NPR Upgrades with Lawo

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Facility Showcase, April 2010

Tracking Room/phone booths

Like the Interview Room, NPR's Tracking Room also utilizes a Lawo Crystal core, but with a Lawo KSC.LCD14P2 LCD switch panel as the user interface instead of the touch screen. The KSC14 is a 19" 1RU panel equipped with 14 tri-color LCD buttons and dual rotary encoders. Here, a reporter or newscaster can sit down in front of a mic and record cuts into the production system. If he needs to track and answer questions from an interview, he can play back the interview from the production system and talk/track in time with the previously recorded material.

Dennis Byrnes, NPR engineering services manager, and Engineer Bob Butcher discus Lawo Crystal programming.

Dennis Byrnes, NPR engineering services manager, and Engineer Bob Butcher discus Lawo Crystal programming.

NPR originally had five "phoner" booths being overhauled to incorporate Lawo's virtual console technology. "Several of these rooms have ISDN hardware," Aiello notes. "They were built using technology that hasn't worked as simply as we had originally envisioned. The equipment has not been user-friendly and the reporters are not equipped to address such issues. By moving to the virtual console setup, these shortcomings will be resolved. Because of the efficiency of the virtual systems, we will have six booths in the new configuration."

Utilizing two Lawo Nova 17 core routers as the system engine, the phoner booths are each outfitted with Lawo's KSC14 switch panels as opposed to the touch screens. The Lawo KSC switch panel is used for the selection of microphone, master control feed, hybrid, and IFB to MCR or OPS. These booths are configured so a reporter can enter the room, dial the phone number of the guest, and bring them up on a telephone hybrid while directing the conversation into the production system via the Nova 17 router. All the MCR router sources are available, if needed.

"We chose the Lawo KSC14 panel because of its LCD display," Aiello says. "We now have dynamic identification of the buttons and we can have multiple levels appear on the panel. The buttons change color for each function and there are two rotary encoders that are used for headphone and monitor level control. There are also buttons identified as MCR and OPS -- the two administrative locations in this system -- that serve as intercom to the respective locations. Unlike the touch screens, this arrangement provides a tactile interface to the virtual console."

John Ydsti, correspondent/host, conducts an ISDN interview in the Interview Room.

John Ydsti, correspondent/host, conducts an ISDN interview in the Interview Room.

These systems are built on Lawo's Nova 17 digital routers for audio networking and are interconnected with MADI. Because of the routing capability within the Nova 17, these rooms are integrated into a common system and can easily include all the sources and destinations on the Master Control routing switcher.

The MCR and OPS both use Lawo's VisTool software to provide visual interfacing for the entire NPR system. Similarly, each station has VisTool oversight for the Interview, Tracking, all phoner booths, and the San Francisco booth via WAN-IP. This software enables the techs to have a picture of the virtual consoles on their display: all meters, knobs, etc. From these locations, technicians can make adjustments to connections and configure various room setups should users encounter difficulty. The technicians have the ability to route any source on the master control router to any designated station. The Lawo Nova 17 creates the mix minuses and mix, and sends the mix to the appropriate recorder or other destination.

"NPR's remote San Francisco booth is particularly noteworthy," Aiello explains. "The second system that we actually implemented was a field replacement for our production booth in the San Francisco office. I felt very confident with the Lawo systems -- enough so, that we utilized a Crystal core, integrated it in a small cabinet along with an ISDN codec, a phone hybrid, and a KSC panel, programmed everything and shipped it to San Francisco. Upon its arrival, the booth retrofit was completed -- including the connection to the NPR corporate IP network so that we can administer the system from Washington. As expected, it all worked flawlessly.

-- continued on page 3

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