WHEAT:NEWS TV Dec 2015 - Vol 2, No. 9
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Sporting IP Audio
All you thrill seekers looking for examples of “truckless” or “at-home” production, here’s one that will get your adrenaline pumping. On any given Saturday, collegiate sports network IMG World transports live audio from 40-plus ballparks and fields to its centralized studio in Winston-Salem, NC, where it does all the final production … live. It’s not uncommon to find 30 board ops and producers with hands moving across Wheatstone E-6 boards like greased lightning as they segue between highlights, real plays and in-field announcers. They can be broadcasting a game live one minute and then pick up a highlight and drop it in for a halftime play the next. All of it is managed through the WheatNet-IP audio network, including all logic control for creating salvos and macros, starting and stopping contact relays and controlling faders.
It’s an impressive display of studio athleticism, and brave too, considering that sports fans can get rather vocal about disruptions in the game.
IMG represents more than 200 college sports properties, including the NCAA and its 89 championships as well as college and university football, baseball, basketball and other sports teams for 2,200 radio affiliates. With something like 35,000 hours of live sports production -- and counting -- for 55 college sports networks, including Norte Dame, UCLA and Duke University, IMG World is all about producing large volumes of live content using IP in ways that television broadcasters are just now beginning to adopt.
Ben Blevins Describes His Screen Builder Project
FAQs of Fiber
We’ve been getting a fiber vibe lately, and wanted to know if we were picking up on a recent trend in network cable. So we called our good friend Steve Lampen with Belden, the little cable company that purchased Grass Valley and Miranda. Lampen, who comes from a long line of lamp makers hailing back to Old Europe, shed some light on the subject.
WS: We’ve noticed a lot more interest lately in fiber architecture as a way to connect together our WheatNet-IP audio network. Is it just us, or is this something of a recent trend?
SL: You aren’t imagining things. We are clearly at a transition period between the old copper world and the fiber world. Copper can handle enough bandwidth at this point, but the question is how much more do broadcasters want? Eventually there’s a limit and it’s more a distance limit because as the bandwidth goes higher and higher, (copper cable) distance gets shorter and shorter.
WS: Category 8 cable is probably the best example of this, huh?
SL: Yes. Category 8 cable is 40 gigabits. But the problem is, that cable will only go 100 feet/30 meters, not 100 meters like the data cables do now. So there are limitations with CAT8, in which case you might want to go with fiber. Keep in mind, though, that you can certainly do 40 gigs on fiber, but it takes eight fibers to do it. And, of course, you have to have a converter for each pair of those. Not as trivial as you might think.
By the way, we were the first people to put plastic over fiber in 1973. People don’t often think of us as being into fiber, but we definitely are.
WS: Okay, so when should broadcasters consider fiber?
SL: There are actually several reasons to run fiber. If you’re going really long distances, for sure, but also if you want something that’s impervious to lightning or something that’s impervious to RFI and EMI, that’s going to be fiber. These are the reasons why the country is filled with fiber from the build-outs of the ’70s and ‘80s.
WS: On the flip side, why not just go with fiber and be done with it? It has the capacity, the range, the RFI/EMI immunity?
SL: Cost, mainly. Copper has limitations, yes, but you don’t have to convert. You just plug it in. For fiber, you need the converter that converts from electrons to photons on one end of the fiber, and at the other end, from photons to electrons. So it’s going to be more expensive. Even now, with prices dropping, fiber is still expensive. Not the fiber itself, that’s a wash—that’s the same price as a coax. Even the high bandwidth stuff, the single-mode, is getting cheaper than the multi-mode stuff. All that is really coming down in price, but will it ever surpass copper? Well, here’s the interesting thing about fiber. The thing that will make a huge difference in fiber (adoption) is when they can play with photons in the circuitry in the box, when they can amplify signals with photons, when they can split signals with photons, when they can combine signals with photons. This is a whole different deal because then fiber can do all the stuff that you used to do with electrons. This doesn’t exist yet, but they are getting very close.
Until then, most broadcasters will probably implement more of a hybrid architecture.
WS: Hybrid? As in, both fiber and copper cable?
SL: Right. We had a really good example of this when we decided to bring all the cable out on display at IBC this year, instead of hide it in a back engine room. In one rack, it’s all coax. In the next rack, it’s 10 gigabit copper data pairs. And in the third rack, it’s all fiber optic cable. That’s where broadcast is now, a hybrid of each. Will any of these win? Eventually perhaps, but it could also be something entirely different and new. I mean, we haven’t even started talking about new technologies that could change the entire architecture, like carbon nanotubes or room temperature superconductors that if they arrive, could put both copper and fiber in the museum.
WS: That sounds like a discussion we’ll have to save for another day. Thanks, Steve.
Paul Picard talks about WheatNet-IP
In this video from our friends at IABM, Wheatstone systems engineer Paul Picard talks about the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network and its applications in television audio.
- CBC (Rankin Inlet, NU) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Mathrubhumi Publishing (Dubai, UAE) purchased three LX-24 control surfaces and WheatNet-IP audio network for Horizon Broadcast LLP.
- Advanced Broadcast Solutions (Los Angeles, CA) purchased an I/O BLADE to add to USC Annenberg School of Journalism's existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- KTLA-TV (Los Angeles, CA) purchased a D-32 TV audio console and six SR-8 studio remote access units to add to an existing Gibraltar audio network.
- WDAV-FM (Davidson, NC) purchased an LX-24 control surface for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- iHeartMedia’s WWBB-FM (Providence, RI) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console, TS-4 talent station, and WheatNet-IP audio network I/O BLADEs.
- WGBH-FM (Boston, MA) purchased an LX-24 control surface and L-8 control surface and WheatNet-IP audio network for its station on Cape Cod.
- KRXI-TV (Reno, NV) purchased a Glass-E virtual mixer interface for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Innovative Technologies, Inc. (Washington, D.C.) purchased two Series Four audio consoles for a project at the Pentagon.
- VOA (Washington, DC) purchased a BLADE through CEI to expand an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Great Eastern Radio (West Lebanon, NH) purchased a Network EDGE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- On Air System of Mexico purchased six E-1 control surfaces and WheatNet-IP audio network BLADEs.
- Agile Broadcast (Australia) purchased two E-1 control surfaces.
- Russia Today purchased an LX-24 and WheatNet-IP audio network BLADEs.
- KRDR-FM (Red River, NM) purchased an R-55e console.
- KMOM-FM/KABD-FM (Roscoe, SD) purchased an Air-1 console.
Wheatstone Audio Processing
- Leighton (St. Cloud, MN) purchased an M4-IP four-channel mic processor and two drivers for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Clyde Broadcast Products (Nairobi, Kenya) purchased an M4-IP four-channel mic processor and FM-55 audio processor.
- Radikal Elektronic Ltd (Istanbul, Turkey) purchased an additional M2 dual channel mic processor for Power Group’s existing L-12 console and WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Beasley Broadcast (Boca Raton, FL) purchased a VP-8IP multimode audio processor.
- Great Eastern Radio (West Lebanon, NH) purchased an FM-55 audio processor and M1 mic processor.
- Oakwood (Toronto, ON) purchased two Air-5 consoles and a VP-8IP multimode audio processor.
- KABC-AM/KLOS-FM (Los Angeles, CA) purchased a VoxPro system 5.
- Beasley Broadcast’s WNCT-FM (Greenville, NC) purchased a VoxPro system 5.
- KHKX-FM (Odessa, TX) purchased a VoxPro system 5.
- Entercom (San Diego, CA) purchased eight VoxPro system 5 upgrades.
Your IP Question Answered
A: AES67 is an audio IP transport standard that Wheatstone engineers helped implement. Our I/O units are AES67 compatible, which means simply that our WheatNet-IP audio network is compatible with other AES67 compatible devices, signals and networks as well as any devices that might be connected to those networks. AES67 provides the common synchronization, clock identification, session description and other interoperability recommendations we can all share to more easily transport audio between the various systems without jitter, delay and data dropout. Wheatstone engineers continue to support interoperability through their involvement in ongoing AES67 plugfests and task groups for common control and discovery recommendations.