Friday, 26 May 2017

TMC-1 Ashly ne8800 DSP Monitor Controller Interface

In response to customer requests we have now interfaced the TMC-1 to the Ashley ne8800 DSP processors.

Ashley ne8800

The Ashly ne8800 is an interesting unit, limited by having only 8 inputs and 8 outputs with summing, but unlike the NTP digital router it has DSP on both inputs and outputs - Summing, Equalization, Delay, Crossover and Dynamics. Supplied with Analog in/out as standard  AES/EBU and Dante are available as an option.

The Summing allows  the TMC-1 to implement down mixing, I have included the standard TMC-1 set of formats:

  • Mono Sum
  • Stereo only
  • Stereo Down Mix
  • 5.1 Down Mix from 7.1    
  • 5.1 with side surround routed to both side and rear
  • 7.1 
  • Atmos (7.1.4 on this implementation).  

The first unit shipped with Ashly software is a PD-3 which combines a PD-1 with a TMC-1. The PD-1 is improved by adding a OLed display, ethernet port and the new PD-2 software.

PD-3 Film Monitor Remote

The limited number of inputs and outputs made designing systems with the ne8800 a challenge, however the TMC-1 is able to talk to multiple ne8800's increasing the possibilities.

The initial request was for a 7.1.4 film post production room which used two ne8800's. one for the 7.1 inputs and outputs, the other for the 4 overhead speakers, There were 4 unused inputs and outputs on the second ne8800, by routing the Left and Right outputs from the first ne8800 through the second ne8800 we were able to add a stereo input and a mini stereo output.


The initial design has a fixed configuration but if there are a requests for further systems I will write a system configuration program similar to the TMC-1-Penta2 program that will enable users to define inputs and outputs by their unit and channel number.

Using the AES/EBU and Dante inputs or adding a further ne8800 it is possible to select more inputs. To add Cue Inputs, Cue sends, AFL, talk back and listen back would require a third ne8800. It is possible to make a large ATMOS system from multiple ne8800's all controlled from a single TMC-1.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

A-Mon: Second 7.1 Input available as an option

As a factory option you can now chose between the following on the A-Mon

  • 5.1 Alt Input and 3 Stereo Cue inputs
  • 7.1 Alt Input and 2 Stereo Cue Inputs


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A-Mon Stereo Down Mix Revisited

Stereo Down Mix

The A-Mon Stereo Down Mix feature is used to monitor 7.1 and 5.1 on a Stereo system or to check how a 5.1 or 7.1 mix will sound in stereo. The A-Mon design allows for variable ratios but they are currently fixed as follows:



When using the Down Mix I realised that because the Solo and Mute were implemented on the outputs it is only possible to Mute/Solo Left or Right total when Down Mix is enabled. To overcome this I re-wrote the firmware on both the TMC-1 and A-Mon so that when Down Mix is enabled the Solo and Mute control the inputs instead of the outputs. 

Conns

The drawback switching solo and mute on the inputs is that this will also change the stereo feed to the cue sends. 

Metering

Stereo display

A new stereo display enabled when Stereo is selected or by menu choice shows Left, Right, Studio L/S feed and Headphone cue outputs.

External Metering

The 5.1 output may now be defined as a Meter output with level adjustment and channel trim.

XPand Metering

Whilst modifying the TMC-1 and A-Mon I also looked at metering from the XPand, whilst not possible when using the XPand with XMon, I have now implemented XPand Metering when using the XPand with A-Mon.

The meters on the TMC-1 will switch from A-Mon to XPand when the Mute or Solo keys are assigned to the XPand Outputs (Repeated depressions of the Mute and Solo keys will switch between speaker banks).  
  

Next .... 5.1 Down Mix

The current 5.1 key is used to switch the the rear speakers to the side signal when listening to 5.1 material on a 7.1 system. My next task is to add a 5.1 Down-Mix key that will monitor 7.1 on a 5.1 system, this will be more flexible than the current Menu setting.  



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

OSX Sierra - Drivers and Programs

I am currently receiving a lot of emails from customers about problems with OSX Sierra, I have upgraded my test Mac from El Capitan to Sierra, the original MacLow2p3 driver remained in place and working, I ran the TMC-1 and TMC-1-Penta2 programs without problems. I also ran the Latency test program, here is a screen shot.


As you can see latency is between 1 and 3.5 mSec using this very crude program with a maximum recorded of 7.175 probably when I prepared to make the screen shot!

Note: The driver has moved and is now called AppleUSBFTDI.kext and is located in /System/Library/Extensions
With Sierra Mac have added  System Integrity Protection (rootless), to rename or delete drivers, this needs to be disabled - I did not need to do this when I upgraded the operating system! For more details read the following articles

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_Integrity_Protection
https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204899
https://www.igeeksblog.com/how-to-disable-system-integrity-protection-on-mac/
http://osxdaily.com/2015/10/05/disable-rootless-system-integrity-protection-mac-os-x/

I am not sure why others are having problems that I have not, it could be that some directory names/drivers have changed  and they are present on my upgraded Mac but not on a clean install. Pleae let me know your experiences and I will try to work out what the problem is. When I have some time I will try to make a clean install on my test Mac, but first I have to check that there are no important files that I may lose if I wipe the drive!

Thanks to Jonathan Martins I have added a new pdf file to the USB-422 web page "MacSierra.pdf" with step by step instructions on how to disable the Mac Driver on MacOS Sierra.


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A-Mon Case Study: Boulevard des Productions, Strasbourg



Boulevard des Productions specialises in dialogue replacement (ADR or Doublage), CB Electronics was involved in the original studio a number of years ago. When the new studio was designed at the end of 2016 we were asked with Daniel Gollety and Jean-Robert Delicourt to make the new installation.

An existing building has been completely refurbished to provide a studio, control room, machine room, two editing suits and a large waiting room. All rooms are air conditioned especially the machine room. 






Rythmo (Band Projection) is standard in French ADR/Doublage studios and a Mosaic electronic Rythmo system was chosen for the installation.  A Pyramix is used as the Digital Audio Workstation. Neuman digital microphones were selected for use in the studio.   

Boulevard des Productions owned an early SR-4 which was the only existing equipment used in the new studio, to bring it up to current specification this was fitted with a RomUpd kit and Tri-Level Sync Input. The SR-4 is used to synchronize the Pyramix with the Mosaic.  

The original CBServer software was replaced by CBServer3 (Left) which can read Mosaic files and be used to select loops by time and/or character as required. 

A-Mon was selected as the monitor controller for its comprehensive talkback, listen back and auto-mute. The new studio unlike the previous has a separate control room, Talkback and Listen back are both essential, the auto-mute makes the glass disappear. Currently the control room is stereo only but may be updated to 5.1 in the future, until then the Stereo down mix within A-Mon may be used when listening to 7.1 or 5.1 material. 

A plethora of screens left room for only one "Mini" loudspeaker, the stereo output of the A-Mon was resistively summed to feed the single speaker!

Both Engineer and Producer talkback are implemented; the A-Mon sums the two inputs which may then be routed to the studio loudspeakers, headphones and/or to the large waiting room. A notable difference in foreign language dubbing is that the talent waits for the engineer, instead of the engineers waiting for the talent!  

A feature of the TMC-1 is the use of the Play, stop and record tallies to control the Talkback, Listen back, Studio and/or Control room speakers. The TMC-1 Auto Mute may be controlled by LTC, MTC, Hui or as in this case by GP inputs connected to the Play and Record tallies from the SR-4 .The studio at BdP uses auto listen back and not auto talkback.  The two listen back microphones are enabled whenever the system stops and disabled by Play or Record. Listen back may also be controlled manually by the engineer. 

The two talkback microphones are enabled as required by the engineer or producer, again these are disabled by play and record tallies. The engineer uses the TMC-1 talkback microphone with an external switch to remove mechanical noise from the talkback switch in the TMC-1.  His talkback is normally only to the Headphones and Studio L/S.The producer is provided with two switches, one to the headphones and Studio L/S, the other to the waiting room. Listen Back when enabled may be latching,  In this case it was decided to disable the Talkback Latching, so that unfortunate comments are not be overheard by the talent.

Playback to the Studio Loudspeakers is controlled manually, but is muted by the record tally in case.

What did we learn whilst making this installation?
  1. We needed more gain on the Producer and listen back mic inputs
  2. We have now made a combined mic-amp and limiter for use with the Listen back and Producer microphones, removing the need for extra gain..
  3.  We have now implemented Auto Resume Listen back as well as auto-resume talkback.
  4. To bring some known working cables and sound sources when checking the installation 
  5. To offer a separate talkback switch box for the TMC-1
  6. Think more about how the Producer and Listen Back Mics connect to the system


Initial TMC-1 + A-Mon Configuration

Main Output – Stereo Speakers
Alt Output – Not Used,  configured as 5.1 Meter output
Mini Out – Mono (Multiple VDU screens there was only enough space for one speakers!)

Main input – Not Used
Alt input – Pyramix
Stereo input 1
Stereo Input 2
Stereo Input 3
Stereo Input 4

Cue Output 1 Studio L/S
Cue Output 2 Waiting Room
Cue Output 3 Headphones 1
Cue Output 4 Headphones 2

Cue input 1 Pyramix
Cue Input 2 Pyramix
Cue input 3 Pyramix

T/B 1 Input Engineer 
T/B 2 Input Producer

Listen Input 1 Studio Screen 1
Listen Input 2 Studio Voice Over booth

Thursday, 5 January 2017

New Year updates for the TMC-1

One of the advantages of using the same controller with four different systems is that it new functions can be introduced for one system that are then available for all or some of the other systems. The following updates have been made to the TMC-1 software

All versions - Extra Menu
1) Adding advanced menu 17 to limit the maximum gain of the main output, four settings +20, +12, +6 and 0dB. Note not all versions allow +20dB gain.

Engineers Headphone output
TMC-1-Penta and TMC-1-DMon
Engineers Headphone output allows the engineer to monitor inputs, cue inputs and cue outputs without disturbing the main monitor output. A window has been added to display the current headphone source  The following user keys are provided for the D-Mon Headphone feed:

[Ph Source]:   
  Access the Phones source selection pages, two pages are available with a [More] and [Less] keys to   switch between the pages.

[Ph Follow]: 
  Headphones follow output selection, (hold down and use knob to adjust phones gain)
  This key also allows you to A/B between the current monitor output and the selected source.

[Phones]:     
  Headphone Enable, hold down and use knob to adjust gain

[PFL->Ph]:  
  Route AFL/PFL to Phones

Slate from Talkback Microphones
TMC-1-Penta and TMC-1-AMon 
[Slate] and [SlateX] user keys for Internal and External Slate allow the talkback mic output to be enabled and the level controlled, the outputs can be used as an extra talkback channel or as a source of take information to the DAW.

Cue Send PFL User Keys
TMC-1Penta, TMC-1-DMon and TMC-1-AMon
Cue Output Pre Fade Listen switches
[SLS PFL] and [H/P PFL]  on A-Mon, D-Mon and Penta
[Q2 PFL] and [Q3 PFL] on D-Mon and Penta

Stereo Metering
TMC-1-Penta and TMC-1-AMon
Stereo Meter display option added with 6 meters showing the Main, SLS and H/P cue outputs.

Eight Input Selection and Sum
TMC-1-Penta only
Using a second input selection page the TMC-1- Penta can now select and sum up to 8 inputs. The Main and Aux inputs are displayed on both pages.

Multi-Studio TMC-1-Penta Software
New  TMC-1-Penta resource control software allows multiple TMC-1's to be used with a single DAD/Penta/MTRX unit to be used with up to 4 studios each with their own TMC-1. The original TMC-1-Penta used all of the NTP summing resources for a single studio, the new software allows resources to be assigned to each studio.

Please contact us for beta test versions of the new software

Friday, 2 December 2016

AES70 - CB Electronics to join the OCA Alliance

One of the prime reasons to visit the Los Angeles AES this year was to investigate ethernet control.

For the past 30 years CB have specialised in machine control using the Sony P2 protocol. For some time we have looked for a way forward using Ethernet but could not find a unified control protocol. There is AES67 but it does not define a method by which audio streams are discovered, connected or controlled. This year the AES published AES-70 specification based on the OCA (Open Control Architecture) protocol. AES-70 can be used to control audio streams and networked audio devices.

As a result of our discussions with the OCA Alliance, we felt is important to participate in defining the standard.  CB have started a project to develop applications using AES 70. Initially we are adding AES 70 to the TMC-1 - to enable control of networked inputs and/or outputs as the first stage in developing a networked monitoring system.

For the past 25 years interfacing old and new technologies has been a part of our business model. We will design  similar solutions to integrate AES 70 devices with existing and new technology.