With IP at the heart of broadcasting’s future, codecs are increasingly the gateways of content assimilation and distribution
VILVOORDE, Belgium — DPG Media continues to enhance the workflow and technology of its stations, Qmusic, Joe and Willy.
Just 18 months ago, Qmusic and Joe moved into their new studios on DPG Media’s ground floor. Each of the station’s on-air studios, visible from the building’s entrance, central corridor and the newsroom through glass panels, have just taken delivery of OmniPlayer playout software.
Dubbed the “Sound Park,” the new radio floor, which houses 10 on-air and production studios, also makes use of DHD RX2 mixing consoles, Dalet Galaxy cart players, Neumann mics and Genelec monitors.
A TC Helicon reverb unit, Empirical Labs EL8 distressors, Telos VX telephone hybrid, plus an Adderlink XDIP KVM extender linking the equipment in the main datacenter with the studios using KVM over IP, completes the set-up. The studios also feature Panasonic AW-HE40 cameras for visual radio.
When DPG Media’s radio brands first entered their new habitat, they replaced the existing Dalet Plus playout system with Dalet Galaxy software. “Dalet grew organically with our workflows and organization,” explained Tim Tuboville, senior support engineer for DPG Media’s radio department. “Dalet also supported DPG’s media newsroom, resulting in an integrated system, which in the end became a bit ponderous — the software didn’t help us anymore to make radio the way we wanted.”
OmniPlayer, developed by Dutch company M&I Broadcast Services, came in as a good alternative. “In the Netherlands, Dutch broadcasters like our sister station Qmusic there switched from Dalet to OmniPlayer a few years ago,” continued Tuboville. “The software is very user-friendly, with a relaxed and not too overwhelming interface.”
Another deciding factor to switch to OmniPlayer was the reorganization in DPG Media’s structure, with the news section relocating to the new Antwerp News City building, grouping news production for TV, radio and printed media. “We’re going to replace the Dalet news system there with specific news production software. This means we can use the OmniPlayer to help us do what it does best: Produce radio,” added Tuboville.
Testing Digital Stations
In June last year, DPG Media’s DAB+ and streaming channels tested OmniPlayer. “M&I proved to be a very flexible partner. They think fast and facilitate innovation,” said Tuboville, citing the example of online and DAB+ station Q-Maximum Hits.
“We allow the listeners to vote for their next favorite track on the playlist — an interaction opening a whole new world. And M&I were thinking along with us and developed the tools. This experiment triggered our choice for OmniPlayer.”
Whereas Dalet used its dedicated service to communicate directly with the DHD platform via DHD ECP, the OmniPlayer software uses the Ember+ protocol, supported by both OmniPlayer and DHD and offering the same compatibility. “All of the start/stops and automation are perfectly matched and the configuration is full AoiP,” explained Tuboville.
After the first trials, the group’s streaming and DAB+ station Willy came next in August, with Qmusic following in September. “The transfer of the complete Dalet database to the OmniPlayer radio automation system took us quite some time,” Tuboville said.
“We had to train our on-air staff to work with the new software, and our music workflows had to be entered in the system. We also synchronized the videoclips for Qmusic’s visual radio in the OmniPlayer software, and converted the existing video workflow into OmniPlayer’s OmniVeo video player system. It all worked out well, also with edited audio tracks.”
With Joe’s radio studios switching to OmniPlayer on Dec. 3, the DPG Media broadcast team completed the migration of all radio brands. “The feedback we got from our on-air staffers was unanimously positive,” underlined Tuboville.
“They were immersed in the new system. It’s like driving with a new car. Everybody was enthusiastic and rapidly embraced OmniPlayer as their new playout system, with reliability and the relaxed atmosphere as key elements. The system is intuitive and invites to go ahead with making radio.”
The six on-air studios in the Sound Park have their own Omniplayer playout client. Each workspace is divided over two displays to maximize ergonomics.