NOVEMBER 2016 - Vol 7, No.11
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.
Maintain the life of Your Audio Network
Studio networking is like plumbing. It’s easy to ignore, until something goes wrong and you’re up to your ankles in you-know-what. Here are a few routine things you can do to maintain the life of your IP audio network and stop the damage before s#@t hits the fan.
Get the Heat Out
Maintain the rack room temperature at a cool 70°F. For every 18° above 70°, long-term electronic reliability is reduced by half, according to Uptime Institute.
Also, make sure there’s enough cool airflow around critical components by installing heat and humidity sensors in hot spots as needed. (Some audio network systems offer tools for this. Read on.) If things get too heated, one option is to install mini AC units, or CRACs (for Computer Room Air Conditioners), in every third or fourth rack for this purpose. In an emergency, you can also try the following to help cool things down:
- Remove a few ceiling tiles to lift the heat above the equipment racks.
- Install blank panels anywhere there are empty spaces in the rack. This will force more cooler air up to the top of the rack where heat problems are more prevalent (remember, heat rises), rather than having it leak out around the rack.
In addition, you should upgrade fans and heat sinks in PCs and other gear whenever you upgrade to a new graphics card or processor, in order to take care of the additional heat being generated as a result. Routinely replace fans before the bearings begin to get noisy and cause issues.
Monitor Bandwidth Utilization
Flooding the network with too much data can bring it to its knees. Regularly check bandwidth utilization in and out of Ethernet switch ports using a program such as Cisco’s Network Assistant or other utility app for configuring, managing and troubleshooting switches. Bandwidth will vary from port to port, depending on the number of assigned channels (a typical stereo channel will use up 5 Mbps, including Ethernet audio overhead). Routine monitoring of traffic flow will tell you of any overflow in the network, and if and where additional switches/ports are needed.
An occasional IP scan of the network will also show you which ports are supposed to be up and which ports aren’t supposed to be up, and if something’s been added that shouldn’t be there.
Also, be sure to take advantage of the more advanced diagnostic tools found in your AoIP network system. Our WheatNet-IP audio network is SNMP enabled, for example, so you can interface it to third-party software such as SolarWinds or Nagios for reporting purposes. Through these apps, you can capture packet counts, uptimes, temperature readings and other critical data for troubleshooting and monitoring network switches, BLADEs, PCs and other devices. WheatNet-IP also has debugging tools, which, when used with telnet applications such as PuTTY or Tera Term, can gather and analyze data based on how devices are receiving and sending commands.
Finally, we recommend that you use salvos to create a normalized set of routes for individual rooms, so if something’s wrong, you can fire a salvo to fix a potential routing problem.
You might have started out with full documentation when you installed the network a while back, but we’re guessing things have changed. You should have a current network diagram showing the network topology as well as how the switches, I/O units, and servers are connected together. Add labels for each item giving their basic details, such as the component name, IP address, and MAC address.
A detailed, to end-devices document can be created using a combination of CAD drawings and spread sheets. This should show all the routes and all the destinations, and what’s normally routed to those destinations. Clearly label each switch with its related IP address. And, be sure to back up switch configuration files and save a readable text file of each switch configuration for reference.
You’ll also need to keep secure records of login credentials for maintenance and troubleshooting. And, along with documentation, be sure to label all wiring and main infrastructure components. For example, you should physically label which Ethernet wall-port or cable run goes to each port in the switch or panel.
Following just a few simple maintenance routines will keep your network humming along.
Entravision Viva IP!
It’s showtime for Entravision’s legendary radio personality Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo, whose morning show is now syndicated nationwide out of this all-Wheat studio. Notice the LX-24 console that he’s working from, surrounded by networked talent stations. What you don’t see is our WheatNet-IP audio network working behind the scenes to pull it all together.
This is one of three large studio suites in Los Angeles that have been converted to WheatNet-IP audio control and networking by the Spanish-language broadcaster, which has been using our TDM routing system for more than 12 years.
Rick Bidlack, the man who is all things VoxPro, and our own Scott Johnson got together to produce a library of quick-start how-to videos for VoxPro6. For the beginner looking to hop right in, these are perfect. For the seasoned pro, a quick run through may show you some of the new features that you weren't necessarily aware of.
We've got 33 of them up there covering just about everything you'd need to know. Hope you find them useful. Click Here to see them.
Your IP Question Answered
Q: Is it true that VoxPro can be networked?
A: Yep. You know us...we’re all about networking. You can use VoxPro as a standalone unit, or you can put PCs running VoxPro on the network and they will automatically find each other, swap information and connect. The VoxPro network allows any user to log in to his/her personal account from any VoxPro PC on the LAN, and play, edit or record files from that PC. You can even be selective in determining which remote VoxPro workstations will be allowed to share accounts with the computer you are working on. Clusters of VoxPro workstations belonging to one station can be logically separated from those belonging to a different station while keeping everyone on the same LAN.
Processing for Podcasts
NPR hired its first general manager in charge of podcasts this month. We’ll let that sink in for a moment before we hit you with another interesting fact.
And, here it is: did you know that the same number of Americans listen to podcasts as use Twitter? That’s more than 57 million Americans, and growing about 23% a year due to the smartphone, according to Edison Research.
This last data point is an important one, because we’re now targeting podcasts to a pair of small speakers that essentially sit in the ear –unless you’re in a connected car, in which case audio management that helps to raise the podcast audio above the noise floor of a moving vehicle is still important. Add in the bit-rate reduction, and, well, applying audio processing to podcasts becomes all about controlling what the codec sees, on a device and earbuds that may or may not be in ideal listening environments.
So, how aggressive should you set the processing for podcasting?
Our audio engineer Mike Erickson suggests you process just enough to raise the audio above any ambient noise for listeners who don't have noise cancelling headphones, but not so much that you remove all trace of quality for those who are downloading low bitrate podcasts.
Given the nature of some codecs, gentle processing without exaggeration will give the codec a lot more to work with. The lower the bitrate, the more important this becomes. At bitrates less than 48kbps, you might have to switch from stereo to mono in order to get decent program through the codec (if your podcast is voice only, you should choose mono regardless of the bitrate for higher quality).
The idea is to not add to the codec’s workload. That means very limited boosted high (if at all) and as little audio processing as you can manage, starting with a smidge of AGC to smooth out level variations if needed.
You can then start adding compression to round out the audio a bit, but keep it light. The effects of compression are far more noticeable on headphones than on speakers, so be selective and conservative in how much to apply. If you happen to have an Aura8-IP processing BLADE
in use for streaming or another purpose, you can use one of the available processors (the Aura8-IP has eight multiband processors) for podcasts. The Aura8-IP is ideal for podcasts because it lets you selectively add AGC, compression or limiting as part of an audio toolbox. The processing blocks work independently, so there’s no worry that defeating a processing block will cause undesired operation from another.
On a final note, if you have a home studio and plan to start a podcast, be sure to check out consoles made for this purpose. For example, Wheatstone now makes the Audioarts 08 console, which has a USB interface, as well as both balanced and unbalanced stereo bus outputs.
- RADIO CONSOLES
- VOXPRO6 RECORDER/EDITOR
- AUDIO PROCESSORS
- TV AUDIO CONSOLES AND NETWORKING
- TV AUDIO CONSOLES
- GIBRALTAR NETWORK
- Gibraltar Technology Overview
- Why IP Audio for TV?
- Gibraltar Software
- Gibraltar Cards/Modules
- BLADES & IP AUDIO NETWORKING
- WheatNet-IP Technology Overview
- BLADEs (original)
- EDGE Network Interface
- PANELS AND CONTROLLERS
- Talent Stations
- GP Panels
- Interface Panels
- FOR COMMERCIAL AUDIO
- WHEAT:NEWS RADIO
- Radio News November 2016
- Radio News October 2016
- Radio News September 2016
- Radio News August 2016
- Radio News July 2016
- Radio News June 2016
- Radio News May 2016
- Radio News April 2016
- Radio News Mar 2016
- Radio News Feb 2016
- Radio News Jan 2016
- 2015 Wheat:News Radio Archive
- Older Radio News Archive
- WHEAT:NEWS TV
- TV News December 2016
- TV News November 2016
- TV News October 2016
- TV News September 2016
- TV News August 2016
- TV News July 2016
- TV News June 2016
- TV News May 2016
- TV News April 2016
- TV News Mar 2016
- TV News Feb 2016
- TV News Jan 2016
- 2015 Wheat:News TV Archive
- Older TV News Archive
- PRESS RELEASES
- SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
Louisville Public Media (Louisville, KY) purchased four LX-24 and two L-12 control surfaces, three SideBoard surfaces and a complete WheatNet-IP audio network system.
WFSB-TV (Rocky Hill, CT) purchased a D-8EX console system.
iHeartMedia (Pittsburgh, PA) purchased an LX-24 control surface for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
KOZE-FM (Lewiston, ID) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
WGN-TV (Chicago, IL) purchased a Dimension Three TV audio console.
KBOI-TV (Boise, ID) purchased an E-6 control surface.
Time Warner Cable’s NY1 News (New York, NY) upgraded to dual WheatNet-IP audio networks with SR-8 studio remote and Gibraltar I/O frame.
University of Massachusetts’ WUML-FM (Lowell, MA) purchased an LX-24 control surface.
WSIL-TV (Carterville, IL) purchased a Series Four TV audio console, replacing a D-4000 that had been in service for over 10 years.
WFLA-TV (Tampa, FL) purchased a Series Four TV audio console.
Zeera Group (Accra, Ghana) purchased additional I/O BLADEs for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
HB - Entertainment Network India Ltd (Mumbai, India) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
KARM-FM (Fresno, CA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console with BLADE and NAVIGATOR software.
KSE Radio Ventures (Denver, CO) purchased the Glass E virtual mixer for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
Rover Radio (Pittsburgh, PA) purchased an L-12 digital audio console and I/O BLADEs.
iHeartMedia (Los Angeles, CA) purchased an Air-1 console.
University of Arkansas (Pine Bluff, AR) purchased two R-55e consoles.
Entercom (Austin, TX) purchased an Air-1 console.
KEXS-AM (Excelsior Springs, MO) purchased an R-55e console.
JVC Media LLC (Ronkonkoma, NY) purchased an Air-5 console.
Saga Communications (Chesapeake, VA) purchased a D-76 console.
La Pantera Radio Inc. (Portland, OR) purchased an Air-5 console.
WDRT-FM (Excelsior Springs, MO) purchased an Air-4 console.
I Latina Entertainment (North Hollywood, CA) purchased an Air-5 console.
Wheatstone Audio Processing
Midwest Family (La Crosse, WI) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (Harare, Zimbabwe) purchased an Aura8-IP multi-mode audio processor for pre-processing audio streams.
Grupo Lauman (Mexico City, Mexico) purchased an M4IP-USB four-channel mic processor through Sistemas Digitales.
KCNI-FM (Sacramento, CA) purchased three M4IP-USB four channel mic processors.
WMJX-FM (Boston, MA) purchased an M1 mic processor.
iHeartMedia (Miami, FL) purchased one M1 and two M4IP-USB four channel mic processors.
iHeartMedia (Indianapolis, IN) purchased two M4IP-USB four channel mic processors.
iHeartMedia (Miami, FL) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
iHeartMedia (Los Angeles, CA) purchased three VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editors.
WXLO-FM (Worcester, MA) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
Cumulus (Nashville, TN) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
iHeartMedia (Indianapolis, IN) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
Momentum Broadcasting’s KCRZ-FM/KJUG-FM (Visalia, CA) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
KITS-FM (San Francisco, CA) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
KFOX-FM (San Francisco, CA) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
International House of Prayer’s Gate Radio (Cranford, NJ) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
Positive Radio Group (Asheboro, NC) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
Steinman Communications (Wilmington, DE) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
KJJR-AM (Whitefish, MT) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.
Emmis (Austin, TX) purchased a VoxPro 6 digital audio recorder/editor.