I admit it. I'm a console snob. I've always held the conceit that a respectable radio audio console would only come from less than a handful of companies. Truthfully I never seriously considered Logitek for any of the replacement projects, regardless of the market size. Until now.
I was charged with creating a studio suite for network origination that would serve three disparate functions on our networks: origination for sports broadcasts; execution of a standard-style personality-based radio talk show; and a non-linear audio editing suite. We added the additional complexity of redesigning a vocal booth so that it could also serve as an edit suite when the booth functions aren't needed. This system would need to be in a two-studio suite of rooms that could serve as sports programming head-end to compile on-site reports from eight positions, and feed six IFB mixes and three program chains. It would also need to operate as a conventional talk show suite with a control room with a producer, call screener, and engineer and a vocal booth with the talent. Finally, these rooms would be used as the source selector and mixing position for two different Protools workstations.
I thought this design would simply be a matter of ergonomics, and that the technology would be an easy decision. That proved to be an incorrect assumption. During the planning process I learned of a new control surface from Logitek that would address every prejudice I had. After a particularly in-depth SBE meeting hosted by a station with a fully deployed Logitek system, I decided to look carefully at the system.
There's plenty of history available for the working part of the console: the Audio Engine. Logitek was one of the pioneers of the router-based console design and has been at it for a long time. Network radio coverage of the Olympics operates through the Engines and there were several stations and groups using the system. The router engine seemed solid. One of my chief objections to Logitek in the past has been the strength and resilience of the work surfaces. To be considered, the Mosaic had to be a departure from the normal product line to offer the kind of work surface our network is accustomed to.
Performance at a glance
Controls Logitek Audio Engine
Module frames from 10 to 32 slots
Two input faders per module
Two meter bridge configurations
RJ-11 connections for modules and meters
Color LCD screens for status
Assignable buttons for control and status
Logitek demonstrates the durability of the Mosaic with the help of a Houston law enforcement officer. Like a Master Lock, a Mosaic panel endured the impact of a .22 caliber rifle but, unlike the padlock, the bullet didn't pierce the steel. The result of the research on the engine and mixer was that I bought a fully populated, single-engine system with two of the Mosaic control surfaces.
The Audio Engine frame holds the input and output cards; a communications module to connect to the console surfaces, the programming and operation computer and any intercom or guest turret panels; and the power supplies. I left a module slot open to later add a fiber optic network card in case we add more engines and want to network the sources to other studios. Our engine was also fitted with two Sharc Attack cards, which fill the system with DSP functions such as delays, processing, virtual mixes and routing. The system requires a computer to be attached and running the Supervisor program for triggers, scene changes and DSP functions but is not required to mix and pass audio. The computer is also required for the console meterbridge clock so the console PC must have some sort of time reference. I would have preferred to reference the clock directly into the engine. It took some tweaking with the computer SMPTE sync adapter to make it match the rest of the in-house SMPTE analog and digital clocks.
The Sharc Attack DSP cards on the engine are installed to help incorporate processing functions into the console and reduce the equipment count in the studio. Each studio worksurface has a dedicated 10-second broadcast audio delay on the program output that works like any standard broadcast delay with multiple levels of program dump and a smooth, program-related ramp up and down. The delay can even be programmed to make GPI outputs follow the delay. This is important for a network program that operates in delay but must send time-aligned affiliate signals or start off-site automation equipment. The Sharc Attack modules also provide the power for assignable EQ, compression/limiting, de-essing and more that can be added to any of the output busses or even on an individual source.
I am impressed with the Mosaic's appearance. The brushed-aluminum-finish panels are fitted with two faders per module. We had one minor issue of infant mortality and one strange failure about a week after sign-on but neither problem took the console off the air. Both situations were resolved extremely well and quickly by Logitek support.
Each Mosaic fader module has a 2.5" × 3" screen that displays input metering, source assignment and various other module functions for the two fader positions (note I didn't say “inputs” because this is router-based, the fader position doesn't control an input until it's assigned). The same screen is used in several places on the console for the purposes of status monitoring and text labels.
Each mixer on the Logitek engine has 24 pre-designed mix-minus busses. When the console is configured, the mix minus is assigned to the corresponding input and the choice is made whether the mix minus will contain console program, cue, aux one, two or three.
The Mosaic surface is a full departure from the stand-alone console, yet it's a natural extension of Logitek's background with the router/console concept. I have hopes that this is the beginning of a manufacturing standard they will extend to their entire product line.
So am I still a console snob? Well yeah, but my list of favorites just got longer.
Thomas is vice president of engineering for Westwood One Radio Networks, New York.
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