In my last blog, I took a look at AoIP and how we work with Calrec and our customers to help them migrate. In part, this blog picks up on that theme but there’s also some additional angles here.
I’m going to take a look at Calrec’s ImPulse product. What’s that, you ask? Well, based on recent discussions and sales, we know that some of you are familiar with this product. For those who aren’t, let’s step back. Calrec ImPulse is a powerful audio processing and routing engine with AES67 and SMPTE 2110 connectivity. It’s compatible with existing Apollo and Artemis control surfaces to provide a simple upgrade path for existing Calrec customers as they transfer to IP infrastructures, while also providing additional DSP power. It forms a key part of the company’s remote working suite of products and services as well as featuring immersive audio capabilities.
So what does all that actually mean?
An early version of ImPulse was unveiled at IBC2018. Since then the product has been honed and is now coming into its own, given the focus on remote workflows which COVID has steered us toward, and the increase in the speed of migration to IP we are now witnessing.
ImPulse provides a very clear migration path to IP. It was absolutely front and center from the outset in design terms. Calrec wanted to push further into open standards – SMPTE 2110 and AES67 – and ImPulse does that. Existing Apollo and Artemis surfaces can be upgraded to IP consoles by adding the ImPulse core. Additionally, existing Hydra2 I/O boxes can be converted to support both Hydra2 and AoIP, allowing customers to upgrade their existing I/O investment to work natively with Impulse Also, to give an example, remote truck companies with a large stock of I/O that gets shared/reallocated between jobs, can switch it out on a job-by-job basis, using the same hardware for a Hydra2 job or an IP one. Calrec’s H2-IP Gateway provides a bridge between Hydra2 networks and IP networks, passing audio, control data and labels between the domains – Hydra2 users can access and control audio in the IP domain and vice versa.
We know that Dante works and that many customers use Dante currently but we, along with a great many others, believe that in the long run AES67 and SMPTE 2110 – not forgetting NMOS – are the future. We are already seeing customers making this decision now.
Calrec Impulse Benefits
While it’s hard to believe that people run out of inputs on a 1040 Apollo console, they do. And it’s more common than you’d think! ImPulse solves this issue by providing a huge increase in DSP power – up to 4,488 inputs, around four times the capabilities of a Hydra2-based Apollo. I see this really working in big production facilities where there can be huge routing capabilities with multiple consoles in multiple places. It’s often the case that customers find it hard to define exactly what their maximum capacity requirement is. ImPulse provides the power and flexibility they need.
There’s the additional benefit that they can deploy that power as and when/where they need it on a case-by-case basis and can unlock more processing capabilities on a given surface simply by buying additional licenses. Up to four desks can be attached to an ImPulse core, lowering costs significantly as they can use the additional DSP where required.
This dovetails with the increasing move to remote working, something that we were seeing before COVID and which is now a rapidly growing requirement. ImPulse clearly fits into this model and can be used across multiple productions that are geographically remote. Calrec cleverly designed it so that it’s equally capable in a traditional OB model as it is with the cloud-style server centers of tomorrow.
Then there’s immersive audio. We know that Dolby, with its Atmos® technology, is really pushing this and there are market opportunities, not least with sports and eSports. Calrec has already done some work on immersive audio with multiple customers mixing it without any console adaption. ImPulse takes this a huge step further with increased signal processing capabilities and adding height controls from the control surface. It allows customers to be ready.
We can all see that the market is very complex at the moment with customer requirements varying greatly. We think that ImPulse is a very clever, multifaceted response to this situation, allowing us to further increase our ability to respond to very specific, case-by-case requirements.