Audio in 2021: The future is now

By Dave Letson, VP of Sales, Calrec

2020 was a year of necessity; of using technology in ways it had been designed for and some ways it had not but was pushed to its limits to accommodate new social distancing requirements. Either way, using remote production and wider remote workflows moved firmly beyond the realms of novelty.

2021 has seen the industry, certainly from an audio perspective, begin to really stretch itself in terms of IP and use of the internet more widely. We have reached a point where production facilities flex to meet project requirements, something that we wrote about in detail in Calrec’s end-of-year review for SVG Europe.

In that article, we said: “The landscape has changed. Think about how the majority of large sporting events have been covered in 2021: this year’s coverage in Tokyo was mixed in a variety of ways; a mix of physical consoles on-site and on-site remote production cores which enabled people to work on a transmission mix in an entirely different country on the other side of the world. Some broadcasters didn’t send any equipment at all, choosing instead to add local commentary to international feeds in their own facilities.”

The overarching point is that as an industry we are no longer boxed in by what available technology allows us to do; now it’s a question of untethering our thinking just as the technology has been untethered. We are experiencing new levels of technological freedom without any compromise on quality. Our ImPulse IP engine is at the heart of this, a powerful audio processing and routing engine with AES67 and SMPTE 2110 connectivity and support for NMOS discovery and connection management. In fact, look out for two major AoIP case studies in the new year that will explore this in more detail.

Calrec is also continuing its IP education program, which has proven hugely popular, via the Calrec Sound Institute. Here people will find a comprehensive AoIP course as well as a Dolby Atmos® course. With this, Dolby and Calrec make immersive mixing easy with our free certified training. Our latest white paper – IP Resilience: How to build extra resilience into your IP broadcast networks – is also available free of charge, and in the new year, we will have a 10-part series on IP basics to click and collect.

Download Calrec's Latest Whitepaper

In the US we revealed that the University of North Carolina (UNC), college sports broadcasting powerhouse, turned to Calrec to satisfy its complex, multi-protocol audio needs, again showing the flexibility that we provide.

In this fascinating, in-depth article published by SVG, UNC’s Broadcast Engineer Caleb Furrow explains how UNC operates three audio protocols simultaneously: IP, Dante and Calrec’s Hydra2.

UNC has installed two Summa consoles, a Brio and the IP-based Type R for TV. For Type R control, they are using a range of fader panels and flexible Type R soft panels. The Type R is interfaced through a control room using IP Gateway technology from Calrec so they can handle switched Hydra2, Dante and IP feeds effortlessly.

2021 has also seen multiple Type R for Radio sales success, as the appeal of its small form factor combined with flexible IP backbone struck a chord with the market. Radio Television Malaysia undertook a major upgrade of its regional station, while PerlisFM, located in the northern Perlis state of the country, installed six Calrec Type R for Radio consoles as part of a significant move to implement a new IP audio network infrastructure and include visual radio technology, which supports video streaming to social media and other online platforms.

Community radio stations in South Africa have also been quick to adopt Type R’s radio system technology. A prime example is the internet radio station Vibez.Live, which moved into the digital realm with Calrec’s Type R for Radio. The station, which launched two-and-a-half years ago, now has a six-fader, AoIP-based Type R with dual-layer functionality, which gives it extra faders at the touch of a button. Vibez.Live also added a Type R large soft panel with feature sets pre-loaded for more control.

John Badenhorst, Co-Founder and a Host at Vibez.Live, said: “Having used a variety of equipment for the first 18 months after we launched we knew that we needed to upgrade to enhance our capabilities. We spoke to Wild & Marr (Calrec SA partner) about Calrec’s AoIP-based Type R for Radio system and were immediately impressed. While the Type R core has enough I/O for our current needs, we also purchased a Type R analogue I/O box that provides an additional 16 mic/line inputs and six general-purpose input/output interfaces.”

Book a demo on Type R here

But it’s not all about IP. In many existing broadcast infrastructures, a move to IP isn’t always justified. Established proprietary systems still work and customers still have the choice to opt for proprietary networking solutions.

UK television facility dock10 was a prime example this year. The broadcaster expanded its roster of Calrec surfaces with a Calrec Artemis audio console in its new £1 million remote gallery to satisfy the growing demand for virtual studios and remote galleries.

The multi-purpose gallery was designed to complement OB providers’ services and connects to the dock10 network, which has more than 20 dedicated service providers. It is adjacent to dock10’s HQ8 television studio, which has been upgraded as a dedicated virtual studio space. This is the eighth console from Calrec that dock10 owns, all of which are connected via Calrec’s Hydra2 network.

John O Shaughnessy, Head of Technology Operations at dock10 said: “We have all seen the massive growth in remote productions, for well-documented reasons, and this is only going to grow. Our aim is to support OB providers rather than compete with them. Some of our key OB suppliers already use Calrec’s remote production RP1 technology and it was essential that we support those workflows. Over Hydra2 the Artemis can easily access any I/O in any other studio in our facility, as we can with the other existing Calrec consoles. This flexibility is essential.”

Lastly, it would be remiss of us not to mention Ross Production Services and its standardisation on Calrec audio technology, as Matt Webster, Technical Manager with Ross Production Services, revealed in an SVG article.

He said: “Calrec is the industry standard for quality audio and prior to working with the company and installing its technology we were lacking in the audio department.

“We made our first purchase of two Calrec Brio consoles about two years ago and they are fitted in two of our Sprinter OB units. About seven months ago we acquired a 72-fader Apollo and two more Brios, this time for our Connecticut facility. A couple of months or so back, we purchased another Brio, this time for our large OB truck.”

Whatever questions you have about your audio requirements, ask us. Be that on-prem, off-prem, remote or anywhere in between; AoIP, proprietary or a combination of both.

This year we’ve seen it all, but be sure, whatever 2022 may hold, we will be there with you through it all.

Get in touch to talk through your plans and requirements

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