Introduction to Broadcast Engineering – Transcriptions

This page features the transcripts for the Introduction to Broadcast Engineering videos.

Videos can be found on the Introduction to Broadcast Engineering page (subtitled).

Lecture 1 – Building a Studio

Dave: I’m Dave Walters. I am head of product for audio at the BBC

and in old money that means Chief Engineer.

I’ve been doing this a little while.

With me on the stage today, we have…

Steve: I am Steve. I’m the technical officer for the Student Radio Association

and I also worked with Global as a broadcast engineer.

Simon: I’m Simon Price.

I am head of broadcast engineering for all Global Radio

so I look after about 25 engineers across all of the UK.

Dave: Normally, what happens and the people who’ll

be on stage today, we’ve all worked with or for

each other at some point in history because so

we’re all friends but ask those questions later.

Okay so, what are we trying to build?

It’s important when you think about radio stations and if someone

asked you to build a studio, what it’s purpose is going to be.

Typically, that falls into two different

categories, pop music self-op

or a driven speech radio station and that starts to drive your

thinking around what kind of things you’re going to need in it,

what kind of space you’re going to need and how it’s going to operate.

We’re going to talk you through a little

bit about some of those choices,

but in particular, we’re going to talk to you

right now about the physical construction.

What is a studio and how would you build one?

You get to make your choice.

You need to do some design.

You need to think about your layout a little bit.

This is a CAD diagram from probably back about 12 years ago, Simon?

Simon: Something like that, yes.

Dave: When we moved LBC into Leicester Square.

You can see that we’re starting to think

about the fact that it’s in boxes.

It’s not just the space in the building.

It’s in boxes and those boxes start to drive

what you need to do to build and design them.

The other thing you need to think about is where in your building

or where your building is and is it going to be fit for purpose.

If you live in a place next to lots

of water, where flooding happens, that’s

probably not the best place to put your

radio studio or your radio station.

It seems so obvious to say and yet, so many radio stations have

been built in flood planes or next to canals in basements, Quentin,

but challenges happen, so think about that.

Other things to think about which are really simple is

you’re going to have people coming into the building.

Is there somewhere to park?

Is there public transport to get to?

Is there a Tescos within a 10-minute walk, so people can go and get lunch?

If you’re going to have guests coming in, maybe politicians or local

celebrities, can they get to you easily or is it going to be hard?

Choose where you put your radio station.


What’s the purpose of a studio?

In essence, what you’re trying to do is manage sound

and the purpose of the studio is to do that in and out.

If you imagine a pop studio, the DJ has got the music on really loud.

You want to keep that sound inside the studio

because all the people in the office

can’t concentrate and think when they’re

being really noisy in the studio.

If you’re building a speech studio, you

want that place to be really quiet

because the noisy people in the office

you need to keep that noise

out of your studio, so that in the studio

where the microphones are, they’re

only picking up what was intended which is the person that’s speaking.

It’s all about sound isolation

and sound isolation occurs in three ways.

Physical, acoustic isolation and acoustic treatment.

In the physical isolation space, what you need to do is you need

to build a soundproof box that’s not connected to anything.

Sound passes through vibrations and structures,

so you’ve stood next to a train track right?

When the train goes by, you can feel it vibrating.

It’s the same in studios.

People walking up and down outside, jumping up and down, making noises

outside, that sound will pass into

the studio through physical vibration.

What you need to do is build a box that

is not connected in any way to your

building, but because unfortunately gravity exists, that’s quite hard.

What you need to do is take your floor, diagram on the top

left hand side shows the kind of standard floor slab.

There’s two boxes, there’s an inner box and an outer box.

The outer box is connected to the floor because it has to be.

The inner box then sits on either springs

or neoprene pads, so you’re reducing the amount

of physical contact of your inner studio box

to the outer structure of the building.

It’s really important.

It’s one of the key ways to manage your sound isolation.

That’s physical.

You’ve got to disconnect your physical box from the outside world.

Then, you need to move into acoustic isolation.

Sound generally passes through the air, so vibration of molecules

caused by my voice or the drumkit or whatever it would be.

The next thing you need to do to make your

studio soundproof is stop air getting

in and out from the inside to the outside,

from the outside to the inside.

You’ve got to manage it in both directions.

When you’re building your studio, you need lots of mass.

Typically, concrete or lots of plasterboard

and heavyweights to stop the physical space

vibrating but in particular to stop air getting in

because noise is transferred through air.

If you leave holes in your studio,

sound will get in and that’s a problem.

You need to manage that best as you can.

If you are in a lucky position of contracting

some builders at some point to build

that studio for you, the builders will

not understand that concept, so everyday

when you’re watching them do that job, go in

find the holes, find the bits where

they’ve left some gaps in the plaster and ask them to go back and fill it.

Every single hole needs to be filled, otherwise,

air will move and sound will pass through.

Then, inside your studio, you’ve created a soundproof box but

a bit like if you’re in the shower in the morning and you’re

singing, your bathroom will have lots of tiles, probably lots

of hard surfaces, so there’s lots and lots of sound reflections.

You might think you sound great in the shower.

Your friends, partners, and family might think differently

but you probably think you sound great and that’s lovely.

In a radio studio, we tend to be looking for a much deader space.

A space that’s not got all of the reflections

because what we want to do is

capture the natural sound of the voice,

not necessarily the sound of the room.

If you imagine a church hall, lots of big spaces

with really hard surfaces, lots of reflections.

You can hear the vibrations and the echos decaying over time.

That’s not what you want in the studio.

Then, what we tend to do is treat the inside

of the studio with lots of acoustic-absorbing materials.

If you’re rich and you’re building a really big

station you can go and buy some big panels.

If you can’t afford that, typically, we then tend to move into the kind

of rock wall, mineral wall area which absorbs sound quite nicely.

If you really can’t afford that, a good budget

version but works really well, big, heavy curtains.

Lots of soft surfaces to absorb sound.

When you’re building your studio, you need

to think as well about how sound works.

Sound is a vibrational wave that comes

out of my mouth as I’m talking to you.

It is going to hit this back wall.

It’s going to reflect back to me and you get positions and points

in your studio where all of those reflections, even though

you’ve treated the surfaces for absorption, all of those

reflections will start to build up into hotspots of reflection.

What we try and do is avoid building square rooms.

This diagram on the right-hand side, you can see

it looks like a square box but it isn’t.

The purpose of that is…

What do you call that?

Parallelogram? Trapezoid? Not sure?

The purpose of that is so that when that sound does reflect off those surfaces

it doesn’t reflect perfectly

and bounce backwards and forwards.

It gets bounced off to one side

and starts to dissipate around the room.

Finally, you’ve built your perfect, airproof box.

You can’t see in it, you can’t get into it, so that’s a bit tricky.

You will obviously need to put some doors and windows in.

When you have two boxes, when we build our

box-in-box studio, the outer box connected

to the building, the inner box which is

isolated and floating, you will need two doors.

A door for the inside box and a door for the outside box.

Again, make them heavy.

They probably need to open in opposite directions.

Otherwise, that’s going to be slightly challenging.

Windows are exactly the same.

It’s lots of heavy, fit glass.

Double glazing tends to work quite well.

Double glazing for the outer wall of the studio,

double glazing for the inner wall of the studio.

Again, this diagram on the right-hand side is showing how

those two windows in those two spaces are angled outwards.

Particularly, if this was the inside for example…

This is outer wall. Let’s use this one.

If this is the inner studio wall, that window is

reflecting the sound down usually into the carpet.

Somewhere it will be absorbed rather than

causing reflections around the space.

Then you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do in the studio.


Steven: Thanks Dave.

You’ve got a perfectly isolated room that’s got no

sound going in or out but you need to put some people

in there, you need to put some tables in there so

they can sit around something and use something.

You want to think about what access people need around the furniture.

This diagram on the screen is from the same LBC studio

we saw a few slides back, a different angle of the CAD view.

In this setup, we’ve got a control room

and we’ve got a main presenting room.

The presenters in here need to be able

to see through to the control room over here

and the control room needs to feed back to the presenters

so they can indicate what’s going on.

Maybe the presenter is speaking and they want their

mics to be turned off or something,

so they can wave through the window and say, “Can you do this?”

If the producer needs to say, “You need to wrap up.

You need to move on”.

Then, they’ll need to see that as well.

If you’ve got a self-op studio, then, you don’t necessarily

need to be able to see through to other places.

You might have a window to the outside world

so you can see the weather because

people are really bad at knowing what time

of day it is if they’re locked in a box.

They don’t necessarily need to see anyone else around them but

then, you’ve also got to think about if you’ve got a guest.

How many guests do you want coming in?

In this studio, we’ve got the presenters over this side

so they can see through to the control room.

Then, we’ve got the guests sat around because

they don’t need to see the producers at all.

They just need to see the presenters who are asking the questions.

Beyond that, you’ve then got screens as well,

so do they need to see the clocks so they know what time it is?

Do they need to see a playout machine so they know what’s

coming up in the music or what jingles are about to play?

Any production that’s coming up.

If there’s a bed, they want to know when it’s going to finish.

They can not just carry on talking over the end

of the bed or if they’re going to be too short on time.

They might want to see TVs.

They might want to see news channels so they can see if something happens.

You can think about where to put all these in

such a way that they’re not in view but they are.

Do we agree it’s The Today program?

Yes, it’s The Today program.

This is The Today program on BBC.

This has got a control room and presenter in a different room.

At the top here there’s a load of screens

so the producers can see clocks.

They’ve got some indicators there as well

so they can see that they’re on air.

They can see if the mic’s live.

If a phone rings, they can see that.

In some studios if a track is about to end you’ll get

a flashing indicator to tell you that.

If a fire alarm is going off.

They also got some TV channels up here so

they can see what’s going on in the world.

Right in front of them is where they have the mixer

and they can actually control everything.

Obviously, through the window, they can see the presenters

in there, and the guests are on the studio as well.

I just want to go back on… Did I cover everything?

Equipment positions.

You also want to think about where you’re putting your kit.

One of the sessions that everyone is going to talk about

CTAs and racks rooms.

You’re going to put your kit in the studio

or are you going to put it out the studio?

There’s these magical devices called KVM switch.

Take all of your video, your audio, and your keyboard and mouse

control and put them in a different room to where the PC actually is.

You can have all your noisy kit, not in

the studio and just what you need is in there.

Also all your mics and everything which I think is covered later on.

Simon: Thanks, Steve.

Now that you’ve created your perfectly sealed room that Dave has

expertly designed for you and also put all of your furniture that

Steve sorted out, you’re going to find your presenter is not

really going to last very long in there without some air supply.

People generally don’t tend to last too long in that environment.

It’s also going to get pretty smelly in there because someone

is sitting in there 24 hours a day in your radio studio.

After you’ve built your perfect box, I’m going to tell you

that you need to make a great recording inside of it.

To make a nice environment, you’re going to need to do two things.

You’re going to need to bring some fresh air in, and you’re

also going to need to do something with cooling.

Even in this day and age of digital mixers and LED lighting

and LCD screens, it all generates a fair bit of heat.

Also, a person gives off about 100 watts of heat as well.

You’ve got to do something to get rid of all

that heat that’s built up in your studio.

Firstly, the fresh air intake.

Kind of a little bit like the studio that Dave was

designing, you have a fan which pushes some outside air.

The aim is to get rid of all the noise and stuff that’s outside

your studio that you don’t want getting into your room.

Basically, what this is showing is

that the fan blows the outside air in.

It directs it for a series of baffles.

The idea is all of these are absorbent.

You’re trying to get rid of as much of the noises as absolutely possible.

At the end of it, you’ll get some fresh air that will help your

presenter breathe a little bit better and will also be fairly quiet.

Also, you’re going to need to do obviously the cooling.

There’s two ways of doing it.

You can either have a ducted system.

Both of these have different benefits.

If you have a ducted system generally it’s quieter in the studio.

The other thing you can do is if you’re doing pop music

or something where you’re not too bothered about a little bit

of studio noise, you might find it cheaper to use an office

cassette type unit, which is the one over on the right-hand side.

Next, you need to power all of your kit.

This isn’t really the right way to do it.

You’ll end up in an awful mess.

All this kit you’ve got, you’ve got to keep on power 24 hours a day.

It’s messy.

It’s horrible and will probably end up burning

down your nice studio that you designed.

The proper way to do it is with these units, the main distribution units

or MDUs or what we’ve shown on the right-hand side of the screen.

This allows you to safely keep all your kits powered up.

You can power up to about 24 watts of one of these devices.

You can get different designs.

Some of them mounted on a rack.

Some of them that you can mount in your studio furniture.

These will normally collect to either some 13 amp sockets just for

you plugging in normal bits of kit or plugging into IEC leads.

Don’t call them kettle leads.

Engineers don’t like them being called kettle leads

which are then shown over there on the right-hand side.

The other thing that these MDUs sometimes have is power switches.

Generally, power switches on some of these things aren’t a good thing.

Generally, you mount them in the woodwork.

What you’ll find is as a presenter turns in, turns a chair around

they’re knocking the power switch in terms of…

That’s caused the several callouts over

the years and having to go into the studio

in the middle of the night and go, “Oh, you’ve obviously hit this”.

We tend to put ones without power switches

in some of the studio furniture.

What you should probably have in your studio as well or you

should definitely have in your studio is a master power switch.

The item off of the top left located somewhere that’s

accessible if you need to get to an emergency,

but not too accessible, so that you kick it on

the way into the studio, which we’ve also done.

That’s a master power switch for the room.

The other things you can invest in is a UPS.

If you have short power cut, or your computer’s going to reset.

A computer, as we know take three or four minutes to reboot

on a good day.

Have a UPS that will keep your station running and on air.

You can get different sizes depending on how long you

want it to last or what you’re trying to power off of it.

Also, generators.

Generators will obviously keep your building running if you

know you’re going to have a power cut for a couple of hours.

If you’re a commercial station, you make money, you need to play

the adverts, you need to keep your power running at all times.

Once again, generators can be sized depending on how many studios

you’ve got, how much of a kit and stuff you need to run.

Doing some of the things that we’ve talked about will help you avoid some

of the mistakes that we’ve probably all made

when we’ve designed studios over the year.

Hopefully, some of this knowledge has been useful to you.

What you can also do if you want to do a shortcut, this is

a video of a prefab studio that we bought a few weeks ago.

This shows you how to build a studio in under an hour.

This arrives on a pallet.

This is just a simple news brief that we had to build in a hurry.

It comes in sections that you literally slot together

like giant Lego and we’ll eventually piece together.

Dave: You got a stand-up newsroom.

Simon: It’s a very small newsroom but it serves the purpose.

That’s what you need.

Any questions?

Dave: So whistlestop tour there.

We’re almost certainly glossed over some really basic things.

You guys need to tell us what that was so we can tell you

what they were, and then you have the complete picture.

Do we have any questions?

Male Audience: I see more and more these days

a lot of studios have a lot of glass walls.

Obviously, that would cause a lot of reflections.

How do you get around that having a lot of glass in the studio?

Dave: The BBC for the last six

or seven years has been building quite

a lot of very specific glass wall studios, and they’re a compromise.

I think the philosophy that we take is that while

they’re certainly cheaper, and they’re quicker

to assemble, because it is just big sheets of glass,

that it’s not perfect for every situation.

You need to choose where it’s appropriate

but in particular, how do you manage that?

It’s all about angling of the glass.

Bend all your glass in different directions.

It’s all about the parallel walls that

we looked at, point it in different ways.

Once you’ve done that and better managed that to the best

of your ability, you need to add absorption.

You can put a sofa in a corner.

We quite often hang huge acoustic pillows for want of a better phrase

off the back walls to do some of that absorption.

It’s a compromise but in certain cases it’s appropriate.

Using the ceilings is a good way to get rid

of a lot of the reverberations surrounding the room.

If you have the time once you’ve built it,

you could then go in and work out

where the good acoustic spots are, and do

your mic placement around that as well.

It depends what you’re using the studio for as well, isn’t it?

If you’re recording chamber music because I

think you wouldn’t do that in a glass studio.


Hi, here comes the microphone.

Male Audience: I once watched a program on Open University which

talked about some room where they managed to get-they had little

triangular spaces and all sorts of things on it to try and make

the volume, the ambient noise in there as minimal as possible.

They ended up with the machine reading negative readings.

Is it possible to over quiet a room?

Is it possible to go too far with soundproofing and sort

of cause all these problems by doing it, make it sound too dead?

Dave: It depends on what you want to achieve but yes it’s a thing.

In BBC drama studios, we apply a standard kind.

You’d end up with a studio space that’s probably

about the size of the room that you’re in right now.

We then need to manage the acoustic in that room and we tend to wait

for an RT measure, a reverb time measure of about half a second.

That’s your target kind of thing.

In that drama studio, we want

to recreate many different experiences.

One day, they might be pretending they’re chatting in

a small bedroom or they might claim to be in an open field.

One of the techniques that we use in the corner

of the room is to build almost like a snail shell,

corridor that goes round and round and round in

circles until you end up in the points in the middle.

If you acoustically treat that entire snail shell corridor, you get

to a point where if your microphone is on the outside of that,

you can have a conversation saying, “I’m going to go outside”

and you keep talking as you’re walking down this snail shell.

The absorption creates the illusion

of you disappearing off into the field.

You disappear into a dead zone basically.

You can kind of achieve that but you normally try

and design it rather than having it happen by accident.

Male Audience: Okay. Thank you.

Female Audience: Just what you’re saying about the glass

walls and stuff like that, depending on what the use

of the studio is, surely, with podcasts with limited time

frames to record a certain amount or if you’re trying

to create really engaging discussion, you want to minimize

distractions from the outside world so if you think maybe

it’s going to come back around to just having one small

kind of window because you’ve got three guests in there.

You want to create really amazing reactive conversation but you

don’t want them to be, “There’s 14 people walking past the window”.

Dave: I think it’s different spaces.

Unless you want to answer this question?

No that’s fine, carry on.

Dave: It’s different spaces for different experiences.

You’re entirely right.

We’re starting to build studios at the BBC now

that don’t look like typical studios.

They look or feel a bit more like a front room.

It’s a pair of sofas in a V shape so that people can just sit and have

a chat across the thing and they’re not looking at a whole bunch of

playout computers or screens or faders because

that’s not a natural environment

for people who are not naturally

broadcasters to have a conversation in.

It’s appropriate things for appropriate uses, I guess.

We’ve actually been sealing windows up in the studios

that we’ve been refitting recently just because of the filming aspects.

I had to try and keep some of the natural light out

just for the colour balances and things like that.

Dave: Does your studio still have that big

sliding walls,window or massive video screen?

Radio presenters like to see what the weather’s like outside

so they’ve got something to talk about.

People that film it hate the mixer of… [crosstalk]

Most people can’t afford a screen about this size.

It’s a slide across their studio on demand

but when you can, it’s a great station.

Exactly. It’s not broken yet.

Female Audience: What do you do when you don’t have money to build a nice

studio that’s mounted on the frames

and you’re just given what you’ve got?

Do the best you can. That’s it.

Yes, curtains.

Lots of soft furnishings, heavy fabric

does a lot of the sound absorption.

Again, it depends on what you’re doing.

Certainly in the podcast world, we start

to see a lot now of microphones that come

with a built-in acoustic shield that

wraps around the back of the microphone.

Rather than treating the entire room, it’s not

perfect but it does a reasonable job for about

50 quid, it kind of treats the immediate space

where your microphone and your mouth will be.

You get reasonable results from that.

Carbon tiles are really good.

Get the very cheap carbon tiles that normally you have on the floor and look

really old and horrible.

Stick them up on the wall and you’ve got absorption wall.

In a really cheap way.

Also using suspension mounts for the microphones

is also a good way of getting rid of lots of noise as well that gets picked up,

bit of furniture, things like that.

Dave: It’sa world of diminishing returns right?

so if the only space you

can record in is next to Heathrow runway two

then you’re probably on a loser

whereas if you’ve got a shed at the bottom

of the garden in a reasonably quiet

residential space, cheap and cheerful,

will probably do a reasonably good job.

There’s a lot voice over artists that just record it in

a spare room with curtains and stuff on the wall.

Dave: We get calls all the time from people going, “I need

to do an ISDN down the line” or whatever

and, “I need to do it from home”.

ok go to the cupboard under the stairs, duvet over your head and it’s effective.


We have 38 seconds left before we’re out of time.

Male Audience: What is an ISDN?

Dave: ISDN.

A very old school BT delivered digital

phone line that allows you to connect,

in our case, of the radio audio from one place

to another over a digital phone line.

It’s about to be discontinued which is a huge issue for the radio

industry because we have thousands of these in the fields.

It’s the little box that you see at a sports report

of a football match where the guys got a little

lid mic and he’s talking to a little brown box magically

over the phone line, connects to the radio station.

Football gets broadcast.

Aradhna: Time’s up. Thank you very much.


Lecture 2 – Studio Equipment

First question.

What’s the studio actually going to achieve?

Making sure it works for every eventuality,

future proofing.

Yes, part of it is sit down,

think what do I want to achieve right now

and then have a little dream

about what you’d like to achieve in the next five years,

because equipment has a lifespan and a turnover

but you want to be thinking what are our ambitions for the station

so that you can be prepared

for anything that the production teams throw at you,

and you don’t have to do it all again 3 weeks after you finished.

That’s the big one.

Money. How much budget do you have?

There are a whole variety.

Every piece of equipment that we show you or we talk about here,

there is a–

I found it for– I was about to say I found it in Maplin.

Those days are gone.

Found it for a fiver in Maplin,

right up to I spent thousands and thousands of pounds on it

because I work for a major international broadcaster.

The honest answer is it’s what’s right for you.

We’re not telling you what the right option is.

We are not advocating

any piece of equipment that you see on any of these slides

-or suggesting certain manufacturers. -Other equipment, is available

Exactly. Ann’s worked for the BBC. She knows the lot.

Really, before we go further, the main thing.

If you take one thing away from this,

it’s just context is really important.

Don’t ever go,

what’s the BBC do, what does Global do,

and try and copy that

because it’s all about what’s appropriate for your studio.

We’ll start off by having some fun and looking at some microphones.

We’ve got a nice close up of the Capitol Microphone

just for you to go, “Ooh, it’s shiny.”

Good things to put in a studio, microphone.


The important thing to know about microphone

is that they come in different pickup patterns.

This is the way that the microphone hears the sound.

You’ve got effectively two types:

One that’s omnidirectional and one that’s directional.

An omnidirectional means that it hears the sound.

It picks up the sound evenly in all directions around you.

Omnidirectional microphones are really useful

if you’ve got a reporter who’s going out to do some reports

and they just got one microphone.

I can stand here

and I can have the microphone between us

and they going to be picking up the sound quite evenly.

However, in a studio, they’re perhaps less useful,

because I don’t necessarily want to be picking up

the sound of the presenter here

and then the sound of the computer fans

or whatever’s going on behind it as well.

You then have really directional microphones

that you might see if you see a TV film crew

and they have a microphone that’s like a shotgun.

On top of the camera over there.

It’s a shotgun style microphone.

The idea of that is that

the pickup pattern is really narrow but it goes a long way.

That’s useful if you have got a press conference

and you’re trying to get the sound of the person speaking over there

but you don’t want any of the sound of the room at the side.

They are sometimes used,

these super directional microphones are sometimes used

by podcasters who are going out and recording in cafes,

because it means that they can get

really tight sound on their presenter.

The danger of them is that they pick up a lot of handling noise.

As soon as you go and move your mouth

a little bit over this side, a little bit over that side,

you’re not going to pick up the noise.

It’s for people who really know what they’re doing.

Probably not one I’d put in as a first choice in a studio.

Then you have a cardioid microphone.

Cardioid, if you think about, I think it’s the Latin cardio, heart.

It looks like a heart upside down. It does not look like a bum.


It’s definitely a heart upside down. That’s how I remember.

That is like those two patterns have been merged.

It’s a microphone where it picks up

a bit more in one direction than it does in the other.

That’s a really good microphone to have in the studio

because we’re going to hear our presenter

but we’re not going to pick up the noise from the guests opposite

because we’re going to give them their own microphone.

It definitely does look like a bum.

What about this different situation?

I don’t know if there’s any ideas.

Very loud environment, sports stadium,

where the latest sports ball team are playing their sports ball matches.

Very loud.

Lots of screaming fans that seem to want

to watch the football, hear the football, et cetera.

How do we make sure

that our commentator is heard back at home on the television box

or in fact on a radio box, that’s much better.

Any ideas?

-Okay. -Put them in a soundproof box.

Put them in a soundproof box. That works a lot of the time.

Quite often, you do have commentary boxes that are isolated.

However, typically,

quite often people will actually want that a bit of that stadium aesthetic,

a bit of that extra noise.


microphone producers have had a shot at solving the problem.

You’re not wrong, that is very often the solution.

This is what’s called a lip mic.

You may have heard the unique noise that a lip mic makes

if you ever listen to 1990s Formula One commentary.

It’s that sound where they’re talking right into it

and really looks like they’re eating the microphone.

-It’s a very close pick up. -And quite directional.

I did work at one radio station where they got some new lip mics

and they’re very excited because it meant that

they could get the sound of the presenter

and it was picking up a bit more of the atmosphere.

Then they had to stop using them because they’re at a football match

and it was picking up slightly too much of the crowd

and their enthusiastic messages to the players

that perhaps weren’t suitable for broadcast.

Though the classic image of a lip mic is for sports stadiums and the like,

we’ve actually used them in nightclubs as well,

we’ve done outside broadcasting from Ibiza and the like.

Exactly the same reason.

You’re in a very loud environment

and you want to hear the noise that you want

but not too much of the noise that you don’t

and you can’t always produce on a soundproof area.

-Then, desks. -Mixers.

-So much fun. -So much fun.

We’ve got our microphone, we’ve got a noise source.

We need to get that and mix that in with everything else.

That’s mixer and get that out onto the radio.

There are three major mixer technologies.

There are pictures of the three of these here.

There is on the left an analog mixer.

In the center, a relatively old now digital mixer,

and on the right hand side, a modern IP mixer.

For purposes of–

This is the pros and cons are broadly the same for digital and IP

but they are different under the hood.

An analog mixer is usually the cheapest option.

Models ranging from about £10, £20 to several thousand

but usually, for any given level of functionality,

the cheapest option.

An analog mixer, your sources plug directly into.

When you’re putting your faders up and down on the mixer,

you’re directly controlling the level going in to that channel.

Because of that, they’re quite inflexible.

The mic channel is the left hand channel on your desk.

If your presenter wants the mic on the right,

you’ve got to rewire it,

which tends to be the reason that a lot of broadcasters opt

for one of the digital options.

They’re more expensive as a rule.

It varies a bit these days

because there’s a lot more of these out there.

Some of the prices for digital technology is coming down.

They give you the option to separate the audio brain from the studio.

The guys talking about putting kit outside the studio.

You can now remove the brain

so there’s a quiet piece of equipment

rather than a big box with lots of fans in

sat in your studio doing the audio.

Most importantly,

they have the flexibility that you can move your sources around.

If you’re a Brexit presenter–

Not your Brexit presenter, your breakfast presenter,

so not the Today program,

wants their microphone on the left hand side of the desk

and your Drive Time presenter wants their microphone

on the right hand side of the desk.

They can knock themselves out and have a lovely time

and they won’t come knocking on your door causing you problems.

Both options are good, no option is bad.


most radio studios tend to have digital desks these days

just because the technology’s become affordable

and it’s outweighing some of the advantages

but there’s nothing wrong at all with analog desk.

Of course, the pro of a digital desk that it’s really flexible

and you can have different layouts with different presenters

is also, if you’re an engineer, the downside

because invariably someone will be like,

“My microphones in the wrong place.”

There’s a bit of training that has to go into that as well.

Rather than having a nice friendly sticker saying mic in big letters,

you have to teach them where the screen is

that says where the mic is and how to move it if they wish to.

All about context, as we were talking about.

However, sometimes, you might have–

Oh, gosh. This is a really old photo, Mark.

This is from when I was at university.

-Back in the last century, was it? -Not the last century.



you might have a situation

where you might want to have two desks together.

You might want an analog mixer and a digital desk.

Let’s say you are working for a music station like Six Music

and they have got a band in.

You would have an analog mixer to mix that band

and you’d have someone who really knew how to mix bands,

mixing that all together.

Then you could just take one source out of that desk.

That beautiful mix they’ve done on the band,

just take that as one source

and have that as one option on your digital desk for the presenter.

That would mean that instead of the presenter needing a desk

that had got 20 faders on it so that they can mix the band

and they needed all of those different sources

because they needed five for the drums,

one for the bass, two for the singers, whatever.

You can do a separate mix and just plug it in

and then the presenter just has to be like ‘band noise’.

Okay. ‘Band noise’ off. Does that make sense?

If your band generally do turn up with a drum kit,

put them in a different room– Ideally, a different building.

Certainly a different room.

I once looked up how to record bagpipes,

and, genuinely, the article said place the bagpipes

in a different county from the microphone.

Headphones and monitoring. Really important.

You’ve got your presenter, they’ve got their microphone.

How do they hear what’s going on?

The honest answer is they’re going to want to do it two ways.

People are difficult.

Generally, headphones–

We like headphones.

You probably wear them on the tube or wear them all the time.

Something like a headphone or earphone.

They’re quite restrictive.

They don’t give you the ability to move around

and they’re quite– particularly, big headphones like these,

quite claustrophobic almost.

Quite often, when presenters are not talking,

you need to provide them with some loudspeakers,

some monitors in technical jargon,

to allow them to monitor the audio,

which is going out on the radio.


there’s a big problem with just providing speakers,

which is when the microphone is open,

you get that lovely, screechy feedback sound,

which none of you– Don’t replicate it now.

None of your listeners are going to enjoy.

For that reason,

you’re going to end up providing some headphones as well.

General purpose headphone advice.

There are broadly two different types:

Fully enclosed, not fully enclosed.

You can argue there’s also partially enclosed in the middle.

These would be fully enclosed

because they get right the way around the ear.

Not fully enclosed ones sit on top of the ear.

Some presenters like some types, others like others.

Broadly, if you’re editing with a pair of these on

you don’t hear anything when someone comes up behind you,

and it freaks you out.

That’s the reason

that people that don’t like fully enclosed headphones

don’t like fully enclosed headphones.

However, it’s also quite distracting if you’ve got,

particularly if you’re editing at a workstation.

You’ve got a lot of room noise

and you can’t really concentrate on what you’re doing.

That’s the reason most of the time

General purpose advice for headphones.

Buy a type where most parts are replaceable

because they take every single bit of abuse in a radio studio.

The one single thing that sees most of the damage is headphones.

If you spent about £300 on a set of headphones,

buy one you can replace bits or,

buy a really cheap type, chuck them away and buy a new one.

There is also no radio studio in the world,

and I’ve been really lucky

I’ve managed to go to loads all over the world,

that is just the law of radio studios

that there will not be enough headphones

for the positions available,

no matter how diligent you have been in your ordering.

You’ve even ordered some spares.

You can also do stuff like, don’t crush the cable,

but you can slightly cable tie the cable of the headphone to the table.

There’s stuff you can do to try and stop the headphones from wandering.

Can we go on to the next? Yes,

just one last quick note on loudspeakers.

Make sure that you can figure out your desk in your studio environment

so that when you turn the microphone is open

because otherwise you still get that horrible screechy sound.

Playout systems.

-Our favorite photo. -Our favorite thing.

Playout systems

are the absolute core and brain, really, of your radio station.

It’s the place where all of your music,

potentially your packages,

some stations maybe your news items,

anything pre-recorded that’s noisy

will be coming from a radio playout system.

The photograph we’ve got here is not a playout system,

but it’s a way that you could hack one maybe.

It’s a load of iPod shuffles in different colors.

This was from some testing that was being done at a radio station,

I think in Southeast Asia somewhere.

All they were doing was

sending a different iPod Shuffle selection

to a different set of transmitters

and there’s even some post it notes underneath

to tell you what’s on the station.

That’s not really how a playout system works.

The iPod was like a phone in the old days.

This is a playout system. There are lots.

They all fundamentally have the same broad components.

There will be a section which plays out your music.

This may appear as a set of individual players,

it may appear as condensed running order with important things

like how long you’ve got left on the currently playing song,

that kind of thing.

You’ll have what is called a log or a running order

or various other things in various different systems.

This is your full list of everything that’s coming up,

what time it’s coming up,

how it is going to emerge from your playout system,

whether it’s, for example,

a piece of production that runs over the top of a song, et cetera.

Vitaly gives you your opportunity to back it out,

move things around,

sort out your running order on the radio.

Last bit, hotkeys. It’s very short.

Players are playing in little bits of audio

so you can do wacky zany bonkers things

like playing [incorrect noise] and the like.

More interesting part now.

Behind the scenes, how it all comes together.

This is a very rough schematic of a playout system.

A database sits at the core of it, stores all the data.

That will probably live on a server.

Probably a good idea, if you have the funds or the ability,

to build in a secondary one

because it’s going to be a PC and it’s going to go bang at some point.

If you’ve got a secondary one,

it gives you a way out when that all goes wrong.

This all needs to be connected up to your studios,

which will have probably a playout machine,

either in the studio or, as the guys talked about,

at the end of the KVM.

If you are making money,

you may need a way of playing out your adverts.

Now, that may be as simple as a fader in the studio,

that may be another computer,

which is remotely controlled from the studios.

You also need a mechanism

for them to communicate with the backup server

if the main one goes pop.

That is a very quick schematic of a playout system.

Talking of backup.

Backup and having multiple copies of things

is also all about context.

You definitely want to have more than one copy of everything.

If possible,

you want to send another copy of that to another building.

Don’t be a national broadcaster

that’s only got a second copy in the same building

and is on top of an earthquake fault line.

Not such a problem in the UK, seen that elsewhere.

If you have got a duty

to remain on air in times of nuclear war, like the BBC,

you’re going to need more than that

in terms of number of copies you’ve got.

It’s all about context.

You don’t want to spend a lot on extra storage if you don’t have to.

About the right amount.

-Fire up the metadata klaxon. -I know.

Now, it gets to the best bit about playout systems,

which is actually the metadata.


Metadata is just a description about an item.

Metadata you use all the time.

Things like title, artist, duration,

all of that is really useful information

about an item in your playout system because otherwise,

it would just be playing– I don’t know.

Next, you’ve got a song, don’t know what it is.

We need to make sure

that when we put stuff into our playout system

that the metadata is correct.

I think that if you are running stuff at a radio station,

you need to enforce very strongly the rule

that if you are putting it onto the playout system,

it is your job, whoever does that, to put it in correctly.

There are some systems

that will scoop some of the information in automatically

if it’s a pop music song, for example.

Then the titles and the information– Can I go back to the–

The stuff like the title can then be used in different places.

This is some information from our playout system

that’s actually being sent through to display on the radio.

This is the BBC playout system.

If we pretend that we’re in the playout system,

we’re a producer and we double click on one of the items,

we can then bring up the metadata card.

In here,

we’ve got stuff like title and artist, and duration,

and there’s loads of different fields.

I think there’s stuff like second Piccolo,

if it’s a classical thing,

because everyone needs to have hold of the right data at the right time.


what we can start doing is taking really good stuff.

We want to make sure if you put the title in correctly

and not called it Title One,

that information will then be sent through to other systems.

It means that

that title information will then be showing up on your radio

and the title and the artist and the song

will be showing up on people’s radios in their car.

It will also be showing up online.

This is a bit of an old screengrab

but if the information that’s appearing on the website

about what song was played when is also coming from the playout system.

When the song’s finished playing,

there’s a bit of information that can then send on to the online system

to say, this song was on air at this time,

and then it automatically generates the playlist

so that you can see what was on that show.

There’s tons of stuff that it’s doing.

It’s really the core of your whole system

and you can have a lot of fun with it.

Aren’t these playout systems really expensive now?

How can we possibly afford one?

The honest answer to that question is they can be.

If you are designing,

it’s all about context, as we were saying.

If you are designing for the BBC,

you’re probably going to spend quite a lot of money on it.


if you’re in your student radio station,

your hospital community station,

there’s open-source alternatives

that may be a little bit more complicated to get set up.

Also, talk to some of the companies that provide them

because you’ll discover fairly quickly

what they charge a big commercial broadcaster for 24 hour support.

They are not going to charge a community station

that rings them up once a year at most.

Very quickly. Studio branding and digital signage.

You’ve got your studio box, it sounds lovely,

we’re going to ruin it by putting screens on the walls.

Fundamentally, it’s really important now,

we find, to put branding into studios.

You got two basic ways of doing it.

Put a banner up, or

you put something physical that’s always there.

Increasingly for us,

and possibly in your stations as well,

the studios are used for other things,

maybe there’s specific podcasts that are recorded,

that kind of thing.

Big advantage of screens, as you can see in these pictures

with that boy band and Ricky Gervais,

having a screen in the background

allows the studio to be really flexible.

This YouTube clip of Ricky Gervais, once Magic,

who are in this photo, had finished with the studio,

at the click of a button that will have changed

to say Absolute Radio,

who will have come in, interviewed Ricky in the same studio,

probably asked all the same questions and put their own video up online.

That is a thing,

Also, as I mentioned before, radio now has pictures.

Yes, the reason you want some branding

is either people are taking photographs for social media

or you are doing automatic capture.

The really important thing was this,

is you want to think about setting up your cameras

so that you’re capturing what’s going on the radio station

because it’s all about sharing really great audio online.

You don’t want to break radio by doing it.

You don’t want to go, “Right,

we’re turning our radio studio into a television studio

and we’re going to put everyone on little clip mics,

and we’re going to make them read off autocue

and we’re going to shine bright lights in their faces.”

No, no, you want to make the radio studio work

so that they can make radio

and if you shut your eyes, it still sounds amazing.

Then you’ve got some automatic stuff going on

and some pictures going on

so that you can share a bit more easily.

Some things that you need to think about for that,

it could be a whole talk on its own,

but if you having to adapt a room that already exists

versus if you’re already building a space,

what size cameras you’ve got,

whether they’re close up to your presenters

or whether they’re on the wall and out of the way.

You need to think about lighting,

not doing stuff like crossing the 180-degree line

so that people’s pictures jerk all over the place.

Also, quite importantly, if you know the rules of video,

you will sometimes have to break them to make the audio work.

Just remember, it’s an audio studio first.

As long as it looks good and it comes out okay on the internet,

it’s probably fine.

Then we get to another really important and fun part

of broadcast engineering and studio design,

and that is accessibility.

When you are designing your systems, obviously,

remember that you might have presenters or producers or guests

who have different abilities.

Maybe they’ve got a vision impairment or maybe they’re using a wheelchair

or maybe they went skiing and broke their leg

and they can’t come in.

We want to make sure that we have a studio layout that makes sense.

Height-adjustable desks are really great

because they allow presenters to present in a different style.

They can stand up and present if they’re doing an energetic program

and they can sit down if they’re doing classical music.

Also, it means that if you’ve got someone

who needs to be at a certain height,

you’ve got that option.

Although, I will say the height-adjustable desk

is probably one of the things you’re going to be mending the most

if you’re an engineer.

You also want to make sure

that you’ve got doors that are wide enough.

If someone’s using a wheelchair, you can get them through.

Also, don’t have a big step or a lip to step over

to keep that sound isolation in.

I have seen that happen in one studio in another country

where you had to step over a massive step to get in the studio.

Not only did that mean

you couldn’t get in if you were using a wheelchair,

it also meant it was really difficult to wheel any kit in there.

Accessible design makes it better for everybody.

In terms of any software you’re putting in,

make sure that it can always be controlled by keyboard alone,

that the font and the color are easy to adjust.

Most manufacturers now are getting onto to this stuff,

but also it’s your responsibility, legally and morally,

to be pushing for this when you’re procuring

and asking them how do you meet accessibility standards

so that we can all make sure we can use our studios.

In summary, all the stuff we’ve been saying all along, really.

Work out what you want to do with your studio

and why that’s important.

Make sure that you build it

for every eventuality you can think of in that space.

Maybe you never do interviews now,

but one extra microphone when you build it,

it’s a lot easier than making the desk bigger further down the line.

Keep an eye on the budget, build to what you have.

The big secret is ask for help.

Although officially, if you’re at a different network,

your bosses might be like, “You’re competing with them.”

Actually, in the technology world,

we all talk to each other and we’ve all been there before

and we all help each other out all the time.

Make friends today

and then if you’re getting stuck with something,

give them an email and we’ll help you out.

Any questions?

We have a lot of children as guests.

Do you have any tips for how to

-design a studio for them? -Yes.

I’ve worked in children’s radio for quite a few years

so I’ll take that one, yes.

Are you doing a program that is live, prerecorded, a bit of both?

-Live. -Live? Okay, that’s fine.

I used to work on the Big Toe Radio Show for the BBC.

That was a live daily program.

What we did was we had a studio that–

Well, we did sometimes use them in a normal studio.

Just make sure that they put some cushions on the seats and stuff

if you’ve got to get them up to the right height.

What we did for Big Toe

was we had a studio that had a sofa and a low table

and we gave all the children

Lavalier microphones that we clipped to a baseball cap.

Then we gave them a little pouch

that they just wore over their shoulder or tied on them.

That meant that they had the opportunity to walk round the studio.

It also meant that they were always the right distance

from the microphone.

So long as they didn’t scratch their head,

it didn’t matter if they slumped down or stood up.

They were always the right distance and it wasn’t so scary for them.

The other thing is if you’re interviewing children,

try and be at the same height as them.

If you’re doing an interview out in the field,

instead of standing over them,

sit down on the floor next to them.

Be prepared for any child under two in rehearsal to whisper

and then as soon as they go on air,

they will grab the microphone and they will yell as loud as possible.

Just be ready to ride the fader.

Thank you.

Lecture 3 – Central Technical Areas

I joined the BBC straight from University.

I did a chemistry degree, followed by a masters thinking I wanted to do

research, and all that really taught me was I didn’t want to do research.

I was lucky because I got into the trainee

engineer scheme, and then they sent me to Wood Norton

for three months to kind of break my

spirit and see if I really wanted to do this.

That was the two-year scheme which you

will hear more about actually this

afternoon because one of our current

trainees is here to talk to you about it.

It was kind of training and time away from base learning, and then

a lot of time going round on different radio departments in Maida Vale and supporting

journalists for a while, different areas, and then the

master control room which at the time was just the radio control room.

What that taught me was what I really

wanted to do was be where broadcasting happened,

be where what I did made a difference to what went out on air.

There’s lots of people that didn’t like that, but there’s

also people that preferred to work in a recording area

or something like that where they got to do the beautiful balances

and they thought about things and there was lots of time.

I really enjoyed the immediacy of what I did,

then went on air within a few minutes.

Quentin: I started off in hospital radio

as an engineer representor-type person,

and then worked through commercial radio,

building radio stations as a chief engineer.

I built Classic FM, and then I went on to do something in DAB.

I also became a presenter, which was kind of like a hobby on

Classic FM doing a program from home every weekend on ISDN.

My tech opp for that program, would you like to stand up?

Whatever happened to him.

That’s how we got into the business, and we’re going

to talk to you about the central technical area.

You’ve seen the studios, you’ve seen some of the equipment in it

but as has been mentioned a couple of times, some of that

equipment is quite noisy and some of it generates a lot of heat,

and so you probably want to chuck that out of the studio.

Plus, you’ll have a whole load of other equipment that connect

you to the transmitter and do all sorts of other things.

We’re going to talk to you about the technical area and the glue between them.

-We’re going to share most of this.

This is an enormous CTA, but obviously

depending on the size of your

radio station, they could be just almost a cupboard with racks in it.

Obviously at the BBC we have many, many rooms full of technical

kit because they’re supporting all the TV studios,

radio studios, et cetera, but as other people have said, you

essentially want to get the noisy kit out of the studio,

out of the place where you are, where the presenters are,

the guests, the people driving the show are, and into-

Not only to remove the noise, but also to put into

air-conditioned rooms that are suitable for equipment.

It’s about what goes into them.

It’s all the noisy computers with fans, it can be the brains

behind those desks that you saw in the last presentation,

the codecs that we used, the ICN we mentioned earlier, the IP codecs

all of those things mostly will all go into rack rooms.

Everything you don’t absolutely need in a studio

or in a control room environment will be in there.

When we do the switching in the master control room,

all the switches, again they’re in racks rooms, the network swtiches,

the transmission switches, everything like that

they’re all in the racks rooms behind

the scenes as it were, controlled access apart

from everything else so people can’t just go in

and start switching things on and off.

Also in areas that we don’t need to, so

we don’t have to have the kit with us.

It’s much safer as well.

Anything you want to say about that Quentin?

Quentin: Well, that’s the sort of thing you’ll see in a racks room.

We’ve got lots of pictures of various bits and we’re going

to show you some different racks rooms and some of the kit

from different radio stations so you can see it’s all

very different, but they tend to be quite neat places.

If a racks room is neat it means it’s been well

planned and well maintained and looked after.

-One of the things I was going

to show now is this one, the ones that BBC.

Actually it’s our radio network switcher,

then we’ll go on a bit later as well to look

at some of the kit in the other bays,

but the white bits between them are partly there so they’re

spaced for air, but also we’ve covered

the front of the gaps partly so that we’ve

got the cold aisles and the warm aisles

to keep the air directional so you keep…

Every other aisle is kind of a cold aisle, the ones in between

are the warm isles to keep the airflow around the kit.

-There’s lots of kit that goes

into these racks rooms and also there’s

a lot of electrical power management

because this stuff takes a lot of power,

and as somebody mentioned before, you might have the need for uninterrupted

power supplies and generator backup

to make sure that all this stays on air.

As you’ve said security is important racks rooms.

It’s probably the most secure part of a radio station

because you do not want the wrong people

going in there and taking you off-air or hijacking

you and doing something else nefarious.

You’ll come across the term 19-inch rack, 19 inch racks

actually were standardized by the Americans

in 1922 and a lot of broadcast equipment

has hung back to the old telephony days.

A lot of the equipment we still use today is actually based

on telephone systems, so a 19-inch rack is 19 inches wide.

The gap for the equipment is about 17 inches.

I’m sorry, I’m old fashioned, I can’t do the metric stuff.

Every piece of equipment is in multiples

of 1.75 inches high, which is

called 1U, and the typical rack will have 44U units of equipment in there.

Some will be 1U high, some will be two, some will be two, some

will be three, and you could fill your rack up and plan it.

You can actually just plan it on the spreadsheet, lay it out

with 42 lines and decide where all your equipment’s going to go.

These days some racks are wider because they’ve got gaps down

the side now for handling all of the IT

cables which gets in the way.

We’ll see some horrible pictures in a moment about that.

This is an empty racks room from before we filled

it with racks and you’ll see there are holes

in the floor which is where the wires are

going to come up to feed all the equipment.

Up here you’ll see some air conditioning.

This is pushing cold air around the room, and on

the back wall there that’s the power equipment.

This is a fairly small racks room.

In fact, it used to be my office at the FBS,

and I turned it into a racks room.

We push the air around the room and then down

through the racks and these little vents

and it pushes the air round underneath this

raised floor to keep all the equipment cool.

The design of that is really quite complicated now, but

necessary because racks generate an awful lot of heat.

This is a racks room which is…

That’s the same one

but now populated with equipment, and you’ll

see the racks are facing forward front to front

with the back of the equipment facing in backs.

The reason is that you want to walk between those

aisles and be able to look at the equipment.

The mistake I’ve seen made is that there isn’t

enough room between the racks here and somebody’s

put a blade server in which is that deep

and you can’t actually get it out of the rack.

Make sure you design your racks rooms to pull the worst,

longest, biggest piece of equipment in and out.

-Let you still take it in and out

because there’s no point having the server be able to come

coming in and out if you then can’t reach

it to be able to unscrew it and get it out.

Quentin: The way the air flows in racks rooms is important as well.

The air normally blows down into the floor

and out, otherwise you’ll be sucking the dust up

through all the equipment and all the fans in

the equipment will just get full of dirt and dust.

This is a slightly different design of racks room where

all the cabling is coming through the high level.

There’s a cable tray at the top of there, all the cable runs down

into the equipment and under the floor there are no wires at all.

That’s just for ventilation.

The other thing about this racks room is this is called a zoned rack.

There are five racks on the left-hand side.

You can’t see five racks on the right-hand side but they’re

then enclosed in their own air-conditioned environment.

That separates that piece of rack from some racking

next door which might have some very loud equipment in.

I will say one thing, is that racks rooms

are really unpleasant places these days.

They’re really noisy and horrible because

particularly blade servers have very high powered

fans running and screaming away like a banshee

and it’s a very, very unpleasant place to be.

-Yes, they’re not designed for

people, they’re all designed for equipment.

When you have to work and then sometimes you use protective

equipment like earplugs, ear defenders or something similar.

Then obviously there’s difficulties there because you still

need to be able to hear fire alerts and things like that.

We don’t tend to try and spend too much time in them.

If you need to do a lot of work on a piece of equipment

ideally take it out and then to a workshop.

Quentin: The picture here shows overhead power

and the wires feeding down into the racks.

The blue connectors here are the EMO sockets which are the 16 amp

or 32 amp sockets to feed a rack and all the power inside that rack.

As discussed earlier in the studios at

the tops of these racks are the power mains

distribution units so that you can manage

the power within the rack as well.

-This is one of the ones at BBC, so it’s

again on power, but all the equipment is dual-fed.

There’s as a supply A, supply B.

All the equipment we can, we dual the power so that if we

lost supplier A, everything will switch over automatically.

Anything that can’t be dual-powered, we drive from

changeover units which are themselves dual-powered.

That means that again if we lost supply

A, supply of the changeover unit

will be powered by supply B, so

the piece of equipment remains powered.

There’s also breakers, as we talked earlier

about needing a break when in a studio.

The end of each row there’s breakers for that row.

If something did happen, you’re not turning off the entire room,

but you are turning off the whole row where there’s a problem.

There’s a generator.

At the BBC we have the supply A, supply B, various things,

and we also have generators on-site because one of our…

As I think someone mentioned earlier, one of the things the BBC

does have to do is keep things on air in a national emergency.

If we lost the power, we’ve got generators

that will do it for a few hours at least.

Quentin: In between the generator and the main distribution

there’ll be an uninterrupted power supply which is

a big pack of batteries which is converting back into mains

and drives everything, so you probably got 20 minutes

of power on the batteries, on uninterrupted power.

-About that, yes.

Quentin: There’s only two types

of uninterrupted power supply, those that

have failed and let you down and those

that will fail and let you down.

-What is in the racks?

This is the BFPS rack for when Quentin

was there, Tieline audio codecs, so

they are the IP codecs we were talking

about before of contributions often.

Axia IQ DSP engines, Tieline IP codecs with an ISDN backup,

Comrex ACCESS Unit for OBs to dial into, that’s again an IP one.

Then when we’re talking about planning your bays, the thing

you want to do is plan in some air space between them.

The white things we saw in the BBC ones

or blanking panels or anything, but

what you need is some air space, because

this equipment does get fairly hot.

You cool it all you want, but still each piece of kit

has a certain amount of residual heat, so if we

can have a 1U space in between them then we always would

because, yes, frying equipment is not good.

This, I think, is slightly… Well, okay. It’s okay laid out.

Sonifex RedBox is just a distribution amplifier, an audio leveler.

For this one, a seven-second profanity delay because

you never quite know what people are going to say.

A stereo to mono amp and then

a transmission processor, an Omnia there.

Then, we’ve got Capital, again, an audio leveler

again a profanity delay, emergency

audio backup, that is something that we

take very seriously, emergency material.

An ISDN backup to transmitter, so if something went wrong

you’ve got a way of getting the audio transmitter.

Ventilation spaces as we said, audio processor,

distribution amp and then, the web feed, that’s a big box.

Quentin: That’s a very old-fashioned audio processor.

-Absolutely, for the old-fashioned platform.

Quentin: It was the one that was in Classic FM in 1992.

It’s used for the web feed.

A different sort of processing incidentally,

you process for different audiences.

You process differently for FM, differently

for DAB, and differently for the web feeds.

-Yes, which is what we come on to here.

This one, there’s a lot more explanation on the next slide, but this is

the transition chain for Radio 3, so each platform of each network

has the two boxes at the bottom, which are a DCS 578 and a 978

underneath, then there’s the Optima which is the audio processor.

As you know, audio processors can be set to different ways.

For instance, for my Radio 1, then all the levels tend to be at a fairly

high sustained level, all the audio it’s a quite a narrow bandwidth.

Then for Radio 3 for instance, there are highs, there are lows.

It’s meant to have…

Sorry, yes. Something’s itching me. [laughs]

-I presume that Radio 3 will do different

processing at different times a day as well?

-It does to a certain extent, yes.

Even Radio 3 in drive time will compress the signals

slightly so that… The audio when people

are listening in their cars of course, because

of the road noise, et cetera, and the other

noise they need to have a bit more of a constant

level, and then things like the proms would have

a massive dynamic range because people want

to hear that as if they were in the hall often.

You do, for something like Radio 3, you have

a lot of very professional, careful listeners

I’d say, who tend to complain if they feel

that it isn’t being treated with respect.

-What I used to call the listeners with their ears six foot apart.


Everything is duplicated in two apparatus rooms, in two fire zones,

so that if there’s a problem in one area there’s something else.

That is what you really want to be able

to do if you’re a professional broadcaster.

This was just a quick look at the transmission chains,

so what the boxes in the previous one did.

We’ve got the 978s here which are our transmission shelves and then

they… The Optima was the processor, and then there’s some watermarking.

You can go in for the network switches, that’s essentially

the studio via a network switcher will go into a transition chain.

If there’s a problem, emergency material can be put into that.

There’s also other inputs which are mostly not

used, but it means that if there are any issues

in the studio then there’s emergency material

that they don’t have to play in themselves.

It gets automatically inserted after a set amount of time.

For Radio 1, that’s 30 seconds, but for Radio 3 that’s 90 seconds,

because otherwise there’s just be a pause between movements.

Then we have 578, you can see from all

the various lines about the comparison.

What they do a lot of is comparing the audio

on the two parts, from the two duplicate

transmission chains in the two separate buildings,

two separate fire zones, they do comparisons.

If there is a problem with any part

of the chain, there’s an automatic switchover.

That’s to maintain broadcasting.

Pretty much everything we’re doing is to try and maintain

broadcasting and not have silences, not have gaps.

If there is a problem, automatic changeover to something else.

Quentin: In the racks room you will want some monitoring

as well, and you want access to all of that equipment.

You don’t just hard-wire all the equipment

together and shut the doors and go away.

You need to be able to listen to that

equipment at every point in that chain

to make sure that you isolate a problem

or find out where a fault is.

You’ll find in a racks room something like this,

a couple of PPM meters, some selection buttons

and a little volume control

to power some headphones or a loudspeaker.

You use that together with a jackfield here,

to go looking around for

signals and tracing the signal all

the way through the transmission chain.

You could also, these days, have digital audio, AES audio we call that,

and you can have digital versions of these meters, but they

cost a little bit more money than good old analogue ones, and if you

get into television world, you can add a nought onto everything.

There are differences with types of meters.

You’ll see PPM meters and VU meters in various flavours of those.

I found this picture on the internet, you can write that down if

you’re very quick and download, but we’ll sort it out for you later.

This tells you the difference between types of meters that

you’ll find in the broadcasting world, and the levels

and what they call zero level, and what is the maximum

level before it all starts to get distorted.

You’ll also find, certainly in older racks rooms you’ll find jackfields.

These are, again, telephony-based.

They go back to the telephone days.

You’ll find rows and rows of these jacks, they’re called B-type jacks.

Every piece of equipment is wired into the jackfield, and every

piece of the inputs and outputs all feed through the jackfield.

The clever thing about the jackfield is that if you have, for example,

a processor feeding a jack, you could listen to that processor there,

and then, without having any plugs in the jacks at all, the audio would

pass through these jacks on to the next

place in the broadcast chain.

If you needed to bypass that processor,

you could plug something else in here

and it would push the signal or whatever

you’ve plugged in off to the destination.

It’s a very clever way of doing monitoring

and of bypassing and patching signals.

It’s very common in radio and TV stations, but

it’s gradually being replaced by something else.

This is a jackfield in Global radio.

In that picture there, there are 110 rows of jacks.

There are 32 jacks per row.

Every single jack has got either two or four wires.

They have to be wired back to somewhere so that

you can then wire them on to the equipment.

That’s 14,000 wires potentially, with a lot

of colour coding and a lot of connectivity.

How do you connect them?

-Krone frames.

Very glamorous looking, very useful, often on the side of racks rooms.

They require no soldering, it’s just a Krone tool

that you can push the wires in.

They were developed for telecoms and adopted by broadcast in the ’80s.

It’s still used now.

Very good for analog audio, but not just for analog

audio, and this is a quite neatly-wired one.

The next slide-

-That’s not a neatly-wired one.

–that’s really not what you’re after.

The other thing… [laughter]

-I I know this isn’t exactly on keeping records but it is massively

important to keep your cable schedules

and keep good records, because what you bodge

just going, “We need that by tomorrow.

I’ll just do a little bodge for that now

and I’ll document it later,” about seven years later

someone will go, “That thing

that we’re still using, how is that done?”

Or, you’ll need to remove it, or you need to reverse it and the person

isn’t there, or they can’t remember, quite frankly, so keeping

records of what you’ve done and where all the cables are, and what

the cables are for is just…

Yes, I can’t stress how important that is.

Quentin: You’ll always find on a Krone field bits of paper

stuck in like that saying, “Do not use.” [chuckles]

-“Do not use.”

Or, “Do not remove,” initials of somebody

who left with the date 12 years earlier, and you’re going, “Why?

What is that for?”

Quentin: It’s really important to keep your records

and there’s something on software called a Kronekeeper, which

is your records for every single wire on every single

connecting block, with every single color of that wire.

As long you keep those records up to date, you will keep your

chief engineers and your technical directors very happy indeed.

-And you happy, when you’re not having to go and trace cables.

Quentin: You will be familiar with colour codes on Ethernet plugs.

The colour codes on an Ethernet plug, there’s a blue

and a white, orange, a green, and a brown, and a white.

That again is telephony.

These are telephone wiring colours.

In broadcast, we use lots and lots of pairs of wires.

This is the first 25 pairs of wires, which start off always

in a sequence of blue, orange, green, brown, slate.

Then the tracer wire for the first five is white, for the second

five is red, for the third five is black, for the fourth

is yellow and purple.

If you’re very good you can come up with

a mnemonic to remember your colour codes.

I’ve always used bog brush, blue, orange, green, brown, slate,

and to remember the tracer wires I do rebel yelp, don’t ask me why.

Rupert has a different acronym for this,

but you get that into your brain and you

can wire up one of those Krone fields

in no time at all and make no mistakes.

IT wiring is different and is messy

because you tend or used to tend to bring

all of the IT equipment out onto its

own jackfields, effectively the strips

and strips of connectors, of Ethernet connectors, and then you patch them

with all these cords to join them together which makes a right mess.

Thankfully, that’s getting a bit better now with… The top

of a rack you tend to have a switch and your fiber

to the other racks, and we’re beginning to lose that

kind of racks nest of IT wiring but it’ll never go away.

There’s nothing equivalent of Krone and jackfields for

variety wiring yet that I’m aware of but there may be.

We haven’t got much time left, we’re going to do a demo but we’ll

explain a little bit about delay in audio because all of this

digital equipment that’s in your rack causes a delay between

the voice hitting the microphone and it coming out the other end.

One of the biggest problems is people listening on headphones

to their own voice after it’s been through a whole

load of digital equipment, and all of these kind of bits

of equipment can delay the signal by something or other.

If that delay is more than about 10 milliseconds between your mouth

and coming back into your ear, funny things happen in your brain.

We’ve got a demo there, but what I’m going to do is set that up so that

people can have a play with it

themselves later on, we won’t do it now.

-We can do it.

Quentin: We have got time, okay.

We’ll set it up now then, and we’ll call

on a willing victim who has volunteered

and you’ll hear what happens when you have

delay between your voice and your ear.

It’s one of the things that one has to be

careful of when you’re designing radio stations

as a whole, but obviously all

the equipment that’s in a rack room.

I’ll just put on the next slide so you get an idea

of the types of delays that you get in digital equipment.

Sound travels at 1000 feet per second, about 300 meters per second.

I’m about 20 feet from you in the middle there, so my

voice is taking 20 milliseconds to get from me to you.

Anything more than about 10 milliseconds between

your voice and your own ear, because the voice is

traveling through your bone of your skull as well,

your brain starts to get very confused by it.

Other kinds of equipment have much bigger encoding delays, so if you

encode with a modern AAC algorithm it’s about 300 milliseconds.

If you fire signals up to a satellite and back

down, that’s just about a quarter of a second.

Apollo 11, 50 years ago next week, it took 2.8 seconds for

the voice to go from Houston up to the moon and back again.

A cellphone has about a quarter of a second delay in it.

A BBC sounds app takes about 60 seconds from

the sound leaving the studio till it arrives

on your iPad, and one TV frame, one frame of a TV

signal is about 40 milliseconds of delay.

They’re all bigger than that magic 10 milliseconds,

and that’s where you can get into all sorts of problems.

What we’re going to do now, would you like to come out and be my victim?

What we’re going to do is put a pair of headphones

onto you, and you’re going to speak into a mic.

You’ll hear yourself coming back on the headphones, but

then I’m going to delay the signal coming back into

his headphones and you can hear what happens as you

read from this very good book which is in your pack-

-You can already hear the delay.

Quentin: -so hang on let’s exit that delay.

You’ll need to speak into the mic.

Right, if you speak into the mic

then you should be able to hear yourself.

Okay, do that.

Audience Member: How annoying is it to be grabbing the TV

remote all the time, to turn the sound up and down.

The continuity announcers are barely heard-

Quentin: I’m now building the delay out of his earphones

Audience Member: [crosstalk] show credits

while the ad seems louder than anything else.

Whatever the rules are supposed to say, TV folks really don’t get…


Quentin: You see the problem.

Make sure that when you’re planning any of this that you

don’t allow delay to get back into a presenter’s headphones.

Thank you very much indeed. Thank you.


Quentin: Another source of delay is TV cameras in

studios, we talked earlier on about the TV cameras.

You’re going to be taking the sound not

from the microphone on the camera,

you’re going to be taking the sound that’s come

through all your audio broadcast chain.

By the time you try to marry those two

up again and put the sound back in with

the TV picture that you’re sending

off to the web they will be out of sync.

You have to get them back into sync using delay

machines a bit like that in your racks room before

you recombine the audio and the video because

they’ve gone through entirely different paths.

It’s something that catches radio engineers out because

we don’t understand pictures, we understand sound.

The pictures have their own delays and their own technologies.

It’s something that one has to grapple with

until you get to a point where, as somebody

said earlier, you’re building a radio

studio and the TV pictures are secondary.

If you come from the TV world, the pictures come

first and the sound comes second which is why TV

sound is always rubbish, but in the radio world,

radio comes first and the pictures are secondary.

They’re not needed because we paint better pictures in people’s head with

better resolution and better colors

than anything that a TV camera can do.

-We do.

Master control room, I wanted to put a picture

up really of a control room at the BBC.

This is essentially…

It’s kind of why you need an MCR if you’re a larger broadcaster,

and it is essentially the brains between

the studios and the transmission.

You’ve got the kit in the racks rooms, you’ve got

the people in the studio, you’ve got the guests and all

the presenters and the people in the control room, but

what they don’t have then is any glue between them.

That’s fine if you’re a small station that has one output, but if

you’re something like the BBC with 10 national radio networks, with

the world service, with about 40 language radio networks plus some

TV, plus your TV news channels et cetera, you need something else.

Essentially what we do here is, on the contribution

side we bring in the contributions

for the TV news, so the correspondents

you see on News24… Or not News24,

News Channel now, and WorldTV, so somebody…

Laura Kuenssberg reporting from outside

something has come through the MCR to be

set up, and it’s exciting as well.

You check how you get it all set up, you get the clean feed working,

you see her on-air, you feel like you’ve made a difference.

From the radio point of view again, when we reconnect

the studios in Salford or the outside broadcast

that comes from Glastonbury, the festivals,

Wimbledon, all those things, they all come through.

We package them up, we set them up, we get the lines together,

clean feeds working, talk-backs working, everything else reserves,

always reserves, different paths, different things so that we

can get all that in, tested and ready to pass to the studio.

What we don’t want to do is make the people

in the studio’s job any harder.

They have an awful lot to cope with when they’re doing a live show,

they just need to have something presented to them that works.

The other thing we do then is look after the distribution chain,

look after what happens from the studio.

Our responsibility is all the switchers,

the transmission chain, all the central area systems,

so what these screens here again are obviously

controlling equipment that’s in racks rooms.

The talkback system that goes around the building

and lets people not just talk between

the different areas but also to their outside

sources, to their guests outside the building.

All of those things, the responsibility

the people in the MCR, so that staff 24/7.

Whatever you’re doing, you’re on a beach or asleep, you’re having fun

with your family at Christmas, there were people in that room there

providing not only the connectivity but also the expertise to the whole

organization, to all the people in the studios as a point of contact.

Really, as your stations expand there were

more things to think about putting in place.

Quentin: There are different names for MCR.

Some people call them a mixture of names but

you’ll come across MCR, master control room,

or the NOC, network operation center, and every

variety or acronym in between [crosstalk].

-We’ve been called most of them to be honest.

Quentin: There we are.

Hope you enjoyed that.

Any questions that are rising from that that we can help you with?

I think we’re going to make these presentations available to you

and there are some notes on our

presentation behind that with a little

bit more detail, but I have to go round and black out all the IP

addresses on the pictures of the codecs

I’m afraid, sorry about that.

Audience Member: I hear all the time that the best

way get into radio is through volunteer radio

stations, hospital radio stations, I never hear

how you get on from that into the next level.

How did you move on from the hospital…?

Quentin: This was a long time ago, this was way in the last century.

I did work in a hospital radio and then I kept knocking on the door

of a commercial radio station until

they let me in and I became a tech op.

I was still at college at the time and then they took me on full-time

That was my lucky entry, and that’s not

an uncommon story, but with schemes

like the BBC apprenticeship scheme now,

that’s a really great way to get in.

There’s the graduate apprentice and then there’s the…

-There’s the people we take at 18 who essentially get a degree

at the end of it plus obviously

the training, and then there’s a retake.

Then there’s the graduate scheme where we

take graduates and they go through the masters

scheme as well as training and then they

can apply for the BBC jobs at the end.

You’ll hear more about those this afternoon because

one of our nearly qualified trainees is here with us.

Audience Member: Could you possibly just outline the brief overview

of how the sound gets from the microphone to the transmitter?

Just in terms of which machine does it go to, in what order.

Quentin: Every station is different, but

let’s take a typical radio station.

From the mic it will go into the audio mixer.

The audio mixer could be an analogue mixer, therefore

it will go through the desk in front of you.

If it’s a digital mixer, your mic is probably fed to a central

racks area and going into an interface engine of some sort.

The output of the mixer with all the other

sounds joined to it will then go

probably to some kind of a processor,

an audio processor to get the levels right.

It will then probably go to some changeover system,

so an emergency feed to backup to the transmitter.

We showed those on one of those slides

which was an ISDN codec to dial-up

or something that if the studio fails,

we’ll carry on sending some audio.

You will then have wrapped around that some kind

of routing system, so switching so that you

can divert studios to one transmitter or to a radio station

or another studio to another.

They could be small, they can be large, they

can be run by a master controller or they

can be run by the presenters themselves on

some kind of switching selection panel.

Once it’s gone through essentially that equipment in

the racks room and monitoring points and all the other

little bits and pieces, you will then feed it down some

lines or some kind of a link off to the transmitter.

The transmitter in commercial and BBC stations is never in

the radio station, it’s always up at the top of a hill somewhere.

In a community radio station the transmitter

might be in your own building.

If your transmitter is distant then you’ll need

to feed your transmitter through some lines that

you buy, either telecom lines, or more likely these

days it’ll be an ADSL or an IP of some sort.

You may also do it on a radio link to your transmitter.

That’s the kind of the linear path and then everything else that’s built

around is just to fancify the signal or to provide more monitoring.

-Or to split it off to different platforms, so we have

FM, DAB and DVB which is digital TV and radio, so TV and DSAT.

Then our signal past the- we have the network switcher

and everything and then after that it gets split off.

The transmission shelves I showed you earlier, we have separate

ones for each platform, and then they can be coded and multiplexed.

The BBC does it’s own DAB coding

and multiplexing and then they get transmitted.

Quentin: I was looking when I was putting this presentation

together with Charlotte for schematic diagrams to do exactly that.

Every schematic diagram I came across didn’t

include a racks room or a central control.

It was studio equipment, transmitter, that’s

all you need, and actually that’s not true.

Moderator: Thank you very much.

I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got time for the questions,

but again please do come find them later. Thank you.

Quentin: Thank you.

Lecture 4 – Transmission

Hi, I’m Rich Johnston, I work for

Arqiva who you probably have no idea who they are.

Does anyone know who they are?

That’s a smart ass.

It’s all right, there’s a few people know who they are. [laughter]

The guy I was talking to at the break had no idea who we are.

Anyway, we broadcast a bunch of radio and TV in

the UK, but not many people know about that.

I’ve worked there for 13 years, mostly in

the technical space, analogue radio, digital radio.

Used to do some design of radio systems

and now I head up the business

unit for commercial radio, so my customers are everybody but the BBC.

Right, we’re going to talk about a bunch of technical stuff, I

know it’s been quite quickly as well, so we’ll see how we go.

You got some audio in the studio, you’ve built it

and lots of people talked about that stuff already.

You now need to get it up to a transmitter

or more than one transmitter

perhaps, and for that, you’re going to need some circuits.

This is an odd graphic, so a lot of circuits often are analogized

as pipes because you got big pipes, lots of water can go through it.

We got a big circuit, lots of data can go through it.

You still have to worry about it, so you got to get up to

the transmitter, you got to need at least one circuit, but

you might want two because that first one might break

and that’s a big problem if you’ve got adverts going out.

You might want to worry about the length of

the pipe, less so these days, but back in

the day, it was all distant dependent and price

was based on how far the circuit goes.

Today not so much because it will likely be anything in that circuit

that you’re buying from BT is not distant dependent to price.

Anyway, building all that up, you figure out how many circuits

I’m going to put there and how resilient I’m going to make it.

That’s going to feed into the cost which is that box

in the bottom right-hand corner, and what you’re

trying to avoid, as can easily be seen here, is

a lightening powered child digging up all your circuits.

That’s obviously actual lightening, an actual digger

going through circuits and the more money you spend on

how you get that signal up to the transmitter, the more

likely it’s going to be resilient and not be broken.

This is meant to be a visualization of

how all that works together, so you

can buy loads of circuits, you get them separate, all that kind of stuff

that I was just talking about, but it’s

going to drive the cost and you need

to know what’s kind of suitable for your business or your radio station.

Some of the physical, the underlying technology that

will get it up there will be potentially satellite.

If you need to get your signal to

the entire UK, satellite is brilliant.

You’re going to get it to hundreds of transmitters, it’s great.

If you need to get it to one transmitter, that’s bloody expensive.

Radio lengths are wireless technology, so

you have two dishes pointed at each other.

It’s quite expensive to build, but then it’s cheap ongoing after that.

Then we got the circuits in the ground,

so you’re not going to put those

circuits in the ground necessarily, but

you’ll buy them from people like BT.

By the way, when you do, they’re going to take

way longer than you expected to build it.

It’s the most critical thing in your project.

Always say you don’t know when

the circuit is going to land when you’re

doing a project, that’s always going to be a critical path, that’s true.

It also might end up being a very expensive dig at times as well.

Now you’ve got some circuits that are going up to the transmitter

and you have your configuration, whatever that happens to be.

You probably want to, well, first of all, it’s going to be

an IP circuit these days, so it’s always IP these days.

Forget about any old technologies if you’ve

even heard of them looking at you, some of you.

You’ll probably want to compress it because a big rig costs

money, so a smaller circuit costs less than a big circuit.

There’s also most codecs these days have a bunch of options

that once you’ve squeezed it down, not thrown away too

much of the audio quality, and bear in mind, you don’t

need all of it for FM, which I’ll come onto in a moment.

It just makes more sense to send a smaller payload, you’re

less likely to get it corrupted and things like that.

This is very kind of whistlestop tour of all these.

There is a lot that goes on in this space, but

bearing in mind it’s going to be IP, you’ve

got a couple of different options there

or you’re just going to send it as one stream.

If you send it to multiple transmitters, do you use

multicast which is just a more efficient way of using IP.

Then there’s a bunch of stuff inside the codecs which will help ruggedize

it across your circuits, which will lose packets as well, by the way.

Then there’s a whole bunch of just made up terms that are inside.

It’s true.

You’ll hear it at ABC if you ever go there.

It’s just a bunch of stuff you’ve never

heard which people claim is technology,

but it’s probably just someone else’s idea that they’ve re-implemented.

Anyway, there’s a bunch of applications which will

help you just ruggedize that transport across.

MPEG-Dash is mentioned there just simply because it’s another different

type of technology that helps to get your audio to somewhere.

BBC iPlayer uses it.

If you’re using server stuff, 3G, 4G, that might be

a good thing because it’s quite good at buffering

lots of stuff very quickly, and then it will play out

until it gets another chance to buffer some more.

Now I’m going to pass on to Martin.

-Thanks Rich.

Probably you heard earlier about audio processors,

why do we need to process?

Why you need to process because it’s very quiet

and suddenly it gets very loud.

That’s what happens and that’s what audio processors do.

The dynamic range, the signal to noise ratio

of your transmission system, and importantly,

as all these people will be here will tell you,

the station sound is everything.

You’ve got a certain radio group, which the MD

allegedly sits in his Range Rover,

turns up his fancy all singing Hi-Fi in his Range Rover

and says, “Yes, make it louder. Yes, that’s it.”

He wants to try and listen in in a Ford Escort.

CDs have a dynamic range of about 90 dB,

well, they used to until music producers

started compressing the original for goodness sake, Quentin would have a fit.

FM transmitters, signal to noise ratio of 54 dB.

Therefore, you’ve got a mismatch.

What happens to everything?

Get’s very quiet.

You have to compress it because you’ve got

the mismatch and you have to limit it.

Station sound, people of my age remember

equalizers in your Hi-Fi system

where you could control the bass, God!

The mid and the treble, fantastic.

Audio processing, most of the modern processors about seven

bands, somebody is going to tell me the new ones have nine.

No, still seven. 30 hertz and I’ve got 20 kilo-hertz there.

All you smart people will say, “FM only does 15 kilo-hertz

DAB does 20,” apart from the mono services which only do 11.

Or how to drive your listeners to other stations.

If you over process, it gets very weary

on the ears, even these old ears.

It gets weary and people will suffer fatigue and they will tune out.

There is research that proved it.

Certain people don’t want to listen to it, won’t read it, and they’re

normally managing directors and producers and not engineers.


The lovely sound of Radio 3.

Something we all love and then you get-


slightly different, slightly louder, more

punchy all achieved with audio processing.

Here is a visualization of audio because you can visualize it, yes.

That is uncompressed audio, some of

these Cool Edit or is it Audacity?

One of the two.

Participants: Cool Edit.

-Cool Edit, I can’t remember it.

We did this slide five, six years ago.

That’s what it looks like, you can see the peaks

and troughs, and this is what it sounds like.


When you put it through a processor, it’s like this.

What happened to all those deep troughs?

They disappeared apart from a couple and it sounds like this.


Did that sound nice, sweet?

Participants: No.

-Anyone not notice a difference

apart from me because I’ve

spent too long stood three-foot from loudspeakers at rock concerts?


Double tapped it.

There’s the two together so you can see them side by side.

That’s what audio processing does.

That’s what it’s for.

You’ve got your audio, you’ve processed it, what is a transmitter?

It takes the audio and turns into?


-It’s RF, Martin.

-RF, yes.

Will turn it into RF, right, radio frequency.

You’ve got the transmit it so it’s got to become a radio frequency.

Audio to radio, but how do we do it?

It’s FM, it’s flaming magic.

We start on the left-hand side.

You’ve got a microphone and this is where, as Quinton said earlier, you

don’t need all these racks rooms and everything else, you can just

have a microphone, an audio amplifier,

a modulator, an RF frequency generator

and an amplifier, and an aerial,

and you’ve got a transmitter.

You don’t need all these fancy racks rooms.

What I’m going to do now is we’ve got three hours of maths.

Probably we’re going to achieve that in about two minutes.

What is a modulator?

How does it do it?

Before I start, anyone here done RF at university,

anything like that apart from some of you?

-You did see the response whenever you

were looking for the answer RF, right? [laughter]

-Right, that’s good. I can lie.

I’m going to simplify this.

What we’re trying to do is superimpose the audio on

the RF signal because that’s almost what you’re doing.

What happens is we’re going to say anyone

know a radio station on 100 MHz?

KISS right, I pick 100 MHz because that’s nice and easy.

Our generated number three on that

diagram is operating at 100 megahertz.

Our modulator is only going to get mono for

the sake of argument for the moment, and we’re

going to take the audio, feed it into

the modulator at the same time the RF goes in.

What happens is the amplitude of the, I’ve

got a laser pointer, the amplitude controls

how much the frequency moves, how much it

deviates, and the frequency of your audio.

So if we work with a one-kilohertz tone at the moment,

just a pure tone, it means the amplitude will go up.

As it goes up to a maximum, you will move your frequency, 75 kilohertz,

either positive or negative above and below 100 kilohertz.


-Megahertz, thank you.

Someone’s listening, but what rate will it do this?

It’ll do it at one-kilohertz, 1,000 times a second.

It’s going like this fairly slowly, but like that rather a lot.

That’s modulation in two minutes instead of three hours.

A lot of maths.

That was your transmitter system, how it works.

Audio input, audio processing we’ve done.

In your audio processor will probably be a stereo

generator that takes your left channel, your

right channel, mixes them up, and puts it out,

not as a left channel and a right channel.

No, if only it was that simple.

You’ve got a left plus right, which gives

you a mono signal, and a left minus,

and a couple of other tricky bits of maths, which we don’t do maths here.

Needless to say, 0 to 15 kilohertz,

19 kilohertz for a pilot tone.

Hands up anyone who’s ever seen the little red pilot light

come on on the radio that says it’s stereo?

I see.

-In a museum.

-In a museum, yes.

You’ve got the stereo, it goes into the modulator

which we’ve talked about, turns it into FM.

An exciter is just a low-level amplifier,

normally between 1 and 25 watts.

Power amplifier, anything between one watt

and 20 kilowatts, 20,000 watts.

FM stations in the UK vary between one watt and 250 kilowatts on air.

250,000 watts is a lot of power.

How do you get 20 kilowatts to

become 125 or 250 kilowatts?

Antennas give you gain.

They’re passive devices, but they give

you gain by stacking its effective gain.

It’s a trick of science, it’s magic.

Filters, the reason you have filters is you don’t want

to interfere with other signals, especially airplanes.

There’s a little green box there that says RDS, Radio Data System.

Earlier, you saw the bit where it showed you things you

can put on the radio and they showed a DAB radio, how-


— modern, yes.

With RDS, back in the ’80s, you could put

text on your radio then, radio text.

You could put your name up, Classic FM.

You can do that and if you are in other countries,

which aren’t regulated as well, you can also have

scrolling text which will give you this, and, of course,

there’s pirate radio, which does do that as well.

Very quickly, pictures of transmitter.

There’s one I took of BBC Radio Bristol

when we went down to that one.

Two filters on Classic FM in the Isle of Man,

and there’s a prize, I’ll buy someone a

pint if they can tell me where that is,

and go on Mr. Thorpe if you’re here. No?

-Is that the Compt Oak transmitter?


-Nice guess though

-Good effort.

-All right.

-Okay, so I’m going to very quickly

talk about the DAB, and I suppose what makes

it different to FM and how it’s created,

which is very different process actually.

When it was invented, one of the things about it was

it can be more efficient from a spectrum perspective.

That’s because it can be transmitted on one frequency.

You can get a bunch of services under one

frequency, which I’ll come back to in a second.

Obviously, really good audio quality.

That was one of the things it was sold on as well.

You can put a bunch of data with this one.

Who’s laughing at that?

Christ Jesus.

You can put a bunch of data with it as well,

so you can have all the non-playing

stuff FM had, but you can also have like

pictures, you can have video with it.

Not a lot really to go further.

The signal, it can be robust too and I’ll tell you why in a second.

I wrote that.

Here’s roughly what the system looks like.

It’s different to an FM system because before you get

to that, so you’ve got your audio and your studio.

Obviously, you’ve built all that stuff we talked about before.

You need to encode it into MPEG one layer

or two or AAC MPEG-4 before it goes into

the multiplexer, which takes a bunch of audio

services and puts them into one stream.

I don’t know if you know what a multiplexer

is, it’s a weird word, but that’s

what they all do regardless whether it’s

a data multiplexer or something else.

It takes a bunch of stuff, puts it into one thing,

and then it’ll send out to a number of transmitters.

Before it can get into that

multiplexer, let’s say, it has to be encoded into MPEG-1 Layer II.

That means you need to digitize it, so this is like composition

stuff really, but you need to describe the audio in terms of bits.

That’s just analog to digital stuff.

Then on the right-hand side here, we’ve got

a little bit about what MPEG-1 Layer II does.

It compresses the signal by getting rid of a bunch of information.

The information that it wants to get rid of is information that it doesn’t

think that you’ll be able to hear, so it’s based on a psychoacoustic model.

If it figures that it’d be able to throw away a bit of

that audio and you won’t notice, that’s what it does.

Then you’ve got a bunch of audio services,

you’ve got a bunch of data services.

This is not a real diagram in a way, it’s

a real diagram obviously, someone made it.

It doesn’t accurately reflect what the sub-components

of an ensemble do, but anyway, in theory, it

takes all these bits and pieces of audio and data,

packages them up, puts them in the ensemble.

That’s what the multiplexer creates.

You have a certain amount of space to do that,

0 to 863 capacity units, which is arbitrary,

but it just means there’s only so many

services you can put under one frequency.

COFDM, anybody know what that mean?

Yes, I didn’t think anyone would.

If you don’t know what RF means, good luck with that.

It’s a Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing.

You all know what it’s about now, don’t you?

Anyway, it’s a different kind of modulation scheme from FM.

In FM, we got one carrier signals.

There are some sub-carriers, but let’s forget about

that for the time being, so you really got one carrier.

Here you got 1,536 carriers on your ensemble that your

multiplexer has just created, it goes across all of those.

That’s one of the things that makes the signal more robust,

so it takes care of a problem called multipath, which is

about FM signals bouncing off each other, arriving at

the receiver at different times, and then creating distortion.

The idea here is with all those carriers when it bounces

off other stuff, the receiver puts them together in

a complementary way so they can actually perhaps even have

better reception rather than worse in that environment.

Then if you’re going to do a single frequency

network because you don’t have to, but you can do.

Most of all our national networks are single-frequency

networks, the BBCs, Max, and D1, and SDR.

If you’re going to do that, you’re going

to have to worry about time a lot

because they all have to have the same view of time.

They have to push out their frames, ETI frames is what they’re called.

They got to push them out at exactly the same time, and then

the receiver has to receive them within an interval.

So it has a little bit of room for error which is 24 microseconds.

24 microseconds is 75 kilometers in time and defines how

you space your transmitters in a single frequency network.

Just a little bit on that anyway.

The other thing is, I mentioned it briefly before, is that DAB plus now.

Everything I’ve just said is exactly the same, except you have a different

encoding algorithm at the start, using, like I said, MPEG-4, AAC.

It just means you can get higher quality

audio into the less amount of space.

That’s it.

We’ve got time for questions.

-Any questions?

-MPEG-4, what is MPEG?

-It’s like an umbrella term, I suppose, and so

is AAC for a bunch of compression standards.

-Motion Picture.

-Motion Picture Experts Group, but

that doesn’t really mean anything.

It’s a family of encoding techniques, I suppose.

-Is that related to JPEG?

-That’s a good question in a way because

I suppose what I said before was bollocks.


All right, it describes a family of encoded stuff.

It comes from a body that’s created and agreed those

standards and I suppose that’s what JPEG is as well.

-If there are so many families of ways of

compressing data, why have we used MPEG in DAB?


-Because it’s brilliant. All right? That’s why.

-DAB started possibly before some of you were born.

The first DAB transmitters went on air in the UK in 1995,

and they’ve been working on DAB for a number of years before that.

MPEG Layer II was, at the time, one of the most efficient coding methods.

Processors have got faster, technologies leaped away.

Now you’ve got AAC which allows us to do DAB+.

Had we had known then what we know now,

we’d had never used MPEG II.

-Yes, but you can’t predict the future.

We had to choose one.

That was one of the best ones at the time.

I might have made a different choice today.

-That begs the question will the UK industry

ever switch to DAB+ when there’s so many legacy?

Throw them away now and buy a DAB+ radio.

-Come to TechCon.

-Come to TechCon.

-I was just about to ask about the DAB+.

The established stations like Radio 1, Radio 2,

they broadcast in standard DAB, but

you’ve got spin-off stations like Virgin Anthems,

Virgin Chilled broadcasting in DAB+.

Do you think that they’ll be, as the technology improves,

that we’ll move away from standard DAB on the sort of like

the Heritage BBC and local commercial stations, and they all

move over to the DAB+ formats as the DAB technology gets better?

-The great thing is technology doesn’t need to improve that much.

All of the transmitters that we’ve put

out there already can support DAB+.

Actually, most of the encoders that we

have in places can support DAB+ too.

There’s some software upgrades required in Arqiva land to

make everything DAB+ capable but it’s not so difficult.

It’s more of a question about what do the broadcasters

want to do and also what do you guys want.

Have you all got a DAB+ receiver?

No, so if you got a DAB+, you’re getting rid

of some of your audience in a sense right now.

Yes, there will definitely will be more DAB+

services over the next few years and our

receiver sales, there’ll be more penetration

in DAB+ receivers too, so that will happen.

Host: Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

Lecture 5 – The Internet and Coding

A lot of this has kind of been talked about already, but effectively

when you get onto the internet and radio

you’ve got two things to worry about.

Encoding the audio, and we’ve just been talking about

that in the DAB world Then how it reaches you via the streaming.

There’s loads of ways you can do it.

We’ll start with the encoding, you’ve got two choices really.

You can use software encoders.

I’m really thinking here not from a radio station,

not from a big radio group.

Some of it is, but really from if you want to do

this small scale, you want to do it yourself.

Software encoding.

Programs like Winamp, which have been around

donkey’s years, other programs, RadioDJ.

You can use hardware encoding, with

software encoding, you just need a PC.

Probably doesn’t need to be that powerful, but you probably don’t want

to be doing too much stuff don’t be editing your videos at the same time on it.

Just leaving that running through, that’s doing the encoding

for you in the background from wherever your studio.

Or hardware encoding, which are boxes and they can range

in all sorts of price from $100 up to the sky’s the limit.

Probably there’s a couple of cheaper ones there.

I’m going to talk about really super cheap method right

at the end here, but hardware encoding obviously.

You’re not really using a PC, using a box somehow to do it.

Just been talking about codecs, AAC or MP3, probably it’s a bit

more AAC these days, particularly in the streaming world.

You can stream in MP3 as well, won’t go on about that.

Then we get into how you actually stream, and the sky’s the limit.

It really depends what you want.

This picture of a bunch of Starbucks cups from small

to massive, or whatever terminology they use.


They’re fake Italian.

Anyway, really the sky’s the limit.

It really depends who your audience is, all the way through this.

I think the whole thing today is what’s the right answer.

There’s no right answer.

It’s really dependent on what you want to do.

In terms of streaming, who’s your audience?

Is it you and a few mates?

That’s probably super cheap, super low, but if you’re putting something

out potentially tens of thousands of people are going to be listening to.

Then it’s a bit more complicated.

What can you do?

Probably the cheapest way of doing it is basically

using someone’s off-the-shelf SHOUTcast server.

Basically there’s companies out there.

Once you’ve created your stream, you’ve run

it through maybe your software encoder.

Then you point that at someone else and you pay them a bit of money.

The amount of money you pay depends really on the quality,

how high the quality… Is it mono stereo, bit

rates and so on and sometimes how many people are

going to be listening to it and that will depend.

You could do it yourself.

There’s no reason you have to go to someone else.

You could put a little server in depending on

your technical price and host it yourself.

Obviously, you’ve got the issues of lots

of people are listening, is your BT

or talk-talk, ADSL actually going to cope with all those people listening?

That’s totally doable or when you’re massive,

you go to big what they called CDNs,

Content Distribution Networks, Limelight,

Akamai, they’re the companies you use.

They’re the people a lot of the big broadcasters use,

because they’ve got serving capacity the world over.

Basically the broadcaster sends one copy

to them, and then they replicate it.

You’ve pushed the problem away, paid them to do it.

They handle it for you, so they’re the options.

Things to think about then.

How many people are actually going to be

listening, particularly simultaneously.

That’s the key thing there, you want to be able

to serve enough people, but don’t overpay for it.

How much bandwidth can you afford and what quality of streaming in.

As I say, mono signal, it’s going to be cheap, but if you

want that full compression, unprocessed, full dynamic range.

You’re probably going to be streaming in a really high-quality.

Radio Three does, for example.

When they stream, and what service level do you meet?

That just means do you care if it falls over.

You pay a big company who are going to make sure

that their servers are up for 99.99% or whatever.

On the other hand, if you do it yourself

and the machine goes over at 10 o’clock at night.

No one hears anything until the first person comes in

the following morning and notices the machine’s gone down.

They’re the things.

It’s all about choice and there are loads of them.

I thought what I would do is give you

a example that anyone here can try out.

I know that because I said I’m not an engineer,

but I’ve done this and it works.

This is something called the Locus Stream

SoundMap, which you can go and visit.

What it is, is it’s a network of open microphones around the world.

People who have put microphones in places, often

in nice rural places with lots of environment.

You click on one of those, and you can play and you can

listen in to nature sounds largely from around the world.

You can do this.

Here is my one.

What do you need to do? You need a Raspberry Pi.

There are lots of ways to do it, but this is a way of doing it.

It’s very cheap.

Raspberry Pi, get a Micro SD card and something to power it by.

Then you want a soundcard, which isn’t

a card obviously, it’s a little box.

That’s just basically a USB thing to plug into your Raspberry Pi.

You’ll need a microphone.

Microphones, you could start with a cheap Lavalier type

microphone you can buy off the internet quite cheaply.

Or you can spend hundred and hundreds of pounds buying something amazing.

Then you probably want to set it up on a ethernet.

Use an ethernet cable to set it up, because all the Raspberry Pi’s

if you’ve used them, you plug them into a monitor and a keyboard.

Actually you can do all this thing remotely.

The great thing about this little setup is, once you’ve got

the SD card, the micro SD card set up, it runs itself.

All the instructions are there. Make a note of that.

Or wait for these slides to come round.

That’s basically what it looks like.

You’ve got a microphone, you point it

somewhere, you’ve got your Raspberry Pi.

Mine’s nicely labeled.

If there’s one thing engineers have taught me, it’s label things.

Microphone, it could be Wi-Fi.

Ethernet’s probably a bit safer, and you let it go.

You can then put it out on the internet.

Now, there’s an interesting organization

called Soundtent, and every year in around

May, they do a thing called International

Dawn Chorus Day, over a 48-hour window.

What they do is they use a bunch of these microphones.

They work out when dawn choruses in different parts of the world.

Actually, they produce a radio feed which they

then distribute to various other radio stations.

They just get the dawn chorus as it moves

around the world, as the planet turns.

You can be part of it. All you got to do is put your microphones

in there, and set it up, and away you go.

To give you an idea, actually, it’s from last year

because it was raining this year when I tried it.

This is recorded window out of my semi-rural flat in North London,

at about four o’clock in the morning processed near a Raspberry Pi.

There you go Andy you move on now.

Andy: Once you’ve got your station online, you need to wait

for people to come and find it and be able to come and listen to it.

Rather than just giving them a random long, complicated address.

Naturally, the next thing you’d come to, is

wanting a website for your radio station.

Obviously, this is a very flash, very

sophisticated website for a big radio group.

Providing lots of informative local information like

Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello’s relationship.

You’re going to want to be able to get

a good web presence, because you’re going to

want people to come in and find you, and be

able to listen to your station easily.

Something that quite commonly comes up when people first think about

this is, why can’t I just use Twitter and Facebook, as an example.

Just send people to my Twitter page, send people to my Facebook page.

Whilst you could do that, the problem you’ve always got of basing your

station on someone else’s platform is that you have to play by their rules.

You could wake up one day, and find out

that you’re de-listed, or the Facebook

newsfeed algorithm has changed and no one can find you anymore.

If you’re putting all your effort into someone else’s platform for them

to be able to just pull the rug at anytime, that’s obviously a concern.

If you encourage people to use your website, you still go

on Facebook, still go on Twitter to reach other people.

If you always direct people back to your own

website, you know that you’ve got something

that you’re in control of, and that people

can come back to you time and time again.

The first thing you’re going to want to

get on your station website is obviously

an easy way of people being able to listen

to your internet feed that you’ve produced.

You’ve got lots of different options for doing this.

If you’re fortunate enough to be on a station that’s

on FM and DAB and you pay your fee to radio players.

You effectively get a player for free,

this is the console that they provide you.

You can put your own station logos and everything into

it, but they provide the codes that runs that player.

If you’ve ever used radio player before, you’ll

know that you can search across other stations.

You can come and go and flick between a lot stations as well.

It’s quite a nice discovery experience.

Alternatively, if you’re not on radio player,

you’ve still got the option to build something.

This is a very basic example of what a web player would look like, so that

people can pop this open on a window, hit play, and hear your stream.

You can put up things like now playing

your information on it as well.

It’s like, how do you go about building all these things.

You’ve got, effectively three options for

building a website for your radio station.

You’ve got the hard way that’s effectively

the cheapest way of doing it.

It’s the most complicated of coding the page entirely by yourself.

Open a text editor, write the code, write the HTML and build your page.

You’ve also got other things to consider

about, not just how you’ve written

your page but then how you’re going to get it onto a server and host it.

A half way house, you’ve got something like WordPress.

WordPress is actually two different things at the same time.

WordPress the software provides all the code for running your website.

You can put a theme onto it and it manages all your content for you.

You can just get on with actually putting the content on your

website, but you still have to host it on a server and maintain it.

WordPress then also has a separate option which is a paid-for

solution, which they will also host for you as well.

That’s where you start to creep in to paying for the services.

Then at the tier below that, you’ve actually got companies

that specialize in producing radio station websites.

I’ve tried to put other people in there,

so it’s not just my own employer.


These companies specialize specifically in radio.

You can turn up, you pay your fee, but then their tools are specifically geared they’ll

understand that you want to put a schedule on your website.

That you want to player, that you want to

put artist pages, etc, on there.

Quite a few of these also provide streaming facilities for you.

So like Adam was talking about this server that you

point your audio stream to, they will help provide

it for you. Then once you’ve got your website set up

you’ve also got to think about mobile apps.

Because mobile engagement now is eclipsing desktop usage.

More people are going to be interacting

with your station on a mobile phone.

Do you need a mobile app?

There’s pros and cons to it.

It’s again going back to this whole issue

of scale, and also who your audience are.

The big thing that is useful for mobile apps is that often if

people just hear your station name and think, “Oh, I might want

to listen to that.” The default behavior will be to go to an app

store and put the name in and see if there’s an app there.

If that’s crucial for you, then you potentially do need that presence.

How do you go about building your mobile app?

Again, you’ve got this sliding scale of complexity at

the very difficult end, but potential lowest cost to you.

Sign up for a developer account with either Apple or with Android.

Writing what’s the code again, very complicated, but it

can get you there if you want to pick up the coding.

There’s then a middle tier where you’re still

writing code but there’s a couple of projects.

One called PhoneGap, another one called React Native, which

allow you to use technologies that you use on your website.

If you’re good at writing web pages, but feel a bit

overwhelmed by writing a mobile app in a different language.

You can effectively build a website that you package up inside an app.

Then again, you’ve got the tier where you

can hand it all over to someone else.

There are a lot of companies that’ll provide white label applications.

You pay a fee, you give them your station logo

and your information, they’ll build the app for you.

The thing to be quite careful of with some of these, is

that they will sell apps to tens of thousands of people.

You’ve got to be very careful of the quality control on it.

Make sure that they get your logos right

it looks how you want it to do.

It’s going to be supported in the future, but

it’s a easier option for getting in there.

The other options you’ve also got on

mobile as well, as I said, if you’re on

Radioplayer, you’re automatically in

the Radioplayer app as part of that platform.

Even if you don’t have that, there’s an app called

Tuneln that’s very popular, that has a large catalogue.

They keep changing every so often whether they’ll accept stations

or not, currently I believe they’re accepting stations again.

You can go on their website and register your

stream, and then you’ll appear in the Tuneln app.

The obvious risk you run with both of these, again,

is a little bit like your Twitter and your Facebook.

More so with Tuneln than with Radioplayer,

that you’re in someone else’s platform.

At any point, if they change their model or they delist your station.

Then you potentially lose the ability for people to come and find you.

Then I’ve put BBC Sounds on there as well.

Because BBC have talked about opening Sounds up further to third-party broadcasters.

I know they’re in talks with people as well, so that

could potentially become another viable option as well.

Then the reason, If I could just come

back quickly to the web again, and this

is an example of the BBC Sounds web page inside Safari on an iPhone.

Just in a normal web browser, this has got all

the functionality that a mobile app would have as well.

You can play, you can go backwards and forwards,

you can find on-demand and everything.

That shows you that actually just having a really good

website that works well on mobile could be good enough.

You don’t necessarily need to actually have a mobile app.

One of the things that’s pushing this forward further

as well is a thing called Progressive Web Apps.

Which is a way of coding your web page so that it can be very app-like.

On Android, in particular you now get the option that you can just

add this straight to your home screen like it is an application.

A couple of the vendors like Android are looking at doing

it so you can list a web page inside the app store.

Then potentially you don’t have to get

bogged down in deep, complicated coding

with building your mobile app when you can

build it entirely as a mobile website.

Then finally, cars are very important for radio

listening, huge contributor to radio listening hours.

There is a system called RadioDNS which is a way

of standardizing a technique called hybrid radio.

Basically, hybrid radio is a way of being

able to build a radio device in a car

or on a desktop that can use both

the internet and normal broadcast radio.

RadioDNS defines a technology where you can

look up the information that the radio receives

over RDS or over DAB, and find an address from

that to go and contact a server on the internet.

Then that means that you can focus on delivering really good quality audio

over broadcast, but use the internet to provide visuals, EPG information.

A cool feature, particularly in cars, is

that it can locate your internet streams.

So that whilst you’re in a transmission

area, you’re listening over FM and DAB.

As soon as you drive out of the area and the reception falls

off, it can flip over to internet streaming and continue.

So a local station can be received anywhere

in the world that you can drive to.

Then just to summarize that, you can see that a lot of

this now is getting into the software realm, into coding.

There’ll be a coding session this afternoon which I’ll be doing.

Just to encourage you, even if coding seems completely bewildering

and magic, get involved, get playing with it, get tinkering with stuff.

It’s fun and you can do lots of cool stuff with it.

Thank you.

Audience member: If you did want to get into coding and that

kind of thing, would you recommend things like GA courses?

Where would you go if you wanted that coding to move into online radio?

Andy: There’s a couple of different ways you can do it.

Obviously, you could do it academically, looking in

your local area for code clubs, those kinds of things.

Where they’ll start the absolute basics.

Alternatively, you can do a lot of self-taught stuff online as well.

There are a lot of good resources for

getting started and just picking things up.

The way I first started, it was completely self-taught.

With things like websites, you can view

the sources of code of a website and play

with it, break it, see what changing the code does and learn from there.

So lots of different ways into it.

Audience member: I want to find out about all the coding.

Could there be a time where there could be a coding

system where when the music is aired on air.

Where the music is placed on air, or when an advert is played.

A coding system could showcase the advert coming

through on this hybrid radio very much on the cars?

Thank you.

Andy: Yes. RadioDNS has a slideshow system in it, which

allows you to send a visual at the same time as the audio.

So when that advert comes on or when that song comes on, you can

show a visual at the same time on the screen to reflect that.

DAB also has a technology in it that can do that as well.

The technology is out there.

It’s getting broadcasters to adopt it and start using it.

Audience member: Are all the car

companies embracing it or is it certain

cars that are embracing the advertising

or that feature in their cars?

Is it in the UK or only in America?

Andy: It’s probably more in

Europe than it is in America at the moment.

What we often see with a lot of the new technologies is that

the very high-end luxury car companies develop it first.

Then it trickles down through models, because there’s only two

or three car manufacturers that have a load of the different brands.

So like Ford own lots of other sub-brands.

Audi, in particular have done a lot of work in the connected car.

They do, do this slideshow as one of their options,

and a few other manufacturers have got it as well.

It is coming into cars, yes.

Audience member: During my first-year degree this year

we did a lot with Jaguar Land Rover about connected cars.

One of the things that we did discuss was

a hybrid DAB and the slideshow system.

There was concerns raised about safety

aspects and distracting the driver.

Where does the responsibility lie with the broadcast industry

on pushing this stuff into cars or with manufacturers

taking on this technology just because it’s available

and they want this super future-proofed protected car?

Where does it go?

Andy: It’s a really good question.

When the standards were initially developed,

they weren’t just thought about a car but

also a desktop and lots of other environments

where slideshow might be more appropriate.

The safety concern is really important in automotive.

The way that RadioDNS handles that is

that it’s a membership body that has both

automotive manufacturers and broadcasters

in it to work together to define standards.

I am aware of one of the auto manufacturers

implementing system where they connect to

the feed that would show the slides, but they

monitor the frequency that they’re updating.

If they notice them over a threshold, they

will actually suppress them, so it’s tricky.

It lies in two parts, because the broadcaster can abuse it.

The manufacturer can enforce certain rules on it.

It’s also worth saying regulatory

authorities are getting quite a lot into that kind of area.

People like the EU are just looking at things like

anyway distraction in the car, because even your

mapping app could potentially be quite distracting

if it does something in a particularly bad way.

-Perfect timing.


Keynote: The World According to Dave

Okay, quiz question for you.

1894, what happened in the world of science?

Come on, quick. Anyone?

-Walkie talkie.



-Keep going. Radio, no.

Tesla demonstrated force at a distance, 1894.

1922, the BBC started broadcasting from this building.

There’s a plaque somewhere and stuff and it’s all quite exciting.

The point being was that engineers drove change in technology.

Those changes in technology changed the way

we tell stories and this continued to change.

1922, BBC starts from here, government

goes, “Ooh that’s the thing.”

BBC at that time stood for the British Broadcasting Company.

It was set up by a bunch of engineers who wanted to sell radio receivers.

Turned out nobody wanted to buy radio receivers because there

weren’t any radio stations so you couldn’t listen to anything.

They were quite clever and they thought,

“I know what we’ll do, we’ll set up some radio

stations, maybe the BBC and we’ll start making

some programs,” and people bought radios.

It was very successful.

The government thought, “This is an important communication

channel so what we should do is we should nationalize it.

We should take it off this private company and turn it into a thing.”

Then 1932, Broadcasting House opened and the rest of it is history.

The technology changes along the way.

It completely made a difference to how we work.

At that point, back in history, we were using

valves and magnets and machines and stuff.

Then transistorization came along in the early ’50s.

In 1970s, microprocessors appeared.

By the 1990s, the internet was a real thing, proper

computers that people would recognize became a thing.

We started to automate with the power of computers, our radio program

player, we could distribute it on the internet, the game changed.

Today in the world of radio, we’re constantly

told that our industry is under attack.

Radio shrinking, everything’s going to the big tech companies.

Kind of not true.

For pretty much in the last 10 or 20 years,

radio has had a billion listening hours per week in the UK.

That’s across the BBC and commercial radio.

That’s a billion listening hours.

Go find me an industry that has a billion

anything as its measure and then tell

me it’s under threat because it stayed

the same for the last period of time.

It is true that technology is changing.

It is true that through things like BBC sounds and through

the global player and a million and one different

platforms that people have to deliver content on, there

is a shift from broadcast to IP and it is slow right now.

People will tell you it’s quick, but in

the world of broadcast radio, it’s slow.

It will come 4,5G, those things exist, it’s

going to start happening, we understand that.

What becomes more interesting is that

we have new players in the marketplace.

We have the Spotifys, we have the Audibles,

we have a million one different

podcast providers and that is starting to put radio under pressure.

If you look at the figures, actually radio isn’t under that much pressure.

BBC audience’s have stayed much the same, commercial radio audience’s

stayed much the same, what has happened is that people are

listening more, and that’s good for our industry because whether

you’re a broadcast engineer and what we’ve talked about today

in that traditional end-to-end stack or you start to narrow those

skills down into building studios, because you’re going to

make more podcasts, or you’re going to record bands and you’re

going to release them via SoundCloud or whatever it would be.

There is more audio in our society, in our industry than ever before.

For us as engineers in that space, that’s a good thing.

Industry is changing, the technology is changing,

it will continue to change.

The key thing that happened 1894, force at a distance, Tesla was that

at a distance thing, created an ability to do things far away.

Sounds really obvious.

Society up until that point, had always enjoyed storytellers.

You go back as far in history as you possibly can and there’s

the dude who sits around the campfire and tells the stories.

That’s how villages worked, that’s how societies worked.

What happened next was that storyteller

would be particularly good and they

would move from village to village

and they become a traveling storyteller.

Us as a broadcast engineers, our job is to take

those stories, tell them better than anybody else,

help our creative people and tell them over a bigger

village at a distance, and that’s what we do.

The key thing about all of that and it’s the same as it’s always

ever been, is that we help people sing songs and tell stories.

That’s all we do.

If you can be part of the industry to help us, that’d be awesome.

Thank you.