Power to your elbow
DAW manufacturer Fairlight claims that its new QDC Technology processing and networking solution is the most powerful operating system platform ever developed for digital audio operations. Fairlight’s John Lancken shares the secrets of recent developments with PHIL WARD.
That QDC is the most powerful operating system ever developed for DAWS is quite a claim. Why is QDC so special?
“It’s a big statement about Fairlight’s future in digital audio. It’s the brand name of a DSP channel card that fits across the MFX, Prodigy, and FAME families, and it’s a quantum leap in terms of both processing speed and audio quality.
“It also enables us to interface to most modern peripheral devices available on the marketplace, such as the new Fast-Wide SCSI drives that are coming out. It’s been in development for several years, and what we’ve arrived at is a unique use of the DSPs. There are eight SHARCs per channel card, which effectively use one-and-half MFXs on one card. That means 64 channels of digital audio.”
How will QDC affect Fairlight product design?
“Current hardware is capable of supporting four cards, but we have plans for expandable chassis to be able to go beyond that. It certainly forms the foundation of a lot of our new products that will come out over the next couple of years.”
What does QDC mean for all of your existing customers?
“It’s important to remember that all of our existing product lines are upgradeable to this technology, too. Following in the tradition of Fairlight’s ‘upgradeability’, an existing customer can upgrade to a QDC Technology platform.
“There’s a very interesting piece on our website written by a guy called Johnathan Helfand, who’s been upgrading with us since 1985. He does a comparison of his Fairlight hardware with his Mac, which he bought at the same time. I think it was a MacPlus with jumbo floppy disks. And, of course, he’ll be able to upgrade to QDC too.
You also announced a development partnership with mSoft at AES?
“We’ve come to a special arrangement with mSoft, where we are now supplied by them with an OEM version of ServerSound, called Fairlight ServerSound. What we’ve been able to do is integrate our database, which is called AudioBase II, with their database, which is unique among mSoft’s arrangements with DAW manufacturers.
“All other workstations use a separate server with mSoft mounted on them, and they connect that via ethernet, or whichever networking strategy they’re using, to their individual workstation. We actually bolt it inside MediaLink, which means that you can actually address, directly from the MFX AudioBase search engine, all of the available mSoft sounds.”
So you’ve increased the range of sounds available. Are there any other operational benefits?
“Of course. It goes beyond that to where we can actually put the Fairlight ServerSound front-end onto the MediaLink server as well. From that, using a PC in remote places, you’re able to spot and audition sound effects, make a little .ML file and send that via the Internet to a location that will automatically pick the sounds and have them in an MFX project — instantly. All it’s doing is sending the header information so that you can pick up files.”
Does it work?
“I tried it, and from my office in LA I was able to search a server in Sydney, create an ML file and send it to an MFX on our server at Saturn Sounds elsewhere in LA. I was creating, offline, an MFX project from a PC. That could be done anywhere.
“Your sound supervisor could be in London, and your editor in Los Angeles, yet you could do a lot of the FX spotting for them remotely and use the Internet as a tool to continue the project.”
How does this compare with other file exchange systems, like Rocket Network?
“You can compare it to that kind of system, but obviously it’s tailored more towards the post-production industry. mSoft’s data management system is orientated very much towards managing large databases — what would otherwise be CD libraries.
“For us, it’s a way of giving added value to MediaLink, because we can actually supply new and existing MediaLink users with pre-digitised libraries to put on their servers — and they can share those with other users, via the Internet, providing they are ServerSound customers.
“The arrangement between Fairlight and mSoft has created a joint product, which is a unique arrangement. mSoft provides other workstation manufacturers with a server, and you have to actually stop what you’re doing, go to the server browser, find the files that you want, put them back on your system and then load them into a soundtrack.
“We can search while we’re on the timeline, and put the files straight from mSoft onto the timeline. It’s a very different kind of integration. mSoft has got very animated about this use of MediaLink, and how easy it’s been for them because we’ve actually structured MediaLink as an Internet-savvy networking strategy.”
Fairlight ESP Ltd, Unit 12, Spectrum House, 32-34 Gordon House Road, London NWS 1LP, UK.
+44 (0)20 7267 3323.
+44 (0)20 7267 0919.