A remote remodel


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No wires

Perhaps you've decided that the wireless route is the one you would prefer. You could still choose from several of the codecs discussed above.

The Tieline I-mix 3, when equipped with the IP software module, can operate over a Wi-fi connection with the addition of a wireless media adapter connected directly to its LAN port.

Comrex uses the Access in a slightly different manner. The Access plugs into a laptop (or other PC) via an Ethernet crossover cable. Then, using Windows ICS, the Access shares the wireless Internet connection that the laptop makes — irrespective of the network type.

Now wait just a minute here. I'm kind of writing ISDN off, but even though remote pickup (RPU) technology is far older than ISDN I'm bringing it up anyway. With appropriate receive sites built in advance and an effective means by which the RPU audio can get back to the station's HQ RPU is really hard to beat — at the very least — in terms of its timeliness.

TFT offers the 8888 RPU transmitter and the 8889 RPU receiver. The system includes frequency-agility, selectable deviation on the transmitter (with 20W RF out) and selectable bandwidth on the receiver. The receiver can be controlled remotely and DTMF tones change the operating channel and IF bandwidth. The transmitter includes a built-in mixer with three mic- or line-level inputs; a send/return loop for connection to an external audio processor; a built-in peak limiter and a headphone output for monitoring the locally mixed audio.

Not to be outdone, Marti recently introduced a new RPU transmitter: the SRPT-30. This unit comes with two factory selectable frequencies, four front-panel mic level inputs (line level input available on D-connector on the back of the unit) going into its built-in mixer, and as much as 30W RF out. The SR-30 is the current model RPU receiver.

Conquering the delay issue

Whether you use one of the IP codecs or even ISDN, you will have to deal with the delay in the “round trip” time that the remote talent will experience. Unless you want the talent throwing the headphones down on the table (or maybe even at you) you'll have to send mix minus audio back to the remote site in some way. If you are transmitting HD Radio, then you have an additional eight-second delay to deal with. If you're doing a live show then you will be operating with a profanity delay in-line as well. The bottom line is that this is an issue that can't be ignored.

If you choose to go the wired route you will take advantage of the duplex nature of all POTS, TCP/IP (and ISDN) codecs. Develop a mix-minus at the station and feed it back to the remote site. If you choose the wireless Internet option, you can solve the problem in the same manner due to the duplex nature of the connection. If you want to go strictly wireless with RPU, then your problem is a bit more cumbersome.

First is the use of a phone coupler. Because the remote site isn't tethered, you'll likely use a cell phone to call this coupler, steal the receive audio from it somehow and mix that into the talent headphones. Sounds easy, right? There are a few challenges. Usually the connections aren't that reliable. You need to be within range of a cell, then you need to get a circuit, then it needs to remain connected. As anyone who has used a cell phone can tell you, none of those things are guaranteed. Oh yes, then there is the cost of the call itself.

Secondly, you can make use of an RPU channel to transmit the IFB audio outbound to the remote site. This is convenient if you have the channel and the equipment and the site — all of which can be problematic. If the IFB transmitter is at the same location as the RPU receiver, then use the same RPU antenna with a duplexer to receive and transmit.

Thirdly, use some spectrum in the upper part of the FM baseband to transmit audio to the remote site. This obviously requires spare capacity on the studio-transmitter link to carry the IFB audio. This also requires the available subcarrier spectrum. A station that already has one or two SCAs could have some challenges. All this also assumes that there is an FM signal in the station group.

There are at least two manufacturers offering SCA generators; one is Broadcast Electronics. BE offers the FC-30, a 1RU device that lives at the transmitter site or back at the studio if carried on a 950MHz composite STL and operates between 33kHz and 95kHz. A 150 microsecond pre-emphasis setting is standard, but it can be set internally for 75 microseconds, which allows use of a legacy FM audio processor to drive its audio input.

Mounting equipment in rack cases simplifies setup and protects the equipment.

Modulation Sciences offers the SCA-186, a 2RU device that includes the subcarrier generator, a built-in audio processor, a deviation meter and a transmitter tuning aid.

Now if someone just made an SSB SCA generator. This would eliminate the need to turn the SCA carrier off after the remote is done.

The last mile

Any one of these three methods requires some type of receiver at the remote setup location, whether it is a table top or the inside of a remote truck. How do you get the IFB audio to a talent roaming with a wireless mic? There are several wireless mic manufacturers that make IFB systems as well.

Lectrosonics offers the T4, a frequency-agile (operating on one of 256 UHF channels, in 100kHz steps) that transmits a 250mW signal. The receiver is the R1a and its receive frequency range complements the T4. It comes in the belt-pack form with a housing of machined aluminum, and sports as much as eight hours of battery life with an alkaline cell.

Shure offers several systems known as personal monitors that can be used for IFB service. The PSM 700 system is made up of the P7T transmitter and the P7R beltpack receiver. The transmitter occupies a half-width rack unit, even with its built-in power supply. The unit has an antenna connector, so the transmit antenna can be located away from the unit. The belt-pack receiver features LED indicators for power, low battery and RF reception. The system can operate in stereo mode.

Sennheiser also makes several systems that can be used as IFBs. The EW300IEMG2 operates on any one of 1,440 channels spread over five blocks in the UHF TV band. The transmitter can be rack mounted, includes audio input metering and radiates 30mW. The beltpack receiver uses an autoscan function to find the transmitter. The system can operate in stereo mode.

One little hint I will give is this: when building a remote truck, put the wireless mic receive antenna and the IFB transmit antenna on top of the mast. Make sure the coil running up the mast has the appropriate number of coaxial cables installed ahead of time.

Executing remote broadcasts has always been in the province of the engineering department. When building a new system, find the correct balance between functionality and ease of use. Having a nicely engineered and constructed remote system is a great way to make a good impression on air staff, programmers and clients — and goes a long way in getting them all to recognize you as the hero you know you are.


Resource Guide

Manufacturers of remote broadcast equipment


AEQ
800-728-0536
www.aeqbroadcast.com

Mayah Communications
+49 811 55 16 0
www.mayah.com

Allen Osborne Assoc.
805-495-8420
www.aoa-gps.com

MDO UK
+44 121 256 0200
www.audiotx.com

APT (Audio Processing Technology)
800-955-APTX
www.aptx.com

Medical Coaches
607-432-1333
www.medcoach.com

ATA Audio
973-659-0555
www.ataaudio.com

Mobilized Systems
513-942-1111

Audio-Technica
330-686-2600
www.audio-technica.com

Musicam
732-739-5600
www.musicamusa.com

Azden
516-328-7500
www.azdencorp.com

Neural Audio
425-814-3200
www.neuralaudio.com

Barix Technology
866-815-0866
www.barix.com

Nicral Ltd./Sonifex
+44 1933 650700
www.nicral.net

Bickford Broadcast
703-818-8666
www.bickfordbroadcast.com

Orban
510-351-3500
www.orban.com

Broadcast Products
800-433-8460
www.broadcastproductsinc.com

Phoenix E.N.G.
513-891-1444

Calumet Coach Co.
708-868-5070
www.CalumetBAF.com

Prodsys
973-659-0555
www.ataaudio.com

Comrex
800-237-1776
www.comrex.com

Sennheiser Electronic
860-434-9190
www.sennheiserusa.com

Creative Studio Solutions
303-425-5004
www.creativestudiosolutions.com

Shure
800-25-SHURE
www.shure.com

Custom Mobile Products
440-779-2740

Software Authority
877-504-9494
www.softwareauthority.com

Electro-Voice
800-392-3497
www.electrovoice.com

Sony Electronics
800-686-SONY
www.sony.com/proaudio

Energy-Onix
888-324-6649
www.energy-onix.com

Studio Technologies
847-676-9177
www.studio-tech.com

E-N-G Mobile Systems
800-662-4522
www.e-n-g.com

Telex Communications
800-392-3497
www.telex.com

Featherlite
800-800-1230
www.featherliteinc.com

Telos Systems
216-241-7225
www.telos-systems.com

Frontline Communications
727-573-0400
www.frontlinecomm.com

TFT
800-347-3383
www.tftinc.com

Harris
800-622-0022
www.broadcast.harris.com

Tieline Technology
888-211-6989
www.tieline.com

Hilomast
407-688 2806
www.hilomast-usa.com

Will-Burt
330-682-7015
www.willburt.com

Lectrosonics
800-821-1121
www.lectrosonics.com

Wolf Coach
508-791-1950
www.wolfcoach.com

Marti Electronics
217-224-9600
www.martielectronics.com
You/Com
Audiocommunicatie

+31 15 262 5955
youcom.nl

Irwin is the chief engineer of WKTU-FM, New York City.




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