Audio Tracks; Audio for video notes from NAB
Roy W. Rising
With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to expect NAB to get bigger, brighter, and better, and yet it does. The completion of the new halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center eased the congestion while increasing the number of exhibit booths. After visiting some exhibitors, I can show you what is new in the world of audio for video.
For myself, the important new products from 360 Systems, Westlake Village, CA, were the highlight of the show. The TCR4 and TCR8 are synchronous digital hard-disk recorders that offer four and eight channels, and these systems are aimed at the center of video production. Both of the models provide 24-bit audio, large internal storage and high-density removable disks. Complete timecode implementation and VTR emulation also are included.
Building on 360 Systems’ DigiCart file management and Short/Cut editing features, the TCR4 outperforms DAT and audio-dedicated VTR systems. The added channels of the TCR8 are ideal for 5.1, L/R mixes, and multilanguage production. Editing abilities include selectable crossfade lengths, dynamic edit marking, pre-roll, edit in, edit out, and post-roll. An RMW (Read-Modify-Write) feature lends to layering and mix-down. Digital and analog I/O, versatile remote-control interfaces, a large display screen and keypad for titling, and file management are a few of the many, easy-to-use features.
Walking the show floor, I always seem to find new products that weren’t part of my original search. The following is a small sampling of these items that is just as random as their discovery.
Directed at nonlinear video editing, Antex Electronics, Gardena, CA, presented a family of high-quality 20-bit audio hardware and software. StudioCard 2000 delivers full four-channel I/O and 32-bit mixing precision. Absolute synchronization, hardware gen-lock, and comprehensive timecode functions are present on a single PCI bus card. Windows NT drivers handle Intel and Alpha platforms. Multiple StudioCards may be clock locked with single-sample accuracy. Other cards include 20-bit digital audio adapters that can offer 2/2, 2/4, and 4/4 channel record/play capabilities.
NVISION showed the 4000 series of digital audio embedders and disembedders. They handle four channels of digital audio with an SDI video signal. The audio signals are re-timed, resulting in error-free switching without clicks and pops when switching between SDI video sources with embedded audio. The disembedder also provides a D/A converter and headphone jack. This helps to identify channel pairs for subsequent output grouping.
Also new from the Grass Valley, CA-based company is a booklet with the latest knowledge about DTV. Copies of The Book II: More Engineering Guidance for the Digital Transition are available free-of-charge upon request from NVISION.
Apogee Electronics, of Santa Monica, CA, presented PSX-100 two-channel combination 24/96 A/D-D/A converter. Using only one rack unit of space, the versatile system’s selection of standard interfaces and multiple AES/EBU I/O ports allow it to serve for signal distribution and format conversion. Clever use of bit splitting makes it possible to record and play full 96kHz, 24-bit audio using multiple tracks of existing 16-bit 44.1kHz/48kHz machines. An optional video sync card permits locking to NTSC/PAL video signals.
Brainstorm Electronics, of West Hollywood, CA, showed its new rackmount SR-3R timecode repair kit. The SR-3R is a “smart” regenerator that identifies and repairs faulty timecode. Its features include drop-out repair, jitter reduction, automatic video phase correction, and automatic drop-flag correction. The front-panel display reads timecode or user bits. LEDs indicate format – 24/25/30ND/30DF and NTSC rates. The system also generates all standard formats and may be referenced to an internal crystal or external video.
Kind of Loud Technologies of Santa Cruz, CA, unveiled SmartPan Pro, filling an important niche between Digidesign’s Pro Tools platform and surround-sound production. Supporting major formats including 5.1, 7.1, and LCRS, users can create professional mixes for Dolby Digital, DTS, and DVD formats. The Polar Joystick uses a circular model for panning and a Smart-Knob controller to place sound and control its width. Designed for professional production, SmartPan Pro provides divergence control, independent surround and subwoofer controls, adjustable filtering, and automation.
Toronto’s Ward-Beck Systems introduced the SMS4 Stereo Audio Metering System. This versatile single rack-unit package provides eight LED bar-graph displays for monitoring up to four stereo signals simultaneously. Both analog and balanced or unbalanced AES signals are metered. Each bar-graph pair has a “lock” tally that indicates presence of an AES signal. If both analog and AES accidentally are connected to the same meter pair’s inputs, the AES signal will take precedence and the tally will be on.
Neutrik USA (Lakewood, NJ) presented the Minirator MR1 analog audio generator. This lightweight, battery-powered instrument uses digital technology to provide sinusoidal signals from 20Hz to 20kHz at levels from -76dBu to +6dBu. Frequency sweeps at various speeds are included. A polarity test signal is useful for finding out-of-phase devices. Additional white and pink noise signals with low crest factors and high repetition rates are convenient for acoustical testing.
Ultraflexible four-pair cable for 110ohm AES/EBU digital audio is new from Des Plaines, IL-based Gepco. The 26-gauge conductors are insulated with low-loss dielectric and 100% shielded by Mylar foil (with drain wire). For added strength, a nonconductive polyethelene rod is twisted together with the conductors. PVC-pair jackets are color-coded for quick identification.
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