Planning for Livewire, v2.0 - Determining and Planning For I/O Needs

Planning for Livewire, v2.0 - Determining and Planning For I/O Needs
Planning Guide for Livewire
v2.0, March 2015
This planning guide will help you organize your AoIP (Audio over IP) studio requirements, and will
serve as a primer for planning your studios. Before we get into the general concepts, we invite you to
watch some of the Axia videos presented on the Telos Alliance YouTube Channel. We have recorded a
number of short videos that will demonstrate the simplicity of AoIP planning and implementation.
The Livewire network is just like your station computer network. Instead of linking computers,
printers, scanners, etc., Livewire links all your audio inputs and outputs. Just like one computer can
share a printer, with Livewire, sources available in one studio can also be accessed by other studios. In
this way, Livewire becomes a huge router for all your audio signals. In addition, the levels of audio
delivered to each device are precisely the same (although they are software-adjustable at each
endpoint). No more distribution amplifiers!
Studios typically have a mixing engine which performs the actual audio mixing. It’s connected to a
control surface (audio console). Think of the control surface as a keyboard, and the mixing engine as
the CPU. No audio passes through the control surface; audio inputs and outputs are delivered to the
mixing engine for manipulation in the digital domain. Some mixing engines also have audio and logic
I/O built in; if all the I/O (input/output) is used, an xNode audio interface can simply be plugged into
the network using a CAT-5 Ethernet cable to provide additional inputs and outputs.
In the pages below, you will be guided to determine your signal flow for each studio, and tabulate all
the inputs/outputs (I/O) for each studio and Technical Operations Center (TOC). These counts will
determine the need for additional xNodes.
General Facility Concepts
Let’s begin with some basic questions. First, how many studios will you have? Will they be 100%
Livewire (including an Axia console), or will you be using existing audio consoles?
A preliminary floor plan will help you to graphically envision where your studios will be in relationship
to each other, as well as proposed rack locations in order to determine where Audio Nodes and
Ethernet switches will reside.
What is the physical distance between those studios, the technical operations center (TOC), and the
Livewire gear? This information will be needed to determine the connectivity needed between the
various Ethernet switches, your audio gear and any xNodes.
Audio Signal Flow diagram
A signal flow of the audio within your physical plant will help you determine the audio sources each
xNode will host, the xNodes’ destination assignments, and the source channel profiles for your Axia
Axia PowerStation and QOR console mix engines provide an array of Microphone, Analog, and AES
inputs/outputs, which can be augmented, if needed, with Analog or AES xNodes , which can support
up to 4 stereo (8 mono) line inputs and outputs per xNode.
Axia StudioEngine mix engines mix audio present on the studio network; they have no separate I/O
and therefore xNodes must be used to provide audio I/O and GPIO connections.
Microphone xNodes can support up to four mono microphone inputs (with Phantom power, if
needed) and four stereo line outputs (which can be used to supply external headphone amps).
A Mixed Signal xNode provides one switched Microphone/Analog XLR input, two Analog Line inputs,
three Analog line outputs, an AES/EBU input and an AES/EBU output. Two GPIO (General Purpose I/O
– for logic control) ports are also provided. Each port provides four opto-isolated inputs and outputs.
We’ll deal with logic GPIO later in this document.
Determine number of Audio Sources- Any device that generates an audio signal is a
potential audio source input TO the mixing engine or xNodes. Sources to consider are
microphones, hybrids, codecs, CD players/recorders, digital audio workstations, audio
processing devices, delay units, external monitor sources, and PCs equipped with audio
editing software and the Axia IP-Audio Driver.
Count every stereo and mono source as one (1) source and record it on the form. If you are
dealing with multi-channel devices, treat each output audio channel as one (1) source for
Use the table in the appendix to document all the sources required for your studios and
your technical operations center (TOC). Keep the lists for your studios and tech center
separate. Make notations on the type of sources: analog line level, mic level or AES digital.
Determine number of Destinations per studio- Any device that needs an input audio
source for recording, processing, monitoring, etc. is a potential source recipient FROM an
Audio xNode or Mix Engine. Examples include feeds to amplifiers for monitor speakers,
headphone feeds and cue speakers; audio processing, delay units, hybrid sends, hybrid
MOH (Music on Hold), codecs, etc.
These are considered “destinations” for Axia audio streams. Count every device needing a
mono or stereo audio source as one (1) destination. If you are dealing with multi-channel
devices, treat each input audio channel as one (1) destination for now.
Use the table in the appendix to document all the source destinations required for your
studios and your technical center. Make notations on the type of audio required: analog
line level, mic level, AES digital, etc.
Calculating the number of xNodes Needed
From your source and destination lists for your studios and technical center, you can now figure out
how many xNodes may be required. Four sources and four destinations can be supported on one 4x4
xNode. On your lists, group like sources and destinations together: whether they are Analog, AES, or
Microphone sources and Analog destinations. Do the math to calculate the number of xNodes. Don’t
forget to include a spare xNode or two.
Note that, when using PowerStation or StudioEngine console mixing engines, sources from a different
location that are required in the studios should not be used in calculating the number of xNode input
requirements for that studio.
Conversely, remember that sources connected to QOR.16 and QOR.32 inputs are NOT automatically
available to the rest of the network (although they can be routed to the network) — QOR mixing
engines have a configurable Livewire “gateway” that exchanges locally-generated audio with the rest
of your plant’s network. This gateway is configurable for 8-in/8-out operation, or for 12-in/4-out
operation. Keep this in mind when considering the number of locally-generated streams you wish to
use or make available from a QOR-based studio.
Use the table in the appendix to note what sources and destinations should be assigned to the inputs
and outputs of the various audio xNodes or Mix Engines. This will be your “programming guide” when
you begin to set up your xNodes for audio sources.
Channel Assignments
All audio sources on the Axia network need a channel number assignment — a unique identifier. This
is so that the Axia system can generate a single and unique audio stream for each source that’s
provided by the various xNodes, PC’s, and Mix Engines.
An easy way of creating channel numbers is to create a channel number based on the last octet (the
last 3-digit group) of the IP address. Since each of your networked components (xNodes, engines, PC’s
with IP Drivers installed, Livewire enabled Telos gear, etc.) will have a unique IP address, it can be
easier to keep track of your allocated channel numbers by having a relationship between these
various numbers.
For example, if an Analog xNode had an IP address of, the four stereo input (“Source”)
channel numbers associated with the xNode could be 1501 to 1504. Or, if you plan to use your xNode
to originate mono sources, the eight mono input channel numbers could be 1501 to 1508.
This takes the last octet of the xNode’s IP address (15) and adds two more digits that signify the I/O
port. This ensures that devices which must generate an Axia Source stream have unique channel
Of course, you can decide on whatever channel numbering scheme best suits your facility, but the key
is that ALL audio sources MUST have a unique channel number to prevent any conflicts. This is
analogous to saying “All networked devices must have unique IP Addresses. No duplicate IP addresses
can be accepted on the network.”
The Axia audio console: What size will you need?
(If you are not planning to use an Axia console, you can skip this step.)
Fusion and Element are modular consoles, which allow you to configure the physical layout of the
board as you like. You can build it with various types of modules in any order: 4 channel fader
modules, 2 channel phone modules, 2-fader and standalone Master Monitor Modules (every Fusion or
Element must have one of these modules installed), an Intercom module, and various models of
single-channel-width pushbutton controls for external devices.
In the past, when an engineer designed a console for use in the studio he wanted to make sure that all
sources the operator needed were available to him to select. Many felt that every source needed a
dedicated channel, but this was not always practical as you would eventually have a massive console
to accommodate all these sources. With Axia consoles, ANY channel can be assigned to ANY audio
source you wish, and those assignments can be changed at ANY time. The channels are no longer
dedicated to one specific audio source.
To determine the size of your console, ask yourself “How many audio sources does the console need
to have available at the same time?” This is more of an arbitrary determination rather than a set
formula, and you will need to base your design decision on how the current studio operates, how you
feel the board operators will handle the new console, and any future expansion and change in
operations you might foresee.
In the case of Fusion and Element consoles, it is often wise to specify a slightly larger frame than you
think you might need, which allows the capacity for expansion by adding more modules at a later
date. With iQ console, fader count per frame is fixed, but you can add an additional frame and faders
at a later date.
With this in mind, AXIA offers a variety of console sizes, from our 6 channel DESQ or RAQ surfaces
(ideal for voiceover or news studios) to 8 position Radius and IQ surfaces and on up to 28-position
mainframes for Fusion and Element. Utilizing multiple frames, Fusion and Element consoles can
consoles of up to 40 faders in size.
GPIO / Logic Diagram
Along with the audio, you will probably need logic controls for other devices, including remote
equipment starts, On Air indicators, profanity delay devices, as well as control of audio routing. To
determine the remote control needs of the facility, think about what remote control functionality is
needed in each individual studio.
The Fusion console requires GPIO xNodes to provide GPIO closures. The Element Power Supply
provides eight logic ports, and the QOR32 engine (used with the IQ and Radius surfaces) provides
eight logic ports; the smaller QOR16 engine (used with the DESQ and RAQ surfaces) provides 4 logic
ports. Each port has five Logic-OUT and five Logic-IN connections, plus a single Common pin.
Typically, a single port is assigned to a particular device, although PathfinderPC routing control
software allows more flexibility in routing GPIO. In a facility with lots of remote starts, you can
purchase additional GPIO nodes to supplement the ones in the Mixing Engine.
Make an account of the logic flow in your technical operations center (TOC). For example: satellite
closures, Audio Server logic, centrally located items like an EAS Encoder; anything that needs remote
Keep in mind that, as with console fader count, specifying more GPIO capacity than you might initially
need allows for simple future expansion. At the same time, don’t over-order: remember, Livewirecompatible devices from Axia Partner companies often don’t need physical GPIO ports, since their
audio signals can carry associated logic as well.
Also ask: Will the Axia routing software, PathfinderPC, be used to route this logic flow? Or do you just
need to connect these non-Axia items directly to one another, without routing? As your logic needs
become complex, so does the system needed to support it, so it’s best to clearly document your needs
and flesh out a logic flow that will properly describe what you are attempting to do.
Designing the Axia Network
Axia is a local-networked audio solution that can also simultaneously route GPIO. The audio is routed
as uncompressed, multicast audio streams, handled by multicast-enabled Ethernet switches designed
specifically to properly route multicast audio packets. Here are some things to consider as you begin
to design your network.
Ethernet Switches
Axia will require Ethernet switches to connect all the xNodes, Mix Engines, etc.— anything related to
the Axia network. We recommend a large range of switches, as outlined at Here is a general overview:
Axia xSwitch — This Axia-manufactured switch is comes pre-configured. Fast setup requiring
only an IP address assignment. A convenient front panel display provides port link status, PoE
(Power over the Ethernet) usage and SFP status plus system temperature. The xSwitch
provides 8 10/100MBit Ethernet ports, - 4 with PoE. Two Gigabit ports are provided for
trunking, both with RJ-45 (copper) and SFP (fiber) connections. The fan-free design means this
switch can be placed adjacent to your audio devices. (See
Cisco 2960 series Catalyst switch — For small-to-medium studios consisting of 1 or 2 studio
consoles and some nodes, up to medium-sized networks designed as an audio router. There
are various models of 2960 switches to choose from. Some will work well as stand alone
switches for small networks, other models can work well as an Edge or Spoke switch in a
Hub/Spoke designed Axia network. Please review our website recommendations for
recommended models, or contact an Axia specialist for more assistance in determining a
solution that suits your needs.
Cisco 3560X series Catalyst switch — Gigabit switches recommended for medium-to-large
network configurations. Typically this switch is used as the core or hub switch for a Hub/Spoke
designed network with other Ethernet switches connected to it. By choosing the proper
models, this series can support a good-sized Axia network. Please review our website
recommendations for recommended models, or contact an Axia specialist for more assistance
in determining a solution that suits your needs.
Cisco 4500, 4900 and 6500 series Catalyst switch and higher — Recommended for very
large systems. Please contact an Axia specialist for help in determining your needs for such a
For notes on setting up some of these switches, please visit and select the “Configuration” pulldown menu for Customer Service
bulletins regarding recommended programming of these switches for use with Axia gear.
To request assistance with switch configuration, please contact Axia Technical Support.
Network Topology
An Axia specialist will be happy to help you determine your basic network configuration needs. If you
want to give it a try, here are some guidelines:
Determine an IP Address scheme for your network. Axia gear is a networked solution, so every piece of
Axia equipment will require an IP address. We use a default IP address scheme of 192.168.2.x, with a
subnet mask of
This is not set in stone, and you can assign your network subnet any non-routable IP address scheme.
For instance, Class B or C networks are acceptable (like 172.168.x.x or 10.0.x.x, subnet or If you are unfamiliar with IP networking, there is much information available to you on
the Internet that can explain networks and IP address schemes.
Where will it make the most sense for you to install your network gear? This depends on your facility
layout and your philosophy. Some engineers want all their network gear located in their technical
operations center (TOC) for simple administration and security reasons.
Others want the switches located closer to the studios to reduce the number of cabling runs.
Sometimes, rack space is limited and this determines placement. Remember that any additional PC’s
you wish to connect to the Axia network will also need a cable run of CAT-5.
You will also need to decide what gear will plug into which Ethernet switch. Axia Engines require CAT6 cables for 1000Base-T or Gigabit links; audio xNodes and Mix Engines require 100Base-T copper
ports. Cross connection from one Ethernet switch to another switch requires at least a Gigabit
Proper load balancing on the switches is also something to consider: you don’t want 10 per cent of
your switches doing 90 per cent of the work! Think about what you’ll specify as your “core” switch. This
should be the most powerful switch in your network, as much of the traffic management for the entire
network will rest upon it.
Audio Signal Flow diagram created
Axia Equipment locations identified (studios and xNode locations)
Logic Control Flow diagram created
Network switch layout and gear connectivity diagram
IP Address Scheme for all gear
Axia Audio Channel number Assignments to Sources.
To be accomplished before the Axia Technician shows up at your door:
All the steps listed in the planning section should be addressed before proceeding further. Don’t
hesitate to contact your AXIA technical specialist if you have questions.
Have a plan, and have as much of it documented as possible. All of your audio equipment should be
wired to appropriate xNodes, your Axia network should be wired together, and your xNodes should
be configured with IP addresses, Sources and Destinations given unique Channel numbers.
You can test sources with the meters on the front of each xNode, or using a browser on a PC
connected to your network. Verify that your sources are working and are properly connected to the
Audio xNode inputs.
Make sure you have documentation on how your GPIO is working with the automation processes of
your facility. If at all possible, provide those flow diagrams to AXIA before our arrival, so that your AXIA
representative has a chance to review them.
Cat5e and Cat6 cabling installed, tested and fully qualified.
Ethernet switches installed. IP addresses assigned. Switches properly programmed.
Axia Equipment Racked. Audio devices plugged in and out to xNodes.
Axia Equipment Programmed with IP addresses and Channel numbers assigned.
Axia control surfaces and engines. IP addresses assigned.
GPIO ports wired to devices.
Pathfinder Server installed to server PC (if purchased)
Appendix – Printable Audio Planning Worksheets
Audio Source
(Analog, Mic, AES)
Audio Destination
(Analog, AES)
Audio xNode Configuration Worksheet
IP Address:
SN Mask:
255.255. Clock Mode:
Live Stereo
Node Type:
xNode Inputs/Sources
1 SRC 1
2 SRC 2
3 SRC 3
4 SRC 4
1 DST 1
2 DST 2
3 DST 3
4 DST 4
To Source
xNode Outputs/Destinations
GPIO xNode Configuration Worksheet
IP Address:
SN Mask:
Output assignments
Node Type: GPIO
Channel Number Range Assignments
IP Address
Host Name
Serial Number
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