It is time, once again, to replace some very old Pacific Recorders BMXII consoles. The Pacific Recorders consoles were very expensive when new, but after 30 years of continuous use, have more than paid for themselves. The replacement console of choice for this installation is a SAS Rubicon. I have installed these units elsewhere and they are the modern equivalent of the PRE BMX.
The heart of the Rubicon system is the 32KD router. Routed audio systems can save a lot of time and effort in a large studio facility installation. Not having to run and terminate multiple analog and digital trunk cables between the rack room and the studio is a huge deal in a six or ten-studio installation project.
The SAS 32KD router and Rubicon console system use a serial TDM bus to communicate and transport audio around. This is a simpler system than packet-switched IP data. Basically, the console surface is a very large, fancy computer control interface. Here are some pictures of the start of the project:
This is the view from the entry door. The furniture was placed last week and the countertop was cut in for the console. The furniture is made by Studio Technology. The pile of yet-to-be-installed equipment:
For monitors, we are using the Tanoy 602p near field monitor placed on the table top above the computer screens. This studio will not have a turret. Turrets used to be necessary to hold things like cart machines and CD players. These days the CD players are used so infrequently that it was decided to put them in the side rack under the counter top. Turrets also take up a lot of counter top space that can be put to better use.
Punch blocks and power connections. The red outlets are isolated ground UPS type, the back outlets are feed by the emergency generator power panel. All electric wiring is inside of the metal conduit. The punch blocks are the inputs to the SAS RIO link unit, one 16-pair analog audio cable and ten category 5e shielded cables. The cat 5e is used for computer and TDM data buss to the router.
The SAS Rubicon console is cut into the counter top and protected by plastic sheets.
Rack room with 32KD routers. This facility has 9 studios total plus a news room with three work areas.
The SAS 32KD router. All audio from the automation systems, satellite feeds and other sources is connected directly to these units. This unit is on line for other studios that have already been converted to the SAS gear.
You know those fancy new facilities pictures with the accompanying article you can normally find in the trades? The article usually expounds on how this guy made the decisions on purchase then these guys worked hard and pulled it all together. Here is the work hard and pulling it all together story.
WEBE and WICC have been in the same studio building for several decades. The Pacific Recorders and Engineering equipment, while great, is tired and worn out. On top of that, an F1 tornado ripped the AC units off the roof last June, ripping the membrane and doing extensive water damage to the facility.
The cleanup/water damage mitigation took some time. All of the carpet and ceiling tiles needed to be replaced. The walls needed to be resurfaced with new drywall. In some cases, modifications such as removing a storage closet from the engineering room, moving a door, and building a new talk studio and WICC control room needed to take place. In short, lots of dust, dirt, and disruption to the station equipment and staff. It has not been trouble-free, as several times computers and consoles failed due to age and dirt.
Sometime about the beginning of December, new equipment and furniture began to show up and the project was underway.
All of the new equipment was stored in the program director’s office. Heh, the program director’s office.
A new rack room was designed around the old one. The old racks are out of the picture to the left. The original rack room had a door into the hall, that has been replaced by viewing windows, the door has been moved to the engineering office, next door. I kind of like the windows, it lets visitors see the fancy computers but keeps them out of the room itself.
The existing automation system is being replaced by Op-X. This is the business end of the Op-X audio servers. All of the network connections are Gigabit using Belden Mediatwist (1872A) Category 6 cable.
All the wiring from the studios and racks are brought to this wall. The terminations are Krone LSA-PLUS blocks. AES/EBU digital and analog audio is run on Category 5e cable.
Krone LSA-PLUS termination block with Belden Mediatwist cable. All rack and studio wire runs are terminated on this style block. Notice the wire labels, every run is labeled with both termination ends and use. Mediatwist cable is fairly easy to work with, the pairs are bonded, so a special tool is recommended to quickly separate the wires.
Wire tray between the racks and wire wall.
The new WICC control room and talk studio. The Axia consoles are pretty slick. They are not a true mixing console in the traditional sense, they are more like a control surface. Most all of the audio inputs are in the rack room, however, the microphones are digitized in the studio and sent over an IP network to the rack room. All input and output channels are computer configurable and remote controllable. Console inputs also have onboard mic preamps and full processing.
Axia console control software.
The new talk studio set up. This is located where the news room used to be. In order to stay on the air and maintain the old studios, a sort of musical chairs system needs to be played. In the end, the WEBE studio and one production room will end up where they started, everyone else will be in a new space. The news room will end up where the current WICC control room is.
Network audio switches.
Network patch panel, notice the T568B markings.
Currently, the program directors are loading all there material in the Op-X system. The time schedule is to transfer WEBE into a temporary studio in about two weeks.
More updates as the project progresses.
Update: The new Axia equipment and Op-X automation is on line as of 2/24. More pictures to follow.
WICC studio is nearly done, just a few odds and ends here or there. This is located where the former talk studio was located.
WICC talk studio, host and four guest positions. This is located where the former news room is.
This is the former WICC control room. It has been gutted and several walls are being removed. This will become the permanent WEBE control room when it is finished.
WEBE temporary control room.
The former WEBE control room, gutted. All the carpeting has been removed and 1/4 inch drywall is going over the old, glue encrusted drywall. This room will become a production room.
WEBE WICC rack room viewed from the hallway, approximately where the door to the room used to be. The old racks to the left are being stripped out and removed. All of the stations are now on the air from the new racks.
The phone company came out and cut over the T-1 circuit on Wednesday, June 2nd. This really kicked things into high gear. By that afternoon we had moved the Prophet systems automation rack up to the new location and started broadcasting from there.
Unfortunately, the backup plan, which was to use the phone company’s DSL circuit to relay audio to the transmitter site, fell through at the very last minute. I think the phone company mistakenly turned off the DSL service to the old studio ahead of schedule. The net result was 2 hours off air in the middle of the day, which we were seriously trying to avoid. Once it was done, however, there was no going back, so we worked extra hard to get back on the air from the new location.
Naturally, while all this is going on, the electrical inspector shows up to do the final electrical inspection for the town building department.
Here is a nice progression on the equipment racks:
After the T-1 circuit was cut over, we began broadcasting from the new location with the equipment rack automation system using the production room as a studio for live elements and voice tracking.
The wiring on the equipment rack is completed.
The equipment rack is completed, the phone system is installed, and the computer network is wired and tested. The yellow light on the top of the rack is a silence sensor.
The old WKZE studio was ripped out on Thursday. The console was removed and rebuilt with a new control surface
The production room was completed, speakers hung, etc.
All set and ready to be “customized” by the DJ’s. Monday morning, the staff will roll into their new digs, which is always fun. In comparison to most studio moves and built outs these days, this one was relatively small and simple. The last studio consolidation project involved 5 radio stations and ten studios. That one took place in steps over several months.