Muffled reception?

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Muffled reception?

Postby J Kendrick » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:06 pm

Why has CKNW sounded for the past couple of days like they're all talking though an old sock?

Could that be caused by this "HD Radio" thing being piggy-backed on top of their regular AM broadcast signal?
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby jon » Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:25 pm

J Kendrick wrote:Could that be caused by this "HD Radio" thing being piggy-backed on top of their regular AM broadcast signal?

I'm not aware of any CKNW Engineering experiments with IBOC ("HD Radio") on their 980 AM signal. CFMI-FM is the transmitter that is carrying CKNW audio on its second IBOC/digital channel ("HD2").

As to why you hear what you hear on 980 depends a lot on whether it is location-specific in terms of where you are listening, or is heard everywhere.
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby radiofan » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:19 pm

J Kendrick wrote:Why has CKNW sounded for the past couple of days like they're all talking though an old sock?

Could that be caused by this "HD Radio" thing being piggy-backed on top of their regular AM broadcast signal?


I noticed this too, something in the audio chain is not working right.

A newscast I heard the other night sounded like telephone quality. Cell phone cut ins from a remote last week were nothing more than garbled noise.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby Jack Bennest » Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:57 am

Dave Glasstetter doesn't work there anymore :occasion5:
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby tuned » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:04 pm

I totally agree with Bennest. That's twice now. If it happens any more people are going to start talking.
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby kal » Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:20 pm

Thank goodness others noticed this too. I thought it was my hearing. Especially noticeable with Jon McComb this morning and yesterday. It didn't appear to be the signal per se as certain other segments were OK.
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby retireddxer » Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:29 pm

I recently caught a Chief Engineer with 20 minutes on his hands at a transmitter site as he waited for a supplier to show up. During that time, he made a candid comment that, I think, sums up the problem.

He observed that the Engineering staff was now less than half the size that it used to be. That staff covers 4 radio stations. It took double that staff size just for one of the AM stations in that four station cluster.

He also freely admitted that going from tubes to transistors in transmitters makes a huge improvement in failures and parts replacement.

Even when you factor in computers replacing the traditional audio console ("board"), does it really take one eighth the time to take care of everything?
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby tuned » Tue Dec 01, 2015 10:05 pm

To be fair I think analog gear took a lot more maintenance than digital gear. Cart machines and tape machines have a million moving parts that wear out never mind the electronics. I'd be curious what an engineer has to say about maintaining an analog vs digital plant.
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby jon » Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:52 pm

tuned wrote:To be fair I think analog gear took a lot more maintenance than digital gear. Cart machines and tape machines have a million moving parts that wear out never mind the electronics. I'd be curious what an engineer has to say about maintaining an analog vs digital plant.

I would, too.

This is an interesting discussion, especially to someone like me, who spent a lot of years doing Computing Support as both employee and contractor to companies. Because every station engineer I've talked to is also responsible for Computer Support. Not just the "workstation" that replaced the traditional audio console, but everything remotely resembling Computers. If there is a dead spot in the Wi-Fi in the Men's washroom, and a salesman's smartphone call is breaking up, it is Engineering that gets the call. Someone in Promotions cannot find the Font they want for a poster: call Engineering.

A first glance, it sounds like more work than repairing cart machines and turntables, and replacing tubes in the audio console.
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby Mike Cleaver » Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:50 pm

The problem is, almost all of the real engineers, such as the magnificent Dave Glasstetter who could build an entire radio station including the transmitter from a box of parts, are long gone.
They've pretty much been replaced by IT guys who know nothing about audio or transmitters.
That's why most of them have to call the old guys they've fired in to deal with those types of emergencies at a much higher pay rate than they had as employees.
There are a few exceptions, my friend Bill Stovold who has just been hired as CE at the Pattison Group as CE who is excellent at both the IT world and transmitters, both AM and FM.
In the Interior, my brother still works on analog and digital, AM and FM transmitters and all types of TV gear and transmitters as well.
I can still tune an AM Transmitter as well as FM and can do both analog and digital stuff.
But we are a dying breed, most of us 60 or older and some still working well into their 70s.
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54 years experience at some of Canada's Premier Broadcasting Stations
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Re: Muffled reception?

Postby Dave L » Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:30 am

Analog to digital to analog to digital to analog only invites audio issues. Throw in more hops, a bad editor using poor levels or oddball codecs/format/bit and sample rates it all goes to hell in a hand basket really quick.

When I was telegrapher on the CPR, on the local and dispatcher phones, distance stations were weaker, but still audible for repeating train orders. Even when the lines were noisy or humming, they'd still be workable in most cases. Nowadays, simple voice mail from other cell phones or text to speech messages are plagued with garbles and gaps.

When they closed the Coast Guard MCTS in Ucluelet earlier this year, we went from a crisp, clear (single repeater) communication system to a multi-hop patchwork from Prince Rupert that's barely audible or intermittent. Analog (mike and board) into digital (computer cards) with analog out into compressors then into phone lines into linked analog repeaters then into digital formats on to analog phone lines back to digital then again to analog receivers. It's an unserviceable mess because you're only as good as your weakest link and most often the IT person working on it has no access to it, so they try workarounds. On linear systems, that paves the way to failure. When the charter vessel Leviathan 2 rolled over last month, there was no time for a mayday call, but once the Coast Guard was aware of the event, they were unable to communicate with anyone on the search grounds other than aircraft. I sat in the warm comfort of my own home listening to everyone on the scene clearly, yet could barely understand the CG. Worse yet, busy rescuers with engines running in rough sea conditions.

That's what happens when you take RF engineers out of the equation.
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