Every AV tech working in a big facility like a convention centre or university shares the same aspiration – to be able to do most of their work without ever leaving their control room/office/tricked-out den with the awesome speakers and coffee machine. The evolution of Audio over IP (AoIP) and networked control applications are making this a reality, which, all joking about us lazy swine in AV aside, leads to greater efficiency, lower running costs, better return on AV spend, and, most importantly better end-user experiences.
Tascam are currently leading the charge with a huge new range of essential audio utility products for creating, managing, and running both large and small networked AV systems, with a focus on centralised software control and Dante signal distribution.
Dante has conquered the AoIP world and cemented its place there with AES67 interoperability. While there is a huge amount of audio I/O and DSP devices on the market with large channel counts, smaller devices for traditional AV applications like a meeting or lecture rooms have been hard to find, meaning the benefits of Dante have stayed at the big-budget end of the market.
That’s exactly what Tascam’s Dante Compact Processor Series has been designed to address. The range of seven half-rack sized processors are all fitted with a 4×4 channel Dante interface and different types of analogue or digital I/O, depending on the application. Model by model, you can get;
- 4 line out on Euroblock (ML-4D/OUT-E)
- 4 line out on XLR (ML-4D/OUT-X)
- 4 mic/line in on Euroblock (MM-4D/IN-E)
- 4 mic/line in on XLR (MM-4D/IN-X)
- 2 mic/line in and 2 line out on Euroblock (MM-2D-E)
- 2 mic/line in and 2 line out on XLR (MM-2D-X)
- 4 AES/EBU in and 4 AES/EBU out on XLR (AE-4D)
All models are PoE powered and equipped with a DSP processor that includes a matrix mixer, duckers, ambient noise compensator, compressors, parametric EQs, limiters, and delays. This means you can build a small standalone audio system with just one MM-2D-E, local mic and line ins, an amp, and speakers, that can also connect to the site-wide Dante network to get four more remote inputs or send its mixed audio out to the rest of the facility. You can also bypass the mixer section entirely and use the any of the Compact Processor Series as handy break-in/out Dante converters for larger systems. All Dante patching and configuration is done with the Dante Controller software, as it is for any Dante device.
Most importantly for our relaxed and comfortable AV tech, each processor can be set-up, controlled and monitored via Tascam’s DCP Connect software over the network. It’s totally free and runs on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and you can access as many units as you have running on the same network. DCP Connect gives you full access to every single parameter in the DSP, and you can control all of them in real-time. You can use the Windows desktop computer in your AV hideaway to do firmware upgrades and system checks, or go for a walk with your iPad and adjust parameters live in the room.
The wise technician knows that granting total system control to end-users is a good way to cause problems, so Tascam has also developed EZ Connect, software for simple end-user control of the Compact Processor Series. Essentially a stripped-down version of DCP Connect, EZ Connect presents a simplified GUI with access to functions defined by the AV administrator using DCP Connect, which in most installations is going to be volume, source selection, and maybe an on/off button. EZ Connect also runs on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, but will most likely be implemented on smartphones and tablets for convenient wireless user access. So now not only is our relaxed AV tech safe in their office, but end-users are doing part of their job for them.
Joining the Compact Series on the control network is Tascam’s new MX8A matrix mixer. It doesn’t have the Compact Series’ Dante interface, as it’s a device for local processing, but can still be totally set-up and controlled from the safety of a computer in AV HQ.
The MX-8A is a 10×10 matrix mixer with eight mic/line inputs, eight line outputs, and stereo USB I/O which can be used, for example, with soft codec conferencing systems like Zoom and Skype. Its DSP includes assignable ducking and ambient noise compensation, with a compressor, four-band parametric EQ and auto level control on each input. Each of the 10 outs fitted with a 10-band EQ with a high and low-pass filter, delay, and limiter. The MX-8A has 50 scene memory slots, which can be recalled via commands sent from networked control, or from a Tascam RC-W100 wall-mounted controller, which gives end-users an LCD display, one rotary encoder with a push switch, and four push-button switches. The behaviour of these hardware controls is defined by the AV tech in the MX-8A’s control software. The MX-8A has its own control software, MX Connect, which is similar to DCP Connect but specific to the MX-8A. It’s compatible with same operating systems and, like DCP Connect, is used to define which parameters end-users running EZ Connect can access in the MX-8A, and what functions are accessible via the RC-W100 wall-mounted controller.
Even if your facility isn’t totally network-control ready, there are still alternatives to being made to get out of your chair and go and do some actual work. All of the Dante Compact Processor Series offer level control via GPI, and the MX-8A can be controlled via RS-232C or RS-485, meaning facilities with existing investments in external control systems can easily integrate them into their environment.