BLADE-3 Technology Overview

Radio Advanced. BLADE-3.

BLADE-3s can do things that mere I/O nodes can’t because of their embedded CPU and OS that make routable utilities such as audio mixing and processing possible. But what does that mean to you? For starters, it means faster, better and easier ways of doing radio. Here are some practical ways you can put BLADE-3s to use in your radio station.

Audio Routing and Control


Route any audio input to any output or all outputs. Send one GPI to multiple GPOs or marry GPIOs to an audio source and have them follow that source through the system. All BLADEs in the network live on a simple crosspoint matrix.

Auto Mono Summing

Auto Mono Summing 350

BLADEs have the onboard processing and intelligence to auto sum and level match a stereo output that is routed to a mono output or destination. If, for example, you want to feed a stereo console bus down a hybrid or codec, the audio will be available in both mono and stereo on the receiving end. If you route a mono source such as field recording device or remote interview through the router it will put that mono source on both channels.
Left: The above shows a mono source being routed to both stereo and mono destinations in a BLADE-3. (Two dots indicate a stereo or dual channel connection. A single dot indicates it's a mono to mono connection.)

Right: The above shows a stereo source being routed to mono destinations.

Input Gain Control

InputGainControl 350

Calibrate levels for each source or destination using bargraph metering. Shown, audio levels for the individual channels color coded over a 40dB range, with the highest level being “+20” VU, corresponding to +24dBu, 0dBFS, and the onset of clipping. These meters show the actual input signal level as modified by the input gain setting. The bouncing bar at the top shows the peak audio level while the solid column shows the short-term average audio level using VU time constants. Adjusting source levels ensures that they have enough volume to keep noise levels low in comparison, but not so high that they overload the equipment and cause distortion.

Output Gain Control

OutputGainControl 350

Destination gain adjustments are useful for output signals known to be too low or too hot, such as those feeding headphones or amplified speakers with no gain control of their own, to bring them to the correct listening level. As shown, the audio gain of individual input channels can be adjusted over a range of +/-18dB in .1dB steps. The nominal setting is 0, corresponding to an output level of +4dBu analog, or -20dBFS digital, providing for 20dB of headroom.

Mixers for Mic Groupings, Talkback

UtilityMixers1 350

Each I/O BLADE contains two stereo 8x2 internal mixers that become a source or input to the system. This can be useful for grouping several mics to a single output. You can use the output of each mixer as a talkback source.

Mixers for Panning Mic and Caller Feeds

UtilityMixers2 350

The BLADE-3's two stereo 8x2 internal mixers are independent of each other, so they can feed audio to each other or another BLADE-3. The output of mixer #1 can be brought up on a fader in mixer #2, for example. With balance control on each fader, this can be useful for recording a telephone mix with the “callers” on the left channel and the “announcers” on the right channel. The output of the mixer feeds the recording device.

Automation Mix-Down

Utility-Mixers-3 350

The BLADE's stereo 8X2 internal mixers can be used to mix down multiple channels to a single output. Shown is a BLADE utility mixer being used to mix down multiple RCS automation channels to a stereo output, which can then be programmed as the automatic failover source in an emergency. This is also useful as a way to bypass the studio, so that with the push of a button or a command from the automation system, this output can feed the transmitter and free up the on-air studio for production or voice tracking, for example.

Unlimited Salvos or Macros

SalvosMacros 350

Each I/O BLADE can store hundreds of customized salvos, which can be useful for assigning feeds to codecs or hybrids and switching between studios. Group any audio source, logic and destination together that can be triggered by event or time.

Logic on RJ45 Connectors


Each I/O BLADE is equipped with 12 logic ports on RJ45 connectors, which can be individually designated during set up as inputs or outputs for interfacing to various external switches and indicators. Logic ports can output to closures for machine control, on-air lights, mic tallies, transmitter remote control and the like. They can also receive closures from external devices like satellite closures, remote mic panels or triggers from your automation system for channel ON/OFF.

Selectable Master Clock

SystemClock 350

Automation PCs and other digital devices that require a specific sample rate are no problem. New I/O BLADE-3s provide system clock rates selectable at 44.1kHz or 48kHz, External Reference or AES67. While all AES inputs in I/O BLADE-3s are equipped with sample rate converters, the master clock sets the sample rate of all of the system’s AES digital outputs.

Quick Source and Destination Changes

SourceAndDestinationControl 350

Each BLADE can act as an X-Y controller sending any system source or input to any of its outputs. This comes in handy when changing feeds to monitors, codecs, hybrids or recording devices.

Monitor Devices with SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)

SNMP 350

BLADEs include SNMP agent software for centralized monitoring of all BLADEs in a large distributed network. You can configure alarms and set thresholds in order to be notified should a problem occur and therefore respond with quick corrective actions through e-mail, SMS, traps and executing custom scripts. SNMP is part of the internet protocol suite defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Network management systems use SNMP to monitor network-attached devices such as BLADEs for conditions that may require action by the end user.

Routable Audio Processing

OnBoardProcessing 350

New I/O BLADE-3s include a multiband processor useful for processing incoming audio from callers, remotes, codecs, satellite feeds and microphones. You can also use it to process output audio for headphones, web streams, pre-processors, IFB, or for level protection for STL applications. This is a routable processor that includes 4-band parametric equalizer, 3-way crossover, 3 compressors, 3 limiters, and final look-ahead limiter.

Automation Interface. One Cable.

Automation2 350

One cable is all it takes to integrate your automation system with a network of BLADEs. WheatNet-IP audio drivers replace expensive sound cards, GPIO cards and external switches.

Share Resources, Connections

AssociateConnections 350

Create a predetermined back haul, IFB feed or mix-minus for each device based on its location in the network or on a fader. For shared resources like a codec, new I/O BLADE-3 software will ‘automagically’ give the proper return feed to the codec based on its destination. So, if you pull up the codec in Studio One, the mix-minus from Studio One will automatically and magically be routed to the return feed. Later, when you call up the same codec on the console in Studio Two, the Studio Two mix-minus will be routed to that Codec. This is useful for call-ins and live talk shows that require a separate mix-minus

Silence Detection and Failover

SilenceDetectionAndFailover 350

Every single audio output channel can be programmed with silence detection and automatic switchover function. Showing on the left is the console PGM channel being routed to the station transmitter during normal operation. On the right shows a failover state after silence was detected.

BLADE Applications & Configurations
Here are just a few unique uses, configurations and applications for our BLADE access units that our customers have told us about. If you have a unique BLADE application, we'd like to hear from you. Drop us an email at


Analog BLADE as a 1x8 distribution amplifier

Analog BLADE as a 2x4 distribution amplifier

BLADE as an A/D and D/A converter


With a single IP88AD I/O BLADE, you can easily convert from analog to digital audio

BLADE as Mixer


With two built-in 8x2 stereo utility mixers, the BLADE has more flexibility than some hardware solutions.

BLADE as part of an IP STL


Network EDGE is designed specifically as a translator between high-quality, low-latency studio networks such as WheatNet-IP and low-bandwidth STL connectivity options such as IP wireless radios.

IP wireless radios in the unlicensed 5 or 24 GHz range are priced from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Typically located at the studio, the Network EDGE interfaces directly to an IP wireless radio or commercial leased line for point-to-point connectivity between locations. Network EDGE can be used with any of the major IP radio brands currently on the market. When used within the WheatNet-IP system, with a Network EDGE at one end and a BLADE at the other, this opens up a world of possibilities based on BLADE I/O functionality such as silence detection, clip player, logic for automation, et al. The Network EDGE is AES67 compatible, and includes local I/O (two AES and two stereo analog) and 12 programmable logic ports.

BLADE as an audio snake


Use BLADEs to transport audio between the on-air or production studio and a performance studio using CAT6, wireless link or optical fiber. Carry the mic and direct feeds from the stage area to the network. Do separate mixes using the BLADE’s 8x2 stereo mixers, or capture multitrack recordings that could be saved for future mixing projects (such as the CD or DVD release). All this can be done without the need for a conventional audio snake with transformer splits for the various feeds.

BLADE plus meter app = failover monitoring


You can wire your sources to the inputs of the BLADE 3 and then using the WheatNet-IP’s meter app, build a meter screen to monitor all of the sources and destinations in the system. If silence is detected, the BLADE will failover and the particular meter will change color to give you a visual notification. Each time a failover is detected on an output, a logic signal is generated that can be routed to any logic port in the system.

Performance Specs for All BLADES



Electronic differential, >10KΩ (bridging)

Optimum source impedance <1KΩ


<10Ω, 20Hz-20kHz

Optimum load impedance >600Ω

Frequency response: ±0.25dB, 20Hz-20kHz, ref +4dBu

THD: +n0.04%, 20Hz-20kHz, ref +4dBu

Noise: -85dBu; -109dBr ref max level out

Gain range: ±18db, inputs and outputs

Maximum input: +24dBu

Maximum output: +24dBu

A>D converter: ADC enhanced dual bit, 24 bit resolution

D>A converter: DAC 24bit advanced ∑Δ



Balanced 110Ω AES-3, S/PDIF compatible


Balanced 110Ω AES-3 only

Frequency response: Flat, 20Hz-20kHz, ref -20dBFS, +4dBu

THD: +n0.0009%, 20Hz-20kHz, ref -20dBFS, +4dBu

Noise: -141dBFS, ref max level out

Gain range: ±18db, inputs and outputs

Maximum input: 0dBFS

Maximum output: 0dBFS

Sample rate converters: 32-96kHz, 16-24bit, on all inputs

AES channel status: Standard implementation



Electronic differential, >2KΩ (bridging)

Optimum source impedance <200Ω


<10Ω, 20Hz-20kHz

Optimum load impedance >600Ω

Frequency response: ±0.5dB, 20Hz-20kHz, ref +4dBu

THD: +n0.02%, 20Hz-20kHz, ref +4dBu

Noise: -85dBu; -109dBr ref max level out

Reference level: -50dBu

Gain range: +20 to +80dB, inputs; ±18db, outputs

Maximum input: -10dBu

Maximum output: +24dBu

A>D converter: ADC enhanced dual bit, 24 bit resolution

D>A converter: DAC 24bit Advanced ∑Δ

Click the image below to download the Wheatstone BLADE-3 full line brochure!


To make sure our system can outperform every other AOIP network on the face of the earth, and do it easily and robustly, we routinely get our engineers together to put them through stuff no real installation would ever attempt. How does WheatNet-IP perform? READ THE STORY

All About

BLADE-3 I/O access units make up the audio routing backbone of the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network and use RJ45 StudioHub+ compatible connectors for input and output, and also have DB25 connectivity for transitioning from BRIDGE TDM networks.

But there's more inside their sleek, all-metal housing than mere I/O. The I/O BLADE-3 has its own CPU and operating system; no additional PC required. It can operate alone or as part of a network, and can be located anywhere in the studio (no noisy fans inside). Each BLADE-3 has a 1000-base-T (Gigabit) network interface. This single network connection is used to send and receive audio, logic, and communications from the I/O BLADE-3 to the rest of the WheatNet-IP network. Gigabit Ethernet provides very low latency while allowing the use of readily-available switches and infrastructure for connectivity. Connect automation and production PC’s, codecs, audio processors, controllers, and other devices directly to the network without installing specialized sound cards, A/D-D/A converters, audio wiring, or control connections.

The I/O BLADE-3 communicates at the speed of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for optimum network QoS and reliability, and includes logic control, onboard utility functions and the dedicated controller that is at the core of its intelligence. Each individual I/O BLADE can hold the brain trust of the entire system’s operation for exceptional network redundancy and scalability.

Logic follows audio like a puppy on a leash


I/O BLADE-3s come with universal logic (GPIO) for interfacing various external switches, indicators and devices for control purposes – as well as software logic ports for routing and controlling devices anywhere on the network. Send any GPI to multiple GIOs or marry GPIOs to an audio source and have them follow that source through the system — all through one RJ connector. Audio and the logic controls for that audio are all on the same CAT6 cable, to be used anywhere in the network. When routing the audio of a CD player to a console fader, for example, the START button logic is routed right along with it. These logical associations reside within the I/O BLADE-3 itself, and do not require a PC or other controller to work.

Mixers and Audio Processing Included


I/O BLADE-3s include two built-in 8x2 stereo mixers. In addition, these third-generation BLADE-3 I/O units include a stereo multiband processor with 4-band parametric equalizer, 3-way crossovers, 3 compressors, 3 limiters, and a final, look-ahead limiter. By routing mixing and audio processing, these functions are no longer limited to a location in the studio and instead are resources available anywhere in the network.The I/O BLADE-3’s internal mixers are full-featured, stereo mixers implemented within its internal hardware. The inputs and output busses of these mixers are available as resources on the network, accessible anywhere and don’t use up any of the inputs or outputs of the BLADE-3 itself. From simple features like summing, splitting, and level adjustment all the way to creating custom mixes and intercom systems under automatic control and performing fades and segues, the potential uses for these mixers are nearly endless. The I/O BLADE-3 includes the Wheatstone ACI (Automation Control Interface) “tool box” for third party control of its functions, such as routing ducking, panning, logic control, mixing and silence detection. Each I/O BLADE-3 supports up to 20 ACI connections that can be used with devices like Talent Stations, GP panels and SideBoard surfaces as well as to integrate with automation systems and other Wheatstone partners for control purposes.

Silence detection, emergency audio


Each I/O BLADE-3 comes with a headphone jack with volume control and source selection for local monitoring of any sources or mixes anywhere in the network. Each of its output channels can be programmed for silence detection and for automatic switchover and switchback to/from a standby device – or to the unit’s onboard audio player — in an emergency. In addition, I/O BLADE-3s come with embedded audio storage and playback for emergency or utility applications, or any other application requiring an hour or more of 24-bit, uncompressed audio. Silence alarms or LIO/SLIO can trigger playback or this can be manually controlled from the NAVIGATOR configuration and crosspoint software.

Interoperable and flexible


I/O BLADE-3s operate at 44.1k or 48k sampling rates while converting incoming signals up or down as needed. Newer third-generation I/O BLADE-3s provide selectable system clocking at 44.1kHz or 48kHz, External Reference or AES67. I/O BLADE-3s support AES67 compliant devices using an IEEE1588 PTP grandmaster clock for synchronizing to and ingesting /streaming AES67 compliant packets. A 1588 Clock Loss Indicator is included for notifying operators when the AES67 clock source has been lost; an alarm is also generated when an AES input has lost its clock source or becomes disconnected. All BLADE-3s can take any analog and/or digital input or output and split it into two mono channels. Any stereo signal sent to a mono output is automatically summed. When routing a stereo source or stereo mix to a mono destination such as a hybrid or codec, for example, the unit will automatically “sum” the left and right channels together. It has gain control on every input and output, and balance control on every stereo input or output.

Easy to configure and maintain, with failsafe

Activating the I/O BLADE-3 is as easy as plugging it in. No need to assign it an IP address or prioritize packets. Once plugged in, it will instantly recognize that it’s been connected to a functioning network and configure itself into that network with almost no human intervention at all! All of its resources are instantly available so it can be pushing out or bringing in audio in little more than a minute after it is first plugged in.


I/O BLADE-3s come with dual OLED displays for monitoring and control of most functions right from the front panel, including audio routing setup, monitoring, network information, alarm status, enabling and operating utility mixes, setting input and output gain, and connecting audio processing. Settings can also be done remotely using a PC. Ongoing changes and updates are just as easy. Change a signal name on the fly and it is instantly updated in every device on the network; no reboots or configuration file gymnastics required. The I/O BLADE-3s Aliases feature allows the same source to be identified by different names. A signal can be given an alias that’s more familiar to a particular operator, and multiple aliases can be used so different operators can share logic functions, source feeds and routing while using signal names they recognize.


Another new I/O BLADE-3 feature, Associated Connections, is useful for callers, codecs, networks, remote broadcasts and live
talk shows that require a mix-minus. With this, operators can create a predetermined back haul, IFB feed or mix-minus to each device based on its location in the system and the fader to which it is connected. For a shared resource connected to your system, such as a codec, the software will ‘automagically’ give the proper return feed to the codec based on its source connection. When a base connection is made, up to ten additional connections can automatically follow. This significantly helps streamline studio routing, phone and codec work flow.


The I/O BLADE-3 comes with maintenance and diagnostic tools, including built in SNMP capability for network management, statistics, and alerts. Newer BLADE-3s also include a new logging app that can be used for tracking LIO/SLIO activity throughout the system. This app shows time-stamped location activity messages in high resolution for when inputs come into and leave the system, and provides sophisticated filtering functions for revealing relevant information that otherwise might be buried in the clutter of system data. Any I/O BLADE-3 can restore the settings for the entire network and allow remaining segments of the network to continue to operate in the event of a facility-wide disaster. Only the section of the network that has been brought down by a power failure, for example, is affected. When power is restored, affected BLADE-3s will seamlessly rejoin the network, all without any user interaction.

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