Radio Consoles

IP Audio Networking

Audio IP in the ‘Wild’

AudioWild1One of the more promising ideas for long distance, live IP audio transport was presented at the 139th International AES Convention in New York. WorldCast set up a dual link between Northern Ireland and Florida, which during one stretch of operation delivered more than 43 million payload packets with a grand total of 35 packets lost. Here’s more.

A wise person once said that technology is like energy. It can’t be created or destroyed, only changed.

By that description, there was certainly a lot of energy at the 139th International AES Convention in New York. The annual conference is where many new engineering ideas emerge, and that proved once again to be the case during the session on live IP audio transport moderated by Steve Lampen, the Multimedia Technology Manager for Belden who happens to be the wise person mentioned above.


“We’re on the cusp of big change with IP audio,” says Lampen, who moderated a panel of five for Audio and IP: Are We There Yet? “We’re at the point where (in the studio) ‘digital is fine, IP is fine, delivery is fine,’ so let’s move on to the next thing and that is leaving the studio and going out to the world, which is IP.”

 Wheatstone couldn’t agree more.

The use of the public Internet and other IP transports for shuttling WheatNet-IP audio across country is nothing new. But the use of IP for transporting live, on-the-air broadcast is, the limiting factors until now being inherent IP reliability and QoS issues. Packet dropout remains a problem for live broadcast applications.

AudioWild2One of the more promising ideas for giving IP audio a big push in that direction was presented by WorldCast Systems’ Tony Peterle, one of the panelists on Lampen’s panel. The codec company has developed a method of streaming with two or more IP links, on different paths that could include satellite, microwave or the public Internet, for example, so if a network issue disrupts one, the other one will take over automatically. The two IP paths meet at the destination and are time referenced against each other. If one drops packets for any reason, the other can provide the missing data instantaneously, for almost 100 percent reliability.

Peterle tells us that WorldCast set up a dual link between Northern Ireland and Florida, which during one stretch of operation delivered more than 43 million payload packets with a grand total of 35 packets lost. As of this writing, this demo stream has been in continuous operation for nearly 70 days, delivering more than 140 million packets with zero losses. Latency is set at a couple hundred milliseconds due to the calibration algorithm between the two signals, but this method promises to be a practical alternative to ISDN and satellite for live sports or other programming.

As a manufacturer of audio over IP consoles and studio systems, Wheatstone is very much in support of solutions such as this to move IP audio along. “Audio IP in the ‘wild’ has been on everybody’s radar for years. IP’s great for sending a block of commercials between Point A and Point B, but for actually sending real-time audio over the Internet? With what WorldCast is doing, it’s starting to become viable now,” says our Minister of Algorithms Steve Dove, who was at the AES convention and commended WorldCast for their work.   

We could see and experience a very different IP audio network by this time next year. Or, as Steve Lampen once said, time changes everything.

Wheatstone Acquires Audion Labs, VoxPro

VoxProCongratsSplashForWheatPageNEW BERN, NC, USA (October 5, 2015) – Representing once again the vision and now the voice of the broadcast industry, Wheatstone Corporation announces today the acquisition of Audion Labs and with it, the industry’s beloved VoxPro digital audio editor.

Wheatstone leads the industry in IP audio networking as the innovator of WheatNet-IP, a complete, end-to-end IP audio network comprising audio consoles, routing, mixing, processing, silence detection and logic control. Audion’s VoxPro is a staple in radio studios as one of the few broadcast-specific digital voice editors designed to record and quickly edit phone calls on the fly for on-air broadcast. Both dominate in the U.S. in their respective product categories, often as part of an integrated system.

“This is a terrific little company that with one product has made a big difference in the day-today operations of most radio stations today,” says Wheatstone CEO Gary Snow. Audion’s VoxPro is a PC based software program with optional control panel surface developed to facilitate rapid-fast audio editing. Its intuitive layout has endeared the VoxPro to on-air broadcast talent everywhere, significantly reducing a typical call-in editing session. “Other professional editors are like bringing a machine gun to a stick fight,” says Snow. Now as part of Wheatstone, VoxPro will benefit from the company’s 24/7 support and distribution channel that includes a worldwide footprint spanning the United States, France, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, Middle East, North Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, India, China, and Malaysia. “With VoxPro now in the Wheatstone fold, it can go global and continue to be the powerful, creative broadcast tool it was designed to be,” says Charlie Brown, who created the first VoxPro editor in the early 1990s while working as a Seattle morning radio personality and went on to found the Audion Labs company in 1994. “We couldn’t ask for a better team to take on the care and growth of the VoxPro brand,” he adds.

Wheatstone and Audion Labs have enjoyed a longstanding relationship over the years, resulting in the integration of the VoxPro editor into the WheatNet-IP audio network environment for online sharing, editing and archiving audio files. Audion Labs will remain a separate brand entity under Wheatstone. Rick Bidlack, Audion Labs’ Chief Technology Officer, will remain with the company and operate from his office in Seattle,Washington.

VoxPro adds to Wheatstone’s large family of broadcast studio lines that include Vorsis and Audioarts Engineering brand names, as well as IP audio networking, control surfaces, talent stations, audio processing, software applications, and other products developed and designed specifically for broadcast.

Visit Audion Labs' site and check out VoxPro!

Meet Vox Pro - Rick Bidlack & Jay Tyler Introduce You

VoxPro Video thumb 670

In this video, we'll introduce you to VoxPro, the de facto standard audio recorder/editor for live radio broadcast use. It’s hard to walk into any radio studio in the world today and not see VoxPro next to the console.

Rick Bidlack (the programmer behind VoxPro) and Wheatstone's Jay Tyler give you a quick overview of the product, and why it fits into radio studios so perfectly.

5 Surprising Places for IP Audio

It's getting late. Do you know where your audio network is?

BLADE TRUCK_2560Your audio network could be going places and doing things you might not be aware of, from remote sportscasts and for STLs to hanging out in malls, convention centers and auditoriums.

Modern audio networks are being used for a slew of new applications because of newer, smarter I/O units. For example, WheatNet-IP BLADE-3s combine integrated control with audio tools such as mixing and audio processing at every connection point in the network for a multitude of possible uses.

It’s almost like having a complete studio in 1RU wherever you need one.

And with AES67 now promising to interface your network to just about any audio device out there, there’s no telling where IP audio will be off to next.

Here are just a few ways you can use your WheatNet-IP BLADE-3s:


Audio in the Outfield: Quickly set up a small studio at any sports venue with routing, processing, mixing and logic controls of mics and other devices all in one rack unit. All you need is a BLADE at the press box as your audio interface into your mixing board and mics (16 mono channels) and an Internet or other link to the studio. To take advantage of 5.8 GHz unlicensed wireless IP radios as a line-of-sight link to the studio, simply add an EDGE unit. EDGE connects directly into the IP wireless radio through RJ-45 connectors, and because it’s all IP, that means you can carry audio, voice-over-IP, and data of all kinds back and forth between locations.


BLADE AS_AUDIO_SNAKEIP Audio Snake: Transport audio between the production studio and a nearby performance studio using BLADEs at each end. Carry mic and instrument feeds from the stage area to the network over CAT6, wireless or optical fiber link. Do separate mixes live using the BLADE’s 8x2 stereo mixers, or capture multitrack recordings for future mixing. No transformer splits required!


STL: Continue IP audio from the studio to the transmitter with BLADEs on both ends of an IP wireless or other STL. IP radios connect to the switch on each end, which are connected to the BLADE for managing audio and any devices hanging off the network. If the STL should lose connection, the new BLADE-3 will not only detect silence, it can trigger the startup of playback audio stored on the BLADE-3 itself.


Multi-stage venues. Place BLADE I/O units in the van, on stages or throughout the field, and connect them together over fiber and CAT6 via the network switch for audio transport between them. Great for music festivals that require real-time communication between multiple stages.


IFB. Talk to talent over your IP network. Any WheatNet-IP BLADE access unit that routes audio also can provide the IFB pathway, whether it’s on location or in the studio; simply change crosspoints to create routable IFB throughout the facility.


New Studio?

Heaven Forbid You Forget the Elevator!

StudioA 420It’s easy to lose track of the many details of a new studio project. Let us take a moment to remember Edificio Intempo, the 47-floor skyscraper built in Spain that was said to be missing one important detail. Elevators.

Heaven forbid you should forget the elevator.

Yet, we see it time and again, studios that are missing that very important something. It could be the way the facility is laid out or how it’s connected together. It could be the absence of some seemingly insignificant detail or a trend that has gone terribly wrong.


The good thing about being in the audio network and console business is that we get to tour more than our share of broadcast studios from around the world. Our Director of Sales Jay Tyler has been in no less than 3,000 broadcast studios in his 20+ years at Wheatstone, and he has seen it all. Here are a few things Jay, along with Studio Technology’s Vince Fiola, who builds broadcast studio furniture, has noticed lately.

Camera automation. More and more on-air studios have a camera or two to run show video out to YouTube or other social media. Jay tells us that many of the larger studios have fulltime video editors onsite at the studio, while others are taking advantage of automation software to run those cameras. For example, multiCAM automation is being integrated with the WheatNet-IP audio network to switch the camera to the host or guest position in the studio whenever a mic is turned on. If the announcer’s mic is on, WheatNet-IP tells multiCAM to point the camera at the announcer position and then when a guest mic turns on, the WheatNet-IP tells multiCAM to switch to the guest position.

Downsized space. Technology is getting smaller and smaller, and that goes for devices as well as studios. It’s not unusual to see studio facilities scaled down, some by as much as half. Gone are the racks and racks of DAs and relays, thanks to IP audio routing and control.

Talent on the move. Who knew that talent had legs? They’re no longer confined to one studio, or even the studio facility. Mix-minus, bus minuses, mic presets and even video follows talent and shows no matter where they are located on the audio network.

Signs of the times. Signage in studios is one of the biggest trends this year, according to Jay. He’s seeing more and more clocks with metering on the wall, video feeds of talent shown in the lobby, and music playout schedules from the automation showing up on the studio wall or elsewhere in the studios. All this visualization is made possible because of the easy IP routing of media and data throughout the facility. Tight integration of AoIP systems like WheatNet-IP with virtual clocks such as VClock by Voceware helps, too.

Showcase looks. With so many morning shows now syndicating with the local TV station, there’s a lot more attention being paid to how the studio looks. There’s way less clutter, more open space and less wiring everywhere. Broadcasters are recessing monitors, lowering mic booms and adding polish with better lighting – at least in one studio. “More is being put into the main studio as the showcase, and the rest of the facility is getting much, much smaller and less expensive,” says Vince.

Soundcards are out. “That soundcard that fit your 10-year-old computer doesn’t fit the newer computers,” says Jay. Broadcasters are going with audio drivers instead, which can save a couple thousand dollars per studio.

Production in a workstation. The production studio has seen the most changes. “Here, you’re likely to see a creative guy that sits at the computer all day,” says Vince. Production studios have become more computer workstation centric with more compact, more capable IP consoles or control surfaces. Our E-6 control surface, for example, has become more computer friendly by providing console control and programming on a display monitor, and newer Audioarts consoles like the Air-5 come with USB connectivity and/or Bluetooth compatibility for smaller production studios.

More control. The modern studio gives you far more control. One Ethernet cable is all it takes to bring up any source along with control commands. Jay says there is a lot of interest in our IP networked TS-22 talent station because in one small talent station sitting, you can control mic on/off, talkback, muting, source selection and headphone amp all through an Ethernet cable with POE.

Better workflow. IP audio network integration with editing systems such as VoxPro makes it so much easier to do live telephone editing, on the fly, all on one cable – audio and control. Plus AoIP integration with things like codecs means you don’t need analog inputs and outputs.

Software flexibility. Virtual console control and other software apps are making studios much more flexible. For example, says Jay, “With our new Screen Builder app, and a terminal, I can replace a whole intercom panel with a soft panel. I can build intercoms and talkbacks and mix minuses and on the fly mixes with a software application where I used to pay thousands of dollars in hardware.”

Energy efficiency. According to Jay, “You can plug in an electric space heater and it’s going to use more juice than a big pile of Wheaty gear.”

Really, really, really cool break rooms. We’re taking hammocks and bubble chairs, beer on tap, a wine rack maybe, and don’t forget the putting green, air hockey table and gaming workstation – all the necessities for improving productivity. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a trend we’ve seen in our travels, but we’ll keep looking.

View the embedded image gallery online at:


Split-Surface LX-24 Debuts at IBC

LX24 DUAL FRAME CONSOLE 670This split-surface LX-24 made its debut at IBC 2015! Need more inputs? Want to arrange your workstation in exactly the intutive and efficient way you want to use it? Here you go. All LX-24 now in a table-top split format!

Dan Slentz Sayz ‘Thanks’

LPFM advocate predicts new 100W will rank in ratings.

Dan-Slentz-Sayz-DNP102-3 2000We received this email from Dan Slentz, an engineering consultant who has become a tireless advocate and industry friend to LPFM. He recently flipped the on-air switch to new WDPE low-power, non-commercial, educational FM radio station licensed to Dover - New Philadelphia, Ohio. He had this to say about the Air-4 console and other gear he’s installed at the station.


“When engineering this little LPFM, I wanted it every single bit as competitive and feature laced as any commercial station ... just with a whole LOT less power and a far, far smaller budget!

WDPE is fully legal with limited peaks at 105% modulation. When dialing in the local commercial FM's, we're typically seeing 109% to 125+% modulation, yet (the LPFM) is perceived louder and far superior in audio quality.

I truly believe we can credit an incredibly solid air chain from all wave digital audio files (no compression at all… true PCM) in BSI's Simian, through an Audioarts Air-4 console, and into a Nautel VS300LP (via a DASDEC EAS system) with nothing in that line to trash up the audio quality (including any form of STL... since it's only a 30' run to the transmitter). And due to changes in technology, all analog audio is actually run over Cat6 cable with one end being an RJ45 from the output of the Air-4.

The Air-4 has a strong design and is transparently clean (as you've come to expect from Wheatstone).

Though a tiny little 100 watt LPFM station and on a single bay circular, plus at a height which is actually BELOW average terrain (in a valley), that signal BOOMS a solid 6 miles with very good reception up to 8 miles (even UP and over some of the hills)!

I wouldn't exaggerate again to say that this station has quickly garnered a ton of listeners very quickly. And though the station can't afford to pay for ratings, I would honestly predict the station will rank highly in the Nielsen book when it eventually comes out (there are 20+ rated stations in Tuscarawas County, Ohio).

Over and over we get Facebook posts, newspaper comments, and phone calls saying ‘the audio quality is phenomenal and the music incredible.’ Here's a typical post (from an hour ago on Facebook):

i listened to wdnp 102.3 in my van this morning and i was thrilled by the sound quality. jody, dan, steve or whoever else was involved,...HOT DAMN, ..great job…

So, thanks to each of you in manufacturing: Wheatstone, Inovonics, and Nautel, and thanks to BSW our dealer, thanks to my friends at BSI, and thanks to RW for all the info that helped us make the RIGHT decisions!”

Dan Slentz
Broadcast Consultant

AES67. Hear, There and Everywhere.

5 things you need to know about this audio standard.

AES67 INSIDE_BADGE_2560AES67 is everywhere. It’s in every major audio network, including our WheatNet-IP, which means that you’ll be able to transport audio between all these systems and other devices and peripheral gear that are connected to them. This IP audio transport standard was ratified in 2013 by the AES X-192 task force, of which Wheatstone was a member.

But, AES67 is by no means a complete interoperability standard. It doesn’t provide for discovery and control, both of which are needed for any kind of inter-functionality to take place. These standards are in the works, but in the meantime, turning devices on and off, controlling peripheral gear from the console, signaling when a source is ready for air play, and controlling the playout system with a fader – these are all functions of WheatNet-IP and similar audio networks. In the case of WheatNet-IP, for example, a single Ethernet cable carries the real-time audio stream as well as network and device control messages and other metadata. AES67 covers the audio streams only.


With all this in mind, here are straightforward answers to the more common questions our engineers receive on AES67.

Why do we need AES67?

IP networking is easily one of the most ubiquitous technologies found in the world today. IP audio network manufacturers are able to take advantage of, and share in, many, many proven standards as a result.

So, why do we need one more standard?

Because the rules of IP packet distribution are not friendly to real-time audio. Synchronizing large amounts of data is the biggest problem. In the IP network, packets aren’t necessarily routed based on which packets were created first. That works fine for a typical office network, but without some sort of deterministic routing for the heavy traffic loads of the audio network, packets can become jumbled and delayed. This can cause jitter and packet loss or dropout. Audio network makers have had to work around this problem with tools like buffering and QoS to assure continuous audio transport. No two manufacturers solve this problem the same way, which has made it difficult for them to exchange audio between them.

What does AES67 do?

Almost all audio networks use a standard IP protocol called RTP (Real-Time Protocol) to create the proper packet order. RTP provides identification in the packets about their creation time and order but, for all the reasons stated above, it has been up to the IP audio network manufacturer to extract this information and to recreate the audio data and timing. Each differs in the specific packet loading, timing and synchronization mechanisms within the protocol.

AES67 has come along to provide the common synchronization, clock identification, session description and other interoperability recommendations we can all share. AES67 adapted the PTPv2 (Precision Time Protocol - IEEE 1588-2008) standard as the master clock reference, so we can more easily transport audio between our various systems without jitter, delay and data dropout. Check out this AES link for a full description. 

Does AES67 provide for discovery?

No. AES67 does not provide for a standard way to find and add devices to a network. Discovery is left up to each individual manufacturer, although most of the major players take a similar approach to finding and labeling components in the network. Most designate extra packets on the network to communicate discovery data and display it seamlessly to all users with signal names and other information easily created and recognizable to broadcasters.

Does AES67 provide for control?

No. AES67 is an audio transport standard only. Another standard or other standards are needed for full interoperability of the control features of various audio networks. The AES-X210 task group, of which Wheatstone is a part, was formed for this reason. We recognize that gaining access to hundreds of channels of audio on a network is useless if you can’t route them, turn them on or off, fire their playback, or turn an ON AIR light on when needed. Currently, to accomplish this, IP audio network manufacturers use packets to communicate command and control. Each system is different, and sometimes an ancillary PC is used for this and sometimes the intelligence is built right into the network devices, as is the case for our WheatNet-IP system.

Control is built into each WheatNet-IP connection point that is shared with other IP connection points across the network, giving you access to all sources at once as well as the presets and any associated logic that go along with each feed for controlling mic ON/OFF, changing remote mic settings for IFB, and processing and other parameters. (There we go again!)

Does AES67 pay it forward?

Yes. AES67 is extensible, meaning that you will be able to add to it as situations change. Any standard that results from AES-X210 or a similar group will add on to, not replace, AES67.