Great ideas in studio design
If you have worked on a large radio station facility construction project you know many of the problems are solved empirically after the fact either because they are unknown during the planning phase or because some parameters or circumstances change between the time the planning is done and the time that the facility is finished. We found that reception of our EAS sources was more problematic than imagined during the planning phase of the project. Perhaps this is my favorite type of challenge during a large project such as this: studying the problem at hand; looking at the resources that are available; and then crafting a solution. I remembered the solution I had come up with 15 years earlier to pick up Hot 97, and I decided it would be a lot easier to receive the sources where they were strong and clean, as opposed to fighting weaknesses in Manhattan. However, 8kHz phone lines for transport were not in the cards.
The Empire State Building is still the tallest structure in Manhattan, and as you can imagine, picking up VHF signals on the 83rd floor there is quite easy. WQXR and NWS were two sources we needed. WQXR transmits from Empire, so it was a slam-dunk. One of our local NWS transmitters came in fine there, too.
The top of our building in Manhattan is at about 500', not really surrounded by other buildings, and a couple of our other sources, namely WFME and WINS, were easy to receive there.
Our disaster recovery site, located in New Jersey west of Manhattan, was a great location from which to pick up WABC, along with NJN on channel 51.
One of the modern aspects of our new build in Manhattan was high-bandwidth, highly accessible network access at all the sites (including the roof of our building). For this reason I decided to use high-quality streaming audio to bring all the various EAS sources to our master control. The equipment I chose for the job was the Barix Instreamer (encoder) and Exstreamer (decoder), although there are other streaming appliances available as well.
The Instreamer is a small network appliance (3" × 4" × 1.5") that has two IHF audio inputs, an RS-232 port (DB9) and an Ethernet port (RJ-45). The unit must be configured by the user; but it's easy to do. Connect to it via serial, or use a crossover cable directly to a computer. Open a browser to access the configuration menus. Tell the Instreamer its network address, subnet mask and gateway. Then set the quality level of the MP3 stream to be generated; and finally tell it the address of the target decoder. Plug in the network connection.
On the opposite end, the setup is similar. Connect to the Exstreamer, provide its network address, subnet and gateway. Connect the network. Pull audio out of the IHF connectors. Within a short time you will hear the audio coming from the far end. Reconnection is automatic, in the event the connection between the two units is lost for whatever reason.
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