Entec Live expands its Optocore network

Entec Live has extended its investment in Optocore, proofing them for the growing roster of arena, stadium and festival events they are undertaking, using M8-BNC and X6R-FX converters for Gorillaz and Blur.

This was after the production company had invested in its first three M8-BNC MADI switches for the Gorillaz world tour early last year. Supplied by Optocore dealer, HD Pro Audio, the devices were designed to help their Pro Tools rig, enabling connectivity with their Optocore-enabled DiGiCo SD7 digital consoles.

The deployment this year recently added a further M8-BNC, and five X6R-FX-16AE interfaces, one with SRC sample rate conversion option, the other four without, creating an Optocore PA Returns rack.

Explaining the systematic upgrade, Entec Live Technical Manager, Peter Eltringham commented: “Gorillaz and by extension Blur now have a Record rack that sits on the Opto loop with the two consoles and allows them to do virtual soundcheck; they can multitrack record the whole gig, and can listen to play back at both ends of the multicore.”

“The Pro Tools record rig has a capability of 196 channels at 96K, and Entec Live deployed three M8’s to get the channel count required.  There was no point getting the devices with more BNC connectors because you can’t use them in that set-up so we bought three of the M8 units and they’ve been absolutely great,” Eltringham explained, this was extended with the addition of a further M8-BNC this summer.

The new X6R converters made their debut with Blur at their two recent Wembley Stadium shows. Eltringham explained that the four devices without SRC provide AES output in the amp racks. “Two AES units in each amp rack provide hardware redundancy, over and above the redundant power and loop topology that Optocore units provide. This means our backup signal to the amplifiers is the same as our main, maintaining audio quality.”

“The design for the amp racks was never to have signal coming in, so they didn’t require SRC; however, the other one at FOH is effectively the ‘ingest’ for the system and does have sample rate conversion; this can handle different incoming signals without a problem and feeds it out to the units in the amp racks.”

“It’s really the entire backbone for distribution, with a DirectOut Prodigy which is the drive system that sits on top of it,” added Entec Head of Sound, Dan Scantlebury. “So we can run AES out of that into the SRC-enabled device, The SRC-equipped converter gives them the ability to use various different processors. We’re not locked to just using the Prodigy, we can use Lakes, we can use Newtons, whatever we want really on the same fibre backbone.”

Entec took over The Other Stage at Glastonbury this year and the new Optocore drive system will be deployed there next year.

Peter Eltringham explained: “We had been talking about moving over to Optocore for PA returns, sending the signal back towards the amps, for a while. The great thing about Optocore is it does one job and does it extremely well, on its own separate system. It handles the task of audio transport so well and reliably that you simply trust it for your console.”

Eltringham continued: “This is the start for us, and in time we can tack more things onto the loop. Although this time around at Wembley we used just AES to talk to the delay amplifiers, in future iterations we could easily add in some extra devices and extend the loop.”

Scantlebury foresees further investment in Optocore as the scale of events Entec Live undertakes warrants a higher level of redundancy to safeguard larger shows. “This will basically now be our arena return system for the rest of the year,” Scantlebury reinforced.  “And it’s infinitely expandable.”