Most engineers agree that IP-audio is the future. Ask anyone and they will most likely nod their head and say “yes, that sounds right.”What many of those same folks don’t realize is that there are IP-based systems transporting audio in broadcast environments right now.
Broadcasters are using these IP-based systems to solve many different kinds of operational and installation challenges.
First, let me tell a short story. You all remember these… the NAB cartridge. Those of us who’ve been around a while might remember when Collins brought these to the NAB in 1959. Up till then radio had been recording spots and other program material on transcriptions and Mackenzie Repeaters and other interesting gadgetry. But the cart made them all obsolete within months. 30 years later, in 1990, carts were still king, but the PC was on the scene and some of our more gadget-oriented production guys were fooling with SAW in the back room.
But even though PCs were interesting for audio editing, no one even considered replacing their Schaeffer systems or Instacarts with them. Untl…
An app called “Cart Machine” for the IBM PC was posted to Compuserve in 1991 and became a runaway hit. The PC didn’t replace the cart machine overnight, but within 5 years it was dead as the dodo. I still remember visiting KZLA in the late 90’s and seeing a closet FULL of Tomcat cart decks, and hearing the CE wonder what he was going to do with all that iron.
The point of that story is that computer technology has already revolutionized broadcasting once, and is now ready to do it again. This time it’s Internet protocol addressing, the same tech that’s used to route millions of business transactions every day. It’s a tested, proven technology and has some interesting application benefits – such as the radical reduction of wiring within the broadcast plant.
IP-audio networks help radio stations cut costs in several ways besides just eliminating traditional discrete wiring. I know “convergence” is a tired buzzword, but IP-audio accomplishes this by providing a combined transport network for audio, machine logic, PAD, messaging, file transfers and other standard network traffic.
Anyone who’s ever had to undertake a massive rewiring job on a studio wired with punch blocks knows what a task it is. Changing is difficult, and expanding is daunting.
The answer to stations’ flexibility issues has often led them to router/switcher solutions, but those systems, because they’re custom-built, are expensive and not within the reach of medium-size or smaller stations that could benefit from their capabilities. IP-audio networks use standard switched Ethernet for transport. And as we all know, when a technology is based on a standard, the cost of implementing it decreases because solutions are now no longer custom-built. And in the case of IP-Audio, billions of dollars of R&D are continuously being spent on the development of the Ethernet backbone – by companies like Cisco and HP, whose resources are much greater than those of most broadcast-specific companies.
If you want to see how IP-Audio works in the business world, look at VoIP.
VoIP is growing at an astronomical rate. Compared to traditional PBX systems, it’s more flexible, less expensive, and offers users more features.
Analysts predict that VoIP will account for more than 90% of sales in just two years from now. Analysts predict that VoIP will account for more than 90% of sales in just two years from now. Analysts predict that VoIP will displace traditional PBX almost completely by 2008 – just two short years from now.
As an added note, Cisco says their VoIP phones are replacing up to 8,000 traditional phones every single business day.
A groundbreaking use of IP-Audio technology is being implemented by NPR. Their Content Depot system will use this tech to feed content-on-demand along with PAD and other useful information to their affiliates, doing away with real-time audio captures, missed feeds and incomplete program information.
With all of this information in hand, it’s no exaggeration to say that IP-Audio is poised to completely revolutionize the way broadcasters think about routing, source sharing and studio design.
Your traditional audio sources - phone systems, codecs, satellite receivers - connect to Audio Nodes.
These nodes convert incoming signals to high-resolution, uncompressed digital audio, and then turn that into audio data streams.
All these audio streams have their own unique IP address that allows them to be routed to wherever they’re needed.
Machine control logic is also converted into data and routed along with the source audio.
These nodes connect to local Ethernet switches, creating a “network within a network.” This is important because even if the network that shares audio between rooms has a problem, those rooms themselves are independent of the main and stay online.
Each room’s Ethernet switch is then connected to the other switches. Voila - it’s an audio network! Want to add another room? Just put a switch in it and plug in more audio nodes; these sources are immediately available across the entire network.
Equipment with an IP-Audio interface is much simpler to use than traditional gear. *CLICK* Take a broadcast phone system with an IP-Audio interface, for example. Instead of the traditional multiple audio channels out, program-on-hold channels in and D-sub connectors for logic in and out, you have one Ethernet jack which replaces them all.
Or a delivery system. No more sound card connections to make pigtails for; the computer’s Ethernet NIC provides all of the audio and data I/O.
Several major broadcast equipment suppliers have announced their support for IP-Audio and have introduced products that are directly compatible, including both hardware and software vendors, with more announcements to come.
Lower costs are also a significant side benefit of IP-Audio, which we’ll see as we continue. Now let’s see how some broadcasters have benefitted from the use of IP-Audio technology.
Large studio complexes have for years constructed “mirror” studios to enhance the flexibility of their facilities. *CLICK* But this is very complicated. You can use program switchers, which literally switch all of the inputs to the program chain between studios by mechanical means…*CLICK* Or you can use TDM routing, which is better but still lacks the ability to have machine logic follow switched audio sources, or requires add-on gear to provide needed functionality.
IP-audio truly does maximize flexibility, because sources and logic can be called for use from any room in the networked facility. *CLICK* And there’s plenty of overhead available for transport of all this data – Gigabit Ethernet has enormous bandwidth, many times that of a T-3 connection, and can carry hundreds of channels of stereo audio per link.
An example where IP-Audio has delivered such simplification and cost savings can be found at WOR’s new origination studio complex in Manhattan. In addition to each day’s local programming, WOR generates unique program feeds destined for Internet streams, several different satellite networks, and the occasional television program.
WOR found that IP-Audio would accommodate all of their technical needs, including the ability to immediately access any source in any location, and to automate the switching of specified feeds to pre-determined destinations. Failsafe operation was achieved with the use of redundant core switches. *CLICK* And IP-audio cost WOR a quarter of the cost of the same studios built with traditional routing systems.
Scalability is a big concern when building facilities today. As I mentioned before, punch-blocks don’t serve this need very well. *CLICK* TDM routing systems can be added to, but often at considerable cost – more frames, cards, cable pulls, et cetera.
But IP-audio systems are easily upward (or downward) scalable. *CLICK* Adding new resources is as simple as plugging in more audio nodes and connecting them to an Ethernet switch, which is then connected to the rest of the network. This considerably reduces not only the cost of expansion, but the time spent configuring and installing as well.
And IP-Audio systems can carry many thousands of channels per system. This capacity is inherent, whereas additional capacity for traditional routing systems must be added-on.
An example of this scalability comes from MPR’s headquarters in Saint Paul. with a growing amount of daily content that feeds two statewide networks, a nationwide satellite classical music service and many long form productions, MPR decided to double its facilities, which already consisted of eight control rooms, five on-air and production studios, two full recording studios and several small editing rooms. *CLICK* Knowing the limitations to scalability that is found in traditional routing systems, MPR investigated and chose IP-Audio for their expansion, which consisted of another eight control rooms and studios, a news/announce booth and 10 edit/production rooms, as well as an auditorium space. This was accomplished with a 33% cost savings compared to traditional routing systems… *CLICK* And allowed the construction of a fully redundant, self-healing network.
MPR’s distributed network architecture features a redundant core, an edge switch for every two studios, and two fiber links per edge switch to ensure QoS and eliminate single points of failure.
It’s not only expansion that causes trouble with routing systems… *CLICK* It’s also making changes. And eventually, their switching frames simply run out of room, a problem which can be overcome, but not cheaply. *CLICK* With IP-audio, this is not a problem, since Ethernet is naturally upward scalable.
IP-Audio’s ability to be quickly changed and reconfigured was much appreciated at XM Radio’s Canadian facilities *CLICK* Which generate programming that’s then fed back directly to the D.C. head end over an OC-3 data link.
The project was very large, with linked studio complexes in two Canadian cities, and there were several running changes to both plants, which could have been extremely costly had they used traditional routing technology as the basis for their studios. *CLICK* But thanks to the flexibility of Ethernet and the reconfigurability of IP-Audio, the project was successful. I made note of this quote from Tyler Everitt of Pippin Technical, who installed the IP-Audio studios: “Ethernet has a scalability and flexibility that other systems don’t, so building with it provides a much more a la carte approach.” Which means that you can select and combine the pieces that make the most sense as needed, without punitive additional costs.
IP-audio also lets broadcasters build in stages instead of requiring “all-at-once” facility builds. Since “audio nodes” can be placed anywhere in the facility where ins and outs are needed, a studio built around IP-audio can coexist peacefully with traditional studios.
Broadcasters benefit by being able to stage their studio upgrade projects, spreading costs over longer periods of time.
Univision’s McAllen, Texas cluster used this approach with their studio upgrade project. *CLICK* They first rebuilt a single studio using IP-Audio, *CLICK* Knowing that they could convert the other studios as time and money allowed.
Over a one-year period, Univision progressively converted all of the studios in their McAllen cluster, making the expenditures much more amenable to corporate accounting.
Another benefit of IP-audio is that it’s easily configured and nearly self-documenting. Remember that in an IP-Audio system, each run of CAT-6 can carry hundreds of channels of audio plus control data and PAD. So you get to chuck the multi-pair cable, punch blocks and all that goes along with configuring and installing traditional studios.
The same as with a computer network, each node in the IP-Audio system is assigned a unique IP address.
And every audio stream on those nodes is also given a unique identifier – not just a series of numbers, but a plain English name that is carried with it wherever it goes.
The system gives each input and output its own unique multicast address…
But the names and channel numbers follow the audio throughout the network.
Because these nodes and streams have IP-addresses, users can configure and administer the system remotely with a standard Web browser.
This capability even presents us with the tantalizing capability to remotely control the consoles themselves! Where does the self-documenting part come in? Since the IP-addresses for each node are displayed in the configuration Web pages, all it takes to document each audio node, audio stream and software device in the systems is to print the displayed web page – to paper or PDF – and archive it. My thanks to Terence Dupuis of KWMU at the University of Missouri for discovering this tip.
Another excellent example of IP-Audio in the real world is in the realm of STL transmission. More and more, as urban and suburban areas grow, buildings and frequency interference obliterate existing STL paths.
On the other end of the teeter-totter, stations need a way to exchange not only uncompressed audio but control and monitoring data between transmitter sites and studio facilities.
A situation like this occurred in Birmingham, Alabama at the Clear Channel cluster. *CLICK* IN order to solve the problem, the station chief investigated IP-Audio. He found that Audio Nodes at the transmitter and studios, linked with an Ethernet radio, would do the job. *CLICK* The installation now provides several channels of uncompressed stereo feed to the transmitter site, along with program audio backhaul and other monitoring data. The existing facilities were not converted to IP-Audio throughout – just the STL portion.
This 18 GHz Dragonwave Airpair dish is located on top of the studio building in Birmingham, with a line-of-sight link to the transmitter site. *CLICK* Bob Newberry, the Cluster Chief, says “I see the future of audio transmission belonging to Internet packet data. There is no end to the wealth of reliable products to get the broadcaster’s job done economically using the consistent protocols and connections of the Ethernet standard.”
I’ve shown you several examples of how IP-audio can save money and solve problems. But will it really work? Yes!
Remember that IP-audio is not Internet audio. Internet audio is a completely different beast, relying on an open, uncontrolled public network riddled with broken routers, oversaturated links and other nasties.
IP-Audio networks are closed, private networks that use the latest switched Ethernet technology with guaranteed QoS to deliver realtime, uncompressed low-latency audio without dropouts or audio compression artifacts.
I hope you’ve found my presentation informative. Thanks for coming.
IP-AUDIO NETWORKS IN THE REAL WORLD:
IP-AUDIO NETWORKS IN THE REAL WORLD: How MPR, Univision, and The University of Indianapolis are Using IP-Audio to Solve Problems
ABSTRACT <ul><li>Most broadcasters agree: IP-based audio systems represent the future </li></ul><ul><li>Many people don’t realize systems using Internet Protocol addressing with Switched Ethernet to transport audio already exist </li></ul>
ABSTRACT <ul><li>Today, we’ll explore the challenges broadcasters face, and… </li></ul><ul><li>Learn how prominent broadcasters have used IP-Audio to meet these challenges </li></ul>
THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING <ul><li>When tape carts came along in 1959, transcriptions became obsolete </li></ul><ul><li>In 1990, carts were still king. But… </li></ul>
THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING <ul><li>Experimentation using IBM PCs with digital audio cards began. </li></ul><ul><li>No one thought this could possibly work! </li></ul>
THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING <ul><li>1991: “Cart Machine” for the PC is introduced – gets over 2,000 Compuserve downloads in 90 days </li></ul><ul><li>By 1996, cart machines had been replaced by PCs. </li></ul>
THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING <ul><li>Today, IP-Audio is poised to make traditional audio distribution infrastructure as obsolete as the cart machine </li></ul><ul><li>These systems employ the same IP addressing technology powering business data networks </li></ul><ul><li>IP-Audio eliminates the discrete-wiring model used since the dawn of radio </li></ul>
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>IP Audio networks enable broadcasters to cut costs by utilizing a common transport mechanism for audio, messaging, and other data traffic </li></ul>Why are IP-Audio Networks considered to be the future of the broadcast plant?
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>IP-Audio networks provide broadcasters the flexibility to grow and change that traditional systems lack </li></ul>Why are IP-Audio Networks considered to be the future of the broadcast plant?
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>Since IP-Audio networks are standards-based, even smaller stations can afford to deploy them </li></ul>Why are IP-Audio Networks considered to be the future of the broadcast plant?
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>Real-time IP-Audio in the IT world is already commonplace, as seen in the accelerating migration from traditional telephone services to Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology </li></ul>
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>Sales of VoIP-based PBX systems outstripped traditional TDM systems for the first time in 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Estimates indicate that by 2008, VoIP will account for over 90% of PBX sales while traditional phone systems decline to 8% </li></ul>
THE FUTURE IS NOW VoIP Access Lines in the U.S.
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>In September 2005, Cisco, reporting the sale of its 6-millionth IP phone, said that VoIP is displacing up to 8,000 traditional circuit-based telephones every business day </li></ul>
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>NPR affiliates can browse a list of programs, arrange feeds, and download metadata including promos, audio samples, and rights information </li></ul>NPR’s Content Depot ® program distribution system employs IP-over-satellite technology
THE FUTURE IS NOW <ul><li>The broadcasting industry is on the verge of an IP-fueled revolution in distribution and infrastructure design </li></ul>
How IP-Audio works: Audio sources connect to “audio nodes”
How IP-Audio works: Nodes convert audio to uncompressed, 24-bit/48 kHz digital audio, then translate it to packet data
How IP-Audio works: Each audio node input/output is assigned an IP address for identification and routing purposes
How IP-Audio works: Logic ports on each device are connected to GPIO nodes, which convert on/off, tally and other commands to packet data
How IP-Audio works: Each node makes its audio and control data available to the network
How IP-Audio works: Each studio’s local Ethernet switch is connected to the other rooms via core switches or daisy-chain Studio A Studio B Studio C
HOW IP-AUDIO WORKS <ul><li>Compared to traditional multi-line broadcast phone systems, an IP-Audio based system requires only a single Ethernet connection – simplifying installation </li></ul>By integrating IP-Audio interfaces into equipment, installations are greatly simplified
HOW IP-AUDIO WORKS <ul><li>With an IP-Audio based computer delivery system, audio travels to the network via the computer’s NIC card – without soundcards, multiple audio lines, or D/A/D conversion </li></ul>By integrating IP-Audio interfaces into equipment, installations are greatly simplified
HOW IP-AUDIO WORKS <ul><li>BE, BSI, D.A.V.I.D. Systems, dMarc, Enco, IDC, Netia, Omnia, OMT, Pristine Systems, Prophet Systems, Radio Systems, Synadyne, Telos and Zenon Media have all announced IP-Audio system compatibility </li></ul>
HOW IP-AUDIO WORKS In addition to simplified installation, lower costs – both short and long term – are significant benefits of IP-Audio systems
APPLICATIONS: Interchangeable Studios <ul><li>For years, broadcasters have built “Mirror” studios for interchangeable use, but… </li></ul><ul><li>Taking any room to air as needed presents logistical challenges with traditional hardwired systems </li></ul><ul><li>Even with TDM systems capable of multiplexing logic commands with audio, additional hardware is required </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Interchangeable Studios <ul><li>With its decentralized, shared data approach, IP-Audio networks simplify construction and use of identical studios </li></ul><ul><li>Gigabit Ethernet has the capacity to carry hundreds of simultaneous stereo audio channels per link – with audio, logic, and program associated data all traveling the same CAT-6 cable </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: WOR System Benefits <ul><li>IP-Audio system met all operational requirements – including the ability to access any source in any location and automate the switching of feeds to destinations </li></ul><ul><li>Installation of an IP-Audio system saved them roughly 25% of the cost associated with traditional means </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Simple Scalability <ul><li>Hardwired facilities are not amenable to growth </li></ul><ul><li>TDM routers face similar challenges – often requiring additional frames, cards, and increased wiring infrastructure – all at significant cost </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Simple Scalability <ul><li>IP-Audio networks are not subject to the growth limitations of hardwired systems </li></ul><ul><li>Adding a new studio to the network is accomplished by connecting its audio nodes to a local Ethernet switch, which links to the core switch via CAT-6; then assigning IP addresses to the new inputs </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Simple Scalability While IP-Audio networks cannot scale upward indefinitely, their ability to carry tens of thousands of stereo channels per system is enough to satisfy most facilities
APPLICATIONS: Minnesota Public Radio <ul><li>MPR’s expansion called for doubling the size of their facilities </li></ul><ul><li>The change from traditional routing to IP-Audio made this upgrade easier and provided far greater scalability – all at lower cost </li></ul><ul><li>This Ethernet-based system enabled MPR’s network to be fully redundant and self-healing </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Quick Changes <ul><li>With router/switchers, making system changes or additions can prove difficult </li></ul><ul><li>Routers reach “plateaus” in terms of capacity </li></ul><ul><li>IP-Audio networks solve this problem because they are both scalable and modular </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: XM Canada <ul><li>Two studios – Montreal and Toronto for origination of XM’s Canadian content </li></ul><ul><li>Programming generated in Canada feeds back to Washington, DC headquarters via broadband OC-3 connection </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: XM Canada <ul><li>Changes occurred because of the scope of the project </li></ul><ul><li>“Ethernet has a scalability and flexibility others systems don’t, so building with it provides a much more a la carte approach.” </li></ul>- Tyler Everitt, Sales Manager, Pippin Technical
APPLICATIONS: Progressive Buildouts <ul><li>IP-Audio network’s ability to not only scale, but to co-exist with other systems enables broadcasters to begin migrating to new technology without being forced to make wholesale changes to existing studios </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Progressive Buildouts <ul><li>Systems can be “staged” to accommodate remodeling or facility upgrades by retiring old gear on a studio-by-studio basis </li></ul><ul><li>This process facilitates spreading upgrade costs over time </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Univision Radio <ul><li>Univision has 3 stations in McAllen, TX </li></ul><ul><li>Starting with KBTQ, switching/routing systems were installed </li></ul><ul><li>With a scalable Ethernet backbone, network can expand via additional nodes, (control) surfaces, and Ethernet switches </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Univision Radio IP-Audio rack at Univision Radio, McAllen, TX 3 audio nodes (below switch, top) provide 24 sets of stereo I/O; router selector accesses audio channels system-wide
APPLICATIONS: Each bidirectional Gigabit Ethernet link can transport up to 200 channels simultaneously – eliminating multi-pair, home-and-back cable runs, punch blocks, and soldering - along with most infrastructure troubleshooting Painless Configuration/Documentation
APPLICATIONS: In an IP-Audio network, as in a standard Ethernet computer network, each node is assigned a Unicast IP address Painless Configuration/Documentation
APPLICATIONS: During configuration, each node’s inputs (and outputs) are given a channel number and descriptive text Painless Configuration/Documentation
APPLICATIONS: Behind the scenes, the node’s software assigns each input and output a unique Multicast IP address Painless Configuration/Documentation
APPLICATIONS: These names and channel numbers follow the input’s audio throughout the network, and are displayed whenever a user browses or “takes” available feeds Painless Configuration/Documentation
APPLICATIONS: Since all parts of an IP-Audio network have assigned IP addresses, the ability to remotely administer the system is built in Remote Administration and Control
APPLICATIONS: Since studio consoles in the IP-Audio environment are just human interface devices controlling digital mixing engines, software applications can enable talent to board-op themselves remotely Remote Administration and Control
APPLICATIONS: Increasingly, stations are finding it hard to overcome frequency proliferation and STL path obstructions as population centers grow. Ethernet STL/Data Links
APPLICATIONS: At the same time, the desire to add Ethernet equipment control and other data services to uncompressed STL has increased. Ethernet STL/Data Links
APPLICATIONS: Clear Channel, Birmingham <ul><li>Station cluster experienced increasing STL frequency interference </li></ul><ul><li>IP-audio nodes located at studio and transmitter were linked with 18 GHz Ethernet radios </li></ul><ul><li>Setup provides multiple uncompressed STL stereo audio channels & backhaul </li></ul>
APPLICATIONS: Clear Channel, Birmingham Dragonwave 18 GHz Ethernet radio exchanges audio and data between IP-audio equipment at studio and transmitter. “I see the future of audio transmission belonging to Internet Packet data. There is no end to the wealth of reliable products to get the broadcaster’s job done economically using the consistent protocols and connections of the Ethernet standard.” — Bob Newberry Chief Engineer
BUT IS IT READY FOR PRIMETIME? <ul><li>YES! </li></ul><ul><li>Make no mistake… </li></ul><ul><li>IP-Audio is not Internet audio! </li></ul>
BUT IS IT READY FOR PRIMETIME? IP-Audio networks are not Internet based – rather, they are carefully controlled environments where traffic overloads are not allowed to exist
BUT IS IT READY FOR PRIMETIME? IP-Audio networks employ switches with guaranteed QoS, along with careful system design and specialized transport protocols to deliver real-time, no-loss, synchronized Ethernet audio
CONCLUSION The numerous operational benefits of IP-Audio networking have been and are being continuously proven by professional broadcasters around the world each and every day