WheatNews April 2022

WHEAT:NEWS APRIL 2022  Volume 13, Number 4

Wheatstone will be at NAB 2022... See us in booth N2631!

The Truth About 5G


We live in an LTE world. Not enough bits-per-second for linear audio, but good enough to phone in the occasional remote or for a backup link to the transmitter. Soon though, well be leaving Flatland and entering 5G world. 

We asked Tom Lawler, who recently joined MaxxKonnect, what that world might look like. “5G is going to be great for broadcasters because it supercharges what LTE can do depending on the 5G band. If it’s 600 or 700 MHz, it means you’ll have a much more stable connection in the boonies. If it’s on millimeter wave, it means you’ll have a portable broadband connection in your pocket,” he replied. 

5G networks that run on the lower end of the wireless band are far more robust than their LTE counterparts and will be able to solve connectivity issues in places like rural Maine, a known wireless Bermuda Triangle. 5G frequencies higher up the band between 28 GHz and 39 GHz can carry massive amounts of data at very high speeds, and that puts us easily in linear audio, if not uncompressed digital MPX over IP territory. “On the Jersey Shore where I was on vacation recently, they (Verizon) turned on 5G ultra broadband. I was getting speeds faster than my home fiber connection, or over 1 Gig down,” commented Lawler.

With high bandwidth comes lower latency, too. We can expect less than 10-millisecond delays with 5G, depending on the quality of the connection, compared to the average latency for 4G LTE of around 50 milliseconds for round-trip delay. Latency in the 10 millisecond ballpark means that the “combing effect” of compressed audio is greatly reduced. 

Higher bit rates and lower latency also bring everyone – enterprises and broadcasters alike – much closer to an all-virtual realization. At the CES show in January, Consumer Technology Association’s top researcher Steve Koenig called 5G the “connective tissue” for innovation and a key building block of the metaverse. He predicts 5G will advance cloud infrastructure and digital transformation. 

Certainly, for broadcasters, 5G could be enough of a game changer to crack through the current wireless MPX bandwidth limitation. Being able to transport digital MPX over 5G wireless at 2 to 6 Mbps has both quality and simplicity implications, which in turn promises real cost savings for broadcasters. 

Yet to be determined is whether 5G will be robust or reliable enough for a main STL. But at the very least, 5G wireless will be a backup STL option for many of those hard-to-access transmitter locations that we couldn’t get to with LTE. 

On the remote side, there’s no question that high-speed 5G will be of tremendous benefit to broadcasters. Even so, if the audience is live streaming on TikTok at the event you’re covering for a remote, it won’t take long to eat up that bandwidth. Priority cell service will likely follow us to the new world. MaxxKonnect plans to continue SLAs with major carriers for 5G similar to its current LTE priority service that gives broadcasters reliable service in the five nines, just behind first responder priority status. It’ll also continue static IP address assignments so that dialing up a cell connection between, say, the remote location and the station WheatNet-IP Blade 4 (which has OPUS and AAC codecs, now needed for LTE speeds) is fairly straightforward. 

How soon should we plan for 5G? According to 5G Americas and TeleGeography, there were 203 5G deployments compared to 695 global LTE deployments as of January 2022 with 5G connections around the globe on track to exceed 4.8 billion by the end of 2026. 

We won’t be in Flatland much longer. 



Our friend and former Wheaty Josh Gordon happened to be visiting the News Press & Gazette studios in Santa Barbara recently and snapped this photo of a Wheatstone board in action, left. This E-6 WheatNet-IP audio networked mixer was installed in 2013 and is still going strong. 

New at NAB: Virtualization from mic-to-transmitter

WheatstoneLayersIntroducing Wheatstone Layers, the entirely virtual broadcast chain from multitouch “glass” consoles to backend mixing, audio processing and streaming.

Not ready yet to entrust your broadcast chain to a public cloud provider? Wheatstone Layers is the best of both worlds, combining the scalability of enterprise servers with the deep reliability of a Wheatstone facility.

  • Host multiple instances from a standard IT server for several studios or locations connected by WheatNet-IP audio networking. 
  • Mix and control from your laptop, tablet or other glass or physical control surface.
  • Consolidate several stations and studios into one or two servers.
  • Add on in an instant. Instances can be added as needed for backend mixing, FM processing and stream provisioning, processing, and metadata management. 
  • Back up existing WheatNet-IP studios in a redundant server on or offsite. Additional physical studios not required.

Wheatstone Layers runs on enterprise IP servers/computers and replaces fixed audio processors, mix engines and streaming boxes for a complete software-based mic-to-transmitter/CDN provider broadcast chain. 

Learn more at NAB 2022, booth N2631, or click to Wheatstone Layers.

Wheat On The Go


This portable studio fits into two flight cases. Gerhard Egger, who is a technician for RTV, Austria, can have the studio unpacked and ready to go in 10 minutes. Included is a self-contained DMX 8 console, an Aura8-IP for mic processing, a Tieline Genie codec, a playout system (mAirList) and a SIP-IP phone (Studiophone by Micromedia), all connected via WheatNet-IP. The studio is rented out by all4radio.com when not in use by RTV, a WheatNet-IP shop. 



We’ll be demonstrating Wheatstone Layers at booth N2631 during the NAB show along with a few other surprises. Stop in. 

New in AoIP

New consoles, new Blade-4 and new, well, you’ll see. It’s All in the WheatNet. 

New in Audio processing

We’re bringing along the MP-532, the new multiprocessor for AM/FM/HD that everyone’s talking about. Hear it for yourself. Booth N2631. 

New in Streaming

What used to require a row of computers for streaming multiple programs and another PC for metadata along with audio processing for each channel can now be contained in one AoIP Linux appliance. You’ll see. 


Dom2There are practical ways to create a more cloud-like operation without going all in.  Consider enterprise servers, which continue to get faster and less expensive. We can use these to run program instances of applications in place of discrete hardware. Wheatstone’s Engineering Manager. Dominic Giambo explains. 

Q: Why a server first approach?
DG: This gives us the beginnings of virtualization in the sense that you can offload some of the functions performed on specialized hardware with instances of software on enterprise servers. There is really no need to invest in a big architecture migration plan. Just about every modern station has or will eventually have servers, which can be used to run a virtual mixer or instances of audio processing to the transmitter site or out to a stream. The work is simply moved onto a server CPU instead of having that work performed on a dedicated hardware unit, and as commodity hardware, servers tend to get more powerful quicker than a dedicated piece of hardware that might be updated less frequently.

This approach buys you greater flexibility for adding on studios, sharing resources between regional locations, and even for supply chain interruptions that might occur with hardware only. We can use enterprise servers to do what we might have done with specialized hardware in the past, and that is only going to get more flexible and affordable as time goes on. 

Q: Why now? 
DG: The benefits can be significant, from not having to maintain specialized hardware and all the costs associated with that − like electrical, AC, and space − plus there’s a certain adaptability with software that you just can’t get with hardware alone. The next step might be to go to a container model with the use of a containerization platform. Containerization doesn’t have the large overhead that you find with virtualization per se, because you can run a number of different containers that share the same operating system. For example, one container could host WheatNet-IP audio processing tools, while another could host the station automation system, each totally isolated yet run off the same OS kernel. Should you decide to move onto a public cloud provider like Amazon or Microsoft, these containers can then be moved to that platform. Containers work well on just about all the cloud providers and instance types. Most providers even offer tools to make it easy to manage and coordinate your containers running on their cloud.  Software as a Service applications available now, that consolidate functions and don’t have critical live broadcast timing requirements, are replacing rows of desktop computers and racks of processing boxes. Streaming and processing are good examples.  Migrating these to a cloud environment is straightforward if you already have them running on your servers. The hard work is already done, plus you’ll still have the servers for redundancy or testing and trying new ideas.

Q: What about mixing in a cloud?
DG: Playout systems are moving to the cloud and that makes a good case for the mix engine to also move to the cloud. Latency is always going to be an issue with programming going into and out of a server (or cloud) if it’s far away, but there are effective ways to deal with this. For example, I can see how a local talk show might still be mixed locally in order to preserve that low latency needed for mic feeds into that mix, but it might be mixed using client software that is based in the cloud or regional server for general distribution. 

But we need to keep in mind that while some industries can be more tolerant of service interruptions, live broadcast is not one of them. We need to take this in steps. We may be able to get many of the benefits of cloud by moving towards a software-based approach first, such as running this software on servers with ever increasing power and then distributing the control of that equipment remotely using virtual consoles. In a later step these same servers could be re-tasked and used in redundant backup scenarios alongside cloud resources to mitigate the security risks of a cloud-based approach. 

Q: What else can you tell us? 
DG: For most broadcasters, virtualization or cloud isn’t the goal any more than adding a new codec or AoIP system is the goal. The great thing about software virtualization is that it uses enterprise commodities, which will inevitably find their way into studios and rack rooms. In that sense, the planning has already been done, so now it’s just a matter of taking advantage of what you can do with what is available.

Dominic will be presenting Onsite or Cloud? Strategies for Mixing it Up on Sunday, April 24, during the NAB BEIT conference from 2:35 to 2:55 pm in room W307/W309. 



By Robert Sobczak, Telecommunications Transmission Engineer,
University of Maine, Augusta, ME

Some consoles have stood the test of time. Others, like the Audioarts Air-2+ and Air-4 consoles mentioned here, have stood the test of time plus a condemned building, several moves (including into a closet), and daily exposure to humidity from a nearby pool. Sobczak’s relationship with Audioarts consoles goes back to 2008 and has included several adventures along the way. 

My regular job is as a telecommunications transmission engineer for the University of Maine’s statewide Interactive Television (ITV) system, which I’ve been with now for over 32 years. We teach live, interactive classes, originally over 2.5GHz microwave (ITFS or “wireless cable”). 

My department is also responsible for the five campus radio stations, which are my real love. I started in radio at a 250W daytimer in Fredonia, New York, when I was 15. 

My first experience with Audioarts was in 2008, when WUPI, the University of Maine station at Presque Isle, needed a new console. The ideal console would have plenty of inputs, but also needed to stand up to the usage of students at a college campus; the previous console that was only three years old did not. After a bit of searching, we decided to try the Air-2+. It had plenty of inputs for the microphones, CD players, a turntable, computer automation system, phone hybrid and more. Each input device that had the ability to use a remote start was wired into the console. 

Because the station had several call-in talk shows with in-studio guests, I needed a way to be able to isolate the guest headphone audio from the board operator’s control. This way, each guest could control their own headphone audio independently. I used the console’s Studio switching for the guests, so if the host/board op needed to listen to something else in their headphones, the guest never heard the switch.

After looking at the schematics and a quick call to Wheatstone Technical Support, I was able to grab a connection to pre-fader audio on the motherboard and fed it to a headphone distribution amplifier. Problem solved!


Within a year, another one of our stations was looking for a new console and I suggested WUMF in Farmington also get an Air-2+. The boards continue to run at both stations to this day, all with original components.

Then, in 2014, WUMM at the University of Maine in Machias needed to replace its donated, hand-me-down six channel board. While mostly a college station, WUMM also has a good number of community members doing shows. The station had so many sources and was using a couple of four-channel speaker switchers to switch inputs into the old console. I once again recommended Audioarts, and this time it was the Air-4.

The Air-4, while in a new slick black chassis and different metering, functioned very similar to the Air-2+. One difference was the RJ45 connectors to wire the console. StudioHub to the rescue. WOW, I’ll never wire any other way. 

When wiring the Air-4, I used all 12 “A” inputs, the phone hybrid channel, and three of the “B” inputs.  The B side inputs are direct line feeds from different locations in the Reynolds Gym facility used for sporting events.

Similar to the WUPI console, I still needed pre-fader audio and was able to get it without issue on the Air-4. Also, with each input source being consumer gear, I wired all the units with remote start capabilities, and they were all wired into the console through opto-isocouplers.

I installed the Air-4 in December 2014, and two-and-a-half months later, I was informed that I would need to move the studio ASAP as the 103-year-old building was having structural issues. It would end up be demolished two years later. The move came in two stages. First, to a temporary, literal closet/storage area, then finally to its new location in the Reynolds Gym, 40 feet from the pool.

The gym location gave the station a “store front,” but the room itself was originally the snack bar for the gym, complete with the rolldown cage gate.  Glass was installed for sound, however, the gate was not removed. (But still very usable. I told our talent that they could pull the cage gate down and call themselves a true morning zoo!)

Even with the humidity from the pool, the console has been working in its current location since 2016 without issues. In fact, the Audioarts Air-2+ and Air-4 consoles work in a college environment with very little maintenance. Both are used currently for on-air and production simultaneously. The phone channel has mix-minus capabilities for both Program 1 and Program 2, making it easy to leave the air signal alone and have full production capabilities on the production channel. Audio-wise, these analog consoles are super clean. All the illuminated switches are LEDs. No bulbs to change! The faders are smooth and are top of the line.

At this point in time, I don’t see a need for a digital console, as, like most college stations, digital is not on our horizon.

Wheatstone ReMIX Virtual Mixing Application for remote broadcast.

Jay Tyler walks you through setting up Wheatstone's ReMIX Remote Application for WheatNet-IP.



Are you a ScreenBuilder or ConsoleBuilder power user? Register and log onto our Scripters Forum. This is a new meeting place for anyone interested in developing new screens and workflows for our WheatNet-IP audio network. Share scripts, screen shots and ideas with others also developing virtual news desks, control panels, and signal monitors. You’ll find documents, starter scripts and a whole knowledge base available to you for making customized screens like those pictured.

Click to register for our Scripters Forum (it's free)

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The Wheatstone online store is now open! You can purchase demo units, spare cards, subassemblies, modules and other discontinued or out-of-production components for Wheatstone, Audioarts, PR&E and VoxPro products online, or call Wheatstone customer support at 252-638-7000 or contact the Wheatstone technical support team online as usual. 

The store is another convenience at wheatstone.com, where you can access product manuals, white papers and tutorials as well as technical and discussion forums such as our AoIP Scripters Forum

Compare All of Wheatstone's Remote Solutions

REMIXWe've got remote solutions for virtually every networkable console we've built in the last 20 years or so. For basic volume, on/off, bus assign, logic, it's as easy as running an app either locally with a good VPN, or back at the studio, using a remote-access app such as Teambuilder to run.

Remote Solutions Video Demonstrations

Jay Tyler recently completed a series of videos demonstrating the various solutions Wheatstone offers for remote broadcasting.

Click for a Comparison Chart of All Wheatstone Remote Software Solutions


Curious about how the modern studio has evolved in an IP world? Virtualization of the studio is WAY more than tossing a control surface on a touch screen. With today's tools, you can virtualize control over almost ANYTHING you want to do with your audio network. This free e-book illustrates what real-world engineers and radio studios are doing. Pretty amazing stuff.

AdvancingAOIP E BookCoverAdvancing AOIP for Broadcast

Putting together a new studio? Updating an existing studio? This collection of articles, white papers, and brand new material can help you get the most out of your venture. Best of all, it's FREE to download!


IP Audio for TV Production and Beyond


For this FREE e-book download, we've put together this e-book with fresh info and some of the articles that we've authored for our website, white papers, and news that dives into some of the cool stuff you can do with a modern AoIP network like Wheatstone's WheatNet-IP. 

Got feedback or questions? Click my name below to send us an e-mail. You can also use the links at the top or bottom of the page to follow us on popular social networking sites and the tabs will take you to our most often visited pages.

-- Uncle Wheat, Editor

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