SAC - RML Labs

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Bob Lentini

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SAC is the acronym for Software Audio Console

Live Virtual Mixing has arrived. Now you can do Front Of House and 24 Monitor mixes all on a Windows PC. The Software Audio Console (SAC) opens new frontiers for the live sound industry and modern Recording Studio control room.

Leave the large mixing consoles in the warehouse. You can now replace the FOH and 24 large scale monitor mixing consoles with a computer and have the highest quality audio and the most versatility and mixing options you could ever dream of.

Imagine having a separate monitor console for each of 24 stereo monitor mixes back to performers. No more fiddling with aux sends or matrix controls. Separate high quality mastering Eq, keying gates and compressors, separate aux sends for separate verbs on each channel of each monitor mix. It's a brand new world at your mixing fingertips.

No expensive Mic splitters are needed to split the signal 25 ways. The digital split is internal and provides an exact zero-noise copy of the 120 inputs to all 25 consoles. And there are 5 tap points to select from for each monitor Input channel, and 2 tap points from each Return channel.

The interface design is an elegant system of linked views that allow you to see the consoles from many different perspectives for easy and fast navigation. You can setup F-Key Workspace views that give you instant recall of complex screen displays without interfering with the low latency - realtime audio streaming.

You can step back and see large numbers of channels in the Full Mixer View, spread across the screen and then instantly jump into the Zoom Mixer Views or Wide Mixer View to access any one of tens of thousands of controls with the simple click of a mouse.

The same views and navigation features also apply to all 24 monitor consoles, which are easily jumped to by popup menus from many places in the interface, allowing you to get there fast.

The new engine design allows for most every program operation to be performed live, while the engine is running, without the need to stop the data stream to change device assignments, input and output routing or save sessions and manipulate Scene and Sequence data.

Another exciting feature of the SAC mixing technology is its TCP/IP networking capabilities. You can connect up to 28 computers to the host system thru any standard ethernet hub or switch, or wireless router. These computer remotes can be used to control almost everything within the host system and user stats can be set as FOH, Monitor or Personal user rights, which dictate what each computer can have access to. You can leave the system backstage and control FOH and Monitors from anywhere in the venue. Each performer can also tap in with a laptop computer and get access to his own personal monitor console to control his own mix.

Add the power of the SAC-Link to SAWStudio for the amazing ability to record live multitrack performances directly internally linked on the same SAC host machine. No extra cables needed, and you can record the source dry signals from the SAC inputs directly to the MultiTrack in SAWStudio, comfortably running in the background on the same machine. One mouse click import and export commands transfer mix settings and labels and chan assignments between the two programs. And nothing beats the power and flexibility of using SAWStudio coupled with SAC as a show control multitrack playback system.

A new mixing era is upon us and it is proving to be an exciting one already. Download the User Manual and read all the details of how it works, then jump onboard with us pioneers and help usher in the new age of audio mixing technology.

SAC has arrived!

Understanding The Software
The FOH Console
The virtual console is designed as a 120 input channel, 120 output channel FOH console, with Input Source, Attenuator, Phase Reverse, Swap L/R, and Mono buttons, 5 Band Stereo EQ with additional Hi and Lo Cut filters, Keying Gate and Compressor with bandpass filter, Pre and Post FX patch points, 6 Stereo Aux Sends with Pan, 24 Stereo Output Assigns, 8 point XY Surround Pan with separate Sub and Center Chan, Solo, Mute, Stereo Pan, long throw Fader with a Stereo Hi Resolution (-60 dB) Meter on each channel.

Any input channel may be assigned to any or all output channels at the same time. 8 Master Output channels may be routed to any hardware output device while the remaining 16 Output channels can be used as subgroup, VCA type Faders, folding back to any of the 8 Master Faders. The Aux Sends may be internally routed as virtual or patched out to any device output, and returned from any device input, direct into the FOH mix, through 6 independent Return channels, each with complete FX patching capabilities and their own Hi Resolution Meters.

XY Surround panning is built in and can be assigned in any manner to up to 6 discreet stereo outputs. The surround setup can be saved in templates making 5.1, 7.1, quad surround or any configuration available at the touch of the mouse.

The console can be displayed in different views, independently or simultaneously, allowing quick access to multiple perspectives of the current information.

The console has extensive navigation capabilities and is intimately linked to the different views. There are popup navigation menus that display labeled channels and track references, allowing instant one-click access to anywhere you need to go.

The Monitor Consoles
The FOH console inputs internally split to 24 monitor consoles, giving essentially duplicate versions of all FOH console views and allowing you to mix monitors from master faders instead of Aux Sends or Matrix knobs. This allows each monitor mix to be its own 120 channel stereo mix with its own overlayed Eq and Dynamics sections, as well as its own 6 stereo Aux Sends and Returns. Each Monitor console has 8 Master Stereo Output Channels, leaving 16 channels to be used as subgroups. The input splits can be taken from the FOH Src, Pst EQ, Pst Dyn, Pre Fader or Post Fader. Additionally, Monitor Mixer 1 can be designated as a master monitor mixer and all remaining monitor mixers can take their splits from it. Each monitor console and individual input channel can use any one of those split points independently of every other channel, opening up a brand new dimension in monitor mixing routing and control. The system contains two independent solo busses, one for the FOH and another for a Monitor engineer, which can be used simultaneously without interference between the two.

The Engine
The underlying architecture is an entirely new - from the ground up - virtual mixing engine, based on many years of experience with the development and maturity of the SAW product line.

The focus of this new engine design is centered around the live, low latency input driven technology that forces the engine to sense and trigger precisely from live input data stream timing. This engine assembles the data, LIVE, on the fly, directly in front of the actual data being played out by the sound devices, delivering instant reaction time and the feel of a physical console, without glitching the audio data.

The engine makes extensive use of multi-processor and priority multi-threaded code design, and with its hand coded assembly language techniques, is capable of reaching performance levels not thought possible within the standard Windows environments.

The design uses advanced assembly language techniques to emulate all functions of the console portion of the program. Faders, Eq, Dynamics, Aux Sends and Returns, Meters, Echo/Delay, Reverb, etc. are all emulated DSP routines, that rival the performance of hardware based units when used on high-end computers. This design also eliminates the need for special DSP based hardware sound devices, allowing standard audio sound cards access to all of the design features.

FX Processing
A brand new powerful SAC API (Application Programming Interface) has been developed for handling FX Plug-Ins. This interface offers one of the most direct and streamlined protocols for passing information between the application and processing plug-ins. This design also offers enhanced power and control, including automation capability, while actually increasing overall efficiency. The API is compatibile with most Native SAWStudio plugins.

The DirectX and VST protocols are seamlessly woven into the engine design, with all plug-ins of all types showing in one common effects choice window. With the current availability of numerous DirectX and VST plug-ins to choose from, you can begin FX processing immediately without waiting for future development.

Effects are hot-patchable, meaning they can be plugged in and out in real-time during playback! The engine will automatically initialize and insert the plug-in directly into the audio loop in perfect sync, without the need to stop the stream.

TCP/IP Remote Network Access
SAC also includes an extensive internal networking engine that allows up to 28 remote users to access the system via standard TCP/IP network connections. You can use a simple ethernet cable and hub or switcher, or a wireless system to allow complete freedom to roam the venue and control everything from a remote laptop. A set of user stats can control the access rights of anyone connected to the host system. You can connect as a FOH engineer, which gives you access to FOH and all 24 Monitor consoles. You can also connect as a MON engineer, which gives you access to only the 24 Monitor consoles. A final tier allows a PERsonal connection to just 1 Monitor console, which opens the door for any performer onstage to have complete control of his, and only his, complete Monitor console.

SAC-Link To SAWStudio
An incredible extra bonus is the internal SAC-Link hook to SAWStudio. With this link, SAWStudio can be used to do MultiTrack recording of your live performances directly internally connected to the individual input source signals patched into the SAC system. No extra cables needed, and you can record source dry signals in SAWStudio running comfortably in the background on the same SAC host machine. The extra load on the system is extremely small. There are special options in SAWStudio to import and export mix settings and chan assignments with one mouse click... you can route SAWStudio playback signals back into SAC on individual chans (as a virtual band) or you can have SAC look at the SAWStudio output tracks to pick up an entire 120 track mix on one chan. And as a powerful show control playback deck, nothing comes close to the power and versatility that SAWStudio coupled with SAC brings to the table.

It's time to let SAC change the way you work with live audio forever. Welcome to the dawn of a new era in Live Sound Mixing!

Understanding The Hardware

The hardware needed to complete a SAC system can be assembled from many choices of existing off-the-shelf products.

The necessary hardware consists of a computer running Windows, a set of input mic pres, Analog to Digital converters, Digital to Analog converters with line outputs, soundcards or other means to pass the digital data streams into and out of the computer.

There are combination boxes that offer 8 mic pres, the A to D and D to A converters with 8 line outputs in 1U rackmount units.

Prices range from around $200 to $2000 a box. Common choices at the time of this writing include the Behringer ADA8000 or ADA8200, the ART TubeOpto8, the PreSonus DigiMax FS, the DigiMax DP88, the FocusRite OctoPre Dynamic, the RME OctaMic II and many others.

You can also build the front-end from any of the most expensive mic pres coupled with short jumper cables into the most expensive line converters, if budget allows.

Soundcards with very stable and high performance are available from RME Audio, as well as MOTU, and a host of other choices ranging in price from low to high, with chan counts from 16, 24, 32, 48, 64 and 72 in combinations of single and multiple cards.

There are even firewire and USB devices that can hook to a laptop for 8 to 32 channel counts.

New protocols like Dante and Madi are here that allow the data stream to pass directly into the computer thru ethernet, optical or coax connections that offer the full 120 channel count in one soundcard.

There are even choices available for physical control surfaces that can interface with the software for hands-on control of up to 32 faders.

SAC uses a complete virtual lookup table design to link incoming controller signals to virtual console and transport controls, and other internal functions of the engine. Different hardware controller information can be stored in templates (without the need to update or rewrite the program code) that can be instantly loaded into the program to change from one controller type to another, without the need to restart the program! Templates are available for a wide variety of the most popular controllers, and future templates can be made available for download, as new hardware is released.

New technology from 3M, released in July 2010 , now offers the idea of a virtual control surface with true multitouch display technology, allowing up to 10 fingers of independent tracking within the SAC software, so multiple faders can be grabbed and controlled on-screen, as if using a physical control surface. Full support of Windows 8/10  multitouch also allows this same capability with any Windows 8/10 multitouch monitor.

You can build your own system for as little as a few thousand dollars or buy a completely assembled system, ready to go, from a growing number of system integrators building their own version of the SAC technology.

Make sure to watch some of the videos to see SAC in action... then download the demo and start exploring and learning how a SAC system can replace hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mixing hardware, and open the door to exciting new and uncharted mixing capabilities.

System Requirements

64 Bit Code
Runs on Win 7-64 Bit, Win 8-64 Bit, Win 10-64 Bit
2gb Min Ram
Windows MME, WDM, or ASIO 64 Bit Compatible Soundcard

32 Bit Code
Runs on Win XP, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10
2gb Min Ram
Windows MME, WDM, or ASIO Compatible Soundcard

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