Calrec Audio Impulse core.
Immersive audio for delivery over platforms like MPEG-H and Dolby Atmos, along with OTT content, increases the number of audio channels that need to be processed for a given production, as well as increases the complexity of that processing.
The broadcast industry is increasingly competitive, and broadcasters are under pressure to produce more original content for less outlay, while at the same time improving viewer experience. With the rise of new platforms comes increased audio requirements, from channel count to processing capabilities.
Impulse core, a new audio processing platform for Calrec’s Apollo and Artemis control surfaces, employs next generation “Bluefin3” DSP to raise the bar and ensure that plenty of processing headroom is available for the biggest of productions. It is hugely scalable, suitable for medium up to very large-scale productions, with a flexible upgrade path, and expansion capacity for whatever the future may demand.
DSP within the new audio processing platform can be flexibly split between fully independent mixers, allowing it to process audio for multiple mixes, sub-mixes, and different productions simultaneously. It is suitable for the broadcast trucks and studio complexes of today and also equally designed to be at home in the IP connected broadcast server centers of tomorrow.
The Control Room and Studio Fall Out
There is a lot of interest in centralizing equipment rooms, to consolidate engineering and to free up space in broadcast facilities and trucks. Impulse has been designed with COTS IP connectivity at the forefront, for both audio and control, so it is easy for it to be geographically remote. Audio networking has already enabled a break of the traditional ties between control room and studio, providing redundancy and allowing control rooms to be utilized more efficiently. This platform takes it a step further, breaking the ties between processing equipment and control rooms. When a mixer has completed one production, it can be redeployed to service a different production, from a different control room or even a different broadcast facility.
Figure 1. As facilities increase the number of audio channels that must be managed, new audio networking technology makes it possible to remove the traditional ties that exist between control room and studio. The result provides higher redundancy and more efficiency.
A versatile licensing model allows users to easily upgrade when they need to, and the allocation between mixers can be changed on a show-by-show basis to meet the needs of each production. Full hardware redundancy can be provided with redundant pairs, which can be geographically remote from each other, ensuring operation is maintained in the event of the most serious disaster.
The ability to freely deploy and reconfigure processing equipment between different production facilities means that down time is minimized and CAPEX is used as efficiently as possible. Regardless of whether the Impulse core is local or remote, control is provided from Calrec’s Apollo and Artemis surfaces and existing surfaces can be upgraded. The mixers can also operate as “headless” systems, with control provided by a web UI and/or from various production automation systems and third-party controllers.
Next Generation Connectivity and Routing
Audio connectivity is AES67 and ST-2110, with ST-2022-7 hitless packet merging. Routing capacity is scalable from 4,096x4,096 up to 16,384x16,384 channels. As well as routing to/from mixer DSP, it can be used for re-routing of streams and channel shuffling. NMOS connection management will provide seamless interoperability as IS-04/05 uptake increases among vendors. Impulse also supports a wide array of protocols for connectivity to make it as interoperable as possible with 3rd party devices. Calrec’s “Connect” application makes stream management simple, providing familiar workflows for operational users and in-depth configuration/diagnostics for engineers, with a network wide view of both Calrec and 3rd party devices. Moving to IP should not make existing investments redundant and upgrade options allow for flexible migration.
New I/O controller cards that can operate in either Hydra2 or AoIP mode are available and can be retro-fitted into existing Hydra2 I/O boxes. Additionally, the new H2-IP-Gateway product bridges the Hydra2 and AoIP worlds, passing audio labels along with controls such as mic gain in both directions, allowing users to access and control audio from a Hydra2 network and vice-versa.
In summary, the Impulse core is a brand-new, powerful and flexible audio processing platform with a flexible upgrade path. It provides immersive path widths with height and 3D panning, comprehensive and configurable up/downmixing between path widths, and native audio-over-IP connectivity. Designed for use in the cloud, and the world of virtualized audio processing, but equally capable in a studio complex or broadcast truck. It provides a cost-effective and hugely scalable audio processing and routing platform for the next generation.
Peter Walker, Senior Product Manager, Calrec Audio.
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