A quality digital installation requires more than good equipment. Too often, managers believe the actual installation and interconnection of this equipment is a mere formality. Keeping digital clean means that managers must pay as much attention to installing their station's cabling and connectors as a great chef would spend attending to raw food and its preparation.
Keep these two principles in mind, and you will go far in keeping your digital signals loud and clean:
Embrace open architecture. No one can predict the kinds of broadcast equipment that you will be using in the next decade, so be sure to install cable that can handle all types of signals — both analog and digital. This method costs more in the short term, which is why superior managers insist on this approach.
Double the installation time. Ever heard the words, “Why can't they just work faster?” Any cable installer can work faster. However, faster rarely means better. A kinked cable and a poorly fitted connector — pulled together under deadline — may indeed work at first. However, we rarely get the second chance of hearing a digital signal degrade gradually (in time to fix the problem). With digital signals, we are more likely to experience the “cliff effect,” where now you hear it — and then you don't.
Jim Paluzzi is professor of broadcast technology at Boise State University, and serves as general manager for Boise State Radio.