WheatNews March/April 2020

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WHEAT:NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020  Volume 11, Number 4

Social Distancing Your Studios...
Mixing Feeds Remotely

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By Robert Ferguson

I’ve talked to quite a few broadcasters who are discovering that they’re far more prepared for a pandemic like Covid-19 than they thought. 

Many are grabbing mics from the studio and codec units off the remote rack and sending them home with talent so they can remotely voicetrack or broadcast their shows. 

Others are using SIP software codecs such as LinPhone or OnSIP that they’ve installed on tablets, PCs or phones. Still others are using a combination of both. One group, for example, is setting up WheatNet-IP VoIP-AoIP multichannel appliances at the studio headend with any combination of SIP software and hardware decoders at the home studio end. As a result, it was able to deploy multiple work-at-home studios at once. 

USB mics or small mixer type applications with a USB audio output are also being put to good use, as are mobile phones. 

When it comes to mixing feeds, many are remoting into the station studio where they have all the tools of the trade on hand. While there are ways to remote into an analog studio (more on that in a minute), it’s easier with an AoIP networked studio. 

Remoting in Using AoIP

If you have an AoIP console surface, you can probably use remote control software to control it. Many broadcasters I talk to are setting up a gateway machine somewhere in the building to protect the main network, and then remoting in through a VPN to control the console. 

Remote control software for consoles and AoIP systems varies, from basic GUIs to virtual mixers like our Remote LXE client software that mirrors a physical LXE console surface. Talent is able to access and control the physical console in the facility from a Remote LXE client on a laptop or desktop at home, usually through a VPN into a gateway computer at the station studio.

BillGeorgia Public Broadcasting Political Rewind host Bill Nigut is now working from his home studio using a codec with typically two or three guest call-ins on telephone. The pubcaster recently purchased a Glass E remote client for remotely controlling the station’s LX-24 console surface. 

Overall, the trend seems to be software apps as an alternative to physical home studio gear. Apps like our remote mixing app (ReMIX) can be installed on a gateway PC at the station or used over a VPN connection to the WheatNet-IP network, which can be used to control utility mixers in the WheatNet-IP BLADEs. 

REMIXReMIX is useful for broadcasters who have BLADEs for I/O, but do not have a surface capable of remote control. The utility mixer outputs can be routed to the air-chain. Assignments to the utility mixer can be made using WheatNet IP Navigator or salvos fired from logic inputs for a predefined set of inputs to the utility mixer being controlled by ReMIX. Any source on the WheatNet-IP network can be assigned to utility mixer inputs; mics, codecs, and automation playouts are the most common. With the two available program busses on the utility mixer, a quick mix-minus could also be set up to send to a codec or phone hybrid.

Remoting into an Analog Console

If you have an analog console, it can be remotely controlled with a little ingenuity and using the GPI/O in most any program playout or automation system. GPI/Os can be programmed to fire closure contacts that remote control the console. I recommend that you set up a gateway computer for logging into the network from the outside, and then set up a remote utility such as TeamViewer to keep your playout system secure. 

Another option is to add an IP I/O unit to the analog console and then routing control and audio through that for remote access of the console. 

Setting Backfeeds 

Next to remote access, setting up confidence monitoring and mix-minus or bus-minus feeds for home studios make up the majority of our support calls since the pandemic started. Most of these are a simple matter of setting bus-minus assigns (all of our IP surfaces have bus-minus sends from the fader and these provide an automatic mix-minus of program content minus the source, so in most cases it’s a simple fix of pairing faders to the codec). 

It gets trickier for some of the smaller plants that have a limited number of AoIP I/O units feeding a small console. The tricky part is how to route several home studio feeds and their respective bus-minus presets along with assigned codecs using shared hardware I/Os and faders. This can often be done in the software realm, using AoIP features like WheatNet-IP’s Associated Connections.

NAVIGATOR ASSOCIATED CONNECTIONS OVERVIEW SCREENWheatNet-IP’s Associated Connections let you build a set of rules to automate routing in smaller plants that are short on faders or outputs. With Associated Connections, you can create a predetermined backhaul, IFB feed or mix-minus for each device based on its location in the system or on a fader. When a base connection is made, up to 10 additional connections can happen automatically. 

There are as many ways to “social distance” the broadcast studio as there are ways to build a studio. The building blocks are pretty much the same as you’d find in-house — codecs, client software, surface control — and it’s just a matter of putting it together with a little bit of ingenuity to get what you need. 

RobertFergusonRobert Ferguson is a support engineer for Wheatstone. He has been in radio for more than 25 years, with experience both behind the board and in front of it as a broadcast engineer and on-air personality. He will be discussing the nuts and bolts of Social Distancing Your Studios during a webcast this Saturday, April 18.

Click to Register >>

All the Trends in One Webcast
Webinar NAB Kickoff socialWheatstone. SBE. Xperi. Elenos Group/BE
Saturday April 18
 
SOCIAL DISTANCING YOUR STUDIOS at 12:47 pm
Presented by Wheatstone Support Engineer Robert Ferguson 
• Software apps versus a physical home studio
• Challenges of mix- or bus-minus and confidence monitoring 
• SIP codecs and AoIP appliances for multi-location shows
• Analog consoles and ways to remote in
 
PROCESSING FOR TODAY’S STREAMING at 2:34 pm
Presented by Wheatstone's Rick Bidlack
• Why aggressive time constants add distortion 
• Stereo separation and encoded audio
• Protocols to know: HLS, Icecast, RTM and RTP
• Why peak control is better than density control
• Adding native IP audio and cloud-ready to the mix

Wheatstone is partnering with Elenos Group/BE, Xperi, and the Society of Broadcast Engineers to bring you all the latest trends in one webcast! It starts at 12 noon EDT/ 17:00 GMT Saturday, April 18. This webinar has been approved by the SBE for ½ credit in Category 1 for re-certification.
 
Click for the entire schedule

NAB Kickoff Home

Analog Exit Plan. Next Step: Add I/O Devices

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By Richard Maddox 

You’ve begun converting existing wiring one device at a time with CAT5e or CAT6 cabling and started adapting those cables for broadcast equipment by adding XLR and TRS plugs onto them. 

What’s next in your transition from analog routing to AoIP? (If you’re still on step one of your analog exit plan, see Maddox’s article Convert Wiring One Device at a Time, February issue of Wheat News).

A good next step is to add I/O devices where you can. You’re likely already familiar with the concept of distributed I/O, where one “I/O interface box” is mounted in each rack to connect all the equipment within that rack. Each I/O box then connects to a main router using a single CAT5e cable. 

An AoIP system is configured in much the same way. For example, a WheatNet BLADE is an AoIP I/O box with eight stereo inputs and eight stereo outputs on RJ45 jacks to connect local signals. The BLADE then connects, again using a CAT5e cable, to a gigabit Ethernet switch to network it with the other BLADEs in the system so any discrete local input can be streamed to any other BLADE or console in the plant, and any other system signal can be streamed to any local output on that BLADE.

In fact, if you have a VistaMax system, or any brand of TDM router, with some spare I/O (like, say, eight unused AES ins and eight AES outs), then you’re already well on your way to transitioning to AoIP. Connecting that spare AES I/O to an AES BLADE (using sixteen CAT5e cables) means you now can convert one or two studios to AoIP consoles while continuing to use your existing router. These eight “tie lines” allow signals from the new consoles (PGM, bus-minus, etc.) to feed the existing router, and the router system to send common signals like off-air-tuners, EAS, satellite feeds, hybrids, etc. to the AoIP consoles. Having a couple non-dedicated tie lines allows one to change signals as required from one system to the other.

This lays down the infrastructure to add an AoIP console or two when you’re ready, without it being an all or nothing proposition. Adding an AoIP console in the main studio, for example, offers a world of features, like source selection, bus-minus, and audio processing on every fader, which were not available on any twenty-year-old console. AoIP consoles typically cost about the same, or even less, than a 20-year-old console did when new. For example, an 8-channel AoIP console like the Audioarts DMX can be had for under $8,000, pretty much the price for a NetWave-8 console from the early 00s.

Richard Maddox is a Field Service Engineer for Wheatstone, Audioarts, and PR&E products. He joined PR&E in 1993 as their Digital Product Specialist, with later stints in the Engineering, Systems Design, and Customer Service departments. When Wheatstone purchased PR&E assets, he joined Wheatstone to continue supporting legacy PR&E products. He now supports the full line of current Wheatstone-designed products from his location in Southern California.

Radio Osnabrück Remote Control

Radio OnasbruckLong before coronavirus became a household word, Radio Osnabrück on-air personalities were remoting in from all corners of the station’s regional coverage area in Germany through a user interface on their laptop or PC. The UI connects into the station’s WheatNet-IP audio networked studio in the city of Osnabrück and was created with ScreenBuilder by Danny Teunissen of MRZ Broadcast in The Netherlands, who was the systems integrator for Radio Osnabrück’s studios. 

ScreenBuilder Scripter's Forum

ScreenBuilderRebuild

Are you a ScreenBuilder or ConsoleBuilder power user? Register and log onto our Scripters Forum. This is a new meeting place for anyone interested in developing new screens and workflows for our WheatNet-IP audio network. Share scripts, screen shots and ideas with others also developing virtual news desks, control panels, and signal monitors. You’ll find documents, starter scripts and a whole knowledge base available to you for making customized screens like those pictured.

Click to register for our Scripters Forum (it's free)

Compare All of Wheatstone's Remote Solutions

We've got remote solutions for virtually every networkable console we've built in the last 20 years or so. For basic volume, on/off, bus assign, logic, it's as easy as running an app either locally with a good VPN, or back at the studio, using a remote-access app such as Teambuilder to run.

Check out the chart below, and/or click here to learn more on our Remote Solutions web page.

Click for a Comparison Chart of All Wheatstone Remote Software Solutions
We’re Taking it Seriously

We developed a system at Club Wheat to quarantine all incoming parts, supplies, mail, and materials -- anything that will fit in our production oven goes in. We just load it up on a special cart in a quarantined area of the building, and Marty wheels it into the oven. A few minutes at 200° F / 93.3° C, and any unwanted visitors are gone! (note: video has no audio)

 

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Remote Solutions Video Demonstrations

Jay Tyler recently completed a series of videos demonstrating the various solutions Wheatstone offers for remote broadcasting.

Exit

The Wheatstone online parts store is now open! You can purchase spare cards, subassemblies, modules and other discontinued or out-of-production components for Wheatstone, Audioarts, PR&E and VoxPro products online, or call Wheatstone customer support at 252-638-7000 or contact the Wheatstone technical support team online as usual. 

The store is another convenience at wheatstone.com, where you can access product manuals, white papers and tutorials as well as technical and discussion forums such as its AoIP Scripters Forum

MAKING SENSE OF THE VIRTUAL STUDIO COVERMaking Sense of the Virtual Studio
SMART STRATEGIES AND VIRTUAL TOOLS FOR ADAPTING TO CHANGE

Curious about how the modern studio has evolved in an IP world? Virtualization of the studio is WAY more than tossing a control surface on a touch screen. With today's tools, you can virtualize control over almost ANYTHING you want to do with your audio network. This free e-book illustrates what real-world engineers and radio studios are doing. Pretty amazing stuff.

AdvancingAOIP E BookCoverAdvancing AOIP for Broadcast
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EMERGING STANDARDS SUCH AS AES67 VIA AUDIO OVER IP TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BROADCAST FACILITY

Putting together a new studio? Updating an existing studio? This collection of articles, white papers, and brand new material can help you get the most out of your venture. Best of all, it's FREE to download!

IP TV EBOOK COVER

IP Audio for TV Production and Beyond

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MANAGING MORE CHANNELS, MORE MIXES, AND MORE REMOTE VENUES

For this FREE e-book download, we've put together this e-book with fresh info and some of the articles that we've authored for our website, white papers, and news that dives into some of the cool stuff you can do with a modern AoIP network like Wheatstone's WheatNet-IP. 

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