Audio At IBC 2023

Broadcast audio is going through a renaissance and in the battle for viewers every content provider is looking at how to increase output and improve content. While the headlines might look familiar, IBC’s audio exhibitors are responding to these needs in a variety of different ways.

Those looking for audio innovation at this year’s IBC have a lot of ground to cover.

While the headlines are largely unchanged, there’s a lot more noise around them. Manufacturers are still looking to provide answers to broadcaster’s challenges; the transition to IP, the move to the cloud, the adoption of AI, the switch to remote production and the creation of multiple audio formats all still weigh heavily on the minds of broadcasters.

The one defining feature that we all agree on is that we are sick and tired of our rigid old systems. Down with them! Boo! The issue is that broadcasters are all at a different stage in their journeys to embrace this flexibility, and if there is an overarching theme at IBC it is exactly that.

The move towards fully IP infrastructures is still the most pressing trend because it is an enabler for everything else, but with many broadcasters already on this road it’s not the only game in town.

Flexible resource allocation is on the minds of many. When DSP is no longer tethered to physical hardware it offers the ability to adapt production capacity depending on the production and access DSP remotely from on-prem, edge and cloud processing resources. Meanwhile live cloud production is no longer a proof of concept and many audio manufacturers at IBC are offering ways to address it, with technology agreements in place to help make working in the cloud a reality.

Meanwhile, immersive and spatial audio are back on the table to add more value for consumers, and remote production continues to play a bigger role at more events. AI provides ways for broadcasters to create immersive and personalized audio content, as well as programming which represents a wider range of events. Expect to see many examples of that from multiple suppliers.

The next five years are going to see even more efficient shifts for live production, so manufacturers are also looking at how to build in enough flexibility to shift to models with increasingly agile and distributed workflows.

Audinate (stand 8.D88) is focused on the cloud with Dante Connect along with Dante AV for live production, as well as a new API within Dante Domain Manager (DDM) which allows people to bring Dante control to third-party devices.

Dante Connect

Dante Connect

“One of the biggest trends is the move to the cloud for remote production,” says Audinate’s Director of Marketing, Patrick Prothe. “Cloud broadcast production workflows are designed to increase the flexibility of production teams to best utilize talent and hardware to support a wider array of content generation with less expense and travel.”

While Dante AV provides options for networked video applications, Dante Connect enables the transmission of audio from any Dante-enabled device on location, through cloud services and back down for broadcast. Audinate says it allows broadcasters to centralize end-to-end production facilities across multiple remote locations simultaneously.

“It enables broadcasters to fully embrace remote audio production,” adds Prothe. “It allows broadcasters to centralize end-to-end production facilities across multiple remote locations simultaneously, even over long distances.”

Making its IBC debut, Audinate’s new API within DDM further expands the Dante ecosystem by allowing users, service providers, integrators, and software developers to write code that brings Dante control to third-party products. Using the popular GraphQL query language for rapid development, it enables the creation of automations and the ability to extend management of Dante AV-over-IP networks to things like third-party touch control panels, monitoring solutions, help systems and software-based source switching. 

Genelec (Stand 8.A61) will use IBC to launch its new UNIO Audio Monitoring Platform and 9320A Reference Controller. 

The Genelec 9320A

The Genelec 9320A

At the heart of the UNIO platform is Genelec’s range of Smart Active Monitors, which utilize auto-calibration and cloud based software to enable the production of accurate, reliable mixes that translate consistently to other rooms and systems. For professional headphone users, Genelec’s Aural ID technology provides a completely personal headphone listening experience with the natural sense of space and imaging provided by good in-room monitoring. By combining a calibrated Smart Active Monitoring system and professional headphones with Aural ID, the user can enjoy mixes that translate reliably between monitors and headphones. 

The 9320A is a desktop monitor controller and bridge to a My Genelec user account and the UNIO Audio Monitoring Platform software. The 9320A can control up to three separate monitoring systems plus headphones, and each system can operate at a calibrated listening level, according to EBU R128, ATSC A/85 or SMPTE RP200 standards. While the 9320A can support any active loudspeaker system – such as one or two ALT stereo sets – it crucially provides instant one-click access to extra monitor control features built into Genelec’s Smart Active Monitoring family. The reference-grade headphone output of the 9320A features excellent linearity and dynamic range, and allows users to combine their choice of professional quality headphones with the latest Aural ID 2.0 headphone plug-in. Users can also measure sound exposure, to ensure safe listening for monitors and headphones. The 9320A allows integration with any DAW or audio interface, and with its analogue, AES/EBU and USB connectivity, the 9320A can connect directly to stereo monitoring systems (with and without subwoofer), providing monitor control and doubling as a high quality A-D and D-A converter for both monitors and headphones and comes complete with a factory-calibrated reference microphone to allow automated system calibration and control of key GLM software features.

Lawo (Stand 8.B90) German manufacturer Lawo is already helping customers down this road, and Head of Marketing Content Chris Scheck says that nimble workflow optimization is becoming increasingly important to its customers.

Lawo mc²36 xp

Lawo mc²36 xp

“Resource pooling can reduce the number of processing devices and investments in hardware,” he says. “Allocating a relatively small number of resources to the areas where they are needed requires a powerful broadcast control system able to hide the complexity of switching a large number of streams, and VSM is even more popular today than it has been over the last twenty years.”

Lawo says its A__UHD Core demonstrates another form of resource pooling, sharing one DSP processor among a number of physical or software-based consoles, while agile cloud-style concepts can provide even more flexible workflows.

“More and more broadcasters and service providers are looking for alternatives to the public cloud, preferably with a comparable degree of agility. Lawo’s HOME Apps are perfectly able to run in a public cloud but are no less flexible when run on standard servers on-prem or in a distributed datacenter.

“Coupled with a flexible usage model and the promise that audio will be next in line for microservice-based elasticity, the response to Lawo’s HOME Apps concept by far exceeds our most optimistic expectations.”

On the stand, Lawo’s mc²36 xp makes its IBC debut, and the company will unveil significant audio updates including built-in NMOS compatibility for mc² setups and the unlocking of 96kHz processing for the Power Core DSP processor and I/O unit.

Riedel (Stand 10.A38) Promising to unveil what it describes as “the hottest new addition to our (software-defined) hardware portfolio” live at IBC, Riedel was an early adopter of IP workflows and boasts IP compatible products across its range of audio intercom and video infrastructure products.

Riedel RSP 1232 SmartPanel

Riedel RSP 1232 SmartPanel

This includes products from Riedel’s Artist and MediorNet families, as well as the Bolero wireless intercom system, which was recognized this summer with an Emmy as part of the Television Academy’s 75th Engineering, Science, and Technology Emmy Awards.

Capable of operating over a standards-based IP network, Bolero has constantly evolved to keep up with changes in IP workflows since its introduction in 2017. The Bolero Standalone 2110 (AES67) mode introduced network modes dedicated to specific applications, while the company’s Artist platform can accept and distribute different types of signals such as SMPTE 2110-30, VoIP, DANTE, AVB, MADI, AES3 and traditional analog audio.

Protecting against future technology shifts, Riedel’s SmartPanels will also be on show. ST2110 and NMOS IS-05 and IS-05 compliant, Riedel says its SmartPanels are capable of supporting a variety of modern workflows as well providing the ability to create entirely new ones to help ensure that any future technology advancements will be covered.

Combining an intercom panel, router control panel and audio monitor on one device, they take up less space and consume less power, as well as saving on switch ports, which the company says is especially important in IP environments.

RTS (Stand 11.D09) NMOS discovery and management also feature on the RTS Intercoms stand, who is providing a full ST2110 demonstration in its new location in Hall 11. The company has made significant upgrades to both its team as well as its product range since last year’s IBC.

RTS DSPK-4

RTS DSPK-4

Making its IBC debut is the DSPK-4 Digital Speaker Station, the latest addition to the RTS Digital Partyline family and an IP-based version of its analog predecessor. RTS says that its introduction not only expands the RTS product family but also showcases the successful implementation of IP technology across the entire RTS range.

“It’s all about integration, and our IBC stand demonstrates our full range of IP-enabled products, including the integration of NMOS for discovery and management,” says Nico Lewis, Senior Sales Manager for RTS Intercoms. “RTS enables integration with a range of third-party equipment such as EVS’ Cerebrum, Broadcast Solutions’ hi human interface, and Lawo’s VSM. NMOS naturally integrates these technologies into the RTS ecosystem.”

Leveraged with its OMNEO technology, RTS supports technologies such as Audinate’s Dante, AES67, AES70 and SMPTE ST 2110 as well as evolving to support those of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, RTS's commitment to IP is underscored with the introduction of a glitch-free feature set specifically designed for ST2110 operation, ensuring communication between KP-Series keypanels, ODIN matrices, and the OMNEO matrix interface. The company says its cloud-based virtual matrix can also fully integrate with existing intercom systems and can be hosted in the cloud server or a user’s own server.

Sennheiser (Stand 8.D50) Launched as a concept at NAB, Sennheiser is demonstrating a prototype of the AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio live renderer at IBC, which Head of ProLabs Dr. Renato Pellegrini says allows broadcasters to focus on immersive mixing.

Sennheiser AMBEO 2 Channel Spatial Audio Live Renderer

Sennheiser AMBEO 2 Channel Spatial Audio Live Renderer

He says: “The AMBEO 2-Channel renderer unlocks investments into immersive content by translating immersive mixes into an enhanced 2-channel experience that works on any stereo device. Using our renderer, broadcasters can focus on creating immersive formats and know they can reliably translate those mixes into a far better stereo experience than could be previously achieved.”

Sennheiser is also showcasing a technology which the company says helps its customers perform within an increasingly congested RF spectrum. As the number and complexity of large events increases, the associated demand for radio spectrum does too and Sennheiser is hoping that RF fading – the natural enemy of wireless transmission – will be a thing of the past with its Multichannel Wireless Audio System (WMAS) approach.

Dr. Andreas Wilzeck is Head of Spectrum Policy and Standards for Sennheiser: “We are looking forward to sharing information about our WMAS technology at IBC where we will have open presentations on the technology as well as an experience space dedicated to VIP customers.

“No extensive frequency planning is required to run 16, 32 or even more audio channels in 6 or 8MHz, and we have worked to ensure coexistence with narrowband solutions in the field. WMAS allows bi-directional systems, so any mix of IEMs and microphones in the same TV channel will be possible, including remote control.”

Challenges

With no single overall theme, visitors to this year’s audio exhibitors at IBC might be putting the miles in, but there is no shortage of things to research and discover.

IP is still top of the list, but IP is more of an umbrella to everything else, and it’s in the everything else where the real value is, whatever it is you are looking to do.

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