WheatNews May 2019

WHEAT:NEWS MAY 2019  Volume 10, Number 5

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Click above video to see Drew Pinkney explain the changes at WBAL.

Taking Down the Wall

What do you do when you can’t possibly squeeze another studio into your current real estate? It seems counterintuitive but the answer, at least for Hearst’s WBAL AM, is to knock down a wall.

As you’ll see in the video above, removing the wall separating WBAL’s AM on-air studio from the control room opened it up to one big space that accommodates a six-position table. Think about it: how else could they fit a table large enough for the afternoon host to prep off of while the morning host and any number of guests are on the air? 

Industry observer Scott Fybush takes us through the new studio, where WBAL previously had two smaller studios, neither of which could hold the cameras, monitors and people needed for today’s news/talk/sports broadcast operation. Not enough room often meant that the afternoon host had to wait for breaks in the morning show in order to rush in to the on-air studio and prep for his or her show.  

We know what you’re thinking. What about studio sounds spilling into the broadcast? We’ll get to that. But first, here are a few things we noticed about WBAL’s new AM news, sports and talk studio. 

  • Incredible attention to sight lines, right down to the use of inconspicuous branding labels on the mics instead of the large mic flags WBAL used to have that obstructed views. WBAL-AM/98 Rock CE Drew Pinkney did an amazing job here, especially because this small studio has a lot going on. 

  • Lots of video screens. We were told that the studio has 14 television monitors and 28 computer monitors. The board op alone has 15 monitors for all the different functions he interacts with (he’s seated at an LXE console surface networked to a WheatNet-IPNet-IP audio studio system, which is tightly integrated to Multicam camera and WideOrbit automation systems). In addition to terrestrial signals, there’s the www.wbal.com stream and live cam stream with four-camera, automated switching system based on whether a mic is on and if the position is potted up. This two-point system (courtesy of Multicam and WheatNet-IP) cuts down the likelihood of video rolling on an empty chair. 

  • Chair rails, or small bumper bars, along the wall save the soundproofing should someone get up quickly from their chair. 

  • Rubberized hooks for hanging headphones under the table so hosts and guests don’t have to break their kneecaps sitting down to the mic. 

  • Monitors to the outside. WBAL-AM takes live feeds from two tower cams, which is great for weather reports and the occasional breaking news event. (Recently, the downtown cam captured a news event live, as it unfolded).

  • WBAL-AM uses several MADI Blades to exchange 192 stereo feeds between a TDM system in the television studio and its WheatNet-IP audio network in the radio studio. Proof, once again, that TDM routing doesn’t have to go away just because you’re adding IP audio networking.

  • What about the potential for studio noise in one big room? Not a problem, according to Pinkney. The secret is to separate activities like listener call-ins on one end away from the host/guests on the other end of the studio. 

WBAL-AM and sister station WIYY-FM “98 Rock” are licensed to Baltimore, Maryland, and are the only two radio stations owned by Hearst Television. Both are located in the same building along with WBAL-TV. 

Audio Processing Tip from the Lab

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It’s All About That Bass

It’s amazing how a couple of innocent-looking bass knobs can cause so much trouble. Boosting subsonic bass might make the PD's car subwoofer kick but it’ll cost you loudness on radios that lack the ability to reproduce that bass. The reason is that our ears are much less sensitive to low bass than they are to mid frequencies, so that deep bass you're tempted to dial in is going to eat up lots of modulation to make it really kick on most radios. Our advice: keep bass in check. 

We’ve racked up quite a few hours in the lab testing the effects of bass, which is why Wheatstone processors are designed to reduce the negative effects of extra bass on some radios by maximizing the relationship between bass and midrange.

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This tip is brought to you from the Wheatstone Lab by Jeff Keith, CPBE, NCE, Senior Product Development Engineer and Mike Erickson, audio processing field engineer. The Wheatstone Lab has a wide range of music and program content sources that can be routed through more than 37 audio processors, ranging from early vintage 1970s models to the very latest FM audio processor (our X5), plus a half-dozen microphones, three transmitters, and audio display monitors of all types.

Where Scripters Meet

ScreenBuilderRebuild

Are you a ScreenBuilder or ConsoleBuilder power user? Register and log onto our Scripters Forum. This is a new meeting place for anyone interested in developing new screens and workflows for our WheatNet-IP audio network. Share scripts, screen shots and ideas with others also developing virtual news desks, control panels, and signal monitors.You’ll find documents, starter scripts and a whole knowledge base available to you for making customized screens like those pictured.

Click to register for our Scripters Forum (it's free)

ScreenBuilder 7 WTOP

KUPD AIR Chain

 

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AoIP TV Standards Roundup

The road to IP infrastructure is paved with protocols. We’ve flagged a few audio related standards to keep in mind as you migrate from HD/SDI to IP. 

AES67, the audio standard released in 2013 that makes it possible to transport audio from one AES67-compatible system to the next without regard to AoIP platform. AES67 is specified in SMPTE ST 2110-30 and does not include discovery and control. Today’s major AoIP systems, including Wheatstone’s WheatNet-IP audio network, are AES67 compatible. 

SMPTE ST 2110, the suite of standards that will help move television facilities past the limitations of HD/SDI audio embedding/de-embedding with video and open up doors for immersive audio and so much more.

SMPTE ST 2110-10/-20/-30, part of the SMPTE ST 2110 body of standards that addresses uncompressed video and audio streams. 

NMOS, the set of protocols that addresses device discovery and connection management. NMOS is the interoperability piece for devices to find each other on the network.

Something More to SIP

WheatstoneIllustrationForDeeSIParticle B DETAILBy Dee McVicker 

Anyone who has ever tried to fit a week’s worth of personal items into carryon luggage understands the problem. It’s impossible to pack audio in the megabits-per-second range into bandwidth in the kbps range without an IP audio codec, and that means losing some bits in the process. 

The problem isn’t just that audio comes with a lot of baggage, either. It’s that you can’t always be sure what to pack. Opus, G.722, AAC, they all are different algorithms and have different ways of packaging bits for transport across an IP link. You might use brand X on your end of a remote but that’s not going to fly if it’s brand Y on the far end. 

Up until now, this has been resolved by simply using the same codec at the studio and at your remote truck or STL at the far end. But all that goes out the window once you want to open up accessibility, as is often the case for combining studios across a region or establishing a network operation center in the cloud. Then, it’s hard to control which codec unit you’ll be handing off to on the far end, and it’s an impossible task if you’re handing off to more than one endpoint with more than one codec variation, which can be the case for multiple transmitter sites. 

Enter SIP, or session initiation protocol, which is often associated with VoIP communications but also makes a pretty darn good interoperability standard for codecs. 

SIP is a signaling protocol used for initiating, maintaining and terminating real-time multimedia sessions. 

It initiates a session by sending a message to an endpoint SIP address that can be linked to a physical phone or a software application through an SIP service provider. There’s a header component of the SIP message that conveys information about the message and also a description component (called a session description protocol or SDP) that conveys information such as codec formats.  

An “invite” is sent to the far end, and once acknowledged, SIP discovers the codecs in common between the two end points and determines which to use. 

Codec product manufacturers have been interested in SIP for some time. IP audio network manufacturers like Wheatstone are also interested in SIP, in part because it makes it possible to seamlessly transport AoIP from a remote sporting or news event to the studio network without regard to codec brand.  

But the wider applications for SIP go way beyond remotes. 

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Being able to manage audio, mics, playlists and other functions in one seamless studio operation over a long distance requires AoIP control and networking, codec optimization and SIP connectivity. Shown is a global AoIP studio operation spanning Las Vegas, New Bern, Dublin, Paris, and Melbourne. At each endpoint is a WheatNet-IP audio networking unit and SwitchBlade appliance that includes AoIP control, audio codecs and SIP technology. 

The interface was developed using WheatNet-IP ScreenBuilder, a virtual interface platform for the WheatNet-IP audio network.   

SIP is already playing a central role in the next level of consolidating broadcast operations, where, for example, one studio is carrying all the programming for a group of stations in a region. It’s likely that some or all of a group’s programming and operating functions will be hosted by a cloud service provider. 

Combined with audio control and codecs as part of the AoIP network, SIP solves that issue of getting IP audio out of the studio network and onto the public network for a number of beneficial purposes that will ultimately lead to more flexibility and cost savings for broadcasters.  

Tutorials You Might Find Helpful 
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Still finding your way around VoxPro, our digital audio recorder/editor developed specifically for broadcasters? This basic tutorial on classic VoxPro can help - click on the video above.

Whether you’re new to VoxPro or hoping to explore advanced features, you’ll find what you need in our VoxPro tutorial series.

Also, check out our tutorials on NAVIGATOR, DMX/EMX, IP-12/IP-16 and general how-tos on WheatNet-IP audio networking.

Click here for a full page of How-To videos

Interesting Links:

Video Spotlight: 365 days of studios from around the world

Customer appreciation tour 2018/19, put together by our Jay (Ken Burns) Tyler when he was perusing his photo collection and discovered just how prolific Wheatstone is in the broadcast world. See yourself in this video? If not, there's still time to get Wheatstone installed and be in next year's!

MAKING SENSE OF THE VIRTUAL STUDIO COVERMaking Sense of the Virtual Studio
SMART STRATEGIES AND VIRTUAL TOOLS FOR ADAPTING TO CHANGE

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.

AdvancingAOIP E BookCoverAdvancing AOIP for Broadcast
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EMERGING STANDARDS SUCH AS AES67 VIA AUDIO OVER IP TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BROADCAST FACILITY

Putting together a new studio? Updating an existing studio? This collection of articles, white papers, and brand new material can help you get the most out of your venture. Best of all, it's FREE to download!

IP TV EBOOK COVER

IP Audio for TV Production and Beyond

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MANAGING MORE CHANNELS, MORE MIXES, AND MORE REMOTE VENUES

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. 

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-- Uncle Wheat, Editor

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