BR in Unterföhring (Germany) gets new Lawo Technology

Jörg Schiebener, Systems Engineer (standing); Dietrich Thorau, Senior Sound Engineer

BR (Bavarian Broadcasting) has produced several legendary programmes. Just as legendary was the digital mixing console used in BR’s TV studio since 1994. Very prone to errors, it is now going to be replaced by cutting-edge Lawo technology, so that current programme highlights can be broadcast in the usual quality without problems.

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BR has four studio areas in Unterföhring, each of 600 square meters, and two control rooms. Duplex operation allows each control room to work with any of the studio areas by simply re-plugging. In addition, there are four post-production areas (two non-linear editing suites, one audio suite, and one linear post-production suite) and a VTR complex. “We constantly had to repair, improvise, select back-up solutions, or develop special switches, simply because of the age of the equipment, a lack of replacement parts, and the increasing demands placed on studio technology, such as 5.1 surround sound. It was a challenge every day,” explains Jörg Schiebener, the sound engineer responsible for audio technology at BR’s Unterföhring facility, regarding the situation prior to the technology upgrade.

The audio technology division at Unterföhring decided to carry out the upgrade themselves, as it seemed unreasonable to bring in a third party. “The high complexity of our facility requires a lot of insider knowledge, so this project could only be realized through our audio technology division. The upgrade schedule had to be planned at short notice, and with a high degree of flexibility in terms of its duration,” says Schiebener.

With BR’s FÜ1 HD OB truck having been kitted out with Lawo equipment, Lawo was once again chosen for the main audio components. Schiebener, explaining this decision, says “Lawo equipment especially meets our audio and technical requirements, especially with respect to the potential networking of independent studio systems”. In control rooms 1 and 4, BR relies on Lawo mc²66 consoles with 56 faders (32-8-16) and a HD-Core with 8k router cards. Control room 4 features an additional crystal console. The central router is a Lawo Nova73 HD with nine DALLIS frames. A Sadie multichannel system is directly connected to the consoles via MADI.

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With a Lawo system, the routing setup can be controlled independently. According to Schiebener: “This requires both detailed planning and client training using company oriented software, but also provides an understandable and common platform for technical communication between the client and Lawo.” The console surface, control room monitoring, as well as a user panel were custom designed.

“The ISDN connection was extremely helpful,” continues Schiebener, who was very satisfied with the overall progress of the project. “Lawo’s help and configuration via this useful link was a very reassuring element for us” explains Schiebener. Finally, he describes another difference between the old and new equipment: “We are not used to the front end wiring used on the Lawo console, but the advantages quickly show up during operation; insight and clarity improved massively!”

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