September 27, 2004
Those awaiting BSS Audio's new programmable DSP/matrix system can rejoice with the launch of the Soundweb London range. The new family builds on the original Soundweb system and raises the bar again with four design goals: easy to install, easy to design, easy to control, and easy to integrate.
London provides more flexible and enhanced I/O configurations, dual-redundant CobraNet audio networking with greater network capacity and matrix sizes, more efficient DSP using Analog Devices SHARC processors that provide double the DSP of the Soundweb 9088ii processor, and a new core system design package written completely from the ground up, plus integration of control, monitoring and error reporting of Crown Audio's CTs Series of amplifiers using TCP/IQ PIP cards.
Control of the system is via an Ethernet topology, which can be integrated across an existing LAN (system design dependent). Ethernet integration has been made as simple as possible, and Soundweb London includes such features as auto IP addressing, where IP addresses are automatically assigned by the system regardless of other hardware devices already installed. A logical extension to this is that every hardware device incorporates a web server so that browser-based diagnostics are possible, including manual override of IP addressing if required without the need for dedicated control software.
Following the established distributed processing architecture of the original Soundweb system, the Soundweb London range consists of a number of hardware devices, but the real power of the new series comes from several new developments:
More flexible I/O configuration
The basic I/O unit, BLU-80, can accommodate four cards, each of either four input or four output channels, so that a box may be configured as 16 in only, 12in/4 out, 8 in/8 out, 4 in/12 out, or 16 outputs. Units may also be part fitted for smaller matrices if required. The BLU-80 features a dual-redundant CobraNet CM-1 module.
A second unit, BLU-32 can be configured like the BLU-80 for I/O, but acts purely as a network break-in/break-out with no DSP. This can save costs in jobs with a high I/O count but not requiring high levels of DSP power. Similarly, The BLU-32 features a dual-redundant CobraNet CM-1 module.
For smaller systems where a network is not required, costs are again minimized through the availability of the BLU-16, again with I/O and DSP capabilities identical to the BLU-80, but without a CobraNet network option.
More network control options
In addition to the normal PC control and simple switch and fader controllers, such as the BLU-3 and BLU-6, the concept behind the original Soundweb system's 9010 LCD-based, wall-mountable, programmable controller has evolved into the BLU-10 and been enhanced with a touch-sensitive screen resulting in a more flexible menu and control interface ready to replace the role of the more-expensive touch screen controller in certain applications.
The familiar control ports on the Soundweb system have been expanded and reconfigured to provide solutions more appropriate for the majority of installations, with a dozen analog control port inputs and six analog logic outputs.
The several ways of integrating control through GPI and serial ports mean that London can be easily interfaced to other systems, such as media controls systems like AMX and Crestron, or life safety systems like the Bosch Praesideo.
CobraNet audio networking
Soundweb London adopts the CobraNet audio networking platform, using off-the-shelf Ethernet components to build much larger systems capable of transferring 64 channels (32 in/32 out per device) across a single Cat 5 cable -- many more than were possible with the original Soundweb network. Soundweb London has also been designed to take full advantage of CobraNet's latest features, including low latency and 96kHz operation.
BSS has also worked closely with CobraNet's originator, Peak Audio, to provide a simple programming interface to CobraNet. While some systems rely on multi-way switches for CobraNet bundle addressing, CobraNet bundles can be configured directly within London Architect software saving time both before and after installation.
Smart tracking arrangements allow the designer to easily check where different CobraNet channel and bundle assignments are located in the hardware system without having to resort to viewing the whole system diagram.
Totally redesigned system design software -- London Architect
The real power of the Soundweb London system comes from the completely new design software, London Architect, which has been written entirely from the ground up.
The software uses the familiar design interface that Soundweb users will know well, but radically enhances it to provide a more flexible and user-oriented interface. Features of the software include dockable tool menus and zone windowing, while innovative processing objects, such as expanding mixers, make design and object selection easier than ever before. 'Zones' can be created to allow the design of complex systems to be broken up into more manageable areas, such as rack rooms or entire room designs. Another new feature is intelligent signal naming, which automatically tracks and labels signal paths across the entire design.
Custom control panel design has been made even more powerful through a tree-based menu system that not only allows dragging or assignment of processing controls but inclusion of a library of controls based on BSS and Soundcraft elements. Further user-power is offered through the ability to create one's own design elements by creating a simple XML file.
Of course, all the regular DSP objects are included, modeled on the classic BSS analog processors, and BSS indicates that future software releases will include some leading-edge DSP functions.
For the first time users can include other processors in the system solution, such as the OMNIDRIVE FDS-366T and MINIDRIVE FDS-334T and FDS-336T, and operate these devices from the same PC control program over the same Ethernet network with the use of a suitable Ethernet serial server device.
Complete original system designs can also now be saved to the hardware for later retrieval.
Integration with Crown amplifiers also adds value to the Soundweb London system. London Architect allows simultaneous and integrated control of Crown Audio's PIP-Lite, USP3, and USP3-CN PIP cards used in the CTs Series of amps, providing a powerful CobraNet-based integrated processing, amplification, and monitoring system , including error reporting, load monitoring and event logging.
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