Here at KOOP-FM, we installed an Axia system in 2006 (and reinstalled another in 2008 after a fire). Prior to deciding on this system we had visited an even earlier Axia installation at our local Univision cluster.
We've been happy with the reliability, software upgrades, and service. Our engineering team is all volunteers, and we did our initial setup with a few volunteers who brought their personal laptops and few cases of Lone Star.
Maybe you’re considering new studios and are wondering if your operation needs something as capable as AoIP. Here are a couple of things to consider based on our experience.
Look carefully at the feature set and user interfaces. Have some of your on air people look at the pictures of the control surfaces, and ask them to comment. Maybe talk through some of their wish list to see what they want to do in the future.
One thing to note: when we planned out our studios we did surveys and interviews of our on air people to see what they wanted in a new setup. We didn't as many new ideas or good feedback as we wanted, partly because they just didn't know what the possibilities were. We got better results when we drilled down on specific pain points or threw out new scenarios — like handling phone calls or having a producer in a different room. Having a highly configurable system - like Axia - has let us find ways to make really clever solutions.
Might your plant grow in the future? AOIP systems are by nature distributed systems. So they tend to grow and morph with your needs. As your needs grow, you add more components. In this way they can be a good choice if you have modest needs at the moment, but anticipate those needs growing in the future. Also consider the benefits of devices that connect directly in order to simplify the system.
Finally: as with any highly configurable system, it will help to have a plan before you start assembling it. We used spreadsheets to list all of our inputs and outputs, IP addresses, etc. We put those together before we finalized our selection of a system, and then continued working on them before the install date. When the time came we just needed to transfer what we already wrote to the actual hardware.
Best of luck with your planning!