ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, March 6, 2007 — Barix AG, a pioneer in IP-based audio, intercom and control/monitoring, today announced that University of Minnesota is the latest higher education institution to deploy Barix Instreamer audio encoding devices for classroom recording. The devices are used to instantly and seamlessly capture the audio lectures for the creation of high audio quality Podcasts and are available to students both on and off campus almost immediately after the classes end.
The university has purchased six Instreamer devices that can be used in any of the five Interactive TV (ITV) classrooms on its Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. The ITV classrooms, each with its own A/V control room, are designed for distance learning applications and feature a variety of video recording and monitoring equipment that allow students on four other campuses around the state to participate in the live classes. The Barix Instreamers are integrated into the existing A/V racks in the control rooms, accepting the live audio feeds directly from an audio mixer and feeding it via IP to the university network over an Ethernet connection.
According to Rich Reardon, Media Producer at University of Minnesota´s Digital Media Center, cost and flexibility figured highly into the purchase, along with a presentation from Michael Gay of Purdue University, who suggested the Barix Instreamer for live classroom recording.
"The Instreamer is flexible enough to let us dial up our desired audio bit rate and encoding characteristics and point into our ingesting computer while using the existing campus Ethernet backbone for distribution, further taking advantage of an already economical platform," said Reardon. "From there, the VLC Player (Video LAN Client) dumps the raw file into the desktop as the classroom is recorded, allowing us to monitor the stream. We stop and start as needed and then upload the complete file to our server for some basic fine-tuning if necessary. It´s an excellent workflow for everyone involved from start to finish."
Five MAC computers, each with fixed IP addresses, are set up to capture Instreamer feeds from different classrooms. Each computer, dubbed Podcatcher 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, is assigned a different port number so that any of the five computers can receive audio feeds from any Instreamer, regardless of classroom location. Scott Benson, Sr Radio/TV Broadcast Tech, is often in charge of capturing the recordings. To streamline the process, Benson created icons on the Mac computers that immediately start the recording process when clicked. Master control operators can utilize a two-way audio/video feed over fiber between master control and the classroom to determine when the instructor or lecturer is speaking.
All classrooms are outfitted with a wireless microphone for the lecturer and gated mics for the students to limit audio levels. All mics are fed into the audio mixer en route to the Instreamer. Benson set the Instreamer audio bit rate to one level below the factory default to capture pristine audio quality while taking full advantage of the network´s storage capacity.
"Barix is pleased to announce the University of Minnesota as our most recent customer in the education sector," said Johannes G. Rietschel, CEO of Barix. "The university´s approach to classroom recording is similar to the approach taken by Mississippi State University in using the Barix Instreamer for the creation of cost-effective Podcasts at a higher audio quality, but instead relies on the engineering department to record the classes and prepare the files for uploading to the network. This further scales back the involvement of instructors and students in handling the technology. This doesn´t mean that one method is ideal to the other, but rather reinforces the message of flexibility in using the Instreamer for classroom recording application in higher education."
Barix has recently added new firmware to its Instreamer devices that allows users to record audio in two new ways without the need to write programmable scripts in advance. Instreamer customers can directly record audio to an FTP site, which provides a reliable, real-time transport stream to the central server. Customers can also elect to record audio to a USB stick as sessions, or for many hours at the desired speed and compression rate. The user can then upload the audio to an FTP server automatically at a later time, such as when networks are not busy.
About Barix AG (www.barix.com)
Barix AG, headquartered in Zurich Switzerland, specializes in research and development of state of the art IP based communication and control technology. Barix products are stand-alone and able to remotely connect worldwide over standard networks / Internet offering new and improved solutions to the professional audio distribution, communication and automation industry. Barix products provide solutions in audio over IP (audio distribution and monitoring, communication, security) and automation (remote controlling, monitoring and maintenance).