News from the Convention
What's the Buzz at NAB2005?
By Chriss Scherer, editor
During the convention, there were three items that were repeatedly heard or seen. On of these was IBOC in general. Ibiquity's HD Radio and DRM were the most common. There was some talk about and a great deal of interest in the DRE FM Extra system. The Cam-D system from Leonard Kahn was not seen or heard.
Specific to HD Radio, multicasting received a great deal of attention. While unveiled in 2003 as Tomorrow Radio -- a joint project of NPR, Harris and Kenwood -- This year saw several demonstrations of the technology. Officially called Supplemental Program Service (SPS) by Ibiquity, the industry is using the term "multicast" to more cleanly describe it. This also eliminated confusion with the term "multichannel", which can connote surround sound.
Finally, podcasting was a big item. Many companies are offering ways to provide podcasts to listeners, which some broadcasters see as a fierce competitor to their terrestrial broadcasts, while others embrace it as a new revenue stream. Regardless, it is a technology that must be watched. As evidence of the importance of this technology, look at how many companies -- including the NAB -- offered Ipods as giveaways.
NAB's Fritts Says Farewell
In his opening remarks on April 18, Eddie Fritts, NAB president and CEO, noted some of the highlights and awkward moments of his 23 years at the NAB helm. Overall, his sentiments were positive and noted some of the accomplishments that he attributes to the NAB. He also indicated the four items that top the list of upcoming NAB actions: Rewrite the Telecommunications Act; the digital television transition; the transition to HD Radio; Indecency.
Read Fritts' speech at the NAB Convnetion website at www.nabshow.com/press/nab2005_eddiefritts_speech.htm.
NAB2005 Attendance Figures
Las Vegas - Apr 19, 2005 - The NAB released attendance figures for the convention. There were 104,427 registered attendees, including 23,401 International attendees. This is an increase of nearly 7,000 attendees from last year.
NAB2004 final attendance was 97,544, which included 22,320 International attendees.
The final attendance numbers will be released following the convention.
The Radio magazine Pick Hits
The Top 15 New Products at the Convention
The Radio magazine Pick Hit Awards were announced at the end of the day on April 22 at NAB2005. The Pick Hits, first introduced in 1985, are the original technology award presented at the convention. The Radio magazine Pick Hit Awards recognize the 15 best new radio products shown at the NAB convention. The products are selected by a panel of radio industry professionals and not by the magazine editorial staff. The editorial staff serves only as a moderator during the selection process and does not vote on or nominate any products.
Because the products are chosen at the show by radio professionals, the selected products are indicative of true industry choices. The number of winners is limited to 15 products. The nine judges act independently and anonymously.
The recipients of the 15 Pick Hit Awards for NAB2005 are:
Gen 2 HD Radio. The latest development in HD Radio allows stations to split the function of encoding audio and data signals from the function of modulating the digital signal. This is accomplished with the Exporter/Importer functions of the HD Radio system.
Complete descriptions will be printed in the June issue of Radio magazine, as well as the complete rules and the names of the judges.
Eye on IBOC
NRSC Approves Digital Radio Standard
Las Vegas - Apr 16, 2005 - In a meeting held during the NAB2005 Convention, the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) approved an in-band on-channel digital radio broadcasting standard for the United States. NRSC-5 will allow the radio industry to accelerate its transition to digital broadcasting.
The technology specified by the NRSC-5 standard was developed by Ibiquity and has undergone extensive testing and evaluation under the guidance of the NRSC. The FCC has given broadcasters interim authority to implement Ibiquity's HD Radio system, which is a specific implementation of NRSC-5. The FCC is expected to use this NRSC standard as it crafts final rules for digital radio broadcasting for the AM and FM broadcast bands.
"AM broadcasters and their listeners will be amazed by the quality improvement. AM broadcasts minus the noise and static that typically plague the band is an astounding technological breakthrough for listeners," said Milford Smith, NRSC DAB subcommittee co-chairman.
Beasley Broadcasts HD Radio Multicast and Data Services
Las Vegas - Beasley Broadcast Group station Star 102.7 KSTJ-FM broadcast an HD Radio multicast during the convention. The station created a special made-for-NAB digital multicast program channel with separate program-associated data, two real-time traffic alert systems and other navigational content.
Several HD Radio Products Debut at NAB2005
ADA, Polk, Radiosophy, Rotel, Sanyo and Yamaha all introduced new HD Radio receivers at NAB2005 in response to a growing number of HD Radio stations on the air. Polk Audio and Radiosophy debuted HD Radio tabletop receivers and Sanyo introduced an in-dash receivers. Yamaha, ADA and Rotel exhibited home receivers.
Panasonic debuted the industry's first car audio receiver with integrated HD Radio tuner in the spring of 2004 and recently introduced its second-generation mobile CD receiver with integrated HD Radio, model CQ-CB8901U.
Products from the Floor
Continental Electronics 816HD
The 816HD line can transmit analog and HD Radio signals at power levels of 10kW to 50kW. Continental is also developing an IBOC exciter for use with the 816HD system. The 816HD builds on the 816R series transmitter. The single tube PA (4CX20000E) has been upgraded to work with the analog and digital signal demands. Existing 816R-C transmitters and newer can be upgraded to 816HD performance.
This 1RU audio processor provides three-band expansion and compression with adjustable band division parameters. The unit can be operated in stereo or as two separate mono mic/line channels. The unit features continuously variable gain (mic level to line level), analog and digital inputs and outputs, phantom power with protection, multi-level password protection, signal symmetry control, polarity flip and a quicksave and compare function. It accepts 44.1kHz or 48kHz sampling rates. The front-panel preset and recall settings can be protected. In addition, the processing functions include a four-band parametric EQ; tuneable high pass, low pass and notch filter; programmable de-esser; EQ and compressor signal chain swap; automatic gain control; and output gating and peak limiting. A real-time FFT spectrum density readout is available through the Ethernet control.
Middle Atlantic PD-2420SC-NS
This extra-long, slim power strip provides a combination of 22 15-amp outlets and two 20-amp outlets that are staggered to provide spacing for wall-wart power supplies. The 20 amp outlets are placed at either end of the strip. The power strip is UL and CSA listed. It ships with a 10-foot power cord.
Linear Acoustic Aeromax-HDFMM
Designed for analog FM, HD Radio, multicast and surround-sound processing, the Aeromax-HDFM provides multi-band processing and includes an SRS Circle Surround encoder. The display shows operating parameters and can also show a spectrum analyzer plot of the audio and an oscilloscope pattern. A headphone jack and USB port are on the front panel.
AKG CCS microphone series
The CCS Series includes six dynamic microphones, each engineered for specific applications. While many of these were designed for instrument use, they all feature high sound-pressure level handling in road-worthy packages. The D 88 S features a supercardioid pattern, and the D 77 S features a cardioid element. Both have an XLR connector and an on/off switch. The D 55 S and D 44 S are both cardioid mics with permanently attached cables. The D 11 XLR and D 22 XLR have integrated stand adapters.
Axia Audio Element
A new control surface for the Axia audio network, the console can provide four program buses, four aux send buses, dedicated talk and preview functions on each channel, one-touch record and monitor sections, and up to 32 mix-minus outputs. A VGA monitor displays all metering, clock timer, status and options info. A variety of fader modules are available, all of which include 100mm conductive-plastic faders and heavy-duty switches with button-guards. The basic four-fader module is available to control typical sources, the four-fader phone module adds special functions for control of telephone hybrids, and the two-fader phone module with built-in call controller features Telos Status Symbols to provide feedback during talk shows.
Backbone Networks Backbone Broadcast
Provided as a new service, Backbone Networks offers Internet hosting services for streaming media as a turnkey package. The station operates the playlist-based console, and all server issues and database functions are handled by Backbone. Users must run Backbone Radio Pro version 3. The software can be used through any high-speed Internet connection, making the studio portable.
Arrakis Systems Connected Radio
This service lets stations transfer audio, events, logs and text between multiple stations, station personnel, remotes, program originators and remote talent. The station provides a PC with Internet access at each site and Arrakis does the rest. Files can be transferred by dragging and dropping. The service provides the functions and links for the user. Once files are received, they can automatically be routed to the appropriate destination, regardless of the software or automation system that will use the file.
More Convention News
Radio via the Cell Phone
Transmitting radio programming via a cell phone was discussed by several exhibitors at the NAB convention. Motorola unveiled the Iradio service, which allows users to download pre-selected audio content from a range of providers on their home computers, dump it on their cell phones and listen to it on their car stereos. Similar to a music download with an Ipod, the service will cost about $7 per month.
Infinity Broadcasting plans to broadcast its programs to mobile phones. The plan lets cell phone users view song titles and artists' names, check concert dates, buy tickets, ring tones and other content, and participate in station promotions. Infinity, a unit of Viacom has not reached a deal with a mobile phone operator to carry the service, called Visual Radio. Nokia is building handsets for the service, which Infinity is developing together with Hewlett-Packard. Visual Radio exhibited at the convention.
Clear Channel has also announced that it will offer program services via cell phones by the end of 2005.
Digital Radio Express Signs Armstrong and Bext
San Jose, CA - Apr 22, 2005 - Armstrong Transmitter Corporation and Bext Corporation have signed with Digital Radio Express to be authorized dealers for DRE's digital FM subcarrier system called FM Extra. DRE exhibited FM Extra at NAB2005 at the booths of the two transmitter manufacturers. DRE touts that its system can broadcast up to 16 program streams using a station's existing equipment.
Neural Audio Surround Technology Passes Independent Test
Las Vegas - Apr 20, 2005 - In testing conducted by Audio Research Labs at the AT&T Research multi-channel listening room in Florham Park, NJ, Neural Audio's surround sound technology scored high marks in a controlled listening study comparing Neural Audio's technology to other competitive systems for digital broadcast applications. Using a multi-stimulus test with hidden reference and anchor (MUSHRA) testing, trained listeners evaluated selected 5.1 source material for levels of discreteness and presence of artifacts. During the testing, the Neural 5225 and SEE system outperformed the matrix systems by a wide margin and delivered performance perceptually close to the source material.
"We performed standard tests for evaluation of surround sound technologies and it is clear that the Neural solution can deliver the artist's original intent without significant compromise or the use of side data," noted Dr. Schuyler Quackenbush, president, Audio Research Labs and chairman of the MPEG Audio Subgroup that led the test efforts.
The test was conducted using AAC at 96kb/s to carry the coded music material. Full data on the testing will be posted on the Neural website at www.neuralaudio.com.
The test coordinator, Dr.Schuyler Quackenbush, is an expert in audio signal processing, audio signal compression, assessment of speech and audio quality. He has contributed heavily to the MPEG Advanced Audio Coding standard, and is the chairman of the International Standards Organization ISO/MPEG Audio subgroup.
Ward-Beck Systems RLM24
The 2RU meter unit accepts 24 balanced (110 ohm) AES/EBU digital audio signal inputs via three-pin pluggable screw terminations located on the rear panel. The RLM24 provides 24 stereo LED bar graph displays. Each bar graph displays VU and peak information simultaneously. Below each meter pair is an LED illuminated push-button switch. If the input signal is lost the LED in the push-button switch turns on and the internal alarm is sounded. To cancel the audible alarm, depress the push-button. The LED remains lit until the signal is restored. The loss of signal threshold is adjustable. The unit houses two removable power supplies in a dual-redundant configuration. The Central Configuration Panel is a 1RU half-width unit that sets and displays the configuration parameters of all the meters. The RS-422 control network is connected in a daisy-chain through all the frames, up to 12 units, in the system.
OMB AM 2000
The AM 2000 is an FM amplifier that includes four independent 600W amplifier modules designed with high-efficiency MOSFETs, external switching power supply for 190 to 250V operation, elliptic LPF and digital telemetry output. It includes temperature, over-current, SWR and power supply failure alarm. The LCD display shows forward and reflected power, dc voltage and dc current.
Replacing the BD500, the BD600 increases the delay capability to 80 seconds, which is twice as long as the BD500's capability. A Panic feature allows a .WAV file stored on a compact flash card to be played when the Panic button is pressed. While the file is played the delay buffer rebuilds, allowing programming to continue in safety as soon as the jingle has completed. The unit can be controlled through the front panel or through a control interface, such as the optional BD600 Extended Remote. The unit also includes Microprecision Delay to set up to 10 seconds of delay adjustable in 100 nanosecond increments. This is useful to create the audio delay needed for HD Radio.