Many Hands Make Light Work

Nowadays, the computer is your ever-present audio production assistant. One major benefit is its ability to record our actions on a mixing console control surface and to repeat them at the right moment. One of the key criteria of a state-of the-art console automation system 

hand konsole

As recently as the late seventies, mixdown was still an entirely manual process. With the number of tracks constantly increasing, mixing was becoming an activity demanding considerable concentration and dexterity. More often than not, it was »all hand to the pumps« and all the musicians and engineers present at the session were pressed into service to help move faders and press buttons at the appropriate times. One slip of the finger – and it was back to the top for another attempt. Many schemes were proposed to put an end to this mixing misery including some Heath Robinson ideas such as taking a literal »snapshot« of the control surface using a special camera/projector system.

Cyber Friend

It is no surprise that one of the first recording studio tasks successfully undertaken by computers was the automation of channel faders and cut keys. The ability to dynamically automate the two key channel controls against a time reference from the multitrack tape completely revolutionized the entire field of multitrack production. Indeed, many current techniques were only made possible by dynamic fader and mute automation.
Truly comprehensive automation systems, capable of capturing every console parameter, have only been possible since the digital audio era dawned. The ability to store settings and automate controls was one of the key arguments in favour of using digital audio. This technology has been at the heart of all STAGETEC systems from the very first. Only digital technology could enable every console setting to be reproduced without spending hours manually restoring switch, fader and knob positions. This made it viable to work on many projects in parallel. An incredible economic advantage! Not only that, but there are artistic benefits as well. With a powerful automation system the engineer can explore new creative possibilities, such as editing individual settings in succession to fine-tune the mix, step by step.

Rapid Reproduction

In essence, there are three different generally accepted methods for capturing and reproducing console parameters: snapshot automation, scene automation, and dynamic automation. The latter is the most complex to implement. Obviously, all AURUS parameters can be dynamically automated. However, this simple statement does not say much about the quality of the automation system. As with so many sophisticated technologies, the devil is, as always, in the detail. Probably the most critical aspects of an automation system are speed and accuracy of reproduction. In these respects, AURUS automation is blazing a trail. Every mixing-console parameter change is captured and reproduced at 10 ms intervals, an extremely short time grid, no matter how many parameters there are. Compared to conventional dynamic automation systems, with only single frame accuracy (40 ms at 25 fps), the AURUS offers four times better resolution. Again, this extremely short response time is completely independent of the number of channels involved – no matter whether five or 200 signal paths are automated.

Dub Artists

To achieve this level of resolution, the automation data must be loaded very rapidly into the console’s DSPs and surface displays. Fast load speed also ensures that a STAGETEC console user never has to wait for the system. The automation data is always accurately reproduced and without any time lag when changing the transport position – even in shuttle mode.
Reliable synchronization with the master machine in both forward and reverse modes utilizes another AURUS feature. Apart from resolving timecode, the console can also interpret serial machine-control data (Sony 9-pin P2 protocol) received from a connected recorder or DAW. This enables AURUS to know which direction the master is currently running in. One further benefit: Timecode can also be read in stop mode. This can be helpful for enabling the write mode of various functions at a specific time position after adjusting controls to new values. A user determined tolerance ensures that the stop mode is not unintentionally canceled even when minor position changes occur, for example, when a helical scan tape machine loads or unloads a tape from the drum. AURUS supports the 9-pin protocol and the various dialects understood by common machines; an extra synchroniser is only required for more complex configurations with chase sync. In large installations, the AURUS system’s integral NEXUS router also handles timecode setup. A dedicated timecode matrix can be defined within NEXUS. The timecode inputs and outputs of every machine in the facility are connected to the NEXUS via the XTI transparent interface board and can then be used at any place in the system. Any machine can be selected as a timecode source – without the need for laborious cable bashing.

Perfect Curves

In an automation system, signal quality is at least as important as speed, especially when it comes to fades and crossfades. STAGETEC always uses complex smoothing curves and ramp functions, requiring considerable computing power and these have been further optimized in AURUS. This precision, in conjunction with the high resolution read/write rate, means that the movements of the automated faders are a perfect reproduction of the original moves, without inaccuracies leading to jerks and noise.

Visible Harmony

Although the automation system architecture is indeed critical, coherent ergonomics are also essential to success. This is demonstrated by careful attention to the details with the object of reducing the number of button presses in everyday operation to the bare minimum. Heading the list is visual feedback: The more console parameters that can be automated the more important it becomes for the operator to be able to see what is happening at any time. The AURUS is the perfect match here too, with its complement of motorised faders, TFT displays on the meterbridge, and LED arc indicators for each of the 22 touch-sensitive encoders per channel. All this is complemented by clear, interactive interface dialogs, displayed on the master panel of the console.
For example, the Mix Path window where the different passes of a mix are clearly listed and managed in block diagram form. To store a mix pass, just press the »To Keep« button; the pass will immediately be listed as a new block in the diagram. This ensures that the hierarchy of the stored versions of the mix is transparently obvious at all times. Motorised faders are without doubt the most elegant solution for channel level setting and display. However, this is only true if a professional solution is found for fader control. Otherwise, the noise made by faders thrashing about is a nuisance. The AURUS secret in this respect is the combination of high resolution over the entire adjustment range and above all, the elaborate control algorithms. On the one hand, the fader must be fast, but at the same time, it must move towards its target setting asymptotically to prevent overshooting. Not a trivial matter!

Automation in Use

Christoph Gronarz, production engineer at the WDR broadcasting service in Germanys western Metropolis Cologne, has known the WDR studio in the Philharmonic Concert Hall since its opening 19 years ago. This studio which had already entered the annals of audio history with the very first large digital console, was completely revamped last summer and is now home to a STAGETEC AURUS console. Gronartz’s opinion on this investment decision: »I am convinced that the AURUS is the most up-to-date digital console currently available on the market«.
Other benefits in the STAGETEC consoles favour were the exquisite 28-bit AD converters and the automation. When we visited the studio in spring, the mixdown of an SACD production of Richard Strauss’ »Daphne« performed by the WDR Symphonic Orchestra and conducted by Semyon Bychkov was about to start. The AURUS dynamic automation was an indispensable creative element of this extensive project with up to 44 tracks, since the AURUS joystick has been used to retrace many of the soloist’s moves

The Perfect Partner

Fast, communicative, and accurate – AURUS console automation brings all the desirable characteristics required for a perfect partnership in the control room. Not to mention its phenomenal memory. Every engineer dreams of an assistant this talented!

TV and Radio Broadcast

AVATUS & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • RSI Broadcast Center  Lugano, Switzerland
  • tpc Metechno, Broadcast Center  Zurich, Switzerland

AURUS & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • Antena 3 Madrid (TV)  Madrid, Spain
  • ASTRO (Malaysian satellite television) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Anhui TV  Hefei-Anhui, China
  • Auditorium Rai di Napoli  Naples, Italy
  • BBC Scotland Glasgow, United Kingdom weiterlesen blau 2019
  • BR Bayerischer Rundfunk  Munich, Nuremberg, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Canal 9  Valencia, Spain
  • CCTV  Beijing, China weiterlesen blau 2019 weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Crow TV-Studio  Tokyo, Japan
  • Deutschlandradio  Berlin, Cologne, Germany
  • Deutsche Welle TV  Berlin, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • FM 802 Radio  Osaka, Japan weiterlesen blau 2019
  • FRANCE 2  Paris, France
  • Fuji TV  Tokyo, Japan  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurt, Germany
  • J.V.E. facilities   Almere, The Netherlands  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • MDR Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk  Leipzig, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • NDR 2  Hannover, Germany
  • NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk Hamburg, Hannover, Kiel, Schwerin, Germany
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Phoenix TV Station  Bonn, Germany
  • RAI  Rome, Milan, Naples, Torino, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Radio Bremen  Bremen, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RAI Radio  Rome, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Rom TV  Rome, Italy
  • RTS Radiotelevisione svizzera  Geneva, Switzerland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTBF Brussels, Belgium  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTM Kuala Lumpur  Kuala Lumpur, Perdana, Seremban, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RSI - Radiotelevisione svizzera  Lugano, Switzerland
  • TAI Television News Agency  Warsaw, Poland
  • Television de Galicia  Galicia, Spain
  • TVP Telewizja Polska  Warsaw, Poland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Tianjin Radio Station  Tianjin, China
  • tpc zürich ag  Zurich, Switzerland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • TSR Télévision Suisse Romande  Geneva, Switzerland
  • TVE Radio Televisión Espanola  Madrid, Spain
  • WDR Westdeutscher Rundfunk  Cologne, Bocklemund, Dusseldorf,  Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019

CRESCENDO & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • ASTRO  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Anhui TV  Hefei-Anhui, China
  • CCTV  Beijing, China
  • CBC Cologne Broadcasting Center  Cologne, Germany
  • Formosa TV  Taipei, Taiwan  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Fujian tv  Beijing, China
  • Hangzhou TV  Hangzhou, China
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk  Frankfurt/Main, Kassel, Germany
  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • HBTV Hubei Broadcasting Group  Wuhan, China
  • HNTV  Zhengzhou, China
  • JiangSu Broadcasting Corporation (JSBC)  Nanjing, China
  • Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul, Korean
  • Life News TV, Moscow, Russia
  • M6 TV  Paris, France
  • Media Prima Berhad  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • NDR  Hamburg, Germany
  • NOSPR Narodowa Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia  Katowice, Poland
  • ONE TV / Dorna Sports Management Rome, Italy
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Rede Bahia de Televisao  Salvador, Brazil
  • RTBF  Brussels, Belgium
  • RTM  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • RTS Radiotelevisione svizzera  Geneva, Switzerland
  • SBT Sistema Brasileiro de Televisao Sao Paulo, Brazil  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Shenzhen TV  Shenzhen, China
  • Sveriges Radio  Stockholm, Sweden
  • tpc zürich ag  Zurich, Switzerland
  • TSR Télévision Suisse Romande  Geneva, Switzerland
  • TVE Radio Televisión Espanola  Barcelona, Spain
  • Vatican Radio  Vatican, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Videohouse  Brussels, Belgium
  • VRT Brussels, Belgium

AURATUS & NEXUS

  • ASTRO TV  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Bernama News TV  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • BR Bayerischer Rundfunk  Nuremberg, Germany
  • CCTV  Beijing, China
  • CJ E&M Brodcasting Centre  Seoul, Korea
  • EPTV  Campinas, Brazil
  • FFS Film- & Fernseh-Synchron  Berlin, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Henan  Zhengzhou, China
  • HBTV Hubei Broadcasting Group  Wuhan, China
  • Moscovia Broadcasting Company  Moscow, Russia
  • OMTV - Olympic Marseille Football Team  Marseille, France
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Radio Kuwait  Kuwait
  • RTBF Brussels, Charleroi, Belgium
  • RTL Radio  Paris, France
  • RTM TV  Sarawak, Malaysia weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTM TV  Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Malaysia
  • SBT Sistema Brasileiro de Televisao  Sao Paulo, Brazil  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Shenzhen TV  Shenzhen, China
  • Tele M1  Aarau, Switzerland
  • Tele 1  Luzern, Switzerland
  • VRT  Brussels, Belgium
  • WDR Westdeutscher Rundfunk Siegen, Bonn, Cologne, Essen, Wuppertal, Aachen, Münster, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Duisburg weiterlesen blau 2019  Germany

ON AIR flex & NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • ABC Australian Broadcast Corporation  Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, all Australia
  • Al-Watan Radio Kuwait  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • ASTRO (Malaysian satellite television)  Cyberjaya, Malaysia
  • CCTV Movie Channel  Beijing, China
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk  Frankfurt, Germany
  • HSE24 Home Shopping Europe AG  Ismaning, Germany
  • NDR (tv station) Kiel, Hannover, Germany
  • Plazamedia TV&Film Produktion  Ismaning, Germany
  • Radio Pilatus   Lucerne, Switzerland  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • SDTV QILU Channel  Beijing, China
  • Shanghai Education Television  Shanghai, China
  • tpc Zürich  Zurich, Schwitzerland
  • WDR  Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Wuppertal, Germany
  • Xiamen Travel Channel  Xiamen, China

NEXUS/NEXUS STAR

  • All India Radio New Delhi, India  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Antena 3  Madrid, Islas Baleares, Spain
  • BBC  London, United Kingdom
  • BBC North Manchester, United Kingdom  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • BR Bayerischer Rundfunk Freimann, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Cadena SER  Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Spain  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Canal Mundo Radio  Madrid, Spain
  • Canal+: Paris, France  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • 20th Century Fox  Los Angeles, USA
  • CBS  New York, USA
  • ESPN  Bristol, Los Angeles, USA
  • ETABETA  Rome, Italy
  • Eurosport 2  Paris, France
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk Gießen, Fulda, Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Kassel, Germany weiterlesen blau 2019
  • HR Hessischer Rundfunk  TR 3  Frankfurt, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • IRT Project Hybnet  Munich, Germany
  • NBC  New York, USA
  • NHK  Tokio, Japan
  • n-tv  Berlin, Germany
  • ORB/DVB-FSZ Ostdeutscher Rundfunk  Potsdam, Germany
  • ORF Eisenstadt, Dornbirn, Austria
  • Onda Cero Radio  Madrid, Spain
  • ONE TV / Dorna Sports Management Rome, Italy
  • Polskie Radio S.A.  Warsaw, Poland weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Portuguese Broadcasting Service  Lisbon, Portugal
  • PTT  Madrid, Spain
  • Public Radio of the Ukraine  Kiew, Ukraine
  • Radio Caracol  Bogota, Colombia
  • Radio Cope  Madrid, Spain
  • Radio 9  Valencia, Spain
  • Radio France  Paris, France
  • Radio Traffic  Paris, France
  • Radio Marca  Madrid, Spain
  • RBB FS Berlin, Germany
  • RPP Radio Programas del Peru  Peru
  • RTS Radiotelevisione svizzera  Geneva, Switzerland   weiterlesen blau 2019
  • RTL Berlin, Germany
  • SAT 1  Zurich, Switzerland
  • SFB Sender Freies Berlin  Berlin, Germany
  • Staatlicher Rundfunk Usbekistan  Uzbekistan
  • Studio Hamburg  Hamburg, Germany
  • SWR Südwestrundfunk Stuttgart, Baden-Baden, Germany  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Tele 5  Madrid, Spain
  • Televisión de Galicia  Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • TF 1  Paris, France  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • TV 1 Napoli  Naples, Italy
  • Unitel  Unterföhring, Germany
  • Vatican Radio Vatican, Italy  weiterlesen blau 2019
  • Yunnan TV  Kunming, China
  • ZDF Mainz, Berlin, Germany
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