Julian Gebler is a technician and music director with Lübeck FM.
The Lübeck FM portable rig: a microphone and Mayah Flashman II codec/recorder. LÜBECK, Germany — Going live on air from virtually anywhere in this age of the affordable satellite remote van should be rather easy. But for a local radio station, even that can be too much, too expensive.
We at Lübeck FM, a small nonprofit station where much of the work is done by volunteers, were looking for a cheaper and simple solution to be used by our reporters. We found the Flashman II recorder/codec from Mayah, a “remote van” to put in a pocket.
Instead of the usual poor quality encountered when using a common mobile phone, our reporters equipped with the Flashman II can go live from any location, as long as they can access the Internet by cable, 3G or any other way. For our programs it means that we are capable of being up to the minute and can bring events right to the listener.
The operation of the units is simple. Presets take care for the right settings for most any situation. The reporter chooses the phone book entry, presses “connect” and should be connected to the studio automatically. The most important status messages and readings are available on the LCD screen, so the reporter can concentrate on the program contents and still have an overview of transmission progress.
We have found that using the lowest possible bit rates is vital for 3G-based transmission. This ensures a smooth signal throughput and more stable connection.
Of course, depending on the event and location, one may have to share the wireless network’s bandwidth with other 3G users. If the required bandwidth suddenly is not there, the sanctity of the transmission is affected. For this reason we chose use the HE-AAC v2 codec for our transmissions.
We were amazed how good the sound quality was despite of the low bit rate. With just 32 kbps we could achieve perfectly clear connections for the voices of our reporters and nicely maintain the atmosphere of the location. At the same time the delay was still moderate when using these settings, so that reporters could have a real-time chat with the host. To maximize the transmission’s reliability it’s also advisable to use an additional external 3G antenna.
A Lübeck FM reporter at work with the station’s Mayah Flashman II portable. However, if there is cable Internet service possible at a location we would up the data rate. The transmission quality at the higher rate is the same as any dialogue taking place in the studio.
As the transmission counterparts for the Flashman II on location we use a Mayah Centauri II or Mayah C1141 IP codecs in the studio. Both devices can connect directly with the portable codecs without additional configuration. The stationary codecs in the studio automatically recognize the settings of the mobile device and can synchronize to it, which is a necessary requirement for operation without supervision by technicians.
Other features of the Flashman II are important for its live field work. Using its onboard recorder, reporters can play back prerecorded material such as quotes during the live session. It can also be used to upload recorded files over FTP right to the studio.
For information, contact Daniel Loeffler in Washington state at (360) 618-1474 or visit www.mayah.com.
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