TV News June 2016

WHEAT:NEWS TV JUNE 2016 - Vol 3, No.6

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-- Scott Johnson, Editor

It’s All About the Network


Audio mixing consoles are now part of a much larger universe, the fabric of which is networking. How a console is networked is more critical than ever before, as are the applications that drive its usefulness. 

Anyone still trying to pinpoint the center of the universe has obviously never misplaced his or her smartphone. Everything and anything of importance is contained in this small hunk of silicon not much bigger than your wallet.

Actually, if you’ve ever lost your phone, you know that this isn’t entirely true, either. Your pictures, your contacts, your e-mails — all of that data exists for the most part somewhere else. Your phone is a means to an end, a mere interface to a much larger universe of data and apps and communications.

The same can be said of today’s IP audio console. So while the audio mixing console is still very much a part of the studio, it is now also part of a much larger universe, the fabric of which is networking. “It’s basically a computer now,” says Sam Michaels of today’s audio console. Michaels, who is the Information Technology Engineer for Cumulus Media, Dallas, cites better integration with automation systems, more access to sources, and more flexibility overall as just a few benefits of the networked console. (Watch his full interview directly below).

The audio mixing console owes much of its success to IP audio drivers, which have replaced hardware cards and have opened up new ways to route, mix and process audio beyond the console chassis. “Audio over IP has greatly simplified things. From an integrator’s point of view, simply running Ethernet cables is much faster and easier than running audio cables all over the place. So we’re able to move so many channels of audio over an Ethernet cable, {and we’re} able to reconfigure that on the fly. It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing,” says Erik Utter, an integrator whose engineering firm, Utter Associates, consolidates broadcast newsrooms and other studios for multiple purposes or even multiple stations. (Watch his full interview directly below).

With sources no longer hardwired to the audio mixing console and console settings easily changed through a GUI interface (see Small Gestures, May 2016 Wheat News), he says going from a CBS newscast at 5:30 to an NBC newscast at 6:00 isn’t much more than a push of the button on a console. All sources are handled by the network, and in the case of the WheatNet-IP audio network, audio mixing for IFB or other functions is locally accessible anywhere in the network via each I/O access point. The concept of ‘one console, one purpose’ no longer holds true for the same reason your mobile phone is no longer just for making calls.

“{Audio over IP gave} us the power of audio switching for radio and TV, allowing us to add more services than we’ve ever planned to do,“ says Kent Hatfield, VP of Technology for WXXI-TV/FM in Rochester, New York, which added on several new HD and translator services throughout greater New York in recent times. (Watch his full interview directly below).

He expects things to get “a lot more IP” in the coming years, especially with ATSC 3.0 just ahead. “In the next two to three years it’s very possible you’ll see audio and video on a single IP connection,” he says. Currently, WXXI is running the Wheatstone TDM platform on the TV side and WheatNet-IP audio network on the radio side, and bridging the two through MADI, while planning migration to full IP eventually.

With audio mixing consoles now part of a much larger networked environment, one has to wonder: is all this leading up to the obsolescence of the fixed broadcast studio? “I don’t know if I’d go that far,” replies Cumulus’ Michaels. “But yeah, it’s amazing that you can essentially {put} a station on an iPad.”

Born In The USA

Today, broadcast operations have extended beyond and expanded within their walls, thanks largely to IP and networking. But meanwhile, back at the factory, we’re keeping it all under one roof. Why?


First, it’s much, much easier to customize a studio system if it’s staged and configured in its entirety on our factory floor. “I work with broadcasters who want to know every single input, output and fader count, right down to the layout of where they want their microphones,” says Jay Tyler, Director of Sales for Wheatstone, where a good percentage of WheatNet-IP audio network systems are customized and staged before shipment. “We’ve seen that transition over time, from them coming in to see the console they ordered to ‘Wow, I’ve got 25 studios in front of me and it’s all working in this one place,’” he adds.


A staged system can include several IP audio mixing consoles and WheatNet-IP audio I/O access or BLADE units, plus Ethernet switches (such as a core and several edge switches). It can involve setup and customization of Navigator software, metering or ScreenBuilder apps, as well as button panels, talent stations and other network accessories. If something isn’t clicking, we have the entire system sitting in front of us to troubleshoot before it even arrives inside a studio.

We also manufacture everything under one roof, from metalwork to console buttons, to radically increase the quality of our consoles and network devices. For example, even something as seemingly insignificant as the sizing of console vent holes has a direct impact on the electromagnetic interference created, which in turn determines standards compliance.


Manufacturers who have been successfully making consoles for a long time (try 35+ years in Wheatstone’s case) take those specs seriously. We have a multi-axis CNC milling machine for precision machining of aluminum panels and parts to within a thousandth of an inch. We have both laser cutters and punch press machines to create the more intricate holes, patterns, and parts needed on some of our products – all computer controlled. We etch labels for consoles and BLADEs using a smaller laser machine, and finish our panels using a powder coating process that is much more durable than paint.

When it comes to assembly, Wheatstone has invested in several surface-mount machines that turn spools of components into assembled circuit boards based on computer instructions. Not only does this give us the ability to produce products more quickly and make changes with very little hassle, but it also increases component placement accuracy to within one ten-thousandth of an inch. We inspect the finished boards for errors using a high-res camera that can “see” if a component is not soldered correctly or if there are solder bridges or positioning errors, typically within thousandths of an inch. We can even trace an item back to the day and time it came out of the factory, and to the individual assemblers who worked on it. With all this working for us on the factory floor, we’re able to reduce component placement errors to virtually zero.


We couldn’t do that anywhere else but right here in our own house. We don’t have to set up for manufacturing the large runs that make outsourcing practical, which means we don’t have to cut corners on production. Keeping it all under one roof means we’re set up all day and every day to make our specific brand of consoles and products, and nothing else. It also gives us the ability to customize and stage systems for our customers.

Your IP Question Answered

Q: We are currently budgeting for an IP audio network. What should I be thinking about in terms of equipment?

A: The basics include Ethernet switches, I/O audio network access units, audio control surfaces (mixing consoles), and software for metering, navigation and setup. A typical IP audio network configuration has a core Ethernet switch and one or two edge switches, depending on the size and number of studios to be networked. (Check out Which Switch for AoIP for more information.) In addition to the console with mixing engine, you will need to consider how many and where to locate the network I/O units. Some provide not much more than transport only, while I/O access units like WheatNet-IP BLADEs have resources such as utility mixing and audio processing built in for creating network-wide and localized IFB, for example. BLADE I/O access units make up the audio routing and control backbone of the WheatNet-IP audio network and use RJ45 StudioHub+ compatible connectors for input and output, and also have DB-25. Connectivity speeds also vary by system and can affect routing. For example, WheatNet-IP BLADEs use a Gigabit network interface, which provides a single network connection to send and receive audio, logic, and communications from the I/O BLADE to the rest of the network. In most cases, you will be able to connect production automation systems directly into the network, eliminating soundcards, A/D-D/A converters, audio wiring, or control connections, which can often offset the cost of a new audio network.  A needs analysis by a qualified sales engineer (email can give you a much better idea of the type and quantity of equipment needed based on your studio’s workflow and provide you with a blueprint for network planning and installation.



  • Soundfusion (Johannesburg, South Africa) purchased two L-12 control surfaces.
  • GED Broadcast Equipment (Beirut, Lebanon) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console for Royal Jordanian Armed Forces.
  • Corus (Vancouver, BC) purchased an L-12 control surface.
  • KVAY-FM (Lamar, CO) purchased an IP-12 control surface.
  • Radio Veritas (Manila, Philippines) purchased an LX-24 control surface through Broadcast World Philippines.
  • Hubbard (Phoenix, AZ) purchased three TS-4 talent stations and a WheatNet-IP I/O BLADE plus seven VoxPro5 digital recorders/editors.
  • CBC (Canada) upgraded to NAVIGATOR 3 for several of its sites in Canada.
  • CBC (Rimouski, QC) purchased a Glass E Virtual Mixer for an E-6 control surface.
  • CBC (Regina, SK) purchased four TS-4 and two TS-22 talent stations for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
  • CBC (Toronto, ON) purchased an additional I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
  • Salem Communications’ WFIL-AM (Lafayette Hill, PA) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
  • Corus (Vancouver, BC) purchased a TS-4 talent station.
  • Golden Isles Broadcasting (Brunswick, GA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
  • Grant Broadcasters (Crows Nest, NSW) purchased an L-12 control surface and audio drivers.
  • Radio Adelaide (South Africa) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
  • UCB (Canada) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
  • Holy AV (Cypress, CA) purchased an LX-24 control surface, IP-16 digital audio console, an M4-IP four channel mic processor, MADI BLADE plus an Aura8-IP multimode audio processor, and an upgraded NAVIGATOR 3.
  • WLRH-FM (Huntsville, AL) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
  • KZZJ-AM (Rugby, ND) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
  • WUOM-FM (Ann Arbor, MI) purchased a Scheduler for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
  • WHTM-TV (Harrisburg, PA) purchased a Series Four TV audio console.
  • WGBH-TV (Brighton, MA) upgraded its TDM BRIDGE system.
  • Southern Broadcast (Auckland, New Zealand) purchased an L-12 control surface.
  • Saga Communications (Spencer, IA) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
  • Townsquare Media (Tuscaloosa, AL) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
  • Hubbard (St. Louis, MO) purchased a TS-22 talent station for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
  • University of Missouri (St. Louis, MO) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.

Audioarts Engineering

  • Radio Marshalls (Marshall Islands) purchased an Air-4 and R-55e console.
  • Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) purchased an Air-5 console.
  • Faith Radio Network (St. Paul, MN) purchased an Air-4 console.
  • Audio Solution (Taipei, Taiwan) purchased an Air-1 console.
  • SCA Sound Solutions (Tokyo, Japan) purchased an R-55e console.
  • Radio Midday (New Delhi, India) purchased a D-76 console through Horizon Electronics.
  • Oakwood (Mississauga, ON) purchased an Air-4 console.
  • BSW (Tacoma, WA) purchased an Air-1 console.
  • 305 Broadcast (Miami, FL) purchased an Air-5 and Air-1 console.
  • Basin Broadcasting’s KNDN-AM (Farmington, NM) purchased an Air-4 console.
  • KTTR-FM (St. James, MO) purchased an R-55e console.
  • WCCX-FM (Waukesha, WI) purchased an Air-5 console.
  • Key Plus Broadcasting (Tulsa, OK) purchased an R-55e console.
  • Rhode Island College (Providence, RI) purchased an R-55e console.

Wheatstone Audio Processing

  • WIRL-AM (Peoria, IL) purchased an AM-55 audio processor.
  • Oakwood (Mississauga, ON) purchased two M4IP-USB four-channel mic processors.
  • Townsquare Media (Midland, TX) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
  • Megalectrics (Ikoyi, Lagos) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
  • Rogers (Vancouver, BC) purchased four M2 dual channel mic processors.
  • Bridgewater State University (Bridgewater, MA) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
  • Entercom (Miami, FL) purchased an AM-55 audio processor.
  • KRSL-FM (Russell, KS) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
  • Beasley Broadcast (Ft. Myers, FL) purchased an AirAura and FM-55 audio processor.
  • SAVE Diffusion (Saint Etienne, France) purchased two Screen Builder apps and an M1 and M2 dual channel mic processor.
  • Westwood One (New York, NY) purchased an M2 dual channel mic processor.
  • WAWL-FM (Grand Haven, MI) purchased a VP8-IP multimode audio processor.
  • The Lampo Group (Nashville, TN) purchased an M1 mic processor.
  • Lanser Broadcasting (Zeeland, MI) purchased a VP8-IP multimode processor.
  • KLAW-FM (Lawton, OK) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.


  • WWPR-FM (New York, NY) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • Agile Broadcast (Bayswater, Australia) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • Ft. Myers Broadcasting (Naples, FL) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • KSL-FM (Salt Lake City, UT) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • KSWP-FM (Lufkin, TX) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • WJXA-FM (Nashville, TN) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • Townsquare Media (Buffalo, NY) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • Stephens Media Group (Tulsa, OK) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • Townsquare Media (Poughkeepsie, NY) purchased a VoxPro5 digital recorder/editor.
  • Hubbard (Phoenix, AZ) purchased seven VoxPro5 digital recorders/editors.

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