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Monthly Archives: March 2014

  • The Underbelly of Show Business (Quite Literally)

    (Part 2 of Getting Ready for the Big Show)

    NAB crunchtime is fast approaching and stuff is coming together in time for the big reveal at Las Vegas. Last week, we showed off some of shiny stuff we've been working on. This week, let's get into the down and dirty side of how we get said shiny things to actually work.

    Have you ever wondered just how much wiring and cabling goes into making all those pretty lights dance around on screen? If you're anything like us at Ward-Beck, of course you have. Well, they do say a picture speaks a thousand words. So, here's five thousand words worth of cabling ;)

    What are your plans for NAB? Just looking around, or got any special displays you're scoping out? Let us know in the comments, or check us out at Booth# N1202 and lets us know in person ;) See you there from April 7th-10th at the Las Vegas Convention center!

  • Throwback Tuesday: Delving deeper into Ward-Beck’s history with the Olympics

    With the conclusion of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the entertainment networks returning to a more "normal" process after taking over the world by storm, it's a good time to delve deeper into Ward-Beck Systems' history of supplying equipment for the Games. 1976 was the first year that Ward-Beck provided equipment for use at an Olympic event. This began our long association of designing and manufacturing equipment for use at both Summer and Winter games.

    More specifically, the WBS model 75046 mobile audio console, designed to CBC's specifications, were used at the 1976 Montreal Games in CBC's Olympics vans. Four of these units were built for the event and installed in mobile trucks. Post Olympics, these consoles were used to broadcast Hockey Night in Canada and many other sporting events. Below, you can see the M1002 which was mentioned in our previous post about the Olympics. Fifty-five of these babies were used by CBC and ABC in their coverage of the 1976 Summer and Winter Games, and proved to be a great hit. (Fun fact: Both the Winter and Summer Olympics were held in the same year every four years, until the IOC decided at the 1986 Session in Lausanne to hold the Winter Games two years apart from the Summer Games, and this new system was put into effect in 1992.)

    Ward-Beck Systems has also supplied Olympics equipment to several major networks in the United States. At the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, ABC used a WBS matrix intercom system in its mobile units. This system allowed point to point and point to multi-point communication. Engineering alone had a 48 by 48 matrix, which was no small feat for the technology of the time. CBS was a big purchaser of compact WBS consoles for sporting events, such as the 24-channel WBS 74062, designed for TV mobile applications. NBC also got in on the game, no pun intended, with some large purchases for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. These consoles were refurbished at the Ward-Beck factory in Toronto and were redeployed for use at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

    (Above: he console from the 1984 Olympics.  This console is currently in Hamilton Ontario. Photography courtesy of Anthony Kuzub of APK Audio.)

    At an event like the Olympics, where versatility and dependability as well as high quality is crucial, Ward-Beck products have excelled. Did you know that at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, audio mixer Norm Mallalieu mixed the feed from the entire bobsleigh run with a 32-channel WBS console? It’s true. Another memorable Olympics product is the M460LA input channel strip which was based on the M460 design. As the name might tip you off, this channel strip was designed specifically for use in the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles. Offering a 4 band parametric equalizer, these units are still sought after today for audio recording/production and are in use in sound studios worldwide.

    Getting a little closer to home, our products were no slouches at the 2010 Vancouver Games. We supplied products for the CTV Olympics Broadcast facilities. The entire CTV broadcast centre was constructed in a warehouse near our Toronto plant for pregame training, before being shipped off to the Games in Vancouver. If you click on this article on organizing the 2010 Vancouver Games, you will see Robert Miles, who was in charge of designing the infrastructure for the CTV Olympics coverage for Vancouver 2010, making adjustments to an AMS16-2AM, our high-quality Multi-Channel Audio Monitor.

    At Sochi 2014, there is no doubt the Ward-Beck products supplied to CBC, NBC and others were still going strong. It is humbling to think that the equipment manufactured at our facility has played a part in helping to broadcast major sporting events like the Olympics, Super Bowl and more all around the world.

    (Thank you to Eugene and Colleen for looking this over and adding more details, and to Gerry Bell for all his Olympics stories that contributed to this article.)

  • Getting ready for the big show: Part 1

    At Ward-Beck, we're busy gearing up for showtime. It’s less than four weeks until the 2014 NAB Show starts, and we are excited to show you some of the things that we've been working on! Here's a brief sneak preview of a few of the things we’re putting together:

    We’re excited to let you know all about the new stuff we’ll be showing off at NAB. Make sure you come check us out at Booth# N1202. Ward-Beck will be exhibiting from April 7th-10th at the Las Vegas Convention center.  We hope to see you there!

  • We have split millions of signals - The Evolution of a Distribution Amplifier


    Pictured above: The Ward-Beck distribution amplifier, from its original design in 1971, to the current one.

    As legend goes, Ron Ward and Rodger Beck started experimenting with solid state amplifiers while still working for McCurdy Radio Industries. Mr. George McCurdy allegedly forbade them on pain of dismissal to give up this foolish notion and stop wasting time with these "new fangled transistors" which were only good enough for cheap "made in Japan" radios. Professional equipment used vacuum tubes and that was what was used in in the McCurdy product line.

    Ward and Beck persevered and so was born the precursor to one of the first products designed and manufactured by Ward-Beck Systems Ltd. after these renegades broke away from MRI and formed their own company. Christened the M600, the very first production models used germanium transistors. Later models used silicon transistors. The M600 was a 50 to 70 dB gain brick that could be used as a microphone preamplifier or a line/distribution amplifier. Equipped with both input and output transformers and loads of headroom, this was a truly versatile universal amplifier built like the proverbial outhouse. Eight units and a 48 volt power supply were accommodated in a 2 RU frame.

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  • 600 Ohms: Is it neccessary?

    About one year ago we stopped producing 600 Ohm output devices in our analog audio product line. We standardized on 60 Ohm devices in our distribution amplifier line. This simplifies our SKU's and benefits the user since they gain headroom and reduce power consumption. The 60 Ohm output impedance provides sufficient isolation between the splits of a distribution amplifier.

    There are still users out there that seek devices with a 600 Ohm output impedance. A little research on the internet (that great source of information, mis-information and confusion) served to inform me that the there is a great lack of understanding of how the 600 Ohm standard came about and why today, it is no longer a requirement.

    m8204a alone
    Pictured above: The M8204A - a 600 Ohm analog audio distribution amplifier that we recently discontinued.  

    The M8204A has been replaced with the current M8204.

    I did find this informative paper by Frank McClatchie that explains everything very well. Thank you Frank! See the internet can be informative... avoid the discussion groups where they attribute "sound coloration" and "sheen" and all sorts of sound qualities and effects to the impedance of the devices which carry the audio signal.

    By: Frank McClatchie

    The standard for audio was born out of the radio industries need to set a standard, and has always been related to 600 Ohms impedance with the level measured in dBm which refers to Decibel milli-Watts of power delivered to the "load". One milli-Watt = 0dBm. However in recent years the audio industry has changed it method of delivering audio power.

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