THE DIY DSP:
by Chris Huff
Does the idea of a turn-key DSP scare you or intrigue you? Can a DSP really be plug-and-play? Not quite, but the Symetrix Jupiter-series DSP is as close as it gets. Combine its ease of use with its impressive functionality, including wall panel access, and the Jupiter DSP might be exactly what you need. A traditional DSP is set up starting with a blank slate on the computer screen. The modules required for processing, such as compressors and limiters, are then added and conﬁ gured.
The Symetrix Jupiter DSP offers a setup process based on provided optimized venue-speciﬁ c arrangements in what are called “apps.” For example, an automix system for a children’s venue would use a Symetrix app with the standard processing modules needed for such a venue. Once the right app is selected, the user conﬁ gures the modules. Let’s look at how well this works.
The Jupiter DSPs are available in I/O conﬁ gurations of 4/4, 8/8, and 12/4 each with support for ARC and Logic integration. At Greenwood Christian Church, we opted for the Jupiter 8, the 8/8 version. This would be a great retro-ﬁ t in our youth center. The Jupiter 8 arrived with a wall panel control and XLR-to-3-pin converter cables for using the block plugs on the rear of the DSP. Our production director, Erik Tittle, was pleased by the block connectors as they were “sturdy 3-pin connectors but without the inconvenient plug locks difﬁ cult to unlock once installed.” The next step was installing and conﬁ guring the Jupiter. The single rack unit DSP connects to a Windows-based computer with an Ethernet cable. Once connected, it was time to take advantage of the turn-key system.
CHOOSING AN APP
Symetrix’s 70+ apps are built for everything from restaurant venues to live mixing venues. It’s up to the user to pick the right app for their needs. For example, the “Gainsharing Auto-Mixer 1” app includes modules for a 15-band EQ, compressor, limiter, and feedback ﬁ ghter.
The hardest part of setting up the DSP is picking the best app. Both the app categories and the app names are confusing. One category is labeled “Mixing and Routing” while another is “Sound Reinforcement.” The app names are equally vague. We found the app functionality was fantastic but the process of ﬁ nding the right app was too frustrating. In the end, I called the Symetrix technical support manager who told me the best app given my requirements. Erik and I agreed people should call for an initial app recommendation.
The Jupiter DSP does have iPad support for modifying the conﬁguration but only through a browser-based system, not a native iPad app. Also, the DSP would need to be connected to a wireless network with a dedicated IP conﬁguration. This is not a concern for a church with a robust network with room for integration. Other churches, however, should stick with making adjustments through the Ethernet connection.
EASE OF USE / LIGHT DISPLAY
Regarding the ease of use of the DSP, once installed, the front LED lights show when the unit is working and this is a plus when trouble-shooting a signal ﬂow problem. Also, the DSP has a pink noise generator which can be handy when conﬁguring the DSP.
WALL PANELS / ARC SUPPORT
One of the strengths of the Jupiter is the wall panel control. If you are running an automix system or feed the same sound to multiple rooms, the touch-pad controls will be your best friend. They allow for changing the volume, the source, and preset settings. The well-constructed three-button wall panels work on an ARC network. This means they can be individually programmed and they don’t need a power source. As for programming, Erik told me, “these are the easiest touch panels to program.” Another feature is the LED display; green letters on a black background make them easy to read in any lighting situation while not being distracting.
NEW INSTALL VS RETROFITTING
The Jupiter can be easily conﬁgured for a new venue. The problem is in replacing an existing DSP. Retroﬁtting requires ﬁnding an app with the existing modules that most closely meet those of the old DSP. Regardless of the installation type, Erik said, “when you know the correct app to use, it could be installed and set up in two-to-three hours with only an extra hour for tweaking with a live band.”
A professional installer or a front-of-house tech with a greater-than-average understanding of audio could set up the Jupiter. The install is straight-forward and the apps use terminology familiar to a seasoned tech.
IS IT TRULY A TURN-KEY DSP?
So often the phrase “turn-key solution” means “limited conﬁgurability.” However, by offering over 70 conﬁgurable apps for their Jupiter-series DSP, Symetrix has created a turn-key solution with the utmost amount of conﬁgurability.