WheatNews Dec 2020

WHEAT:NEWS DECEMBER 2020  Volume 11, Number 12


X5 to Include New Nielsen Audio Software Encoder

Wheatstone has been working behind the scenes with Nielsen developers! In advance of the Nielsen Audio Software Encoding release for FM stations planned for early 2021, Wheatstone has gone through the necessary testing to receive the Nielsen certification. The Audio Software Encoder will be integrated in our Aura X5 audio processor, which will be available to FM stations after the successful completion of the field evaluation conducted by Nielsen in 2021.

Studio Project. Why Now?


Click for a gallery of images

Can someone please explain why anyone would take on a big studio project in the middle of a pandemic?

Crawford Broadcasting DOE Cris Alexander certainly can. Cris and his engineering team just completed a studio renovation and conversion to WheatNet-IP in Chicago and are now in the middle of the same for Crawford stations in Denver, with Birmingham and Detroit to follow. 

In his December newsletter The Local Oscillator, he explained that with the exception of Chicago, these were scheduled replacements, although they weren’t scheduled until next year. “We were running into parts availability issues for the old consoles, and even though Wheatstone has been great in finding workarounds, the clock was ticking… really loud,” he wrote. 

Another big reason: the remote thing. “Last spring (and maybe again soon), we had to run several of our markets remotely, with no one in the studios at all. This was a piece of cake at KBRT in the Los Angeles market, where we fully converted to WheatNet-IP in 2019… We didn’t miss a beat, even with live programming,” he wrote. 

Crawford is now equipped to that level, and beyond, in Chicago and soon will be in Denver, Birmingham and Detroit. 

A third and crucial reason for moving these projects forward is Cris’ belief that the future is in IP infrastructure. “Analog and AES are things of the past. I have spent untold hours in planning the architecture of these new systems, and it amazes me how few signals there are in those domains. There are still a few analog signals, mostly having to do with EAS and PPM (monitor sources) and some satellite feeds. We still use AES to get into and out of some of our codecs and EAS encoders, but that’s about it. Most of our sources are WheatNet native, including Nexgen, and that certainly simplifies things – and it really cuts down on the wiring,” he wrote.

Looking ahead, he can see employing AoIP in the transmitter site audio transports (outbound and return). “Codecs have long been a bottleneck (and pain in the neck) in those applications. Some are better than others. How great would it be to be able to route directly to a processor input without going through a codec? And how great would it be to be able to route a mod monitor or satellite receiver output from the transmitter site to any destination back at the studio? 

The reality is that we could make that leap even now in many locations, relegating codecs to backup links. For many of our AM stations, however, we’re constrained by the half-duplex 802.11 links between the microwave radios on top of towers to the transmitter building. I’m told, however, that our friends at Wheatstone have a solution for even that, and we plan to test-drive it early next year,” wrote Cris. 

His final thoughts on projects of this nature include his engineering staff. “As wonderful as the technology is, it’s still the engineers that make it work.” 

We couldn’t agree more. 

Cris Alexander puts out an excellent engineering newsletter. You can find the current issue and several back issues of The Local Oscillator here: https://crawfordmediagroup.net/crawford-engineering/).

Stocking Stuffers! 

You should ask Santa (or one of his elves, Jay, Darrin or Phil) about putting one of these new Audioarts accessories in your Christmas stocking. 

HS1 COUNTERTOP 3QTR VIEWS 082020Audioarts HS-1 Headphone Station. 1/4" output phone jack, power LED and rotary level control. Dual RJ45 parallel inputs and 9VDC power in; multiplies voltage and current to provide GREAT, LOUD sound to headphones of virtually any impedance. Free-standing or can be mounted under the counter. 

TS1 RH 3QTR FRONT LINKAudioarts TS-1 Talent Station. High-gain headphone amp. 1/4” and mini stereo output jacks, two panel switches with internal LEDs, a power light and a level control. An internal HI/LO gain switch lets you match a wide range of input types.

Lots more info here...

When Your Project Engineer is 19


You probably have a few consoles that are older than this guy.   

Sean McGee is 19 years old and he just completed a WheatNet-IP studio project for Raccoon Valley Radio headquartered in Perry, Iowa. 

He came up with most of the network topology, put together the materials list, and moved studio operations into a temporary garden shed (called, appropriately, Radio Shack). He then gutted the old studios, set in new IT infrastructure, and finished out a WideOrbit and WheatNet-IP networked main studio, newsroom, two prod rooms, a voicetrack studio and a general-purpose audio conference center for three stations.

This isn’t his first WheatNet-IP studio project. At age 14, Sean helped his dad, Raccoon Valley Radio GM John McGee, switch over to an IP-12 console. 

He definitely knows his way around radio and AoIP. 

Sean did the salvos, the crosspoint connections and the signal flow throughout the facility using AoIP routing and control logistics. He also created a wall of meters for signal monitoring all the way to the transmitter sites and is working on a virtual mixer for one smaller studio using ScreenBuilder tools and apps, something you’d expect from one of our experienced power users instead of a 19-year-old. 

Sean grew up around radio. While other kids his age were putting together Legos®, he was hanging out at his dad’s stations building gadgets, laying tracks or working a board. By high school, he was known as DJ Sean. 

Sean McGee bypassed college and plans to become a broadcast engineer. With this project, he’s easily passed the engineering test in our opinion. He can be reached at seanmcgee@raccoonvalleyradio.com

Click for photos and details


2020 Studios - The Video Photo Gallery

We can all agree that not much good came out of 2020, except perhaps a few darned nice broadcast studios. Here is a video gallery of just a few of the 2020 Wheatstone studios designed and built or upgraded during 2020. 

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, PR&E 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 its 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.

Check out the chart below, and/or click here to learn more on our Remote Solutions web page.

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. 

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-- Uncle Wheat, Editor

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