Field Report: Tieline Bridge-IT

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When better-than-phone quality is needed, or a new STL is to be installed, IP is discussed more and more. In the case of the Flames Sports Network we chose the IP route for college football and basketball broadcasts, and we're relying on the Tieline Bridge-IT to get us there and back.

Tieline Bridge-IT

Bridge-IT fits into one half of one rack space. It has an LCD display and a complement of buttons and keys, making it fully configurable from the front panel. The LCD screen displays the navigation menu tree and PPM metering of input and output levels. The back panel houses XLR jacks for dual-channel analog and stereo AES3 in/out. A 1/4" jack allows for local headphone monitoring. A Phoenix plug facilitates closure contacts. Programming data is connected through USB and RS-232 jacks. A standard LAN connection is available with connection and traffic indicator LEDs. The 1A rated power supply is a typical wall-wart providing 12Vdc.

Oooey GUI

Local control and programming is done using the front LCD display, which features an easy-to-navigate menu tree. The front panel is useful in that sometimes Web browser GUI control isn't readily available. In our experience, the GUI is used mostly for remote troubleshooting and monitoring. Most, if not all our connection procedures are achieved using the front LCD screen. Bridge-IT is also controlled via an Internet GUI. Most of the configuration features are accessible using the GUI, including primary connection and monitoring settings. The codec is controlled via USB connection as well.

While the front LCD panel on the Bridge-IT is a straightforward control feature, the Web-based GUI is a friendly navigational and control interface. Assuming the user's computer has network access to the codec, and Java is enabled, simply entering the Bridge-IT IP address will launch the GUI. The codec can be set for DHCP or static IP address configuration. Once inside, several on-screen panels display input and output audio levels, connection speed dial and contact lists, connection status and many other features.

Audio hook up and control

Audio input levels (analog or AES3) are adjusted via the front panel or GUI with the key feature being the 18dBu of available headroom. Simply put, input levels peak at +22dBu, making clipping difficult. The analog inputs can be adjusted to line level or microphone level to accommodate different inputs. Bridge-IT can also be set to accept unbalanced connections. 15V phantom power is also available. The AES3 inputs can accept 32kHz, 44.1kHz and 48kHz sampling rates. Additionally, the codec features Intelligent Gain Control (IGC), which controls audio peaks and transient levels. The linear response of the IGC can work automatically or be fixed. The IGC works transparently, ensuring proper level control throughout a dynamic broadcast.

Performance at a glance
◊ XLR digital and analog I/O
◊ Control via front panel or GUI
◊ QoS Performance Engine manages network errors
◊ 29 broadcast audio algorithms
◊ RS-232 data control and relay closures

The unit ships with 29 broadcast-quality algorithms, the selection of which is based upon available bandwidth and IP connection quality, and the material being broadcast. MP2, G.711 and G.722, and PCM can be configured for stereo or mono broadcasts with bitrates ranging from 16kb/s to 1.54Mb/s. AAC and Enhanced Apt-x algorithms are additional licenses available. Bridge-IT features "Music" and "Music Plus" which are proprietary Tieline algorithms that allow for minimal bandwidth usage while providing high quality audio. Depending on program material, very low bandwidth connections can facilitate surprisingly pristine audio with little or no artifacting.

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