Wheat:News July 2023


WHEAT:NEWS July 2023 Volume 14, Number 7

What is RIST, And Why You Need It?

RIST or Reliable Internet Stream Transport

It seems that network protocols are a lot like potato chips. You cant have just one. Heres what you need to know about the latest transport protocol and why everyone is talking about RIST for live streaming and moving media across the public internet. 

If you’ve been following protocols for a while, you know that UDP multicasting is a simple message-oriented protocol used to transport audio and control data at very low latency. We can reduce WheatNet IP audio packet timing to ¼ ms for minimum latency in part because of UDP multicasting, which means that local studio controls and audio transport are almost instantaneous.

But what happens when we go beyond the studio network and want to live-stream audio and control data in real-time across the public network, where links are less reliable and distance adds more delay?

Enter RIST, or Reliable Internet Stream Transport, which adds error correction and packet recovery to UDP multicasting. RIST uses things like RTP sequencing to identify potential packet losses and multi-link bonding to guarantee media delivery over these public links with very little delay and often without having to compress or reduce the bits, and hence the quality of audio being transported. Based on established protocols widely adopted by the broadcast industry, including RTP and SMPTE-2022, RIST is interoperable with broadcast-grade equipment, including Wheatstone products and those of its partners. It is a relatively new arrival in the media transport world and it’s especially timely given the growing number of high-speed links that are now making it possible to stream at full audio bandwidth.

Or, as our senior streaming software engineer Rick Bidlack explained, “We have all this available bandwidth on public networks for getting the full audio bandwidth up to the cloud or wherever we want it. RIST just makes sure that it arrives there.”

Now part of our I/O Blade 4s, streaming appliances Wheatstream/Streamblade, and streaming software (Layers Stream), RIST provides WheatNet IP audio studios both the speed and reliability needed to take advantage of high-speed broadband public networks for live streaming, news feeds or sports contributions across distances. You can now stream audio from your WheatNet IP audio studio over a public high-speed link to a regional server or cloud data center at full audio bandwidth and 24-bit resolution without noticeable latency, depending on distance.

Opening up a RIST stream session from your Wheatstone AoIP streaming appliance or software creates a dedicated channel between a local IP address and an IP address on the far end and establishes a low-latency, high-quality connection between the two points. And because RIST interoperates with RTP/UDP at the transport layer, it integrates easily into WheatNet IP audio networked studios. For example, our Layers Stream software running in a data center can receive a stream via RIST as well as send a stream via RIST back to a Blade 4 in your studio to be routed, processed, and controlled locally through the WheatNet IP audio network.

RIST is fast becoming an important protocol for the next evolution in AoIP.


Jeff Keith Current State of AM

Our Jeff Keith reflects on the current state of AM, AM processing, and sports.

“Sports is generally a high energy activity for both players and audience, so hearing it on AM, and processed 'hard' as most AM's do, adds even more energy to the listening experience…AM audio is typically processed much more aggressively than FM, and increasing the average modulation density not only increases AM service area coverage but also adds 'urgency' to the audio. That same feeling of urgency created by aggressive audio processing can also add a bit of 'authority' to the audio.”

Jeff Keith, CPBE, NCE
Senior Product Development Engineer,
Audio Processing Development

Shown, Jeff Keith in his audio processing lab where sound ideas are modeled and tested for AM, FM, streaming and mic processing. (Note our new Lion FM audio processor and Voice 1 processor on the bench to the left). 


button panel

You might recall the WheatNet IP audio network “alarm clock” we told you about a while back. CE Greg Manfroi (WUIS-FM, Springfield, Illinois) created a simple script for an old dial-up remote-control switch that he used to alert the news staff when the morning guy hit the snooze button one too many times. 

It was one of our early examples of scripting, and since then, we’ve added many ingenious ways scripting can be used to increase AoIP network usability.

So, how easy is it to add a few software routines to your WheatNet IP audio network?

In many cases, by using our wizard GUIs you can go from not knowing much about networking to writing basic scripts for your AoIP system.

These GUIs are basic scripting programs we’ve developed over time that you can use and customize for your own purposes. Examples of use include setting up a temporary intercom button between a producer and announcer and programming a button to fire off a relay to interrupt on-air program temporarily for an EAS alert.

Scripting Wizards

Scripting wizards are available for programming buttons on our SS-8 control panels, TS-22 talent stations and certain consoles and control surfaces (Sideboard, LXE, GSX, and Tekton, or any console surface that you add a scriptable control panel to; we have scriptable OLED control modules for a variety of control surfaces).

Scripting wizards can be used for controlling a surface remotely from a panel, for turning a fader channel on or off, for firing presets on audio processors, for sending automation commands, and for a wide variety of other purposes. Often it can be as easy to set up as navigating a checklist of basic choices for types of salvos, destinations, and sources.

For a little more customization, you can cut and paste an existing script into a work area and make modifications. For example, one CE was able to use an existing script to turn the virtual utility mixers in the WheatNet IP audio Blades on or off from a control panel. But he needed a few more lines of code for audio ducking during a mid-show break in the live satellite feed, which cut away abruptly to silence and then came back on again – at full volume – following the station ID.

He modified the script slightly so that when his automation system gets the satellite closure, the WheatNet IP ducks the feed for a voice track. Thanks to a few scripted lines of code, he was able to solve that problem easily – as well as another recurring problem: the same engineer modified a script to do the studio equivalent of the two-man rule as a foolproof way for volunteer hosts to switch between studios. As a result, it takes a combination of two button presses to activate the salvo for the studio switch rather than just one button that an announcer might accidentally press, inadvertently taking the station off the air.

To get started on scripting, check out our Scripters Forum. You’ll find documents, starter scripts, and a whole knowledge base available to you for adding scripts to your WheatNet IP audio network. 


Console with VoxPro on the side (opens new window)

Here is Z88.3 FM morning co-host Tyler Mckenzie editing a call-in using the VoxPro audio editor as part of the LXE console during the Momentum 2023 conference last month. Mckenzie is using a soft key on the console to switch the console screen between VoxPro editing and incoming caller information from the telephone hybrid, all of which is tied together through WheatNet IP audio networking and displayed and controlled on the LXE console surface with physical VoxPro editing/recording controls built in. 


Z Ministries

We could all learn a thing or two about outreach from Z Ministries, which broadcast live from the Christian Music Broadcasters (CMB) 2023 Momentum conference last month.

The religious broadcaster originated content for two radio stations from Universal in Orlando, where they built a temporary studio suite complete with onsite automation, codecs, telephone hybrids and WheatNet IP audio networking and mixing consoles.

Z MinistriesIt was far more involved than any remote Brian Kerkan had done before which is an understatement. Kerkan has mic’d morning shows from the sides of ski slopes, remoted in from subways in Montreal, and broadcast live from the Goodyear Blimp. 

He set up two studios with full audio console routing and control (one console surface being an LXE with an integrated VoxPro audio recorder; more on that later) for the two main stations operated by Z Ministries in Orlando, for which he is the DOE. From here, Z Ministries originated content live for Z88.3 and GPraise 106.3 as well as ten translators and as many streaming channels. In addition to regularly broadcast music, praise and talk programming, they added live onsite music performances and interviews of guest speakers throughout the conference, held May 31 to June 2.

Z Ministries

 It was really something. We had a full LXE console with mic arms and tallies, a sub-mix studio for the bands, VoxPro for call-ins and editing, and multiple screens. It was everything you’d find in a broadcast facility, but it was all remote,” said Kerkan.

He rolled in two equipment racks that housed I/O Blades, a Cisco firewall and switch, and various other gear. He set up codecs with multiple channels between the home studio and the temporary studios at Universal, including a program channel for each station, upstream audio for talkback, and a hybrid send. For routing, he used a few analog/digital Blades as well as an M4-IP USB four-channel mic processor networked into AoIP talent stations, each with full tally for guest speakers.

Z MinistriesIt was the mega church of remotes, right down to the sound treatment on the walls and a 70-inch monitor that captured the bustle of radio activity for almost a thousand conference-goers from all walks of the Christian radio industry. Among them were Grammy-award winning artists and broadcast leaders in programing, marketing, and management.

“It was the most technically challenging remote I’ve ever done, but it went flawlessly and the setup was very clean. You couldn’t tell we weren’t originating from the studio. We even ran uncompressed 24 (bit), 48 (kHZ) sampled out,” commented Kerkan.

“Some of the Christian artists walked in and went, ‘wow,’” he added.

New Life at Home

With the 2023 Momentum conference now in the rearview mirror, the consoles, Blades and other wares are in the process of being repurposed into Z Ministries’ newly renovated studios on Rainer Drive in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Among the new additions are three LXE consoles with VoxPro audio recording and editing onboard. Z Ministries is keeping existing furniture for the renovation, which meant a bigger footprint for the audio console and subsequent extra module space on the LXEs that could conveniently fit a VoxPro scrub wheel and button interface. Having VoxPro audio recording and editing onboard rather than as a control unit off to the side made it so much easier to integrate call-ins and editing into the overall studio workflow. 

Z MinistriesShown above, Z88.3 morning co-host Ellis Feaster in front of the LXE console surface, which includes a VoxPro drop-in, and is inset into the studio furniture at a slight angle to make it easier to navigate. Integrating the VoxPro edit scrubber and controls into the LXE was the brainchild of Kerkan. So often the DJs would have to twist around because VoxPro would be on one side and the monitor for VoxPro would be on the other side and they had to do this thing where their neck is bent as theyre looking across at the monitor on the other side. This way, everything is where it needs to be.”

Z Ministries

Kerkan is known for his talent-centric approach to engineering and studio design. Note the fader labels showing a graphic of a bed for music beds and musical notes for faders associated with the automation, all of which is dynamically programmable on the LXE console surface depending on show, daypart or other criteria.

“We’re using the screen in the LXE for VoxPro and if we want to display incoming caller information, we just flip the screen using a soft key on the console,” said Kerkan, explaining that he sketched out the idea and Wheatstone engineers fabricated it. All Wheatstone engineering, fabrication and manufacturing is under one roof in New Bern, making such changes possible. 

Z Ministries

Z Ministries has been using WheatNet IP AoIP Blades for some time for routing functions such as switching EAS audio over to translators during an emergency (by using Blade routing and GPIOs) and after months of uneventful operation, updated its Florida studios to WheatNet IP audio routing, control and console surfaces. 



J.R.R. Tolkien once said that if you live near a dragon, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations.” We’ve compiled tips from our many years in the field and insights from integrators that we hope will help you identify most of the dragons in your studio planning. Download our free ebook here: Studio Project Planning Guide.

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


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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. 

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