Test Drive: The First B.A.S.E. from Gamma Electronic Systems, Inc.

Because the unit is manipulating the phase of left and right channel information, the effect has the initial sound of audio that is simply out of phase. As mentioned earlier, you would expect a great deal of cancellation when the output is summed at the console, but due to the unique method of processing, this cancellation is minimal, if noticeable at all. We pushed this aspect to the max by sending some music to the unit, dropping the MONO GAIN to zero, setting the STEREO SPACE to nearly full tilt, and then summing the console. Rather than a complete cancellation of the out of phase stereo signal, the cancellation was only around 3 to 5 dB on this particular piece of music. In real application, this "zero mono gain/full-tilt stereo space" setting is unrealistic -- this is not how the unit was designed to be used. With appropriate settings of the MONO GAIN and the STEREO SPACE, summing the output at the console showed no notable cancellation on the VU meters, so concern about how things will sound on mono receivers is almost insignificant.

The influence phase correction devices (used on many transmitter audio chains) would have on the B.A.S.E. process was another aspect of the phase manipulation that concerned us. We spoke with Mike Fishman, President of B.A.S.E.. He said the B.A.S.E. effect would be diminished somewhat, but not completely. The degree of diminishment would be dependent upon how much of the effect was used. If a station wants to use the B.A.S.E. box on its entire signal, the box should be installed after any phase correction devices in the chain. If the box is to be used in the production room, you would want to disconnect any phase correction devices in the audio chain. Because of the direct relationship between the B.A.S.E. process and phase correcting devices, using B.A.S.E. in broadcast applications warrants a detailed meeting with your engineering department. There is no reason why B.A.S.E. cannot be used in production, in the dubbing of music, or in the on-air chain, but there is more to consider before using it than you would if you were just going to add reverb or some other common effect to audio intended for broadcast.

Also, it was determined that multi-path interference is increased somewhat when the B.A.S.E. system is put on line with the audio chain, but this interference is not created in areas where it doesn't exist to begin with. It is only enhanced to a degree dependent, once again, upon the amount of B.A.S.E. effect in use. Mike says, "We're working with a major station in LA, and we're trying to solve the problem now. If we can solve it in LA, which consists of valley after valley, we can solve the problem anywhere."

The B.A.S.E. system isn't new. It has been around since 1988 and is already well accepted in the recording and film industries. It has been used on the soundtracks of such films as Star Trek V, Halloween Parts 4 and 5, Back to the Future II and III, The Little Mermaid, and several others. We received a list of artists who are using B.A.S.E. in their recordings. The list includes Laura Brannigan, Glen Campbell, 10,000 Maniacs, Reba McEntire, Def Leppard, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Cure, Motley Crue, Shadowfax, Barbara Streisand, Waylon Jennings, Fleetwood Mac, INXS, Bo Didley, and dozens more. Closer to "production home," B.A.S.E. is also being used on the popular Techsonics production libraries. Regarding any negative feedback about using B.A.S.E. in broadcast applications, Mike Fishman said, "We have over 150 CD's on the market that have been processed with B.A.S.E.. If there was a problem, we would have heard about it by now."

Oddly enough, in this day of digital everything, B.A.S.E. is handled totally in the analog domain. Specifications include unbalanced XLR and 1/4 inch inputs and outputs. Frequency response is 5 Hz to 20 kHz. Total harmonic distortion is .0025%.

Relatively speaking, B.A.S.E. is brand new. Its obvious acceptance in the recording industry is a good sign that we'll see the B.A.S.E. logo on more and more CD's in the future, and it is definitely something that the audiophile will want on his home stereo system. In fact, that is the next step for the folks at Gamma Electronics. The professional unit has a $3,000 ticket on it. We understand that a $600 consumer model is planned and expected to hit the market within two or three years. Ultimately, the B.A.S.E. process will be integrated into a small computer chip which will reside in home and car stereo systems everywhere, much like the Dolby process. We expect the time will come when, next to the Dolby logo on your cassette deck, you'll find the B.A.S.E. logo; and next to the Dolby switches on that same cassette deck, you'll find the on/off switch for B.A.S.E.. However, unlike Dolby, B.A.S.E. is not hardware or software dependent. Therefore, no decoding of a B.A.S.E. signal is necessary. All you do is either turn it on or turn it off.

For more information on B.A.S.E., call Gamma Electronic Systems at (818) 500-4171.

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