WheatNews November 2021

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WHEAT:NEWS NOVEMBER 2021  Volume 12, Number 11

IT’S A ‘BRAVES’ NEW WORLD

Bravess9MS CROP

Atlanta Braves logoThis is where it was all mixed when the Atlanta Braves won back the World Series title on November 3 after 26 years. The WheatNet-IP audio networked studios at Truist ballpark, home of the Atlanta Braves and the team’s flagship station 680 The Fan, were designed by Gary Kline, who provided us with these shots the night of the game. A hard-working team of professionals at the ballpark and at the Dickey Broadcasting network studios put their all into the broadcast, which was also carried in stereo. 

Click here for a trip back in time to that night in photos, courtesy of Gary Kline. 

HAND ME THAT GLASS! SPILLED LATTE IN THE CONSOLE.

SEN2MS

By Chris Penny, Systems Engineer, Agile Broadcast

Imagine this…Someone spills a double shot latte with three sugars into your studio mixer. 

If you’ve been in broadcast long enough you have most certainly seen it happen (and hopefully not been responsible).

When the engineer gets to it fast enough, any long-term damage can be avoided. Wheatstone’s flagship LXE console surface features hot-swappable fader modules for quick and easy recovery. That will save you 99% of the time.

However, coffee and fizzy drinks left in the surface eat away at the circuit boards leading to inevitable failure of that component days, weeks or months later.

Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) in Australia suffered such an event recently. Coffee left in the surface took out a bunch of modules and the common Ethernet controller board. Nasty!

SEN2MSSEN needed a simple solution to keep the studio operating, so we at Agile Broadcast recommended running Glass LXE on a touchscreen.

Wheatstone quickly provided a license while we ported the customizations in the SSP8 OLED panels into Glass counterparts using Wheatstone’s ScreenBuilder software.

Within a few hours, the studio was up and running, which kept the broadcasters in their main studio going whilst taking pressure off due to any potential shipping delays from overseas.

Whether you’re a big or little player in the broadcast game, failure will happen. It’s how you deal with it that counts.

Software solutions open a whole new avenue to keep broadcasters broadcasting.

AES67 CROSSPOINT TIP

NAVIGATOR CROSSPOINT SCREEN

AES67 is cumbersome to set up, but if you are simply adding one specialized device onto a AoIP network that runs on a different IP audio system (but both share AES67 compliance in common) it can be worth it.  

Once you begin adding devices, sources and crosspoints, however, AES67 setup can be downright painful.

That’s because the standard has no protocol for setup — meaning you’ll need to manually set up devices and create multicast IP addresses for every single crosspoint connection. Adding to the misery index, you have to launch apps for the devices at the end of those crosspoints and go through their setup routines in order to get them to talk to one another. When the situation calls for routing changes, that’s a lot of typing.

One quick and easy way to save on all that typing is to use the 8x2 utility mixers in our Blades for routing to AES67 destinations. These u-mixers are in every Blade, and if you set the stream feeding your AES67 device to be your utility mixer output, changing routing is as easy as clicking on XY crosspoints in WheatNet-IP’s NAVIGATOR software.   

You’re welcome.

WINNING STREAK

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We put our heart and soul into our new Blade 4  – along with just about everything else in the studio. 

NAB 2021 BIM AWARD2Nothing says it’s worth it like an entire industry taking notice, as happened recently when the Blade 4 received both an NAB 2021 Product of the Year award and a Radio World 2021 Best in Market award.

Blade 4, our fourth generation WheatNet-IP I/O unit, won an NAB 2021 Product of the Year award in the Audio Production, Processing and Networking category. NAB Show Product of the Year award winners were selected by a panel of industry experts in 16 categories and announced in a live awards ceremony on NAB Amplify on November 3. 

As if that wasn’t enough, our new Tekton 32 TV audio console won a TV Technology 2021 Best in Market award. We also put a great deal of heart into this latest WheatNet-IP audio networked console, developing a compact control surface with soft controls that can fit just about any television production environment. 

Thank you, all, for recognizing the engineering that goes into every one of our WheatNet-IP products and systems. 

AoIP GONE TOO FAR

BladeFest 4How far can you go with IP audio? 

We know that you most certainly can transport audio between AoIP endpoints across the internet backbone. We know, too, that you can go as far as to integrate Opus, AAC and MP3 codecs into the native IP audio environment, as we’ve done with our new Blade 4. 

What we didn’t know until recently is how well AoIP and codecs would perform together as one tightly integrated solution across distances. To find out, we conducted a “Bladefest.”

Bladefests are held periodically at the Wheatstone factory, during which the Wheatstone crew of engineers and “Bladerunners” string together more than 50 Blades, half a dozen digital audio consoles, talent stations, smart switches, and the complete family of WheatNet-IP software applications and devices. For this recent Bladefest, Wheatstone engineers tested codecs in a system made up of WheatNet-IP, Axia, ATX and Dante systems and devices. 

BladeRearWiringThis was our third official Bladefest (read Testing of Blades to Heck and Back) and a first for Blade 4, our new fourth generation WheatNet-IP I/O access unit that now includes Opus, AAC and MP3 audio codecs as part of the native IP audio network.

In addition to the usual stress tests under various power and network failure scenarios and Ethernet switch versions, our team of engineers ran audio through the Blade 4’s embedded Opus codec bidirectionally at 128 to 256 kbps bit rates and monitored results across internet links between points in North Carolina, Illinois, and New York. Testing took place over several months, with results ranging from no packet losses in some locations and others dropping several thousand packets a day. 

“The shortest link between here (New Bern) and Charlotte NC was actually the worst,” said Wheatstone Vice President of Technology Andrew Calvanese, citing last mile and general telco switching instability as likely factors.    

Of particular interest was how the Blade 4 held up to internet instabilities such as this. 

To help mitigate the audible dropouts typical of some codec links yet maintain WheatNet-IP’s low latency, quarter millisecond transport on others, Wheatstone engineers added a Secure Reliable Transport, or SRT, option to individual Blade 4 links. SRT recovers lost packets and resends them so dropped packets can be inserted before the audio plays out. “The tradeoff is latency, which is why we designed SRT in the Blade 4 to be individually adjustable per link. You can maintain your low-latency WheatNet-IP network in most cases, but for problematic links that are more unstable, you can adjust the SRT buffering on that link only,” explained Calvanese. 

Being able to optimize audio performance per link is just one of the benefits of integrating codecs into the AoIP environment. Another is eliminating one more hardware unit in the air chain, along with the subsequent A/D and D/A conversion between units. These Blade 4 benefits will be important to the performance of audio transported across distances, whether it’s receiving encoded audio from a remote across town or sending encoded audio across the continent to a regional head end or cloud server farm. 

Also tested during the 2021 Bladefest: Blade 4 NMOS discovery and Blade 4 AES67 compliance with packet rates ranging from .125 millisecond to 5 millisecond — including two packet rates at once per signal. “We felt this was important for those who want to maintain the low latency benefits of quarter-millisecond timing for their WheatNet-IP devices and still be able to interoperate with an intercom or other third-party device that requires a millisecond rate,” said Calvanese. 

As the first AoIP I/O unit to integrate routable mixing, processing and now codecs into 1RU, 

Blade 4 recently received the NAB 2021 Product of the Year award in the Audio Production, Processing and Networking category. For additional details, go to our Blade 4 preview page

AoIP Q&A: WHEN AUTOMATION DETERMINES THE CONSOLE

TEKTON HEADON HIGH

Q: We’re a hometown television station and slowly over time, our news team has gotten smaller. We are now looking into a production automation system to handle some of those missing duties. We plan to update our console at the same time. We don’t necessarily need a large mixing desk like in the past, but we do need to be able to produce live events occasionally without involving the production automation system. Any advice? 

A: An IP audio networked console is practically made for this. These are generally smaller, more compact consoles that give you that tight integration between routing, control and automation and as a result, are likely to be more intuitive to run than their larger cousins. Keep in mind that with a production automation system, you are effectively treating audio as more of a workflow than as a live mix done by a dedicated audio engineer (for more on this, read Audio and the Evolution of the TV News Team). 

Look for features like motorized faders that track to the automation for keeping an eye on automated workflows, and ease of navigation for those occasional live events when your producer or director will be sitting in front of the console. Some newer AoIP consoles such as our Tekton 32 also have a touchscreen interface that make it easy to adjust level, fix dynamics, and do all the basic mixing functions that need to be done in the moment rather than having to find the right knob or drill down into a menu to get to what you need. 

VIDEO: GETTING STREAMS CLOUD-READY AND CDN COMPATIBLE: POLITICS AND PROTOCOLS

The broadcast industry is going through a transitional phase with the introduction of new streaming technology and practices. In this presentation for NAB’s BEIT Online 2021 Conference, Wheatstone Software Development Engineer Rick Bidlack goes over the latest in streaming protocols and metadata as stations transition from on-air to streaming. 

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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)

Stay up to date on the world of broadcast radio / television.
Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

The Wheatstone online store is now open! You can purchase demo units, 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 our AoIP Scripters Forum

Compare All of Wheatstone's Remote Solutions

REMIXWe'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.

Remote Solutions Video Demonstrations

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

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Click for a Comparison Chart of All Wheatstone Remote Software Solutions

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. 

Got feedback or questions? Click my name below to send us an e-mail. You can also use the links at the top or bottom of the page to follow us on popular social networking sites and the tabs will take you to our most often visited pages.

-- Uncle Wheat, Editor

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