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Author Topic: The Whirlwind AES Qbox  (Read 16411 times)

Ken Freeman

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The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« on: July 17, 2007, 08:05:17 pm »

The Digital Q Box

Okay, it was a month that it sat on my desk before I got it out and started seeing how this device shakes out. Mine came without a manual, so as I often do, I'll just started plugging it into things to see what happens…. I have a few shows coming up where I will be using digital console and amplifiers that have AES inputs, so that will be a place to check this puppy out.

Physical:  The construction is robust, the case is made from real metal (Honest) and has all of the critical bits recessed into the front face or protected by the handle.  I like that.  It runs on either four AA batteries or remote power supply.

The Whirlwind AES Qbox has a few more controls, lights and knobs that the typical cue box as this is a digital device.  It appears to take in both balanced and unbalanced AES on XLR and BNC style connections.  The BNC’s appear to be compatible with the RCA SPDIF outputs from most pro-sumer CD and DVD players when they are outputting a standard stereo stream.  I am not sure what happens when they see an AC-3 multi channel signal.  That we will test too.

On the face is a few new fun function knobs like MODE, speaker selection, which I presume to listen to the different channels in the AES stream. There is an on board speaker and a mic in the front panel.  The speaker has a volume control and the mic…well I guess we will have to figure that one out.

Things I don’t know but want to find out:

Can I leave the device in my AES pathway without degrading the signal?
What happens if the batteries run out when I do this?  If I use the supplied wall wart power supply, can I create a ground hum?
Will it generate a signal that I can put into my Crown I-Tech amps when I have them running using the AES inputs?

More in a bit as we discover this cool new tool.

Kenindex.php/fa/10179/0/
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Phil LaDue

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2007, 08:57:30 pm »

This is an official Road Test?

Ken Freeman

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2007, 10:06:38 pm »

To the best of my knowledge, yes.  I will not try to break it as the nice folks at Whirlwind might want it back, or I might want to keep it....

Ken Freeman
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Brian Bolly

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2007, 10:17:41 am »

Ken,

Add to your list of questions:

1) How long does a set of batteries last?
2) If I leave it in the signal chain, does it add (any significant) delay?

I'm about to pony up the cash to get one of these things for a couple upcoming stadium installs and I'm curious about how well it does.

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Al Keltz - Whirlwind

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2007, 04:56:32 pm »

Hi Ken,

I believe you got the prototype from our NAB Booth so no manual. The manual is available here:

http://www.whirlwindusa.com/ftp/Blackbox/manuals/aesqboxman. pdf

I'm forwarding your questions to the design engineer here and will report back soon.

- Al
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Al Keltz - Whirlwind
800 733-9473, x140
alk@whirlwindusa.com

Al Keltz - Whirlwind

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2007, 05:49:30 pm »

Here's what the guys with the bits and bytes have given me so far. I'll just give some operational details and leave the real world testing to you guys.

- Al

---------------------------

"The BNC’s appear to be compatible with the RCA SPDIF outputs from most pro-sumer CD and DVD players when they are outputting a standard stereo stream."
The LED showing sample rate received should be steady ON for a pro bitstream signal and flash when detecting consumer bitstream.

"I am not sure what happens when they see an AC-3 multi channel signal."
A flashing FAULT LED should indicate when the unit is locked to a non-standard PCM signal.

"Can I leave the device in my AES pathway without degrading the signal?"
The signal is input to the digital receiver, decoded, fed to both the digital-to-analog converter and the digital transmitter, and re-broadcast without passing through the analog domain. (Data is unchanged.)

"What happens if the batteries run out when I do this?"
Signal stops.

"If I use the supplied wall wart power supply, can I create a ground hum?"
The unit uses a switching power supply that should prevent that.

"If I leave it in the signal chain, does it add (any significant) delay?"
The short answer is a few microseconds.
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Al Keltz - Whirlwind
800 733-9473, x140
alk@whirlwindusa.com

Ken Freeman

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2007, 07:28:37 pm »

Thanks Al,

I like being on the cutting edge!

Ken
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Ken Freeman

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox...The plan
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2007, 01:17:09 pm »

Okay…So what’s it do and why do you need it?   Thanks again Al for the updates and info on what this product is supposed to do.  The manual may help if we get stuck. I will try to address the questions I have posed and received as we are using this in our upcoming projects.

Here is my design for an upcoming show that I will load in on this coming Monday.  We are driving this with a Yamaha PM-5D RH and using a mixed bag of our JBL Vertec 4888’s and JBL VRX 932’s.  I am driving the front VRX systems with Crown I-Tech 6000’s and will try to use the AES output on the console connected to the amps to do the business.  I will use the Whirlwind AES Qbox to assist in checking this out and making sure that my system is delivering the goods. As this is a fairly involved system, we will not have a lot of time to play with toys, which is a much better test of how something like the AES Qbox will work in the field for you when you cross the digital divide.

Ken

Edit: Title


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Ken Freeman

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox...Update from Comic Con
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2007, 01:48:25 pm »

Okay, the first show was kind of a bust.  Turns out that I can’t drive 500 feet of AES down an analog snake and expect it to work.  Having the Whirlwind AES Qbox made checking that out quick. We switched to the standard analog outputs and everything works fine, with the exception that I have no less than 4 Analog to Digital flops in my signal chain.  I was hoping to eliminate a few of these by moving my audio signal in the digital realm.  I did use the AES Qbox with a single piece of mic cable and I have no problem shipping Digital program 25, 50 or even 100 feet from the PM-5D RH, but it did not want to go 500 feet in the drive snake.  Thankfully I had the Q box to make quick time of sorting this out.  More in a bit.

Ken
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles

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Re: The Whirlwind AES Qbox...Update from Comic Con
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2007, 03:13:00 pm »

Flop for you this time but the AES QBox means you save lots of pain and grief and wasted hours onsite trying to make it all work.

As far as multiple A/D/A/D/A conversions... it is what it is.  Razz
At least it's not the Audio Purists From Hell convention.  Laughing

-Bink
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Michael 'Bink' Knowles
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