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Category: Technical

The Sad State of Broadcast Engineering – Part 2

| December 4, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

raytomNEW YORK — Around Labor Day, I wrote an article that asked, “Where have all the broadcast engineers gone?”  I was inundated with responses, which is why it has taken me so long to write a follow up article.  Obviously, I hit a nerve with everyone.  I have heard from Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Ireland.  Obviously, this is a universal topic and I have been overwhelmed.  That, and I’ve been working on a large project with not much time to put electrons to the screen.

Additionally, I was both surprised and not surprised at the bitterness in many of the responses.  Broadcast engineers are a unique group.  It’s difficult, though not impossible, to find a more dedicated group of people in any business.  We take it personally.  The station becomes part of us and is what we do.  And once that is disrupted, even if the person is in a much better place, it is taken personally.  I can relate.

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Vintage Telefunken 12AX7 Tube Review

| November 19, 2013

Tubes? What Century Do You Think This Is?

By Michael W. Dean
The Freedom Feens
Genesis Communications Network
Co-Host

 

Figure 1 - TubesLeft: Tung-Sol 12AX7 tube.      Right: Telefunken 12AX7 tube

deanmichael2CASPER, WY — The transition in audio production from analog to digital over the past couple decades has been a boon for radio. No more splicing tape, and no more finding the right tape or piece of tape. And don’t get me started on those dreaded carts. I’m thankful they’ve been replaced by a click on the screen. Tape hiss is something I don’t miss either.

However, in some ways, digital audio production is too clean. So after ditching tubes and tapes for transistors, integrated circuits and hard drives, some people have gone back to analog for one phase of the audio chain: the pre-amp.

Tube pre-amps and compressors have sonic attributes that cannot yet be replicated with digital modeling. Tubes provide a warmth that comes from semi-random, subtle distortion on certain harmonics. That sounds like it would be a bad thing, but it’s actually a good thing.

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Electro-Voice Mics Rock Talk Radio

| October 22, 2013

By Michael W. Dean
The Freedom Feens
Genesis Communications Network
Co-Host

1 - Peanut in repose with Electro-Voice RE-20 microphone

Peanut in repose with Electro-Voice RE-20 microphone

A Mic for the Ages

The venerated Electro-Voice RE-20 microphone is the premiere workhorse of the last four decades of broadcast radio. It’s the mic most frequently found in live radio studios for talk show hosts, and DJs on rock radio, going back to the late 1960s.

The RE-20 is such a staple of radio that, even though other mics are sometimes used in radio studios, the RE-20 is almost always used in Hollywood to indicate “radio.” Showing it on screen is automatic shorthand for “we’re in a radio station now.” Any time you see a scene in a movie or on TV where someone is talking on the radio, the prop mics are overwhelmingly going to be RE-20s. Showing an RE-20 on screen visually implies “this person is a pro, listen to them,” even to people who don’t know anything about radio or microphones.

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Just What the Heck Is a Codec?

| September 11, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — Got a call recently from someone inquiring about IP codecs and looking for an explanation as to exactly what they are.  I was puzzled at first because to me, it’s an easy-to-understand topic.  But not everyone is as tech savvy as I am.

So first, let’s look at our old friend ISDN – you know, the thing that’s eventually going away (in New York at present, you cannot order an ISDN line from Verizon – they are no longer installing them).

We use the term ISDN to describe…an ISDN codec.  These are devices that have two main parts – the audio coding section and the transport section.

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DISTURBING TREND: Where are all the radio engineers?

| September 5, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President
TALKERS
Technical Editor

NEW YORK — Being that Labor Day has just passed, I was thinking about a disturbing conversation I had with a colleague last week.  He is an Engineer and had been looking for an assistant.  I noted recently that he was no longer running his ad and assumed he filled the position.

He and I had occasion to chat the other evening.  I asked how his new assistant was working out – and who he found.  His response?  “I pulled the ad because I could not find anyone!  There is no one out there!!”  He ended up hiring someone with IT skills who had an electronics background and is training him.

This tends to be a trend in the industry – a disturbing one.  If there are no engineers, who will be taking care of our broadcast facilities?

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