Report from NAB99: The Las Vegas Wrap-Up

Jun 1, 1999 12:00 PM, Sarah Jones

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NAB99, held in Las Vegas April 17-22, was the biggest broadcast show yet, drawing a record 105,000 attendees. For those of you who didn't get a chance to attend the convention, here's a sampling of what you missed.

Dolby Laboratories (www.dolby.com) unveiled Dolby E professional audio encoding technology for distributing multichannel (up to eight channels, plus Dolby Digital metadata, via an AES/EBU pair) audio through a 2-channel system, providing a solution for issues such as delivering 5.1-channel digital audio through a 2-channel broadcast infrastructure (and 4-channel tape formats). Dolby E allows material to be decoded, processed and re-encoded many times (the company says up to ten), without degradation. As audio and video frame rates are the same with Dolby E, picture edits may be made without mutes or glitches. The DP571 Dolby E Encoder is $5,395, and the DP572 Dolby E Decoder is $3,995.

CONSOLES AMS Neve (www.ams-neve.com) introduced the Libra Post console, designed to bring the power and functionality (including automation) of Neve's Digital Film Console to video post. Available in 24/36/48-fader frames, the scalable-architecture Libra Post controls up to 96 channels and provides monitoring and matrix/processing inserts for up to 8-channel surround. Libra Post also features AMS Neve's new 96kHz-ready proprietary processing platform, ESP, which comprises processing cards featuring 21 custom ASICs powering nine DSP chips.

Soundtracs (www.soundtracs.com) showed a prototype of its new digital production console, the DS-3. Designed for video post, the DS-3 offers 96 channels-each featuring 6-band EQ and dynamics, 25 motor faders, 24-bit converters, 48kHz resolution, 32 output buses, stereo, LCRS and 5.1 surround support, and a 32x8 monitor matrix. Internal processing is 32-bit floating-point.

XXL SSL? Solid State Logic (www.solid-state-logic.com) showed the largest digital console ever exhibited at a trade show: an 18-foot, three-operator Avant with 384 inputs and more than 1,000 signal paths. SSL also announced that Atlanta's Crawford Post ordered a 24-fader, 96-channel Avant for its new facility, as part of a large-scale networking and system integration plan.

Harrison (www.glw.com) found a lot of interest in its TV5.1 board for broadcast applications. Smaller markets looking for a bargain in multichannel? Check it out.

New from Graham-Patten (www. gpsys.com) is the D/ESAM 8000, optimized for surround, accepting up to 96 inputs and offering comprehensive monitoring facilities, with eight analog monitor outs and a built-in monitor matrix. Other features include metadata bridging and authoring, plus the ability to assign either single or multiple channel sources to faders.

Remote-truck owners will want to check out Calrec's (www.calrec.com) new Alpha 100 digital production board. The console has a maximum configuration of 96 stereo/48 mono channels with a two-layer design allowing channel path per fader or dual path arrangements. Other features: eight stereo or mono groups, four main outputs (configurable for 5.1, Lt-Rt or stereo), and mix-minus outputs per channel.

Zaxcom (www.zaxcom.com) introduced two digital consoles, the Cameo LRC (Location Recording Console), optimized for location recording, and the Cameo SV (Studio Version), designed for nonlinear edit suites and telecine applications. Both mixers are compact (12x14 inches), 24-bit/96kHz, offer detachable plasma display and feature eight inputs, each offering parametric EQ, notch filter, compressor, delay, phase inversion and sample rate conversion. Some differences: The Cameo LRC operates four hours on a 12V lead acid-type battery; the Cameo SV's outs can be configured to feed a 5.1 monitoring system.

DISK RECORDING 360 Systems (www.360systems.com) introduced two rackmount disk recorders, the 4-channel TCR4 and the 8-channel TCR8, designed for broadcast, video production and video post applications. Both models are 24-bit and feature internal and removable storage options, timecode implementation, VTR emulation, and a fast, easy-to-use interface.

Sonic Solutions (www.sonicsolutions.com) continues the DVD push with the expansion of its DVD Creator line, with new workstations retailing for less than $20,000 and the introduction of a DVD-Audio workstation. Also debuted: AuthorScript, an open standard for passing DVD authoring information from nonlinear editors and interactive authoring tools to DVD publishing systems. In addition, Sonic showed DVDit!, an easy-to-use DVD publishing package, listing for $499.

Soundscape (www.soundscape-digital.com) announced R.Ed., a new Windows-based workstation featuring 32-track, 24-bit capability. The expandable system is based around the Mixtreme engine and offers recording, editing and playback functions with an enhanced version of Soundscape's SSHDR-1-Plus Version 2 software.

Fairlight (www.fairlightesp.com.au) unveiled Version 2.0 software and major hardware enhancements for its FAME 24-track/40-bit internal processing digital audio editing/mixing environment, including expanded frame sizes (up to 48 moving faders), compressor/limiters on all mixing buses (and EQ/dynamics available on all inputs patched to tracks), automated control of outboard signal processing and support for up to six surround channels.

New from Akai (www.akai.com) was the DD16PB Plus. Resolution is 24/96, and full 16-track playback is possible from single or multiple drives (even those with differing data formats). Mixed 16/20/24-bit playback (nearly every format is supported, including Tascam MMR-8 Fairlight, WaveFrame, SDII, etc.) is possible within a single project, and the DD16PB Plus locks to LTC and biphase and offers video sync/word clock output. Akai also showed a preliminary version of its new SuperVision software for controlling its digital dubbers machine room software.

Tascam (www.tascam.com) introduced ViewNet Audio, networked graphical user interface software for operating the MMR-8 and MMP-16 machines. The application provides a real-time display of system activity and allows graphical editing of projects. ViewNet is Java-based, works over a 100 BaseT Ethernet connection and is available for a variety of computer platforms, including Macintosh, Windows 95/98/NT and UNIX.

MICS AND MORE A few new shotgun mics were shown at the show. Audio-Technica (www.audio-technica.com) showed the AT895, designed to replace parabolic dish and shotgun mic designs-see "Technology Spotlight" on page 140 for details. The Electro-Voice (www.electrovoice.com) ENG 618 is an integrated boom pole/ shotgun mic, with headphone amplifier plus 200Hz roll-off switch. Beyerdynamic (www.beyerdynamic.com) introduced two new digital shotgun mics, the MC 836 (short) and the MC837 (long). Both are digital condensers featuring Beyerdynamic's True Match digital circuitry, AES/EBU output, and internal software for eliminating digital clipping and improving digital gain staging. Beyerdynamic also introduced the EM686, a wireless shotgun.

Leading UK audio supplier Canford Audio (www.canford.co.uk) arrived on U.S. shores: The company is distributing the Dutch-made Maycom Easycorder, a second-generation portable digital recorder, storing to either PCMCIA card or internal memory, and powered via a 12V XLR power socket, NiMH or C-cell batteries. Prices start around $2,574, depending on configuration. Canford has also worked with Sennheiser and Beyer to create a line of hearing-protection headphones with onboard limiter circuits (kicking in at 93 dB), based on Sennheiser's HD480 open-air model and Beyer's DT100 (and DT109 with integral microphone) sealed designs.

M&K Professional (www.mkprofessional.com) launched four systems in its new MPS line of studio monitors, including the MPS-2510 powered version (all are expected to be powered by year's end). Based on proprietary driver elements, the entire line, from desktop to large control room systems, is scalable from mono to 7.1 (or more) multichannel monitoring.

mSoft (www.msoftinc.com) introduced new software modules for its ServerSound media retrieval system. Pro/Spotter is an automated effect spotting module that allows total supervision of spotting over multiple projects, facilitywide. The Pro Master module automates the process of digitizing audio from CD or DAT, splitting it into individual track and index, and linking each audio segment to a database. Meanwhile Gefen Inc. (www.gefen.com) unveiled a Windows version of its SFXNet sound effects database software.

OTHER NEWS Popular Web-based equipment auction network Digibid.com announced its recent entry into the broadcast market at NAB...WaveFrame (www.waveframe.com) released Version 6.5 software for its DAW, adding the ability to reverse regions on-the-fly (even across edits), import/export Broadcast .WAV files and make use of mSoft's NT-based sound retrieval system through NetWave. Also, the company showed its new sampler, the Event Processor Sampler, developed in partnership with E-mu and able to address up to 128 MB of RAM...The Hollywood Edge (www.hollywoodedge.com) introduced the five-CD set "Apocalypse Now: The American Zoetrope Sound Effects Collection" (see "Field Test" on page 148)... Thomas Dolby's company, Beatnik (formerly Headspace), announced an alliance with FirstCom Music in which the Beatnik Web site features Firstcom's music libraries, allowing users to search, preview and license music online. Check out www.beatnik.com...Sound Ideas (www.sound-ideas.com) released Audience Reactions!, a library of more than 500 audience reacts, and Fresh, The Music Library (e-mail: chas@valley.net) released a disc of call letters and numbers, all sung and completely editable...Telos Systems (www.telos-systems.com) announced plans to release MPEG-4 Audioactive Internet audio tools by the end of this year...New from Sonifex (www.independentaudio.com), Redboxes are a range of little, red, stand-alone/rackmountable, low-cost ($315 and up) connection units (such as mic amp, stereo-to-mono converters, limiter) for use in radio stations, TV studios and video and recording suites... MD Report, distributed by PMI Audio Group (www.pmiaudio.com) is a rugged housing that connects to your pocket MiniDisc or DAT recorder, adding XLR mic preamps, balanced inputs (mic/line switchable), 48V phantom power and much more...Audio Precision (www.audioprecision.com) announces System Two Cascade, a series of additions to the System Two product line of test gear now offering 96/192kHz capability.






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