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Author Topic: How to broadcast your sound ver. 2.0  (Read 21811 times)
SR
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« on: July 19, 2014, 01:47:34 pm »

Last year I did a little write up on the how to's of broadcasting your theater sound.  Someone recently asked me again about it, I was about to point them in the direction of my old post, but I thought some of it was a bit out of date, plus it seemed like I left out a few things.  So I have freshened it up a bit and I'm re-posting it with additional information.  I have a lot of low power experience with broadcasting, so if anyone ever wants to pick my brain (what I have left of it anyway) about low power broadcasting pertaining to either AM or FM that is fine and I would welcome it.

Broadcasting your sound may look difficult if you have never done it before, but with a little knowledge it is honestly quite simple.  Though some setups are more complex than others.  First there are FCC rules about unlicensed broadcasting, and if you want to read all about it do a web search for FCC part 15 rules.  However the most important thing is that you choose a frequency that is not in use by a licensed station in your area, as interfering with a licensed broadcast could get the FCC’s attention.  Also you're not supposed to broadcast with more than .1 watts of power, though some folks get away with a little higher output.  Most importantly your signal shouldn't be interfering with a licensed station and you shouldn't be broadcasting miles beyond your theater.

Setup.  Most broadcast units have a 1/8” or 1/16” line in plug, and also most have 1/8” or 1/16” microphone plug, and some use RCA type inputs, you can run your sound directly out of your media source to the broadcast unit. Or you can plug the broadcast unit in after any sort of processing you might have.  After that you plug the power in and select the frequency you want to broadcast on and that is it.  One note of caution some units can be damaged if they are plugged in without an antenna hooked up.

If your going to buy a new broadcasting setup you want to buy one that is an FM unit.  There are AM units available but as we all know AM is more prone to interference FM and most AM units are mono sound, where as FM units will transmit in stereo.  Also AM is prone to humming issues and is much harder to setup, though if set up properly a good AM transmitter setup can give you that old school drive in sound.  The only other reason I can see to pick an AM unit is cost, as AM units sometimes come up on E-bay for cheap like $25.00 cheap or perhaps you already have access to one. (Ramsey still offers a AM kit for $35 but the way).  I still use an AM transmitter in my theatre, but that is because I had the setup prior to my getting in to BYT. In addition to my AM setup this year I'm also transmitting on FM with a Ramsey FM100B, that is rack mounted in a carry case with a Bringer processor and let me tell you that FM system...  WOW it produces some awesome sound when played on a good radio.   If your hesitant about broadcasting because you don't think it could possibly sound as good as your speakers, you should think again.  Sound broadcasted over a good quality transmitter picked up on a good radio can sound darn good. 

So basically you need two things.  A broadcast unit and some sort of antenna.  AM and FM antennas are a little different, so I will focus more on FM here because that is more than likely what you will be using.  If someone wants more information about AM antennas let me know, but I will say that AM antennas require a load coil, and it is the load coil that makes setting up an AM system a bit more tricky.  A lot of FM transmitters come with some sort of antenna built right on to the transmitter, most commonly it will be metal or rubber.  For folks with a small city size lot that is probably fine (or if your just trying to cover you deck area), but for greater coverage in a larger yard and for better sound quality with less distortion you can get an external antenna that you set at a specific length which varies depending on the frequency you’re broadcasting on, that is called antenna matching or trimming.  Some low cost FM transmitters don't have anyway to even attach an external antenna, so that is something to keep in mind when looking at transmitters.  A good well tuned antenna can really increase range as well as improving sound quality.  I have found that a ¼ wave antenna which generally runs $35 - $75 range is sufficient.  Trimming or tuning the antenna consists setting the mast to a certain length which will vary depending on the frequency and the antenna you have purchased, specific instructions are included with every new antenna I have ever dealt with.   

In my setup I have both my AM and FM transmitters located with my other equipment and then my antennas are mounted to the top of my screen.  While these antennas are visible during the day you can't see them at all during the movie so it is not a distraction, but you could also mount an antenna on a pole any where in your yard or perhaps off your fence if you have one.  It just needs to be tall enough so no one can touch it.

Some ideas of potential setups.  One of the transmitters I recommended in my original write up was one of the Rangestar transmitters, further investigation shows those units can have problems with something called channel bleed.  It is essentially where the unit causes unwanted interference on other frequencies, which is a pity because those are good units otherwise, but excessive channel bleed can affect broadcasts on other channels, that the user isn't even aware of, which in turn could get the FCC's attention.  A few known good units are the SSTrans units and pretty much all the Ramsey units plus many more depending on your budget.  The trouble with the Ramsey units is they can be hard to find already assembled, as the company is focused mostly on kit production.  However they can be found already assembled though third partys as well as Ramsey does offer some of there upper end units already built.  If you can budget for a $300 transmitter I would strongly recommend the Ramsey FM100 or the FM100B, they are the closes thing you can find to a professional unit in terms of sound quality.  I have had the opportunity to hear the sound out of a number of different units and the Ramsey FM100 series seems to be the best, plus it has built in filtering and small amp.  Also the FM100 series has a built in antenna as well as the ability to use an external antenna.  If you need a less expensive  unit perhaps try looking at the Ramsey FM 25 or 35 also SSTrans would be an option. 

One last thing on transmitter selection.  I see a few people here that have mentioned that they use a wholehouse transmitter.  While I am not personally a fan of the wholehouse transmitter, there is no doubt that it is a decent entry level transmitter, for those with smaller yards.  It is low cost and FCC certified.  But in terms of sound quality and coverage you really could do better.

Another thing to consider in a transmitter is how the frequency is set.  Some transmitters it is as simple as pressing a button on the control panel, a few require opening up the case and flipping dip switches or worse yet some old AM units have crystals that have to be swapped out to change frequency.  Also finding a good clear frequency can be an issue for some, but this link will be of great help in finding one.  http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant  Also you can use your radio and simply search up and down the dial.  I recommend looking at the website on the link, writing down a few open frequency they list and then test them on your radio to make sure they are clear. 

I know all of this sounds like a lot, but really it is fairly simple.  If your using an external antenna then the initial setup of the antenna will take a little bit of work but once it is up, it can stay up 24 / 7 and won't need to be adjusted unless you dramatically change your broadcast frequency or if something hits it.  And once that initial setup is done, I think you will find (depending on your current speaker set up) that it is easier than the speakers and might even give better sound.  So for me it is this simple.  For my FM unit the transmitter is mounted in a case with a compressor, the two units are always connected to each other so all I have to do is plug power in on the box, plug the audio input line into the unit and plug the antenna cable in, (since I use and external antenna) and turn the power switch to on.  Less than 30 seconds.  It's simple once the initial setup is done and it sounds great.  My AM system is a little bit more complicated, because AM is much more picky, and it needs to be adjusted every time I turn it on because small changes in weather and humidity affect the transmission quality of AM.  However if you really want to get into broadcasting your sound and you can't find a clear frequency on the FM dial, going with AM is an option. For me I don't have any other way of putting my sound out other than broadcasting so I will be keeping my AM unit around as a backup should I have a problem with my FM unit. 

In conclusion broadcasting your sound can be a lot of fun and can add a whole new element of excitement to your backyard theater.  I hope that folks find this post informative and helpful.  Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 07:27:28 am »

Great little write up there SirRobyn0.  I don't currently broadcast, but was wondering how to do it.  Now I know Smiley  Thanks

~Cheers!
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 11:57:50 am »

Thank you for this latest update. I have added a link on my website to this very well thought out explanation.
You're a good teacher.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 06:31:42 pm »

If anyone every wants help with broadcasting feel free to ask any questions you may have.  If you want suggestions on potential equipment or setups for your theater I'd be happy to help with that as well.  I have found broadcasting to be quite fun and rewarding!
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2015, 09:44:46 am »

Interesting...  will have to think about broadcasting when my oldest moves out and I use his brothers room as a projection booth...
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2015, 02:36:11 pm »

I tried it a few years ago but kept getting interference from all those Martian radio stations. One interesting side note Martian baseball has four outs instead of three. 
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2015, 01:05:52 am »

Interesting...  will have to think about broadcasting when my oldest moves out and I use his brothers room as a projection booth...

Until I joined this forum a few years back I honestly thought that most folks with BYT were broadcasting their sound.  Maybe I made that assumption because all the drive ins I know of do it.  Maybe it was because I moved away from the speakers and over to broadcasting after the first year.  Lowcrawl, when the time comes I'm happy to help in anyway I can from possible equipment suggestions to setup.  Once you have the broadcast stuff setup I think you will really enjoy the day to day simplicity of setup.  You also might be surprised at how good the sound quality is if you choose to use one of the better FM transmitters. 
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2015, 07:41:36 am »


 Lowcrawl, when the time comes I'm happy to help in anyway I can from possible equipment suggestions to setup.  Once you have the broadcast stuff setup I think you will really enjoy the day to day simplicity of setup.  You also might be surprised at how good the sound quality is if you choose to use one of the better FM transmitters. 

Awesome, definitely have to get past this first season.  My wife while supporting it, still gives me crap for the ways I want flesh the BYT out (and my deck, deck bar, movie concessions, etc).  It helps that her friends are all about it and are over in a flash to watch so we'll she how her attitude is.  We set up a private FB group just to announce the dates/movies we're showing and have about 40 peps on the group. 

Brad
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2015, 07:47:00 am »

But SR all those people that are going by my house that would miss that wonderful sound from my Genesis Concerts......how can I restrict them from listening in the open air Shocked Roll Eyes Roll Eyes


A couple of questions it I may?

1) Do people bring radios or headphones or how do they listen. (options)


2) If they use headphones on a hot summer night is that a problem with the heat & ones head? (more sweat)


3) Can you get Surround sound out of your setup?


4) If someone forgets their listening device can you have a few inexpensive spares that will work? (about what cost)

5) Center CH speaker do you miss anything without a CH speaker as far as dialog

5) Any other disadvantages or pluses?


Thanks
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2015, 11:12:15 am »

But SR all those people that are going by my house that would miss that wonderful sound from my Genesis Concerts......how can I restrict them from listening in the open air Shocked Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
Great questions I will try to answer:

A couple of questions it I may?

1) Do people bring radios or headphones or how do they listen. (options)
Any radio that will pickup FM 101.5 or AM 650 will work at my theater since I still use both transmitters. So portable radio, Walkman / headphones, whatever you want to bring with-in reason.  I've got one guy that has really bad hearing, he does the headphone thing and cranks it up, he can listen to it as loud as he likes with the headphones and the neighbors don't hear it.

2) If they use headphones on a hot summer night is that a problem with the heat & ones head? (more sweat)
Pacific Northwest it isn't all that hot here at night most of the time.


3) Can you get Surround sound out of your setup?
Out of my setup no.  Is it possible yes, but keep in mind that even if you were transmitting surround sound it's only going to be as good as the radio it is played out of.  For example, the first 9 years of our theater we transmitted only in AM stereo.  With talk radio having taken over the AM band many years ago AM stereo is basically dead, most of todays radios won't recognize the stereo part of an AM broadcast.  I probably only had about 1/4 of the guests actually hearing it in stereo.  I guess what I'm saying is that a surround sound broadcast is only going to benefit someone that brings a radio capable of decoding the surround sound.  Everyone else will just hear in stereo.

4) If someone forgets their listening device can you have a few inexpensive spares that will work? (about what cost)
I do, all though this isn't really critical if you let your guests play the sound out of their radio speakers, as the person that forgot could sit next to someone that didn't.  I have 2 small battery operated vintage AM only radios that I use for loaners.  But you could pickup a couple small cheap units for loaners if you wanted to.

5) Center CH speaker do you miss anything without a CH speaker as far as dialog.
No, it's mixed down to stereo in my setup. 

5) Any other disadvantages or pluses?
Pluses, The biggest advantage in my opinion is once the transmitter and antenna are initially setup it's about the simplest sound system you can get if you using FM, as AM can be finicky and prone to interference.  Also if your theater is in a large area there are no wires running to speakers or the need to bury wires or the cost of wireless speakers.  Also I know another person that broadcast their sound that lives in an area where the houses are really close together.  He requires his guests to use headphones, so for him it is a way to contain his sound so the neighbors don't hear it. 

Disadvantage:  If your running an illegal high power setup you could potentially attract the attention of the FCC. Sound quality can be dependent on the radio it is played out of.



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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2015, 12:54:35 pm »

I use the Sony walkman radios.  Small, light weight and allows for several different type head sets.

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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2015, 01:04:58 pm »

But SR all those people that are going by my house that would miss that wonderful sound from my Genesis Concerts......how can I restrict them from listening in the open air Shocked Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
Great questions I will try to answer:

A couple of questions it I may?

1) Do people bring radios or headphones or how do they listen. (options)
Any radio that will pickup FM 101.5 or AM 650 will work at my theater since I still use both transmitters. So portable radio, Walkman / headphones, whatever you want to bring with-in reason.  I've got one guy that has really bad hearing, he does the headphone thing and cranks it up, he can listen to it as loud as he likes with the headphones and the neighbors don't hear it.

2) If they use headphones on a hot summer night is that a problem with the heat & ones head? (more sweat)
Pacific Northwest it isn't all that hot here at night most of the time.


3) Can you get Surround sound out of your setup?
Out of my setup no.  Is it possible yes, but keep in mind that even if you were transmitting surround sound it's only going to be as good as the radio it is played out of.  For example, the first 9 years of our theater we transmitted only in AM stereo.  With talk radio having taken over the AM band many years ago AM stereo is basically dead, most of todays radios won't recognize the stereo part of an AM broadcast.  I probably only had about 1/4 of the guests actually hearing it in stereo.  I guess what I'm saying is that a surround sound broadcast is only going to benefit someone that brings a radio capable of decoding the surround sound.  Everyone else will just hear in stereo.

4) If someone forgets their listening device can you have a few inexpensive spares that will work? (about what cost)
I do, all though this isn't really critical if you let your guests play the sound out of their radio speakers, as the person that forgot could sit next to someone that didn't.  I have 2 small battery operated vintage AM only radios that I use for loaners.  But you could pickup a couple small cheap units for loaners if you wanted to.

5) Center CH speaker do you miss anything without a CH speaker as far as dialog.
No, it's mixed down to stereo in my setup. 

5) Any other disadvantages or pluses?
Pluses, The biggest advantage in my opinion is once the transmitter and antenna are initially setup it's about the simplest sound system you can get if you using FM, as AM can be finicky and prone to interference.  Also if your theater is in a large area there are no wires running to speakers or the need to bury wires or the cost of wireless speakers.  Also I know another person that broadcast their sound that lives in an area where the houses are really close together.  He requires his guests to use headphones, so for him it is a way to contain his sound so the neighbors don't hear it. 

Disadvantage:  If your running an illegal high power setup you could potentially attract the attention of the FCC. Sound quality can be dependent on the radio it is played out of.






As always SR you answered the questions very well....thanks

I did come up with a couple more.

1) When I have been in a park like setting with people listening to the same songs or station you sometimes get a delay in sound from other radios like an echo or something where the sound is slightly distorted? If I am not saying it right in short the total sound is just a little distorted. maybe because the sound is different on each player &/or the level from different devices from different directions. Do you get this also?

2) This one is a tough one to ask....but some fun/b-grade movies are fun to talk during.......don't shoot me but some of the 50,s sci-fi is fun to talk to your friends during....I can't be the only one LOL . Do you lose that with head phones & radios?


Hey thanks for your time?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 01:06:59 pm by genesis76 » Logged
SR
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2015, 06:49:18 pm »

But SR all those people that are going by my house that would miss that wonderful sound from my Genesis Concerts......how can I restrict them from listening in the open air Shocked Roll Eyes Roll Eyes
Great questions I will try to answer:

A couple of questions it I may?

1) Do people bring radios or headphones or how do they listen. (options)
Any radio that will pickup FM 101.5 or AM 650 will work at my theater since I still use both transmitters. So portable radio, Walkman / headphones, whatever you want to bring with-in reason.  I've got one guy that has really bad hearing, he does the headphone thing and cranks it up, he can listen to it as loud as he likes with the headphones and the neighbors don't hear it.

2) If they use headphones on a hot summer night is that a problem with the heat & ones head? (more sweat)
Pacific Northwest it isn't all that hot here at night most of the time.


3) Can you get Surround sound out of your setup?
Out of my setup no.  Is it possible yes, but keep in mind that even if you were transmitting surround sound it's only going to be as good as the radio it is played out of.  For example, the first 9 years of our theater we transmitted only in AM stereo.  With talk radio having taken over the AM band many years ago AM stereo is basically dead, most of todays radios won't recognize the stereo part of an AM broadcast.  I probably only had about 1/4 of the guests actually hearing it in stereo.  I guess what I'm saying is that a surround sound broadcast is only going to benefit someone that brings a radio capable of decoding the surround sound.  Everyone else will just hear in stereo.

4) If someone forgets their listening device can you have a few inexpensive spares that will work? (about what cost)
I do, all though this isn't really critical if you let your guests play the sound out of their radio speakers, as the person that forgot could sit next to someone that didn't.  I have 2 small battery operated vintage AM only radios that I use for loaners.  But you could pickup a couple small cheap units for loaners if you wanted to.

5) Center CH speaker do you miss anything without a CH speaker as far as dialog.
No, it's mixed down to stereo in my setup. 

5) Any other disadvantages or pluses?
Pluses, The biggest advantage in my opinion is once the transmitter and antenna are initially setup it's about the simplest sound system you can get if you using FM, as AM can be finicky and prone to interference.  Also if your theater is in a large area there are no wires running to speakers or the need to bury wires or the cost of wireless speakers.  Also I know another person that broadcast their sound that lives in an area where the houses are really close together.  He requires his guests to use headphones, so for him it is a way to contain his sound so the neighbors don't hear it. 

Disadvantage:  If your running an illegal high power setup you could potentially attract the attention of the FCC. Sound quality can be dependent on the radio it is played out of.






As always SR you answered the questions very well....thanks

I did come up with a couple more.


1) When I have been in a park like setting with people listening to the same songs or station you sometimes get a delay in sound from other radios like an echo or something where the sound is slightly distorted? If I am not saying it right in short the total sound is just a little distorted. maybe because the sound is different on each player &/or the level from different devices from different directions. Do you get this also?

I have never really experienced this as a problem per-say, I do know what your talking about though.  It has to do mostly with two things, the radio receiver and how fast it turns the radio waves into sound.  And It can be made worse by low quality transmitter that doesn't send out a really good clean signal to radio.  There is a little bit more to it than that and when I have a little more time I'll detail it a little better.  But your talking about milli-seconds in difference, it's not enough to make lips look out of sink with the audio even if it's happening during the movie.  Your only going to notice the if you step back from the audience, otherwise your ear is pretty much just going to hear the nearest or loudest radio to you. 

2) This one is a tough one to ask....but some fun/b-grade movies are fun to talk during.......don't shoot me but some of the 50,s sci-fi is fun to talk to your friends during....I can't be the only one LOL . Do you lose that with head phones & radios?

I have never required my audience to wear headphones, though I have asked a few folks that I thought had their radio so loud that the neighbors might get upset to wear headphones or turn down the volume.  It's pretty rare now that we have gotten rid of the wild partyers that we used to have trouble with but that's another story.....   But to answer your question, with radios I would say no not at all.  If you were requiring all of your guests to were headphone then I would think that would really reduce talking of any kind. 


Hey thanks for your time?

No problem, I really enjoy transmitting or broadcasting sound so it's actually been a lot of fun to get to talk about it.
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2015, 02:00:00 pm »

SR - Thanks for the detailed write-up and explanation.

One thing I would suggest for the next time you edit this page is to quickly describe right off what you're going to elaborate on.
People can arrive on to a page like this without any idea what they're going to read about.

I saw something about "broadcast" and wondered, is this going to be using an FM broadcast device, then a receiver with amplified outputs, or what exactly. It wasn't until I read way down in your article that I realized it was solely a broadcast device, and people would bring their own radios. Even in "Setup" it still wasn't quite clear what the whole setup was actually going to be.

Something like "I'm going to describe how to broadcast the audio via a radio transmitter so that the audience can listen using radios that they bring with them" would be great.
Maybe it's there and I missed it.
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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2015, 01:26:14 pm »

SR - Thanks for the detailed write-up and explanation.

One thing I would suggest for the next time you edit this page is to quickly describe right off what you're going to elaborate on.
People can arrive on to a page like this without any idea what they're going to read about.

I saw something about "broadcast" and wondered, is this going to be using an FM broadcast device, then a receiver with amplified outputs, or what exactly. It wasn't until I read way down in your article that I realized it was solely a broadcast device, and people would bring their own radios. Even in "Setup" it still wasn't quite clear what the whole setup was actually going to be.

Something like "I'm going to describe how to broadcast the audio via a radio transmitter so that the audience can listen using radios that they bring with them" would be great.
Maybe it's there and I missed it.
No I didn't say "I'm going to describe how to broadcast the audio via a radio transmitter so that the audience can listen using radios that they bring with them" And I don't know what your background is with broadcasting so forgive me if I say stuff you already know.  Perhaps in version 3.0 I'll try to make it more clear what I'll be focusing on, but the article is meant to be flexible.  There are tons of different potential ways of broadcasting sound via FM or AM setups that are perfectly great and highly variable depending on the amount of money someone wants to spend and the area they need to cover.  You could absolutely take what I have written here and apply to the scenario that you area describing.  Hypothetically, if a person had there PJ inside their house and shot the image though a window on to the movie screen outside, one could broadcast your sound from inside the house pick it up on a receiver outside the house on a deck or yard and then feed it to speakers. 

In my scenario at my theatre, folks bring there own radio, but it doesn't have to be that way for sure.  If your thinking of broadcasting your sound to one dedicated receiver and you have questions I'd be happy to do the best I can to answer them, and some other folks my jump in as well.  Also I see that's your first post, so welcome to the forum!
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