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NAB 2017: An Audio Tour

The National Association of Broadcasters met in Las Vegas this week, and as is usual, there were plenty of new products introduced—television production and post-production is on fire! There was also hints at VR, and lots of new gear for professional audio. Here’s what we found: 

First, wireless is always front and center for NAB.

introduced a new digital wireless monitor system, named Duet. The new system consists of the M2T dual-stereo half-rack transmitter and M2R diversity beltpack receiver. Duet covers the UHF frequencies of 470-608 MHz in a single range, uses digital modulation for transmission, and can accept analog or Dante digital inputs.

For producers wanting to step up their Go Pro audio, Sennheiser bowed the MKE 2 elements action microphone. The MKE 2 is immune to snow, wind, and water, and includes special windshield and elastic suspension for suppressing any structure-borne noise.

Shure debuted its Axient Digital Wireless System, promising unparalleled RF and audio performance. Axient Digital builds on the benefits of the Company’s UHF-R, ULX-D, and Axient wireless systems, suited for all professional productions and situations.

introduced the MAT244 Programmable RF Combiner, a 4-channel version of the company’s popular MAT288 for those not requiring the higher number of areas controlled, while also providing a more cost-efficient solution.

debuted its new 6000 Series High-Density Wireless System, a spectrum-efficient solution that allows users to pack 31 channels in 4 MHz of bandwidth. The channels are spaced at 125 kHz intervals and can all be used simultaneously. The system operates in the 944-952 MHz band, which is free of broadcast TV.

Meanwhile, in consoles and controllers…

SSL’s System T offers a selection of processors, control interfaces and I/O in a fully networked infrastructure. System elements can be scaled and specified in different combinations to suit a wide range of applications. The introduction of the Tempest Control Rack makes it possible to specify a powerful audio production system that does not include a traditional audio console.

Yamaha showed the new CS-R10-S control surface, which is two-thirds the size of the existing CS-R10. A Dual Console function will allow two CS-R10 and CS-R10-S control surfaces to be connected to a single DSP-R10 DSP engine so that separate CS-R10-S control surfaces can be used at both front of house and monitor mix positions.

DiGiCo had its new flagship SD12 console in the booth at NAB. It features 72 input channels with full processing, 36 aux/group busses with full processing, a 12×8 matrix with full processing, LR/LCR buss with full processing, 12 stereo FX units, 16 Graphic EQs, 119 Dynamic EQs, 119 multiband compressors and 119 DiGi-TuBes, 12 Control Groups (VCA) and SD Series Stealth Core 2 software, making it compatible with all other SD Series sessions.

Studer showed its new DIOS system that instantly re-routes a network signal to a new input/output should signal be interrupted. Also in the booth was the Studer Micro Series—a rugged 3RU, fanless rack-mountable chassis with integrated I/O, DSP and a control system that’s hosted by an internal web server. The more capable Glacier Series control surface features TCP/IP control, PoE (Power over Ethernet), customizable GUI, capacitive multi-touch display, Dante AoIP, one HQ mic inputs, two line outputs, two rotary encoders and more.

Blackmagic Design
acquired Fairlight last September and has already integrated it into the new DaVinci Resolve 14. New features include up to 10 times performance improvement, a whole new audio post-production suite with Fairlight audio built into DaVinci Resolve, and multi-user collaboration tools that let multiple people edit, color and mix audio from multiple systems, all in the same project at the same time.

There was also plenty more to fill out a production package…

Best of Show winner iZotope wowed the crowds with the RX6’s audio repair capabilities that range from removing clicks to fixing distortion, wind noise, and plosive reduction, to the removal of click tracks, breaths, and other nasty noises from an audio track.

DTS announced its DTS:X Creator Suite providing professional content creators the ability to mix and deliver immersive DTS audio content for cinema, Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and other premium home formats and services.

Focal featured the Shape loudspeakers featuring new woofers made of flax and glass fiber, and a TMD surround providing a linear frequency response curve between 1 and 2 kHz, while significantly reducing distortion in the same range.

Audio’s Halo Downmix is a new solution for delivering accurate downmixes that are no longer limited to typical in-the-box coefficient-based processes. It allows for unprecedented adjustment and provides visual controls for relative levels, timing and direct vs. ambient sound balance. Also in the booth was MasterCheck Pro, a cross-platform mastering plug-in that allows you to audition the outcome of a bevy of streaming compression algorithms in real-time.

TASCAM showed its DA-6400 64-channel digital multitrack recorder. Features include recording to an internal SSD drive caddy plus MADI and Dante options to take it to the next level. Also in the booth was the SS-R250W playback unit, which includes a comprehensive remote and an optional Dante card.

Studio Technologies announced its Model 5422 Dante Intercom Audio Engine, a high-performance, cost-effective solution for creating party-line (PL) intercom circuits when used with Dante-compatible products. Features include AES67 support and low-latency 32-bit digital processing for excellent sonic quality.

Sonifex showed a new range of audio products at NAB including the AVN-TB10AR, a 10-button intercom designed to aid communication between studios, stages, theaters, offices and different areas in a facility or building complex. The DHY-04HD is an HD Voice & GSM hybrid for handling high-quality voice calls, ideal for studios in remote locations, for OB vans and trucks on the move, and in emergency situations where a telephone landline can’t be guaranteed. And the PC-AD2, a dual stereo analog input/output and dual stereo AES-3 digital input/output sound card in the PCIe half height format.

At the back of the North Hall, it was all about immersive audio with many companies showing VR-centric cameras, mics and software.

Hear360 had their easy-to-mount 8Ball mic that records omni-binaural, is camera agnostic and works with any 8-channel field recorder. 

VUZE showed a 360º camera featuring 8 cameras and 8 microphones with companion software that let’s you build a post-production workflow where audio and shot pans can be stitched together to create a finished product.

Mettle showed a range of VR audio/video post-production tools for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro.

G’Audio Labs showed their spatial audio Works AAX plug-in for Pro Tools that supports the simultaneous use of three audio signals to create realistic sound for cinematic VR and 360 video.

Nokia had their high-end OZO camera featuring OZO Audio, their advanced spatial audio technology enabling sound to be captured and played back naturally in 360°.

revealed a free firmware and software upgrade for their VR-4HD AV and Streaming Switcher. The Version 1.5 firmware update supports capturing a still image from the VR-4HD RCS software for Windows or Mac, plus support for the one-third-size PinP window in addition to the half and quarter sizes currently available.

Avid showed an advanced view of Pro Tools 12.9 coming in the fall that will feature a comprehensive suite of Dolby Atmos workflows to enable audio post professionals to work more fluidly in the multi-channel and object-based audio format. New features include built-in Dolby Atmos panning, deep Avid Pro mixing control surface integration, advanced automation with the Dolby Rendering and Mastering Unit (RMU), and more. 

Eventide sneak-peeked the H9000 multi-effects unit that offers up to four quad processors, app control, wi-fi control, and more I/O than you can imagine. Still in the works so details are not firm, but this unit is the perfect melding of old and new in an impressive package. Watch for it at AES in New York.