AEQ’s Virtual Capitol App Saved My Broadcasting 11/06/2017
When disaster struck CNC Media’s studios, an app restored the broadcast signal
CNC Media is the leading communications company in the north of Chile. We run a digital newspaper, a television station and three radio stations: Canal95, FM Plus and FM Quiero. We are also members of ARCHI, the Chilean Radio Association.
In 2013, we acquired several AEQ Capitol digital mixing consoles to refurbish our studios.
The AEQ Capitol is a digital mixing console that provides all the features that any small- or medium-sized radio station may need. It comes with eight programmable faders, four microphone, 12 analog line and four AES/EBU inputs, eight analog line and four AES/EBU outputs. The console provides control for the monitors and headphones in the control room and studio, on-air signaling, optional dual-line telephone hybrid and many other features. Very soon, we realized that the Capitol was the perfect choice for us.
During the negotiations, two complementary applications to control the consoles were also offered: Virtual Capitol and Capitol Screen. Cristian Valencia, the general manager of radio operations, and I began an evaluation of these software applications.
Capitol Screen looked quite interesting to us. The broadcast parameters are nicely detailed on the screen of a studio PC or from a tablet: VU meters, clock, programmable key status … and also control of equalizers, filters, compressors/limiters, noise gate, etc. can be made on the fly extremely easily. In a nutshell, it offered greater visibility and ease of operation.
But we didn’t seem to need Capitol Virtual, a remote control application reproducing all the physical console functions and controls on a PC or tablet. Why would we want that?
However, controlling each console from my office or home was interesting to me. It could be nice to be able to access a console to change a fader passing onto another broadcast event without having an operator in the studio. These situations appear occasionally when producing a program at ungodly times … Who knows? It might prove useful to us.
Just in case, we installed the application on our respective laptop computers. And it did prove useful, but not in any of the foreseen ways.
It rained so much during the last days of 2016 that water collected on the station roof and, suddenly, both water and the roof itself collapsed onto the Canal95 studio console control surface, rendering it unusable.
We ventured into the station to evaluate the damage. Broadcast was reestablished by sending the FM Plus signal to the transmitter. We also did some cleaning and finally checked the console. The audio engine was not hit and seemed workable, but the control surface was completely ruined.
In order to check the engine, we connected Cristian’s laptop to the console. We prepared some music, opened the channel and … the VU meters lit up and audio came out of the monitors! We opened a microphone, did some checks, changed the transmission schedule and reestablished Canal95.
And there we had a laptop acting as the console control surface 24x7 for three weeks.
The physical control surface was sent to SERCOMSA, AEQ’s dealer in Santiago de Chile. They inspected it but it was totaled, due to short-circuits and corrosion produced by water and mud. We were sent photos and a report for the insurance and ordered a replacement surface to AEQ, which arrived after a few days. Meanwhile, we could continue our normal operation without problems thanks to the Capitol Virtual application.