Star quality: Refurbishing Sterren.nl Radio on a budget27 May 2015
Sterren.nl is a public broadcaster, part of the AVROTROS group, which focusses on a repertoire of Dutch-language programming. In February, Hilversum-based dB mediagroep was contracted to renovate Sterren.nl’s existing on-air room and prepare the station for visual radio. The assignment included the configuration, integration, automation, cabling and installation of a completely new broadcast studio.
“The key issue here was [for the project to be] as budget-critical as possible while maintaining a high standard of quality,” explains Lex Strijker, coordinator of dB mediagroep’s projects department. “We have over 20 years’ experience in providing technical solutions for broadcasters, production companies and studios; rebuilding a radio studio, and the whole automation process, is our forté.”
After the on-air room was completely stripped, the studio was redecorated and a new, spacious presenter’s desk and new furniture were put in place. A new lighting plan was designed, including locations for PTZ cameras for Sterren.nl’s visual radio project. “AVROTROS also wanted to concentrate the bulk of the technical equipment in the main server room, leaving as much open space on the working desk as possible,” continues Strijker (pictured above right with Sterren.nl Radio DJ Corné Klijn and head of department Paul Siteur [L–R]). “To achieve this, we made use of ADDERLink Infinity KVM over IP extenders.”
The heart of the new on-air studio is a DHD SX-series mixing console, replacing the more than 14-year-old DHD 4200, in combination with an XC core. (It was the station’s presenters who preferred the SX-series desk, describing it as “a straight-forward console”.) For voice processing, dB opted for a Symetrix Solus 8 DSP, its open software allowing the station to program the voice processing with Symetrix sound quality but at a much cheaper cost than investing in six standalone microphone processors. Five Shure SM-7 microphones were reused, as well as Genelec 1030 monitors.
“We use the Dante protocol for AoIP – the software allows direct connection between the studio PCs and the DHD, again cutting costs without loss of quality,” says Strijker. “In the next phase, we plan to get the Omniplayer playout software directly dialoguing with the DHD – no cables needed!”
“The whole configuration is much more transparent,” he continues, “with less cables, no difficult breakouts and focussed on the maximal integration of DSP, AoIP and automated video streaming.”
The new on-air studio has an audience capacity of 50 people; a stage, equipped with a separate audio set, is connected to the main console. A bar completes the studio landscape – during the Friday-evening Weekendborrel show, hosts Daniel Dekker and Corné Klijn welcome artists and the public during a two-hour live show (pictured above right).
“Sterren.nl’s studio was built in little less than more month – broadcasts were effected from a fully fledged ‘temp’ studio – and became operational during the first week of March,” explains Frank Decker, process and project manager, radio, at AVROTROS. “dB mediagroep’s […] sharp pricing and thorough expertise, our good working relationship and the company’s respect for deadlines were crucial in this project.”
Paul Siteur, head of department at Sterren.nl (‘Stars.nl’), concludes: “All involved parties were aware of our absence of a big budget. I’m very pleased with the results of our efforts to build a low-cost professional studio, mainly because dB mediagroep came up with smart solutions.
“We now broadcast from a studio ready for the future, [and will continue to] bring hours of joy and comfort with Dutch music to many listeners in the Netherlands and Belgium.”