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Symetrix AirTools 6200 Take To The AirDual-channel digital voice processors deployed in Entercom Wilkes-Barre stations (November 10, 2005)
Everyone likes a two-for-one sale, and audio engineers are no exception. The prospect of a single digital voice processor that would handle two air studio microphones intrigued Lamar Smith, market director of engineering for Entercom Wilkes-Barre, LLC, a radio cluster owned by Entercom in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
For Smith, the new AirTools 6200 dual-channel digital voice processor from Symetrix turned out to be just what he was looking for. It would simplify his equipment racks while allowing him to tailor a unique sound to each personality's voice. After trying one of the units prior to their commercial roll out, Smith was impressed enough with its performance to place an order for six.
"After years of doing a lot of different things with voice processing, none of which worked very well, including most recently using equalizers to make all of the studio mics sound the same, we decided to go back to processing each mic separately," Smith says. "The AirTools 6200 allows us to process two mics simultaneously, but independently in one unit, unlike other digital processing products that handle only one."
Today, Smith has three of the units deployed at station WKRZ and three at WGGY, both of which serve the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania markets.
With five mics in each station's studio - one for the on-air personality and four for guests - the AirTools 6200 units apply digital processing to all of the mics in use, ensuring that each voice is processed independently and accurately.
"With a dual-channel processor we don't have to settle for a halfway point between different on-air personalities," he says. "You can separate them and run them as two mono channels with completely different settings."
The AirTools 6200 gives Smith a broad range of processing functionality. Programmable modules include symmetry; high-pass filter; de-esser; four-band parametric EQ; high or low shelving filter; dynamics module with downward expanding gate and compressor with AGC mode; and a low-pass filter.
With all of the processing done digitally, the result is a voice-processing tool that gives engineers the ability to remotely tweak parameters and produce a finely tuned, high-quality voice product.
"These processors have made the mics we use during their broadcasts sound very good," Smith says. "They give each voice a nice, clean, crisp and full sound on the air. Even though it's digital, the 6200 provides the warmth that traditional analog tube-style units produce, and that a lot of engineers still like. Everything you want to do with audio is broken out into different modules inside the unit. This allows you to take each one and set it to the way you want it to sound. You can even place them in a different order according to your needs."
With its IP addressability, the AirTools 6200 also gives the radio stations the ability to control the processing remotely and in real-time. "I can listen to the radio broadcast in my office and, through a computer interface, I can make changes to the units in the studio over an IP network," Smith says.
Another feature of the units that has paid multiple dividends is their programmability. With 256 onboard preset locations, the AirTools 6200 can store the exact processor settings that have been established for each user. With the touch of a button, each of the presets can be recalled. Additionally, the ability to program the processing functions means a more secure studio environment.
"Using a digital processor effectively eliminates the possibility of on-air staff making changes to the processing," he says. "Unlike analog processing equipment there are no knobs or buttons that can be bumped. Everything is done either remotely or via a digital interface on the front of the unit."
So far, the AirTools 6200 units have proven their worth, Smith says. Disc jockeys and other users report they like the way the processors make their voices sound - no small feat indeed.
"Each jock's voice sounds different, and the units allow us to set up different processing parameters based on the particular job at hand," he says. "The 6200 gives you the ability to create the voice you want."
For more information on professional audio signal processors from Symetrix, Lucid and AirTools please call (425) 778-7728 or refer to websites, www.symetrixaudio.com, www.lucidaudio.com, symnetaudio.com and www.airtoolsaudio.com.
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