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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Blackmagic Announces New ATEM Microphone Converter

Blackmagic Design has announced ATEM Microphone Converter, a new audio analogue to digital converter that lets customers add additional microphones to ATEM switcher models such as the new ATEM Television Studio HD8. Featuring a MADI connection, it means customers don’t have to configure any complex settings because the connection is a simple BNC cable. The design features amazing quality with an extremely low noise floor of -129dBV, a dynamic range of 131dB(A), low distortion of 0.002% and uniform tolerances across all channels. The design also features an HDMI monitoring output with scrolling waveform displays. ATEM Microphone Converter will be available in Q2 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for AU$625.

Now it’s easy to expand the MADI input on ATEM switchers so customers can add multiple microphones or external audio mixers. The ATEM Microphone Converter simply plugs into the ATEM Television Studio MADI port, so there’s no complex setup required and additional units can even be daisy chained for more sources. Each converter has four analogue inputs that are mic/line selectable and have 48V phantom power. The design features amazing audio quality with an extremely low noise floor, a wide dynamic range and very low distortion. The design even uses eight separate ADCs on each separate input that work together to extend dynamic range. There is also an HDMI monitoring output with scrolling audio waveforms.

The ATEM Microphone Converter features a familiar converter based design that has space for the analogue electronics required for high quality analogue to digital audio conversion (ADC). It features combined XLR/TRS input sockets allowing both XLR or jack cables to be connected. It also includes a MADI output with the converted audio, as well as a MADI input which allows multiple ATEM Microphone Converters to be daisy chained so more than four channels of audio can be embedded into a single MADI connection.

The ATEM Microphone Converter’s MADI output embeds the four analogue inputs as MADI channels 1, 2, 3 and 4. ATEM Microphone Converter also includes a MADI input, which is used to loop multiple converters when customers need more than four channels of audio on a single MADI link. This means if a second converter is connected to the input of another, the upstream converter will stack its four channels above the four channels on the downstream converter.

Each analogue input channel has an ultra low noise, fixed gain pre amplifier scaled to drive a high dynamic range audio ADC, which totally eliminates using an analogue microphone pre amplifier in the design so the input does not suffer from preamp gain step clicks or ‘zipper noise’. The ATEM Microphone Converter steps outside conventional audio industry design practice of using an individual audio ADC, as each input implements analogue to digital conversion using eight high dynamic range audio ADCs that function collectively as one ultra high dynamic range audio ADC. This means each input channel’s dynamic range is an incredible 131dB(A).

A common problem with mic converters is the higher noise floor where electrical noise is generated in the preamplifiers. The ATEM Microphone Converter eliminates this problem by using a very different design where the input is converted directly using its ultra high dynamic range conversion so customers pass RAW audio to the switcher where the switcher can then apply as much gain as required for the correct audio level. This means customers don’t get an injection of noise caused by an analogue gain stage, so customers get an extremely low fixed noise floor of -129dBV regardless of digital gain applied.

With the wide dynamic range input that eliminates the need for an analogue pre amplifier, microphone levels are adjusted by a digital pre amplifier gain stage that is extremely stable. Different microphone types and brands can vary widely in analogue audio levels, so this digital gain stage allows compensation for the specific brand of microphone customers use. Best of all, the digital pre amplifier is processed in the full internal 32bit RAW audio bit depth, so users are adjusting with much greater precision than the MADI audio standard can support.

The innovative design of the ATEM Microphone Converter also has other benefits, such as extremely precise matching between input audio channels. The multi ADC per input design technique means that each analogue audio input has very similar specifications and tolerances so all input channels are statistically more uniform. Plus the unique eight ADC input design will maintain a stable and consistent flat noise floor that won’t experience the negative effects of noise floor level modulation that traditional staggered ADC designs suffer from.

ATEM Microphone Converter also includes an HDMI video monitoring output so customers can connect a simple TV or computer monitor for a full status display. It includes four scrolling waveforms over the last 60 seconds of time, which is both informative and fun to watch. There are also audio meters to show the level at the input connector. There are also indicators to show the switch settings for mic/line input selection and phantom power. Plus if customers daisy chain converters the monitoring output will adapt and display more than four channels.

“We are very excited by this product because we spent a lot of time innovating on the analogue conversion design for incredibly high quality,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “We didn’t want to design a cheap converter, we wanted to design the best, so the benefit to customers is their microphones will have a very low noise floor so there is no background noise. The noise floor of this converter is lower than all the microphones we tested! That means any customer can get radio station audio quality without any technical knowledge. The converter does it all.”

ATEM Microphone Converter Features

  • Expand audio inputs with ATEM Microphone Converter.
  • Robust converter style design.
  • Connects via MADI for multi channel audio.
  • Extremely low noise floor of -129dBV.
  • Ultra high dynamic range of 131dB(A).
  • Precise input matching and low distortion of 0.002 percent.
  • Includes HDMI monitoring output with scrolling audio waveform display.


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