I don’t often get time to sit down and really take an in depth analysis of software to determine suitability as a replacement of an existing system. Over December and January, I did just that though using the trial period and a number of emails with the developer.
The reason I undertook this study was because windows 7 support was coming to an end and I would need to upgrade to a later operating system forcing me to either upgrade the version of playout software being Simian or determine whether it was time for a replacement software.
I’ve been a user of Wavestation/Simian since the mid 90s, it was one of the first broadcast applications to be able to be downloaded from the internet and had a pretty good trial option. For a long time it has been based on a Microsoft Access 98 Database background. That being said, it’s 2020 now and that’s quite a historic backend to be using today.
When I way up the cost of the professional Audioscience sound cards for time stretching capabilities and the amount of changes to lock down options in the windows operating system for Simian it just seemed at first glance too much work and more expensive. Not to mention if you don’t buy a support contract you are stuck with an online user forum for support.
So I first came across Stationplaylist (SPL) while working at Sunshine FM, one of my first duties in that role was to get the traffic software Natural Log to reconcile what had played to air from SPL. Since that time I’ve found that there are quite a lot of community radio stations using the product. It is incredibly stable even though some people compare it to Winamp which I think is unfair. I believe it was originally a German Product that was bought by a NZ Uni Professor (Ross Levis) who continues to supply and develop the product based on user feedback.
Email support for a minimal yearly fee has a 48hr turnaround, there is an online helpfile but no on call support although I’m aware of one business in Australia at the moment looking to provide such support. If there is one thing I wish it did have that would be a downloadable user manual.
From user interface perspective it is much clearer what is going on compared to Simian, toggling automate on/off button shows just how simple it can be for your playlisted presenters.
One of the features that drew me to SPL was that it has the ability to top up songs, this is handy when a playlist can’t be found or there is not enough music to fill to the next hour and uses a top up folder specified at anytime. Also it comes with 2 copies of each software module which makes training and a backup playout system readily available including monitoring software to ensure something is playing out.
Now I’ve been using Natural Log for Traffic log building and Natural Music for music log creation. I prefer these to the internal scheduler that comes with SPL, it allows much more control over the song selection rules and takes into account top up songs on reconciling music played. At first I thought I may need to just stick with the internal scheduler for music as I thought it would be too complex to introduce Natural Music during the trial period but was pleasantly surprised.
Importing the existing library was quite easy too, it brought metadata across fine even though I used a cut number and wav extension for filenames. Doing a file scan in the metadata editor then sets cue points and segue points based on audio level thresholds. (Simian doesn’t due an initial cue point, you need to remove the head silence from the audio file). I had already set intro points and hook points from Simian so Ross said he can write an import script for this for a small fee which I intend to take up on purchase. My only disappointment is that I feel that compared to Simians BSI Info Editor (Metadata), it is not as easy to set manual audio response points. The metadata editor that comes with SPL allows a list export that can then be imported into Natural Music after some manual data manipulation.
There was minimal effort required to import Traffic from Natural Log, the bulk of the issues I had come from integrating Natural Music as this is where most of the background commands other than actual music will actually be transferred from.
The voice tracking module is an absolute dream to use, no longer do I need to run a separate program scan to provide voicetrackers with intro and outro music to assist with laying their voicetracks. Easy to see information for a time call and also ensuring the hour is filled enough to meet the next top of hour while also benefiting from software based time stretching in playout.
From an administrator point of view, being able to control what users can access when using the voicetracking module even gave me more peace of mind.
I ended up creating a few example training videos of how the software would function for the station I’m trialling for and I’m open to sharing these with anyone interested in viewing them. Just get in touch! I might take a look at mAirList too before I make the final decision. Look forward to your comments on this post too…
Consumer Habits – Our fur babies!
I generally take my cat to see the Vet once or twice a year although recently I had to take him due to an abscess that they believe happened when a cat bit him. The poor little guy had to wear a cone for a few weeks but is much happier now. I generally get his worming treatments from eBay and his Ziwi food plus other accessories from Pet Stock. There has been a lot of talk amongst people about pet insurance. I can say for certain I can’t do without it, my pet is 4 years old and there have been 3 emergency events that I’ve needed to take care of him. I am interested in finding out what you do about cleaning your pets teeth though? getting the vet to do it is incredibly expensive outright.
Bargains this week to watch out for…Nothing really worth mentioning!