610_RadioWorld_Product_Eval

Reprinted from july 17, 2013
The News Source for Radio Managers and Engineers www.radioworld.com
Inovonics 610 Takes on the Web
Finally someone builds a dedicated Internet radio monitor. Does it work?
◗product
evaluation
By Tom Vernon
Many broadcasters monitor their Internet
streams with consumer-grade Internet radios
lashed to unbalanced-to-balanced audio and
silence sensor boxes, or rely on their ISPs to let
them know when a stream is down. With the
Inovonics 610 Internet Radio Monitor, these
measures are no longer necessary. Winner of
a Radio World “Cool Stuff” award, the 610
offers a boatload of professional features in a
compact half-rack format.
The front panel contains a bright OLED
display of all stream metadata including
artist and title or program name, quality
(streaming rate, encoding format, mono or
stereo and original sampling rate) and time/
date. There is also a level meter indicating
0 dBFS as peak level, useful in setting up
encoders.
Alarms
Audio outputs are available as balanced
left and right analog and an AES digital, all
through XLR connectors.
There’s also a headphone jack on the
front panel. Headphones are a welcome
option for tuning up Internet audio proces-
sors in a noisy rack room. When headphones are plugged in, the front screen
automatically will go to the headphone
volume screen, and the jog wheel will adjust
volume.
Most impressive are the alarm options on
the 610. Front-panel LEDs indicate Internet,
audio and stream loss. On the back, the same
functions are presented as the collectors of
NPN transistors. These three external alarms
can work with voltages up to 24 VDC. This
breakout should be useful, because at most
stations, various things need to happen, and
different people may need to be notified
depending on the nature of the failure.
The half-rack 610 Internet Radio Monitor
A peek under the cover reveals that the
quality of construction for the 610 is up to
Inovonics’ usual high standards. It is also
a testament to the advancements made in
VLSI technology. A half-dozen ICs and a
handful of other components is all that you
need for the 610 to work its magic.
The surface-mount construction also
means the unit is not user-serviceable. Since
Inovonics recently upped its warranty to
three years, that should not be a concern.
While the 610 can switch among 10
preset stations, only one at a time can be
monitored. This could be an issue for stations with high-, medium- and low-bitrate
may live on a desktop or be mounted in
the optional rack adapter. One unit can be
installed with a blank panel, or two 610s can
be mounted side-by-side.
Interfacing with the unit can be accomplished via the front-panel OLED display
and jog wheel. The setup/operate tree is
easy enough to use, but you’ll probably
want to complete the bulk of the setup via
a Web browser and laptop or mobile device
once the initial IP parameters have been
entered.
Once you are done setting up the 610,
you may save all settings to a PC as a
hardware profile, useful as a backup, or for
cloning multiple 610s.
streams, or clusters with streams for several
stations. While the $990 suggested price for
the 610 seems reasonable, the cost of monitoring several stations could add up quickly.
Another useful feature of the 610 is the
alarm log, which tracks outages. Tracked
data includes the type of alarm (Internet/
stream/audio), the station, time and date.
Alarms are sent when there is an outage,
and when the issue is corrected, allowing
users to track the duration. This information
is available on the browser and also may be
downloaded as a CSV file.
There are many hacker opportunities here,
so you may want to pull data from the CSV
files and place it into a statistical computing
Track outages
Copyright 2013 NewBay M sedia (USA), LLC. Reprinted with permission.
Globe graphic ©iStockphoto.com / Edward Gajeda
program like RStudio, and into graphing
environments like ggplot2 or Gephi, and
generate your own informatics. With a bit
of work and creativity, you may be able to
develop better stats for your stream than
those that are provided by your Internet service provider.
The bad news here is that this information must be polled manually. At present,
there is no way for the 610 to send alarm
logs automatically.
Another limitation of the 610’s firmware
is that there is only one email list, which
receives notification for audio, stream or
Internet loss. This can be a problem at college radio stations, for example, such as
The 10 station presets
enable you to compare
your stream quickly with
the competition. Get ready
to be surprised.
WDCV(FM) where the 610 was evaluated.
If a stream gets lost, the IT staff and station engineer should be notified. If there is
an audio outage, that is probably an issue
within the station, and there would be no
reason to bother the IT department.
According to an Inovonics spokesperson,
the company hopes to tackle any issues like
these in future firmware updates.
Additionally, there are only three fields
for email addresses on the 610. Not to
worry though, each of them can hold up to
64 characters, so if you separate addresses
with a comma, you can squeeze several of
them into the space that is provided.
The front display is useful in tracking
your metadata, but its implementation can
be annoying. To prevent the OLED display
from burning in, it goes dark with no use
after a couple minutes. If you have your
610 password protected, you need to enter
the password every time you want to get
back in.
Monitor
Although not their intended purpose,
the 10 station presets on the 610 enable
you to compare your stream quickly with
the competition. Get ready to be surprised.
Even well-known brands have streams with
levels all over the map. Most display call
signs, but not all. Audio quality also is quite
variable.
Using the 610 to monitor other stations,
however, is not always easy. The address
that the ISP delivers the stream on is what
must be entered, which is probably not the
address you see on your browser. You may
be able to look at the code for the Web page
and figure it out, but not always.
The 610 is also a valuable tool for setting
up your Web audio processing. It decodes
MP3 (32 kbps–320 kbps), Ogg Vorbis (32
kbps–500 kbps) and AAC (32 kbps–384
kbps) streams. To tune your stream accurately for the best sound, you need to listen
to a decoded sample. Plugging headphones
into the front of the Web processor and
making tweaks can get you into trouble.
We were able to make substantial improvements in the sound of our stream by monitoring the headphone output of the 610.
Sadly, the headphone jack on the 610
is 1/8-inch. This is a bit puzzling, since
all the other jacks and features are professional quality. A standard 1/4-inch TRS
jack would seem to be more appropriate.
Internet radio is transforming quickly
from a loss leader at many stations to a
serious revenue source. Getting your Web
stream to the next level means having a
reliable way to evaluate sound quality and
Copyright 2013 NewBay Media (USA), LLC. Reprinted with permission.
product capsule
Inovonics 610
Internet Radio Monitor
Thumbs Up
+ Alarms for audio, stream and
Internet loss
+ Analog L/R and AES outputs
+ Bright OLED display
+ Supports MP3, Ogg, Vorbis and
AAC formats
+ Metadata display
Thumbs Down
– Can only monitor one stream
– 1/8-inch jack for headphone
monitoring
– Only one email list for three alarms
– Alarm logs can only be accessed
manually
– No way for the display to be on
continuously
Price: $990
For information, contact Lukas
Hurwitz at Inovonics in California
at (831) 458-0552 or visit
www.inovonicsbroadcast.com.
metadata, and be notified of stream problems when they happen.
The Inovonics 610 Internet Radio
Monitor is the first professional product to
address all of these needs. With a few hacker tweaks, the information that it provides
can also be used to generate informatics,
which will enable users to evaluate longterm trends in their stream’s quality.
A regular contributor to Radio World,
Tom Vernon has been active in the industry
for over 30 years. He currently creates technical training materials, corporate newsletters and instruction manuals for several
broadcast equipment manufacturers, working from his home in Central Pennsylvania.
Reprinted from Radio World