Paul Shulins demonstrates the Report-IT app loaded on an iPhone resting in Tieline’s Mic Adapter. BOSTON — Over the past year and a half, I have been using the Tieline Report-IT application for the iPhone for Greater Media’s five-station cluster here.
This software product is an application for the iPhone, licensed per user, that communicates back to a hardware device such as the Tieline Bridge-IT codec, which can be permanently installed at the studio and connected to the public Internet to receive live or prerecorded audio automatically from the field.
The interesting aspect is that this product takes advantage of existing hardware (who these days does not have a smartphone?) and uses it as a codec over the existing 3G/4G cellular infrastructure to provide high-quality bidirectional communications between field reporters and studio with minimal coding delay.
One huge advantage here is that you can travel just about anywhere in the world with your iPhone, yet be on the air instantly with 15–20 kHz quality audio, with no need for advance planning.
This can be an important tool for stations that need to cover events which cannot be anticipated, like breaking news stories, or that want to immerse themselves in the community by responding to local events on the fly. Because it is bidirectional, a mix-minus feed can be heard from the station, eliminating the delay problems associated with HD Radio off-air monitoring.
So the big question is: Does it work? In a word, yes. The system has been very reliable for us.
Of course, external factors like the capacity of the cellular network, your remote location and the bandwidth you allocate within your facility for the Bridge-IT device, have a bearing on the overall performance of the system. However, whenever we needed to use it, we were able to connect with no issues.
The application has features like a built-in audio recorder and optional audio editing capabilities, so your material can be uploaded to your FTP site, and automatically imported from there into your digital delivery system for automatic broadcast.
Tieline sells a mic adapter that allows field reporters to use their iPhone 4, or 4S, to make a hardware connection to a professional microphone via an XLR connector. We have found the audio quality to be very good, especially when combined with this accessory.
There are three licensing options available for the iPhone: The Report-IT Live for individual iPhones; the Report-IT 10 Pack for teams of 10 users, with the ability locally to manage who those users are; and the Report-IT Enterprise 50/100 Pack for larger operations. All three are the same physical product. There is no annual subscription for the first two options. Once you purchase your software, you are done.
The product’s real power is in how it leverages your existing cellphone hardware to provide real-time and recorded audio capabilities back to your station with no planning. It is simple to set up and use in the field. The only downside is that you need to manage your licenses carefully, and make sure you have enough bandwidth at both ends to provide reliable service — which, in this day and age of 4G cellular service, shouldn’t be a problem.
Tieline has produced a clever product that can help bring broadcasters closer to the communities they serve. I plan on continuing to deploy this software, as needed, to allow us to take our remotes to the next level.
For information, contact John Lackness at Tieline in Indiana at (317) 845-8000 or visit www.tieline.com.
Radio World publishes User Reports on products in various equipment classes throughout the year to help potential buyers understand why a colleague made a given equipment choice. These are unpaid testimonials by users who have already purchased the gear. A Radio World Product Evaluation, by contrast, is a freelance article by a paid reviewer who typically receives a demo loaner.