WHEAT:NEWS Radio May 2016 - Vol 7, No. 5
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You Say You Want an Evolution
Every year about this time, dealers start to roll out new model year automobiles and it doesn’t take long before we start trolling the lots and looking at color swatches.
But here’s the kicker: we can’t seem to settle on just one! If we place an order for, say, a new red car, that’s exactly what we’re going to get -- a new red car. Not a yellow one or a blue one, and certainly not one that can be converted from a four-door sedan into a sporty two-door once the kids move out.
That car will not change much from the day we take it off the showroom floor until the day we sell or retire it. But – and here’s the point we want to make – our new LXE IP audio console will. It can be customized long after it rolls out of the factory, right down to the colors on the buttons.
In fact, every button, switch, and knob on the LXE is fully scriptable. Instead of mapping switches, buttons and knobs to a particular function that can never be changed, the LXE’s surface controls are completely programmable through a GUI. The same button that is used for phantom power can be changed for toggling EQ on or off. Any button anywhere on the surface can be programmed at any time for talkback, cue, start/stop or for toggling between functions, which can also be tied to different elements such as microphones.
If you’re wondering how to keep tabs on all that change, you’ll be glad to know that much of it is handled through Console Builder, which is a series of GUIs that let you make changes easily on a touchscreen monitor. For example, on one touchscreen interface, you can “pinch” the right amount of EQ and boost or cut frequencies using touch. On another, you can set up AUX assigns, and on yet another, set up presets – all using touch.
Change isn’t just surface deep, either. We arrived at what is essentially a new console architecture because, well, we’ve all bought that new car that just didn’t work out in the long run. And, also because we let our lead field engineer and our sales manager take a long trip together visiting stations and talking to broadcasters, and they started kicking around ideas on what they’d want in an audio console if they could design their dream machine.
“That part is true. Jay (Tyler) and I were in France and one weekend after weeks of visiting groups of stations, we started drawing and defining what we thought would be the ultimate console. What we quickly realized is that everybody’s idea of the perfect console is different, and so it became all about customization and being able to customize a surface for what you need now as well as months or years from now,” said Kelly Parker, Wheatstone’s Senior Systems Engineer, who oversaw the design of the LXE based on his years in the field designing and installing new studios.
Customization starts with the physical configuration of the LXE. Not only is the LXE available in all the traditional form factors, it can be split up into separate fader banks located anywhere in the studio and connected through Ethernet. So two board ops working off separate fader banks in the same room, or separate rooms networked together, can share mutes, tallies, speakers and other resources. “IP audio consoles were traditionally bound to one mix engine for every surface and that really limited how they could be used. We can now network multiple banks or surfaces through a shared mix engine for sharing resources,” explained Parker.
There’s something else that Parker thought was important to include in the LXE: layering. Although layering is a common feature for TV audio boards, the LXE is one of the few IP audio consoles for radio that uses layering because it can reduce the footprint and the cost of the console. For example, instead of springing for a full 32-fader console, a station might be able to get a 16-fader LXE and layer it once for up to 32 faders or get an 8-fader LXE and layer it four times.
That kind of flexibility might not be noticeable to broadcasters now, but it could make all the difference when things change down the road. “Things like layering and being able to change what functions are tied to what controls might just make it possible to hang onto that console when formats, workflows, and whatever else changes in the future,” agreed Jay Tyler, Wheatstone’s Director of Sales.
As for color – both Kelly and Jay were adamant about being able to change that, too – at least on the buttons. Backlit RGB illuminated buttons can be programmed for multiple different colors so you can set up alerting and monitoring systems as you see fit.
The one thing they didn’t change is the engine under the hood, which remains our popular WheatNet-IP audio network for routing and controlling audio throughout the studio environment.
Drive Time with WheatNet-IP Screen Builder
It’s drive time all the time for 107.7 Sanef located near Senils, France. That is, the station broadcasts to traveling motorists through a network of 200 watt transmitters synchronized on the same frequency and located along 1,800 kilometers of motorway.
107.7 Sanef broadcasts a music format but as a highway station, it has an added responsibility to broadcast emergency and traffic alerts anywhere along the roadways it covers. That’s where Wheatstone’s Screen Builder application as part of the WheatNet-IP audio network environment comes in handy.
Screen Builder is used to create custom touchscreen interfaces for adjusting, monitoring and controlling different aspects of the WheatNet-IP audio network. In this case, SAVE Diffusion, which represents Wheatstone in the region and is a full systems integrator, used Screen Builder to set up a touchscreen interface so 107.7 Sanef operators could easily select and target news updates to one or more areas of the broadcast network.
In addition to WheatNet-IP audio control surfaces and talent stations, each of 107.7 Sanef’s three studios are equipped with eight screens and screen images of the motorway network cameras. The three studios are networked together using WheatNet-IP audio networking. At the heart of connectivity are WheatNet-IP I/O BLADEs, which have embedded intelligence for signal detection, automation logic, sound processing and emergency interrupt of programming at each connection point in the network.
Sanef 107.7 broadcasts a pop/rock format when it is not providing critical traffic information to its listeners.
As part of the WheatNet-IP audio network, the touchscreen is often accessed at monitoring stations at various points along the roadways, but it could just as easily be accessed from anywhere in the world via a remote management tool.
Now, depending on where an event is taking place, operators can target listeners anywhere along the broadcast network to let them know of an upcoming accident or traffic jam, or if another motorist is traveling in the opposite direction, for example. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the broadcast network, operators can alert motorists of a breakdown up ahead or a large object or animal obstructing the roadway.
This is just one of many creative uses for Screen Builder we’ve found in the field.
Jock Crashes NAB Exhibit
A crowd unexpectedly gathered at the Wheatstone booth during the NAB show in Las Vegas last month when KISS-FM’s afternoon drive personality, who goes by the name of Kaden, stopped by to be filmed in a demo video for the new VoxPro 6.0 digital recorder/editor, the radio industry standard for real-time audio editors.
According to Rick Bidlack, VoxPro product manager at Wheatstone, “There was no plan for a crowd. We were going to quietly shoot an educational video showing how a DJ can edit down a listener phone-in call. When the video production crew turned up the audio of the editing system so it could be heard on the video recording, passersby could hear what was going on. Within a minute, about 25 people were watching the shoot, with more on the way.”
What drew the crowd was the Phoenix jock himself. Starting with a real listener phone call used a week before on-air, along with a microphone attached to the VoxPro 6.0, he rapidly edited and transformed an ordinary phone conversation into a polished, edgy and airable listener call. The crowd loved it. Kaden’s reaction: “We jocks use VoxPro as a golden tool to pack the most personality and entertainment into the shortest time possible. In Top 40 radio, the golden rule is keep the music moving. A typical phoner can't slow the pace, and needs to sell our brand and personality. A typical call may be 2-3 minutes in length; the best 20 seconds makes it on the air and we have to keep it fun!” Several in the crowd commented how Kaden’s flingers flew in a blur as he used the new VoxPro 6.0 controller. Explained Kaden, “The controller is designed to be very fast. We take phone calls while songs and commercials are playing, then heavily edit and get them on-air, almost in real time. If you do this for a few years, you get very fast. When I’m on the air, my eyes are on the computer screen, and my fingers do all the work, making the call as tight and entertaining as possible.”
At this year's NAB show, we invited many people from all corners of the industry to join us in conversations about all things broadcast. Obviously, we focused on audio for broadcast because, well, it's what we know.
We didn't really know what to expect, but the results definitely exceeded even our greatest expectations. Some conversations weren't planned at all - such as the the Kim Komando interview. But despite being unplanned, the intrepid Scott Fybush, a virtual broadcast encyclopedia, just did what he does and Kim comfortably sheds a lot of light on the challenge facing radio and TV broadcasters about which medium is which.
Each of these videos is a wealth of information spanning every aspect of audio for broadcast.
- Soundfusion (Johannesburg, South Africa) purchased two L-12 control surfaces.
- GED Broadcast Equipment (Beirut, Lebanon) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console for Royal Jordanian Armed Forces.
- Corus (Vancouver, BC) purchased an L-12 control surface.
- KVAY-FM (Lamar, CO) purchased an IP-12 control surface.
- Radio Veritas (Manila, Philippines) purchased an LX-24 control surface through Broadcast World Philippines.
- Hubbard (Phoenix, AZ) purchased three TS-4 talent stations and a WheatNet-IP I/O BLADE plus seven VoxPro5 digital recorders/editors.
- CBC (Canada) upgraded to NAVIGATOR 3 for several of its sites in Canada.
- CBC (Rimouski, QC) purchased a Glass E Virtual Mixer for an E-6 control surface.
- CBC (Regina, SK) purchased four TS-4 and two TS-22 talent stations for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- CBC (Toronto, ON) purchased an additional I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Salem Communications’ WFIL-AM (Lafayette Hill, PA) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Corus (Vancouver, BC) purchased a TS-4 talent station.
- Golden Isles Broadcasting (Brunswick, GA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- Grant Broadcasters (Crows Nest, NSW) purchased an L-12 control surface and audio drivers.
- Radio Adelaide (South Africa) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
- UCB (Canada) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Holy AV (Cypress, CA) purchased an LX-24 control surface, IP-16 digital audio console, an M4-IP four channel mic processor, MADI BLADE plus an Aura8-IP multimode audio processor, and an upgraded NAVIGATOR 3.
- WLRH-FM (Huntsville, AL) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- KZZJ-AM (Rugby, ND) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- WUOM-FM (Ann Arbor, MI) purchased a Scheduler for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- WHTM-TV (Harrisburg, PA) purchased a Series Four TV audio console.
- WGBH-TV (Brighton, MA) upgraded its TDM BRIDGE system.
- Southern Broadcast (Auckland, New Zealand) purchased an L-12 control surface.
- Saga Communications (Spencer, IA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- Townsquare Media (Tuscaloosa, AL) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
- Hubbard (St. Louis, MO) purchased a TS-22 talent station for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- University of Missouri (St. Louis, MO) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- Radio Marshalls (Marshall Islands) purchased an Air-4 and R-55e console.
- Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) purchased an Air-5 console.
- Faith Radio Network (St. Paul, MN) purchased an Air-4 console.
- Audio Solution (Taipei, Taiwan) purchased an Air-1 console.
- SCA Sound Solutions (Tokyo, Japan) purchased an R-55e console.
- Radio Midday (New Delhi, India) purchased a D-76 console through Horizon Electronics.
- Oakwood (Mississauga, ON) purchased an Air-4 console.
- BSW (Tacoma, WA) purchased an Air-1 console.
- 305 Broadcast (Miami, FL) purchased an Air-5 and Air-1 console.
- Basin Broadcasting’s KNDN-AM (Farmington, NM) purchased an Air-4 console.
- KTTR-FM (St. James, MO) purchased an R-55e console.
- WCCX-FM (Waukesha, WI) purchased an Air-5 console.
- Key Plus Broadcasting (Tulsa, OK) purchased an R-55e console.
- Rhode Island College (Providence, RI) purchased an R-55e console.
Wheatstone Audio Processing
- WIRL-AM (Peoria, IL) purchased an AM-55 audio processor.
- Oakwood (Mississauga, ON) purchased two M4IP-USB four-channel mic processors.
- Townsquare Media (Midland, TX) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- Megalectrics (Ikoyi, Lagos) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- Rogers (Vancouver, BC) purchased four M2 dual channel mic processors.
- Bridgewater State University (Bridgewater, MA) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- Entercom (Miami, FL) purchased an AM-55 audio processor.
- KRSL-FM (Russell, KS) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- Beasley Broadcast (Ft. Myers, FL) purchased an AirAura and FM-55 audio processor.
- SAVE Diffusion (Saint Etienne, France) purchased two Screen Builder apps and an M1 and M2 dual channel mic processor.
- Westwood One (New York, NY) purchased an M2 dual channel mic processor.
- WAWL-FM (Grand Haven, MI) purchased a VP8-IP multimode audio processor.
- The Lampo Group (Nashville, TN) purchased an M1 mic processor.
- Lanser Broadcasting (Zeeland, MI) purchased a VP8-IP multimode processor.
- KLAW-FM (Lawton, OK) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- WWPR-FM (New York, NY) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- Agile Broadcast (Bayswater, Australia) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- Ft. Myers Broadcasting (Naples, FL) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- KSL-FM (Salt Lake City, UT) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- KSWP-FM (Lufkin, TX) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- WJXA-FM (Nashville, TN) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- Townsquare Media (Buffalo, NY) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- Stephens Media Group (Tulsa, OK) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- Townsquare Media (Poughkeepsie, NY) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
- Hubbard (Phoenix, AZ) purchased seven VoxPro5 digital recorders/editors.
Your Question Answered
Q: We have a new PD and he’s constantly asking me about the sound of the stations, one in particular. He’s looking for a certain sound and I’ve spent weeks tweaking the processing but he’s just not happy.
A: Our “golden ears” Mike Erickson says he feels your pain. He’s spent his career tweaking to the ears of PDs and GMs and he knows how frustrating the process can be sometimes. If you have an older processor, perhaps there are a few more settings you and your PD can experiment with together? Or maybe there's something else in your air chain getting in the way, like an old distribution amplifier or some other gear well past its life expectancy? But sometimes there’s just not enough processor there to get the signature sound desired. No worries. Wheatstone has plenty of offerings that fit every budget. If you're really in a loudness war, it doesn't get louder, AND cleaner, than the X3 with its 31 band limiter and iAGC. Audio is extremely consistent cut to cut, creating that perfect signature sound. But what to do when you're on a budget? If you're FM only, the answer just may be the budget priced FM-55. It's the box that's been fooling competitors ever since we launched it over two years ago. But maybe you need FM and HD processing on a budget?
Well, guess what? We took the AGC smarts of the FM-55 and mixed in some 31 band magic to create the AirAura X1. Inexpensive and intuitive, the X1 has the same self-adjusting front end the FM-55 has with the precision of the 31 band limiter in the X3. And with its simplified GUI, major market sound in the X1 is a few clicks away! That really cuts down on the time it takes to get that signature sound your PD is looking for, letting you get on with other projects (or maybe that long overdue vacation).
House Of Wheat
So, we’re watching an episode of House of Cards, and guess what we spotted? An LX-24 console with WheatNet-IP audio network metering! And a VoxPro editing screen up and running!
Click on the image to take a look for yourself (note: there is no sound on this ‘borrowed’ clip). This is a scene from the episode where First Lady Claire Underwood sits down to an interview at a radio station.
NAB 2016 RECAP
NAB was an exciting show this year. We introduced some exciting new technology and stuff. The booth was absolutely packed the entire show and it was great to see you all. If you missed the show and want to see what happened, or if you'd like to review it, here's a link to the page we've had going since we started setting up:
WHEATSTONE NAB 2016
WHEAT AROUND THE WORLD
Wheatstone is headed east in the coming weeks.
24-27 May 2016, so please drop by and visit!
Amusing / Interesting Links:
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- VOXPRO6 RECORDER/EDITOR
- AUDIO PROCESSORS
- TV AUDIO CONSOLES AND NETWORKING
- TV Audio Consoles
- Gibraltar/Gibraltar Network
- BLADES AND IP AUDIO NETWORKING
- WheatNet-IP Technology Overview
- BLADE-3 Technology Overview
- Mix Engine/Console BLADE-3s
- BLADEs (original)
- EDGE Network Interface
- PANELS AND CONTROLLERS
- Talent Stations
- GP Panels
- Interface Panels
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