Tech Tips from Tieline’s U.S. Codec Expert Jacob Daniluck
High Quality Remote Broadcasting From Multiple Locations: Mission Possible
Over the past few weeks, I have been working with stations across the country to make sure they have everything they need to work remotely from home. One of the more unique situations encountered has been broadcasting live shows with multiple hosts in different locations all from outside the main studio. So far, I have seen two solutions to this challenging issue. They are using:
- A “conference platform”, or
- A traditional live codec set up as a “conference bridge”.
If you are using a conferencing platform solution, then you have likely noticed that the audio quality “isn’t quite there” for broadcasters. In addition, the signal or stream has issues relating to reliability. If you are using audio codecs and create a conference bridge at the studio, then you probably have learned that you need multiple mix-minus buses. You do, however, get the desired audio and the required reliability. A conference bridge comes with a price…the additional delay between your hosts. The reason you run into this issue is the audio routing involved. It introduces a delay between your host responses that is similar to what you would see and hear between a live TV news anchor and a field reporter. Overcoming this dreaded delay isn’t too tricky if you have the right tools. Tieline Hardware provides these tools: TieLink, High Audio Density Encoding/Decoding & the Audio Matrix.
TieLink facilitates Simpler ‘Conferencing’ Connections
The first feature, TieLink, takes on the heavy lifting of connecting each location. In a world before TieLink, you would need to redirect your Network Address Translator (NAT – Click Here for more information about NAT’s) through your internet router/firewall to allow connectivity. In most studios, the network is already setup with the proper NAT and is how the codecs can connect. Without TieLink or the proper NAT’ing at each location, you would need to have each codec dial into the studio first to hear each of the other units. If you take the time to set up TieLink or the network config, then you open up the possibilities to have direct connectivity with your ViA in the field. Setting up the NAT on the network config or TieLink is the first step in creating a low-latency audio codec network bridge.
Having the ability to receive a connection instead of just making a connection is excellent, but it doesn’t solve this issue alone. When using TieLink and a High-Density Audio Codec, you have the ability to create multiple connections to each location inbound or outbound. This allows multiple connections to each location and gives the codec the ability to have each field unit dial directly into another unit. Not only will your hosts be able to dial into one another, but each host will have the ability to show up on separate faders at the studio. The act of having each host dial direct gives the user the ability to set a lower buffer level than usual for those specific return feeds, which in result gives you less delay between each host talking.
Mix-minus Feeds to Support Conferencing
The final step on achieving low-latency audio is in the audio routing from the studio location and at each field location, in a “conference” bridge setup. You would need to create a unique mix-minus bus channel in your studio to handle each codec’s return audio feed. In the proposed setup with TieLink and High-density codecs, you still have a mix-minus bus at the studio, but only a single source. The reason for only a single source of audio is because the Tieline studio hardware (Genie & Merlin) can use the Audio Matrix router to customize the flow of the audio between locations (i.e., Input 1 feed to Codec Channel 1, 2 and 3).
Another benefit of the Audio Matrix is for the field locations. Without the audio matrix, you need to mix multiple signals to allow each host to hear their audio plus the audio from other hosts. To overcome this, you could install a mini mixer that can mix each return signal, but this requires additional gear and setup. Instead of using an audio mixer, why not use the built-in audio matrix in Tieline codecs like ViA, Merlin and Genie, which allows you to mix specific codec channels to a specific output (i.e., Codec Channel 1, 2, or 3 to headphones).
High Quality Remote Broadcasting From Multiple Locations is a Reality
When adding features like TieLink and High-Density codecs together, you not only create a reliable and high-quality network, but a low-latency network of audio codecs. Then as an added benefit with Tieline’s audio matrix you can reduce equipment needs in the field that will save you time, money and energy during set up. Whether you are looking for that point-to-point application for audio delivery, or this unique multi-location remote, Tieline has you covered. Our feature sets are designed with broadcasters in mind to make life easier when facing troubling times.
- For those interested in TieLink accounts and getting started, please visit www.tieserver.com/tielink/.
- Click here for more information about how to create mix-minus feeds.
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(Jake’s Take on High Quality Remote Broadcasting From Multiple Locations , published 6th May, 2020)