Archives for March 2001


Orban/CRL is releasing the OPTIMOD-FM 8200 Signature Series. The special edition Signature Series units, featuring a redesigned front panel bearing the signature of the OPTIMOD line’s renowned engineer, Bob Orban, celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 8200, the world’s all-time, best-selling digital audio processor.

“The 8200 was the first successful digital FM processor and now it’s a classic,” stated Orban/CRL President and CEO Jay Brentlinger.

The 8200 Signature Series includes new presets custom-tuned by Bob Orban and Orban VP of Product Development, Greg Ogonowski. The units also feature Orban’s Digital Sample Rate Adaptive converter as standard.

Over the last decade, sales of the OPTIMOD-FM 8200 have outstripped the combined sales of every other digital audio processor, becoming the broadcast industry standard for clear, consistent sound.

“In the past, many of our competitors had claimed to be building and selling digital processors,” continued Brentlinger, “but they were really digitally controlled analog processors. The OPTIMOD-FM 8200 was, in fact, the first processor to use DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to control and condition the audio.”

“Sales of our OPTIMOD line of audio processors speak for themselves,” said Orban/CRL VP Jim Seemiller. “Over 30,000 units have been sold in the 26 years since the line was introduced, and sales of the 8200 have led the way. With the release of the Signature Series, we expect demand for the 8200 to continue strong.”


According to market research firm IDC, the market for MP3 and other compressed audio players is expanding, both in terms of vendors and the type of new, innovative devices being produced.

According to IDC, worldwide compressed audio player shipments will continue to grow at a torrid pace, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 51%, from 3.3 million in 2000 to nearly 26 million in 2005. Compressed audio player shipments in the United States will follow a similar growth path, jumping to 18 million in 2005 from 2.8 million in 2000.

“The market for compressed audio players will continue to grow, and it will grow significantly beyond devices resembling the original, portable Rio-like units,” said Susan Kevorkian, analyst for IDC’s Consumer Devices program.

“Because of the cost and capacity constraints of flash memory, an increasing number of vendors and consumers alike are turning to cheaper alternative media to transport their music. This is opening up opportunities for more interesting and innovative products to develop. Toward the end of the forecast, alternative media devices will have a strong worldwide presence.”

IDC says portable systems will continue to dominate the market. By 2005, this segment will comprise 61% of both U.S. and worldwide compressed audio player shipments and more than half of the worldwide market value.

“New product innovations have brought exciting changes in storage capacity and functionality,” said Bryan Ma, senior analyst for IDC’s Consumer Devices program.

“By 2004, we expect portable hard-drive-based jukeboxes to outship basic portables. In addition, MP3 decoding capabilities are increasingly being added into traditional portable CD players, thus enabling them to outship basic portable compressed audio players in the United States by 2003.”

Despite the dominance of this category, IDC believes growth in other form factors, including automotive, home networked receivers, and streaming Internet radios, will occur, although much more slowly. Sales of compressed audio players will continue to be lopsided in favor of the United States; however, non-U.S. markets will gain momentum. “The key factor to watch for in non-U.S. markets is PC penetration,” Ma said.


Spruce Technologies, Inc., DTS (Digital Theatre Systems, Inc.) and Minnetonka Audio Software today announced the first integrated solution for encoding, previewing and authoring DTS digital surround audio within DVD productions.

The announcement pairs Spruce’s DVDMaestro DVD-authoring system with Minnetonka’s new Surcode DVD Professional software, which recently met the rigorous requirements of DTS certification. Surcode DVD Professional allows users to encode uncompressed audio into the DTS algorithm for use in a DVD, eliminating cost and time for sending material out of house for encoding.

Spruce will offer Surcode DVD Professional as an option to DVDMaestro, its professional DVD authoring solution for Windows NT. In addition, the most recent software release of DVDMaestro, Version 2.8, supports preview of DTS-format audio content during authoring, using the Netstream 2000 board from Sigma Designs. DVDMaestro 2.8 with the Netstream 2000 card and Surcode DVD Professional option provide DVD authors a complete, easy, end-to-end solution for DTS audio on Windows NT-based systems.

“Until recently, it’s been costly and time consuming for authors to incorporate the preferred sound of DTS in their DVD productions, because all the encoding was done by DTS or third party encoding houses,” said Gary Hall, Spruce senior product manager. “The Spruce, DTS and Minnetonka agreement expands the market potential for DTS by offering convenience, control and significantly lower costs.”

Hall added that a key benefit for users of the new encoding option is the ability to monitor the production from within the system and make changes before formatting a final DVD. “In DVD production there are three key elements: quality control, quality control, and quality control. Without monitoring capability built into the system, authoring with DTS has been a shot in the dark, with no chance to check video/audio sync, etc. until the discs come off the burner.”

As a primary alternative to Dolby audio AC-3 for 5.1 surround on DVD, DTS digital surround audio is growing rapidly in adoption, with support from leading Hollywood directors and music lovers worldwide. With the affordability and unhindered access to DTS offered by the Spruce- Minnetonka-DTS option, DVD authors can now easily leverage DTS 5.1 audio to meet customer demand for advanced audio fidelity in DVD production.

“We recently put together a 10-minute promotional piece on Alpine’s high-end surround systems for cars, and we wanted to leverage the fidelity of DTS,” said John Torcello, president of SpeeDVD, a southern California DVD authoring service facility which was assigned the project by producer Fletcher Murray of The Association,, in Burbank, Calif. “We used DVDMaestro with the Minnetonka Surcode DVD Professional, and turned the production around in record time. Being able to monitor the project without burning discs saved us days and helped meet our deadline with Alpine.”

“With the introduction of the Minnetonka DTS encoder board and Surcode DVD Professional, Minnetonka is providing the real missing piece in DVD authoring-user driven, affordable surround encoding,” said John Schur, Minnetonka president and CEO. “Our partnership with Spruce and DTS allows us to provide DTS quality audio to a broad DVD authoring market.”

“We’re very excited that Spruce customers now have an easy, seamless, end-to-end solution that makes DTS encoding very simple,” said Brian Caldwell, marketing director, Pro Audio and Broadcast, DTS.

Along with all Spruce authoring systems, DVDMaestro incorporates Spruce’s advanced data abstraction, which not only makes authoring simpler but provides major improvements in productivity. Rather than dropping back into code writing, as users of competing systems frequently do, Spruce users spend their time on creative decisions or making more titles

About Minnetonka Audio

Minnetonka Audio Software has been making software for professional sound recording and editing since 1990. Minnetonka’s specialty is Surround Sound, being the first company to offer an integrated application for Surround Sound recording and editing, and the first company to offer both Dolby(r) and DTS(r) licensed software encoders for Surround Sound.

About DTS

DTS is an international digital technology company specializing in multi-channel audio. DTS is featured on more than 20,000 motion picture screens worldwide, in a variety of products from all major consumer electronics manufacturers, in automobiles, in computers, on games for DVD-ROM, and on films and music for DVD and CD. DTS is a registered trademark of Digital Theater Systems, Inc. of Agoura Hills, California. International offices for the company are located in the United Kingdom and in Japan. For further information, visit

About Spruce Technologies, Inc.

Spruce Technologies, Inc. is a global market leader in DVD authoring applications for the creation of interactive broadband content. At the core of every Spruce application is a modular authoring architecture known as the SpruceCore, supporting the most complex commercial DVD projects without requiring extensive programming expertise. Spruce’s award-winning solutions include: DVDMaestro(tm), the market leading professional DVD authoring solution; DVDTransfer(tm), the world’s first automated system for unattended conversion of videotape to DVD; DVD Performer(tm), the first professional yet affordable integrated DVD encoding and authoring solution; and SpruceUp(tm), the first full-featured personal DVD authoring solution for Windows PCs. These applications support SpruceLink(tm), a breakthrough WebDVD technology for installation-free playback of Web-enabled DVD titles on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM equipped PCs. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Spruce Technologies is a privately-he! ld company with a track record of profitable growth since its founding in 1996. For more information, contact Spruce at 408-861-2200, or visit our Website:


Kind of Loud Technologies, a Universal Audio Company, announced today that it has released SmartCode Pro, a Dolby Digital software surround encoder program for Pro Tools AudioSuite platforms.

Software-based encoders offer an efficient and cost-effective alternative to hardware encoders. SmartCode Pro will allow Pro Tools users to create DVDs or reference CDs directly from their 5.1 mixes created with the new Pro Tools 5.1 software. SmartCode Pro is complemented by Kind of Loud’s surround production tools including RealVerb 5.1, the first surround reverb, Tweetie, a monitoring and calibration plug-in and Woofie, a plug-in for bass management.

“With the rapid advances in DVD authoring, Dolby is pleased to introduce Dolby Digital Surround encoding to the DAW market.” said Nancy Byers-Teague, Marketing Manager, Professional Audio Products, Dolby Laboratories. “Universal Audio has been pioneer in providing surround tools to the professional music and post arenas and Dolby is proud to work with them on Smartcode Pro.”

“This is the first and only 5.1 software encoding option for Pro Tools users,” said Paul Rice, President. “Even before Pro Tools was surround-capable, there has been tremendous demand for this product. It really simplifies the the encoding process, which allows our customers to better serve their clients.”

SmartCode Pro/Dolby Digital is available from Kind of Loud and its authorized dealers and distributors for a suggested list price of US $995.

Based in Santa Cruz, California, Universal Audio is well known for its vintage analog reproductions. With the recent acquisition of Kind of Loud Technologies, the company is focused on merging the best of analog and digital technology. The company is devoted to this endeavor, following its motto, “Analog Ears, Digital Minds.”


AMEK, the British-based manufacturer of professional audio mixing consoles and signal processing devices, is launching two major console developments at the 2001 NAB Convention (Las Vegas, April 23 – 26). The 60-channel Media 51, a new, large-frame version of AMEK’s mid-price multi-format analogue console, is joined by the new Galileo 360V multi-format console, which extends the choice of AMEK’s surround sound production consoles and represents a top-end solution for film dubbing, music recording and broadcast. Also on show are the Recall RN live event and on-air production console, the small-format BB100 broadcast console for production and on-air use, plus the System 9098 and Pure Pathâ ranges of outboard signal processors, including the new Driver in a Box.

The Media 51 is increasingly being utilised in post-production environments; its compact size and unique spread of features also proving popular for outside broadcast and mobile facilities. It is AMEK’s first mid-priced analogue mixer for more than 5 years, with the new 60-channel version extending its range of applications still further. The first entry-level multi-format desk to feature Mr. Rupert Neve’s audio designs, the Media 51 is principally designed for recording facilities in the broadcast and post-production sectors, and is equipped to handle 5.1, 7.1, LCRS, LCRSS and stereo formats. The console’s comprehensive package of features includes AMEK’s Supertrue™ V4 console automation as standard, providing fader, switch and event automation, Virtual Dynamics®, Recall, & Visual FX™. Supertrue is now cited as having the largest installed user base of any console automation system in the world.

The Media 51’s master module offers comprehensive surround monitoring facilities, including multiple solo, cut and metering modes, easy insertion of encode and decode processors, extensive downmixing and stem monitoring capabilities, master Playback/Direct (PEC/Direct) switching, and comprehensive speaker control. An optional motorised joystick panel can be fitted to the console, offering multiple panning modes in formats up to eight channels wide with four switchable divergence settings, and an ‘expand’ feature that provides image enhancement at high frequencies in stereo or wider formats.

Also making its debut at NAB 2001 is an enhanced version of AMEK’s successful Galileo console. The Galileo 360V is a powerfully-equipped multi-format production console, which addresses the growing need for multi-channel audio in post-production, film dubbing, music recording and broadcast production. It provides comprehensive mixing and monitoring facilities for surround formats up to 8 channels wide, with a high degree of connectivity and control. Sitting towards the top end of AMEK’s product range, the audio circuitry has been designed to offer the best sonic performance and features a Microphone Amplifier designed by Mr. Rupert Neve, plus the proven musicality of the AMEK 4-band fully-parametric equaliser. At NAB, the Galileo 360V is being demonstrated with the AMEK Supertrue V4 moving fader, switch and event automation. As standard, it is also fitted with automated dynamic panning, via two integral joysticks, and high resolution master bargraph metering.

New from AMEK’s Pure Path series is the Driver in a Box (DIB), which provides eight high-quality, transformer-coupled line amplifiers in a 1U rack, and is designed for driving long cable runs in broadcast and live performance applications. Primarily a unity gain device, the Driver in a Box offers a gain trim control for each balanced and floating channel – allowing matched output levels to be set. Each channel also has a dedicated Phase selector, and a “SILK” setting, which emulates the sound of Mr Rupert Neve’s original circuit designs. DIB’s versatility also makes it suitable for a variety of traditional audio engineering tasks including line transmission, line reception and distribution amplification. As well as providing audio enhancement of mixers or digital audio workstations, DIB can also finds applications as a mix amplifier, Mix Minus system or, when used in conjunction with the Channel in a Box, a Pure Path mixing system.

On show at NAB will be other examples of AMEK’s signal processing modules – all designed by the company in conjunction with legendary audio equipment designer, Mr. Rupert Neve. These include the Pure Path Channel in a Box – a complete input channel strip, with independent mic and line inputs, 4-band EQ and compressor – plus the extremely popular System 9098 range. The System 9098 units encompass a dual channel Compressor/Limiter, a Dual Mic Amp module and an Equaliser – with four band EQ, filtering and a comprehensive microphone input section.

With a proven track record across a wide variety of applications, AMEK’s Recall RN represents one of the most flexible production consoles available, satisfying the demanding criteria of both on-air broadcast and television production, in addition to front-of-house operation for live event sound reinforcement. Notable projects using the Recall’s fast-reset facilities include prestigious music events – such as the Grammy® Awards, the Eurovision Song Contest and the MTV Music Awards – plus large-scale music concerts and fixed installations, including Sydney Opera House® and Opera De Paris. Recall features audio circuitry by Mr. Rupert Neve, and AMEK’s Showtime™ fader, switch and event automation, which permits fast, precise and flexible control of console settings, while reducing an engineer’s routine-task workload to give greater freedom for concentrating on the more creative aspects of their work.

The small-format BB100 audio console, for production and on-air applications, is available in configurations from 10 to 32 inputs, with zero, four or eight mono subgroups, and offers fully-balanced input and output connections, plus four internal Mix Minus feeds. It is easily configurable for a variety of custom options, through the use of internal factory-set links.