3 Ways to Extend your IP Audio Network

WheatNet-IP: Extend Your NetworkWe can think of a few good reasons why a person would want to extend their IP audio network beyond the usual studio walls. Remotes. Emergencies. Studio logistics. Thugs, maybe? You never know when you could end up in the middle of a field with some thug who’s obviously up to no good, like the guy in that Verizon Wireless commercial.

Thug: I told you to come alone. 
Regular guy: I did. 
Thug: Who are they? 
Regular guy: (looking over his shoulder to a bunch of people, who are waving) That’s my network, 
in case I need to make a call or something.

Seriously. We know of at least three fast and easy ways to get your IP audio network out there – as in out to the parking lot, across the stadium, to the transmitter site, and to wherever else you need it to be.

The Fiber Way. It just so happens that the gigabit switches most stations use for our WheatNet-IP audio system are equipped with a fiber port. It’s then a simple matter of running a fiber optic cable between the GBIC port in your core or edge switch and the GBIC port in a remote switch for extending the network. The good thing about optical fiber is that it’s not affected by electromagnetic interference, so you can run it fairly long distances without signal or packet degradation. We set up an intercom between two football stadiums 150 kilometers apart via optical fiber and a MADI connection – that’s 64 time division multiplex digital audio signals going directly into our BLADE network. On each end was a gigabit switch with a fiber connection, which gave us a fully functional intercom that let people in one stadium talk freely with other people in many different destinations on the other end. If you go this route, be sure to match your application to the optical format, such as single-mode or multi-mode optical fiber.

Wireless IP Radio link. IP wireless radio options vary, from the unlicensed 5.8 GHz frequency range to licensed 6, 11, 18, 23 GHz systems. You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. IP radios connect easily to a gigabit switch on each end, which are then connected to an IP audio network I/O access unit like our BLADEs for managing audio and any devices hanging off the network. You’ll want to take into account how many channels and how much bandwidth you’ll need. Allow for about 5 Mb/s of bandwidth for each audio channel on the radio. Also, keep in mind that IP radios must run in full duplex mode in order to send and receive the clocking information between network access units. It’s important the BLADE on the remote end is fully synchronized with the BLADE on your studio end.

One nice thing about the built-in intelligence of our BLADEs is that if the IP radio should happen to lose connection, the BLADE will not only detect silence, it can trigger the startup of a playback device in the absence of sound. Our newer BLADEs are available with embedded audio playback so you can play an hour or more of prerecorded audio right off the BLADE itself, should an emergency come up.

For additional questions on IP radio distance, rain fade, getting through trees, and the like, we suggest you contact DoubleRadius as a resource. They’ve worked with many of our clients to pre-engineer a wireless IP link.

Codec Over Internet. While it’s still not practical to transport uncompressed linear audio over the public internet, you can get decent coded audio across the internet using new audio codec products that connect to IP audio networks. For example, the Tieline Genie stereo IP audio codec has a built-in port specifically for connecting into the WheatNet-IP system and sending six channels of audio over public Internet. Audio performance is highly reliable, and latency is minimal. Wheatstone built the circuit card that goes into the Genie specifically for robust transportation of IP audio over the Internet. The Genie has selectable algorithms and bitrates, and audio at each end remains in the audio over IP format – no need to break the audio out into analog or digital baseband feeds.

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