Portuguese radio stations benefit from Dante
Thursday, 19 November 2020
lisbon-2The system makes use of more than 50 Dante-capable pieces of equipment and manages around 1,000 signals each day
Portugal - Grupo Renascença Multimedia is among the largest players in Portuguese radio. The firm operates three major stations: Rádio Renascença - known colloquially as 'RR' - Mega Hits, and RFM - which constantly rates as the highest listened-to station in the country. Across its entire portfolio, Grupo Renascença Multimedia provides everything from news, sports, music and other entertainment. The stations also include a bit of religious programming as the primary owner of the radio group is the Catholic Church.
“We actually have a chapel in the building,” said José Loureiro, assistant manager at the Radio Innovation & Technical Unit for the stations. “And even the chapel is connected to our audio system, because once in a while, we do use it for broadcasting religious events. But really, as unique as that is, it’s not that crazy or difficult to include it in the audio workflow because we’re using Dante.”
Audinate’s Dante distributes hundreds of uncompressed, multi-channel digital audio channels via standard Ethernet networks, with near-zero latency and perfect synchronization. Dante allows audio, control, and all other data to coexist effectively on the same network.
In 2016, RR moved into a new headquarters in Lisbon. The previous office location - which they had occupied for nearly 80 years - was in the city centre and snaked across multiple floors within a historic building. The facility was, according to Loureiro, a case study in how challenging traditional cabling becomes over time.
“There were cables in there that had been sitting in the same place for a long time,” he said. “You didn’t want to touch them because you really didn’t know what they did. Maybe nothing. Maybe something really important. So, people just left them alone. Over time, that becomes a bigger and bigger problem.”
This challenge was discussed when Grupo Renascença Multimedia began looking at a new facility. Manufacturer AEQ, whose technology features heavily in the new system, recommended moving to a Dante-backed system, which would largely eliminate traditional cabling. Instead, signals could flow over standardized network infrastructure - allowing for less cables, more connections, and better insight into what, exactly, was on the network.
“We knew we could go beyond just solving the problem of cables lying around,” Loureiro said. “We knew we could gain the ability to know what, exactly, each signal we were using was. And if we could do that, we could run a more agile business. So, we went with Dante.”
Loureiro said Dante provided not just the audio-over-IP capabilities it was looking for, but also confidence through its interoperability.
“For example, if a mixing console goes down, I don’t worry anymore,” Loureiro said. “Because I know Dante isn’t down. I can just plug in a new console and we’re back up and running. The ability to replace something that easily without a hassle and without cabling it really does give you confidence.”
RR has 11 studios and four “phone booths” - or mini-studios - it supports with Dante networking.
The studios utilize AEQ Netbox 32 interfaces, which turn all the audio from the studio - microphones, CD Players, TVs, DJ Sets, and more - into Dante signals. AEQ Capitol IQ mixing consoles are also used in the studios - these are also fully Dante capable, allowing for mixed signals to exist immediately on the network.
Behringer X32 mixing consoles, which are native Dante, are also used in a few locations. Two RDL RU-LB4 line-level bi-directional network interfaces and an AEQ 4MH interface are also used.
In total, the system makes use of more than 50 Dante-capable pieces of equipment and manages around 1,000 signals - mono and stereo - each day.
Loureiro concludes, “We’re working a lot faster and with a lot less stress,” he said. “Yes, it is also far less expensive of a system, but it is so much better it is hard to put a price on it. The fact that you can access a signal anywhere on your infrastructure is really amazing. Radio makes the effort to be very agile in its response to news or new music, so solutions like Dante allow us to amplify that effort. It’s changed the way we work for the better.”

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