Spiritland ONE Utilising DAD’s Core 256

Spiritland Productions who provide world class technical facilities and creates content for TV, Radio and Digital platforms was one of the first companies to receive Digital Audio Denmark’s exciting new Core 256, a 256|720 channel digital router and monitoring interface.  Once installed the Core 256 quickly became an important device on Spiritland ONE an Audio Outside Broadcast vehicle used to mix large scale live music programmes. Built to be truly special Spiritland ONE offers flexible workflows that are robust and reliable with incredible sonic capabilities. For Spiritland Productions the Core 256 is now an essential aspect of their workflow and is described as the device they didn’t ask for but have been waiting for all along. We just didn’t know it!”

Spiritland ONE has a Dante ecosystem, fully embracing audio over IP technology and all the advantages that brings. At the heart of the truck is a Solid State Logic System-T S500 with a 64 faders, 1024 channels of I/O, and 800 redundant processing paths. Onstage as standard there are 128 SSL mic amps, 8 x MADI either fibre or coax, with multiple SDI sends and returns which can be also deployed. As this workflow is based on Dante infrastructure all of this can easily be expanded depending on specific project requirements.

With the large input counts and processing paths comes the need to be able to record a greater number of channels. In its initial guise, Spiritland ONE could record 2 x 128 channels with 256 channel backup. The installation of the DAD Core256 has allowed Spiritland to offer 256 record channels in triplicate as part of the standard rig. It acts as the I/O for both primary and backup recorders in the Spiritland ONE Audio truck. Four JoeCo DANTE units act as a secondary backup.  Co-Founding Director Antony Shaw states, “The ability to record this many channels in triplicate with such reliability enables us to keep our focus on the sound of the show rather than worrying about whether everything is going to be recorded.”

The Core 256 is a much needed solution as the size of shows that Spiritland ONE works on have continued to get larger. This means that in order to accommodate multi band setups and capture all incoming channels as well as mix stems and masters, being limited to 128 channels was no longer viable for the majority of the shows Spirtland ONE works on. Recent examples for the company include the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2022 which used a total of 234 tracks. Musical shows for both BBC One and Magic Radio regularly use more than 200 channels. Most recently the BBC Big Night of Musicals show used all 256 channels.

Immersive formats, which are growing increasingly popular, are another component of recording live shows that increases the channel count needed. When mixing shows live in immersive formats the biggest issue is the number of channels used by mix stems that are utilised to build our ‘bed’ output. Previously Spirtland would have to use multiple record machines to stripe all the audio. They are now able to fit the majority of shows, including Atmos 5.1.4 mix stems into a single project using the Core 256.

Ease of use and reliability were another key component to ensuring the Core 256 would work for Spirtland. Currently the device is used via Thunderbolt to a Mac Studio M1 Max, running Reaper. Spiritland Productions have been recording 256 channels on every session to test reliability. Multicast traffic in the Dante setup is significant due to the large number of inputs which record to multiple devices, it is usually between 350-600 Mbps. The Core 256 is used at both 48kHz and 96Hz without fault. “The device was unboxed and installed on site on the rig day of a show and was up and running within 10 minutes of being turned on. We then routed 256 channels of audio and ran it for 12 hours straight without a single dropout or error. This, for us, ticked both the ease of use and reliability criteria. We love it!” comments Shaw.

“We were confident that the Core 256 could meet and even exceed their expectations that Spiritland had around the device. There are many digital audio interfaces on the market today but few as compact, powerful, and flexible enough to be used for just about any application” says HHB Communications Sales Manager Andrew Hingley.

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