A Better Way to Catch the Stream

Figurative and literal techniques to troubleshoot capture issues
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Newman-Kees Consulting Engineer Frank Hertel noted quiet unhappiness among users regarding Microsoft’s updates killing some features in its Audio Mixer Options.

Frank wonders if the recording industry quietly urged Microsoft to kill the “Record What You Hear” feature, also known as “Stereo Mix.” It gave users the ability to record internet audio streams. Frank is surprised that a class action suit hasn’t been filed in this matter.

Curiously, XP users are still able to use the “What You Hear” stereo mix, but most Windows 7 and newer users will find those features have been or eventually will be crippled.

However, there is some relief available. NCH is an Australian firm that has software that will enable Windows 7 and higher users to once again record Internet audio streams, and it yields additional features, as well.

Find Sound Tap online: www.nch.com.au/soundtap/index.html.

Frank initially loaded the free version, which seems to have no time limit. He says it was painless and quick to install and works flawlessly. Frank eventually purchased the full program because of its additional useful features.

Frank has used NCH products over the years and says he has never been disappointed — their software is compact and typically intuitive in its use.

One additional point is this Sound Tap software does not do anything to the Windows Sound Mixer, but rather acts as a standalone program, one that only uses the resident sound drivers for whatever sound card you have installed in your computer.

NCH’s Sound Tap will be a useful tool for radio newsrooms and other station needs, as well as recording streams and online news conferences.

There will no longer be a need for the producer/source of the program to record and post their feed for download. Now stations can “catch the stream” as it is happening.

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Have you paid attention to your air conditioner condensate drains lately? This is the time of year that air conditioning is working overtime. Here are a couple of maintenance suggestions.

First, if your air handler is mounted in the ceiling — above a studio, rack room or transmitter — do you have a drip pan? It’s essentially inexpensive flood insurance.

A typical air handler drain pan.

A typical air handler drain pan.

If yes, add a half cup of bleach to the drain and pan … or purchase a pack of SimpleAir Clean Flow tabs for under $10 from Amazon. The tabs are time-release and last a couple months. The bleach or tabs prevent build-up of algae, which can clog condensate drains and cause a flood. Not what you need above a studio or transmitter!

One last thought: If you install a pan, spring for a water sensor alarm. If the condensate drain gets clogged, and the water spills into the pan, you want to know about it.

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After publishing pictures of the splicing tents that the phone company used, I’ve received a number of comments from engineers who remember them or shared what “lit the broadcasting flame” in their hearts.

Roy Humphrey is a transmitter engineer in Pittsburgh, working for WPGH(TV), WPMY(TV) and WPTS(FM). He writes that one evening at age 17 he was at the home of a transmitter engineer for WJAS(AM/FM). The engineer informed Roy that he had to run up to the transmitter building for a few moments and asked if Roy would like to go along. (What a dumb question!)

The transmitters were on the second floor, as many were in those days. When Roy climbed the stairs and entered the dimly lit room, he was greeted by the purple glow of nearly 20 mercury vapor rectifier tubes. He took one look and told himself, “This is what I want to do.”

The Western Electric AM transmitter had a mesh front, so much of the inner workings were visible. The Western Electric FM unit had glass doors, and the same was true of it.

This March, Roy began his 66th year in broadcasting. He is 82 and still serving as a transmitter guru!

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips and high-resolution photos to johnpbisset@gmail.com. Fax to (603) 472-4944.

Author John Bisset has spent 48 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE-certified and a past recipient of the society’s Educator of the Year Award.

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