Remote Mixing With the Calrec Type R
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated an ongoing trend towards remote audio mixing for Radio and TV. It also forced equipment distributors like us to come up with creative ways to demo broadcast consoles remotely, without obliging our clients to visit our demo room. These two imperatives converge on a single requirement: the client must be able to access and operate the mixing console remotely, while monitoring the mix in real time.
This blog entry describes how we achieved this with the Calrec Type R broadcast console.
The Calrec Type R is a modular, expandable broadcast mixer that can be controlled remotely over IP. The system consists of a processing Core, a Control Surface, and an I/O system.
The 2U Core at the heart of the system features license-based DSP processing, integrated AES67/ST2110-30 interfaces, and built-in I/Os (8x Mic/Line inputs, 8x analog Line outputs, 4 AES inputs, 4 AES outputs, 12 GPIs and 12 GPOs).
The I/O system can be expanded by adding 1U I/O boxes with various combinations of Analog and Digital interfaces. These I/O boxes are linked to the Core via AES67 through PTP-aware network switches.
The Control Surface is made up of three types of panels that can be mixed and matched as required for the client’s specific application:
Large Soft Panel (LSP)
Small Soft Panel (SSP)
These modules are powered from a generic PoE switch via single CAT5 connections. A variety of mounting hardware options allows the client to tie Fader panels and LSPs together, or flush- mount Fader panels in the desk.
The Type R can also be controlled via a built-in web UI called Calrec Assist. This is a browser- based interface (no special software required) that creates a fully-featured virtual console environment to complement the hardware. When operated on a touchscreen, Calrec Assist allows the operator control faders, buttons, and other features by touch.
Our demo was split into two separate sessions to…
a) Formally present the Type R to our clients, and…
b) Allow our clients to remotely access the console and mix audio in real-time from their location.
The basic components of the Type R were set up in our Calrec demo room. A standard office PC with a virtual AES67 soundcard was used to play audio out of the PC’s ethernet interface into the Type R. A single 8-channel audio stream was enough to include 2 stereo music sources and 4 channels of dialog in both French and English. The same AES67 interface was used to send the resulting mix from the Type R Core back to the PC’s ethernet port, from where it was streamed to CleanFeed for remote monitoring.
For the presentation (a), we set up an iPad on a stand facing the Type R, which allowed our product specialist to easily flip between his screen, the front camera, and the console view.
For remote mixing (b), the client logged into our dedicated VPN and used Calrec Assist to control the Type R Core directly from their location (via). At the same time, they were able to listen to their mix via CleanFeed.
One way to improve our setup is to add a camera to the office PC, which will allow the client to observe the control surface while they operate the Type R remotely. At the moment this is only possible while the iPad is set up for the presentation portion of our demo, but a simple USB camera could make this is a permanent feature (and would allow our product specialist to run the full demo without visiting the office!)
We may also be able to speed up our VPN connection to improve the smoothness of the real- time remote control. As it is, the connection latency can at times make fader moves feel a bit “jerky”. On the client end, this can be improved by using a separate device (not connected to our VPN) for the CleanFeed monitoring.
Our simple setup demonstrates that remote audio mixing on a broadcast console like the Calrec Type R is perfectly achievable with off-the-shelf technology. Operators can mix and monitor from a remote location with minimal compromises in control response times and monitoring audio quality, both of which are constrained only by the speed of the internet link between their location and the console.
For more information about the Type R or other Calrec products, please contact us at SC Media Canada, or visit one of the following pages on the Calrec website: