Blackmagic Debuts New ATEM Microphone Converter

Blackmagic Design has announced ATEM Microphone Converter, a new audio analog to digital converter that lets customers add additional microphones to ATEM switcher models such as the new ATEM Television Studio HD8.

Featuring a MADI connection, it means customers don't have to configure any complex settings because the connection is a simple BNC cable. The design features amazing quality with an extremely low noise floor of -129dBV, a dynamic range of 131dB(A), low distortion of 0.002% and uniform tolerances across all channels. The design also features an HDMI monitoring output with scrolling waveform displays.

The ATEM Microphone Converter features a familiar converter based design that has space for the analog electronics required for high quality analog to digital audio conversion (ADC). It features combined XLR/TRS input sockets allowing both XLR or jack cables to be connected. It also includes a MADI output with the converted audio, as well as a MADI input which allows multiple ATEM Microphone Converters to be daisy chained so more than 4 channels of audio can be embedded into a single MADI connection.

The Converter’s MADI output embeds the 4 analog inputs as MADI channels 1, 2, 3 and 4, and also includes a MADI input, which is used to loop multiple converters when customers need more than 4 channels of audio on a single MADI link. This means if a second converter is connected to the input of another, the upstream converter will stack its 4 channels above the 4 channels on the downstream converter.

Each analog input channel has an ultra low noise, fixed gain preamplifier scaled to drive a high dynamic range audio ADC, which totally eliminates using an analog microphone preamplifier in the design so the input does not suffer from preamp gain step clicks or "zipper noise". This converter steps outside conventional audio industry design practice of using an individual audio ADC, as each input implements analog to digital conversion using 8 high dynamic range audio ADCs that function collectively as one ultra high dynamic range audio ADC. This means each input channel’s dynamic range is an incredible 131dB(A).

A common problem with mic converters is the higher noise floor where electrical noise is generated in the preamplifiers. The company eliminates this problem by using a very different design where the input is converted directly using its ultra high dynamic range conversion so customers pass RAW audio to the switcher where the switcher can then apply as much gain as required for the correct audio level. This means customers don't get an injection of noise caused by an analog gain stage, so customers get an extremely low fixed noise floor of -129dBV regardless of digital gain applied.

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