PAM has had a makeover and its bringing acclaim and commercial success to UK company BCD Audio. PAM is the acronym for the Presenter Audio Monitor system, for use in the television gallery and on the studio floor, designed and built in the UK and being used increasingly in television and radio studios around the world.
15 years ago BCD Audio created a presenters audio mixer for the BBC-TV studios in London, the original PAM, still in use today. These studios will soon be decommissioned with the BBC move to Salford and to the new Broadcasting House in London.
Company CEO and designer Mike Law says When the requirement for a new generation of PAM was identified for the new studios, the installation contractors approached BCD Audio, and a new system was designed. The original unit featured a 6 channel audio mixer with headphones output at the out-station, and required a large multicore umbilical cable. The new unit centralises the audio mixing to digitally controlled Eurocards within a 3U rack, and allows a simpler outstation connection to wall-boxes via a smaller 4-pair cable.
Each presenter can now control their own mix of programme, count and talkback from the assignable panel under the desk. Each input is controlled with a shaft-encoder with LED position indication and bi-colour signal / overload detection. Switches are provided for signalling and cough-mute, and a TFT switch indicates presenter, gallery number and mic-live status.
The sound operator can assign a master panel across one of eight presenter units, can see the settings, listen to the actual presenter mix, and make adjustments if required.
In large television studio installations it is desirable to assign a studio floor to any gallery, and the BCD PAM system is capable of working in this way. The presenter can see which gallery they are working with, and the correct audio mix is picked up on the wall-box connectors. The wiring remains manageable, as each box only requires four pair cable.
Two variants of the PAM box were designed. The simpler PAM-4 unit contains just the mixer controls, and is intended to be used with a wireless headphone system. As this box contains no audio, it can be automatically assigned from up to eight galleries with simpler 2-pair cable.
The larger PAM-6 unit includes the mixer controls and a local headphone amplifier with limiter, and both 3.5mm and normal headphone jacks. The audio at the headphone socket is returned to the gallery where the sound operator can verify the actual audio received by the presenter.
The largest system to date is an eight gallery, eight way assigned system, with 34 presenter outstations, including one 3U rack with assign panel in each gallery.
Six non-assigned systems with 40 presenter outstations have also been delivered.
The standard gallery unit is packaged in a BCD 3U rack, with a capability of eight presenters, and including GPI signalling and Ethernet control. A smaller system is also possible, with three presenters, packaged in a 1U rack.