Jutel, one of the world’s leading digital radio station system providers, has developed a fully digital, web-based public audio solution for large public spaces. The project also involves speaker manufacturer Genelec and a healthy dose of agile software development. The system is the first one of its kind in the world.
Jutel's RadioMan and HIPman software are used at radio stations all over the world.
The Oulu-based Jutel is specialized in audio electronics, and has delivered digital radio broadcasting systems and broadcasting technologies everywhere in the world. They are now designing a sound solution for conference venues, the first example of which is the web-based sound control system installed in the restaurant Nallikari.
Jutel’s sound control system in the Nallikari conference center allows one to decide what music should be played at the same time in different rooms, meaning that sound can be customized separately for each room. No need for wiring, and sound can be designed uniquely: broadcasts in one space could be limited to just advertising, for example.
The Nallikari restaurant is situated at an impressive location by the Bothnian Bay. It was designed in 1975 by the Oulu architect Risto Harju, and this protected building was almost completely renovated last year. The architecture emphasizes the openness of the spaces and the opportunity to admire the maritime nature of the north. Today, it also includes two large saunas and a jacuzzi on the roof of the restaurant that is kept always warm, even in freezing temperatures. At Nallikari, conferences can be organized for up to 250 people. The guests have access to an ultra high-speed Internet connection that allows a good view of the stage and good sound playback in all spaces.
A Sound Designer’s Heaven
The conference venue is now a heaven for sound designers. You can see the Genelec speakers concealed by structures from the 1970’s and can hear the sound clearly everywhere. Different sound can be broadcast simultaneously to the restaurant, bistro, patio and the five conference rooms. The public audio, the displays and speaker technology all operate online, and everything is controlled through the same sound control system using a hand-held tablet.
I pick up the tablet and open Jutel’s HIPman system, which allows me to direct sound signals to different parts of the conference center the way that I want. HIPman allows me to decide where and what sound to broadcast and in how many places. I can choose different sounds to be broadcast in different parts of Nallikari at the same time: people celebrating a birthday could listen to songs that fit the mood, conference guests could listen to presentations and product introductions, while the spa could have some suitable ambient music. All 34 speaker units can be used simultaneously in a personal way. I can also become a DJ, allowing me to schedule the music and act as a presenter. After my multi-channel radio broadcast is over, restaurant customers can join the system using their own smart phones and devices and listen to whatever they prefer.
HIPman offers plenty of other opportunities as well. The pilot installation of HIPman has 15 channels that allow me to direct video sound to the targets of my choice, to turn on the wireless microphones or to connect to Jutel’s RadioMan system. The application basically allows you to start your own TV and radio station at a conference, which allows the presentations in the conference to be broadcast to the world.
Jutel has clients in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Jutel headquarters are located in Oulu, northern Finland. According to the writer of a history of Silicon Valley, Arun Rao, the European region that came closest to resembling Silicon Valley in the 2000s was Oulu. More than a thousand startups were born, most of them in wireless technology.
”Functionally similar sound systems do exist, but I don’t think there’s another one that is fully digital and compliant with standards,” says Jorma Kivelä, one of the two founders of Jutel.
What is the Internet of Sound? Watch the video!
Kivelä is referring to the AES67 web standard, which is becoming the standard for sound transmission at radio stations. AES67, or Audio Engineering Society AES67, is compatible with the RAVENNA industrial standard. RAVENNA is an open standard. The ALC NetworX network created by the German company Lawo, developer of RAVENNA, includes 32 companies, two of which are Finnish: Jutel and Genelec.
”The sound transmission technology is identical in both standards except for the moment of connection, so the standards are compatible,” says Kivelä.
”The Nallikari restaurant is the first place where this sound transmission system is used in the PA system of the entire building.”
RAVENNA is a Cost-efficient Network Solution for Sharing Media Content
The popularity of audio-over-IP or AoIP broadcasts has skyrocketed. RAVENNA was created as a solution for the real-time sharing of audio and other media content in IP-based network environments. It became a generally accepted standard in the industry in 2014. Because RAVENNA uses generally accepted web protocols and technologies, it works in existing network environments. The audio stream is simply encoded into a RAVENNA stream and sent to the network.
RAVENNA fulfills the requirements of a radio station: the sound is clear and the lag is small. RAVENNA is also a cost-efficient solution. No more need for cables and connecting them to different places; all you need is a local network, a sound control system – and good speakers.
The Finnish speaker manufacturer Genelec developed a new prototype speaker for Nallikari that uses AoIP technology.
”In the Nallikari pilot, we aren’t really separating the AES67 and RAVENNA standards from each other. Our concept is this: AES67/RAVENNA-based networked PA solutions controlled by HIPman, with speakers from Genelec. I must stress, however, that Genelec’s speakers at this stage are prototypes that are not publicly available.”
”Based on Nallikari experiences, we are now working together with Oulu Business School to create a business model and commercialize the solution,” Kivelä says.
“The same development will be seen in all sound systems. This is a big change: all technology will come from the Internet and from a cloud.”
Jutel Has Been Experimental
Since his childhood, Jorma Kivelä has been interested in electronics and audio technology. Curiosity and new ideas have always been a key part of Jutel’s operation as well.
Kivelä founded Jutel with his brother Reijo in 1984. The brothers started providing the first broadcasting systems for commercial radio stations in Finland. By the end of the 1980’s, 70% of local radio stations in Finland were using Jutel’s solutions. In 1994, Jutel decided to concentrate on software that replaced things like tape recorders at radio stations. The RadioMan software became Jutel’s main product. RadioMan made it possible to do all of the work – designing, making and broadcasting radio programs – in a workstation network.
”There are five major providers in the world, and we are one of them,” says Jorma Kivelä.
In 2001, Jutel participated in the creation of the biggest radio project in the world at the time, BBC’s World Service. One network included over 1,200 workstations.
”What was originally a service package in 43 languages has now been integrated into BBC’s other operations. In addition to the BBC, there are RadioMan systems in use at YLE, in Ireland, in the Netherlands and at CBS in the United States,” Kivelä explains.
Jutel also did a lot of collaboration with Nokia. They built the Visual Radio concept together with Nokia between 2003 and 2007.
The application came pre-installed into millions of cell phones. It was offered to radio stations and operators around the world. Visual Radio allowed not only listening to the signal of a FM radio, but also the reception of synchronized pictures, text and interactions on the phone display. Radio stations could also put in whatever additional information they wanted.
This never became a key part of Jutel’s business, however.
”We started too early, but we learned our lesson. More recently, similar services are being developed as Radio-DNS in Europe and as the Nextradio concept in the United States.”
Jutel’s willingness to experiment has also given birth to new companies. These include Jutron Ltd (electronics manufacturing), ESJU Ltd (high frequency design), KRM Instruments Ltd (calibrating equipment), Videra (video conferencing equipment) and Telemast Nordic Ltd (broadcasting masts).
Building Network Architecture with the Help of a N4S Program
Top: administrator's interface. Bottom: user interface.
Nallikari’s PA system pilot was built within a N4S program. The program has helped Jutel in the design of network architecture, an essential part of which is wireless control technology. In the N4S program, Jutel adopted a new way of making software.
”Agile methods in software design have helped us adopt network architecture. The Nallikari restaurant is a good example of a pilot that has been developed further in a N4S program. We have also been planning new models of business with the Business School of the University of Oulu. The technological base will change within the next 3-10 years, which means that a new operator like Jutel must start early.”
According to Kivelä, in the future conference centers will adopt new technologies for storing presentations. The recordings will be flexibly and automatically transferred to a cloud.
”The same development will be seen in all sound systems. This is a big change: all technology will come from the Internet and from a cloud.”
Web-based solutions allow the creation of a scaling platform for future software development. An important subject for further studies in the N4S project is how IP-based media technology and cloud-based services affect current business models, the delivery of products and service channels. Successful management of change also requires studies on how IP-based media systems should be developed and supported. Time must also be spent on figuring out what would be the best network architecture that would also allow the incorporation of inevitable changes in the future.