Sony DMX-R100: Compact Digital Console

Mar 1, 2000 12:00 PM, George Petersen

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Unveiled at last month's NAMM show, the Sony DMX-R100 is a 48-channel, 24-bit, 96kHz-capable digital console priced at an affordable retail of $20,000. Designed for recording or audio post applications, the DMX-R100 features snapshot or SMPTE-driven dynamic automation of all console parameters, moving faders with 1,024-step resolution, 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz support, programmable 4-band parametric EQs, HP/LP filters and dynamics (compressor/ducking and expander/gate). Based somewhat on the technology found in the large-scale Sony OXF-R3 console, whose control surface philosophy it shares, the DMX-R100 comes out of a collaboration between members of Sony's Oxford UK console team and a core design group in Atsugi, Japan, who focused on user interface and control surface development.

The DMX-R100 has been designed for speed: Each of the 24 channel strips (arranged in two switchable banks) has touch-sensitive faders with write button, cut (automated post-fader muting) and solo switches, pan control with a ring of 15 positional LEDs and an Access button. Pressing the latter activates the parameter setting and assignment panels in the central master section for immediate access to any channel parameter, such as EQ/filters, bus assigns, phase reverse, delay, gain trim, dynamics and any of the eight (pre/post-fader switchable) aux sends on each channel. The monitoring section is comprehensive, with talkback mic, tone oscillator, and selection of six sources in the control room and sends for studio monitoring.

No onboard effects are provided, based on the assumption that users either have outboard gear or will pick and choose processing based on their needs. The mixer includes eight effects return channels, bringing the total number of console inputs to 56 on remix. Speaking of inputs, the DMX-R100 has 24 analog inputs, the first 12 of which are line/mic switchable (with phantom power) and analog insert points before the 24-bit A/D converter sections. Four expansion slots on the rear panel accept optional 8-channel I/O cards, for handling additional analog (line in/out) or digital signals in AES/EBU, ADAT or TDIF formats.

The centerpiece of the console is the high-resolution, color SVGA 800x600-pixel touchscreen, which displays parameter and operational settings, as well as dynamics or EQ curves; it also provides touchscreen control of 5.1 surround panning functions. A rear panel 15-pin D-sub port connects an external monitor to duplicate the console display, and a PS/2-type DIN ports an optional mouse and keyboard for quick data entry. Regarding surround, the DMX-R100 is the first small-format digital mixer to include full surround monitoring control, with six discrete monitor outputs on 11/44-inch TRS jacks for listening to the L/C/R/LS/RS and sub channels.

With its compact 45x27-inch footprint and numerous sync features, the DMX-R100 should be right at home in the post environment. A "select machine" panel determines which of six connected transports is controlled by the tape recorder-style transport keys; a large jog/shuttle wheel doubles on transport control and data entry functions. Automation data can be stored/backed up onto the internal 3.5-inch floppy drive, and automation moves can be defined as SMPTE frames or MTC beats/bars; snapshots can be triggered as SMPTE events. Of course, word clock I/O (with 75 termination switch) and video sync (NTSC or PAL) are standard, along with 9-pin control. Additional USB and serial ports (included for future use) could lead to some interesting possibilities.

Like the Oxford, the DMX-R100 offers programmable matrixing via a set of simple menus that handle all program, aux, monitor and input/output routings for fast setups-under touchscreen control.

Perhaps the DMX-R100's main drawback is the fact that when in double-sampling 88.2/96kHz mode, the ADAT and TDIF I/O boards are inoperable (no surprise, as neither format supports 96 kHz), the number of channel inputs and direct outs is reduced to 24, and the available auxes and monitor buses are halved to four of each. (The 24-bit I/O resolution is maintained at all sampling rates.) However, at a $20,000 retail, anyone interested in a 24-bit board offering 48 channels at 96 kHz or 96 channels at 48 kHz should simply consider buying two DMX-R100s, once the cascade option becomes available in the future. But for now, the big news is that console deliveries are slated to begin next month.

Sony Professional Audio, One Sony Drive, Park Ridge, NJ 07656; 201/358-4201; www.sony.com/proaudio.






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