Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Soundcraft® Si3 – The Technology Behind The Experience

At the heart of Soundcraft’s latest digital console, the Si3, is an entirely new DSP platform – EMMA – and high-resolution, high-intensity OLED displays for channel information. EMMA stands for Embedded Multi-processor Mixing Architecture, and unlike consoles from other manufacturers which rely on standard computer-based hardware and operating systems, is a totally self contained, single board mixer, complete with I/O interface, DSP, dynamics and effects. All the code which runs the console is embedded – that is, it does not rely on any form of standard operating system found on PCs (which are designed to handle multiple tasks such as printing and graphics). Embedded systems, because they are designed for the job in hand, are generally faster, more efficient, and require less memory space to run. They are also more efficient than distributed multi-processor systems as there is no network latency between sections.

Developed entirely by the Si3 team at Soundcraft’s HQ in Hertfordshire in the UK, EMMA uses ANALOG DEVICES SHARC® DSP chips for the DSP mixing, EQ and dynamics horsepower supplemented by Lexicon® AudioDNA chips, which provide four stereo effects channels which can be assigned by the user. EMMA is capable of handling the 64 mono inputs, four stereo inputs and 35 buss outputs, together with metering on every output provided on the Si3.

The power of EMMA, despite its small size, means that the hardware can provide a physical connector for every input and output, connections that mean you don’t have to compromise on output assignment.

OLED displays are becoming more prevalent today, but the Soundcraft Si3 joins its sister console, the Studer OnAir 2500, as two of the first digital audio consoles to use these spectacular displays. Chosen for their incredible brightness, even under daylight conditions, and pin-sharp resolutions, the OLED (Organic LED) displays deliver precise, easily-identified information such as bus assignment, input level and dynamics status at a glance and from extremely acute angles – so important when dynamically mixing live.

Rather than rely on a single central screen for this information like many of today’s consoles, Soundcraft has used Distributed Display Technology (DDT) to give the engineer information at his fingertips, where he is working. Every fader channel is provided with its own OLED display, and depending on the current mode of operation, shows channel name, or function in use, EQ frequency, gain signal level, channel routing assignments, gate status etc – a comprehensive package of data invaluable to any operator.

The OLEDs are then supplemented by Soundcraft’s patented FaderGlow™ system, in which the colour of the fader slot changes according to the mode in use. For example, when the faders are controlling aux feeds, the colour goes yellow, while in group mode, they go green - and for engineers already familiar with the Vi Series, the Si follows the same colour codes.

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