Given the sheer amount of possible audio streams supporting live-event coverage and other applications, efficient audio signal monitoring is of critical importance to a broadcaster. In the past, production creative teams employed small rack-mount mixers, intercom panels and de-embedders to manage the vast choice of audio streams while monitoring router feeds, talkback, presenter, pre-hear, externals, talent, comms and PC sound cards.
This working model is still in play but offers inherent limitations, including inefficient use of rack space, limited channel count, slow access to multiple signals and reliance on a larger staff to handle the equipment. It is also chained to a particular rack of equipment, or spread through multiple locations that might not be ideally situated for an application.
With the industry’s move into digital production, critical audio material is now embedded in an SDI datastream, making the existing method of monitoring audio streams not only outdated, but woefully lacking in capacity and flexibility. Although systems designers address this situation through a creative blend of diverse equipment from different manufacturers, solving this ubiquitous problem is of paramount importance. In an era where production staff and valuable rack space are limited commodities, the industry is in dire need of a dedicated system to tame audio signal monitoring.
Hearing is believing
A broadcasting company approached TSL Professional Products with just such a conundrum. It wanted to solve its monitoring problem through an integrated approach that covered all the audio bases in one unit. This request led to TSL’s development of the AVM-T-MIX (Touchmix) system. Essentially a rack-mount monitoring unit with integrated touchscreen display, it can de-embed audio from one or two SDI signals simultaneously and mix the demuxed audio with AES and analog signals from various sources. Individual levels are controllable, along with balance and pan adjustments for stereo or mono signals, for each source onto the monitoring output.
With Touchmix bringing all the audio streams together, TSL felt the time was right to introduce a remote touchscreen controller to accompany the system. Thus, the TSL Touchmix Pilot was born, and audio monitoring made its screen debut.
The new audio monitor places two full-featured audio mixing consoles in front of an operator who can access and process audio via touchscreen in a location convenient to him or her. Because the screen is connected via Ethernet, it can be located anywhere it’s needed — in a facility, truck or remotely via the Internet — allowing a creative team in the main studio to monitor signals for a field operation, for example.
The touchscreen features identical twin audio mixers with 10 stereo or 20 dual-mono-assignable input channels per mixer. It offers a choice of user-selectable bar-graph meter scales, including BBC PPM, EBU PPM, EBU Digital, Nordic, VU and DIN. Any one of those 20 bar-graph meters can represent a mono, stereo, 5.1 surround signal or part of a 5.1 surround signal.
Importantly, embedded audio for up to two SDI streams can be de-embedded and processed with any other audio format, thereby eliminating the need to wire in an external de-embedding system.