Audioarts Consoles

Flexible. Affordable. Built to last.

Audioarts Engineering

Need a small digital mixer for a big job? Or an IP console that will get you started in AoIP networking? Audioarts Engineering is the rock star of affordable mixers and consoles for production, news, podcating, LPFM or web radio – or any combination of these -- because we make them compact, straightforward, and robust. Audioarts consoles and mixers are Wheatstone’s most prolific brand, owing their popularity to their small build and durable construction (no cheap switches for us). Anyone who has listened to radio for any length of time has no doubt heard an Audioarts radio console in action. That's how pervasive and powerful this product line is.

Wheatstone At NAB: Booth C755

There are less than two weeks until NAB! Make sure you visit Wheatstone/Audioarts in Booth C755. We're working feverishly to finish up some ridiculously exciting new stuff that will, as usual, revolutionize the way you work.

And don't miss these two presentations:

The Curious Behavior of Consumer FM Receivers During Hyper-modulation

By Jeff Keith

Sun. April 12, 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM,  S227

How much modulation headroom do today's radio receivers actually have? The answer could help determine new modulation techniques and add one more decision point useful for broadcasters wanting to strike the ideal balance between competitive loudness and dynamic range. Jeff Keith presents test findings on more than 30 radio receivers, all standard models in use by consumers today. He tested each receiver's audio linearity as modulation percentage or deviation increased, keeping in mind that radio manufacturers are in a specs race and reference modulation to the world standard of 75kHz deviation in order to be able to publish signal-to-noise specs at the higher end (and hence, offer a more dynamic listening experience).Receiver manufacturers do not reference levels to, say, 200 percent modulation for the simple reason that doing so will compromise signal-to-noise by at least 6dB. Jeff shows plots of his findings indicating that with very few exceptions, today's radio receiver has very little headroom in the IF (and stereo demodulator chip) for additional modulation. One receiver he measured, in fact, showed decreased audio output modulation when modulation went above the 100 percent level. He presents these findings as well as others to explain the curious behavior of consumer radios during overmodulation.


Stranger in a (Very) Strange Land: Ethernet Switches in Your IP Audio Network, What You Need To Know

By Dave Breithaupt

Sun. April 12, 5:00 PM - 5:30 PM,  S227 

What's in an Ethernet switch? Audio, control, access -- just about everything if your radio operation runs on an audio over IP network. So, what should you know about this strange IP apparatus that holds so much importance as your stations' main audio router?Dave Breithaupt covers the essentials of Ethernet switches used in audio over IP networks, from what to look for in a switch capable of always-on, realtime multicast streaming to edge and core topologies that provide optimum network access. He talks about packet loads and switch fabrics for mitigating IP packet losses, gives examples of multicast tables and IGMP groups, and discusses managed versus unmanaged switches. He covers how standards such as AES67 affect your switch selection, and touches on new advances in switching technology by companies like Cisco that will affect audio networks going forward.In closing, he finally answers that recurring question of who should handle the station's switches, the IT guys or the audio guys.

Checking in with iHeartMedia Portland

iHeartRadio A_2560-MC
We dropped in on iHeartMedia in Portland recently to revisit a WheatNet-IP audio network that has been in operation since the seven-station cluster moved to Tigard, Oregon, in September 2012. Director of Engineering Chris Weiss showed us around the 17-studio, 25,000-square-foot facility and talked about life with audio over IP.

He recalled a recent remote at the Rose Quarter stadium for the Portland Trail Blazers (basketball sportscast) that involved all seven stations at the same time – an impossible feat before IP audio networking. “It was more a staffing issue; could we have enough promotion and programming staff to handle all this? But from an equipment standpoint, it was easy,” he said.

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At the center of the operation are the audio network’s core Cisco switches, which are bonded together on a backplane in the TOC, with gigabit/second connections to every other switch and element in the network. “Everything works better at a gig, especially NexGen (automation),” commented Weiss, who monitors network traffic on a regular basis. Normal NexGen traffic hovers around the 100 Mbps mark, whereas on the fiber connection to the hub point for all the cluster’s transmitter sites, Weiss routinely sees steady traffic at about 150 Mbps. “150 megabits. That freaked me out at first because you never see that kind of bandwidth solid on a circuit. But that’s what it takes because it’s running all this AoIP back and forth, and we run a video feed for the Trail Blazers over that,” he said.

The operation includes 56 WheatNet-IP I/O BLADEs, 49 audio drivers, 23 Wheatstone M2 dual-channel mic processors to handle 46 microphones, and 13 control surfaces all connected through a WheatNet-IP audio network.

Look for details in the recent issue of Radio magazine, which features the iHeartMedia Portland facility as its cover story in the February issue.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.audioartsengineering.com/#sigProGalleria3d99162483

The Curious Behavior of Radios

CarRadio LargeLouder is better! Crank it up! Well, not so fast...

Ever wonder what your listeners' FM radios sound like when your station is knee deep in the loudness race and the modulation monitor is always pegged? Our audio processing development guru, Jeff Keith, wondered about that too.

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So, during one quiet week at the Wheat processing lab, he decided to find out. He selected 15 radio receivers that most represented the majority of radios out there in use, and got out his trusty modulation analyzers, signal generators and other assorted test gear. He ran audio sweeps of de-modulated and de-emphasized FM audio and plotted SMPTE IM distortion of the receiver’s audio output as modulation was raised, among other tests. His main goal was to discover distortion trends in radios during 110% or more modulation. Here are a few of his findings, the details of which will be presented during the upcoming NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC).

  • The more recent the radio model, the more intolerant of high modulation it is likely to be.
  • Newer AM/FM/HD radio IC chips detect high deviation (over-modulation) and often, in an attempt to fix the problem, create unpleasant audio effects.
  • Many consumer receivers have restrictive intermediate frequency (IF) bandwidths, which can mean perceptibly distorted audio even when tuned to a normally modulated station. The IF bandwidth of one radio measured was barely 100kHz wide at the 3dB point.
  • Half of the receivers tested added significant IM distortion at modulation levels as low as 120%.

Jeff Keith’s paper “The Curious Behavior of Consumer FM Receivers During Hyper-modulation” will be published in the 2015 NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC) Proceedings and presented during the NAB Engineering Conference, Sunday, April 12.

LPFM. Going Pro.

LPFM B_Pro_1400You can’t be a professional football player without throwing around a few Wilson footballs.

In fact, the footballs that have passed from one NFL great to another have come out of Wilson’s Ada, Ohio, factory, where they’re stitched inside out, steamed and laced to exact specifications, and inflated to 13 psi before being sent off to play the game.

If you’ve just joined the broadcast big leagues and have acquired your first LPFM construction permit, you can guess where we’re going with this. In almost all cases, it’s better to go with a professional broadcast console than to try to get a music store mixer to pass as one.

 

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A professional broadcast board will give you logic buttons on each fader so you can stop and start sources. It’ll provide speaker muting that mutes monitor speakers when your mic is on, eliminating the possibility of feedback. A broadcast board will have a straightforward way to output programming to air and streaming at the same time, and a means for controlling an ON AIR tally light to alert others that you are currently on the air with a live mic. It won’t have too many controls that provide opportunities for your guest operators to do harm to your program. Nor will it require you or your weekend talent to have to figure out what bus assignment goes where.

It will give you a simple interface to the task at hand: broadcasting. Broadcast consoles are made to easily handle music from a PC and to cue up mics and listener calls, which is why the broadcast console is a much more intuitive work surface for most LPFMs.

On the other hand, sound reinforcement boards are made for live sound applications requiring lots of hands-on sound shaping of source feeds. With this come the many knobs and buttons for equalizing, filtering and mixing handfuls of feeds – all of which is going to cost in you complexity.

LPFM and the Audio Arts

ARTxFM v2You know that good feeling you get when your significant other surprises you with tickets to a game or gets your Starbucks order right?

Well, here it is, in the form of a note from new LPFMer ARTxFM posted on our Facebook page:

We just LOVE our AudioArts Air 1 --- perfect starter board for our new LPFM - WXOX 97.1 FM Louisville!!!

Congratulations to Sharon Scott, Sean Selby, Tim Barnes and all the others at ARTxFM, on their new non-profit LPFM after three years of hard work and involvement in the Louisville, Kentucky, music community. We love your experimental music format, your shows and the fact that you’re out there in the community covering the music scene. We’re listening.

 

 

Processing Tip

erickson rackHere's a helpful tip from Wheatstone Processing Guy Mike Erickson on keeping track of presets:

"One thing I try to remember to do when I'm making presets for a new install, or adjusting presets on a processor that's already online, is to date the presets. This not only gives you a good track record as to when you created that perfect sound, but it also allows you to go back if the PD complains that the processing ‘sounded better last week’ ... you'll know what preset to go back to even if you didn't physically write it down! Saving presets with the dates allows you to do the processing version of ‘System Restore.’ Also, it's a good idea to back up your presets. ALWAYS! I recall a Memorial Day failure of a processor in Market #1 going back almost 7 years ago. The backup switched on via silence sensor and I was able to swap out the main with another of the same model we had on the shelf and load the custom presets. Within an hour, we were back sounding as good as you could get with that box! The PD was nervous while I was swapping hardware that we wouldn't sound the same because all the presets were lost on the hardware. If I hadn't backed up the presets, weeks of work would have been down the drain.”

This tip is brought to you by our new FM-55 audio processor, which is so easy to adjust from the front panel, you might want to save and date presets for the presets.

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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Oh, The Voices -- Part II: Adjusting for Taste

SteveDove Altby Steve Dove, Minister of Algorithms

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.

But first, this PSA: The worst judge of microphone processor settings is the one doing the talking. Most folk swoon over massive proximity effect bass and vertigo-inducing compression in their own headphones, to extents that would be ludicrous on-air. Someone other than the talent should do the equalization and dynamics adjustments, thank you very much.

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Oh, the Voices Part I: Tidying Up Talent Vocals

Steve DoveBy Steve Dove, Wheatstone Minister of Algorithms


The microphone processor has long been important but in recent years it has become vital. Mainly this is due to the recent trend of referencing audio to 0dBfs (the maximum signal level in a digital system) rather than the cozy old nominal 0dB VU. 

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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.

You need a codec to bit-reduce the audio stream. So what’s it going to be? AptX, Opus, G.722 or AAC, and if so, which version of AAC? We asked Charlie Gawley from Tieline, “The Codec Company” and a Wheatstone technology partner, to fill us in on Opus, the EBU ACIP standard, and how the AES67 factors into the use of codecs for IP audio delivery.

WS: Before we get started, I have to ask you about the new Opus audio codec that everyone’s talking about. What is your experience with this codec?

CG: This algorithm is extremely robust thanks to development by a number of programmers from Xiph.org, Skype and other partners of Xiph. At the low end, it will do voice at the equivalent of G.722 but at one-fifth the audio bit rate. That’s a huge benefit for anyone wanting to send audio over a wireless network, which, as you know, has severe bandwidth limitations. You can run Opus at 14.4 kbps and have near the same audio quality as G.722 at 64 kbps.

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Wheatstone Holiday Video Greeting

HolidayVideoThumb

It's that time of year again, and with the winter chill comes the warmth of our now-traditional Wheatstone video greeting card. (I must say that Mike Harris and the surface-mount department have absolutely stolen the show this year!) From our Wheatstone family to yours, we'd like to wish you peace and joy this holiday season, and a very happy and prosperous 2015.

Mike Erickson is THAT Processing Guy

Mike Erickson_2012a_800

AirAuraX3 420NAB FM55 670Writing in the October 15 issue of Radio World, Wheatstone's Mike Erickson describes what it's like to be "that guy," the one who arrives in town with an audio processor under his arm and delivers on the promises.Here's a reprint, courtesy of Radio World.

 icon Mike Erickson is That Processing Guy (824.47 kB 2014-11-12 11:58:38)

Radio That Can ... And Did

Prayz5 420Meet Prayz Network, the little Christian network that could. Prayz Network started in 2011 with WTPN-FM in Westby, Wisconsin. Soon, it added a translator to get into nearby La Crosse, and within a year, added WEQS-FM in Sparta, Wisconsin.

This month, the little network that began on little more than a wing and prayer added its fourth, network affiliate WWJC-FM licensed to Augusta, Wisconsin, and will be covering the I-94/I-90 corridor from Eau Claire to La Crosse.

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Audioarts Is THE BEST LPFM Solution!

Air-1 Radio Mixer 3Quarter from Audioarts 420

The LPFM studio you build today will be better and more affordable than the one you might have sketched out on a yellow legal pad back in the early '00s.

For one thing, professional broadcast consoles are more compact and better equipped. Our Air-1 fits anywhere your laptop does, for example, and has USB to boot so you can plug it into your laptop for scheduling, storing and creating content. It's got everything most LPFM studios need: two mic inputs and six stereo inputs plus all the necessary metering, busses and preamps. If you need a little more, like dual A/B source switching and call-in phone support, you can always step up to our compact, yet powerful Air-4 console for not much more.

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A Look Back: Audioarts and the Broadcast Niche

WheatIdeaFactoryVideoSplash RADIO 4 28

Andy and Jay discuss the "niche" the broadcast industry represented for Audioarts in its early days.

Watch This Video

We asked some of our folks to go on camera and simply talk to each other. We think you'll like what they had to say... unrehearsed and unscripted.

To see more videos from this series, feel free to visit here:

Wheatstone Inside The Idea Factory Videos

Audio Performance Testing on the Cheap

AudioPerformanceOnTheCheap 420by Jeff Keith

There’s nothing like a little audio performance testing to cap off a hectic week at the station, especially if you don’t have to haul out the heavy (read “expensive”) equipment to do it.

There are two main things I like to test: the flatness of the frequency response and the distortion added by equipment in the air chain. For this, you’ll need clean test signals, and a way to measure those signals after they’ve passed through the air chain.

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When Radio Is Your Hobby

defelice-photo 1064After talking with radio hobbyist Bill DeFelice, we’re convinced that deep down inside all of us is a radio station wanting to get out. Maybe that’s why we jack up our stereo systems, have tuning forks for ears, and, for some of us anyway, make broadcast equipment.

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Video: Setting Up the IP-12

Just how easy is it to set up a typical Wheatstone AoIP console? Wonder no more. In this series of videos, Jay Tyler takes you through the whole process of unboxing and setting up an IP-12 in surprisingly little time!

Here's part one: Unboxing.

SEE ADDITIONAL VIDEO SEGMENTS...


Part 2: Cabling Up and Powering Up


Part 3: Configuring and Getting Audio


Part 4: Interfacing Details

 

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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