Setting a foundation
After that decision, we focused on furniture. Omnirax was selected for
two main reasons. The most important factor to us was customer service.
David Holland, Omnirax's lead salesperson, was on top of every detail.
He worked with our architect and traded CAD drawings of the furniture
to make sure everything would fit together. The other reason was that
Omnirax was price competitive for a custom-designed system. Getting
great customer service at a competitive price was a win-win.
Broadcast equipment was the final piece of the puzzle, and a
lot easier to decide than the router and furniture. We bought new
Zephyr Xstreams for ISDN and 360 Systems to replace some older units,
and we repurposed our Enco Olympics equipment to use for sound effects,
production beds and on-air spot delivery for our talk shows.
Audio editing is a primary function of the facility when it's
not on the air for a live show. Shows that we compile and edit in
Culver City include Off the Record, In Concert, Out of Order, Beatles Brunch and Beatle Years and more.
We started with all new Dell computers. We upgraded the CD-ROM drives
to Plextor models because we've had better results with those writing
masters than stock CD drives. We added a lot of hard drive space,
upgraded the audio cards and purchased the latest version of Wavelab 6.
Wavelab 6 has been the editing software of choice at the facility;
everyone was used to it and it does the job. So rather than force Pro
Tools or Adobe Audition on the staff, we simply upgraded what they
already felt comfortable with, which has worked well.
With all the decisions made on the equipment, space plan and
renovation, we received approval for our budget and then began the next
phase of the project. Equipment lists were finalized and equipment was
ordered at the beginning of April 2006. Our first construction meeting
was at the end of April, where the demolition plans were confirmed with
our general contractor. We had to coordinate carefully with the
contractor a good time for an engineering crew to be on site to cable
the space. We needed a time near the end of the demolition but before
construction got too far along. That time was about the beginning of
June. We sent in our team of company engineers to install all new home
runs of Cat 5e cable and audio cables. The number of audio cables was
significantly reduced from previous station builds we've completed with
the selection of the SAS router-based system. Because the interconnects
between the studios and the main router use Cat 5e, there's hardly any
need to put audio on a dedicated pair. Our team also pulled all new
cable for the phones, computers and building alarm systems as well.
The cable runs and certifications of all the computer cables
were completed by the end of July, which timed well with the town
signing off on our electrical contractor's work.
Our second crew of engineers arrived at the beginning of July.
Their job was to assemble the furniture in the studios, install the
router, consoles and all of the ancillary equipment, and then test it.
We purchased, as part of our package with SAS, support time to
configure each studio and the router. While we mimic many of the
functions of a radio studio, we also have many unique tasks for the
network that a radio station normally wouldn't have. In a radio station
installation, for instance, it's common for all sources in and out to
be stereo and the program feeds to be stereo. At the network, we have
many mono distribution feeds so we need to be able to send and receive
mono feeds to T-1s, ISDNs and other links.
A graceful move
An advantage of moving a
network facility is that typically the studios are not in use 24/7 like
a radio station air studio. This provided flexibility when deciding the
transition date. We began by moving a few of the production studios
during the last week of July. Then we picked a weekend to move the main
The link between California and our main uplink and network
operations center in New York is handled with Harris/Intraplex T-1
equipment. We took the opportunity to move our main program feed to a
linear path, which has significantly improved the sound quality of our
live broadcasts by reducing transcoding effects of multiple audio
compression paths. We have a linear path in both directions, which has
also helped with voice-overs and interviews conducted on both coasts.
We also added a DS64-NC card with an Ethernet adapter that allows our
Enco networks to trade files in both directions.
Once everyone was moved and all of the bugs were worked out, we
hosted a visit by Genelec. We purchased 8030A self-power speakers for
our studios and in the larger control rooms we added a 7050B subwoofer.
Liveliness and frequency response was measured and adjusted by the
Genelec representative. We were happy to find that the studios have
flat response and behave well. After all, audio is our business and we
wanted to know that we were starting off with the best product we can
for our affiliate stations. The other advantage of stepping through
this exercise is that we balanced all of the rooms so that they are as
close as they possibly can be to each other. If you've ever worked in a
radio station where there are different brands or even different models
of speakers, the producers and talent always seem to have a favorite
room. People will line up and wait for the favorite room to be free
rather than use the empty room with the “bad” speakers. We did our best
to make all of our rooms as equal as possible.
Westwood One's Los Angeles operation is now positioned for the
future. We have flexible routing, we have room to grow and we can
accommodate anything we can think of today.
360 Systems Instant Replay|
ADC punch blocks
Aphex 230 mic tube preamp
Enco DAD 32
ESE master clock system, GPS sync
Genelec 8030A, 7050B
Harris Intraplex T-1 equipment
Middle Atlantic racks
O.C. White mic arms|
SAS 32KD, Riolink, Rubicon
Telos Zephyr Xstream, Delta 100
Whirlwind Headphone interface box
Trautmann is senior VP of engineering and technology, Westwood One, New York.
More photos and a floorplan of the Culver City facility are posted with this article online at beradio.com.