NPR Upgrades with Lawo


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Facility Showcase, April 2010

Phase two: automated rollovers and stream monitoring

As part of a planned second-phase facility enhancement, NPR is also on track to deploy a Lawo network audio/data routing system built around the company's Nova 73 HD large format router with L-S-B Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) software. Scheduled to be fully operational by Sept. 30, this is part of the Master Control Room application for centralized audio and streaming. The system will provide full apology, DSP, routing, and metering from multiple sources in Washington and other NPR content sources.

NPR Interview Room host screen shot

NPR Interview Room host screen shot


Under its current mode of operation, NPR in Washington provides show rollovers to the various time zones across the country from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily to accommodate NPR's various programs. The new Lawo/VSM system will complete the automation of this programming operation. The blueprint calls for roughly 125 sources to be interconnected to this system, including the output of automation systems, live feeds for shows, backup feeds and a variety of additional feeds. Through the apology system in the VSM software, the automated system continuously monitors the primary feed routed to a specific output. If that feed ceases, there is a planned sequence of four backup levels that the system can choose from to maintain the feed's continuity to its defined destination.

"The purpose of this system will be to improve the level of continuous programming to member stations under total automation," Aiello says. "In addition to developing programming to member stations, we also develop several 24/7 automated streams for satellite delivery to Europe, Armed Forces Radio and TV, three channels for Sirius Satellite Radio, cable systems in Japan, and Radio Berlin, an FM broadcast frequency in Berlin, Germany programmed from Washington, DC. This new system will handle all of this with an initial capability of 48 automated streams."

Light at the end of the tunnel

Robert Jackson, NPR tracking room engineer supervisor, checks the operation of the room.

Robert Jackson, NPR tracking room engineer supervisor, checks the operation of the room.


Aiello comments on NPR's selection of Lawo audio and networking technology: "In August of 2009, we created a test project and invited several equipment manufacturers to present their solutions. Lawo was chosen because of the company's user interface design and its custom solution capabilities. We were very concerned about being able to operate in a manner that we deemed best for what we need to accomplish as opposed to trying to work within the constraints of a less-versatile or customizable environment. With Lawo's VisTool software, we can custom design the system and its user interface for simplicity and friendly ergonomic use. Lawo provided the best interface, flexible networking capabilities, the highest level of customization, and an extremely capable and mature product solution. Virtually all of the user traps associated with our previous equipment have been eliminated."


Dennis Byrnes and his Engineering Services Unit (ES), including Bob Butcher, Dennis Coll, plus the rest of ES team assembled the hardware, wired it and made it work. Shawn Fox provided guidance through the senior management level and production flow models.


Equipment List
While the mixing/routing system is the heart of the installation, additional equipment is part of the NPR installation.
Belden wire and cable
Black Box Network Services Servswitch ACU6001A
Cisco Systems ESW24
Dalet 5.1 audio production system
DB Engineering custom headphone control interface
Digigram 824, 924
Henry Engineering USB Match Plus
JBL Control 1+
Lawo Crystal, Nova 17, Nova 73
Neumann U87
Radio Design Labs STA-2
Sony MDR7506
Studio Technology studio cabinetry
Tascam PA-10
Telos Systems One
Tyco/Elo Touch Screen Monitors ET1515L


Maycock is the owner of Mountaincrest Communications, Downey, CA.




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