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First Look: Media 100 Audio:Box

Digital audio encoding system

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

We've had the chance to see AppleScript and the Mac once again taken to new levels of power and sophistication. Two days ago I and Paulo de Andrade of Digital Post Production headed up to Burbank to see Media 100's new facility. While we were there, Media 100's Jim Baker and Mike Savello took the opportunity to show off their new Audio:Box product. We just happened to have a Sony DSR-PD150 and a sun gun handy (as well as a very heavy tripod I just happen to carry around), so we got some footage of the product, as well as an interview with Baker talking about the new system. Click here to watch it.

Audio:Box is a very high-end audio encoding system built around Macintosh G4s, PowerFile's C200 CD/DVD jukebox and Media 100's Cleaner 5. For the system, Media 100 build a front end to handle multiple CPUs off a single user interface, tying the whole thing into Cleaner with AppleScript. What's more, Media 100 says they expect to release a Video:Box for encoding video titles as well using the same basic system.

The Audio:Box will automatically encode any audio assets from CD, CD-ROM or DVD into just about any streaming format, including MP3, QuickTime, Windows Media, RealAudio, etc. It uses a database—FileMaker Pro in the system we saw—to gather all of the information about the asset, including metadata, and then automatically publish the assets to a streaming server.

The whole system is based around nodes of G4s and C200 jukeboxes (200 CD or DVD capacity each), and you can simply add nodes when you need to expand your capabilities. Because of the single GUI, the Audio:Box system can be run by a single operator. The operator can sit at the workstation or receive updates via a handheld device (Palm or Handspring Visor) that reports all the details of the current encoding status.

What's especially cool about this—and what Media 100 readily admits—is that you can really build one of these things yourself, provided you know enough about AppleScript. If not, Media 100 will consult with you to write the code to get Cleaner to handle the process, or they'll let you have a customized, pre-built system with two G4s and two C200 jukeboxes for something like $40,000 or more.

For more information on Media 100 and Audio:Box, visit To watch the interview and get a first look at Audio:Box, click here.

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