BOISE, IDAHO — There is something delightful about dozens of channels of audio available on a single Cat-6 cable. No mess, no fuss, one clean connection between source and switch and everything translated into the digital realm is now accessible anywhere on the network. Audio over IP comes with its own challenges, of course, but after experiencing the Axia Livewire network from the Telos Alliance, analog distribution amplifiers and punch blocks aren’t quite good enough anymore.
KBSX afternoon show host Samantha Wright operates an Axia Element console. Boise State Public Radio, based at Boise State University, has used Axia equipment since 2010, when we first made the switch to Axia Element consoles and PowerStation mix engines. At the time of installation, digital groundwork was laid over the top of older equipment, analog connectors pulled out and stored in place. Last year, the station moved to a new home on the other end of the university campus and left much of that aging infrastructure behind. Now, BSPR is almost entirely run through sources and destinations networked through Livewire connections on nodes, consoles, and end equipment, allowing us to route any source to any destination with a few keystrokes or automated commands.
At the heart of our system are the PowerStations. They manage our Element consoles, but also contain virtual mixes (VMix), sources and destinations, and all console settings. From the same PowerStation, we can create single channel sources from multiple assigned channels with VMixes, add new physical sources or destinations into the Axia Livewire network, or designate show or source profiles in the Element, allowing DJs to access any existing channel with a few keystrokes. Each studio in our facility contains at least one PowerStation, tied together into the Axia Livewire network through a central switch, and providing the critical connection between the DJ’s point of control and station audio routed to air.
Expansion is relatively painless. It is vital to track IP addressing and channel numbers throughout the network, as each new piece of Livewire-compatible equipment will need its own unique IP and channel numbers to play well with previously installed gear, but once a PowerStation, node, router, intercom, etc. has been powered up and configured, it slides into place without a squeak. Even boxes that work without Livewire, our Omnia One processors, for example, integrate seamlessly into the network once the initial settings have been entered.
The Axia Livewire system works well as a distributed AoIP system without a single point of control: When audio enters the network, it may leave in any assigned channel, and does not need a “brain” beyond the central switch. To integrate automated routing controls, provide a central interface for the system, create custom events from various triggers, create virtual panels with even more keystroke opportunities, add silence sensors, timed delays, etc., we added the PathfinderPC software to our system. It does all of the above and so much more. Engineers willing to dive in with both eyes open may find coding in Pathfinder to be a challenge, but only have to sink as far as they need to. The system has developed very few issues, and is near rock-solid once it has been programmed.
Overall, Axia Livewire product is expensive but well worth every dollar spent. Installations are not difficult, and the learning curve is not too steep. Most users will never see further down the rabbit hole than a profile switch or button press on a console, and Axia technical support has always been on hand and helpful any hour of the day (or night) with issues. Upgrading equipment is as easy as a firmware update, and we have never had any compatibility concerns between older and newer gear. Overall, we have much appreciated our experience with the Axia Livewire system, and look forward to bigger and better things from the Telos Alliance in years to come.
For information, contact the Telos Alliance in Ohio at (216) 241-7225 or visit www.telosalliance.com.