I have worked in broadcasting with Stingray (formerly known as Newcap) since 2009 and started out as an engineer in Ottawa. My current responsibilities are to oversee network maintenance and the technical budget for 3 markets in Nova Scotia.
Stingray broadcasts to 72 sites and 29 repeaters throughout the Canadian Markets, including Halifax, Saint John, Moncton and Kentville. Most programming is local, however we also simulcast a classic/active/local rock show called Rock of the Atlantic, from 7pm to midnight across the network.
As we all know, distributing programming over satellite is very expensive and I was interested in any solution which delivered flexibility and high quality to replace these expensive links. Stingray’s Engineering Director Chris Maclaurin told me about a Tieline Genie codec solution that was working well in Newfoundland, so we decided to implement this in Nova Scotia.
Stingray owns roughly 120 Tieline codecs and most markets have one Tieline Commander G3 field unit and rack unit codec per call sign for remotes. We now also use Tieline Genie Distribution codecs for Halifax’s network program distribution.
We installed a Genie Distribution codec in Halifax and it transmits our Rock of the Atlantic show to the other Genie Distribution codecs located at Saint John, Moncton and Kentville. Our ISP is Eastlink and they have delivered a fiber WAN for transmission paths across our provinces. Our Genies reside on a private subnet and the IT guys have configured QoS priority over the WAN to our audio packet traffic. Our WAN is extremely reliable and I attribute that to the high quality of the ISP.
I like the sound of Tieline’s Music PLUS codec and connect in stereo at 48kHz/256kbps. Using the auto jitter buffer settings in Tieline’s codecs, we are able to obtain exceptional low latency of between 40-80ms.
GPIOs are also very useful and I believe Music PLUS encoding delivers the most reliable GPIO functionality. Our automation system creates a pulse and sends it to our audio server, which produces a closure which is routed to a physical relay. The pulses tell the affiliates to switch to local audio and begin a local stop-set. When complete, the local market switches back to the main show feed.
The Genie Distribution ranks well for configurability and its distribution feature set which includes multi-unicasting, multicasting, and multiple bidirectional peer-to-peer connection options. The network is impeccable and Tieline’s browser-based HTML5 Toolbox web-GUI makes it very simple for one person to manage connections throughout our entire affiliate network.
Broadcasting over IP has definitely lifted the overall audio quality of our transmissions and significantly reduced satellite transmission costs. Overall the Tielines work very well for our broadcast application and will continue to be our company standard for IP codecs.