Meetinghouse Webcast Communicator Audio Drift

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
tyler3283
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Meetinghouse Webcast Communicator Audio Drift

Postby tyler3283 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:50 am

Hello all -

Was just called as a tech specialist and have a lot on my mind regarding the current state of our buildings AV setup. I'll save those thoughts for another post . . . for now I need to figure out the sporadic performance I'm getting with our Meetinghouse Webcast Communicator. I've tested it multiple times with multiple sources and always get the same results. Here are the issues I'm getting:

A. the quality is poor due to the fact all sources are older SD sources (including our camera).

B. The video always lags the audio - enough to be very distracting while watching it.

I get the same result whether I run the MWC in test mode or actual broadcast mode. I also get the same results if I run the webcast using a source that weaves it's way through the mess of RF cables / splitters and DA's (again, I'll save that rant for another time) OR if I skip the infrastructure and directly connect the source to the WMC. I thought for sure the setup we have was introducing the issue but turns out it's not.

So, in my mind, that points to either A. The WMC box itself, B. Our Internet Bandwidth or C. Whatever the church is doing on their end before the signal is sent back out. Our internet is not the fastest but the results I get upon testing should be sufficient. No idea how to test if it's the box or the church. I'm kicking around skipping the box altogether and using the software tool and a PC to see if I get better results. Before I do though, anyone else ever deal with this?

Thanks in advance.

Tyler

ksolsen
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Postby ksolsen » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:40 am

Tyler - do you know when you purchased your Communicator? It is possible that it is part of a small batch that had some audio/video sync issues. If you want to send me the serial number from the unit, we can take a look. There is a potential driver update that may fix the issue.

In the meantime, I would definitely try the software and see if you see similar issues. It should not be related to anything happening on the webcast servers, but it would be informative to see what differences you have between the two methods.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

tyler3283
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Postby tyler3283 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:47 am

Hey Kurt -

Thank you for the prompt reply. The serial number on our unit is 8183320.

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Postby tyler3283 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:03 pm

I ran some more tests today . . .

Using our HP Compaq Computer (1.64Ghz Dual Core, 4GB RAM, Win 7) I downloaded the newest version of Meetinghouse Webcast Software and added a wmv file to the media folder (wont play mp4???). I created a webcast and let it go for a bit. Everything seemed smooth on the transmission side. On the receiving end, it was a different story. . . . It took a VERY long time to start and when it did there was no audio. I waited a bit and the audio eventually kicked in but was of course ahead of the video. Then the video would freeze for a minute while the audio kept playing. Then the audio would stop . . . . . etc. It was a mess. Granted, I was testing it from within the building so I left and went home to test it to make sure bandwidth was not an issue. Same experience. When I got back to the building, the webcast had thrown up an error and quit.

I decided to give the MWC box another try. I popped a DVD in the DVD player and routed it to the webcast. Created the webcast (quality = High) and sent it out over the wire (webcast mode, not test). I went home again to make sure bandwidth didn't play a role and here is a link to the result: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6849758/Webcast%20Sample.mov The audio is not terrible in this one but you can still tell it's off. One thing that may be a problem is that I only have Macs and have to play the .asf using a plugin for any browser (Flip4Mac) though I did test it with VLC player which plays it natively and got the same result. Like the software webcast test I did, when I returned to the building the MWC box had thrown an error. The LCD message said, "Link Error!!" and the error light was solid red.

Just for the record, here are the results of speedtest.lds.org so we can see if it may be part of the problem:

FROM CHURCH
down - 10.92Mbps
up - .82Mbps
Latency - 40ms
Jitter - 1ms
Packet Loss - 0%

FROM MY HOUSE
down - 19.05Mbps
up - 4.24Mbps
Latency - 27ms
Jitter - 1ms
Packet Loss - 0%

I am concerned about the upload speed (or lack thereof) at our building. Do you think this might be causing part or all of the problem? Last week I took our AV closet off the firewall and plugged it directly into the DSL modem to avoid any potential lag issues.

Anyone have any thoughts or similar experiences?

tyler3283
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Postby tyler3283 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:38 am

Quick update -

I took the MWC box home and ran a test from there to see if bandwidth at the church may have been the issue. It solved the audio sync issue but I still had a few hiccups every now and then where the stream would halt for almost a second then pick back up. Not sure what the deal is but it's a step in the right direction.

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Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:15 am

tyler3283 wrote:I took the MWC box home and ran a test from there to see if bandwidth at the church may have been the issue. It solved the audio sync issue...

I was going to recommend you try that. I also discovered it really needs solid, consistent upload bandwidth to function properly.


tyler3283 wrote:...but I still had a few hiccups every now and then where the stream would halt for almost a second then pick back up. Not sure what the deal is but it's a step in the right direction.

Suggestion... Try running your tests at home again, but this time remove the cover on the MWC box. On one particular MWC I used, I found the lack of airflow inside the box was overheating something causing it to "glitch" after running perfect for 20-30 minutes. Running it topless completely fixed the problem. Worth a shot.
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tyler3283
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Postby tyler3283 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Thanks Mike -

I'll give that a shot. I'm going to recommend the sake upgrade their DSL plan to the next level since it's currently capped at .85Mbps. I'll also consider removing the cover though I believe there's a big red sticker on the side that says if I remove it I void the warranty . . .

In any case, this box is very frustrating. I have yet to get a consistent stream out of it no matter which bandwidth I choose to stream. Low and Medium yielded worse results than high did. I was curious about how they would perform - I expected the video / audio quality to be degraded but for the stream to be smoother since there would be less bandwidth required. Instead, the video played briefly then just locked up - and I never did get any audio. Just don't get it.

I just wish I knew the box was functioning properly so I could eliminate it from the equation. . . .

harddrive
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Postby harddrive » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:18 am

Tyler, based on my experience with DSL, the upload speed on it will not go much above what you got. I would highly recommend looking to discontinue DSL and go to either a fiber connection or a coaxial cable. I don't know the service providers in your area, but DSL will not, even though I like it, provide the bandwidth that you will need. If going to cable or fiber isn't an option, then I would suggest that you look at using PVC because it can tolerate the bandwidth restrictions that you have said.

I had to disconnect my DSL at the stake center in favor for FIOS from Verizon. I was able to get 15 megs down and 5 megs up. So far none of the broadcast that I have done has any problem with bandwidth. So look at bandwidth first and then everything else.

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Postby michaelfish » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:14 am

the upload speed on it will not go much above what you got
Note: not all DSL providers are the same. We just upgraded our Stake Center to 10.83 Mbps down and 4.21 Mbps up. I'm sure there are a lot of factors which determine the maximum throughput such as how old the equipment is, how far away from the node(?), quality/age of their infrastructure, etc. I've sometimes had to reboot a client's DSL box and the speed increased.

Have you tested with a webcast with the quality = Low?

In the past, our Stake has been asked to host regional broadcasts for our area but since we had on .74 Mbps up, we opted out (reliability and picture quality concerns). Last month, we talked to the FM group and had our service upgraded to 10.83 MHz down and 4.21 MHz up. I hope your talks with the FM group are fruitful and beneficial for picture quality but I don't think just upgrading DSL service is going to solve the problem with the Communicator.

If you're concerned about cooling the Communicator and worried about removing the sticker, Try this: Tape a vacuum cleaner to the fan output to force more air-flow!

Cheap Laptop Worked! Two weeks ago I was helping a neighboring Stake with their Stake conference and we had a complete broadcast failure 30 minutes before the start of the meeting (we had thoroughly tested Friday and Saturday because Elder Oaks was the guest speaker). Since I had my laptop already set up for the PowerPoint hymns/speaker overlays, we just used it and the LDS Meetinghouse Webcast software to broadcast the conference. What was really surprising to me was we were able to run the webcast AND the PowerPoint slides from the same cheap, $279 Lenovo (AMD Athlon II Dual-Core 2.10 GHz, 3 GB RAM, running 32-bit Windows 7). I totally expected to have problems but to our surprise, the broadcast was a huge success. (I have to pause here and give credit where credit is due. While we were all pulling out our hair trying to get things working, we paused and prayed for help...and we got it!)

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Postby Mikerowaved » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:50 am

michaelfish wrote:Note: not all DSL providers are the same. We just upgraded our Stake Center to 10.83 Mbps down and 4.21 Mbps up. I'm sure there are a lot of factors which determine the maximum throughput such as how old the equipment is, how far away from the node(?), quality/age of their infrastructure, etc.


Very true. One of our buildings on DSL could be upgraded to a higher speed tier, while the other could not. With DSL, distance from the CO (or nearest relay point) has always been a major factor.

michaelfish wrote:If you're concerned about cooling the Communicator and worried about removing the sticker, Try this: Tape a vacuum cleaner to the fan output to force more air-flow!


The ones I've worked with don't have any fan, but your point is well taken. Instead of a vacuum, I would mount a small 80mm or 120mm fan next to the vent slots on the side to force some airflow through the box. It shouldn't take very much to make a difference.
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