Home > Equipment, Management > Remote, Live Broadcast, or Tech Fun?

Remote, Live Broadcast, or Tech Fun?

I should start by saying it has been way too long since a post.  Truth be told, it has not been the most exciting, eventful few months for me in the biz.  A lot of little things, but nothing to write home about!  OK, that was pretty bad.  There is one area that received some attention and that was remote broadcast delivery and call ins.  The main equipment are iPads with built-in wireless 4G and docks along with the Tieline Report-IT app.  We deployed three new road cases, each with its own challenge.

As posted in July, the first case built utilized the Alesis I/O Dock.  Designed, or should I say intended, to be used as a personal I/O (input/output) device for the home recording artist using an iPad.  After setup and testing we discovered that the inputs, mic and mic/guitar, were channel independent, i.e. one fed the left channel, the other the right channel.  This is all fine and well if recording on the iPad, but the Report-IT app only recognized the left channel.  Not a big surprise as it was designed to accept a single input, a microphone, which is a mono source.  In development I bet no one said, “No “blank” is going to need anything else.”  To correct this issue, I modified the Alesis, oh no warranty busted, such that the second channel fed the first channel right before the A/D converter that feeds the iPad.  Problem solved and it did not affect the headphone or monitoring feeds.

With the success of number one, the search continued for other alternatives within reason, or lack of budget.  Lo and behold the discovery of the Behringer iStudio iPad dock.  This puppy is less expensive that the Alesis, so what do we have to lose, or gain?  Testing it out I discovered the same problem as the Alesis, only one channel fed the Report-IT app.  Indeed, the Behringer is designed the same way as the Alesis; home recording of two sources to feed independent tracks in a recording app.  Normally vocal and guitar.  Warranty busting again to discover that they use the same A/D chip as Alesis!  I know what to do, and one jumper later, we had another case ready for action.

We were intrigued by the Mackie DL806, so with a little shoveling into the budget, we purchased one.  The Mackie is designed to be a live sound mixer and takes after their VLZ series mixers.  It also requires a bit more configuring for your setup.  If you are familiar with using a Mackie for broadcasts, you will find it is not much different.  Everything gets configured on the iPad, and once configured the hardware will remember the settings.  The added bonus, but adds complexity, is each channel has a gate and compressor setting.  I am still working out the details of how these settings are saved for different shows and environments, so a more in-depth write-up will follow.  Overall it has worked well for us.

The culmination of all this is the installation of two Teline Merlin Plus codecs.  With these we are now capable of handling up to 12 IP broadcasts.  We already had one day which all our stations were out at various times with overlaps.  We are now looking into hardening the IP streams.

All of this was not all without some humps in the road.  I have had a Merlin Plus get into a state where it rejected any connections, yet I was able to connect with the Toolbox and reboot it remotely.  My last use of the Mackie had a hiccup where noise poured out of the headphones and monitor on site.  This looked to be the dock connection with the iPad or the iPad itself.  This is currently under investigation.  In another situation the iPad is setup to use either the wireless or the WiFi connection at the venue.  Apparently something changed something there making the iPad want to connect to the WiFi, but not passing the stream.  The talent was instructed to turn off the WiFi on the iPad.  Well, it looks like training on how to use tablets may be necessary.

Overall we have been quite happy with our arsenal of remote gear.  From traditional codecs to running apps only we have the bases covered.  More training and fine tuning is necessary, but in the long run the PDs are happy as are the air talent.  Now if I can get my hands on a DL1608 or DL32R…..

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