Benefits of going IP

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jnorth
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Benefits of going IP

Post by jnorth » Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:26 pm

I haven't had any luck finding a good discussion about this anywhere online.

AoIP with the Axia or Wheatstone gear seems to be the thing to do these days, but would it be crazy to build a new studio or upgrade to a new console that isn't IP?

I see some of the major benefits of IP would be in larger facilities where wiring is made much easier.

But what about an existing studio that may just be due for a console upgrade? Already wired, working fine, talent knows how to use it, etc..
The IP stuff to me, particularly the Axia, just seems.. somewhat complicated. Auto mix minuses, record modes, scenes, presets, options.. Maybe I am just sounding like an old timer! It seems to be heavily adopted though, so that's a good sign.

My main question is, in a situation like this, would it be crazy not to buy the latest technology and stay with traditional analog/AES audio wires & a console? Or would you 100% go with IP on any new purchase these days? If so, what would be the reasons? Is anybody buying traditional consoles anymore?

Just looking to get an idea of what the general consensus is, and what considerations should be made before deciding whether or not to invest in AoIP technology. Wouldn't want to purchase a new traditional console only to regret it later.

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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by TPT » Sat Sep 13, 2014 3:58 pm

Not crazy at all to stay with analog. Beware of buzz words (think "plastics" :) )

The digital systems--and that is what they are, systems--make a lot of sense if you are building several studios at once. For example, a rebuild or relocation of a cluster of stations. The wiring between studios becomes a piece of Cat5 orCat6, the analog audio sources stuck in a central rack room instead of run all over the building. Format. program source changes become very simple.

However....

For a single studio you can buy excellent analog consoles for a very economical price. It's creeping up on 5 years now, but back in 2009 we bought a live FM station that was in an LMA to a group with a cluster of 5 other stations. The LMA ran out--and that group wanted the station we bought gone from their complex by the end of the year. We signed the sale agreement on October 15, which meant we had to build a studio from scratch in a little over 2 months. So we bought a house, built an STL tower (out in the county--no zoning problems), and started planning the studio.

We would inherit a beat-up 12 year old R60 with the deal, but that was the main and only console the station had. Our choice for a new main control console was an R-55E 12 channel. Wired and in place the cost was around $6K. Biggest wait was for the counter-top for the studio furniture, once that was finished, installed, the master bedroom became the control room. Moved the day after Christmas, off the air about an hour.

The R-60 became a production console, but was replaced a year later by a repo'ed 8 channel R55E, that cost us $2.5K. But new, it would have cost around $4.5.

I don't think a comparable digital facility could have been built for less than $12K. The station, AC, is, we are told, #1 or 2 for women 25~54 in the market.

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Deep Thought
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by Deep Thought » Sat Sep 13, 2014 6:32 pm

As is often the case, the application really drives the decision making process. You didn't say if this is a stand-alone, or part of a multiple-station cluster.

If it is a stand-alone or a 2-3 station operation stay analog. The payback for IP based studios is still not there yet at that level, and the benefits are few. You'll spend well over $50K to get basic functionality available for 1/5th that in the analog world.
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by BroadcastDoc » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:46 am

DT is on the money. For one or two stations, analog is still a totally viable option. However, once you get past that, digital quickly becomes the better choice due to flexibility, configuration, and ease of use. Keep in mind that $5-$7K will get you an AoIP console these days.
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jnorth
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by jnorth » Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:47 am

Thanks!

It's nice to have the general info for any application, but in our specific case it is just one station, with potential for a second in the future. We are running digital audio through the console all the way to the transmitter, but it is not AoIP.. just a traditional board with AES capability.

Glad to know my thinking is not out of line. I am of the opinion (so far) that for a new studio or an upgrade for something of this size, there aren't a whole lot of tangible reasons to switch to IP other than it's the "thing to do" these days and the latest technology.

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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by Deep Thought » Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:16 pm

BroadcastDoc wrote:Keep in mind that $5-$7K will get you an AoIP console these days.
True, but how much more do you need to spend in support equipment? That "backoffice" stuff is where the problem lies with small operations.
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by BroadcastDoc » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:43 pm

Deep Thought wrote:
BroadcastDoc wrote:Keep in mind that $5-$7K will get you an AoIP console these days.
True, but how much more do you need to spend in support equipment? That "backoffice" stuff is where the problem lies with small operations.
Depends. I had to replace a console at a small group a few months ago. They wanted to go with AoIP at that station as a starting point, with the goal of eventually going all digital. The Axia Radius has all of the "node" functions built into the power supply, so there was nothing to buy there. The only "add-ons" were an IP driver for the automation machine ($500) and some studio hub connectors (not necessary, but very helpful). Got it done for under $7K.
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by KPJL FM » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:15 am

My Rule of Thumb (and I'm all thumbs :D ), if you'll have more than 6 DA's for running audio around the facility, go IP. Wheatstone makes smaller surfaces with engines (that's what they call consoles) that have analog and AES ins and outs. Price will depend on how many additional blades (A2D converters) you'll need for outboard gear you are using, like satellite rcvrs, phones, CD players. Once you go IP, all analog sources have to convert to IP, and you'll have to convert IP to analog inputs. Other manufacturers have low cost alternatives to the BIG systems that they advertise.

The other advantage to replacing DA's and wiring, is the ability to expand quickly in the future. Also, you can quickly make use of 'common' gear to a different studio or destination with a software source-destination assignment - no additional wiring.

It's all dollars to doughnuts in the end.
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by radiowave911 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:58 pm

One thing I did not see mentioned (I have, of course, been known to miss things) is the selection of the switch (network switch, not audio switch) infrastructure. You need to play close attention to this and ensure the switch you select can support QoS settings to prioritize the audio traffic. If you dedicate a network switch (and network subnet) to the AoIP connections, this is not as much of a concern, however the moment you mix traffic - business traffic, file and print server traffic, etc - with the audio traffic, you are asking for trouble that will be noticeable in the audio. The manufacturer of your system will likely have recommendations on specific switch brands and models. The D-Link or Linksys you buy in the neighborhood big box store will not cut it here.

The good news is that you can sometimes score decent stuff off eBay, Craigslist, or other sites. You should have someone familiar with networking, QoS settings in particular, help get the network end set up. When I did our High School station, I used a subnet strictly for the AoIP. We installed Axia LiveWire nodes and Radio Systems Millennium D consoles with built-in Axia nodes. It was nice to run the same cable for just about everything in the station - Audio, Network, Phone, whatever - is is mostly Cat6 FTP cable. I also have some cable running for specific AES and Analog audio stuff, however the Cat6 is bay far the most common cable in the station. For switches, I had a Cisco 2960 dedicated to the AoIP network. This is NOT one of the Axia recommended switches, as it does not support QoS. The rest of the station network ran on a different switch. Because the AoIP is it's own subnet, there is no business traffic flowing there - so I do not have to worry about contention. This is how I got away with a non-QoS switch. I do still have QoS set where the AoIP network meets the firewall (which also serves as my router for the multiple subnets). I put this in 7 years ago when we relocated the station. It has served me well since then, although I think I have a port on the Axia Analog node that is flaking out on me. It is 'on the list' to be repaired. I have upgraded the switches since then, they now support QoS, however they are still only operating at Layer 2, so the QoS is limited. If I enabled routing on the switches (Layer 3), then I could set additional QoS configuration. Everything is behaving, though, so I am content to let sleeping dogs lie.
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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by Baylink » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:34 pm

I'm going to be an opinionated bastard for a moment here.

If you're running AoIP, and you *aren't* running it on separated physical network switches, in different colored cable, with nothing else connected to them, you deserve what you get.

And you *will* get it.

I encourage my competition to behave like this, as a famous backbone networker is fond of saying.

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Re: Benefits of going IP

Post by radiowave911 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:25 pm

Baylink wrote:...in different colored cable...
Meh - the bits care not for the color of the cable :D

Those of us that manage the network, however, find it QUITE useful!
I encourage my competition to behave like this, as a famous backbone networker is fond of saying.
Perhaps you should hire yourself out to 'help' them with their installs! :twisted:
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