In Broadcast - January 2015 - 66

66

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 5 - Issue 1 | January 2015

InSound

Sound Monitoring Moves
Contributing Editor Kevin Hilton
examines the latest technology for
audio monitoring...

M

onitoring of incoming audio
signals is something that has
traditionally been done in racks rooms
or the master control room. It was
usually kept away from the studio
galleries and post-production suites
where the actual creative technical
work is done but as facilities take on a
more dominant role in quality control
(QC) those divisions are beginning to
blur.
"Audio monitoring is not just about
listening to the feeds anymore,"
comments
Pieter
Schillebeeckx,
Product Director at TSL Products. "It's
also about metadata, which has to be
checked to see if it is correct. Which
means a lot of what is being done in
monitoring is QC and not really test
and measurement."
TSL Products produces the PAM
Series of audio monitors, which offers
models for both Dolby and non-Dolby
encoded signals, AES feeds and, on
the most recent, AVB (Audio Video
Bridging). They all now can monitor
audio metadata in accordance with
the SMPTE 2020 specification and
also have loudness capability. The
PAM PiCo monitors are based on DKTechnologies' algorithm for monitoring
and logging loudness parameters and
comply with EBU R128 as well as the
ITU and ATSC standards.
Schillebeeckx says that in the
last five years different loudness
standards have been established in
many territories, with Europe and the
US particularly advanced in adopting
this technology. "Other parts of the
world are playing catch up but that's
exciting," he observes. He adds that
the proliferation of formats is even
greater when it comes to the form of
the audio itself and how it is carried:
"It's not only AES but Ethernet and IP
systems as well."
According to Schillebeeckx the
nature of monitoring has changed,
as units now look increasingly for
pass errors and loudness problems.
"There are more and more channels

to monitor as well," he says. "They're
now used as alarms as much as for
measuring. We're now looking at
having boxes that just sit [in a control
room or suite] and only come into
operation when there is an error."
Processes
Bruce Devlin, Chief Media Scientist at
Dalet Digital Media Systems, sees who
is using monitoring equipment and
how it is used as another significant
change.
Devlin notes that often it's the
operators who have to interpret the
results from the equipment: "That's
not the same as the convergence of
formats and it's why there is more of
a coming together of monitoring and
QC."
Devlin
was
previously
chief
technology officer with AmberFin,
which was bought by Dalet in
April 2014. Now branded as Dalet
AmberFin, the company's main
analysis product is a scalable
transcoding platform with ingest,
mastering, QC and review applications.
Devlin says that if the human
operators are lucky there will be an
accompanying QC report detailing
what a file contains but even if that
exists there is still a lot to deal with.
"Some of the technology can be
hard to get one's head round," he
comments. "It can be difficult to tell
if something is an IP stream or in AAC
[Advanced Audio Coding]."
File and data-based working has
also made the transmission of live
events and the delivery of recorded
programmes a similar process. Both
can now come into facilities on IP
connections, calling for the whole
chain to be checked. "People need to
know what is going along the wire,"
Devlin says. "The package may have
to be re-analysed as it is going live
because an AAC stream might be
compressed once it leaves its source
and then re-coded back into AAC at the
other end."

TSL Products PAM Series monitoring

A SonoVTS install with Sonifex RM-4C8 reference monitors

This means, Devlin continues, that
live monitoring/QC should be more like
the process for pre-recorded material,
with details of what the programme
file is when it leaves its start point
and then a check of the data when it
arrives at its destination. "It shouldn't
be just a single-ended report but a
double-end one," he explains. "That
means there can be an A-B comparison
and people can say 'It's all right
leaving me' with something to back
that up."
Interoperability
Manufacturers of both file-based
QC systems and more traditional
hardware style monitors are having
to adapt to the new style of broadcast
operations beginning to spread
through the industry.
Barry Revels, Sales Director of the
Bel Digital Group, comments that a
growing problem is the decrease in
the number of places in a transmission
stream where audio can be monitored.
"There is now much more functionality
in small monitoring boxes today and it
might be doing everything but can only
check the in and the out. We've lost
several opportunities to monitor on
the broadcast stream."
The Bel Digital Group was formed
at the end of last year by the merger
of Bel Audio and 4HM. The combined
product line includes two and
four-channel confidence and audio
monitors, four-channel broadcast units
and 16-channel monitoring systems
featuring 3G/HD/SD-SDI de-embedding
with options for Dolby E and other
Dolby formats.
Revels says broadcasters and
facilities are increasingly using
audio over IP (AoIP). This has caused
something of a format war when it

comes to networking and distribution
as there are two competing,
incompatible systems vying for
dominance: Dante and Ravenna.
The situation has been eased slightly
by the introduction of the AES67
interoperability standard but Revels
observes that monitors have to be
able to handle all formats, including
the various audio codecs. Bel recently
introduced what it believes to be the
first Dante monitoring and conversion
system for the broadcast QC market.
Another major consideration in
audio monitoring today is MADI
(Multichannel Audio Digital Interface),
which, as Revels acknowledges, has
had a resurgence in the last few years
after being first introduced in the early
1990s as an electronic communications
protocol to define the data format
and electrical characteristics of an
interface handling multiple channels of
digital audio. MADI is now widely used
to distribute large numbers of sound
signals but Revels points out that
careful monitoring is required because
there can still be incompatibility
between the format transmitter on one
console in a network and the receiver
of another. "All of this means that
monitoring is a lot more important
these days," he says.

"...a coming
together of
monitoring
and QC,"

Bruce Devlin
Dalet AmberFin


http://www.inbroadcast.com http://www.sonifex.co.uk/refmon/rm4c8.shtml http://www.tslproducts.com/audio-monitoring/pam1-avb/

In Broadcast - January 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - January 2015

In Broadcast - January 2015 - Intro
In Broadcast - January 2015 - Cover1
In Broadcast - January 2015 - Cover2
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 3
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 4
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 5
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 6
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 7
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 8
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 9
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 10
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 11
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 12
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 13
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 14
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 15
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 16
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 18
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 19
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 20
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 21
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 22
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - S1
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S2
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S3
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S4
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S5
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S6
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S7
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S8
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S9
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S10
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S11
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