Radio, Comrex and open standards

Comrex logoAt Backbone we take pride in using open standards where possible. We have found that one of our local radio industry neighbors, Comrex, does too. Their product line has consistently applied the best in current technology to the specific needs of broadcasters. 

We’d like to thank them for the shout out about working together in support of some of our mutual customers. While it is a bit pre-mature to announce the Backbone product it is safe to say we think our Internet radio customers will find a great new way to distribute their content in the near future.

Equipment for Online Radio Remotes

Our customers often ask us for guidance on what equipment to purchase in setting up their radio stations, especially their remote broadcasts, when running Backbone Radio. There are virtually limitless configurations that can be supported, and often the answer is “it depends.”  The answer is often colored by your budget, what you are trying to accomplish with your live remote and your preferences in equipment and operation.

Jon Meterparel and Jen Royle at JJ Foleys

Jon Meterparel and Jen Royle at JJ Foleys

Let us lay out some of the basics.  First,you will need a Macintosh® computer. Clearly a portable Macintosh like a Macbook Air makes it easier to carry the equipment. If you want more screen real estate, the 13-inch Macbook Air may be a better choice than the 11-inch version.

For audio input into the Macintosh it will depend upon our needs at the site. For example you may need just 2 microphones for play by play and color at a basketball game and all you need is something like an M-Audio M-Track. For Microphones it is really a matter of taste. We have been using Shure 58’s and have found them to be quite reliable. Headphones with good sound isolation are also critical. Again it is a matter of taste and we have found the Sennheiser HD-205 II. One of our customers is using an Audio-Technical BPHS1 combo headset and condenser microphone. It simplifies the set up and makes it easier to transport the remote kit.

Of course the most important thing is an internet connection that is rock solid. Many venues now have an Internet drop so you can use that. We recommend that you go to the venue the day before the remote to test the network connection and clear up any issues you may have with firewalls and spotty service. Still, that leaves you with a single point of failure. To address this we also have a portable WiFi device in our remote kit. Which one to get is often up to your location, the coverage available from the providers and how congested the network could get during the remote.

Imagine running your show on an AT&T network at the Meadowlands with 90,000 people uploading YouTube videos, pictures to Facebook and all sorts of other traffic. That could impact your ability to get a consistent network connection. We have found that in major metropolitan area where Sprint has WiMax coverage it is a great solution. Longer term you may want to find a solution for where you find you are running the most remotes.

As the telecom networks are built out further I expect it will become easier to get a reliable network connection. Something to track going forward. We have put together a page of devices and items that we have used along with those of some of our customers. If you use something different and it works great please let us know. Happy broadcasting.