Wheat News July 2024

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WHEAT:NEWS July 2024 Volume 15, Number 7


Pulse Check

If Chicago Public Media’s midday show has a pulse, Master Control Engineer Ethan Schwabe is no doubt feeling it. Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons airs live on WBEZ 91.5 and covers beats from local events to political discussions with plenty of switching between venues, interviews and microphones.

Schwabe is managing all of that, and more, from a new LXE console surface configured specifically for running a fast-paced, live show.

Everything he needs is programmed directly into the LXE, from Tieline and Comrex codecs accessible directly on faders to mix-minus for Zoom or Google Meet calls.  “There’s no separate interface I have to go through,” said Schwabe.

Anchor StudioThe LXE console surface is part of Chicago Public Media’s new studio core encompassing four two-person edit booths, two anchor studios, a talk studio, a backup air/production studio, a dedicated production studio, an audio/video studio and a music on-air studio, as well as an updated performance and recording studio. 

WBEZ 91.5 cut over to the new studios in early 2024 (read Extreme Studio Makeover in the May issue of Wheat News) after months of planning (read WBEZ Had Big Plans in the June issue of Wheat News).  


Each LXE console in WBEZ’s main studios serve a unique purpose, yet all share common controls and coloring schemes so staff can move between studios easily. Mic channels are red, for example, and the same color coding follows from the studio to the rack room. All resources, event triggers and mix-minus and mic settings share the same positions yet are universally available at any console position. 

For guests, TS-4 talent stations were installed as a single-cable solution with remote control on/off, talkback mutes, source selection and mini jacks. “These take about 15 minutes to install and they’re great because anybody from a seasoned professional to a guest can walk in and plug in and be part of the show,” commented our Jay Tyler, Wheatstone’s primary sales engineer on the project.  

“In some areas that didn’t require the full hardware, we created Screenbuilder software equivalents throughout,” added Shaun Dolan with Inrush Broadcast Services, which provided the system integration role for the project.


PerformanceOriginally designed as a recording studio and now used for live as well as recorded events such as concerts, speaker engagements and fundraisers, the WBEZ Performance Studio is isolated from the rest of the facility on a separate concrete slab insulated by layers of sheetrock and insulation on both sides of the walls.

Although physically isolated, the studio ties into the rest of the facility via the WheatNet IP audio network. “We put a Blade into the Performance Studio control room so anything we do in the Performance Studio is available in any studio in the studio core, including the intercom. We can talk back and forth [over WheatNet IP] so we can do a live performance and put it on the air live or we can record it for future playback,” said Chicago Public Media Vice President of Technology and Operations Stephen Wright. “If you search the archives of a few albums, you’ll see “recorded at WBEZ studios.” We are proud of that. We wanted to keep that, but we always wanted to bring it into 2024 and use it as an event space,” he added.

All talent stations, virtual interfaces and console surfaces throughout are controlled, accessed and automated via the WheatNet IP audio network, as are cameras for visual radio. When all guest mics are turned on, for example, cameras can capture a room shot of all guest positions or combine multiple camera angles into a single video feed. All of which can be AoIP networked into WBEZ’s green room and video and audio production studio.  

In addition to the various user interfaces for reporters and guests, key technical staff can remote into any console or interface as if they were seated behind the console and seeing everything the console operator sees down to the individual meter displays on each fader. 

The new consoles and interfaces replace WBEZ’s analog Wheatstone consoles that had been in service for more than two decades. “Our old [Wheatstone] board was on the air for some time, which was an accomplishment in itself,” commented Schwabe.   


Audioarts AML Azalea

This is what happens when you mix Audioarts with Wheatstone and add 45 years’ experience designing, manufacturing, and supporting mixing consoles for broadcasters around the world (many still in operation today). 

Features and quality go way up, price goes way down, and the result is a sleek little console that fits easily into any home studio, voiceover booth, remote truck, or on-air studio.

Not just another analog facelift, the AML 8 is re-engineered from the inside out to pack modern features into its compact size and price.

Our new Audioarts AML 8-channel console includes a USB port for today’s feeds (including that extra automation channel you need) and is quality engineered with Wheatstone exclusive features such as Super Quiet™ mic preamps to bring out the best in vocals.

Audioarts AML Azalea Front Callouts

More than 45 years of Wheatstone console engineering is wrapped up in the AML 8, starting with the external power supply built by Wheatstone to protect critical components and add to the life of the console. Audioarts Engineering is a sister brand to Wheatstone. Both are engineered, manufactured and supported under the same roof in Wheatstone’s New Bern, North Carolina, factory.

The AML 8 is being offered now for an introductory price of $1500 USD. Shipping starts December 2024. Go to www.wheatstone.com/aml for details or contact your favorite dealer to order now. 



In this classic video, Jay Tyler demonstrates how quickly the WheatNet IP audio network can recover from a network switch failure in a load sharing configuration. Here are the CliffsNotes on switch topology for redundancy.

Wheatstone Senior Sales Engineer Phil Owens suggests setting up a central core stack of switches in the TOC with edge switches at each studio or group of studios to handle the local I/O. This does two things:

1) Lets each studio operate independently of the main switch. Should a studio lose connectivity with the central stack for any reason - fire in the TOC, flood, power outage - individual studios can continue to operate independently via their local switches. 

2) Provides more efficient networking and traffic control by cutting down the number of “home runs” from the studio to the central core stack; all local I/O is handled by the edge switches. 

Core Stack TOC

Owens points out that Cisco has a topology called StackWise, where the back planes of multiple switches in a TOC, for example, can be joined at very high bandwidth (somewhere on the order of 160-gigabits-per-second links) in a daisy chain configuration, as shown above. If any one of the switches should drop out of the stack, the other stack members can still communicate with each other. 

Edge Switches

Shown above are smaller, 12-port edge switches that handle the local I/O for the studio and have a trunk connection back to the central stack. “For additional redundancy, you can take a baseband connection out of one of the local I/O Blades in the studio and run it into the rack room, as indicated by the red arrow above. This gives you a baseband audio connection directly from the studio to the TOC in case you need to quickly patch programming into the RF chain,” said Owens. 

As AoIP networks continue to get larger, more complex and farther reaching, Wheatstone engineers are stress testing the WheatNet IP audio network during our third Bladefest, currently taking place in the Wheat Lab. Stay tuned for our test results in upcoming issues of Wheat News.



Why pay for an extra unit to run a confidence feed back to your talent headphones when you can simply set up a feed right from your WheatNet IP audio network?  It’s as simple as setting up a preset in a Blade (audio processing built into the Blade is why).

Heres how to set up a Fake-Air Confidence Feed in WheatNet. For more helpful tips, videos, and product information, visit our new online Wheatstone Support Center.


Uses Screenbuilder

Here are 24 ways our ingenious customers used the ScreenBuilder application to replace bulky bud boxes, outboard mixers, summing amps, talkback circuits, and even wall clocks.

No soldering irons were used in the making of these screens.

Click here for a photo gallery.

The above virtual interfaces were made using ScreenBuilder, a WheatNet IP virtual development toolset that includes a Scripting Wizard and virtual elements such as faders and meters. Basic scripting routines are as easy as navigating a checklist of salvos, destinations and sources. Creating customized interfaces can be as easy as dragging, dropping and assigning values to each element.


Scripting Logic Forum

A while back Derek Strelow, Engineer Extraordinaire for WGTE Public Media in Toledo, asked, "Why not add a logic programming forum to the Scripting Forum site? Logic may not be scripting per se, but they do go hand-in-hand more often than not."

So, we did it.

The Wheatstone Scripting & Logic Forum is where Club Wheat members can now post logic challenges, ask scripting questions, and learn about new applications and solutions for their WheatNet IP audio networks.  Of course, our crack Tech Support Team is always online to help as well. Sign on and check it out if you haven’t already: Wheatstone Scripting & Logic Forum.

We hope you'll come along with us at Club Wheat by clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button below to begin receiving Wheat News in your email inbox every month.

The Wheatstone online store is now open! You can purchase demo units, spare cards, subassemblies, modules and other discontinued or out-of-production components for Wheatstone, Audioarts, and VoxPro products online, or call Wheatstone customer support at 252-638-7000 or contact the Wheatstone technical support team online as usual. 

The store is another convenience at wheatstone.com, where you can access product manuals, white papers and tutorials as well as technical and discussion forums such as our AoIP Scripters Forum

Compare All of Wheatstone's Remote Solutions

REMIXWe've got remote solutions for virtually every networkable console we've built in the last 20 years or so. For basic volume, on/off, bus assign, logic, it's as easy as running an app either locally with a good VPN, or back at the studio, using a remote-access app such as Teambuilder to run.

Remote Solutions Video Demonstrations

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

Click for a Comparison Chart of All Wheatstone Remote Software Solutions


Have you seen the latest smart studio trends? Discover expert tips, surprising uses for AoIP Blades, 6 common studio gotchas, and how to be aware of little expenses. A must-read before you begin your studio project.


Curious about how the modern studio has evolved in an IP world? Virtualization of the studio is WAY more than tossing a control surface on a touch screen. With today's tools, you can virtualize control over almost ANYTHING you want to do with your audio network. This free e-book illustrates what real-world engineers and radio studios are doing. Pretty amazing stuff.

IP TV EBOOK COVERIP Audio for TV Production and Beyond


For this FREE e-book download, we've put together this e-book with fresh info and some of the articles that we've authored for our website, white papers, and news that dives into some of the cool stuff you can do with a modern AoIP network like Wheatstone's WheatNet-IP. 

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

-- Uncle Wheat, Editor



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