The new operation, located in Porth near Cardiff, is sited in the former Corona Pop Works and will become home to a weekly live music programme that will be seen on the digital platform BBC Choice Wales. It also houses A3 Records and a brand new 48 track recording studio and rehearsal complex, complete with on-line and off-line editing facilities, called The Welsh Hills Works.
The multi-purpose broadcast centre is, according to Avanti’s founder and MD Emyr Afan, the most important development in Welsh broadcasting this decade. "There is a new confidence in Wales. More and more high-tech companies are locating here. With The Pop Factory, we are proud to be bringing London-quality facilities to South Wales and creating a focus for media businesses in the region."
The centrepiece of the audio system is the new Sony DMX-R100 which was chosen to fulfil a busy and varied schedule in the Pop Factory’s hectic programme, which includes the production of a music magazine series for BBC2 as well as ‘Sesiwn Hwyr’ (the ‘Late Session’) - a live welsh-language programme for S4C. Programming was already underway when the building was officially opened by Welsh music icons Tom Jones, Cerys Matthews and Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics in the latter part of last year. "In fact, the moment the console power was switched on, we were editing on it!" recalled Owen Thomas, head of sound at The Pop Factory. "Even the opening itself was mixed live on the console and broadcast to the crowd outside."
As the console has to handle inputs from several studios around the complex, routing was a significant issue for Thomas: "Especially when you are working in a live studio, being able to route anything anywhere is great - especially when this needs to be reset instantly during a busy programme. The routing system is very straightforward to use, and lets us set up the console layout in exactly the way we want to," he commented.
The technical fit-out was masterminded by Visual Impact’s Bristol office. Richard Madeley commented on the tight timescale of the project. "The builders moved in during May and we had to be ready by the end of August. There was no time for trial runs - we just had to make it all work on time!" He also pointed out that the choice of console was the result of some forward planning on Avanti Television’s part. "We debated about how we could achieve what was needed at The Pop Factory - such as linking a pair of smaller digital mixers - but the DMX-R100 integrates so much better into a professional broadcast environment. With 96kHz/24-bit capability, the technology is also very future-proof, which is important in the fast-moving television production market. It’s also very rare to find a product that is so good at multi-tasking - and The Pop Factory’s workload is an ideal use for a sophisticated mixing console like the DMX-R100."
The Sony DMX-R100 is a professional 8 bus digital mixing console, designed for stereo and 5.1 surround operation, with an emphasis on sound quality and ease of use. The DMX-R100 can operate at up to 96kHz, using high-quality 24-bit ADCs and DACs and high speed SHARC Digital Signal Processors. Its 56 input channels include 24 analogue inputs as standard; a total of 18 output buses can be configured to suit the application.