The Roots is Now All Digital
Three years ago, we sold off all of our broadcast equipment when we went silent. We made the decision to bring The Roots back, we had to buy all new equipment. After doing some research we decided to go 100% digital, in part because that is the way all media production is done today.
But the primary reason to go all digital was to improve our audio quality. Our streaming consultant Greg Ogonowski advised us to start digital and stay digital all the way to the Internet. Six years ago, when we started The Roots we had to convert CD audio from digital back to analog because our old studio was analog. This process would add about 4 different digital to analog conversions on the way to your ears. Audio format conversions can degrade the quality of the audio. So now we stay digital all the way to your ears.
All of our music starts as either a vinyl LP or a CD. We try very hard to make out of print LPs sound their best. We start by cleaning the LP to remove dust and dirt. Then we digitize the LP creating an uncompressed .Wav file. We bring that Wav file into Adobe Audition so we can restore the audio. With Audition we “sample” a small section of the LP to capture a sample of the noise we want removed. Adobe does its digital magic and the results are quite impressive. After we restore the file and enter all the metadata we load the new songs into our “Media Finder,” where our hosts can search through 50+ years of music to locate and play your favorite songs.
Starting at the top of our equipment rack is a Grace Digital radio. This is how we listen to The Roots. Under the Grace is our cue speaker and small Shure mic mixer. Below those is a 2-line SIP phone hybrid and a Tieline audio codec that we use for live remote broadcasts. The blue boxes are digital switching and distribution amps from Henry Engineering. The white single rack unit is the digital mix engine/blade from PR&E/Wheatstone. All of our source devices plug into this box and are connected by CAT5 cable.
The rest of the rack is filled with Tascam CD players, a digital recorder and a CD recorder. To the left are two Pioneer turntables. Under the turntables are phone pre-amps that feed into the mix engine.
One the right is our digital audio console from PR&G / Wheatstone is AoIP and can be networked to other studios. Designed and built in the USA I might add. And finally, the large computer monitor is what our live hosts use to control our PlayoutONE Pro play out system. Our curators build custom sets and test transitions between songs or dig down deep into our library of over 5,000 cuts.
In our next post we will over to the other side of our studio and review servers, play out systems and audio encoders.
Watch John Stephens (founder) being interview by Kirk Harnack [TWiRT]