Innovations and combinations, some boosted by COVID, abounded on the show
It was almost like the good old days: thousands of convention attendees strolling the aisles of the Las Vegas Convention Center, booths of exhibitors luring them in with illuminated product demonstrations and a brisk pace of conversation suggesting that the broadcasting had almost returned to the status quo. Part of this conversation suggested that the audio streaming industry is ready for a turn.
In person again
“It’s good to be back at a show,” said Calrec VP, Sales, Dave Letson. At the company’s booth, he oversaw a complete network in which three discrete consoles – a dual 48-fader Apollo console, a 40-fader Artemis console, and a headless console running Calrec Assist on a PC – were controlled from of a single core ImPulse unit. It was a demonstration of the kind of remote production deployment that has become common under COVID lockdowns.
“The pandemic has given a big boost to remote production, which these systems support,” he noted. “But other forces were also at work, including cost savings and the shift to IP. These developments here also support this.
Sennheiser used the infrastructure of its stand to make its point. It also served as a demo platform for sister company Neuman’s new K150/AES67 monitor. The booth scaffolding supported a 5.2.4 array of new 6.5-inch speakers, playing a live Dolby Atmos VR mix, with a KH750 subwoofer used as the LFE channel.
Audio-Technica was looking back, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, but it was also looking ahead, showing off its new Microphone Concept 8.0, a low-profile, eight-channel immersive system that has already been deployed on several sports broadcasts.
“We’ve had a lot of good feedback from sports networks in the process. [of developing it],” mentioned Gary Dixon, AT Product Manageradding that it is a cutting-edge product for the upcoming immersive 5.1.4 era of broadcast sports.
Facing new and old challenges
Some of the enemies of pro audio were still evident. For example, providing an overview of CrewCom’s new CB2 Professional wireless intercom system, a full-duplex solution available in 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequency options, Pliant Technologies Vice President of Worldwide Sales Gary Rosen pointed out, “It’s always a battle for the spectrum there.” Proving the point, CrewCom’s gear is being deployed for the NFL Draft, which takes place in Las Vegas this weekend.
As broadcast audio moves deeper into an IP environment, the ST 2110 standard, which describes the transport of digital media over a network, and its many ‘dashed’ supplements take on greater importance. ST 2110-7, which emphasizes signal path redundancy, was often mentioned by exhibitors, using its abbreviated nickname “dash seven”. Riedel Vice President, Strategic Accounts, East, Phil Stein, for example, noted that his company’s Bolero system, which will be used for the 2023 XFL season, highlights the importance of the -7 component in intercom deployment. (The company also won the unofficial prize for best press kit: a QR code printed directly on an apple.)
Meanwhile, TSL showed off an expanded version of its SAM-Q audio monitor encompassing -7 and -30, the latter developed specifically to make audio as compatible with video as possible.
The -7 component is relevant to Audinate’s new Dante Studio, a platform solution for advancing audio and video production capabilities. The platform’s premier tool, Dante Video RX, allows Windows PCs to receive video from any Dante AV-enabled source. According to Audinate Marketing Director Joshua Rushthis is a critical phase in the development of the Dante AV ecosystem: “Dante Video RX completes the end-to-end video workflow.”
However, the move to IP means a greater reliance on silicon chips, and this has been a major stumbling block for audio manufacturers. Audinate’s response, according to Rush, has been to adapt its platforms to accommodate a wider range of chip types and to leverage Dante’s sizable base of licensed manufacturers as an entity, allowing efforts to use this scale for better access to supply. Noted DiGiCo Business Development Manager, Sports Facilities, Dan Palmersome manufacturers coincidentally stockpiled the FPGA chips their digital consoles need before the supply chain disruptions.
The pandemic has brought about some useful collaborations, one of which was evident on the show. Both Q5X and Shure demonstrated the synergy of pairing Shure’s Axient Digital Wireless System with Q5X’s PlayerMic transmitter. Senior Market Development Specialist at Shure Ben Escobedo noted that adoption of Shure’s Axient Digital line has been boosted by its association with Q5X’s PlayerMic and CoachMic systems for broadcast sports applications: “This strategic partnership has helped further strengthen our footprint in sports. Responded CEO of Q5X Paul Johnson, “I love to hear that! It’s really a great collaboration. »
COVID demands have also prompted many audio innovations. Talking about how Digigram’s IQOYA series of IP codec solutions have been expanded over the past two years, Digigram Director of Sales Derek Badala noted, “The pandemic has really accelerated their development.”
When the NAB Show returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center from April 16-19, 2023, it will notably be the centennial of the event. The very first NAB Show took place in 1923 in New York.