Four years ago we developed a complete mobile HD studio solution to capture the video and the audio of classical music performances. We have been looking all the time for a simple stage box solution with MADI or AoIP network capabilities without any audio compromises; the no compromise is our signature.
A number of manufacturers have developed MADI or AoIP Stage boxes, but the prices were generally too high and often there were some quality issues with the clocking over the audio network. There can be no discrepancy in timing when we are making audio recordings with 2 omni microphones. When Horus appeared it was the one and only system that offered a splitter and a router in a modular stage box. It also had digital I/O and power supply redundancy which is a vital option for broadcast live situations. Once we saw this system in trade fairs and it became available, we consulted a few users and tested it ourselves on a few projects with various levels of technical complexity.
On April 26 2013, we tested Horus in Toulouse with the Orchestre National du Capitol de Toulouse. With Marc Minkowski as the director and Anne Sofie Von Otter as the Mezzo-soprano performing Wagner – Ouverture de Faust, Wesendonck Lieder, www91 Beethoven – Symphonie N°3 en mi-bémol majeur, op.55 “Eroica”. The Horus has 8 mic preamps so we connected via AES/EBU 2 x AD8HR from Yamaha and 1 x DAD AX24. This gave us a total of 32 mic preamps. The mic preamp control was managed from the backup recorder (Pyramix through RAVENNA) while the main recorder was connected via MADI coax. If there would have been any problem with the MADI mixer, the recording would have continued; we have never before enjoyed such a level of redundancy and security.
On May 14th in Dresden (Germany), at the Transparent Factory (Volkswagen factory); a première with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. One of the pieces featured audio sent through the PA system. The MADI input of Horus and its routing capabilities allowed us to take the signal from the PA system and to add the feeds from our microphones. We finished up with 56 channels even though the initial plan was to have only 32. We could never have achieved this flexibility with our previous equipment.
At the Verbier Festival (Swiss Alps) from July 20th – August 4th 2013, it was our fourth occasion for making the audio recording. We been capturing the video and providing streaming since 2007. Every year, we encounter grounding and buzz problems in this venue. The electrical conditions are complicated – it happens in the mountains and many people are connected to the same grid. The concerts are amplified and RTS (Swiss French National TV and Radio) also record some of them. Therefore, we have to share our audio sources and microphones so that everyone is happy about what they receive.
We decided not to have any electrical connection between the stage box and the control room so as not to compromise quality and reliability. We took one Horus with 24 A/D mic preamps and one DAD connected in AES/EBU. The second MADI port was added as an option in Horus so that we had two optical fibre cables providing total redundancy. We added an Ethernet isolator to avoid any interference from the mains electricity into the Cat cable controlling the mic preamp levels. The routing capabilities allowed us to resend the stereo mix out of the console to our back up recorder (Joeco BR64). It was a dream to have such a workflow. Horus worked nearly continuously for 17 days and at the end, the entire crew were completely convinced and are now big Horus fans.
During the Annecy Classic Festival from August 20th – 30th 2013, we repeated the experience. During this festival we had to make 8 changes of concert halls and control rooms within 11 days. We have never been able to do this so quickly and with such confidence.
We can foresee multiple portable solutions with a laptop that we can carry on a plane using RAVENNA/AES67 with a 1GB Cat cable. All these innovations make our task so much easier but maybe we will keep this to ourselves to keep ahead of the game!
We ordered one Horus with 32 mic preamp with the optional second MADI card and the second power supply (mandatory for more than 24 mic preamp). This was the system that we needed and in the end, it is the least expensive of all the ones we looked at.
One year on, we were again in Verbier having continued our busy international schedule. The big improvement we made was to add one single multi-cable with 4-fiber giving us MADI IN/OUT plus the network with fiber/TCP/IP converter.
Thanks so much for this superb machine!
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