Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

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kcbooboo
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Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:26 pm

For day games that begin with a pre-game show at 12:25pm and a first pitch at 1:05pm, the first dropout is usually around 1:30pm, or about an hour after the program begins. The dropouts last for a syllable to a second and often there are two that happen almost immediately, like a stutter. They don't seem to be happening when there's an audio peak, and there's no warning or digital buzz when they occur, just a muting of the audio signal. They're audible right at the output of the sat rcvr, so it's not a problem with the station's audio chain. Often another dropout occurs within 5 minutes, but then it could be another 45 to 60 minutes until the next one, or there could be 4-5 in the next hour. It doesn't matter if it's a weekday or a weekend, day or night. I was told the signal strength is great, with a "13" out of "15" for the quality indication (I don't know what those numbers represent though).The station records some other 1 hour shows from the same sat rcvr and there are never dropouts on those; the Yankees games are probably the only program the station carries that are longer than 60 minutes. I've listened to other stations carrying the same game and haven't heard any dropouts.

I don't know anything about how a sat rcvr operates nor how it decodes the digital stream into analog audio. I was wondering if there's some sort of clock signal, or a periodic synchronization that goes on, to make sure the proper signal is being picked up. If there's a slight timing error that takes, say, an hour before it becomes intolerable, that might explain why the shorter shows don't have dropouts, but proving it is another matter. There is a bandpass filter on the sat antenna, right at the feedhorn aperture, that was installed to eliminate this kind of situation.

Any explanations, thoughts, or suggestions?

Bob M.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by TPT » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:46 pm

The bandpass filter is probably an "AWACS" filter, airborne radar used with military planes runs just outside of the satellite frequencies.

kcbooboo
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:47 am

I don't know the sat freq or the filter range but I'll try to find out. If it is aircraft radar, that could explain the intermittency of the dropouts, and it might just be coincidental that the first dropout doesn't happen until the program has been received for an hour or more.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by TPT » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:19 am

Understand that many of these airborne military radars have moved into the Ku band, so shouldn't be a problem now. Usually you could tell what they were because you would get a pattern of increase then decrease as the plane or helicopter passed by:

burp....burp....burp.burp.burp.burp..burp...burp....burp.....burp

kcbooboo
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:31 am

Further info from the station engineer:

The receiver is an XDS- PRO4 DVB receiver. From the receiver help page:
C-Band Satellite: SES Americom 11 (SES-11)
105 degrees West Longitude
Transponder: 17
Downlink is vertically polarized
L-band receive frequency 01121000 kHz
Symbol Rate 9259574 sps

There is a filter at the feed horn; no idea what the pass band is. Same receiver picks up two other daily shows which have no drop out. Switched sat dishes with no change. When we looked at it with a spectrum analyzer, it was the WW1 frequency. I do not know how they separate the programs; must be some kind of digital multiplexing scheme. They list them by name for any of the four ports and you just select them by clicking on them. I did try different ports with no change.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by awsherrill » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:10 pm

We have an in-state satellite network that is originated at our office, with XDS receivers at the affilate ends. I have access to a management console that among other things, lets me see "receiver health" if the affiliate has the receiver connected to the Internet. Sometimes I can tell if an affiliate is having signal problems using that feature.

I don't know which satellite provider Entercom is using for the Yankees, but you might call them and have them look at receiver performance logs. They should be able to pull up a log or graph that will show any signal loss for a given time period.

If you can log into the receiver's embedded web server, there is an activity log there that sometimes will show errors (loss of lock, etc) which may be useful information.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:48 am

I believe they use WestWoodOne. I've heard "WW1 radio network" on games aired on WCBS/880, but WFAN/660 airs the Yankees games and at least a dozen other stations rebroadcast that signal. I can hear it on WFAN plus two of those others. I know Entercom bought WCBS and I assume WFAN as well as WINS, and I understahd they all share one studio facility now.

I'll pass that info about Entercom along. It's hard to pinpoint an exact time, because the station has a profanity delay in-line at all times, plus an IBOC delay, plus the signal travel time. The best anyone can do is provide real time when a dropout is heard over the air, coming out of the AM transmitter.

I know that WFAN is no longer IBOC and has NO delays at all during the Yankees games, since the radio announcers listen to the station live at home games, and any delay would royally screw them up.

Bob M.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:54 am

Additional info. The CE checked the logs in the sat rcvr and it reported a couple of signal fades but not at every dropout. He's going to put a spectrum analyzer directly at the antenna input of the rcvr and see what the signal is doing. Last night's game was a late one and I noticed one dropout at exactly 20:31:45 EDT (including 16 seconds of delays), about 66 minutes after the pre-game show started. That seems to be when the first dropout always occurs, and the Yankees games may be the only show that's longer than 1 hour. Could that be a coincidence?

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by Shane » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:18 am

66 minutes? How appropriate.
-Mike Shane- -Omaha-

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by radio_guru » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:07 am

You need to put a logger on this feed to record the drop outs in addition to checking the receiver health and operation. Nothing will get fixed at the network until some hard evidence of a problem exists. Otherwise, it's the classic crossed finger pointing and "It's not my problem" response from all parties involved from the studio through uplink provider. Especially with a source from NYC.

It may not be a bad idea to reach out to other affiliates to see if they have the same problem(s) at the same time(s). I can't imagine others would not care about an incoming specialty program feed which they're no doubt selling to local advertisers.

Sadly, it ultimately could be your problem if other affiliates don't suffer and report similar problems.

Let us know what you find...

RG

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:10 am

Actually I did listen to another station last year, and never heard a single dropout. They could be getting the feed via a different source.

They probably could easily record it as they record and delay other shows to be aired at a later time. It would be much easier to do during a day game, but those are rarely done during the week when station staff are around. But I'll suggest it anyway. I can keep a detailed audio log of the times of the dropouts and perhaps they can listen to that exact time on the recorded audio.

Of course the one station that never has dropouts is the originating station in NYC.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kkiddkkidd » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:28 am

kcbooboo wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:10 am
Actually I did listen to another station last year, and never heard a single dropout. They could be getting the feed via a different source.

They probably could easily record it as they record and delay other shows to be aired at a later time. It would be much easier to do during a day game, but those are rarely done during the week when station staff are around. But I'll suggest it anyway. I can keep a detailed audio log of the times of the dropouts and perhaps they can listen to that exact time on the recorded audio.

Of course the one station that never has dropouts is the originating station in NYC.

Bob M.
Bob,

If you record the feed externally, you might set another port to the test channel and record that as well. It might help to see if another stream is dropping at the same time as the ballgame.
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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kcbooboo » 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?

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by TPT » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:20 am

Yes, most satellite receivers can handle multiple programs at once. Typical geosynchronous satellite has a number of different block converters that receive an up-linked signal from a ground station in the 6 ghz band and re-transmitted in C band (3.5~4.2 ghz). Each transponder typically serves a particular program supplier (although some are shared), the signal is digital and capable of carrying several channels of program audio. At the dish the LNB converts the C-band signal to L-band, which falls into frequencies also used for Aural STL's, and certain private communication services in the 900~1,500 mhz. range. This can be a source of terrestrial interference.

So...if a test channel is available from that sat receiver--and it does not suffer drop-outs when the program channel does--then it is more likely the cause of the drop-outs is not terrestrial interference, but something originating at the program source. Which could be anywhere from ball field, to studio, to the link to the satellite up-link. However, since the test channel is coming out of the LNB on a slightly different frequency than the program audio, it is still possible that a near-by, narrow band transmission is getting into the receive system.

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Re: Audio dropouts on Yankees game broadcasts

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:58 am

TPT wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:20 am

However, since the test channel is coming out of the LNB on a slightly different frequency than the program audio,
I could be very well be wrong but I had understood that all of the audio streams were mass encoded (QAM?) data upon a certain syndicators carrier. Then the RX receives the RF signal, decodes the mass data and then picked out the stream (PID?) to decode out to each port. Actual digital RX technology is getting more than a little outside my expertise.

Later,
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