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Tieline Sees Promise in Opus Algorithm

A pre-show chat with John Lackness

John Lackness John Lackness is vice president of sales for the Americas at Tieline. We asked him about the company’s plans at NAB.

Radio World:What notable technology developments should radio managers know about?
Lackness: Tieline has four brand-new IP codecs at NAB this year designed for STLs, audio distribution and remotes.

Genie Distribution is the new DSP-based IP audio codec for multipoint audio distribution over IP networks. Connect six channels point-to-point, or simultaneously distribute stereo audio to up to 50 multi-unicast endpoints, or multicast to any number of IP codecs.

The new Merlin IP codec is ideal for stereo bidirectional IP audio and full-duplex communications from the studio to a remote codec.

Tieline’s new Merlin PLUS codec has all the functionality of Merlin and in addition can create up to six independent bidirectional mono connections with IP codecs or smartphones using the Report-IT application, saving significant money on codec hardware costs.

Bridge-IT XTRA is a 19-inch, 1U IP codec with all the point-to-point and multipoint functionality available in Tieline’s Bridge-IT Pro codec, with the addition of dual redundant IEC power supplies and four GPIO in/outs. Bridge-IT XTRA includes multi-unicast and multicast capability plus LC-AAC, HE-AAC v1 and v2, and aptX Enhanced encoding algorithms as standard.

RW: What’s the most notable shift in codec technology that affects broadcasters these days?
Lackness: IPv4 and IPv6 compatibility should definitely be considered when purchasing new equipment as IPv6 infrastructure will become more pervasive in coming years.

Tieline also believes Opus will become a significant algorithm. Opus incorporates technology from the well-known SILK and CELT codecs to create a low latency speech and audio codec. It is a variable bit-rate algorithm ideal for live broadcast situations because of its capacity to deliver high quality, real-time Audio over IP (AoIP) at low bit-rates.

Opus was recently added to the EBU 3326 interoperability standard for Audio Contribution over IP and a number of large European broadcasters requested the integration of Opus into Tieline’s IP audio codecs. As a result, Tieline was the first major IP audio codec manufacturer to add the Opus coding algorithm to its range of IP audio codecs.

RW: Any notable recent applications or users of Tieline gear to tell us about?
Lackness: Tieline was one of the first manufacturers to integrate SmartStream features such as Automated Jitter Buffer management, Forward Error Correction (FEC) and error concealment techniques in all IP codecs.

Tieline has now released the revolutionary SmartStream PLUS for enhanced IP streaming redundancy over IP networks. Tieline codecs with SmartStream PLUS can stream simultaneous redundant data streams from dual Ethernet ports over inexpensive IP links and deliver seamless redundancy by switching back and forth, without loss of audio, from the nominated primary data link to the backup link if one fails and then subsequently recovers.

With SmartStream and now SmartStream PLUS, engineers can save thousands of dollars by transitioning from expensive leased lines to inexpensive IP links for STL grade connections, without compromising on reliability and audio quality. SmartStream PLUS is available as standard in Tieline Genie STL, Genie Distribution, Merlin and Merlin Plus codecs.

RW:What adjective would you use to describe business outlook for you and your radio customers in 2013?
Lackness: Confident

RW: Anything else NAB Show attendees should know about technology trends that affect them?
Lackness: Mission-critical multipoint IP audio distribution is a viable alternative to expensive leased line links and is being used extensively to transition to affordable IP links over standard Internet connections. Multiple layers of redundancy are incorporated into the latest STL-grade IP codecs, including advanced software management systems like SmartStream PLUS, which allow dual redundant streaming of IP packets with extremely high reliability at better audio quality in many situations.