How does it work in terms of IP upgrade path?
Taking the IP upgrade path first, central to the design of ImPulse was the need to embrace open IP standards and COTS IP. Our Hydra2 networking technology is very successful at what it does; removing the hard ties between control room and studio, allowing for audio to be shared flexibly, eliminating rigging and teardown time, and easily plug and play. It provides lots of flexibility and has enhanced many workflows as a result.
But broadcasters want shared networks that allow for the exchange of audio and video more directly, between devices from different vendors, to streamline workflows and reduce cabling/connectivity formats. Hydra2, being proprietary, means it cannot share audio directly with non-Calrec devices. It also does not pass over standard IT switches; consolidating connections to stage-boxes requires relatively expensive Calrec routers so customers tend to run quite a lot of dedicated fibre on larger systems.
To reduce the amount of fibre being run for passing proprietary data, many broadcasters leverage CWDM technology, multiplexing signals by using different frequencies of light for each so they can travel down the same piece of fibre. This alleviates some of the installation overhead and costs, but it still requires format conversion and interfacing to pass media between kit from different vendors. The use of open IP standards for transporting media massively reduces the cost and physical space required for the multitude of connectivity formats that are in use for audio and video today.
Ideally, customers want to be able to use the office LAN and even public internet and Wifi, so that devices can be conveniently connected from anywhere, and this will come, but critical live broadcast demands low latency which requires a well-managed network configured for ST2110/AES67 use to safeguard content while allowing for flexible workflows for day-to-day operational needs. Video presents a huge amount of data compared with audio, but that data only needs refreshing 60 times per second for high quality, whereas each audio channel needs to be processed 48,000 times per second at least to present a quality output.
A key point of ImPulse is that it offers a migration path. Broadcasters do not need to jump to IP with both feet overnight. Many of our customers have made a significant investment in Hydra2-based Calrec hardware over the last decade or so. Open standards prevent customers having their purchasing decisions forced by their previous investment, allowing for choice in each control room while maintaining facility-wide connectivity, but we do not want to write off existing investment in hardware.
To support the migration to IP:
- Existing Apollo/Artemis control surfaces can be upgraded to work with ImPulse processing cores.
- Existing Hydra2 I/O boxes can be converted to run in either Hydra2 or AES67/ST2110 AoIP mode, allowing customers to upgrade their existing I/O investment to work natively with ImPulse. It also allows remote/outside-broadcast companies that have a large stock of I/O that gets shared/reallocated between jobs, to switch it out on a job-by-job basis, using the same hardware for a Hydra2 job or an AoIP one.
- Our H2-IP Gateway provides a bridge between Hydra2 networks and AoIP networks, passing audio, control data and labels between the domains – Hydra2 users can access and control audio in the AoIP domain and vice versa, leveraging the benefits of IP within an existing infrastructure.
As a broadcast vendor, it is very important that we both maintain existing systems and support our customers to migrate at a speed at which they feel comfortable.