When Gary Vahling, CTO, Trew Audio, first came to the company in 2011 as its Los Angeles rentals manager, he was seeking an audio transport system that was versatile enough to work with a variety of production setups, but also one that would be budget-friendly.
He recently found the flexibility and future-proof technology he required in a system from Optocore.
While Trew Audio (formerly known as Coffey Sound) is mainly geared towards production sound for live events and permanent installations, the team also branches out into broadcast and film, for which he knew the Optocore system, would be perfect for.
“Optocore is a natural fit when it comes to transporting audio for live productions, however it is just as strong in a broadcast environment,” says Vahling. “We’ve been using it for all different types of projects and are always happy with the results.”
Essentially an audio network based on fiber optic cabling connectivity, the Optocore system replaces copper based connectivity with a redundant, low latency, fiber optic backbone with multiple devices capable of routing audio and control signals between different devices on the network.
The Optocore system that Vahling chose consists of the super reliable X6R-FX series audio network boxes, including the analog mic and line I/O, digital and intercom versions.
Optocore’s YG-2 and YS-2 Yamaha Mini-YGDAI cards are also part of the company’s inventory allowing seamless integration with production audio mixing consoles.
This ability to route and transport intercom over the Optocore network is what prompted Vahling and his team to put the Optocore system to use for the first time last year, when it was tapped to work on MTV’s hit reality TV show, Punk’d.
As the show famously uses a hidden camera to capture the practical jokes played on unsuspecting celebrities, the production team needed a way to keep themselves in constant communication with one another in different situations.
To make that happen, Trew Audio configured an intercom system that consisted of a Clear-Com Eclipse PiCo and Encore intercom, along with high-speed Optocore V3R-FX-INTERCOM and X6R-FX-INTERCOM interfaces that were connected along with all other audio channels, via fiber and CAT5. Used together the system allows the team to centrally manage and monitor all of the shows audio and intercom connectivity.
“This was one of the first instances, at least in North America, that utilized Clear-Com and Optocore together,” explains Vahling. “To have that seamless connectivity on a production sound event was a true boost to the show’s productivity—our setup time was super fast—which also helped keep costs down.”
Trew Audio’s use of Optocore technology on Punk’d is a perfect example of how an all-fiber audio network can be more beneficial than using the more traditional, expensive and inflexible copper connectivity.
“Even though Optocore’s technology has been around for twenty years now, a system such as this is still very new,” he explains. “I believe fiber transport is going to be the standard in the future. The challenge right now is trying to get people to take the time to understand it.
“Once they do they’ll see the benefits of how using a fiber optic system simplifies the challenges of production and event work”.
“First, you have less cabling, which is always a plus. Also, the components have an extremely low current draw so they don’t generate a lot of heat. Optocore made sure to be very precise on their inputs and outputs so they are very easy to integrate with other types of systems, which makes connectivity and setups very quick.
“Essentially you can build a system to suit your needs. That’s why I think it’s a great application for rentals because it’s so flexible. You can use it in just about any type of signal transport application.
“Plus, following an initial setup, it’s really a plug and play type of system that any engineer can easily work with.”
Vahling has also had great success employing the Optocore system in live applications as well. He recently was hired to supply and manage all of the intercom communications for the Palm Springs International Film Festival held at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
A unique situation, the hall required 700 foot-long cable runs. By utilizing the Optocore’s fiber optic technology, Vahling and his team ended up only needing to run two fiber cables between the front of house and back of house positions. He was able to manage all of the communications for the annual awards banquet from that main set-up.
In the end, Optocore has proven to be a solid investment for the team at Trew Audio. “With Optocore, you save money in the long run,” he says. “It is very advanced technology that has excellent sound quality and is certainly dependable. I’ve never had any issues with it.
“Their technical support team is superb—always ready to lend a hand or provide training as needed. The biggest challenge is really just getting people to jump on board, because once they do they will realize it just does so much more than you would expect.”