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LightViper Gets Real with The X-Factor

Dec 13, 2006 8:00 AM


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FiberPlex, a major supplier of professional audio fiber-optic systems to the sound production industry, announced that its LightViper fiber-optic digital audio transport system has been deployed for TV production audio in the internationally syndicated UK television reality show The X-Factor.

The portable LightViper 32/8 system has provided The X-Factor Sound Supervisor Robert Edwards of Video Sound Services with a compact and rapid-setup fiber audio transport solution that overcomes obstacles created by both a complex set at Wembley's Fountain Studios production stage, and an environment rife with RF interference.

On Edwards' recommendation, UK production company TalkbackThames purchased the LightViper system to cover signal transport from mic to mixing console, as well as for talkback needs on the latest series of the English reality TV show. With transmission to UK television networks ITV1 and ITV2, Video Sound Services needed a more efficient means of delivering the sound from the studio floor to the control room. So, the company turned to the FiberPlex LightViper VIS-1832 fiber-optic digital snake to create far more effective tie lines over greater distances.

X-Factor's Edwards commented: “There are 63 wireless mics plus a lot of LED lighting creating significant RF. From a cable point of view it's a hostile environment. Some of the signals are hard to keep clean. We have some mics at the judges' area, and the cable run from the podium in the middle and back to the wall boxes is not the cleanest. But the LightViper cleaned it all up: The short run to the head end stagebox -- bypassing the existing infrastructure -- resulted in a much cleaner signal."

Short-run D-Sub cables and a custom 32/8 breakout panel to furnish feeds to the main studio were made by Kelsey Acoustics, who distributes the LightViper System in the U.K.

The full system includes the compact VIS-1832 32/8 stagebox at front-of-house (accepting 32 XLR or TRS balanced or unbalanced mic/line signals), which connects to a rack unit at the house mixing position via a lightweight, multimode fiber-optic cable. All data transfers are at 24-bit/96kHz, and optional optical outs on the stagebox allow “splits” to a monitor mixer and recording/broadcast feeds.

The network was accomplished using multimode fiber terminated on the new Neutrik Optical Con fiber-optic connectors. The X-Factor sound production uses the majority of available inputs and all three gain positions, without the need for software.

"Aside from the benefits of using fiber over copper, the LightViper system is a self-contained plug-and-play system with both a remote [stagebox] and tail-end [mixing position]. It operates without the need for a laptop so it's quick to rig," Edwards says. "The system is two-way so we are sending zero-level returns to the studio floor and using the system as a glorified talkback to the musical director—otherwise the route would be tortuous." VSS' confidence in using fiber-optic audio transport and the LightViper system has been boosted by the work it has carried out before. "The Sky TV work we do relies heavily on fiber-optic transmission networks—it's not such a big mystery."

For more information, visit www.fiberplex.com.



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