WDDH: The Big Dog Gets a Facelift

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The Livewire network uses RJ-45 connectors for just about every connection - analog audio included. Standard off-the-shelf shielded CAT-6 cables are used for these connections, and the Radio Systems StudioHub+ system is typically used for termination of the cables to the various sources and destinations. Coming from a punch block world, this is a paradigm shift for me, but it works quite well and is extremely fast to implement. It's not quite as easy to create an orderly looking installation as it is with the typical cut and punch methodology, but by using the correct CAT-6 cable lengths and creative wire management techniques, it can be achieved quite nicely.

Everything in its place. Notice the headphone hook on the right.

Everything in its place. Notice the headphone hook on the right.

The control room has a PowerStation Aux chassis to handle the extra I/O and machine logic required for satellite programming. The rack room is equipped with an Axia analog node and a GPIO node to provide a contact closure interface to the Livewire system for satellite programming.

Much of the recording performed in the Laurel Media production studio is done with outside guests. Members of the general public aren't accustomed to using boom microphones; experience had shown that they typically are too timid to speak directly into the microphone, and the look of a large microphone in a shock mount can appear threatening. Laurel Media opted to install three Sennheiser wireless units equipped with lavaliere microphones in this room to create a comfortable recording experience for visitors. Because the Axia network allows these sources to be used anywhere on the network, the wireless microphones would also see double duty in the control room for occasional on-air use.

Putting it all together

Setup of the digital audio system went smoothly for the most part. To get started, the entire Axia Livewire network was set up on the workbench. Programming of the network is made quite simple with the Web-based GUI built into the PowerStation units and analog/digital/GPIO nodes. All nodes were programmed with network addresses and channel numbers and names. During this process, a few questions arose and the Axia staff was quick to return our calls and provided excellent support. Both AES and analog sources were fed into the system for a two-week burn-in period after which installation commenced.

The owner's goal of the upgrade was to streamline the look of both the control room and production studio, eliminating as much equipment as possible. The Axia system makes this a breeze as it allowed us to eliminate all external microphone processors, distribution amplifiers and dynamics processors from the system. The integrated dynamics processing capabilities of the Axia system allow each operator to have his/her own customized settings for microphone processing. There is plenty of I/O on the PowerStation chassis, so external distribution boxes are not necessary. The result is a clean looking rack without a lot of visible adjustments.

The AudioVAULT automation system was upgraded from an AV100 system in 2008 to allow for greater redundancy and capacity. Integration into the new digital network was made via the AES I/O channels of the Digigram audio cards without any difficulty.

Prior to the upgrades, we had considered installing wiring trays in the building to allow for a neater installation. However, after careful consideration, it was decided that installing a tray for two or three CAT-6 cables would probably be a waste of time.

Electrical work was performed by TSI of Ridgway, PA, and equipment installation and configuration was performed by JPP Communications of State College, PA.

The furniture was designed and built by Skraba Construction, a local custom woodworker/builder in Ridgway. Skraba was on-site during changeover days to assemble, install and cut custom cutouts in the countertops for the control surfaces. In addition, the station logo was cut into the kick panel in each studio.

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