Seven Stations. One 1RU Aura8-IP Audio Processor.

AURA8-IP FRONT VIEWQuick. How many stations can you fit into a 1RU Aura8-IP processor unit without it sounding like you’ve crammed one too many into the proverbial phone booth?  (Just for the record, Dr. Who’s TARDIS doesn’t count.)

Our friends at MediaWorks in New Zealand tell us the answer is seven – eight, if you include the additional AM they stuck on one of the processing channels just because they could.

“We have seven formats coming out of that one processing BLADE. Seven different formats. And, the really remarkable thing is, we never thought we’d get any significant performance, processing wise, out of it. We were prepared for a compromise, but guess what? That little processing unit totally blows away the rack of Optimods, Aphex’ and Omnias we had,” said Craig Vause, MediaWorks New Zealand Engineering Manager.

Without much more than a few rack spaces to spare at the Queenstown studio, New Zealand’s largest radio network group decided to give the 1RU Aura8-IP a try because of its size and price, among other things. Most broadcasters use the Aura8-IP for processing multiple streams, HD channels or podcasts, although the unit does have full AGC, compression and limiting (including four-band parametric equalizer and three-band compressor) for eight separate channels.

“Given the unit’s size, the best we hoped for was to be able to consolidate racks and racks of equipment without it sounding like we were doing so,” said Marcus Bekker with Southern Broadcast Limited, Wheatstone’s New Zealand rep. “It never occurred to us that the Aura8-IP might actually improve the sound!”

So into one rack space went the Aura8-IP to handle all the processing for seven stations – from talk to rock – and into another rack space went our audio over IP networking access unit, or the WheatNet-IP BLADE, for all the individual commercial injection and local commercial split feeds. We’re told that all the mixing and routing that was traditionally done with outboard gear and switches has all been scrapped and is now contained in these two Wheatstone BLADEs.

To get all seven channels (which, combined, come to nearly 2 Mbps of eAPTx audio) across from Queenstown to the transmitter site in Alexandra, they commissioned an IP backhaul C.R.O.W circuit and used Oslo NextGen codecs to transport the payload. The group’s transmission division installed BW Broadcast DSPmpx Stereo Encoders at the Alexandra transmitter site to handle the coding and final limiting stages.

MediaWorks has also just put in for new L-8 and LX-24 consoles with WheatNet-IP Intelligent Networking for the total rebuild of its Christchurch studios that were damaged during the recent earthquakes there. More on this later.

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