GBH, the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, has refurbished two television production control rooms at its Boston studio and headquarters complex with the installation of two new Solid State Logic System T S300 32-fader consoles. In addition, an SSL System T S500 64-fader console has been integrated into the control room of the facility’s Fraser Performance Studio, an approximately 1,800-square-foot music recording space that is also available for commercial bookings. The three consoles have been integrated with an assortment of SSL Network I/O, including D64, D32 and A16.D16 interfaces as well as SB i16 and SB 16.12 Stageboxes.

The three new System T digital platforms, which were integrated by the broadcaster’s in-house engineering team, replace desks originally installed when GBH’s complex was completed in 2007 in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood. In the case of the two TV audio control rooms, says Senior Engineer Dan Brown, the previous desks, provided by an alternative manufacturer, needed to be replaced due to their limited capabilities. Following the installation of the two new System T S300s, Brown reports, “We noticed an improvement in audio quality when going through the consoles.”

He continues, “Our ability to do more comprehensive signal processing, such as multi-band dynamics, limiting, gating, equalization and filtering, has increased. I removed all the analog processing in the rooms and kept the AES processing, but we haven’t used it to-date, because the processing in the console can do what we need. We also enabled the fader start option for our DigiCart machines, and we tied in our studio’s on-air tally lights through the consoles.”

In the Fraser Performance Studio, the main driver behind upgrading to the System T S500 was to prepare for a wider implementation throughout the complex of Dante networking, which has already been adopted by GBH’s TV facilities, according to Broadcast Maintenance Engineer Sai Patel. “The biggest thing was the fact that we could change from AES3 to something modern and accessible, because a lot of manufacturers are adopting Dante,” he says. The new System T replaced an SSL C200 digital audio console installed in 2007.

“This is a really, really nice sounding console,” says two-time Grammy Award-winning Recording Engineer Antonio Oliart of the new S500. “I was afraid of the learning curve, but it’s the fastest that I have ever learned a console, and it’s the most flexible in many ways, too.” Radio Audio Engineer Téa Mottolese agrees: “It was easy to learn, and it sounds amazing. I’ve really enjoyed using it so far.”

“The reason why we like SSL is because we do a lot of music,” Oliart continues. “These studios are made for music, so we need something that sounds great on music, and has the flexibility of doing all kinds of sessions. We mainly do what I call acoustic music: folk, jazz, and classical. We wanted high-end equipment to be able to do our projects and projects with our clients.” GBH music broadcasts are typically pre-recorded, he adds.

The Fraser Performance Studio’s new System T S500 console is integrated with two SSL Network I/O A32 SuperAnalogue™ line level and two D64 AES-to-Dante interfaces plus a MADI-Bridge. A couple of small throw-down interfaces extend the reach and flexibility of the Dante network. The studio’s S500 has three Network I/O SB i16 SuperAnalogue™ Stageboxes in a roll-around rack. The rack’s 48 channels of SuperAnalogue™ mic/line preamps can be used for recording in the Fraser Performance Studio or may be rolled to GBH’s Calderwood TV studio, which offers connections to the Fraser Dante network.

On the TV production side, the two System T S300s share three SSL Network I/O A16.D16 interfaces, which offer a combination of SSL SuperAnalogue™ and AES3 digital I/O to Dante. “The A16.D16 are used for analog line inputs and outputs of audio booth gear and booth monitor speakers. We also use the GPIO’s on these units to start the DigiCarts,” Brown explains. “There are also four D64s that interface largely to our router system. We’re sending stems, masters and other feeds, and the stereo outputs as well.”

Four SSL SB 16.12 Stageboxes are available to introduce all the TV studio microphones into the Dante network. “There are two per studio,” Brown says. “The SB 16.12s have allowed us to eliminate our mic runs from the studios up to our equipment room. We saved a lot of cable capacitance, and the conversion is done right at the stagebox. We use the analog outputs for floor monitors and occasionally use the AES I/O for temporary studio equipment.”

Additionally, he continues, there are two SSL MADI-Bridge units. “One is taking analog black burst in as a reference clock and we’re sending 64 channels to a JoeCo recorder for recording onto a thumb drive. The other MADI-Bridge is connected to our TV and radio studio at the Boston Public Library.” GBH opened a publicly viewable 800-square-foot set at the library in 2016 with a news desk and three cameras that host shows multiple times a day. A separate system of interfaces allows engineers to mix and match sources and destinations between GBH’s TV and radio studios from the set, Brown says, including a MADI audio stream. “All the mics can come to the SSL for TV. We’ve mixed a band playing at the library, which is under five miles away, on the SSL.”

The GBH engineering team installed a set of switches in each TV studio and each audio booth to allow people to plug in ancillary equipment, he also reports. “We just finished a show called High School Quiz Show where the front-of-house mixer plugged his wireless mics and a Dante mixer into studio Ethernet connections and shared audio back and forth, between the front-of-house mixing engineer and our control room mixer.” The two System Ts are also interfaced to a variety of graphics and routing equipment, he says. “And we integrated the two consoles with our intercom system using Dante for IFB and other comms.”

Regular TV productions handled by the new System T S300s include a daily show, Greater Boston, and a weekly show, Basic Black. “We built one showfile for both of those shows,” says Brown, “so operators just change pages” from one TV show to the next. “All of the routing is inside the showfile, including the monitoring, input and output routing. So we’ve reduced the number of showfiles because of that.”

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