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Letter: Processing Streaming vs. On-Air

And a reply from Jeff Keith

Dear Editor:

I totally agree with Jeff Keith of Wheatstone that most broadcasters have an issue with processing for their streams vs. on-air chains. He makes excellent points.

My question is, what’s his advice for resolving these level and quality issues?

Most broadcasters put a lot of work into perfecting their on-air sound, but ignore the obvious issues with streams.

Given that premise, what are his recommendations to address these issues? What equipment does he recommend? Are there any easy solutions that don’t require a complete overhaul of the main studio to transmitter audio chain?

— Joel Widdows, Jacksonville Beach, Fla.

We invited Jeff Keith to reply; he wrote:  One of the messages that short article was trying to get across is that on-air processing is unsuitable for streaming, even though our experience has shown that many stations have chosen to use their main on-air processor, or a retired one, for processing audio for their web streams.

The best streaming audio quality always results from using purpose-built processing designed for that very specialized task, whether that processing is based in software or hardware.

When Wheatstone set out to develop our dedicated streaming product, Streamblade, we designed what we believe is the ideal combination of algorithms for streaming.

They accomplish the multiband gain-riding and spectral balance management of an on-air processor, but instead of pre-emphasis and heavy clipping for final peak control, Streamblade is equipped with extremely sophisticated final limiting and stereo width and bass management tools to ensure codecs always see ‘codec-friendly’ audio.

User feedback about Streamblade’s audio quality has been extremely positive, even when operating with streams at very low bitrates.

You can take a peek at Streamblade and read about its capabilities here:

[Related: “Audio Streaming Quality Matters” by David Bialik]