Music & Audio Production

Nottingham Trent University’s Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies has opened a London campus featuring a Solid State Logic Duality Fuse SuperAnalogue™ console in its flagship Dolby Atmos studio, integrated with the full DSP, monitoring and control capabilities of SSL’s System T for music platform — a new tracking, mixing, and immersive audio production solution named, TriniTy. Confetti’s new SSL TriniTy is a first-of-its-kind, Dante-networked, customizable, hybrid solution that brings the groundbreaking flexibility and power of System T, with sonic characteristics of SSL’s Duality Fuse console together.

Confetti, established in 1994 and part of Nottingham Trent University since 2015, offers hands-on college, undergraduate, and postgraduate courses in areas including music, events, esports, media, and games, with close to 3,000 students. The new 35,000-square-foot campus opened in London’s Whitechapel district in September and houses three recording studios — the other two feature 16-channel SSL ORIGIN analogue mixing consoles — and live rooms as well as rehearsal spaces. The campus also includes broadcast production galleries, virtual production and esports spaces, and a 600-capacity live music venue opening soon.

Next-gen Hybrid Workflow in a Dolby Atmos facility

Under the Confetti Media Group umbrella the organization also operates a commercial facility integration and fabrication company. “We’ve built quite a few Dolby Atmos studios,” especially for game companies, says Joe Duckhouse, CTO of the group. But while designing the new flagship studio for the Whitechapel campus he was struck by the fact that the available immersive mixing tools did not provide a comfortable or familiar workflow for music producers, particularly ones who want to retain the sonic qualities of an analogue mixing console.  “I wanted the new room to be a really high-end music studio which facilitates Atmos in a musical way, rather than compromising a stereo music studio for Atmos, or using postproduction tools,” he says.

Duckhouse approached SSL about developing a more suitable solution, engaging in discussions with Tom Knowles, Director of Product Management, and Berny Carpenter, Product Manager, along with Bill Ward, owner of Langdale Technical Consulting, integrator of the Whitechapel campus facilities. That collaboration resulted in TriniTy, which the school and its students have been using for over three months.

The power of customization

The highly customizable TriniTy package combines multi-format immersive mix buses, a comprehensive 9.1.6 monitor section, an integrated effects rack and recallable patch control with the familiarity and immediacy — including zero-latency monitoring — of an analogue workflow and console surface. “Because the System T is natively Atmos that makes the Duality Atmos-capable as well,” Duckhouse explains. “It allows you to have an inline analogue channel path feeding an object to the renderer. You could have a microphone in a live room going through some outboard through an inline channel and going straight to an object. Or you could take an object and send it out through the channel strip or through the patchbay into analogue gear. So you can use your traditional gear on objects without needing to bounce down or do some complex routing from the DAW.”

In the case of Confetti  London’s new Duality Fuse room, the essential core components of the TriniTy package include a Tempest Control Rack (TCR), which is the brains of the System, a TE2 Tempest Engine, which provides system DSP, and 128 channels of converters interfacing with the Duality analogue desk. “We chose to fully interface all of the I/O on the Duality Fuse,” Duckhouse says. “The TE2 supports 512 in and out of Dante at 48 kHz, or 256 at 96 kHz with 160 DSP paths on DSP pack 2, so we can do a full 96k Dolby Atmos mix with 128 objects.”

The machine room also houses an SSL Network I/O A32 interface, which supports 32 SuperAnalogue I/O to and from the AES67/ST 2110-compatible Dante network. “I'm using that as the outputs to the monitoring path, going into the PMC 9.1.4 speaker system,” he says.

The familiar touch of SSL in the production workflow

A System T Fader Tile and Master Tile, plus a touchscreen monitor, are integrated into Confetti’s desk frame next to the 24-channel Duality Fuse console. “We have a manufacturing division where we make our acoustics and studio furniture, so the frame of the console is built by Confetti,” Duckhouse says. “We have vocal chain outboard on the left and a patchbay on the right in a curved-wing console.”

When in 5.1 mode, the Duality Fuse console features a dedicated LFE bus, with level control on each input channel, which can inject object audio into the LFE bus within the 7.1.2 bed, which is then directed to System T. System T can handle all other tracks as additional objects or input channels, ready to be mixed into multi-format immersive buses with onboard XYZ and rotational Theta pan. The 16-channel monitor system supports formats up to 9.1.6.

SSL’s TriniTy solution enables the entire mixing signal flow to be almost instantly reconfigured from one session to the next. “Because the System T is showfile-based, we can build presets for everything from a very simple stereo preset that allows you to use it as a standard Duality Fuse to complex immersive audio profiles,” he explains. “It could even be configured for things that haven't been invented yet, because Atmos workflows keep evolving and new tools keep being added.” As an added benefit, he says, “We've got this huge SSL digital effects rack in System T, and we can pull up the insert points on the Duality, which is really powerful.”

For anyone planning to purchase a new stereo analogue console or upgrade an existing desk for immersive mixing, TriniTy’s control elements can be tailored to suit the needs of each individual studio installation, Duckhouse continues. “You could just have a touchscreen or run it with a smaller touchscreen and a smaller section of control panel. SSL’s Tempest Control App can run on the host PC. Then you can use whatever controllers you want with it. So this kind of solution can augment your desk without needing to rip it out or bypass whole sections of it.”

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