Close ☰
Menu ☰

Lawo stars for Astro Radio… virtually

Posted on: Tuesday 14th of August 2018

AstroRadio_Bala_Murali_webInstalling a third generation of consoles in its radio studios, Kuala Lumpur’s Astro Radio has standardized on virtual studio technology from German broadcast innovator, Lawo. “We had to re-think how a studio broadcast console should be in a rapidly evolving commercial FM radio industry,” says Astro Radio Chief Technology Officer, Bala Murali Subramaney.

Astro began operation in 1996 using a cutting-edge audio routing system and digital broadcast consoles custom manufactured to meet its specific technical requirements. By 2006, greater functionality was required to simplify studio workflows and to allow on-air talent to focus on content.

“We took the best features of our first console, analyzed common operator mistakes and asked for improvement suggestions, then we condensed this data into a comprehensive document and presented it as our mandate to Lawo – whose response was the Zirkon-2s modular broadcast console,” says Bala of its “second generation” of console. “The Zirkon-2s was simplicity personified in both form and function. For example, a press of a macro button could simultaneously record telephone calls, edit talksets and run an outside broadcast.”

AstroRadio_1_webThis success has now taken Astro Radio to its third generation of console for new studios in Kuala Lumpur as, in 2017, the operation acquired two new radio stations and needed space for new on-air studios, producer workstations and equipment room – on top of its existing 13 on-air studios, seven news studios, three voice booths, eight audio production studios and edit suites, and six equipment rooms. Plans for the consoles and routing system were already in hand, when the station relocated to share premises with other Astro company divisions in order to accommodate its expanded studio requirements.

“In mid-2016, we had begun sketching out plans for a virtual console, which would challenge the industry perception of a broadcast console,” Bala recalls. “We wanted to radically re-imagine what an on-air studio would look like, including what to fit inside the studio and what to leave out. The studio environment would impact how the on-air talent uses the technology inside the studio with the new virtual console as its focal point.

“Our mandate to the interior designer was to create designs for three on-air studios that were minimalistic, stunning, functional and meet Noise Criteria (NC) rating 20. We wanted designs that would inspire our on-air talent to deliver compelling content on-air and on-line for today’s radio.”

The mixing requirements were all met by Lawo’s Virtual Console, whose control surface is software, driven by a multi-touch interface on a high-resolution computer display, and which had been successfully the trialed in Astro Radio’s news room. Without the limitations of physical knobs, buttons and faders, the screen presents users with only relevant controls and information, hiding anything not needed for the task at hand.

AstroRadio_2_webAlong with screen brightness and reliability – which the Virtual Console comfortably addressed – operational flexibility and cost had ranked high among Astro Radio’s concerns. “A great advantage of the Virtual Console is the cost-savings over physical consoles – there is no need to stock-up on console spare parts and accessories. It is also aesthetically more pleasing to the eyes, and gentle on the hands,” Bala says.

“In addition to the standard Virtual Console control features, Lawo’s VisTool-PC also shows all the virtual modules of both touchscreens – a user can control all channels, faders and buttons on the touchscreen from the VisTool-PC interface.”

Astro Radio’s on-air talent is drawn from established online personalities with huge followings, allowing it to grow its radio listenership through on-line streaming and on social media platforms, as well as FM broadcasts. Presenters are not necessarily conversant with broadcast technology, however.

“Content managers expect new on-air talent to quickly build momentum, and get up to speed with listeners on social media regularly during their shifts – every day. There is very little time for training or familiarization with the technology in the studio,” Bala confirms. “The Virtual Console, therefore, had to be very simple and intuitive to use for first-timers.”

Use of the Virtual Console also offers a faster software development cycle: “We are able to develop new features and functionality both for default and user-specific snapshots. We can easily customize the console layout – or skins – re-design and re-size fader and button shapes and colors, incorporate macros and GPIO signaling. This flexibility gives us the freedom to explore new possibilities in console design paradigm. For example, we added more channel faders per screen and moved monitoring controls to a pop-up screen.

“We took a huge risk by implementing fully touchscreen Virtual Consoles, but from the faces of our on-air talent and their content managers, our ‘high-stakes’ gamble has paid off handsomely,” Bala concludes.

www.lawo.com



Latest News & Blog articles

  • LA-based company Groovesetter has unveiled its real-time, multi-channel audio collaboration platform for streaming, performing and recording over high-speed internet. It claims to allow musicians to perform in synchrony, with Groovesetter subscribers able to connect cloud-free with the high sound quality from up to eight remote locations. Groovesetter lays out interactive visual routing of audio signal […]
  • Lawo, the German manufacturer of IP-based audio and video products, has a new software update for users of Lawo radio mixing consoles, Power Core mixing engines, and On-Air Designer configuration software. The new radio software, v6.6 PL-003, upgrades On-Air Designer – the configuration software used to customise the functions of Lawo’s radio mixing consoles and […]
  • German company ALC NetworX, developers of the open-source Ravenna AoIP networking technology platform, have launched an updated product-specific website to support the protocol. Sporting a new, more modern look and feel the site offers information and resources concerning all things that relate to Ravenna, including standards information, use cases, webinars and other resources. Ravenna is […]
  • The Zen Q Synergy Core is Antelope Audio’s new 14×10 desktop audio interface with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Combining Antelope’s own AD/DA, and 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking technology, it offers recording, mixing, and playback at up to 24-bit/192kHz. The new unit – which serves as a more powerful version of the company’s Zen Go USB-C bus-powered […]
  • As it warms up for its 25th Anniversary celebrations, German digital audio technology stalwart RME has announced the Fireface UCX II, an update of its original UCX interface featuring 20+20 I/O channels in the same ½ rack-style unit, its SteadyClock FS clock and jitter reduction technology, 2x mic/line combo inputs and built-in parametric EQ. The […]
  • In the tracks of its UF8 DAW controller, SSL has launched a new, software-specific control surface for its channel strip and bus compressor plug-ins.  With the UF8 now established as its main DAW control option, SSL is expanding its line of controllers with the UC1 – which brings the familiar layout and ergonomics of its […]
  • FAMA, a boutique record label with an emphasis on artist development, has built a destination recording complex in the Dominican Republic with the help of WSDG Latin. Available for creative retreats, song writing camps, and recording and mixing, the FAMA facility is “their dream studio”, delivered by WSDG Partner/Project Manager, Sergio Molho. “They found a […]
  • An interesting feature of Merging’s Anubis Ravenna interface, reviewed in Resolution V21.1, was the potential for it to completely change its functionality through the update of its ‘Missions’ – essentially its configuration and operation settings. The unit launched with one such Mission – monitor control – but now an update from the manufacturers is set […]
Translate »