How the Xynergi Keyboard Works

Xynergi Components

The Xynergi Keyboard in three different application modes.
The Xynergi Keyboard in three different application modes.
Photo courtesy Fairlight

The real source of Xynergi's amazing functionality is Fairlight's CC-1 card. "CC" stands for Crystal Core, Fairlight's processing platform for its audio production hardware. The CC-1 is both a microprocessor and a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCI-Express) card. To use a Xynergi device, an engineer has to first connect it to a PC using the CC-1 card. He or she would need to install the card in one of the computer's expansion slots, which connects the card to the computer's motherboard.

The CC-1 is a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) device. An FPGA device can contain thousands of logic gates, which are the basic building blocks of digital circuits (to learn more about logic gates, head to our article on How Boolean Logic Works). Fairlight designed the CC-1 to act as a processor. All audio production functions run through the CC-1, not the host computer's CPU. This means that the PC's processing power is available for other programming tasks. In the past, PC-based audio editing devices required a computer almost entirely dedicated to audio production, because audio processing demands are so high. Since the CC-1 handles this load on its own, you can install it on a PC and still run other processes while you edit and mix audio and video tracks.

Fairlight offers four different configurations for the Xynergi system -- every version can perform the same basic tasks, but the higher-end versions have more processing capability. The top-of-the-line system is the Xynergi MPC-230F, which has 230 processing channels, 96 concurrent recording tracks and 192 concurrent playback tracks. In other words, Xynergi engineers can record, edit, mix and play back dozens of individual audio tracks to make rich, complex master recordings.

Xynergi systems also include an I/O toolbox called an SX-20. The SX-20 has two preamps, which are outputs that boost the power of a signal before sending the signal to another component (to learn more, read our article on How Amplifiers Work). The system also has two analog inputs, 12 analog outputs, four digital inputs and eight digital outputs, which allow the engineer to connect the system to other components, including microphones, instruments and speakers.

The Xynergi media production center runs on proprietary Fairlight production software. Xynergi can create and edit most media file formats, but its interactive keyboard isn't designed to work with other video and audio production software.

Xynergi's hardware and software give the system amazing capabilities. In the next section, we'll learn more about some of Xynergi's functions.