Lokesh Suthar , Sr. Broadcast Engineer , 93.5 REDFM , Mumbai
"The new paradigm has lent a huge boost to radio technology and increased the scope and range of what radio stands for."
Radio is one of the oldest and simplest mediums that helps broadcasters share music, information, announcements, and other audio messages to small or remote geographical areas for a general audience. This is what constitutes broadcasting. I will not go into too many details since radio is quite a popular medium, but with this piece, I will share some insights into the advent of technology and how it has affected radio.
In the past, radio technology was very limited in most aspects and primarily in the technical aspects. But nowadays, this technology has been upgraded and updated with some cutting-edge discoveries in the world of infotech. IT infrastructure has already overtaken the technology in terms of performance, cost, and flexibility. In fact, over the next few years, IT infrastructure will replace current broadcast infrastructure, delivering additional flexibility, better scalability, and significantly lower costs.
The new paradigm has lent a huge boost to radio technology and increased the scope and range of what radio stands for. In turn, even the industry has experienced a widening in terms of reach and what IT tools can do. To put it simply, the newer technologies have resulted in audiences getting much more out of radio. The better audio qualityis just one primary plus. Audio, with its lower data rates has given way to higher data rates and performance.
The Benefits of an IP Solution and AOIP
Simple setup. IP audio can be controlled and managed on a regular PC and that too, by using a standard audio player software. Even device management is made simpler – all one needs is a basic web browser. Yes, even a non-IP system can do the same, but adding another hardware interface and a network link for this has its own costs. Thus, even diagnosis becomes easy, as there are inexpensive and even free tools available for development and troubleshooting needs. For all practical purposes, IP networks are probably the only exception, where complex monitoring and analysis is feasible without any investment in tools – on a standard PC using free software like Wireshark.
High channel counts. An increase in capacity is one of the highlights of a networked infrastructure, especially when it comes to cost. A single gigabit network connection is capable of carrying 512 channels at 48 kHz, or 256 channels at 96 kHz IP capacity. If you use network-based devices as your primary audio routers, the IP capacity does show a favorable comparison. For example, with 512 audio channels in each direction on a 1GB connection, a single 24-port GB switch is capable of providing audio routing capacity equivalent to a 12,288 – 12,288 audio router. Whether alternate network topologies may be more cost-efficient and dependable would be a function of the physical building, existing network infrastructure, and system requirements.
Easily expandable and wide-area synchronization: Based on the ever-expanding needs of the installation, we can plot to grow the network. Adding a network switch and router is a simpler way to expand capacity than having to replace a router with a larger one with the help of MPLS & other connectivity.
Full network redundancy. For the ultimate in security, we all aim for redundant operations in our network. The devicesimultaneously receives and transmits on both networks. Audio samples can exist on either or both networks providing seamless, glitch-free redundancy and failover.
Universal and converge network infrastructure. No sound cards required – instead, a single ethernet cable carries real-time uncompressed digital audio and routine network traffic, converting a regular PC into a high-quality multichannel sound-card array. All this, without spending a rupee for special hardware.