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  1. #1
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    School Radio Station

    Hi, me and some other students at our school are setting up a radio station that will stream over the network to speakers in good locations.
    If anyone has advice or tips about audio editing / production, and how to get the best quality we can, then could you please help, it would be apreciated.

  2. #2
    1. What kind of school?
    2. Who will be listening, and when?
    3. Are you just doing this for the hell of it, or is this going to be a permanent part of the school long after you've graduated? (At the U of Minnesota, students founded a closed-circuit station in 1947 that has now become Radio K, on the air and on the web.)
    4. To what extent is the school's administration involved/supportive/in on it the deal?

  3. #3
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    1. The school is a secondary comprehensive (UK)

    2. The places it will be played out are accesable to the hole school, with the exception of the staff room, obviously. It will be played at lunch time.

    3. If it goes to plan, it will continue to run long after the current team have left school.

    4. The SMT (senior management team) are supportive of the project and will try to cover initial costs, but want it to be a student lead project.

  4. #4
    Okay, time for others to chime in. I spent (way too many) years at a student radio station, but that was in the era of 45RPM discs and manually splicing tape. I have little to say about studio technology these days, other than my standard recommendation that you never use the mic and line inputs on a computer sound card - rubbish preamps - you preamplify and convert to USB externally.

    If the station is intended to be permanent, it will be worth creating at least two studios; one for on-air-at-the-moment and one for production. A third small studio as a voice announce booth would be nice. One-studio student operations are toys.

    Spend some time becoming familiar with good studio construction practice. It isn't worth compromising on sound isolation, which will be a curse forever. Avoid parallel windows like the plague, especially in the announce booth. If proper methods present a financial or political problem, there are companies that sell premade rooms of various sizes intended for music student practice - Wenger in the US, I don't know who in UK. That also gets you around the costs of remodelling and various code restrictions. There are books available to those who want to build a home recording studio; radio station requirements are similar though a bit relaxed, because most of the time you'll be transmitting prerecorded music.

    For distribution, you have several choices.

    Choice 1: get a low power FM transmitter and run coax cable all over the school. Provide connections to the antenna terminals of receivers at various locations.

    Choice 2: the traditional approach is to put an AM signal on the mains. AM is, of course, low quality, but you can now get a transmitter and receivers that use digital coding and produce results similar to FM. Cost is a factor; there aren't many digital AM receivers yet and they're expensive.

    Choice 3: run balanced line-level audio around the school and use transformers to convert to unbalanced at each speaker location. Install a suitably sized amp at each location to drive the speakers.

    Choice 4: put a single amp at the station, run a "constant voltage" (misnomer, long story) speaker line everywhere and at each speaker location, use a transformer to tap off as much power as needed. This is the standard method for long lines and multiple speakers (you CANNOT hang a bunch of 8-ohm speakers on a single 8-ohm amp output). The standard voltage in the US is 70V, or 25V where codes require it in schools. Anyone familiar with sound systems in shopping centers etc will know what to do. If you choose this route, more advice is available here.

    You could even do a combination - say, a 70V system in the school and a low power FM transmitter so students could sit in their cars and listen.

    Regarding sound quality, speakers have a more telling effect than all other factors combined. Listen to a number of them. There are some fairly inexpensive ones that are quite good. Keep in mind that although you envision sitting in front of a microphone talking to students who are hanging on your every word, reality is that you'll be background most of the time. Choose a speaker that's a bit self-effacing. JBL's are out.

    I hesitate to recommend putting a graphic equalizer in the chain, because everybody will screw with it no matter how tightly you lock it up. But it is highly desirable to roll off the low frequencies sharply below 50Hz. Very low frequency signals take an enormous amount of power, most speakers cannot reproduce them (despite makers' claims), and if you choose the 70-volt option, speaker transformers cannot handle very low frequencies. Flat-to-25Hz may make sense in the context of a $50,000 home stereo system; it doesn't make sense in the real world of a school radio station.

    Plan to do a lot of recording of student musicians and so on. Plan for school-related newscasts. If you offer serious media training in addition to just playing CDs, the management team will be more supportive. U. of Minnesota student station alumni are a large part of the Minneapolis/St. Paul broadcast business.

  5. #5
    Dang, I forgot - you have to do stereo. An amazing number of distributed systems are still mono, but nobody's going to listen to that. Better two rubbish speakers than one good one.

  6. #6
    (sigh) and then I reread your post and you're going to stream over the network, so that's settled.

    Why I missed that is beyond me... I never listen to the radio myself, only online.

  7. #7
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  8. #8
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    thanks for all your replies, it has helped us finalise our proposal alot.

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