I have been a radio broadcast engineer since I left college in the mid-1980s and around 12 years ago I started my own systems integration company Modulation Magic Inc. During the past decade I have designed and installed hundreds of systems for large and small broadcast networks alike.
I have been a fan of Tieline codecs for many years and first used their G1 POTS codecs over a decade ago. These were extremely reliable and since then I have followed their transition into new technologies and used the Tieline Commander G3 and Bridge-IT IP codecs for a range of STL and backup installs.
Jeff Rosenberg with the Genie STL codec
I was recently asked to establish a new turnkey digital end-to-end transmission path between Beverly and Topsfield in Massachusetts for WBOQ FM The brief included installation of a more powerful transmitter and multiple levels of redundancy to ensure the station stayed on air 24/7. It’s very difficult to get copper backups from the Telcos at new locations these days, so IP and appropriate backups had to play an integral part in transporting audio.
At the time I had heard about release of Tieline’s new Genie STL IP codec and was keen to road-test its capabilities and performance. I contacted Tieline’s US office and became one of the first customers to receive a unit and try it out.
The Genie STL codec at the transmitter has two PSUs and dual Ethernet ports so it fits the bill nicely. Ethernet port 1 at both the Beverly and Topsfield codecs sites is used to transport the primary audio stream via an enterprise-grade 18 Gigabit point-to-point IP radio system.
Ethernet port 2 at the Topsfield transmitter is connected to a Verizon IP service over fiber (FIOS). Port 2 at the Beverly studio is connected to Comcast cable IP, and even though both ends use different ISPs with non-guaranteed bandwidth, the data rates are very fast and reliable and light years ahead of standard DSL.
When you compare apt-X-Enhanced encoding over a typical leased line connection versus IP the difference is astounding and my customers can clearly hear the higher quality over IP. For this install we connect at 384Kbps and I have to say the Genie STL is a great sounding piece. It has been connected now for a couple of months and hasn’t missed a beat.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to set it up either. I have used Tieline Bridge-ITs extensively in the past and any IP codec in the Tieline range works in a simple familiar way. This made the Genie very simple to configure, so much so that I didn’t even have to look in the manual!
When you install a Genie STL you won’t get calls at 2am in the morning because it really does have multiple layers of redundancy. Apart from having two PSUs and dual SmartStream Ethernet port redundancy, the codec has the ability to add ISDN and in the future POTS hardware modules for additional transport backup where these services are available. It also has a USB port for backup to recorded audio on a drive, and even has alarm management to trigger automation software if required. Nothing else out there has this complete package.
Configuration can be performed remotely via an internet connection and a web-browser interface called ToolBox, however for point-to-point configuration I found it just as easy to use the front panel keypad and LCD screen.
My clients are very loyal and I get a real buzz out of improving the quality of broadcast audio for engineers and networks, and knowing that literally millions of people can hear the difference in the audio quality of the systems I recommend and install. I have no hesitation in recommending the Genie STL and will continue to recommend it to my clients for other turnkey solutions.
For more information about Tieline codecs, visit http://www.tieline.com/products.