Rising the stakes on his touring – not least from an audio perspective – Justin Timberlake’s The Man of the Woods includes two legs in North America, sandwiching a run of shows in Europe. The show is staged ‘in the round’, with walkways thrusting out from main stage to two satellite stages.

The Man of the WoodsHaving previously spent considerable time exploring different platforms, FOH engineer Andy Meyer, who has been working with Timberlake since 2005, chose an Optocore fibre network solution to handle the complex D/A conversion the sound system demands.

Working with system tech Justin Lenards and fellow engineer Ozzy Giron, Meyer had previous experience with Optocore via DiGiCo consoles, and wasted little time in venturing down this path for his signal transport. ‘The solution was obvious to me right from the start,’ he said after comparative testing at ESI Audio & Lighting in Tampa, Florida. ‘The shootout confirmed this, and immediately determined that for the environment we would be working with Optocore would be by far the best solution.’

The audio signal path duly mushroomed into a multi-network transport solution using Optocore ‘R’ series converters, with the design and implementation supported by Brandon Coons, from Optocore North America. These units can be controlled by any DiGiCo SD Series console and live on the same network, just as if it were an SD Rack or other DiGiCo product.

Meyer based his FOH universe around a DiGiCo SD7 and two SD Racks. Optocore X6R D/A converters are used to break out 64 channels from the optical network. From there, four Optocore X6R-TP-16LO (16 line out) network converters take over, each daisychained off a corresponding X6R-FX-16LO for 32 channels per pair, relayed via Cat5 using Optocore’s Sane protocol.

FOH RackOnce the audio is converted to digital via Apogee Symphony I/Os, it is fed via AES into the network via an Optocore DD32R-FX AES3 I/O device. Another DD32R-FX at the stage feeds the PA drive network and amplifiers for the Clair Cohesion CO12 PA system, front fill speakers and subs, while a DD2FR-FX Madi I/O gives 2 x 32 optical Madi I/O at 96kHz for playback into the FOH and monitor systems. Meanwhile, a second Optocore/DiGiCo network is dedicated to monitors and overseen by monitor engineer Paul Klimson.

This elaborate signal flow for Timberlake and his Tennessee Kids backing band provides an astonishing, rock solid 200 inputs (including returns) and 168 outputs, including the PA drive. Reflecting on the implementation, Andy Meyer says the decision to keep the FOH and stage drive on a DiGiCo protocol fibre loop while having the amp rack loop on an independent Optocore ring had been a sensible one.

‘This offers the ability to monitor all five DD32R-FX units in real time, along with any other device on the network,’ he states. ‘Fundamentally, [the choice] was made for the ease of being able to use the DD32Rs to transport signals anywhere, without the risk of signal degradation on longer AES runs.

‘The advantage of Optocore is that it simplifies everything down just two pieces of fibre – and it sounds fantastic. When you are carrying a lot of analogue the solution has to be simple and Optocore provided absolutely the best way to achieve this –providing high quality audio, network stability and ease of use.’

Meyer also credits Clair Bros, particularly Scott ‘Scooter’ Hernbeck, who has accompanied the tour on the road, and Console Department Manager, Jonathan Shober, who sanctioned the acquisition of the new Optocore devices. He also had unqualified praise for Optocore’s Brandon Coons for his advice during the design and implementation process. ‘He was extremely helpful from the beginning and I’m delighted with the result.’

More: www.optocore.com

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