Dimension Two TV Audio Console -- Why We Added IP to the Mix

Dimension Two_Audio_Console_-_side_viewWe understand that audio isn’t at the center of everyone’s universe. So, that prime spot in the television control room? The video switchers can have it. We recognize that TV audio consoles will be sidelined from here to eternity, and we’ve made peace with our lot, and space, in life.

Having a kick-ass DSP engine helps. We don’t have to make audio consoles the size of small boats because we have Gibraltar DSP. That’s 1,024 channels of pure processing power and it’s why our TV audio consoles don’t get in the way of all that video gear, yet are still able to mix, route, and edit, plus can sound natural and run audio seamlessly alongside video. Gibraltar packs it all in: scads of mix-minuses, loads of control for panning and surround imaging, and on-board EQ, compression, limiting and gating. You’ll run out of video long before you run out of audio capacity. Gibraltar can handle 500 mix busses or process 768 input paths and 256 mix output paths simultaneously.

Adding IP to the Mix

And here’s something else we’re adding to the mix: IP. We introduced the first IP-networked TV audio console at NAB 2013, the Dimension Two large format audio console. You might recall that some years ago we took the bloat out of audio consoles by putting lesser-used console functions on the network. Audio operators still had plenty of AUX sends and mix-minuses, but some functions and most source feeds were offloaded from the console surface to a network cage. This freed up the audio console for ease of use and flexibility.  All the important functions were layered into the console surface, and the so-so important functions plus a gazillion sources were just down the line in the network, a button’s push away.

That network – known as TDM – is still very useful today. Our TDM cages of plug in cards give high-density I/O and control for our Wheatstone Dimension One, D-32 and other TV audio consoles.

But here’s the thing. The connected world of IP is growing, and at some point, you might want your TV audio console to be a part of it. Already, standards are being developed, like IEEE’s AVB for moving audio and video around the studio using IP network protocols. We don’t need to tell you how AVB standardization could change the television operation – you’re going to be able to distribute a whole lot more multimedia a whole lot faster. But to get there, you’ll need an audio console that can tap into IP, if not now, eventually. Having some experience in audio over IP (ten years to be exact, with our WheatNet-IP technology), we knew it could be done affordably now so that later when you were rolling out the content in droves, you’d be ready.

We weren’t the only ones thinking along these lines. Not long after the light bulb came on at the Wheat lab we got a call from our friends at a major sports network who wanted to know if we could connect them up with IP. Of course we said yes.

Enter Dimension Two, the first IP audio console for TV

Fast forward to the April NAB show. We introduced the Dimension Two digital audio console for television that taps into a WheatNet-IP network of BLADEs, or IP access nodes. (And, won the TV Technology STAR Award for it!) Same Gibraltar size, same layered audio console with the important stuff on the surface and the so-so important stuff on the network down the line. But now we’ve opened the door to IP connectivity across the studio with hooks into the automation, work/edit stations and event schedulers, and anything else that’s based on Ethernet  – the most pervasive network out there.  And because each IP BLADE has GPIO and a control interface, not to mention two 8-channel virtual mixers, we can place all that access and control anywhere you need it. On the set. In the remote truck. At the studio control room. Even in the sports stadium. This is the Wheatstone distributed intelligence you might have heard about, and it means that you’re always networked in and in control of all the elements wherever there’s a BLADE.

Setting up a BLADE is almost as simple as plugging it in, and because it’s about as big as a notebook computer, it’s very portable. No soundcards required. WheatNet-IP audio drivers can be installed on any PC-based audio source or destination, eliminating the need for sound cards and bringing as many as eight stereo inputs and outputs directly to the network. All of which is more suitable for today's modern TV facilities and remote setups. What's more, BLADEs have built-in utilities, so they can do what they need to do where you need them to do it, including silence detection with automatic failover and virtual mixers for summing, splitting and submixing audio at the point of origination.

We’re pretty sure your video switcher can’t do all of that.


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