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JoeCo announces dedicated multi-channel playback solution for live shows

JoeCo Limited introduced a preview of its Blackbox Player at PLASA 2010 in London. Based on the Blackbox Recorder's technology, the Blackbox Player is a dedicated 1U multi-channel device specifically designed for replaying backing tracks for live shows. Able to replay 24 channels of 24bit/96kHz audio, the player can be triggered with a footswitch or keyboard, or controlled via MIDI commands, giving the live engineer, musical director or artist full control of the show.
Audio for playback can be loaded onto a standard USB2 hard drive, or Flash RAM drive, from any workstation capable of creating Broadcast WAV files. A simple naming convention ensures that the correct file is replayed through each output. The "set list" can be configured into a simple playlist file written in an easy to understand XML format. Multiple playlist files can be stored on the external media allowing for quick set changes or alternative show formats.
A unique feature of the Blackbox Player is its ability to automatically switch to a synchronous secondary system in the event of a failure. This would normally require a costly external switching matrix, however the player’s design enables the main system’s input channels to be seamlessly looped through to its outputs via analogue relays. These can be set to swap to the alternate audio source manually or automatically on any failure.
With 24 channels of playback available, separate fold-back mixes for the artist (including count-ins and click tracks) can be configured using the normal facilities on the console. An additional mix can be derived and sent to the headphone output for the musical director if required. The Blackbox Player can also be synchronised to an incoming source of digital audio clock, or optionally word clock. Other output options are available such as AES/EBU or Lightpipe.
JoeCo's Joe Bull explains the background to the BlackBox family's latest addition: "The idea resulted from conversations with FOH engineers working with solo artists, rather than a full band, where the artist's performance is of primary interest to the audience. We also spoke to theme parks and venues with permanent installations such as museums, galleries and houses of worship that all require reliable playback solutions. Multi-channel playback is important both for surround sound and because it allows the live engineer to compensate for the acoustics of the venue, or for the audience. Computer-based solutions tend to be difficult to operate live and many engineers have also cited examples of needing separate automated switching devices to guarantee seamless playback in case of a primary system failure. Using the proven technology of the Blackbox Recorder, we have been able to devise a solution that addresses a whole range of requirements in a compact 1U package."
Blackbox Player by JoeCo
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