Chris Fee is President and General Manager of KROX in Crookston, MN. Chris has worked at KROX for 24 years and in that time has filled numerous roles. He calls play-by-play sports for Crookston High School, University of Minnesota Crookston, Climax-Fisher, Fertile-Beltrami, Red Lake Falls, Stephen-Argyle, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo and many other local high school teams.
I have always been passionate about sport and radio has been in my blood since I graduated from BSU in 2000 after studying Mass Communications and Coaching. I started my radio career at KROX with part-time announcing while in high school and college, and after graduating college I came home to work full time. Four years ago I bought the station from my father and love doing play-by-play sports commentary for basketball, football, volleyball, hockey, wrestling, baseball, and softball which is my passion.
We have been using the Tieline i-Mix G3 for about five years, and while sports mixers are good pieces of equipment and sound good, the i-Mix and now the ViA codec are on another level when it comes to quality. They make it sound like you are calling the game from the studio!
Scott Kleven (left) and Frank Fee doing a high school
hockey game using the VIA
In reviewing Tieline’s ViA, I’ll start by saying it’s nice and compact and easy to use. The touch screen and menus are a step up from the i-Mix and are very simple to navigate and intuitive. The input and headphone controls are also easy to access and adjust.
I don’t have a technical background but ViA was pretty simple to configure and I did it on my own. We had our engineer do the initial set up with the i-Mix G3 and when we got the Tieline ViA we just dialled and it worked!
The ease of using the ViA is second to none and the ability to use its built-in Wi-Fi, an IP LAN, or a phone line at a venue covers all our options. A couple of seconds is all it takes to connect the codec to a Wi-Fi access point and we have successfully streamed live from various schools and colleges. In places without phone lines, a LAN or Wi-Fi, I have even used the hot spot on my phone to broadcast the game and it is crystal clear, studio sound quality. It is amazing!
Although I wasn’t familiar with the codec initially, I was able to make a connection to our Commander G3 studio codec quickly and easily. The touch screen clearly displays send and return PPMs and you can swipe to view connection info and IP statistics.
We connect in stereo over IP and send a mix-minus from the studio to our announcers at the remote site. We stream using Tieline Music with a bit-rate of at least 64kbps when we connect over wired IP and when the wireless network supports this bit-rate.
Tieline’s automatic jitter buffer settings allow us to talk to the studio in real-time. The auto jitter adjustment measures network capability to reduce latency to the lowest level the network can reliably support. Total latency is never more than 100ms.
I love broadcasting over IP. It is pretty much fool proof and we have never had a drop or anything while using IP. It makes life a lot easier and is one less thing to worry about in the age of disappearing phone lines. Not having to deal with our Telco as much has also been welcome! With IP we are saving on telephone line costs and sound better on our remotes, which only helps sales.
The ViA codec is a tremendous upgrade to anything we have ever used! We added an FM translator over a year ago so people are REALLY noticing the difference when we use the ViA and i-Mix compared to sport mixer games over a phone line or cell phone.
Since we started using the Tieline codecs many listeners have told us that our broadcasts have improved and now sound crystal clear and that’s awesome. We also had an advertiser tell us our remotes sound great.
So far we have used ViA for play-by-play sports coverage, live remotes from stores, and we will use it for Christmas concerts and other live events throughout the year. It’s trouble free every time we take it out and we are even talking about buying another one already!
For more information about ViA and other Tieline codecs, visit http://www.tieline.com/products.
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Note: This article was first published in Radio World US.