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Universal Deploys Calrec's IP-Based Compact Form Factor Type R

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Universal, a company established by experienced A1 and Audio Network Engineer Sean O'Gorman and A1 Shawn Peacock, has recently concluded a highly successful remote mixing proof of concept (POC) with the Professional Fighters League, using Calrec's IP-based, compact form factor Type R.

Having recently established Universal as a company, with the two A1s having known and worked with each other for many years, they recognized a growing issue across the industry in the US and globally. '’Gorman said: "One of the results of the pandemic has been many entities have built out regional 'pod'-based production facilities to handle remote productions (REMI) across the US and world. One issue with these facilities has been finding high-quality, experienced Audio Engineers at a competitive pay scale to handle the massive number of events they have to cover – think Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). Often, the inexperience of ‘local’ Engineers has led to networks having to fly in experienced Engineers into these remote facilities. This is not optimal for either party. Currently, the REMI model isn’t working properly."

Expanding their relationship with MMA event producers Professional Fighters League (PFL), to whom they have been providing a range of audio mixing, network and equipment services for a number of years, Universal proposed a proof of concept to show how remote mixing – leaving the overall transmission chain unaffected – could solve the problem highlighted above. In essence, they posed the question of how to bring the audio mixing capabilities of the OB truck to the Engineer. PFL agreed to let them trial this on the world feed of its recent pre-season build-up event held at Universal Studios, FL, from late January to late February.

Universal turned to Calrec for the technology to carry out this POC. Peacock said: "We really wanted to work with Calrec because its technology is in 99 percent of the trucks in the US and they are innovative, tried and trusted and rock solid. Crucial to this is the technology form factor of the Type R so it’s economically viable to ship the control surfaces to wherever the A1 is, with the core in the OB truck, which they can then set up in a control room in their house. This is coupled with the fact that it’s IP based, of course. The Type R really fits this bill as its compact and modular, allowing us to keep all the DSP at the OB truck onsite and then feed the control signals from the A1’s property to the truck."

Universal highlights the fact that they’re not shipping the audio signals to a console remotely – the audio is not leaving the site: this is about control signals. The only audio that has to come to the A1 is what hits their monitors and these control signals do not affect transmission. For this POC, Calrec provided some Type R control surfaces and, with the Type R being modular, it’s a “couple of Pelicans with a couple of fader panels/LSPs and some cables. It’s a very minimal setup. There’s a router, a POE (power-over-Ethernet) switch and then plug it in and go and an A1 is online via our Universal VPN,” explained O’Gorman.

For this POC, the Type R was integrated on Universal’s network over DANTE. Everything that went in and out of the Type R core was on a DANTE network. A low latency WAN-friendly codec is used to ship the control room output of that core to the Engineer at their house – in this POC, that was Shawn Peacock. Just like in a truck, they are listening to whatever is routed via the console to the Control Room monitors. The latency is fixed with Universal setting it at 175ms - that’s the delay between an A1 selecting the source and hearing it. This is all going over the public internet with a VPN sitting on top. O’Gorman said, “Being able to do this using public internet rather than dedicated connectivity is a huge boon.”

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