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Audio stakes its claim at BVE 2011

Broadcast Video Expo is not yet in the running for international product debuts, but the Earls Court show (held in mid-February) is providing a UK launch pad for technologies introduced at longer established international exhibitions.

Broadcast Video Expo is not yet in the running for international product debuts, but the Earls Court show (held in mid-February) is providing a UK launch pad for technologies introduced at longer established international exhibitions, writes Kevin Hilton. Prime among these was the Roland VR-5, a combined audio mixer and video switcher embodying the ongoing integration of sound and video. Aimed at live, small-scale TV production and web streaming of location events, the VR-5 has USB connectivity, allowing it to be linked into Skype, iChat or other video call services. The audio component is a mixer with two mono and two stereo channels, with both sound and vision going into an MPEG-4 player-recorder.

Radio equipment is also finding a home at BVE. This sector threw up a major UK launch in the shape of the Stagetec On Air 24 digital presentation console. Chris Collings, managing director of Stagetec‘s British distributor, Aspen Media, says the desk was a response to requests from Stagetec customers and is aimed at larger, multi-studio radio stations that need the option to expand in the future. This flexibility is provided by the Nexus digital routing and communication system, with the four-fader operator’s panel having six assignable buttons for each fader strip, giving a total of 24 channels on the desk.

Aspen Media helped keep the profile of loudness high by showing the RTW TouchMonitor range and Jünger Audio‘s T*AP processor. As Collings observes, the first monitors material for inconsistencies in levels, the other deals with them. Another leader in the field, DK-Technologies, was exhibiting in its own right, with the PTO700 series among other products. New software was due to be released after the show.

Another approach to loudness levelling appeared on the Eyeheight stand. KARMAudioAU is a plug-in for Apple Mac OS X systems that allows material produced on Final Cut Pro to hit target loudness and peak programme levels. Simon Pegg, Eyeheight’s research and development director, says the software works with raw ITU 1770 and EBU R128 processed signals and is designed to be used in the production of interstitials and highlights packages, where fast turnarounds mean there is limited time for full audio post.

A more traditional form of sound processor was displayed by PRECO, long-time distributor of compression pioneer Orban. The OPTIMOD-FM 8600 is in the manufacturer’s established radio market and is designed to get the most out of FM frequencies and deliver good quality on DAB at the same time. PRECO also displayed the Tieline Report-IT Live, which transforms iPhones into bidirectional audio codecs for broadcast contribution work.

While the big companies and products still have a high profile at a show like BVE, there is more space for specialised, niche items to shine. An increasingly important piece of kit in this respect is a box to connect pro-audio equipment to semi-pro or consumer cameras. Canford displayed interfaces for DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camcorders from BeachTek, in both passive (DXA-5Da) and active, phantom-powered (DXA-SLR) versions.

Also aimed at DSLR shoots is the Ruige TL-480HD range of monitors. There are four models in the series, which are variously able to deal with HDMI, HD/SD-SDI and composite video, as well as SDI-embedded audio. Canford is also handling the 4HM SAM64 SDI to AES/MADI interface and the AJA Video Systems line of interfaces, including a two XLRs in, single mini-jack out unit.

‘Cause they can-can-Canford

Canford is as famous for its cables as for useful interconnection boxes and it showed the full range during BVE. Another leader in this area, Klotz AIS, also had a stand at the show and displayed its wares. Among these was a sample of the brand new Universal Multicore System (UMS). Although designed for PA and lighting control it has potential uses in broadcasting, especially for networking.

BCD Audio demonstrated the crossover between radio and video with its six-into-two vision switcher, which has been used to control webcams at BBC Radio 5 Live for the past year. Working with SDI and embedded audio, the controller uses a sensor to switch the camera to the person speaking louder than anyone else in the studio.

Sonifex expanded the already broad Red Box range with the RB-VHDDD8 and R8-VHEDD8. The former works with up to 10 channels of audio in both Dolby E and Dolby Digital, while the latter encodes eight channels of Dolby E into two AES/EBU streams. Away from interconnection boxes, Sonifex launched the Phone in 6 radio talk show system.

Among other nuts and bolts – but invaluable – new product were the Glensound CUT and PASTE coupler and balancing unit combination, producing balanced outputs from standard telephone lines; the Audio Developments AD071 camera mixer for pro mic inputs on DSLRs; and Bel Digital Audio‘s1U monitor-all/de-embedder unit, the BM-AV1-E16SHD, and its 2U counterpart, which was previewed ahead of a full production release.

On the mic side Audio-Technica catered for different aspects of broadcast production with the BP893 omni-directional headworn mini-boom mics, which come in beige and black, and a new reporter’s handheld mic, available as either a dynamic cardioid (BP4001) or an omni (BP4002). Radio got a look in with the Sennheiser MK, the company’s first large-diaphragm, side-address cardioid, which is aimed at general broadcasting and podcasting.

Audio Limited added a true diversity receiver to its En2 range. The DX2 can run on either battery or auxiliary power (6 to 18V) and is ready for channels 38, 39 and 40. The company also displayed what managing director Kishore Patel described as “the world’s smallest true diversity receiver”, the En2 DX, which is due to ship within the next two months.

Channel 38 is concentrating the minds of those working in broadcasting’s PMSE sector and Sony addressed concerns by running a seminar on what the frequency might mean for the market in general. The company’s PrimeSupport Plus modification kit is available until the end of this month to convert DWX digital systems for channel 38 operation.

In all BVE in London was a busy show with an optimistic feel. The hope is that the trick can be repeated in Manchester during November for BVE North.