18. May 2021 Mark

Renewal of the audio infrastructure in the Bundestag

As part of a comprehensive modernization project, the German Bundestag commissioned Studio Hamburg MCI GmbH with the planning, installation and ready-to-operate assembly of the audio infrastructure of the in-house parliamentary television, which broadcasts all plenary debates as well as public committee meetings and hearings.

For the integration of the new audio systems, the requirements of the different rooms and halls had to be taken into account when planning the new audio network. The new installation required extensive dismantling of the existing technology and cable infrastructure as well as the integration of existing network, video and audio technology. Systems and solutions from the manufacturers Lawo, Clear-Com and Arista, among others, are now being used. Renovation and installation, some of which took place during ongoing operations, began in 2019 with Parliament’s summer recess and was completed on schedule with the start of the session weeks after the summer recess. This was followed by the processing of the overall documentation until spring 2021.

The TV production area consists of four identical control rooms in which up to four TV programs can be produced independently at the same time. The premises also house a television studio and a post-production area. The control rooms can be connected to the boardrooms as needed via the new crossbar system and fiber-optic infrastructure. While some rooms of the Bundestag are equipped with permanently installed broadcast technology, other rooms offer the possibility of flexible transmission by means of TV connection boxes. Thus, when planning the new audio network, special attention was paid to the network technology that forms the backend of the new audio infrastructure. The adaptation and expansion of the fiber optic infrastructure as well as the conversion of the existing network, to a managed network infrastructure, was one of the biggest challenges in the project. For this purpose, the existing control network was converted into a VLAN structure and a new central backend consisting of two powerful Arista switches was created. In addition, a new redundant Meinberg PTP clock was installed. Audio is transmitted over a redundant audio network based on the AES67 / S2110-30 standard.

 

For central audio routing, a distributed Lawo audio router consisting of Lawo PowerCores including HD-SDI interface and FO interfaces was integrated. The components are distributed across the entire campus and are fully redundantly connected on the network side. The individual production sites can now be assigned to a control room at the push of a button. For this purpose, the existing VSM installation was extended with the IP orchestration and control software “VSM Soul”. In the control rooms, the components of the audio router were upgraded with Lawo ruby consoles with Vistool connection, thus providing a full-fledged mixing console within the audio router for each control room. This ensures full access to all audio signals within the entire audio network. For larger productions, a Lawo mc²36 was integrated in the audio control room.

A Tektronix Prism measurement system was installed for reliable monitoring of the signals, which also ensures analysis of the PTP clock signals. A new Clear-Com Eclipse-HX median with 64 ports was installed for reliable communication within the production complex. In addition to the classic analog ports, the matrix has IP interfaces that provide both standard IP and interfaces for a real-time AES67 network. Clear-Com IRIS panels were installed as call stations, which, in addition to OLED color displays, have analog, IP and also AES67 connection options. In addition to the permanently installed microphone units, the DECT-based Clear-Com Freespeak II radio system was also installed, with several mobile beltpacks as a radio system fully integrated into the matrix. The antennas are connected to the matrix via the AES67 network and completely cover the studio and control room area.

As a result of the upgrade, the modernized audio infrastructure in the German Bundestag has become a powerful, easily scalable and redundant system that can also easily cover future requirements.

As a result of the renewed infrastructure and extensive changes to the inventory, MCI was tasked with cleaning up and refurbishing the Autocad documentation for the entire broadcast infrastructure in late 2019. For this purpose, all as-built plans were converted to a uniform standard and checked in detail on site. This work also took place during ongoing operations. As a result of the revision, the Bundestag now has access to uniform and up-to-date overall documentation with a simple search function. A provided web GUI now also allows simplified access to the plans. With a search function for individual devices or cables, the desired plan can now be found and called up much faster. In total, about 230 plans with over 4000 devices and more than twice as many cables were processed as part of this update. The revision was successfully completed at the beginning of this year.