Hayward, CA-based Sound Image Productions has been successfully deploying the new Transmission Control Module (TCM) audio networking utility system, developed by Truth In Audio, since the beginning of the 2021 concert season, specifically using it is a test platform in support of performances at the Oxbow RiverStage outdoor concert venue in Napa, CA.
TCM, the result of a collaboration between Truth In Audio (TIA) and LINK USA, builds on the concept that many day-to-day networking tasks can be handled through a simple execution of unmanaged, gigabit networking, housed in a roadworthy case design using industry standard connectors.
Prior to the commencement of the 2021 season at the Oxbow RiverStage, TIA founder and president Bernie Broderick approached George Edwards, general manager of Sound Image Productions, with a proposition to create a heightened level of efficiency for the deployment of the company’s EAW Anya system at the venue. After a review of the package and witnessing a demo, Edwards agreed to incorporate TCM as the first step in a possible new direction in infrastructure for the company’s 48-box Anya inventory.
“I’ve worked with networked sound systems since 2012 and found that for many applications, the networking infrastructure that was out there was not up to the task,” Broderick explains. “Most systems are over-complicated, hobbled together using fragile RJ45 connections and managed consumer-type switches that create a myriad of problems on a show site. I reviewed all the notes I’d compiled over several years of large-scale tours and decided to develop a product group that would not only cater to networked sound systems but would also work in many other production scenarios.”
There are two versions of TCM – the E-Version employs all Neutrik, Ethercon and PowerCon connectors while LK-Version takes advantage of LINK USA’s LK54 multipin to speed up assembly time when touring. The latter version is presently deployed at the Oxbow RiverStage.
A host of accessories foster several types of TCM configurations. The entire product family works on an inter-locking track system, so adding accessories such as clamps, mounting plates, rack accessories and the like is a simple process. The track also allows for multiple TCMs to be hung under each other.
Further, a pair of unmanaged gigabit network switches inside the cases help ensure that there are no green features, passwords or other configuration pitfalls that could potentially get in the way of a quick and efficient setup. Finally, the boot-up time of TCM is specified as 12 seconds, standing in contrast to managed switches that can take more than two minutes to boot.
“From day one of taking possession of this sizeable sound system, we were going to need to explore ways to create efficiency in all respects of deployment,” Edwards notes. “These modern systems take a higher understanding of networking if you want them to perform optimally, and because they’re self-powered, there is additional cabling required. Giving all aspects careful consideration, I could clearly see that what Truth In Audio has designed here was truly a step in the right direction.
“For us to use our Anya rig more often – and to not require A-list technicians working it every show — we needed a networking and power infrastructure that was fast, clean, and intuitive to our staff,” he concludes. “From the first days we received the Anya system, we sensed some reservations from our staff about doing the ‘deep dive’ into a complex, networked sound system, but with the TCM utility, I feel that those reservations are disappearing rapidly. From what I have witnessed over the course of this year’s concert series at Oxbow, it appears that TCM is everything that Truth In Audio says it is.
“Our on-site staff has found it very intuitive to assemble, the custom cabling looks clean and tidy, which satisfies our clients, and when we’ve encountered a few network gremlins here and there in the system, they’ve never pointed back to the TCM product,” Edwards concludes. “I personally think that Truth In Audio and LINK USA have done a great job on providing us a very well-thought-out package, and I look forward to its flexibility as we continue to use it on larger deployments of our equipment.”
Broderick adds that TIA is already developing additional parts to further enhance the TCM line, including a fiber-optic utility and a battery backup system are already in development, with plans also underway to offer options for front-of-house and stage-side breakout distribution in the coming months.