Northern Community Radio Goes Live with Bridge-IT
Oct 9, 2015
Dan Houg is Chief Engineer for Northern Community Radio, Inc. in Minnesota who advises on technical operations for KAXE and KBXE.
I have been the Chief Engineer at the Northern Community Radio group since 2004 and one of my first tasks was to oversee the shift of KAXE from its old location to a new studio. In 2012 we also obtained a license for KBXE and added this station to the group.
Remotes are important to community radio broadcasters and at that time we were using a POTS codec to go live, however around 5 years ago the phone lines we were using became increasingly unreliable over time. After crashing and burning on several remotes we eventually put the POTS codecs out of service and were forced to stop doing live remotes for some time.
Then about a year ago at the NAB Show I looked at various IP solutions for doing remotes. I saw the Tieline Bridge-IT IP codec and was impressed by its simple operation and affordable price. There are basic and pro versions and we purchased a pair of the pro codecs, which include AAC and other multicast and multiple unicast features.
Every 3 months we organise and broadcast the Great Northern Radio Show live from a bunch of venues across the State and a lot of work goes into organising these shows logistically. They run for at least a couple of hours and include a variety of content, including live variety and musical acts, poets and an MC. Fidelity of the audio is critically important to us and I was excited about putting the Bridge-IT codecs to work in broadcasting the shows.
After our experience with the POTS codecs we were understandably nervous with our first live show using Bridge-IT, but our fears of the unknown were unfounded. We used a DSL LAN connection at the venue and there were no dropouts, artefacts, bleebles, twitters or phasing – in fact I was very impressed with it!
The Bridge-IT unit is very simple to operate and I still recall how nice it was to connect reliably. Since then we have had similar experiences with a number of similar remotes from lots of different locations around Minnesota. I have tried both AAC and Tieline’s MusicPLUS algorithm. MusicPLUS works great with 50% Forward Error Correction when the IP bandwidth is available.
Every venue we go to is different, which amps up the risk and reliability factor, but so far so good. Usually we have access to consumer-grade DSL LAN connections and they have produced good quality audio even when experiencing some packet loss. On the last gig we reached the cable length limit on our CAT6 extension cable and connected a router to extend our reach to the data access point. Again the codecs didn’t miss a beat.
Another reason I am so sold on the Bridge-IT codecs is the phenomenal support I received from Tieline America. When I first bought the codec I had a couple of questions and called Tieline’s technical support. Nothing was too much trouble and this level of support is crucial for broadcast products.
Live broadcasts from different venues and towns within the community are important to us as it increases our reach and exposure to new audiences. Seeing new faces at our gigs and hearing great reviews of our shows makes all the effort very rewarding. The Bridge-IT codec has allowed our staff to regain confidence in live remotes, which in turn has encouraged them to do more remotes.