PSI Audio and SRG-SSR create international reference for Dolby Atmos OB Vans

Swiss media company SRG-SSR has equipped three of its production OB Vans with state-of-the-art immersive audio monitoring systems from PSI Audio. With one of the OB Van for each of the SRG-SSR channels, RSI (Italian), RTS (French) and SRF (German), the company provides optimized quality for mobile productions like sports, entertainment or musical events. The vehicles, called PaaM-M, contain three PSI Audio A23-M for the front, two A14-M surrounds, four A14-M on the ceiling and a Sub A125-M for LFE, all immaculately integrated by Broadcast Solutions in an acoustics environment designed by Jochen Veith. The company’s engineers, who chose PSI Audio speakers in sophisticated blind tests, now claim they can sometimes achieve better results in the PaaM-M OB Van than in traditional studios. Since the PaaM-M OB Van were put into operation, RTS has equipped another OB van with a similar PSI Audio system, and more additions to the fleet are planned.

Full HD for Swiss media, SRG-SSR : high resolution for sound

The Swiss have a reputation of being very fond of quality items. Media broadcasters have a similar sort of reputation. So, everyone can imagine the kind of requirements a Swiss media company has towards its gear. When Swiss media company SRG-SSR, which envelops the TV, Radio and digital stations RSI (Italian), RTS (French) and SRF (German), recently equipped their latest OB Vans with new speakers for the immersive on-board monitoring setups, the engineers chose PSI Audio. Three A23-M make up the front of the listening system, complemented by two A14-M surrounds, four A14-M on the ceiling and a Sub A125-M for the LFE channel. The state-of-the-art audio monitoring system is now employed to perfectly capture and process sports events, entertainment and musicals, from major football events to cycling, tennis and beach volleyball to the “fête de la musique“ and shows like “52 minutes”. Best-quality programs produced with high-quality studio monitors from PSI Audio.

Big Rig: PaaM-M for RTS, SRF and RSI

SRG equipped three OB Vans with this system, all of the PaaM-M type, accommodating up to ten Full HD (and UHD ready) cameras. Regionals enterprise units; RSI, RTS and SRF create a national team to plan and build four PaaM-M (one each), ensuring comparable production environments for the three channels, especially when covering the same events. These trucks are a sight to behold: once they reach their working position, the side extends to create more space inside. At the heart of the system lies a Stagetec Avatus console with 36 faders, affording the engineers the flexibility required to cover the very different types of programmes produced with the PaaM-M trucks. All M- and L- sized OB Vans in the fleet are capable of mixing immersive audio, so the PaaM-M can now provide stereo, surround or Dolby Atmos – mixed with absolute precision thanks to the sophisticated PSI Audio speaker setup.

Outstanding performance required: the selection of PSI Audio

The decision for speakers in such a key position cannot be made lightly. Fabrice Mossuz, Audio Specialist at RTS, explains the selection process: “It was a total blind test with the speakers placed behind an acoustic curtain. About 40 sound engineers were given 40 minutes each to judge the speakers. They could use their own reference tracks, from classical music to TV shows, and would judge the speakers on several criteria.” These criteria included acoustic design, phase cohesion, spatial imaging, headroom, accuracy and ear fatigue. In the end, PSI Audio stood above the rest, and the decision was made to work with the Swiss manufacturer.

Complex integration: a Swiss-quality custom job

As one might imagine, the integration of speakers in a mobile studio creates challenges unlike those of normal studios – particularly in terms of size restrictions. Every detail of the building was meticulously planned, from the acoustics to the position of the side speakers. The A23-M were cut in the back with the amplifiers moved out of the speaker cabinets, so they could be soffit-mounted as per requirement. The speakers had to fit in the spaces left by the displays, and they had to be at very specific positions to avoid reflections. The acoustics, designed by German acoustician Jochen Veith, and the PSI Audio speakers now act together to deliver an outstandingly precise sound image for the engineers to work with.

Speakers to rely on

Mission accomplished; you could say: the speaker setup delivers the exact fidelity RTS was looking for. Fabrice Mossuz describes his experience: “They are very linear, non-tiring and precise. You can trust them.” With PSI Audio, the sound engineers from RTS, RSI and SRF know exactly what the viewers/listeners at home get. “When mixing in the truck, you can be sure to have a well-balanced production. Listening back to it on home environment will not surprise you.” Some sound engineers even claim they can sometimes get better results in the PaaM-M than they get in normal, stationary mixing studios. 

The word spreads: more OB Vans to come

Integrator Broadcast Solutions and PSI Audio cooperated to conquer the enormously challenging requirements never before reached by an OB van. The result is an international reference, a fleet of trucks that sets the bar for all future endeavours in the field. Unsurprisingly then, RTS recently equipped another truck with the same system, replacing a renowned speaker manufacturer with the PSI Audio speakers. And the future seems bright for SRG-SSR engineers: in the coming years, they want to switch all their production vehicles with similar systems based on the PSI Audio A23-M. Now that is a testament of confidence in the Swiss-precision studio monitors from Yverdon.