TC Electronic have announced a brand new system that brings together monitor control, monitor calibration, loudness metering and so much more. Clarity X covers channel formats up to 7.1 surround and includes several advanced meters that allow you to never compromise on the clarity and intelligibility of your mix. It will help you with your crucial mix decisions, including monitor calibration, center channel balance, downmix and loudness compatibility.
Speech intelligibility issues are among the most common complaints broadcasters face today, followed very closely by complaints about loudness jumps and so considering dialog level isn't enough. Clarity X offers a palette of dedicated metering and calibration tools that help you make the right mixing decisions for an optimal balance, spectrum and increased intelligibility of their final productions.
It is not just a one-dimensional solution, but a combination of multiple innovative and advanced tools. The first step is simply to calibrate the monitors properly, using the included measurement microphone, so the reference SPL is always the same when mixing. This is key as we hear the frequency spectrum differently at various levels, which in turn triggers different mixing decisions for the same type of audio source.
Clarity X offers a suite of metering tools, including a loudness-based Stereo Deviation Meter that reflects how well a surround mix will translate into stereo. Other meters include a new Center Ratio meter displaying the balance between the center channel (typical dialog) and the other channels in a surround mix, the new LM8 Loudness Radar Meter with 7.1 surround support, true-peak meter, SPL meter and a dose % meter.
Thomas Valter, VP of Business Management for Broadcast & Production at TC Electronic told us...
Think of Clarity X as the missing link between Pro Tools and your monitors. Audio professionals have had to come up with their own custom-made solutions, often involving small pieces of tape to indicate calibrated listening levels, for much too long. We’re extremely proud to present Clarity X as the one-stop multi-format monitoring solution that gives audio engineers total control, as well as a suite of tools that help them always deliver the better mix.
Hook Up Any Monitor
Any monitor with digital or analog inputs can be connected to Clarity X. As default Clarity X comes with AES inputs and outputs, but it can be expanded with MADI I/O as well. For instance, it is possible to connect a 5.1 or 7.1 surround set of monitors as well as two or more different stereo sets – or two complete 5.1 or 7.1 sets even without expanding with MADI. For surround setups, Clarity X offers full bass management control as well as solo/mute functionality for each speaker in the system.
Clarity X comes with a sleek small-footprint remote control that offers hands-on control of the most important monitor control functions as well as a row of user-definable function keys that can be programmed to suit any workflow.
Besides using the dedicated remote control, you operate Clarity X through their free Icon control software that gives you access to all the setup tools, parameter settings, preset management, etc.
The Icon application runs on PC and Mac and if you're already using other Icon-compatible TC products, you can easily add Clarity X to your existing setup.
Tools That Help Increase the Intelligibility of Your Mix
If you can't hear the dialog properly, there is a problem. It may not be yours, but there is definitely a problem - and it will cause viewer complaints.
TC Electronic set out to analyze a lot of film and TV dialog examples - both good and bad cases. This way, they were able determine an ideal balance between the foreground and background audio, which would often be the centre channel versus the rest in a surround setup.
They acknowledge they cannot fix the Jamaica Inn Syndrome otherwise known as mumbling actors or bad microphone technique on the film set, but with the Centre Ratio Meter you will be able to see if you're in the right ball park when it comes to the balance between 'what's being said' and the rest.
Further, the Stereo Deviate Meter will help you to keep your surround mixes intelligible after downmix for stereo delivery.
LM8 – Loudness Metering Supports 7.1 For Immersive Sound
TC Electronic’s Radar Loudness Meter has been upgraded for Clarity X and now offers full 7.1 surround support. Like its predecessors, LM8 features the innovative loudness radar that shows short-term (S) loudness over time, two user-definable parameters such as e.g. Program Loudness (I) and Loudness Range (LRA) and a full-fledged true-peak meter. LM8 also offers a detailed statistics page with valuable information for further evaluation and documentation if that is required.
Prevention of Hearing Loss
TC Electronic now introduce SPL measurement technology that works without a microphone (pat. pending). This functionality enables Clarity X to gather essential information about the SPL the engineer is being exposed to over time, which may be displayed conveniently in % of max safe sound dose.
Health recommendations provide limits on the daily and weekly sound exposure, one should not exceed. For audio professionals, who may be mixing for long hours every day, this could not only become a here-and-now mixing issue due to listening fatigue, but in the long run also a serious health problem. Clarity X includes a dedicated dose meter that informs the user of potentially harmful sound exposure on a daily or a weekly basis.
Audio Signal Flow
Clarity X comes with 16 AES input channels plus AUX (analog), TOS and ADAT. On the output side, you get 16 AES channels plus 8 analog outputs as well as headphones out. In total, you get 26 channels of inputs and outputs. Add the option of expanding with 64 MADI input channels and your input channel count increases to no less than 90.
The routing is extremely flexible, for instance you could switch seamlessly between two full surround mixes - maybe even one 5.1 and one 7.1 mix plus a stereo reference signal. You could then monitor your source(s) on a 5.1 or 7.1 monitor setup, but also switch to one or more stereo pairs to check how well your mix translates to other channel formats and speaker sizes. Independently, you can route any input channel to the dedicated meter engine.
Price And Availability
TC Electronic tell us that Clarity X will be available in the second quarter of 2015 and will be priced at $7,000 or €6,000.
There is a lot more information and videos on the Clarity X page of the TC Electronic web site