BLADE-3 Overview

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BLADE-3s Are Different 

Wheatstone BLADE-3s have a lot in common with the set of IP Audio products that form the basic I/O building blocks of an AoIP network. But there’s a whole lot more going on inside a BLADE-3 than mere I/O. There’s a powerful CPU complete with operating system to provide the routing, logic, and audio power to practically create a self-contained production studio.

When they are networked, their power is virtually unlimited.

We have BLADEs for just about every purpose, all of which can be networked together with our control surfaces and accessories to make one smart WheatNet-IP audio network. 

WheatNet IP DNA

Inside a BLADE-3

When we invented modern broadcast audio networking, we vowed to build the first truly intelligent IP audio system. One where every interface held the DNA of the entire system for recovery. A system with true Gigabit connectivity. One that required only a single CAT-6 cable to interface any network piece – to carry audio AND control information. A system that could actually be up 24/7/365 and handle everything you need, an actual 'station in a box', yet so simple to interface as to be virtually foolproof. 

OpenBLADE3

BLADE-3s have a LOT under the hood. Click here for the complete list.

Gigabit Connectivity 
All BLADE-3s use Gigabit Ethernet. This makes all the difference in network capacity, near-zero latency, throughput, reliability – in short, everything.

Virtually All Audio Formats
BLADEs are built to handle native analog, microphone, AES/EBU, SPDIF, AOIP, MADI, SDI and AES 67. Once any type of audio is ingested into the WheatNet-IP network, any type of audio input can be converted to any other type of output. Example: analog to digital, AES to IP, MADI to AES 67, mics to AOIP, etc.

Two 8x2 Utility Mixers 
Each BLADE has two 8x2 utility mixers that can be configured in many different formats. Two 8x2, four 4x1, etc. These internal mixers are full featured and include panning, channel ON/OFF, fader levels, and access to any source signal in the system. They also include a full ACI (Automation Control Interface) allowing remote control, ducking, auto fade, channel on/off, levels, source assign, etc.

Audio & Control Routing Matrix 
You can take any audio input and route it to any output or all outputs. You can take any GPI and send to multiple GIO’s or you can marry GPIO’s to an audio source and have it follow that source through the system. All through one RJ45 connector for each device.

Source & Destination Control 
Each BLADE has the ability to route any source to the destinations on that BLADE. 

Dual OLED Displays
Each BLADE has two small full color displays for monitoring and control of most functions right from the front panel. Setup, monitoring, network information, alarm status, enabling and operating utility mixes, setting input and output gain, enabling audio processing – and whatever else we can think of in the years to come. 

Silence Detection 
In case of an operator error, this can be programmed as a “source” or “input” for the failover. If an operator misses a cue or leaves a fader down, when the system senses silence it can take the automation system directly to air or use the integral clip player to play music and ads until the operator catches up. Every single audio output channel can be programmed with a silence detection and automatic switch-over function.

Built-in Audio Clip Player
There is an optional built-in audio clip player that can be used to put emergency audio on the air. The files are managed in our Navigator Software where you can add files, organize the playlist, and fire playback with a logic port. Silence or LIO can trigger this playback or it can be manually controlled from Navigator.

Front Panel Logic Indicators
Status indicators for active logic and the direction (in or out) of the BLADE.

12 Universal GPI/O Ports 
Each BLADE is equipped with RJ45 connectors to provide 12 Universal Logic Ports which can be individually designated during set up as inputs or outputs. These ports are used to interface the various external switches, indicators, and control functions you need. 

128 Software Logic Ports
Used to interface with software switches, indicators, and control functions throughout the system.

LIO/SLIO Logging
This logging app tracks LIO/SLIO activity throughout the system and shows the user when any input comes into the system and when it is sent, via multicast, across the network and to the output. A comprehensive Sort Section and Activity Visualizer let the user see a detailed view of what happened in the system. 

Stereo Audio Processor
Each BLADE-3 has a stereo multiband processor with the following: 4-band parametric equalizer, 3-way crossovers, 3 compressors, 3 limiters, and a final lookahead limiter. This is a “routable processor,” meaning it is not limited to the local I/O on the BLADE – it can be considered a network resource. 

Associated Connections
This is a great feature in BLADEs for callers, codecs, networks, remote broadcast & live talk shows that require a mix-minus. You can create a predetermined back haul, IFB feed or mix-minus for each device based on its location in the system or on a fader. If you have 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 destination. When a base connection is made, up to ten additional connections can be made. This significantly helps streamline studio routing, phone and codec selection.

Aliases
Allows the same source to be identified by different names. A signal can now be given an alias(es) which can be a more friendly name that operators understand. Multiple aliases can be used so different operators can share logic functions, source feeds, routing, etc. 

AES67
Ability to support AES67 compliant devices. Allows WheatNet-IP system to synchronize to IEEE1588 from a PTP grandmaster clock and ingest /stream AES67 compliant packets.

44.1, 48K, External Sync or AES67 Operation
This is the overall clocking for your digital system. The system clock rate can be either 44.1K, 48K, External Reference or AES67. 

Clock/Sync Indicators 
The 1588 Clock Loss Indicator notifies the user when the AES67 clock source has been lost.The AES Sync Loss Indicator notifies the user when an AES input has lost its clock source. Also generates Alarms for any AES3 input that becomes disconnected.

Onboard Intelligent OS 
Each BLADE has its own intelligence/operating system that allows it to be a powerful standalone router, be part of a larger system, or control the entire routing system. WheatNet-IP is an embedded system that does not require outside intervention or control from 3rd party software running on PC’s. The configuration of the entire network is stored in each BLADE.

44.1K or 48K Sampling Rates 
System operates at 44.1K or 48K while converting incoming signals up or down as needed. 

 

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Auto Mono Summing 
Any stereo signal sent to a mono output is automatically summed: If you route a stereo source or stereo mix to a mono destination such as hybrid or codec, the system will automatically “sum” the left and right channels together. 

Signal Splitting 
The BLADE can take any Stereo AES/EBU or Analog input or output and split it into two mono channels.

Gain Control on Every Input & Output
This allows the user to calibrate the input level for each source or destination.

Balance Control
There is a balance control on every stereo input and output.

Flexible Signal Configuration
Signal can be defined as up to 16 mono, 8 stereo or any combination of mono and stereo totaling 16 channels.

Studio Bypass
With the push of a button or a command from the automation system, this output can feed the transmitter, freeing the on-air studio up for production or voice tracking.

Front Panel Input and Output Metering
There is metering for every input and output on the system – 12-segment, multi-color LEDs that can be used for metering inputs and outputs as 8 pairs or 16 mono signals.

Front Panel Headphone Jack and Source Selection
This is a self-powered headphone jack with volume control. It allows you to select and monitor any source or mix on that BLADE or in the entire system.

Salvos/Macros
There are an unlimited number of salvos and macros, used when more than one route needs to take place. These are preprogrammed events or a series of switched events that can happen within a BLADE or thoughout an entire WheatNet-IP network.

Automation Control Interface (ACI)
This is a “tool box” in every BLADE that allows full control functions such as routing, ducking, panning, full logic control, mixing and silence detection. Each BLADE supports up to 20 ACI connections which can be used with devices like Talent Stations, GP panels, Sideboards, etc. It also allows control of our partners’/third party equipment.

Screen Builder
While not built into a BLADE, the screen builder app offers the scripting capability of a GP16, the control of GlassE, monitoring and metering of the IP Meters app, and ACI protocol. This will allow a user to build a custom screen to fit many needs in specific applications. Will work with any version BLADE.

SNMP
Wheatstone’s enhanced Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) management system uses SNMP to monitor network attached devices such as BLADEs for conditions that may require action by the end user. This tool gives you centralized monitoring over large distributed systems. You can configure alarms and set thresholds to get notified if and when a problem occurs. The instant alarms and notifications help you take quick corrective actions through e-mail, SMS, and executing custom scripts.

Connection Choices
Has both DB25 to make transitional wiring easy for existing BRIDGE TDM customers and RJ45 – Studio Hub compatible RJ connectors for input and output.

Info Screen
Each signal has a new info screen allowing the user to add text to signals such as wire numbers, termination locations, etc.

LIO Test
LIO Outputs can be tested from the front panel of each BLADE.

Backup
Due to its distributed intelligence, the system has automatic backup capability.

Alarm Notification
Using Alarm doc or LED status, BLADEs can report on a wide variety of error and alarms.

NTP
System can lock to a NTP server on the network for time of day synchronization.

Front Panel Locking
All BLADEs’ front panels can be locked for security

Version Checker
Built in version checker to aid in update process.

Crosspoint Save
Can save a current copy of all crosspoints in the system. This is done in Navigator.

Debugging
A comprehensive logging application is included for every BLADE to aid in system debugging.

No Cooling Fans
They don’t need them!

 

Specific Functions for Specific BLADES:

Mic Pre
Using the 88m you have 8 Mic preamps

Mic Processor
Using the M4 you have 4 Mic preamps, but also 4 M1 mic processors.

Eight Audio Processors
The Aura8-IP has 8 stereo processors that allow user to process any audio in the WNIP system and route that processed audio to any output.

High Density Ingest
Using a MADI BLADE user can connect to a variety of 3rd party devices and ingest up to 64 channels of audio over a single coaxial cable.

External Clock Reference
88d, 88ad, Aura8-IP BLADEs can accept an AES reference into port 8 to use a master clock reference for the system.

The BLADEs:

I/O BLADE-3s

I/O BLADEs are far more than mere access units connecting studios, elements and Wheatstone control surfaces in the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network. Yes, I/O BLADEs convert audio and logic inputs to data streams on the network and convert outgoing data streams to hardware outputs. But these 1RU I/O units – which come in analog, digital and analog/digital versions – also have intelligence inside. Each I/O BLADE comes with a CPU and operating system so you can do amazing things with your audio network, from  routable mixing and logic-follow-audio to a whole lot more.



I/O BLADE-3s Do MUCH More Than Just I/O. Click to see what we mean.

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 communicates at the speed of Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for optimum network QoS and reliability.

Each individual I/O BLADE can hold the brain trust of the entire system’s operation for exceptional network redundancy and scalability. Smart and independent, all BLADEs know what they’re supposed to do — and what every other BLADE is supposed to do.

 

Logic Follows Audio Wherever It Goes

LogicI/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

BLADE_AS_MIXER.jpgI/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-3s’ 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' gear for control purposes.

 

Interoperable and Flexible

images/BLADE_STORY_IMAGES/SystemClock.jpgI/O BLADE-3s operate at 44.1k or 48k sampling rates while converting incoming signals up or down as needed. 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.

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Silence Detection, Emergency Audio

images/BLADE_STORY_IMAGES/SilenceDetectionAndFailover.jpgEach 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 optional 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.

 

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 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.

images/BLADE_STORY_IMAGES/AltSplashScreenLeftA.gifI/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.

images/BLADE_STORY_IMAGES/AssociateConnections.jpgAnother 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.

images/BLADE_STORY_IMAGES/SNMP.jpgThe I/O BLADE-3 comes with maintenance and diagnostic tools, including built in SNMP capability for network management, statistics, and alerts. BLADE-3s also include a 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.

 




AnalogBLADE3 Front Back 

Analog I/O BLADE (IP-88-3A)

The IP88A is an analog input/output BLADE. It handles input and output, each with 8 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels.

The IP-88A-3 converts each hardware physical input -- audio or logic -- to a data stream on the network, and converts data streams to hardware digital outputs. It handles analog input and output, each with eight stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels. It also provides twelve channels of universal logic (GPIO). All signals are routable anywhere on the network.

IP-88 A BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • 8 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels, all analog.

  •  RJ45 connectors for audio (8 in, 8 out)

  •  Four D-Sub connectors for audio (2 in, 2 out)

 

DIGITAL BLADE3 Front Back7 

Digital I/O BLADE (IP-88-3D)

The ip88-3d is an AES digital input/output BLADE. It handles input and output, each with 8 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels.

The ip88-3d is an AES digital input/output BLADE. It handles input and output, each with eight stereo channels. It also provides 12 channels of universal logic (GPIO). All signals are routable anywhere on the network.

IP-88 D BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • 8 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels (all AES digital).

  • RJ45 connectors for audio (8 in, 8 out)

  • Four D-Sub connectors for audio (2 in, 2 out)

AD BLADE3 Front Back

 

Analog/Digital I/O BLADE (IP-88-3AD)

The ip88-3ad is a combined analog and AES digital input/output BLADE. It handles input and output, each with 8 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels. Half of these are analog, the other half AES digital.

The ip88-3ad converts each hardware physical input -- audio or logic -- to a data stream on the network, and converts data streams to hardware digital outputs. It handles analog and digital input and output, each with eight stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels. Half are analog and other half are AES digital. It also provides twelve channels of universal logic (GPIO). All signals are routable anywhere on the network.

IP-88 AD BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • 8 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, or any combination totaling 16 discrete channels (half analog, half AES digital).

  • RJ45 connectors for audio (8 in, 8 out)

  • Four D-Sub connectors for audio (2 in, 2 out) 

Mic BLADE3 Front Back

 

Microphone I/O BLADE (IP-88-3M)

The ip88-3m is an analog input/output BLADE with microphone-level inputs. It has eight built-in microphone preamplifiers complete with pad, phase switch, and phantom power. It provides eight analog line-level outputs as well. It also provides 12 channels of universal logic (GPIO). All signals are routable anywhere on the network.

IP-88 M BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • 8 microphone-level XLR inputs with 8 built-in mic preamps complete with pad, phase switch, and phantom power

  •  8 analog line-level outputs

  •  RJ45 connectors for audio (8 out)

  •  One D-Sub connectors for analog audio output

BladeRearWiring






In addition to its specific I/O configuration, each I/O BLADE-3 features   

  • CPU with OS and standalone operation

  • 24-bit A/D and D/A convertors

  • 1RU, no fans

  • AES67 compatible

  • One Gigabit Ethernet port


  • Two stereo 8x2 utility mixers

  • Stereo multiband processor

  • Embedded audio playback (optional)

  • Silence sensing can be applied to any outputs

  • Front panel headphone jack

  • 12 universal logic ports (GPIO) on 2 RJ-45 connectors

  • 128 software logic ports

  • Two fullpcolor OLED displays on front



Console Audio BLADE-3s

ConsoleBladeFrontRear

CB32 BLADE Front Rear 2560

 

 

Console Audio BLADE-3s

There are four types of IP88 Console Audio BLADE-3s, which come in standard I/O or double I/O (CB32 version):

CB: Standard with Audioarts IP-12 and IP-16 consoles

CBL: Standard with the Wheatstone L-8 and L-12 consoles

CBE: Standard with the E-1 console; includes DSP processing

CB32: Optional for use with the IP-12, IP-16, L-8, and L-12 consoles 

Console Audio BLADE-3 Features:

  • True IP connectivity

  • 24-bit A/D and D/A convertors

  • 12 Universal Logic ports (GPIO) on 2 RJ-45 connectors

  • Integrated I/O Mix Engine BLADE

  • AES67 Compatibility

  • Cue and headphone outputs on RJ45 and 1/4” jack*

  • Control room and studio monitor outputs on XLRs*

  • OLED front panel displays with graphical menu

  • Gigabit Ethernet port


Standard 1RU Enclosure:

2 Mic Preamps with phantom power and gain trim w/ XLR inputs

4 Stereo (8 Mono) Analog Line inputs on RJ-45

4 AES inputs on RJ45

4 Stereo (8 Mono) Analog Line Outs on RJ45

4 AES Outputs on RJ45

CB32 2RU Enclosure:

4 Mic preamps with phantom power and gain trim w/ XLR inputs

8 Stereo (16 Mono) analog line inputs on RJ-45

8 AES inputs on RJ45

8 Stereo (16 Mono) analog line outs on RJ45

8 AES outputs on RJ45

 * NOTE: Control Room, Studio, Cue and Headphone outputs are part of the total of AES and stereo analog outputs. These may be reassigned for use as other outputs as desired.

Console Audio BLADE-3s provide audio I/O and DSP mix engine functions for WheatNet-IP radio control surfaces (see Gibraltar Mix Engine for TV Consoles) through the network switch.

Unique to Wheatstone’s console engine approach is its true IP connectivity. The control surface connects directly into the network switch itself, giving it access to mix engine functions as well as direct access to automation systems, network applications and other control surfaces that make true system interoperability possible.

The IP88CB Console Audio BLADE-3 comes standard with L-8, L-12, E-1, IP-12 and IP-16 control surfaces. A single Console Audio BLADE-3 is all that is needed for some studio operations, but busy studios often require an additional I/O BLADE-3 or Wheatstone’s CB32 model which doubles the amount of I/O in 2RU.

All Console Audio BLADEs are AES67 compatible to bring audio from other AES67-compatible devices and signals into and out of the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network.

Mix Engine BLADE-3s

IP88E Engine Front Rear

 

Mix Engine BLADE-3s (IP-88-3E)

Mix Engine BLADEs are required for all Wheatstone IP consoles and are available in specific configurations for each. Console Audio BLADEs (see above) combine I/O and Mix Engine for our smaller consols for use in compact installations where extensive I/O is not required. For mid to larger installations, the mix engine is either included with the console or purchased separately, allowing you to tailor the I/O to your specific requirements.

MIX ENGINE BLADE-3s FEATURE:

  • True IP connectivity: Includes DSP processing

  • 12 universal logic ports (GPIO) on 2 RJ-45 connectors

  • AES67 compatible

  • Front panel headphone jack

  • OLED front panel display with graphical menu

  • One Gigabit Ethernet port

A Mix Engine BLADE-3 houses all the DSP processing power for an individual radio control surface (see Gibraltar Mix Engine for TV Consoles) and distributes the four stereo PGM buses, four stereo AUX sends, per-channel mix-minus feeds, monitor outputs, and other bus signals to the network. Once on the network, bus signals are available as sources and destinations anywhere. This creates an extremely flexible system in which program outputs from one surface can be sources on any other surface; for example, a news mixer’s program bus can be brought up as a source on the air studio surface. While the IP88E doesn’t house audio I/O, it does include 12 universal logic (GPIO) ports for interfacing various external switches, indicators and devices for control purposes.

They are AES67 compatible for use with other AES67-compatible devices and signals in the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network. 

BLADE Clip Player Software B3-ACP

This Software Plugin provides the optional audio clip player in BLADE-3s with clip list management and one hour of storage.

ClipPlayerSoftwareScreen

PC Software Driver BLADE-3

The WheatNet-IP PC Driver is software that streams audio bi-directionally via an Ethernet port, enabling any computer used for any purpose such as program automation, storage or logging to become part of the WheatNet-IP network.

The WheatNet-IP PC driver enables broadcasters to play audio throughout the entire WheatNet-IP network of studios and PCs without the use of soundcards. It emulates your soundcard through standard NIC allowing you to play and record on 1-24 channels and take advantage of 128 logic ports.

Available in single-channel, four-channel, and eight-channel versions, the WheatNet-IP driver connects automation and other third-party systems to the network for streaming audio and any associated control logic, such as satellite network cues or for turning channels on or off.

PC Software Driver BLADE-3

At 4.8 mb/s each, these drivers replace both soundcards and other hardware that would otherwise be needed for control logic functions. WheatNet-IP drivers can be installed on any PC, including news reporters' computers for recording and editing audio in the system and the program director's PC for listening in on the station programming or any audio source from anywhere there’s a connection to WheatNet-IP. 

PC SOFTWARE DRIVER BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • Available in single (stereo) channel, four stereo pair, and eight stereo pair versions

  • ASIO as well as WDM versions are available

  • Versions for Windows XP and Windows 7-10 provided

WheatNet IP Driver

Special Use BLADE-3s

Different workflows require different tools. Our specialty BLADE-3s are built to handle specific functions.

MADI BLADE-3 can manage 64 channels of MADI I/O data.

LOGIC BLADE-3 has 48 universal logic ports, each individually programmable.

HD-SDI BLADE-3 de-embeds audio from four HD-SDI streams or 8 AES/EBU pairs (16 audio channels) per stream.

EDGE BLADE-3 is for managing data to and from IP STL wireless radios for creating STL systems within the WheatNet-IP Network.


MADIBLADE Front Rear 

MADI BLADE-3

The MADI BLADE-3 is a high-density multichannel I/O BLADE for converting a 64-channel MADI input to data streams on the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network, and converting network data streams to 64-channel MADI outputs. These MADI inputs and outputs then become fully integrated audio sources and destinations on the network and can be routed in any way you may desire.

As a bridge to the WheatNet-IP audio network, this 1RU box interfaces to intercom systems, TDM routers, ProTools systems and DAWS that are MADI-capable. It provides 64 bidirectional channels (AES 10) between the WheatNet-IP audio network and another device over one coaxial cable. 

The MADI BLADE-3 uses BNC connectors for coaxial MADI inputs and outputs (1 each), and an SFP (small form-factor pluggable) transceiver slot for fiber connectivity. It has a 1000-base-T (Gigabit) network interface for optimum network speed and reliability.

MADI BLADE FEATURES: 

  • 64-channel bidirectional MADI interface

  • BNC connectors for coaxial MADI inputs and outputs (1 each)

  • One SFP transceiver slot for fiber connectivity

  • CPU with OS

  • 24-bit A/D and D/A converters

  • 1RU, no fans

  • AES67 compatible

  • One Gigabit Ethernet port

  • Two stereo 8x2 utility mixers

  • Silence sensing can be applied to any output

  • 12 universal logic ports (GPIO) on 2 RJ45 connectors

  • 128 software logic ports

  • Two full-color OLED displays on front

  • Front panel headphone jack

LOGIC BLADE Front Rear

 

LOGIC BLADE (LIO-48)

 

Wheatstone’s LIO-48 is a high-density logic BLADE for the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network that can handle the logic I/O needs of today’s busy studios and rack rooms.

The LIO-48 provides 48 universal logic I/O ports, each individually configurable as either input or output. You can use these to accept contact closures from devices in your facility to trigger events on the network (from an EAS receiver, for example), or use them to provide control outputs to devices such as satellite receivers, warning lights, or playback devices.

The LIO-48 has front panel indicators that visually present the status of all 48 ports, making verification of the proper configuration simple.

 

LIO-48 LOGIC BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • 48 universal logic ports, individually configurable

  • Front panel LED status indicators

  • Gigabit Ethernet port

SDI BLADE Front Rear 

HD-SDI BLADE

The HD-SDI BLADE-3 is a specialty BLADE for de-embedding audio from an HD-SDI audio/video signal, used primarily in television applications. With the HD-SDI BLADE-3, you can bring audio into the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network from video production automation systems, routers, and other professional video equipment that uses HD-SDI. This 1RU device is capable of de-embedding up to four HD-SDI streams, with up to 8 audio channels per stream.  

The HD-SDI BLADE-3 has four SDI input BNC connectors and includes logic control, onboard utility functions and the dedicated controller that is at the core of its intelligence. Like other BLADEs, the HD-SDI BLADE-3 has its own CPU and operating system and provides a 1000BaseT (Gigabit) network interface for optimum network speed and reliability. It's AES67 compatible for interoperability with other AES67 compatible systems and devices, and has two built-in 8x2 stereo mixers. It comes with 12 universal logic (GPIO) ports for interfacing various external switches, indicators and devices for control purposes – as well as 128 software logic ports for routing and controlling devices anywhere on the network.

HD-SDI BLADE-3 FEATURES:

  • De-embeds audio from four HD-SDI streams

  • De-embeds 8 audio channels per stream

  • 4 BNC connectors for coaxial input and 4 BNC loop connectors

  • CPU with OS

  • 1RU, no fans

  • AES67 compatible

  • One Gigabit Ethernet port

  • Two stereo 8x2 utility mixers

  • 12 universal logic ports (GPIO) on 2 RJ45 connectors

  • 128 software logic ports

  • Two full-color OLED displays on front

  • Front panel headphone jack

EDGE Front Rear

 

NETWORK EDGE BLADE

Edge Flowchart v3 2560 

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 radios.

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 includes local I/O (two AES and two stereo analog) and 12 programmable logic ports.

EDGE provides the data buffering needed between the studio IP audio network and the STL in order to handle the latency swings typical of unlicensed IP radios. It handles the necessary delay as a buffer to any latency shifts that come across the link and acts as an interface between the WheatNet-IP audio network and the IP radio.

This is because the critical difference between unlicensed and licensed wireless IP systems is how the two handle latency. IP wireless radios operating on licensed frequencies have exclusive use of the band and therefore have a consistent, lower latency, typically around 100 microseconds. Comparatively, latency on an unlicensed system can jump from 2 milliseconds up to 12 or 20 milliseconds depending on interference or even changes in weather patterns.

For more info in IP Radios, check out these two articles:

1. Your Cheat Sheet to Part 101 Wireless STLs

and 

2. Life On The Edge: STL via IP Microwave

NETWORK EDGE BLADE FEATURES: 

  • IP Wireless STL (half-duplex) compatible

  • 2 programmable logic ports (GPIO)

  • 4 audio inputs: 2 AES/2 analog

  • Compatible with WheatNet-IP BLADEs for control functions

  • Front panel headphone jack

  • 1RU, no fans

  • Ethernet port

 

Below are three diagrams that illustrate the function of the EDGE, it's application in a STUDIO, and its application at the TRANSMITTER.

Edge Interface Graphics Function 25609

 

Edge Interface Graphics Studio 2560

 

Edge Interface Graphics Transmitter 2560

 

 

 

Processing BLADE-3s

Network processing has proven a popular, efficient, and very cost effective way to apply audio tailoring to a lot of applications in different studios from a single 1RU box located anywhere in your network.

Our M-4 IP USB is a four-channel mic/voice processing BLADE-3 that's in use in more broadcast studios than any other processor today.

And our Aura8-IP BLADE-3 provides eight individual stereo processors you can deploy anywhere on your network to, for example, sweeten phone calls, process streams, improve remote audio quality, make your satellite feeds sound great, process headphones, and on and on.


M4IP BLADE Front Rear 

M4 IP USB BUTTON 





AURA8 IP BLADE Front Rear 

AURA8IP BUTTON 





The Power of BLADES 

ChrisAndBlades.jpg

BLADEFEST 2018 Puts BLADEs Through Extreme Tests

Would any sensible broadcast engineer put his/her system through dozens of consecutive reboots? Would she/he ever send audio on a purposefully Rube Goldberg-ish route? Would they use new, unproven switches? That’d be asking for trouble, right?

But we did. As we prepared to roll out a major revision of our BLADE software, we put together a huge WheatNet-IP system: 12 radio and TV consoles, 62 hardware BLADEs, 100 software BLADEs, talent stations, SideBoards, Smart Switch panels, and software including three different vendors’ automation systems. Then we added in AES67 devices from Genelec, Ward-Beck, Dante, and Axia. All of this was tied together by new models of Cisco and Dell switches.

Then we routed audio from one device to the next until our signal path passed in a big daisy chain through every single piece of gear. Just cabling and configuring the system took days! Then, with our engineers monitoring closely, we ran the system through a series of automated torture tests that included completely rebooting the system and verifying proper operation afterward. We’re proud to say that after more than 160 reboots, not a single connection failure or loss of audio occurred.

We did all this so you won’t have to. When you take that inevitable catastrophic power hit, you can be confident that your WheatNet-IP system will come back up healthy and ready to pick up where it left off.

Click for more photos from BLADEFEST 2018

BladeFest 1

 

BladeFest 1

 

BladeFest 1

 

BladeFest 1

 

BladeFest 3

 

BLADEFEST 2016

Our first BLADEFEST was held in 2016 and was just as impressive. It was documented by Scott Johnson with a photo essay and a short video. For an indepth look, READ THE STORY

Cool Stuff BLADE-3s & WheatNet-IP Can Do

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 broadcast. Here are some practical ways you can put BLADE-3s to use in your station. Grab a refreshing beverage - there's a lot to take in here.


AUDIO CONTROL AND ROUTING 350

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 350

Auto Mono Summing

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.

InputGainControl 350

Input Gain Control

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.

OutputGainControl 350

Output Gain Control

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 output 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.

UtilityMixers1 350

Mixers for Mic Groupings, Talkback, etc.

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.

UtilityMixers2 350

Mixers for Panning Mic and Caller Feeds

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.

Utility-Mixers-3 350

Automation Mix-Down

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.

Automation2 350

Automation Interface. One Cable.

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.

SalvosMacros 350

Unlimited Salvos or Macros

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.

SourceAndDestinationControl 350

Quick Source and Destination Changes

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.

GPIO-PORTS 350

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.

SystemClock 350

Selectable Master Clock

Automation PCs and other digital devices that require a specific sample rate are no problem. 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.

SNMP 350

Monitor Devices with SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)

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.

AssociateConnections 350

Share Resources, Connections

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, 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

OnBoardProcessing 350

Routable Audio Processing

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.

SilenceDetectionAndFailover 350

Silence Detection and Failover

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.

Video: Complete System Reboot

Here's an idea of how powerful BLADEs and WheatNet-IP are... 

In this video, we have a large, 82-BLADE/15-LXE system set up that we are testing inside and out. The goal – try and break it. Jay Tyler takes this gigantic system completely offline to see how long it takes to reset itself. Spoiler – it takes 80 seconds!


Additional 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 and let us know!

BLADE AS AD DA CONVERTOR 350

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 AUDIO SNAKE 350

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 METERAPP SILENCE DETECTOR 350

BLADE Plus IP Meters 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.

BLADE AS DISTRIBUTION AMP 350

BLADEs as Distribution Amplifiers

Analog BLADE as a 1x8 distribution amplifier


Analog BLADE as a 2x4 distribution amplifier

BLADE AS MIXER 350

BLADE as Mixer

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





WNIP AsSTL 350

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.

Performance Specs for All BLADES

Specifications for specific BLADE-3s...

ANALOG BLADE I/O

Inputs             Electronic differential, >10KΩ (bridging) Optimum source impedance <1KΩ

Outputs          <10Ω, 20Hz-20kHz Optimum load impedance >600Ω

Connectors         

DB25 Female, requires DB25 Male cable end connectors

RJ45, requires straight-wired RJ45 plugs

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

THD+n                      0.04%, 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 ∑∆

 

DIGITAL BLADE I/O

Inputs            Balanced 110Ω AES-3, S/PDIF compatible

Outputs          Balanced 110Ω AES-3 only

Connectors         

DB25 Female, requires DB25 Male cable end connectors

RJ45, requires straight-wired RJ45 plugs

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

THD+n                           0.0009%, 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

 

MIC BLADE I/O

Inputs         

Electronic differential, >2KΩ (bridging)

Optimum source impedance <200Ω

Outputs          

<10Ω, 20Hz-20kHz  Optimum load impedance >600Ω

Connectors          

XLR-F, requires XLR-M cable connector (microphone inputs)

DB25 female, requires DB25 Male cable end connectors (analog outputs)

RJ45, requires straight-wired RJ45 plugs (analog outputs, logic ports, & gigabit Ethernet

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

THD+n          0.02%, 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 ∑∆

 

IP88CB CONSOLE AUDIO BLADE

Inputs

2 analog mic, patchable, with variable gain and +48V phantom

XLR mic in, RJ45 mic out

4 AES digital with SRC, RJ45

4 stereo analog, RJ45

Outputs

4 stereo analog, PGM A-B-C-D, RJ45

1 stereo analog, control room, XLR

1 stereo analog, studio, XLR

1 stereo analog, headphone, phone jack and RJ45

1 stereo analog, cue, phone jack and RJ45

4 AES digital, PGM A-B-C-D, RJ45

Mix Engine                Internal mix engine for E-1 control surface

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

D>A converter          DAC 24bit advanced ∑∆

Sample Rate Convertors          32-96KHz, 16-24 bit on all digital inputs

 

AURA8-IP PROCESSING BLADE

Inputs         8 AES Digital inputs on “D” connectors and RJ-45.

Outputs        8 AES Digital outputs on both “D” connectors and RJ-45.

Logic          12 Universal Logic ports

Processing:
8 Vorsis Embedded stereo 3-band processing chains, each with 4-band parametric equalizer, 3-way crossover, 3 compressors, three limiters, broadband lookahead limiter

|

Specifications common to all BLADE-3s

LOGIC I/O

Connector       RJ45 (2), 12 channels

Voltage          +5VDC to GND,  +5VDC and GND provided

Current          100mA max source/sink

 

ETHERNET

Connectors   RJ45

Cable          CAT5E or CAT6

Audio transport          Gigabit Ethernet   1000BASE-T, used for all BLADE-to-BLADE audio traffic

Utility interface          100BASE-TX for future use

 

SYSTEM

Sample rate          44.1 or 48kHz, user selectable in software

Sync                    Internal or external, External sync input on any I/O digital BLADE

Reference level     0dBFS=+4dBu (+4dBu=1.23VRMS)

Latency                0.5mS, BLADE to switch to BLADE

 

PHYSICAL 

Dimensions         

19"/48.3cm wide, 1-3/4"/4.5cm high 

13-1/4"/33.7cm deep 

15-1/4"/38.7cm deep with connectors

Shipping weight          14lbs/6.4kg

 

POWER REQUIREMENTS

90-260VAC, 50-60Hz

ip88a: 49VA, 30W 

ip88d: 23VA, 12W 

ip88ad: 35VA, 19W

ip88m: 35VA, 19W 

ip88cb: 35VA, 19W

ip88e: 18VA, 10W

 


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