Rob Speight – the speed of sound
Posted on: Thursday 23rd of July 2020
If I was to say to you US Robotics, would you think of a killer autonomous dog or something that squealed more like a cat being put through a mincer? Or if I was to mention an acoustic coupler would it bring to mind someone who shouts; “Switch!” at a speed dating event or something that looks more like a cosy place to rest your old school analogue phone?
How much data did you chuck around last month? For me personally it was over 500GB up and down, and I’m just talking about audio work. That doesn’t include Playstation, streaming or on demand video. Can you imagine doing that on a 56k modem? (Kids… Google it). Well you don’t have to because I am going to tell you. It would have taken 22,885 hours, 35 minutes and 14 seconds or 955 days plus change — so just time for another bath, then.
How lucky we are that we were locked-down in 2020, as even in 1999 broadband wasn’t available in the UK, the first install being a year later in Basildon, Essex. In 1999 the UK still only had a mean download speed of 22.37Mbps, which would mean my 500Gb would still take over 50 hours to receive… uploading – don’t even go there!
Basically, we have lots to be thankful for, and even more so with the raft of software that, although some of it may have been around for a while, is now really coming into its own.
Global data connections
Many of us have used or been aware of Source Element’s Source Connect with the software practically become an industry IP replacement for ISDN. With its Remote Transport Sync and automatic dropout replacement, AAX, RTAS, AU and VST support, audio engine and codec sample rates of up to 192kHz and 48kHz respectively, up to 7.1 surround and the ability to tunnel through VPN it is easy to see why it has been widely accepted. Of course, all this comes at a price, but Source Elements have recently introduced a subscription model to all of its products on a month-to-month basis.
Another less well-known ISDN replacement, with extra bells and whistles, include SessionLinkPro, which is very similar but supports sync video or bi-directional webcam broadcast. However, in the true sense of the word, neither of the two aforementioned packages are true ISDN replacements in so much as they don’t allow you to connect to a standard hardware-based ISDN box. ipDTL from In:Quality however does. Supporting all the ISDN hits including MPEG LII, G722, AAC LD, AAC 128 and MPEG L3 128 it also provides IP codecs including OPUS, & iLBC. It is a reasonably priced subscription model and requires no hardware. In addition, it is also possible to get a dedicated ‘phone number’ so your clients can call you.
If IP codecs are your thing, and you need to connect to existing hardware boxes the SIP Audio also from In:Quality offers a multitude of options. Connect to Comrex, Tieline, Prodys, Luci Live, ipDTL, Digigram, AETA… the list goes on. You can buy their hardware for a couple of hundred dollars or for the more adventurous build your own with a Raspberry Pi!
Move your audio
Another tool I have found extremely useful, especially for getting sign-offs or versioning is from Audiomovers in the form of Listento. This Mac/Windows plugin also comes in all desirable flavours and allows you to stream your DAW session in real-time and with extremely low latency up to 32-bit PCM or AAC320. As part of the deal, Audiomovers also give you a Listento Receiver which suddenly makes the software extremely flexible. Now you can put multiple receivers into a session and have multiple people connect to you on individual tracks. Setup some mix minuses, if you’re feeling fancy some talkback, and the sky is the limit. If you need a non-audio person to listen to your stream all you need to do is to generate a link within the plugin, hit Start Transmission and send them the link. It will open in a browser and receive the same high quality audio as if you were using the plugin.
I recently reached out to Thomas Dalton in Brighton, England, whose audio post production company, Brown Bear Audio, has built its reputation on remote audio post since its inception in 2012. I asked Dalton how the global lockdown has affected the amount of work the company has received: “We’ve had an increase in inquiries and actual bookings from it. Straight away voiceover and ADR sessions began getting booked in for talent that usually travels to London. The artists can no longer travel, or don’t want to travel, and so production companies are scrambling around trying to find local studios to get this work done.”
After using Source Connect for some time Brown Bear has recently migrated to Evercast: “It’s a professional streaming platform for video editors and sound people who need to stream their timeline and audio – 1080p HD image and up to 320Kbps audio,” Dalton explained. The system also provides simultaneous video conferencing (on a separate stream) and latency of only 200ms. “It’s pretty revolutionary, but it’s not cheap at all. It’s incredibly expensive. But it’s about trying to give clients the best experience,” Dalton said.
So other than a virulent disease rampaging across the planet what have you got to complain about? Working from home has never been easier and you never have to deal with another human face to face again, except for maybe your partner, but life is never perfect…