I just sent out another instalment of the Broadcast Technology Newsletter. If you’re not on the list, please consider signing up. If not, here’s some of the highlights…

  • I don’t follow consumer electronics very closely, but apparently ‘Smart Speakers’ are a thing now. Our Commercial Radio lobby group claim 5% of Australians own one (Really? That seems high. I don’t know anyone who owns one of these), but the trouble is there’s at least three competing development platforms – Google Actions, Apple’s SiriKit, and Alexa Skills. I’m currently writing an article on the development effort to get your radio station on these three platforms, and would appreciate your input – does your station consider Smart Speakers a priority? How do you envisage your listeners interacting with it – streaming only, or more than that? Hit ‘reply’ on this email and let me know.
  • Have you tried JetLink – Logitek’s software-based audio codec? The free version lets you send one low-latency, bi-directional stereo stream, and the $25/month version (just released) supports NAT traversal, phonebooks, and higher audio quality. Plus, it’s being developed here in Australia – so that’s exciting!
  • More and more TV Sports Broadcasts are being produced remotely. In Australia, NEP can now produce six simultaneous events from 29 venues across the country. This happens via a dedicated fibre network and SMPTE ST-2110. I really like this concept, but is it economical for radio? Many radio outside broadcasts already only have one technician on-site (or are self-setup by the talent). Would this perhaps be useful for broadcasts with a large live-music component? I know I’d be happier mixing from a comfortable studio, rather than stuck in the back of a van.
  • How are you mixing digital audio these days? Just today, I saw someone on Facebook using Q-Sys as a radio outside broadcast (remote) mixer. This is actually a pretty good way to get AES67 I/O, advanced digital mixing, and configurable iPad control. Last I checked, the Core 110f can be picked up for a little over AU$5200, which gives you 24 analog I/O ports! It’s marketed towards the AV installation industry, but I see real radio potential here.
  • Speaking of digital audio, Audinate (the Australian company behind Dante), has just released their new AVIO product. These are a range of nifty single channel audio I/O adapters for Dante (and also AES67!). Audinate, traditionally a supplier of Dante chips to other manufacturers, doesn’t seem to have a great reseller network just yet – but Full Compass are now selling these starting at US$99. Based on this pricing, you can get 8 stereo inputs and 8 stereo outputs for just US$2064 (plus the cost of a PoE network switch). This is very competitive, considering the price of audio I/O boxes from the big broadcast companies is several times higher than this.
  • Has anyone got a spec document for Dante’s Control Protocol? I image a simple switcher app for Dante would be quite handy (A great way to start transitioning an analog station to AOIP would be to use these new Audinate I/O adapters connected to your existing audio equipment. Want to put in a digital mixer? Try a Q-Sys core with a touchscreen controller, or maybe even a generic MIDI control surface for physical faders. I’m getting excited just thinking this through – should broadcast hardware manufacturers be worried about all this ‘off the shelf’ AV hardware invading the broadcast space? Is anyone looking to revamp their facility and keen to try this out?)