Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:13 pm

kcbooboo wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:54 am
I don't know enough about the sat receivers. Can they handle multiple programs at the same time? What is broadcast on this "test" channel? Is it tone or an actual audio source they don't care about?

Bob M.
It depends on the syndicator but it typically is an unencripted, repeating voice message with audio tones for level setting. Something like "This is the WestWoodOne Radio Network", "Right Channel 0db" BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, "Left Channel 0db" BEEEEEEEEEEP, "Both channels 0db" BEEEEEEEEEEEP, and repeat... I should be able to quote it word for word as many hours as I have listened to it.

In the audio port menu, it is sometimes the only enabled program available.

If you have multiple audio ports, they can each be set to simultaneous receive a different program via the front panel menu or provider online setup site. Some receivers will not let you set more than one port to the SAME program

What kind of receive are you using? IE, XDS, Wegner I-Pump, Max, etc.
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by radio_guru » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:57 pm

We'll try this again...

The streams are generally multiplexed and not the SCPC of years ago before DAT and SEDAT...which were the first mass distribution of digitally encoded content...thank you ABC. Most receivers now have multiple outputs which can see the last one remain on the test channel if it has audio 100% for confidence monitoring. If the test channel doesn't (some test channels have gaps as long as 5 seconds in their loops), use a channel with known 100% audio to compare against drop-outs.

Then concurrently record both the game feed and comparing audio channel to see if the drops outs coincide. And get with other affiliates and compare notes ....

RG

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:12 am

Thanks for all the comments.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the receiver is an XDS- PRO4 DVB receiver. It's picking up the C-Band satellite: SES Americom 11 (SES-11), at least for Yankees games. I don't know if the sat dish can pick up signals from multiple satellites.

The dropouts are very easy to pick up on a baseball game where there's crowd noise present 101% of the time. It's as if someone presses a master "cough" button; all audio ceases for a brief time, as little as 100 msec to as much as 1 second. I don't think an intermittent test signal is going to prove anything. If the program being received has no background noise, a dropout that occurs during a quiet period may go undetected.

Since the dropouts usually don't happen for the first 60 or so minutes of a game (35 minute pre-recorded pre-game show followed by live at-the-field game broadcast), it's possible that I just don't hear any dropouts before the live game with crowd noise is being aired. What I was thinking is that somehow the receiver loses synch with the sat signal, especially if it can carry multiple digital programs that need to be decoded. When the receiver is about to be totally confused, it stops decoding for a bit and resynchs. If there's a timing error that gets progressively worse until it can't correct any more, then it has to take a deep breath and get everything lined up again. However there's no warning, no odd-sounding audio, no buzz or burp, the audio just mutes.

The Yankees game audio originates at the ball field and goes to WFAN studios in NYC. They add network commercials at the middle of the inning and at pitcher changes and send the signal out to the satellite. Affiliate stations get the signal and insert their own local commercials at the end of the inning as well as local station IDs. Naturally, the signal coming out of WFAN/660 is flawless.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by radio_guru » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:13 am

I wasn't clear... The XDS RX can output 4 concurrent audio feeds. Of which any one can be the test channel or any one of the satellite provider's "free" programs/channels which have content on them.

I would expect the feed to from the venue to WFAN to be perfect. It's between WFAN's studios and your facility. It's time for detective work.... Logging the feed and a concurrent known good audio feed to provide the sat carrier with proof it's being received that way is part of that due diligence.

RG

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by DaveSt » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:22 am

It looks like your downlink frequency is 4029MHz based on the IF frequency shown by your receiver. That is good as interference problems are more of a problem at the lower C-band. The filter on the feed itself may be from someone like MFC. These filters became very popular for getting rid of interference a few years back, but now filtered LNB's are a much better option. If the frequency is 4029MHz, you could replace the current LNB/filter with one of these: https://www.avcomm.com.au/shop/lnbs/c-b ... 5-4-2-ghz/ which has a 3.9-4.2GHz passband and will be much more effective if the problem is interference. It will also gain you a dB Eb/No as the filters are quite lossy.

It is worth checking/replacing the LNB and receiver as both could cause the problem. The LNB is best to be a PLL type but you do not need the expensive highest stability type. The cheaper non PLL LNB's can be quite a long way off frequency.

I did not see any mention of the Eb/No and signal shown on the receiver. Make sure they are good. Aiming for at least 10dB Eb/No is always a good plan.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:45 am

I recall seeing a figure of 13dB on one display. I think the best it can be is 15dB.

Apparently the receiver vendor is resisting replacing the receiver, claiming it has to be something else (the old finger-pointing ploy). Naturally the station doesn't have the $5,000 to fork over for a new one.

I listened to my local affiliate yesterday from 1:15pm until 1:55pm and heard several dropouts. I switched to another affiliate station at 1:55 for an hour and didn't hear a single dropout. They missed the top-of-the-hour station ID though and their audio signal was delayed maybe 1/2 second from WFAN's, which is pretty quick for a satellite delay, making me think perhaps they're picking up the signal from another source. WFAN has no delay because the air personnel listen to that signal when they play in New York. Back when WFAN was running IBOC they'd shut that off during local Yankees games.

I recommended recording some of the Yankees games and logging dropouts over-the-air. Since I don't work at the station that's the best I can do.

Bob M.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by DaveSt » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:53 am

13dB is very good, so no problem there. $5000 for one of these boxes sounds like more than double what it should be, unless it is gold plated. I am going to guess the carrier is DVB-S QPSK 3/4. So you could put just about any other receiver on that with a splitter, even a domestic receiver and see if it drops out too.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by grich » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:39 pm

Might I suggest another reason for WFAN to turn off IBOC during home games...for the benefit of fans at the stadium who might be listening on portable radios...a quaint idea, I know. :D

Last fall, I was hearing similar drop-outs on Learfield's Iowa State football games, and I'm pretty sure I heard them on two different stations about 40 miles apart. I then heard them on Iowa State basketball games. I called their engineering line and made them aware, but I don't think the drop-outs went away.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by Shane » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:56 am

I switched to another affiliate station at 1:55 for an hour and didn't hear a single dropout. They missed the top-of-the-hour station ID though and their audio signal was delayed maybe 1/2 second from WFAN's, which is pretty quick for a satellite delay, making me think perhaps they're picking up the signal from another source.
If that other affiliate station is west of you, they might be close enough to just take ‘FAN’s off-air signal, although if they missed an ID break and that was the case, you’d have heard the WFAN ID and you didn’t indicate that. My thought was that they have the same problem so they use an alternate feed.

Then again, there also would not be a 1/2 sec delay if they were taking an off-air feed except for maybe processing and STL delays. So maybe they hook up with the network using something like a BricLink.

Just thinking out loud. I’d have a chat with that station’s engineer or operations people if only to verify they don’t have the same problem/aren’t using an alternate feed for that very reason. It sure sounds like an audio problem and not a satellite transmission/reception thing.

Quite the head scratcher.
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:25 am

The other affiliate might be using an ISDN line or something similar. I would expect more delay on an internet connection. They may not have any other satellite programs and figured for one program it's cheaper to use wires than install a dish. Yes, they are west of me and can probably see WFAN's antenna. They aren't picking the signal up off-the-air because during the break they missed, there was only background/crowd noise. For some reason the engineers never fade that down during ID or commercial breaks.

I did suggest that the local CE contact the affiliate to inquire what they're using.

The dropouts are audible directly at the output terminals of the sat rcvr, so that eliminates the station's audio path.

We're going to put a spectrum analyzer on the sat rcvr input and take a look at what's there, just to make sure the RF signal is clean. Unfortunately the analyzer only goes up to 1.5 GHz so it can only view the 1100 MHz down-converted signal.

The Yankees feed is also using the 25/35 Hz cue tones, so the freq response of the feed is almost DC to at least 5kHz. I know there are some very loud thumps that often come from the stadium, possibly when the announcer's mikes are turned on after a commercial break. Besides causing the AGC to duck, they could cause a DC shift somewhere else, but the dropouts I hear are unrelated to those thumps. It's just an observation.

WFAN turned off IBOC (and profanity delays) for local games for both the fans and the air staff (John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman) and of course the local behind-the-scenes personnel, because they then know when local spot breaks and station IDs have finished. Of course they can't do that when they can't hear the station at some "away" games. WFAN eventually dumped IBOC entirely and it's never on. WCBS, a news station, is now airing Mets games. I haven't checked to see if they disable IBOC during home games.

Bob M.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by Shane » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:33 am

For some reason the engineers never fade that down during ID or commercial breaks.
Old timey thing. The idea was to give the impression you never left the stadium. Also not playing the local spots down the network is unusual anymore.
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:21 am

I know y'all are waiting for further info on this. So am I. I was supposed to go to the station Tuesday afternoon (4/16) with my spectrum analyzer and some lunch but the engineer was out of the office and didn't answer any of his phones, so I just bought lunch for myself and went home. I'm now waiting for him to contact me to set up another attempt. Needless-to-say, I'm not thrilled.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by radio_guru » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:02 am

In the mean time, are they logging the game feed and anything else concurrent with the game off the bird to check that side of the equation? If the test channel or other regular concurrent known content available isn't bouncing, then the problem may not be the incoming signal quality. Divide and conquer....

As an aside, I hope the station engineer explains his complete lack of professionalism by blowing you off in such a manner. I understand people have emergencies. But even a simple "heads-up, sorry" text reply would suffice unless the engineer was ***the*** emergency. IE, car collision, medical incident, etc.

Good luck...

RG

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:27 am

Logging? I couldn't tell you and I'd bet not a single byte has been recorded. As the recording won't affect the air product, no time or money will be spent on it. That's the way this cluster operates. Fortunately there are other affiliates carrying the games and I can just as easily listen to one of those.

The shortness of these outages would lead me to believe that only a steady continuous tone on a test channel would be the sort of thing that a dropout would be heard on. It's hard to detect silence on normal voice and if the test signal is a mix or has any silent spots in it, you can't tell if there was an actual dropout or not. On the Yankees games, there's the continuous crowd noise background that's always present between the chit-chat of the on-air personalities, so it's very evident when it happens.

As to the other item, I agree. Since the engineer was out of his office, I can understand not answering that phone, but calls to both of his cellphones went unanswered and I didn't bother leaving a message on voicemail.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by radio_guru » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:04 am

Seems to me their business model is short sighted. Dropouts, or "bouncing" live to air audio ***is*** air product. You'd think they would want to employ tools to debug. Oh well... It's not one my stations....

RG

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