LAKE CHARLES, La. — KBYS 88.3 FM McNeese Radio is a volunteer-run community radio station at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La. We have the distinction of being Louisiana’s first community/university radio station. The purpose of our station is to serve the public interest by providing local news, traffic and weather reports as well as interesting and unique music and entertainment programming. The station depends on our community volunteers to function as well as the generosity of community members to fund the operation of our facility. We always strive to operate a state-of-the-art facility within the constraints of our funding.
One recent challenge presented itself as we observed that the costs of ISDN lines as well as traditional RF solutions for STLs had become somewhat prohibitive. We needed to find a more economical yet dependable method for getting our signal to the transmitter.
From the PubTech listserv, we learned of several options available. The Comrex BRIC-Link was one of the solutions that stood out. Many of us were familiar with Comrex gear, and the low cost of the BRIC-Link certainly made it attractive. But we also learned that the device was also capable of providing additional capabilities.
Like most stations, a webstream is critical for our listeners, who increasingly are listening on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops as well as desktop computers at home and in the workplace. We were pleased to learn that BRIC-Link was capable of simultaneously providing a source feed to our Shoutcast server that feeds our online content. We would no longer continually have to reboot the Windows PC assigned to this task. The reported reliability of the BRIC-Link based on our research made it a simple choice.
This May, we completed installation of a new transmitter located at the L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles. We made the decision to employ an IP-based STL solution given that we had a fiber optic link between our studios and our transmitter.
Because the BRIC-Link is capable of generating multiple encoded streams, we were able to create two separate profiles in the device’s Web interface. The first profile defined the coding algorithm and parameters necessary to send our station’s program audio from our studios to our transmitter. We used the HE-AAC 64 kbps algorithm using the BRIC’s Normal channel settings which provides high-quality audio with minimal delay. For the source feed for Shoutcast, we created an HTTP streaming profile and used the same HE-AAC 64 kbps algorithm to send to the Shoutcast server. We needed to specify a few additional parameters for the Shoutcast server to recognize our incoming stream (such as port address, passwords, stream ID, etc.); the tech support personnel at Comrex were able to assist us in making sure the correct settings were in place.
By creating these two separate connection profiles, we are able to send audio to both of our main transmission sources from this one BRIC-Link.
Overall, we are pleased with the Comrex BRIC-Link. The performance has been outstanding and the audio quality is superb. We had thought the lack of front-panel controls was going to be an impediment, but we realized that the ability to configure the devices through its Web browser interface significantly cut down on a lot of walking back and forth and allows us to configure the device from anywhere. We would have liked to see XLR connectors on the back of the device; but the balanced TRS 1/4-inch connectors are fine and Comrex provides 1/4-inch-to-XLR adapters in the box with the BRIC-Link. Most importantly, BRIC-Link’s ability to provide a single point for our transmission for both terrestrial and Web streaming was a win for us. We’ve found the units to be as reliable as reported by our research.
For information, contact Chris Crump at Comrex in Massachusetts at (978) 784-1776 or visit www.comrex.com.