Waves takes its first steps in migrating digital audio delivery to the cloud

Focusing more on streaming, the company recently announced a cloud-based audio mixer

Audio manufacturers whose origins lie in music production form the bedrock of broadcast audio’s historic foundations. From reference transducers from Sennheiser and Shure to the battleship SSL audio consoles on which entire classic recording studios were built, these products were as much instruments as they were technology platforms.

In the most virtual version of this universe, these manufacturers are joined by Waves, the Israeli developer and supplier of professional digital audio signal processing systems, which won a technical Grammy Award in 2011. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Waves has become as synonymous with digital audio processing as names like Fairchild and Teletronix were to mid-century music lovers.

Setting the stage for its next inflection point, Waves has moved to the cloud. In late May, the company announced its Cloud MX cloud-based audio mixer, which is powered by a cloud-based version of Waves’ 32-bit floating-point eMotion LV1 hardware mixing engine and augmented by Waves’ audio arsenal. . plugins.

Enter the broadcast

While music production remains a key vertical market, Waves has been a growing force in broadcast audio, including sports, where sound quality is increasingly critical.

“The obvious thing most people think of when they think of Waves is producing Grammy-winning records,” says Greg Kopchinski, Product Manager, Live & Install, Waves. “But what people don’t realize is that there is a whole collection of processing plugins out there that do everything from noise reduction to improving the sonic clarity of individual channels or the entire mix. himself. Whether it’s a talking head or a group of commentators, we have a number of tools that help an engineer deliver a flawless audio program. And we also partnered and integrated the Dugan Speech Automixer capabilities that are already used in broadcast today. Broadcast sports and live event engineers have a lot of the same requirements in that you have commentators in noisy environments who need to be able to have their broadcast audio processed to make it look as good as if they were sitting there in the piece talking to you. From equalizing and filtering to actually applying AI-based noise reduction, Waves has met the needs of the broadcast sports market.

Greg Kopchinski of Waves: “What we’ve done is take a classic live mixer and create a cloud-based version that allows operators working literally anywhere in the world to access this cloud audio mixer. “

Kopchinski argues that sports broadcasting has been a pioneer in transforming workflows and workforces from centralized to remote and distributed. “Sport was forced into this very quickly by the pandemic, but sports broadcasters adapted quickly and took on leadership roles in the evolution of new workflows. Waves is one of them.

Regarding the shift to cloud-based operations, he says Cloud MX is a logical next step from what has already become largely virtual workflows.

“What we’ve learned from the broadcasters we’re doing pre-testing with is that in their cloud workflows they’re already using NDI as the primary transport protocol between all production tools,” he explains. . “What we can do is route the audio in a way that [allows them to] choose the specific audio channels they want in their NDI streams and make them available for all audio processing in the mixer. What we’ve done is take a classic live mixer and create a cloud-based version that allows operators working literally anywhere in the world to access this cloud-based audio mixer, running on AWS. And, as long as their workflows are also in the cloud, they can take full advantage of the mixer as if they were using it right in their own backyard. »

From virtual to cloud

It’s part of a larger trend in streaming: hardware makers like Calrec and Lawo have created virtual versions of their own hardware platforms that are compatible with cloud-based workflows. What sets Waves’ initiatives apart are the company’s capabilities to integrate advanced audio processing into virtual and cloud-based workflows.

“What’s a first here,” says Kopchinski, “is the wide processing capability via plugins. Other options on the market have the basic channel strip functionality for audio – EQ compression, gates, filters, etc. – but being able to do things like automatic mic mixing; advanced neural-based noise reduction; and multiband sound enhancement, the kinds of capabilities that Waves processing brings to the process, is unique. It provides broadcasters with capabilities beyond basic mixing and routing functions, plus it’s a fully cloud-based solution—there’s no need for a mixing engine or any part of it. from the console located onsite or in the main broadcast facility, in which case all audio is sent and processed entirely in the cloud All broadcast workflows take place in the cloud You can literally connect and mix with nothing but u no mouse or touch screen. [And] we fully support multiple touch screens; you can set up your mixer to have your channel strip window on one touchscreen and a fader bank of the most critical channels on the other, on up to four touchscreens.

Plugins can also be used to create virtual custom signal chains that can be saved and applied as needed, as well as shared via the cloud.

“Take the broadcaster working in a ballpark where they’ve already set up their plugin chain,” he explains. “They could actually take that same plugin chain and put it in the cloud to get the same results as in the control room miles away and not have to rebuild a signal chain they’re already working with.”

Kopchinski cites Waves’ FIT controller, which provides up to 16 hardware channels and can be interfaced remotely to Cloud MX via RTP MIDI, as another element of changing workflows and workforce roles. work in the cloud.

“For example,” he says, “the A1 can set up the audio infrastructure, but it’s actually the producer who does the snapshot callbacks, because once everything is set up in the cloud, they don’t these are often just minor adjustments. And one of the great things about cloud staffing is that you might not want to pay an A1 to be there just to move the fader around a bit. You don’t always have to have a system engineer online somewhere else to mix up the program flow.

Kopchinski summarizes: “We look forward to hearing from the sports community. We hope to be integrated into these productions and understand what broadcast sports audio needs next, as this is a rapidly evolving space, especially when it comes to the cloud production environment. We want to bring our expertise in audio processing – specifically, processing an incredible audio experience in the cloud – where it will bring the most benefit to broadcasters delivering live sporting events to their audiences.

“We’ve been on the sidelines of that for a while,” he continues. “Now we are in the game.”

About Elaine Morales

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