Simian or Station Playlist?

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Techchick1220
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Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by Techchick1220 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:11 pm

I am in house tech for an FM/AM broadcast station that has been using Simian 2.3 pro and its predecessors for over 15 years.

When we changed from a talk to a morning talk/ PM music format, we began using remote voice tracking via Simian Gateway. We also licensed our backup Simian as a licensed production Simian.

There was a learning curve, but ultimately, in time, we got it all nailed down and it has worked in a stable fashion. Everybody knows it now.

The owner recently acquired addition FM stations that will broadcast music. These will also have a lot of voice tracking--most of the voice tracking--done remotely.

My preference is we should stick with what we already know, and use one system, rather than two, in the station cluster. However, the GM doesn't think much of BSI Simian and sweats that Station Playlist has many more features and much more flexibility. I haven't been on SP much at all, but in reading specs etc, it seems like the features in Simian are about the same, if not more.

Of course, I prefer a single system if there isn't much of a difference in functionality. Notwithstanding that, we need something that is going to be stable and reliable with dj's mainly tracking remote from home studios. I don't know how Station Playlist functions for that--as I told the GM, it's not the voice tracking that is the big concern, it is the remote voice tracking.

These new stations range between 5,000 to 50,000 watts, with some to be sold down the line.

Curious what people's thoughts are on these systems, especially with remote voice track involved. Also curious about cost factor.

Thank you thank you thank you! :-)

lewiscallaway
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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by lewiscallaway » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:31 pm

Station playlist is great for small class A fms and LPFM.... It works fine, but I've only dealt with it at a small station. If you know Simian, then I would stick with it, because you already know it! Station Playlist just seems a bit cheap to me. It works well, especially when everything including remote voice track module is under $500! It's stupidly simple, but compared to the Nex Get automation software I work with, it just doesn't seem as hefty...

TPT
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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by TPT » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:52 pm

Also consider the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns...

We've used Simian for a dozen years, on three stations. Some of the features we've needed to use are the ability to control external devices (turning channels off and on on our console; pulling segments from an FTP site for a morning show, recording and inserting spots from one network while airing another as well as the usual voice tracking functions. Haven't needed to do remote V/T--need to upgrade our version of Simian, but I can see the potential.

Anyway, my point is that which ever system you go with, don't assume or plan for the station's automation needs to remain constant.

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Shane
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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by Shane » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:23 pm

I am a BSI fan and have been for 18 years (it doesn't even bother me the Cume-less owns it!). So I would, of course, stick with Simian. Best functionality for the price, IMHO.

We use ENCO DAD now but I still have a Wavestation license and the software installed on a computer off to the side, just in case!

The devil you know is less of a risk than the devil you don't know.
Mike Shane, CBRE
---Omaha---

Techchick1220
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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by Techchick1220 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:52 am

Thank you all so much!

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Bill DeFelice
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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by Bill DeFelice » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:16 pm

I wrote the original 2007 review for StationPlaylist for Radio World and I thought (and still do) StationPlaylist is much more reliable than Simian or its predecessor, WaveStation. I heard about a horror story about a station having so much trouble with WS that ad clients started jumping ship from the station. Doesn't make me exactly want to try any of their products.

At the time I was getting into StationPlaylist I believe Prophet's Player101 (whatever it was called in its early days) was a serious consideration for my application but StationPlaylist was so simple compared to what I was using that it was a no-brainer to switch. In fact, I had high school students using SPL are part of a campus station and they warmed up to it without much more training than review the help file.

edited: corrected typo
Last edited by Bill DeFelice on Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dbuckley
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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by dbuckley » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:28 pm

The thing I hate about SPL (and it's not unique to SPL) is that it doesn't have a database underlying it, it stores all it's track scheduling information by updating the metadata in the tracks. So the underlying store of files is in a constant state of flux. Even if you schedule the station output using creator. Other than that peeve, it works well enough, and is stable. Which is to say it will run left to it's own devices between enforced Windows/10 updates...

But OP has one product, having two products when one will do is just asking for a world of pain.

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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by TPT » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:42 pm

Agreed. Unless you have one person handling all on-air chores, best to settle on one system & stick with it. Having Simian in house (and being a product that you pay for once, rather than subscribe), I would be inclined to stick with that system.

Granted, if you have older versions of Simian, you will eventually need to pay for an upgrade to run on Windows 10. But once upgraded, you should be set for several years.

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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by RodeoJack » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:03 am

With all due respect, there is no reliability issue with Simian.

I've used Simian in single and multiple-instance modes for close to 20 years. The early versions had some issues with the multi-instance configuration, but I worked with BSI and those problems were soon resolved. Since then, any issues I've had with client stations have ALWAYS revolved around computer configuration, and then, they were usually traced to processor versions that BSI makes no bones about not supporting.

If you like Simian, keep it. For the money, you'll be hard pressed to get more bang for the buck.

That said, I've heard stations running Prophet, which sound very good. Same with "Audio Vault". Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but reliably staying on the air is not a problem you'll run into with a properly-configured setup.

The learning curve is likely to be your biggest challenge. I like Simian and am familiar with its quirks and programming requirements. Frankly, I have no desire to learn something else right now because I only have one station in my group that has anything else, and they take care of it themselves. You're likely to run into the same kind of resistance, but it's mainly going to be a problem of kicking someone out of their comfort zone. Give some thought as to whether it's worth the battle to push one version over the other! :-)

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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by gstephens » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:11 pm

dbuckley wrote:
Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:28 pm
The thing I hate about SPL (and it's not unique to SPL) is that it doesn't have a database underlying it, it stores all it's track scheduling information by updating the metadata in the tracks. So the underlying store of files is in a constant state of flux. Even if you schedule the station output using creator. Other than that peeve, it works well enough, and is stable. Which is to say it will run left to it's own devices between enforced Windows/10 updates...

But OP has one product, having two products when one will do is just asking for a world of pain.
This actually saved my butt once. I used to use an automation system (Rivendell) that used a MySQL database. It was an awesome product, until when it came time to do an SQL restore due to a corrupt database. However, for months the backups had also been made corrupt. Unfortunately the months of backups could not be restored and what a nightmare.

I switched back to Simian. Deleted the Audio.MDB file and re-started Sound Hound. The database in the playout software was immediately re-created from information in the audio files themselves. It also makes exporting and importing audio with other stations much easier as the information goes with the files.

As for Station Playlist. I've used it for remote voice tracking for a station I've helped out in the past and it was really simple to use. It was as reliable as and the station had no issue with it. The developer Ross Levis is also a great guy to deal with as far as support for his products go.

Simin costs a whole lot more, and hardly does much that Station Playlist can't. Plus you have way bigger price tags by the time you add on music scheduling with Simian. If price point is your decider, go with Station Playlist. If hardcore studio automation (satellite receivers, controlling other hardware etc...) then Simian is awesome.

There are a few bugs and quirks with Simian even 2.3 but for the most part I use it with a linear database and a linear Audioscience card and it's extremely reliable and sounds awesome. I use the playhooks feature in Simian which for me makes it sound more polished than Station Playlist. However, remote voice tracking will cost you the earth to get the full Simian version etc... I use the Lite version, which costs 1/3 the price and I reserve voice track placeholders in my playlist and those files can be uploaded via FTP. I automate everything else such as new ingestion by batch files using different command line tools and vbscript to manipulate the wave file tags.

So which one? Whichever is right for you and whichever you are more familiar with. For remote voice tracking you can't beat Station Playlists price and ease of use. If you want to get more complex with music scheduling etc... then Simian is a great standalone playout only system and very reliable. Support however can take months if not years if there's something you want fixed in the software or added too. I have found BSI a different kettle of fish once they've got your money.

Cheers,
Gavin.

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Re: Simian or Station Playlist?

Post by TPT » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:41 pm

The "lite" version of Simian doesn't support peripheral communication--e.g., don't believe it will support any kind of I/O device for receiving net cues and controlling external relays or switchers.

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