Sneaky Points of Failure

WheatNet-IP FlowchartLet’s hope that your disaster recovery plans go a lot smoother than the evacuation plans we’ve seen for some cities. The last thing you should have to explain is an avoidable single point of failure like what we saw when everyone tried to leave a major city on the same highway at the same time during a snowstorm.

Here are a few sneaky single points of failure we see all the time in the studio that you could be overlooking.


Separate distribution amps. It’s a bad idea for one DA to feed both the on-air and backup/production studio. One blown voltage regulator is all it takes to knock your station off the air. Get separate DAs for each, or better yet, use the virtual utility mixers we’ve engineered into each of our I/O network access BLADEs, so you have the audio you need at any and all access points in the network.

Isolate the audio network. It’s tempting to roll your audio network onto the office network. But don’t do it. Audio is a bandwidth hog, and you’ll want to set up a network with full gigabit Ethernet throughput to avoid audio delays and QoS issues. If you want remote access to the audio network from the office network, you can always add dual NICs to the network PCs.

Separate electrical circuits. If you’re going to go to the trouble of paying for and putting in redundant power supplies, go the extra mile and plug them into separate electrical circuits. That way, if a circuit gets overloaded, you won’t have a power blackout that’ll take down the broadcast with it.

Cabling. Check it out. A significant number of our tech support calls are due to faulty cabling. So if you’re going to be pulling cable anytime soon, make sure it’s installed right and the work is certified. The last thing you should have to spend your valuable time tracking down is a faulty cable. That’s why our WheatNet-IP Navigator software provides real-time notification of any communication failure with any component of the network. But, if the studio does happen to go dark for any reason, you should always have a backup studio or two at the ready – one of the benefits of an audio network like WheatNet-IP that’s distributed throughout the facility.

Switch ‘em up. One network switch could probably support multiple studios, but it’s better to set up switches for separate studios or studio groups to avoid a single point of failure. You can also do a two-level configuration with one switch in the middle and several smaller switches at the edge for separate studios. If you do go with this configuration, be sure to set up redundant master switches and to couple studios to each individual studio switch in order to avoid a single point of failure at each. That way, in an emergency, you can combine all your automation computer’s outputs into one feed and route that down the network and out to air. And if you’re really in a bind, you can always run the station from little more than one BLADE – it has an operating system, I/O, silence sensing, GPIO and mixing inside.

Contingency audio at the transmitter. Broadcasters spend a great deal of time and money making sure that the transmitter has backup power. That’s good. But don’t forget that the studio is run on power, too, and it’s not going to be good if you lose power at the station and can’t get emergency broadcast to the stick. Be sure to have a backup audio loop at the transmitter that will automatically trip on if you somehow lose power or a link to the stick. This can be a regular recorder at the transmitter site rigged to turn on in an emergency, or better yet, this contingency can be part of your I/O BLADE at the transmitter. We felt so strongly that every station should have an audio clip at the transmitter site for this purpose we now have audio playback available right from our new BLADE 3 access units, which can automatically be triggered for playback by silence detection within the BLADE or triggered directly from your console.

The above are just a few of the sneaky single points of failure we tend to run into while out in the field. Write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell us of others.

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