Field Report: Arrakis ARC-8

September 1, 2010


I think I may have found an actual "radio station in a box." The Arrakis ARC-8 console seems to have it all and is versatile enough to be used from the top engineering professional to the amateur podcaster at home.

This little console has a great look and feel and is easy to use right out of the box. It also comes with a USB connection to hook into any computer for playing or recording. I hooked this up to my laptop with Windows 7 and the device was recognized immediately and all drivers installed without a hitch. Soon I was off and running with limits only bound by my imagination.

The Arrakis ARC-8, a computer, music library and transmitter would be all one would need to run a radio station. The console comes with free Digilink-Xtreme software, which contains a working app for just about any radio station need, automation (with some limits on the free version), production and phone recording. The only bug I ran into when installing the software was that I was using Windows 7, and in Windows 7 the font folder is protected, so you have to manually copy and paste the four fonts used in the Xtreme software into the Windows font folder. That is a Windows issue and not one that could be found as a fault in the Xtreme software.

If a person had limited space or startup capital this handy console would be perfect. It would also be nice to have on-hand for emergencies. The quick power up would get a radio station back on the air with very little time involved in setup.

Flexibility

The versatility of this console is what I found to be most admired. Some potential uses that are perfectly suited for this console are: Remote broadcasts, podcasting, recording studio, mobile DJ service, emergency backup board, or even as the main board for a radio station.

Performance at a glance
Single stereo mixing bus
Mix-minus bus
Two mic inputs
USB audio connection I/O
Includes Digilink-Xtreme software

The inputs to the eight channels are simple to use. There are 10 inputs that can be channeled into the eight slide pots. These include a single stereo mixing bus with both balanced and unbalanced inputs; PC USB output of the program bus for recording to a PC; monitor/headphone/cue system with external input for off-air monitoring; cue system autocues with program dimming into the monitor and headphone systems; and balanced mix-minus telco output. The board can also be hooked into a system to turn the on-air light on and off when the microphones are turned on or off. The system also provides talkback for the mix-minus.

Most of the inputs are both RCA and balanced RJ-45 inputs, with the exception of the two XLR inputs for the two mic channels (with optional 48Vdc phantom power), the RJ-45 for telco, and the PC USB with channel eight being used as the PC out. The button to switch channel eight between PC and whatever you have plugged into the RCA jack input is conveniently located on top of the console so you, in actuality could have that extra channel at the push of a button. Another convenient feature is that the headphone jack is 1/8" and not the 1/4" that used to be standard. I call this convenient because anymore headphones are standard with 1/8” jacks and an adapter can be used. Plus, earbuds can be used in a pinch.

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USB, too

The ARC-8 contains a built-in, Windows- and Mac-compatible, USB sound card on channel 8B with USB connection to a PC. Most Windows-compatible audio software can play and record from the console. The Digilink-Xtreme software will recognize the ARC-8 console and operate in the free ARC mode to provide live on-air features ideal for broadcast, Internet or podcast-style radio applications.

Arrakis
P
W
E
970-461-0730
www.arrakis-systems.com
arrakis@arrakis-systems.com

One of the tasks I ran this board through was to produce a multitrack recording of a local band. Using the USB connection I ran the board through my laptop using Adobe Audition 3.0. The quality was perfect and the convenience of running the various instruments and microphones through the board made switching between tracks easy. At the beginning of the recording all levels were set, which made multi-track recording easy just by turning on or off each channel – thus turning a laptop into a portable recording studio.

This console packs a lot into a relatively small package, weighing in around 10 pounds. Its dimensions are 11.5" (depth), 2" (height) and 18" (width). This could easily fit into a small suitcase/road case.

No matter what use you have with an audio console, the ARC-8 could fill that need and not take up too much space, require an engineer to install every time you use it and be carried anywhere. All this is done without losing any audio quality.

Wilson is an announcer, producer, webmaster and promotions guy at WAKO-AM/FM, Lawrenceville, IL.


Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.



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