TV Audio Consoles

IP & TDM Networking

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Wheatstone for TV

We get it. You don’t want to mess around with all those channels of audio that need to be routed, mixed, edited and made to sound natural and seamless with what’s happening on video. All of which can be especially frustrating now that 5.1 surround is added to the mix. That’s why we have eliminated all the inefficiency and bloat from TV audio production. Wheatstone has a Network First approach that you’ll like – a lot. We’ve moved everything routing and logic related to the network and replaced that gargantuan console with a much more efficient, compact network console. We’re talking unrestricted routing and unrestricted access just below the surface, but with everything you need above the surface to do it all, and do it fast.

Paul Picard on WheatNet-IP for Television


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.

IP Audio Networking for TV... It Takes More Than a Network

THREE THINGSTV-Flowchart 1d

WheatNet-IP is more than just an IP network that routes audio within a TV facility. It is a full system that combines a complete audio tool kit, an integrated control layer, and a distributed intelligent network that takes full advantage of IP audio.

By combining these three components seamlessly into one system, we can deliver the following:

  • A distributed network of intelligent I/O devices to gather and process audio throughout your facility
  • Control, via both hardware GPI and software logic ports, that can be extended throughout the plant as well
  • Rapid route changes via both salvos and presets to instantly change audio, mic control, and tallies between sets
  • A suite of software apps and third party devices that all communicate via the common gigabit IP interface
  • True plug 'n play scalabilty - devices are easily added to the IP network
  • Triggered crosspoints to create routable IFB throughout the facility

Just about any complication in post or live production is manageable using the highly routable features of this broadcast-proven IP audio routing and control system.

Click here to learn a LOT more about what we are doing with IP Audio Networking for TV...

Live Production Made Easy Using IP Audio Networking with Integrated Control

WNIP Toolbox2_2000Switching between video feeds can be fairly straightforward. But switching audio feeds and creating an intercom between field reporters and the studio, not to mention setting mix-minuses – all of this can be cumbersome and time consuming. And that is where a new breed of digital mixing consoles with IP audio networking and integrated control can make all the difference.

 

 

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Wheatstone wins TWO NAB TV Tech Best of Show Awards!

TVT Award 300

At this year's NAB we've introduced a new concept for IP Networked Audio for live and production TV. We've launched our new flagship TV Audio console, the IP-64 along with our Gibraltar IP Mix Engine. Both break new ground by combining intelligent IP Networking with integrated tools and control layer to provide capabilities never before seen in the TV audio world. TV Technology saw fit to give both the IP-64 and the Gibraltar IP Mix Engine their coveted BEST OF SHOW awards!

Wheatstone’s new IP-64 large-format digital mixing console with IP networking is an excellent example of what this leading manufacturer of broadcast studio equipment is known for: a solid, intuitive console that doesn’t require a week of console school to learn how to operate.

The new Gibraltar IP Mix Engine provides Wheatstone’s line of audio consoles with direct connectivity into WheatNet-IP, an AES67 compatible IP audio network with all the necessary broadcast audio tools and controls integrated into one robust, distributed network.

 

 

LV LastMin 420Wheatstone At NAB: Booth C755

Arrived on Friday - some VERY special boxes containing something we've been working on right up to the last minute.
Make sure you visit Wheatstone/Audioarts in Booth C755. We're in Las Vegas. We will be ready and mighty happy to see you walking into the booth!
A few more images from our first day on the show floor:

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.wheatstone-tv.com/#sigProGalleria5b7091bd62

Want to see more? The full photo galleries are here, updated as the show goes on: NAB 2015 Photos

AES67 ‘Another Arrow in the Quiver’

Phil Better Shot

By Steve Harvey/TV Technology

Wheatstone’s Phil Owens discusses the advantages of audio-over-IP

LOS ANGELES—As computer scientist Andrew Tanenbaum famously observed in the mid-1990s, “The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from.” Fast forward two decades and the audio industry is poised to implement a new standard, AES67, which is intended to allow the exchange of data between disparate IP audio networks.
The AES established a working group in 2010, designated X-192, after recognizing that various incompatible audio networking schemes were already in existence. The eventual standard, AES67-2013 (published in September 2013), enables interoperable high-performance streaming audio-over-IP, or AoIP.

“Our take on AES67 is that we welcome it; we have made it so that our system is compatible with it,” said Phil Owens, head of Eastern U.S. Sales for Wheatstone in New Bern, N.C. But, he added, “We’re thinking of it as ‘another arrow in the quiver.’”

As Owens noted, there are already numerous ways to get in and out of WheatNet-IP, Wheatstone’s Gigabit Ethernet network, and AES67 can now be added to that list. “A person can put together a Wheatstone network that includes I/O from playout devices equipped with our software drivers as well as analog, AES, MADI, HD-SDI and—now— AES67. It’s equivalent to the blue M&M that everyone is talking about, because it’s new. But if you step back, it’s just another way to get in and out of our system.”

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WheatNet-IP, as a layer 2 protocol, takes full advantage of the economy of scale and the resources of the massive IT industry, which means that cost and reliability need not be a barrier to adoption. “Our audio will travel through an off-the-shelf switch that you can buy at Staples,” Owens stressed.

Plus, he noted, IT equipment manufacturers have long since developed mechanisms ensuring mission-critical reliability. “Redundancy is built into your network topology in the way that you connect your switches and the network protocols that you implement. So we’re not only taking advantage of the cost effectiveness of standard space switches, but we’re taking advantage of the IT capability that’s been built up over the years to handle large networks.”

Further, while older audio technologies required special optical network cards to access fiber when distances exceeded the capabilities of Ethernet, now, “Even a smaller Cisco switch has SFPs [small form-factor pluggable] for fiber transceivers. Laying down a switch on each end with fiber between them is child’s play,” said Owens.

 

CAPACITY ADVANTAGE

AoIP has a significant advantage in capacity over another audio transport standard, AES10 or MADI, which has enjoyed something of a resurgence since its original publication in 1991. “We did a test recently to see how many audio channels we could cram down a Gigabit pipe using our system,” Owens reported. “The number turned out to be 428. You’re moving from 64 channels of MADI to over 400 channels using Gigabit IP audio. That’s quite an increase in possible functionality.”

WheatNet-IP I/O devices are known as BLADEs, continued Owens, and enable various combinations of the supported connections to be introduced to the network. But Wheatstone’s network offers much more than just audio transport.

“In addition to getting I/O capability out of a BLADE you get other functions, like background mixing, audio processing, silent sensing and signal processing, the ability to do automated switching based on the status of a certain cross-point or based on silence detection,” he elaborated. “It gives you a Swiss Army knife of tools that you can use. You not only get a distributed audio network where you can deploy these BLADEs wherever audio is needed, but you get a whole toolkit of functions that are very handy in the audio environment.”

That list of functions is very appealing to engineers, whether in television or radio, according to Owens. “We probably have 50 TV stations that are running BLADEs,” he said. “The reason is that they like that list, and the ability to plop a BLADE down in their newsroom and be able to send audio out to it and get audio from it.

“There are two major TV groups in the country that between them probably own more stations than anyone else that have standardized on IP and our BLADE system. They’ve done it for the reasons that I mentioned— they like that distributed control and audio gathering in a system where you can also put a stack of BLADEs in your tech center and have the equivalent of a large mainframe router.”


THE ‘NETWORK EFFECT’

Perhaps the most important benefit of AES67 will be the “network effect,” otherwise known as Metcalfe’s law. The term, initially applied to the telecommunications industry, recognizes that the value of a network is greater than the sum of its parts once it reaches a critical mass of users.

“There will be peripherals that could add functionality to our system,” Owens acknowledged. “For that reason we feel good about it and that’s why we incorporated it into our latest BLADE release, version 3, which we introduced at the end of last year.”

Yet, as AES67 currently stands, those third-party peripherals can be integrated only so far, since the standard lacks a control protocol, such as that incorporated into WheatNet-IP. “[AES67] is not going to come into its own until the control part gets added,” said Owens. To that end, an AES working group, X-210, was formed in late 2012 to develop a standardized protocol based on Open Control Architecture, the open standard communications protocol.

Ultimately, AES67 offers an insurance policy, said Owens, but it’s no substitute for a comprehensive system such as WheatNet-IP. “People will feel better about implementing a system that they know conforms to standards,” he said. “But it will never be the be-all and end-all of audio connections for the main audio gear, because that’s what we’ve all worked so hard on when we created our individual systems. Wheatstone has a top to bottom integrated system that includes consoles, routers, and peripherals that interoperate seamlessly over IP, but we can also envision a day when we will use a truly boundaryless network of things. AES67 is a move in that direction.”

Reproduced with permission from TV Technology

Loudness Control: 3 Things to Watch

DimensionThreeLoudnessHere are three critical things to watch on the mixing desk and what you need to know about them for effective loudness control.

1. VU indicator. The VU meter (now in digital bar graph form) has been around for 80 years for a reason. It’s predictable, with predictable integration times and predictable release times so you can predictably read volume units. Remember it is an averaging meter and the peaks are far higher than indicated. For this reason you can expect to have about 20dB of audio headroom above 0dBVU to encompass them.

2. Peak level indicator to read the transient peaks of the signal. This indicator tells you if peak levels are in danger of overloading the dynamic headroom limitations of the console. The clipping point is usually at 0dBFS. “Clipping equals distortion, so don’t go there unless you absolutely have to. Stay within a reasonable gain structure that is not going to cause distortion,” says Steve Dove, Wheatstone Minister of Algorithms. Peak signal levels run usually at or above -20dBFS, with transient peaks kicking up to about -6dBFS occasionally.

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3. Loudness indicator for compliance with the ITU BS.1770-3 and similar television loudness standards. This indicator came about initially in response to the need to assess and regulate the loudness of adverts compared to regular programming. The Loudness Unit Full Scale (LUFS) or Loudness K-weighted Full Scale (LKFS) measurement shows the averaged loudness level of audio over time, usually much longer than that of a VU meter. “Ideally, you should measure at a very long integration time (30 seconds), because that would be most accurate. But if you need to know fairly quickly if you’re going to be over the top or too far under, then you might want to go for a shorter integration time of, say, 3 or 10 seconds,” says Dove. The average loudness target level is -24 LKFS or -23 LUFS, depending on your location. By the way, you can’t miss this on a Wheatstone audio console – the LKFS/LUFS numbers are two inches high on the display screen. One LU (loudness unit) is equivalent to 1dB, so there's a direct correlation between how far the meter says you're over/under and how far you move a fader to compensate.

Beyond 4K at CES. The Internet of Things.

CES LasVegasWhat at CES 2015 could possibly interest a couple of audio network nerds?

Well, yes, gadgets of course. But there was also this: the Internet of Things (IoT). One analyst counted 900 exhibitors with IoT products there. Thermostats, coffee makers, watches, jewelry, dog collars, ovens, smart sports apparel … baby bottles. All connected to the Internet of Things.

It’s a great concept, this idea of connecting appliances (not to mention, that new 4K TV) to the internet and controlling them through your smartphone or laptop.

 

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The Scoop on Codecs for IP Audio

CodecIllustrationUsing the Internet for audio distribution makes sense, but the problem is a little like the holiday rush at the Post Office.

There are simply too many packets of data for the pipeline.

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Live and Vocal Part One: First, Get It Sounding Right

by Steve Dove
Wheatstone Minister of Algorithms

Steve DoveThere's a big difference between what it takes to get live voice straight to air, and what the sound engineer needs to do for audio that will be post-produced. In the latter case, it’s always a good idea to just concentrate on getting it all down cleanly with good consistent levels and minimal processing. The boys in post-production will definitely not thank you if they have to try and unwind heavy EQ you wound in, or deal with irreversible deep compression.

First, go into the studio and hear what they actually sound like, both their normal conversational voices and their "on" persona. This is your target, not some arbitrary notion of what they ought to sound like.

Microphone techniques in TV are, charitably, non-optimal and driven by the visuals. Now, tie-clip mics actually sound a lot better than we have a right to expect but they are (usually) omnidirectional, poorly located on the chest, tend to hear a lot we rather they didn't, and what they do hear is colored. Over the years the mic manufacturers have attempted to mitigate their shortcomings, but there's still work you can do with tools to hand. A modern digital TV audio console such as a Wheatstone console has all the necessary audio tools on board, equal to or superior to those found in the best recording plug-ins and the like. They're there for good reason, so let’s get started.

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Live and Vocal Part Two: Now, Get It Sounding Great

by Steve Dove
Wheatstone Minister of Algorithms

SteveDove Alt 200

The most basic, and arguably the most powerful, tool for getting vocals to sound good is equalization. It has two primary uses, to correct for errors or for artistic effect. Compression and limiting also can be useful for adjusting vocals, as I cover in some detail below.

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It’s a MAD, MAD, MADI World

MADI MADI MADI WORLD 350Among its many uses, MADI can act as a common transport mechanism between two systems that use different native formats. We have a MADI interface that seamlessly integrates the WheatNet-IP audio network into an existing Wheatstone TDM router system so you can have the best of all worlds!

Who can tell us what MADI stands for? Anyone?

We hear crickets...

But, don’t lose track of how useful MADI can be to broadcasters. The list is fairly long, and getting longer. After all, there are very few alternatives for sending up to 64 channels of digital audio (48kHz sample) over one 75-ohm coaxial cable. Not only does this digital audio routing standard by AES make it possible to send a lot of channels through hundreds of feet of cable, it delivers lossless audio through all those channels. That lends itself to some practical applications.

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Quick Stop at WXXI

Web WXXI_TV_SUB_PRODUCTION_ROOM_2560-v2From time to time we check in with our customers to see how things are going. This month, we found the folks at WXXI AM/FM/TV in good spirits and busier than ever.

Kent Hatfield in charge of audio operations for WXXI television and radio showed us around the facility, which has clearly seen a lot of changes since the Rochester, New York, pubcaster set up shop with ten Wheatstone D-9 and G series consoles networked into a Wheatstone TDM system 12 years ago.

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Dimension 3 Wins News Technology Award

DimensionThreeOperatorView 420

NEWS TECH_AWARD_LOGOWheatstone Corporation has been named a winner of NewBay Media's "News Technology Award" for our Dimension Three television audio console. The ten winners of this year's award were announced on October 9, 2014 at the News Technology Summit in Baltimore, Maryland, presented by TV Technology and Broadcasting and Cable magazines.

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Finally, Audio Syncs In

GerritWell, look at that. Just when you thought audio and video couldn’t be more out of sync, you meet someone like Gerrit Bulten of Burst Video, The Netherlands.

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What the #@& is Cable Certification?

Fluke And CableWe often use the term “certification testing” when referring to cable used in audio networks. But if a person didn’t know better, they’d think we were talking about guys in white lab coats running around with clipboards.

Hardly.

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SBE’s Snelson on TV in an IT World

JoeSnelsonCropWe called up Joe Snelson to congratulate him on his recent re-election as the president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and to talk about 4K, file-based IP video, and the state of broadcasting in general. In addition to his role as president of SBE, Joe is the Vice President of Engineering for Meredith. 

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POWERHOUSE! Gibraltar Network Rocks!

GibraltarNetworkCageFront 420Plug into the most prolific studio routing and audio infrastructure out there. More ultra-professional installations are done in broadcast radio and television using Wheatstone’s Gibraltar Network than any other. And, for good reason. It’s absolutely rock-solid with minimum fuss. Choose from Gibraltar Network’s family of television audio and radio control surfaces and mix and match I/O cards for a custom system that includes all routing in one cage or several remote satellite cages connected via CAT6 or fiber-optic links.

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COMPACT I/O DYNAMO! SR-8...

SR8-FRONT-420The SR-8 is the answer to your Gibraltar Network access needs in places where a Gibraltar I/O frame won't fit or isn't needed. Providing local I/O on XLR connectors in a single rack space configuration, the SR-8 is ideal for studio, booth, or stage.

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