After over 20 years of analogue monitoring, audio designer Patrick ‘Duim’ Demoustier, distributor Amptec and UK-based manufacturer Glensound have teamed up to create ‘Symphony’, a new solution in digital AoIP monitoring.
One of the key challenges for the Belgium’s annual beano Night of the Proms’s audio system has always been the implementation of a personal monitoring system for the event’s Il Novecento Orchestra. With nothing seeminlgy available ‘off the shelf’, organiser PSE and Patrick Demoustier wanted to develop a specific monitoring system for the musicians. “We were looking for an integrated system, with a microphone input, headphone/in-ear out and individual setting options for each musician on the stage,” says Demoustier. “We also had to convince the musicians to use in-ears… And, it seemed naturally to encompass and embrace the advantages of an IP-based network audio system to including the monitoring and instrument pre-amplifiers.”
Demoustier first designed a mono monitoring system, together with audio distributor Amptec in 1997, but as the call for a stereo system and multiple settings continued to become louder, the quest for a new system became imminent. “Despite the fact that many manufacturers had systems on the market for in-ear monitoring , nobody had a solution with a combined pre-amp and output mix system – none of the solutions met our requirements,” comments Demoustier.
The breakthrough came when Amptec suggested to modify an existing device and tailor it to Demoustier’s specifications. “Amptec is distributor for Glensound, a UK-based manufacturer of broadcast solutions,” explains David Liebens, special projects manager with Amptec. “We took Patrick’s design to Glensound for further research.”
Demoustier issued critical parameters for the new device: alongside the mic-input and in-ear output and user-settings a talkback function and output monitoring, the solution had to be Dante-based ensuring worldwide compatibility. “The Night of the Proms tours in Belgium and abroad are all controlled by DiGiCo consoles; and we use DiGiCo Orange box interfaces from Dante to MADI and vice versa for the monitoring system,” he says.
“Amptec and Patrick Demoustier provided the basic concept and the design of what functionality they wanted the unit to do and how, mechanically, it should look,” says Gavin Davis, managing director of Glensound Electronics Ltd. “The very high quality mic pre-amp and basic Dante interface were taken from our ‘Inferno’ model, a small Dante commentary box.”
In March last year, Demoustier carried out tests with the Inferno device to see whether the mic/instrument input was up to standard and whether the monitor amp was strong enough. “The idea was to develop a box for two musicians,” continues Liebens. “The quality of the pre-amp, used for both the FOH mix and monitor mix, and possible live feed, had to be flawless – instead of using pre-amps on the console, the ‘Symphony’ monitor box is mounted on a microphone stand on stage, with the musicians.”
Each musician has the option to choose from three different incoming stereo mixes, split per instrument group. The output volume of each mix and the individual instrument can be adjusted with monitoring controls and the device is equipped with a stereo pan-option and a talkback switch. The bottom panel of the device contains the mic/instrument inputs and connections to the Dante/AES67 network.
In December last year, PSE (NotP organiser) took delivery of 40 Glensound ‘Symphony’ digital monitor boxes – too late for the ongoing Night of the Proms tour but just in time for the two Poland dates in March (Warschau and Lodz) where the new system was thoroughly tested.
“With just one network cable serving two musicians’s in//output signals, this IP-based solution makes a huge difference in building time for concerts,” enthuses Demoustier.
“At the end of the day, people in the audio industry know more from what they want than we do… I’d be crazy not to listen to them,” Davis adds.