Wheat:News February 2023

WHEAT:NEWS February 2023 Volume 14, Number 2


You Only Get Two Do Overs

Since introducing our Layers Software Suite, we’ve learned a great deal more about data centers and servers as an extension of the AoIP studio … and about gamers being able to play video games through Amazon data centers without even touching an Xbox console. Our Technology Manager Dominic Giambo explains in the following excerpt taken from a recent interview with Radio World. 

About the role of cloud in the broadcast operation: “We view it as an extension of the AoIP network. We’re using all the same interfaces and similar, if not the same, networking architecture for our Layers software but the difference is that we’re now on the worldwide cloud. If a cloud server in New York goes down, we can automatically load balance everything over to an Amazon server in Los Angeles.”

About latency and buffering: There are going to be tradeoffs with latency and buffering for packet loss, something we’re very familiar with as an AoIP manufacturer. But we are getting so much better at making those tradeoffs, and specifically, mitigating packet loss using protocols like SRT, for example. (SRT is a UDP protocol used in Wheatstone’s Blade 4 fourth-generation I/O WheatNet access units.) If we want transport reliability, we’re going to need redundancy and protocols like SRT that support redundant streams. We’ve had a lot of experience with these protocols and these issues over the 20 years we’ve been developing AoIP.” 

About centralizing audio processing and getting the FM MPX from a data center to the transmitter site: “As an audio processor manufacturer, we see some real potential in centralizing processing. So many of our customers have one or two guys in charge of processing for the entire group, and by having a cloud product like Layers FM/HD processing, they can make setting changes from anywhere. Our biggest challenge is getting good, quality audio from the data center to the transmitter, but there’s already sufficient fiber bandwidth at many transmitters now. And especially with Starlink and 5G, there’s a real possibility that many won’t need a compressed pipeline for the MPX from an Amazon data center to the transmitter.”

About mixing in the cloud and what gamers taught us: Mixing live is latency sensitive and for this reason, many broadcasters prefer to mix local talk shows on-premise. But if we look into the future, which is what we are doing here, all those local cloud data centers that are cropping up in cities could change this. Amazon now has hundreds of different data centers, so you can localize mixing fairly close to most major markets. We’re seeing gamers play video games through Amazon data centers without the Xbox, and latency there doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Can we do something similar with mixing? Absolutely, but it would require your data center to be very close to your mixing. For now, even putting all mixing engines in a server in your rack room will save you racks of hardware and the associated engineering, electrical and real estate space.”

The full interview can be seen in Radio World’s ebook Cloud/IP-Based Content Creation & Delivery


whos who on top tech list

Congrats to Sinclair’s Del Parks, iHeartMedia’s Jeff Littlejohn, Beasley’s Mike Cooney, Townsquare’s Scott Schatz, Hubbard’s Dave Kolesar, Bonneville’s Jason Ornellas, Cumulus’ Conrad Trautmann, Education Media Foundation’s Shane Toven, Capitol Broadcasting’s Pete Sockett, and all our friends and technology partners who made the Radio + Television Business Report list of Broadcast Media’s Top Tech Leaders. What an incredible engineering community!

Jeff Littlejohn spoke for all of us at Wheatstone when he was asked by RBR+TVBR what he considers to be his greatest achievement in the last year at iHeartMedia: “I’ve been working with a team to reimagine the traditional broadcast studio, making it into a flexible workspace that can be dynamically reconfigured and rebranded. This dynamic concept allows any studio to serve any purpose for any station, creating redundancy and efficiency.

Congratulations, all!


4 Vox Pro V 7 1 Adds Public Folder

It’s cliché, but we’ll say it anyway. It takes money to make money. Having enough of it can make all the difference between continuing to pay through the nose for your existing facility or cutting over to new studios at half the operating cost. We discuss this and more with BSW’s Director of Sales and Marketing Bryan Seeley. BSW celebrates its 50th year as a broadcast equipment supplier and as Wheatstone’s largest U.S. distributor, has been putting together Wheatstone and Audioarts studios, including financing, for almost as long. 

Bryan mainWS: BSW has seen a lot of transactions in the past 50 years. What should every broadcaster know about financing today? 

BS: It pays to develop good financial relationships with suppliers. We have customers who have a long credit history with us and we’re willing to take risks with those customers because we know them. Others we’re just getting to know, maybe they’ve been recently acquired or have gone through multiple owners, and we don’t know the latest owner. In those cases, we start out small and then build up. 

Those kinds of relationships are so critical when something like a transmitter goes out and you need emergency funding to get back on the air with a new one. 

WS: What should they be thinking about, specifically, for financing a studio project? 

BS: The standard 20, 30, and up to 60-day terms for special projects work for routine purchases throughout the year. But for studio projects that come around once a decade, you might need additional financing. We set up financing for everything from just a console and a few Blades and maybe a microphone or two, to a total room upgrade. And then we have guys that want to do the entire building, and that can take a half-million in just ancillary gear. That requires budgeting and financing. We do terms or credit lines and we also work with several leasing companies that can fill in the gap with a payment plan for $5K on up. 

WS: What should broadcasters know about financing for hardware versus software, which is a much larger factor in the studio project today? 

 BS: Depending on how the station does its books, software can be expensed or a capex line item. That might or might not work in your favor if you’re doing a studio project, depending on if you have more general operating expense than capex to work with. Financing software gets trickier if it’s an operating expense, but we have seen cases where if the software is used specifically for broadcasting it can go into the capex bucket and therefore is easier to finance. 

WS: What is your financial advice to anyone starting out with a studio project?

BS: Make sure that you have included everything for the entire project, and not just part of it. You’ll need consoles, Blades, and processors, but don’t forget cabling, headphones, furniture, codecs, telephone interfaces…cup holders. Soup to nuts, and everything else that goes into that project should be accounted for, budgeted, and financed if needed. There’s nothing worse than coming to the end of a project and realizing you ran out of money for basics like mics, codecs and more cup holders. Our job at BSW is to make sure that you have everything, and I mean everything …even if we have to ship it same-day delivery (BSW warehouses Wheatstone Blades and consoles, along with 20,000 other items available for same-day delivery). We supply more than 200K+ product SKUs, and if we don’t have it, we’ll track it down. 

WS: Before we let you go, we’re wondering if you’re also seeing an unusual number of studio projects lately?

BS: We’ve noticed it too, and one big reason could be the cost savings with moving into a different or smaller space. In some cases, in the long run it is far more economical to build out new studios than it is to keep an existing one in a high rent district. There also seems to be a strong trend to go AoIP that was brought on by home studios. Analog as a product category is shrinking because of that and because we now have the DMX, which makes IP audio so much more accessible and affordable (DMX includes AoIP console surface, engine, and I/O). We call it the “gateway drug” to AoIP. 

WS: Thanks, Bryan. Great input. 




Our Jeff Keith takes us through FM/HD audio processing in a server environment in this video taken during last year’s NAB. No other hardware required. Layers will return to NAB this April with several exciting new developments. Stop in booth W3000 for a hands-on demonstration of this as well as Layers for stream provisioning and processing from your server onsite or off-site at an AWS cloud data center. 



Booking satellite time for a guest interview and rushing them over to a studio for a three-minute segment is so 2019. Web conferencing is in, embedders/de-embedders are out, and everything is about IP. 

By connecting routing, mixing and studio control through Ethernet cabling, AoIP opens up accessibility and gets rid of outdated wiring and layers of audio infrastructure. For example, one common upgrade is to drop an I/O Blade at various mic or talent workstations in the studio and run a cable back to a central rack room. Another is to connect the wall of plug-in mics and other auxiliary XLR devices to the control room using one WheatNet-IP high-density I/O Stagebox One and a cable. 

AoIP mixing consoles come with expansive IP audio networks that can scale all the way up to several network elements and geographic locations, such as across a WAN for use in REMI or other remote broadcast applications.

SNMP Alerting


WheatNet-IP audio network I/O Stagebox One and a single CAT5e/or 6 cable can be used to connect a wall of plug-ins to the control room. 


The clock was already ticking on August 17, 2021, when New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown, throwing yet another monkey wrench into a large studio project for the New Zealand arm of Australian broadcaster Sports Entertainment Network (SEN). Could we help? Not long after, Bradley Bacon, who joined SEN New Zealand as the Auckland-based senior engineer just one month before the project started, had everything he needed for a complete WheatNet-IP networked facility.

1 SEN New Zealand

SEN New Zealand (SENZ) signed on from its new WheatNet-IP studios on January 15, 2022 in time to pick up broadcast rights to the New Zealand National Basketball League and the Otago Nuggets. SENZ is now sportscasting in 13 markets from 27 transmitters throughout New Zealand, plus streaming on its SEN/SENZ app.

Shown is one of SENZ’s new air studios with an LX-24 console surface that was repurposed from the previous NZRB studios on Stanley Street in Parnell, Auckland. SEN of Australia purchased broadcast licenses and assets from broadcaster NZRB and launched SENZ from the NZRB studios until new studios could be built. 

To assist in the buildout of new studios, SEN Director of IT/Engineering Josh Pearson reached out to Marcus Bekker of Southern Broadcast Ltd, Wheatstone’s New Zealand partner and the systems integrator that had built the previous Stanley Street studios.


SEN New Zealand

Shown is SEN New Zealand’s new main studio located in the well-known heritage building of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Parnell, Auckland. The LXE console surface is at the center, which is connected through WheatNet to a Remote LXE touchscreen in the adjoining talk studio beyond the glass window. Southern Broadcast, together with SEN engineers in both Australia and New Zealand, designed the studio to meet the many challenges unique to sports broadcasting. “Basically, everything has to be bigger, with multiple feeds in and out, console channel count, you name it. We are a long-time user of Wheatstone, so it was an obvious choice for the new build,” said Pearson. Australian sportscaster SEN has been operating from a bustling Wheatstone facility going back to its Crocmedia days, when it was built with the assistance of Wheatstone technology partner and integrator Agile Broadcast.

For SENZ’s new main studio, buttons and OLEDs on the LXE console surface are programmed to automatically associate the right mix-minus to the right mic coming in from the field, as are SS-8 control panels elsewhere in the WheatNet-IP audio network. The Remote LXE on a touchscreen in the talk studio is a multi-touch, standalone virtual console that mirrors fader movements and shares controls with the studio’s physical LXE console surface for quick collaboration between host and commentators.


SEN IP networked studios

The new studios feature talent positions with IP networked TS-4s mounted flush into the counter for on/off, cough, talkback and OLED source selection. The Automix feature in the LXE in the adjoining studio monitors levels from all incoming mics and automatically reduces the gain on mics not being addressed to eliminate the comb-filtering effect common of multiple open mics.

To build out and network the studios, SENZ’s engineer Bradley Bacon worked with Southern Broadcast and systems integrator Integra Broadcast with remote input from Pearson and his team of engineers and operations crew in Australia, who were not able to fly into New Zealand during the level 4 lockdown. “There were a few moments when I was tearing my hair out, mainly because of logistics, but it all came together,” said Bacon.



Shown, the host position in the talk studio with a TS-22 talent station to the right for controlling mics, headphones, and speaker levels in one small, AoIP networked turret. The touchscreen shown in the center is used for multiple menuing options, including the Remote LXE standalone virtual mixing companion to the physical LXE control surface for an independent, yet shared user experience during fast-paced productions.


5 all virtual SENZ

This all-virtual SENZ news studio has mixing on a touchscreen instead of on a physical console surface.


6 custom touchscreen screenbuilder

A closeup of the custom touchscreen designed by Integra Broadcast using our Screenbuilder and scripting tools.  Bacon also caught the scripting bug and is experimenting with scripting to developing better workflows into the WheatNet-IP. He scripted the buttons on SS-8 OLED control panels to map mics to incoming remote feeds so that each mic is automatically associated with the right mix-minus, whether it’s an announcer in the field or commentator in the studio next door.

Recently, he had help coding a script to monitor Blade LIOs for mic on/off states so that as a mic is turned on, the studio camera automatically turns on, switches to the correct chair, and begins recording.

Inspiration hits, he said, “mainly in the evenings, as I’m sitting at home, and going ‘hmmmm… I wonder if I can do this or that?’”


7a wheatstream v4


SENZ is using Wheatstream, a WheatNet-IP appliance, for provisioning streams out to its SEN/SENZ app. Streaming instances are spun up or down as needed. With gaming events and sponsorships changing by the venue and the hour, streaming is a dynamic and growing part of the SENZ operation that requires different ads and sponsorships for at least 17 different markets throughout New Zealand. Each stream is individualized by Wheatstream with the ideal type and amount of audio processing; Wheatstream audio processing is designed specifically to optimize encoded streams. Shown on the right is a menu interface for provisioning several streams.



It took several Blades like those shown above, along with a few console surfaces (LXE, LX-24, and L-8), talent stations (TS-4 and TS-22) plus Wheatstream appliances, Remote LXE and Screenbuilder tools as well as RCS Zetta automation to come together for SENZ’s new studios in Auckland.

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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


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

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 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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