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Home | Library | Articles | Control Your World

Control Your World

by Dale Manquen
A true audio pioneer, Dale previously developed Audio tape recorders for 3M(56) and Ampex (ATR100). His passions are model trains and teaching.

Article summary: Our Recorder Monitor does it better than build-it-yourself solutions and you won't tie up your technical staff now that an off-the-shelf product is available.

(RMS has been renamed RecordistMAX)

Featured in Audio Horizons Fall 1998 PDF 680k | Newsletter List
RecordistMAX product information

An elegant alternative to a costly in-house project, the Martinsound Recorder Monitor System (RMS) is an off-the-shelf solution to what has traditionally been a costly and labor-intensive project for many studios. Previously, motion picture studios and post production houses had no choice but to commit their in-house engineering resources to the time consuming and expensive task of designing and constructing a custom recorder monitoring unit that would meet their needs.

At Martinsound, we saw the opportunity to develop a recorder monitor system that could combine all of the features that the studios needed, while adding advanced ideas of our own, at a higher level of performance and lower cost than had previously been possible.

We seem to have gotten it right: in just nine months of production we have already supplied eight systems to studios like Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Todd-AO and Four Media Corporation (4MC). The versatility of the RMS is such that it will fit a wide range of applications, including recordist's monitoring, track combining for copies and transfers, quality control monitoring of multiple format masters and distribution prints, and changeover projector switching.

The RMS provides the machine room technician with programmable alignment, monitoring, metering and track combining facilities. The basic system is a 2U master module with four 8-track recorder inputs, which may be easily expanded with the addition of up to three 2U expander units to monitor a maximum of 16 machines, or 128 tracks.

Communication between the master and slave units is via simple serial wiring, which permits distributed placement of the units or multiple paralleled control panels. For example, one control unit could be in the machine room and another in the studio, or a roving remote control panel in the machine room could give the technician control of the test oscillator and monitor functions at the recorders.

Alignment procedures become quick and easy with the RMS. One button per 8-track machine provides automatic tone injection via relays to the recorder inputs. The master unit includes a built-in programmable sinewave oscillator, pink noise generator, and balanced input for an external test signal. Three switches designated HIGH, MID and LOW store and recall preferred setup frequencies and levels from the internal oscillator. A 4-digit display provides readout of the oscillator frequency or level - or loudspeaker or headphone monitor level - depending on the mode selected.

The RMS features excellent isolation and crosstalk specifications, allowing the oscillator to be used to align recorders even while other machines are in use on the stage. Separate tone buffer amplifiers for each recorder eliminate oscillator level variations as the number of machines or tracks is changed.

The RMS monitoring paths provide for LCR placement of each track, with separate level, mute and dim controls for headphone and loudspeaker outputs. Sources may be selected from the 96 inputs - recorder inputs, sync outputs and repro outputs from four 8-track machines - feeding each unit.

The assignment of sources to the loudspeakers and meters is made via an LED matrix and 4 mode buttons in conjunction with the 32-button array on the front panel of each unit. A multi-mode Solo function allows a single track or combination of inputs to be monitored by the operator.

Assignment configurations can be easily stored for later recall, further speeding-up the alignment and recording processes. Up to 32 snapshots may be stored of the input source selection, loudspeaker and meter assignments. Two of these snapshots are reserved for a special 'Changeover Screening' mode.

Eight meter buses, usually connected to an optional set of 8 VU meters, sum the signal from any combination of like-numbered inputs (i.e. Meter #1 is fed by any number of Track #1 inputs from the recorders). Optional auxiliary balanced line outputs from the 8 meter buses may be used to drive output buses for transferring and copying, 8 monitor channels for changeover screenings, or additional external meters.

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