Field Report: Intrinsic Net Studio Hawk

April 1, 2009


More often than we would like, our radio stations are being left unattended for longer periods of time. The recent global economic downturn can only make this situation worse. It is important to have a device that can monitor each of your radio stations and alert key personnel whenever silence is detected. Often these silence sensors take the form of an appliance that will make a call to a predetermined phone number when a set of contacts closes on a separate audio relay. This report highlights a full-featured silence sensor capable of alerting a list of key personnel by e-mail and text messaging to cell phones.

The Studio Hawk is a mission-defined version of the Plus Sine transmitter remote control from Intrinsic Net. It includes a self-installing program CD, a security dongle and a small USB-connected analog to digital converter box. You supply a computer with Windows XP Operating system and a UPS to keep the system running through power failures. Installation of the Studio Hawk program on a computer was straight forward using the simple instruction guide that comes in the box. Use a computer dedicated to this task to ensure consistent and reliable alerting. The Studio Hawk does not require a separate audio relay device to act as a trigger. Instead the audio is fed directly into the supplied A/D convertor. The A/D is a small box attached to the computer via USB 2.0. The computer will need to have access to the Internet and a mail relay server. The mail relay server is usually maintained by your Internet Service Provider and is almost always free for your use.

The Studio Hawk can be configured to monitor the audio from up to eight different audio sources by using the unbalanced inputs of the supplied analog-to-digital converter. If you prefer using balanced inputs you can configure the Studio Hawk to monitor four audio sources. In my use, four radio stations was a perfect fit. I bridged the audio coming from the air monitor distribution amplifier going to my air monitor archive recorder. The high impedance of the Studio Hawk's A/D convertor assures it will not load the audio being sampled.

VU meters

The main screen of the Studio Hawk shows a representation of an analog VU meter for each station monitored. A right double mouse click on any VU meter brings up the setup screen for that channel. This is where you can grab a large slider fader for precise audio level adjustment. Each channel can be independently set for the threshold where the level is considered silent, the amount of time in seconds before a silence is logged, and the amount of time in seconds before an alarm is sent. The report capability of this software is worth the price alone. The software keeps a database of all silence incidents even if they are below the amount of time you set for immediate notification. The Studio Hawk can be set up to e-mail this report on a daily or weekly basis to as many employees as you like. Custom reports can be made for a particular radio station. Any report can be e-mailed as often as you like to any number of recipients. Now you have a record of even the short silences that need to be investigated later but not long enough to bother waking people up in the middle of the night.

Performance at a glance
Monitors EAS receivers
Detects up to eight audio sources
Alerts via text messages or e-mail
Generates e-mailed reports
Runs on Windows
The e-mail addresses of program directors and anyone else who should receive silence notifications are entered in the contact information screen. I prefer to have an entry for each person's e-mail address and cell phone text messaging address. The text message will usually arrive to a person's phone in a matter of seconds while the e-mail message is a good record to keep for a follow-up investigation at your leisure. On another screen each of these addresses is combined into a “paging group”. In this way specific groups of people can be targeted for a silence detected on specific stations. Each time silence is detected for a specified amount of time the entire paging group you assign will be notified. If the silence continues into a second time period you specify, the paging group is alerted again by another barrage of text messages.



Studio Hawk reports problems via e-mail (above) and text messaging.

Studio Hawk reports problems via e-mail (above) and text messaging.

In my application, I have set my Studio Hawk to log silence periods lasting longer than 10 seconds and to send the group e-mail and text messages for silences longer than 30 seconds. If the silence continues longer than say, 5 minutes, another salvo of e-mail and text messages are sent. Thereafter, every 5 minutes, messages are resent until the silence is corrected or the maximum amount of attempts you set in the program are made. The beautiful aspect of this is not lost when you are at dinner with the wife and family. You can discreetly look at your cell phone's text message notifying you of the problem. If you don't get any further messages you can safely assume the problem has corrected itself and you can check it out later at your convenience. Customized ring tones for your alerts can be added to most cell phones that will let you know before you look down that the Studio Hawk has sent you a message.

Intrinsic Net
P
W
E
662-324-2769
www.thestudiohawk.com
olenbooth@fixmystation.com

Several versions of the Hawk and now the Studio Hawk have been an indispensible safety net for our operations in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa for several years now. I feel comfortable enough to “disengage” from constant monitoring knowing the Studio Hawk will alert me the minute any one of our stations has an audio problem.


Newberry is the market engineering manager for Clear Channel Radio, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa Al.


Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.



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