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One of the new SSL System T S300 Dante-native audio mixing consoles now in place at Iowa PBS headquarters in Johnston.

Iowa PBS Completes Integration Of Networked Solid State Logic Mixing Platform

Upgrade at the network's headquarters in Johnston includes three System T S300 Dante-native audio mixing platforms to support content ranging from sports, arts and entertainment to agriculture and politics.

Iowa PBS, the state’s public broadcasting network, recently completed the integration of three new Solid State Logic System T S300 Dante-native audio mixing consoles at its headquarters in Johnston, a suburb 10 miles north of the center of Des Moines.

A 48-fader S300 has been installed in Control Room 3, which is connected to a studio theater seating up to 300 people, while Control Room 1 and the network’s mobile broadcast truck each now have a 32-fader S300. The three S300 control surfaces are each combined with a TE2 Tempest Engine supporting 256 processing paths and have been integrated with a variety of local and shared network I/O interfaces and SB stageboxes.

David Feingold, senior audio engineer/production technician senior at the network, explains that the new integration is the first step toward a wider Dante AoIP implementation at the facility. “This is the first time we’ve used Dante. We only have two other pieces of gear — outboard recorders — that use Dante right now, but we can expand, which is really nice.”

There are other digital consoles on the market, he continues, “But System T has Dante integrated, so you don’t ever have to go out to the Dante Controller to route things. I really enjoy the built-in router in it as well, and how quick it is to route things internally. That’s all Dante, so that was a big draw.” Plus, he says, “The sound quality of the System T is exactly what I would expect from SSL.”

The three new System T platforms have replaced three SSL C100 HD digital desks that the network had been using for about 16 years, ever since the transition to HDTV transmission in the United States. The C100s had served the network well, he says, but Iowa PBS was ready to take advantage of the latest technology integrated into the System T platform.

Feingold: “SSL makes great sounding consoles and they’re very durable. SSL stand behind their consoles, too, and always provide good service support. We’d had a C100 HD in our mobile truck since 2008 and had no issues with it at all. But it was just time to move up to the System T.”

System T’s operational ergonomics are a change for the network’s audio operators compared to the more traditional knobs and switches of the older C100 worksurface, he adds, “System T is a much simpler tactile experience than the C100; I really like the touchscreen interfaces.” But there are also familiar features within System T, driven by the Tempest Engine’s processing power, that allow the engineers to go on using their established workflows. For example, Feingold says, “Right out of the gate, I’m using the compressors just like I did before.

Control Rooms One and Three are networked together through Dante. “They are two different systems, but they share the same I/O throughout the whole building, which makes us versatile. Plus, we can share all the same sources,” Feingold says.

Between them, the S300-48 in Control Room 3 and the S300-32 in Control Room 1 are networked to SB 32.24, SB 16.12 and SB i16 SuperAnalogue mic/line stageboxes. There are also two network I/O D64 interfaces that accommodate 32 AES I/O pairs; an A32, which interfaces 32 SuperAnalogue lines to and from the Dante network; an A16.D16, interfacing 16 SuperAnalogue plus 16 AES3 digital lines with Dante; and a network I/O SDI eight-circuit embedder/de-embedder. The S300-48 uses a local net I/O MADI Bridge to interface with Control Room 3’s Avid Pro Tools recorder. As for the Iowa PBS mobile unit, it carries SB 32.24 and SB 16.12 stageboxes to introduce lines over Dante into the truck’s S300-32 console.

Overall, Iowa PBS generates a wide variety of programming, from sports, arts and entertainment to agriculture and politics, including the caucuses each election cycle as well as regular pledge drives. Control Room 3’s S300-48 drives the audio for two weekly shows, including an agri-business program, Market to Market. “Sometimes we take that show, and a show called Iowa Press, on the road. We also do a big music show, Studio 3 LIVE,” Feingold reports, which features local, regional and national artists. “We’ve also had different outside shows, such as PBS News Hour, come in and produce stuff in the studio. So we are able to accommodate them, too.”

All six production technicians at the station handle everything from video editing to audio mixing. Feingold, the only one of the six with a purely audio background, took the lead on building show files in the Control Room Three console for its two regular shows. “Then we just build new show files for new shows,” he says. The remote truck handles a wider assortment of productions, but it does cover certain sports regularly, so show files have been built for those and other frequent events, he says: “You can refer back to those, so you’re never starting from scratch.”

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