Johannesburg-based radio station Kaya FM has overhauled its outside broadcasting facilities and moved from physical mixing desks and other large and cumbersome interfaces to virtual ones that run on tablet computers.
Its new system runs on Mecer Xpress Windows-based slates from Mustek.
The new system includes three of Mecer’s 11,6-inch slates, which Kaya says reduce the size of the original desk and the accompanying play-out computer by almost four-fifths.
One of the three tablets is used as a virtual mixing desk and another as the play-out system. The third is for presenters to read notes, check e-mail or browse the Web as they would during a regular show in the studio.
Because the tablets run Windows 7, they include a keyboard, mouse and docking station to ensure Kaya employees have an experience as similar to that of being in the studio as possible.
The system allows a producer in Kaya’s studios to control the outside broadcast channel remotely and to set up the virtual mixing desk to match different requirements for different show formats.
The radio station’s first serious test of the system was in broadcasting from the opening of parliament in Cape Town earlier this month.
Leonard Matjila, MD of TruFi Electronics, the broadcast equipment specialist that provided Kaya with the system, says although the front end is much smaller than the system the station used previously for outside broadcasts, it still requires a sizeable power station unit that needs to be connected to mains power supply and which costs about R90 000.
Though the system may have become smaller and simpler to use, it still requires a sizeable investment. Each tablet costs R7 000 and the broadcasting software alone costs an additional R8 000.
Matjila says that although Windows 7 tablets are by no means the most popular, it was a requirement for Kaya that whichever system it used it had to be able to run the Microsoft operating system. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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