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Allen & Heath's new iDR series DSP audio system made makes its U.S. debut at the 113th AES Convention. Allen&Heath USA is a newly-established organization that has been set up by North American Pro Audio (NAPA) to provide U.S. distribution for the British audio mixing console manufacturer.
iDR is a DSP audio system for fixed installation and live audio systems. The series encompasses an extensive range of hardware units and software, complemented by the PL series of wall plates and remote controllers. The installer selects the right combination of hardware and configures the system using iDR System Manager software and can then disconnect their PC if desired, leaving the operator with the appropriate level and method of control for day-to-day use.
One or more iDR-8 units sit at the core of any iDR system. iDR-8 is a 2U tall 8+2 in, 8+2 out audio mix processor with Motorola DSPs giving enough processing power for a fixed architecture with full processing for all inputs and outputs. Processing includes preamp gain, pad and +48V, fader, mute, polarity, parametric EQ, crossover filters, compressor and gate with sidechain filter, limiter, crosspoint matrix, input and output patchbay, stereo / group linking, 16 level ducker, automatic mic mixer with ambient noise sensing, two independent pagers and signal generator.
There are 16 soft keys and 32 tri-color LEDs on iDR-8's front panel, the functions of which are set by the installer. Adding iDR-in and iDR-out expanders add 8 balanced XLR inputs and outputs, increasing the channel architecture to 8x16, 16x8 or the full 16x16. These expanders can be up to 300 meters (325 yards) from the iDR-8 they are connected to and further expansion is possible by daisy-chaining iDR-8 units. Monitoring can also be linked, making it possible to listen to any point in the signal chain in the largest distributed systems. iDR-8 has two operating modes: 48k with 16x16 matrix and full expansion capability or 96k with fixed 8x8 architecture for future proofing.
iDR System Manager is the installer's main tool for configuring an iDR system. The software will be made available free from www.allen-heath.com, permitting the installer to plan and configure the system before the hardware arrives. Up to 99 patches can be saved, each containing only those parameters specified, making global and zone-specific control easily achievable. Patches can be recalled as timed events, via iDR-8's front panel keys or using one of the remote control options. The installer connects their PC to an iDR-8 over a TCP/IP network or via an RS232 port, either directly or over a modem. Once configuration is complete the PC can be removed, leaving the iDR system ready for standalone operation.
Control of an iDR system can be achieved in a variety of ways. The company has developed PL-Anet, an RS485 serial network for interfacing with its 'intelligent' PL3 and PL4 wall plates and the PL6 fader plate. PL6 is a compact mixer interface with eight 60mm (2.36 inches) faders and 16 installer configurable switches, making it possible to mix live events within the iDR system. PL4 wall plates have a built-in IR receiver and can be operated at a distance using the PL5 handheld remote controller, allowing the operator to quickly and conveniently adjust the system as required.
Up to 3 iDR-switch hardware units can also be included in an iDR system, providing up to 72 switch closure inputs and 48 logic outputs to control external devices such as wall plates, curtains, lights, custom panels and PIR sensors. An RS232 port runs Allen & Heath's SysNet protocol for communicating with third party controllers such as AMX or Crestron. Yet another control option is provided by PL Designer software, which allows the installer to create tailored 'virtual wall plates' for operators running PL Client software, giving non-technical users safe, convenient control across the network.
Allen & Heath's Managing Director, Glenn Rogers commented on the development of the iDR, "We wanted to build on the success of our DR series digital installation mixers by offering our customers a cost-effective, easy-to-use alternative to the more complex DSP systems on the market. The DR128 and DR66 are still going strong, but now there's an Allen & Heath solution for systems of all sizes requiring easy expandability and sophisticated remote control capability."
Sales and Marketing Director, Bob Goleniowski said, "The iDR series gives us a great opportunity to further our reputation in the fixed installation market. It also has a lot to offer our many friends in the live sound business, especially when you consider that each iDR-8 has enough processing resources to replace racks full of analogue gear."