he tells PSN-e. "The ongoing standardisation of HyperMAC and the promotion of the use of this technology is an essential element of our strategy. Sony's decision to exit this business gave us the opportunity to acquire the technology and inject more resources into the ongoing standardisation, promotion and support work. I feel this will now give greater impetus to the adoption of this networking standard. Once the dust has settled you can expect more announcements from Klark Teknik regarding these activities."
Elaborating upon the particular strengths of the Sony technology, Oakley adds: "The Midas XL8 uses SuperMAC and HyperMAC networking to give unparalleled flexibility of input and output configuration. For instance, the fibre optic dual redundant HyperMAC from stage to FOH can be used to pass signals in and out for the support band analogue console without passing through the XL8 DSP. In other words the XL8 includes as standard a full digital snake system usable for any other purpose as well as for the XL8 I/O. This saves both time and money for rental companies. As we develop more and more products using this open architecture networking - from Midas, Klark Teknik and third parties - the true power of the concept will become apparent. Eventually the immense cost of analogue cabling systems, which tie up big resources at rental companies, will become a thing of the past."
Klark Teknik has revealed that it will be launching a range of products using this networking technology, beginning with the DN9696 High Resolution 96 track/96 kHz live performance audio recorder that is being previewed at this year's PLASA exhibition.
For Sony, the move seemingly marks the final divestiture of the Oxford pro-audio operation following the 'spin-out' of the chip development team to form Oxford Digital and the MBO of the plug-ins business (now known as Sonnox) during the last 18 months.
Morgan David, divisional director research and development at Sony Professional Solutions Europe, commented: "We are delighted to have been able to complete this sale to Klark Teknik as they have been our strongest supporter in developing the AES50 standard and adopting the SuperMAC technology into their product. It was our top priority to identify a new owner who would be actively committed to the development of the AES50 standard, both in terms of technological progress and also through active licensing and support to the pro audio industry as a whole. Given that we had decided Sony could no longer give our Audio Networking business the investment and focus it needed, this is undoubtedly the best outcome we could have hoped for as it secures the future of this standard for the industry."
Look out for the October issue of PSNE to read the full story of Sony Oxford and the SuperMAC AES50/HyperMAC technology.