When NEP Group, Inc.’s newest mobile unit, a facility dedicated to supporting sports production, went on the road to cover Thursday night football and professional golf events, it turned to Studio Technologies, manufacturer of high-quality audio, video and fiber-optic solutions, for their Dante-enabled intercom and on-air audio products. The truck’s essentially “all IP” infrastructure included extensive use of Dante® Audio-over-Ethernet technology for many of the intercom, on-air and talent cueing audio paths. With integrated Dante support, the Studio Technologies’ Model 370 Intercom Beltpacks, Model 380 On-Air Beltpacks and Model 216 Announcer’s Consoles were able to take on important roles.

“Dante networking technology has given us the ability to put whatever we need in terms of user interface – in this case the Studio Technologies boxes – in whatever quantity is appropriate without having to run additional wire,” says George Hoover, chief technology officer for NEP Group Inc. “Not having to run an additional wire down the golf course or having to pull in another cable is a very nice thing, particularly when it is a last minute add.”

The Model 370 Beltpack includes the features required of traditional broadcast 2-channel party-line (PL) intercom user devices and adds the advanced performance and capabilities that Dante Audio-over-Ethernet provides. The Model 380 On-Air Beltpack offers a unique combination of audio resources, providing both on-air and talent cue (IFB) capabilities in a compact, portable package. With just a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) connection, a microphone and a pair of headphones or an earpiece, a complete broadcast “stand-up” on-air position can be created. The Model 216 Announcer's Console provides the resources required by on-air announcers, commentators and related production personnel. It serves as the “hub” for routing the critical on-air, talent cueing (IFB) and intercom audio signals over Dante using a single Ethernet connection. 

Hoover said the truck’s design uses Dante technology to interface its audio console with its intercom system as well as related equipment. The core routing of the mobile facility is an IP-based router that ties the various trailers that comprise the unit together. It also brings audio back from the various announce positions on the golf course and the football stadium, on a network connection as opposed to discrete analog or digital audio lines.

A simpler set-up that is easier to modify as needed is just the first benefit of deploying Studio Technologies’ Dante equipment, according to Hoover. “Because we are not using analog audio and now using an IP network with digital audio, we are immune to many kinds of signal interference. Once you move over to networked audio you get rid of all kinds of audio distortions, buzz and ground loops. It definitely increases the overall audio signal quality and reliability.”

The decision to use Studio Technologies’ equipment is just the latest time the major live event and OB company has turned to the vendor over a 15-year relationship, says Hoover. “We made the decision to go with Studio Technologies based on our past experience with audio quality and reliability, service and support,” he says. “Studio Technologies has taken care of us and supported us well and the products work and sound great. You stay with a partner that you know is going to deliver for you.”

In addition to using Model 370 and 380 beltpacks and a dozen Model 216 Announcer Consoles, the latest truck also includes Studio Technologies’ Model 45DR Dante to 2-Channel Party Line Intercom Interfaces, Model 46 Dual 2-Wire to 4-Wire Interfaces, Model 41 Line-Level Audio to IFB Circuit Interfaces, and Model 72 Level/Meter Interfaces.

“NEP has been using our interfaces, announce boxes, fiber-optic transport products and more for years now,” says Gordon Kapes, president of Studio Technologies. “We have had a really great relationship with NEP including lots of ’back-and-forth‘ regarding what products and features they need to make their job easier. We do our best to listen to our customers early in the design process, particularly with production trend-setters like NEP.”