The fall convention circuit is coming to a close, and the NAB Radio
Show and AES Conventions played the leading roles. Add to this mix
several regional and state conventions, and it makes for a busy time of
the year. I try to attend as many of these conventions as I can, but it
is impossible to attend them all.
The fall conventions don't carry the same big product introductions
as the spring NAB convention, but there are a few bright spots. Some of
them are covered in this issue's New Products section. Instead of new
products, I find that the sessions and seminars at the fall conventions
are the real gems of the shows. This year was no exception, but there
was a different twist.
With a few exceptions, the sessions at the NAB Radio Show for the
most part were a rehash of the topics from last year, with IBOC again
taking the spotlight.
The surprising twist was at the AES convention, which hosted three
radio-specific sessions. Attending the radio sessions at AES afforded
me the opportunity to hear familiar information while I observed
non-radio attendees learning something completely new.
The session on audio processing for broadcast included a panel of
the leading names in broadcast processing, past, present and future.
While the topic often incites strong passion from the participants,
this panel was quite civil. There was a good deal of technical
information presented, but unfortunately, the non-broadcast audience
probably did not benefit as much as a broadcast audience would
If nothing else, the non-broadcasters may have gained some insight
into what happens to an audio signal when it is processed for
broadcast. Mastering studios have been borrowing from our bag of tricks
with multiband compression and clipping for several years, which is
becoming a problem as the cascaded processing heavily degrades the
signal. The problem is compounded once any perceptual audio encoding in
introduced to the signal.
This will be a slow process for the studios to understand. They want
their productions to sound the way things sound on the radio. Two years
ago, I helped coordinate an AES paper on radio audio processing that
was authored by Bob Orban and Frank Foti. I saw this year's panel as
the next step.
Another panel looked at digital broadcasting in the United States. I
had hoped that this last radio panel would really let radio shine.
Unfortunately, the title did not accurately reflect the true nature of
the material. There was an element on a multichannel audio broadcast in
Germany, which was really a video broadcast channel with no video. I
wouldn't call that radio in its truest sense.
The panel included Tony Massiello from XM Satellite Radio, David
Layer from the NAB/NRSC and Leonard Kahn from Kahn Communications. I
was disappointed that an Ibiquity representative was not present for a
direct presentation, but Layer gave a good overview of the current
status of IBOC.
From a typical AES attendee's point of view after attending the session, digital radio only means satellite radio. This is true today,
but there was no clear indication that terrestrial digital radio is
just moments away. To make it worse, Kahn went on about his Cam-D
system, with no evidence or hard data to support that the system has
been tested on the air.
The audio and consumer markets appear ready for the digital radio
transition. But, we, as broadcasters, still have much work to do to
educate and inform the masses as to the possibilities of terrestrial
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