At the heart of its technical infrastructure is the intercom expertise of OMNEO IP technology
When the broadcast rights for horse racing on British television recently switched channels, outside broadcasting specialist NEP Group seized the opportunity to create one of the UK’s most advanced OB trucks. Named Equinox, the truck is capable of meeting every requirement for the live broadcast of race meets, without additional support. At the heart of its technical infrastructure is the intercom expertise of OMNEO IP technology.
Equinox has now entered service with a specification that’s both similar to its siblings but shaped specifically to meet the challenges of broadcasting British horse racing. “The broadcaster wanted to run the truck in a very specific way, so we built this truck to deliver everything they wanted to achieve,” reflects Paul Fournier, Head of Sound for NEP UK. “Rather than having to accommodate a separate voice track / recording replay truck, everything is done out of this single vehicle, and the use of IP simplifies how everything works.”
Inside Equinox, an RTS ADAM modular matrix frame equipped with a 64 channel OMI OMNEO matrix interface card offers up to 272 ports, providing a Dante backbone for the OB truck’s comms workflow. In addition, the frame hosts five AIO-16 analog interface cards, a MADI-16 Plus interface card and two TBX-Tribus cards for connecting Equinox with other trucks in the NEP fleet. A total of ten 32-key KP-5032 keypanels have been integrated into the vehicle, alongside a further 31 16-key KP-4016 panels.
Asked about his choice of OMNEO IP technology for the fleet and Equinox in particular, Fournier points to the many benefits of working in an audio-over-IP environment. “OMNEO, which facilitates the use of Dante audio, has really taken off in the broadcast world over the last two years,” he reasons.
“The choice of OMNEO means that we benefit from vastly reduced cabling – all a KP-5032 or KP-4016 keypanels needs is a Cat-5 Ethernet or a fiber connection. Even if we have a long-distance run over kilometers, we can fiber it. In fact many of the horse racing grounds serviced by Equinox are now being retrofitted with permanent fiber, so if you need to position a panel somewhere on site then it’s easy to do so.”
He continues, “the use of Dante audio makes it simple for us to provide preview boxes for the director and producer; you can simply pin them in the Dante audio network through the RTS system. Because we have Dante cards in our desks, there’s no patching involved – everything just appears on the network, so you can pick it up, make an IFB out of it and pass it on.”
The flexibility of the system has particularly proven its worth at horse racing venues, where members of the production team are sometimes based far from the truck. “If someone using a remote panel wants program sound on a little monitor speaker, and we don’t have any wire there but we do have an RTS panel, then we can pin program audio from the desk to one of the spare Dante inputs of the panel, then reroute it to the panel’s XLR and simply plug the little speaker in,” Fournier enthuses. “We can achieve that with no extra wire required other than a mains lead.”