The annual trek to Las Vegas is behind us, and overall impressions of the convention are positive. As always, the foot traffic on the convention floor was heavier on Monday and Tuesday, but Thursday still saw a reasonable number of people still making their rounds. Conversations with attendees and exhibitors were marked with mostly positive remarks about the success of the show. It appears that broadcasting is on an upswing.
The most frequently asked question on the convention floor sought information on new products being displayed. If you weren't able to make the rounds to every booth, don't worry. We covered it for you. The March and April issues of Radio magazine had lots of information about products being unveiled, as did the NAB Insider e-mail newsletter, but they only scratched the surface. On the following pages you'll find details about some of the products that were kept secret until the convention doors opened. You'll also find the top picks of our Pick Hits judges with the 15 top new products at the convention. The Radio magazine Pick Hits are the oldest technology awards from the convention, and our panel of judges has excelled in its task to find the best of the best. Because the Pick Hits are limited to 15 products, there are many introductions that do not receive the honor. The Pick Hits are included on the following pages. You can see the list of the judges and the official rules as well.
Because of the scope of convention, it's impossible to include every new product introduction even in the pre- and post-show issues. Look for more great products in the New Products section of upcoming issues, as well as the annual Product Source accompanying the September issue.
The sights of NAB2005
--Chriss Scherer, editor
File transfer service
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.
Audio router controller
Audioarts Net: The small station router, which is similar to the Wheatnet 4864, features a secure audio network. Eight network ports are standing by for audio inputs and outputs or console interface. The expandable controller features a status indicator LED display and is capable of switching 1,024 channels and control. Via a high-speed network, it can connect studios and operation centers while combining shared resources and wiring in the technical operations center.
Tube-final HD Radio transmitter
816HD: Building on the success of the 816R series of transmitter, Continental has adapted the transmitter to the 816HD, which is capable of amplifying HD Radio signals. Currently available in power levels up to 35kW, the transmitter uses the same overal design as the 816R-C series transmitter, except for a 4CX20000E tube final. Additional components are upgraded for the linear amplification, including a linear driver stage. The transmitter efficiency is about 65 percent. Existing 816R-C series transmitters can be upgraded to 816HD status.
Six-channel audio controller
ACS-300: Two versions of this product are available. The ACS-300 accepts six balanced audio channels and on command dim the level of these channels by 10dB, 20dB, 30dB or completely. The ACS-300V provides remote volume control of all channels. The unit offers a muting capability for control rooms that monitor 5.1 audio systems. All audio connections are made via XLR connectors. A 15-pin DB connector provides the control function for dimming or muting by connecting the appropriate pin to ground. Remote status for dim and mute are also provided.
High-power FM exciter
XE250: The XE series of exciters has a new addition: the XE250. The full-featured 250W broadcast FM exciter that is also suited for use as a low-power, stand-alone transmitter. It uses an updated, highly linear modulator for quality sound without overshoot. The exciter features a comprehensive LCD-based interface for all parameter settings and display. It provides N+1 compatibility with system control, settings and monitoring via RS-232 or TCP/IP. The TCP/IP feature also allows remote control, setting and monitoring of the exciter and transmitter via any Java-enabled Web browser. The quick-view LEDs show status information, including system normal, mute and modulation alarm.
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Frequency coordination software
Society of Broadcast Engineers
SBE Toolbox: Provided free of charge to SBE and affiliated frequency coordinators, this software uses a runtime version of Filemaker Pro so no additional software is required. The software will allow the user to import records used in the SBE's previous DOS-based software. It automatically calculates distance and bearing from latitude and longitude, has automatic e-mail and letter writing features and wireless mic and IFB tables built in. The software can be used for regular day-to-day local coordination as well as event coordination purposes.
Music scheduling system
Musicgen Pro: Musicgen Pro is a music scheduling system built for the Windows operating system. The unit features customized reporting capabilities, scheduling flexibility including non-musical events, single and enhanced hourly stack scheduling and automatic history reconciliation. The system is compatible with most automation systems, and offers an automatic software update feature.
XR50: As the fourth generation of Nautel 50kW AM transmitters, this modular HD Radio/DRM digital transmitter offers power modules that are hot-pluggable and can be removed and replaced without an interruption in transmission. For greater redundancy, the transmitter comes with a standby DDS exciter section including a modulation encoder with automatic changeover. It requires no manual tuning or adjustment, even with antenna mismatch corresponding to 1.5:1 VSWR at 50kW with 100 percent modulation.
Audio router controller
Wheatnet 4864: The new central switch for all Bridge routing systems, this controller offers 48 ports with each supporting 128 channels of audio inputs and outputs plus control data. Two 4864 units will provide auto-failover redundancy for the Bridge system. Onboard X-Y controllers provide rack room source/destination control and operators have access to all crosspoint metering and monitoring.
Digital FM exciter
DXP 50: A fully digital FM exciter with dual DSP processors, this exciter fits in 2RU and offers S/N exceeding 100dB, stereo separation better than 80dB and THD 0.001 percent. Like all Bext FM exciters, the DXP 50 is frequency agile and directly programmable.
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission: This terrain database is a three arc-second database for the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the lower two-thirds of Canada. The lower image shows the enhanced resolution compared to previous data. An elevation dataset for locations outside of the United States, the database is a real-world interferometric scan, so it includes buildings that may appear along with the topography. The SRTM is a joint project between the National Geospatial Intellegence Agency and the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. The data was collected using interferometry by the Space Shuttle Endeavour during February of 2000.
Element: The control surface features four program busses, four aux send busses, dedicated talk and preview functions on each channel, one-touch record and monitor sections and 32 mix-minus outputs. The system works in conjunction with the Axia Studio Mix Engine, an Intel-based mixing platform running real-time Linux. A standard SVGA LCD monitor displays all metering, clock timer, status and options info. This radio console can be configured to run stereo audio or discrete 5.1 surround programming.
Digital on-air console
PR&E Stereomixer Digital: The newest member of the Vistamax family of products, this all-digital console is designed for smaller markets or larger installations that need a mixer for smaller studio use. Available in a 4RU or a 15"×15" table-top package, the console supports four analog inputs, three digital inputs, two stereo analog and digital program outputs, as well as mix-minus, monitor and headphone outputs. It also features LED metering like the BMX Digital and RMX Digital.
Portable FM antenna
FMA-2VBP: This broadband antenna breaks apart for easy transport and sets up in moments. The unit is packaged in a standard hard shell shotgun case for shipping. Multiple bay versions with branch-fed harness and power divider are available. The antenna features 2kW per bay input power capability, ⅞" input to each bay, broadband 88MHz to 108MHz range and a heavy-duty brass construction.
Audio ingest system
Pocket Backend Server-Enterprise Edition: This system enables clustering for an ingest system and thereby provides the redundancy to ensure consistent operations. The technology also includes processing for an unlimited number of delivery chains. This package manages the content created and edited on the Pocketrec and transmitted via Pockettrans to the Pocket Backend Server. The server processes and distributes all data, audio, text, metadata and images directly into a radio automation system via export agents that are already available for most major radio automation systems.
Mictel: This is a portable field amplifier with telco, cellular and line level outputs with an internal limiter. The unit provides outputs for a telephone handset, cellular phone or balanced line level at up to +10dBm. Audio inputs are from phone handset, cell phone or balanced line. The unit operates 36 hours on two 9V alkaline batteries. Other features include active, balanced, mic/line input; long life potentiometers and VCA control of send audio; and a user-switchable, internal limiter that prevents clipping. The unit also features external power input with silent, auto-switching battery backup, and individual gain controls for send, receive and headphone levels.
HD Radio on-air processor
EXI Series: The EXI processors add new tools for HD Radio broadcasts. An onboard diversity delay method and an advanced clipper design help eliminate intermodulation distortion (IMD). The diversity delay capability moves the audio delay required to match the analog and HD Radio signal paths from the exciter to the audio processor. This simplifies the audio path and eliminates a failure point in the audio chain. The Lo IMD Clipper featured in the processor reduces the IMD that is created when using moderate to aggressive clipping to create competitive loudness.
Computer sound card
ASI6044: Replacing the ASI4344, this audio adapter provides multiple streams of MPEG Layer 3 playback and record. The sound card also provides four balanced stereo outputs, four balanced stereo inputs, four record streams and eight play streams. As well as MP3, other format choices include MPEG Layer 2, Dolby AC2 playback and linear PCM. The analog circuitry uses 24-bit oversampling converters to deliver more than 100dB of dynamic range with THD+N better than 0.002 percent. The adapter supports MRX and TSX technology. MRX enables playback, recording and digital mixing of multiple audio streams of any sample rate.
Portable HD Radio monitor
Navigator HD: This compact monitor allows engineers to conduct field surveys and on-site monitoring of a station's complete FM and HD Radio signal. The frequency-agile unit measures analog (RF, modulation, audio, pilot, RBDS) and HD Radio parameters (QI, C/N, DA, DAAI, SIS ID). The unit accessed with Windows-based PC software and includes a GPS receiver for mobile measurements. Measurements can be read from the front panel or stored on a PC. Data can be exported into third-party programs such as Mappoint for automatic mapping of signal parameters. It includes one headphone jack to verify tuning, plus multiplex and auxiliary connectors for custom applications. A calibrated FM antenna is included. Every data point and system setting can be accessed from a connected computer.
Facility management system
Axess: A scaleable network-based remote control and real time monitoring system, Axess provides system operators and engineers with accessibility to a SQL database; automatic RAS dial-up and dial on-demand; enhanced security with enhanced 128-bit encryption safeguards; an event viewer in crystal reports format; and SCL and OVI improvements. Using Internet Protocol, this system allows operators to monitor and control devices and equipment (sensors, RF controls, HVAC systems, security alarms, tower lights) including single or multiple transmitters at a site or multiple sites in different locations. The system is Web-enabled, has SNMP capability and serial device plug-ins that reduce installation and configuration time, powerful logging and alarm notification features and automated EAS functions.
Broadcast CD player
CD-601MKII: With its comprehensive remote control and flexible monitoring and playback options, users can select between online play (on the air) and monitor play (pre-listen), controlling whether CD playback reaches the on-air mixer or the monitoring device. The optional RC-601MKII remote control allows frame-accurate search using the jog wheel, direct location using numerical keys, index searches or flash starts. The player can save as many as 10 cue points per CD, controlled directly using the Flash Start function. Pitch control, auto cue with five threshold levels, auto read and CD text are also features of this product.
Monitor, control translators
Translator Monitor 2000: This product allows the user to monitor and control translators in remote towers via satellite and the Internet. From a desktop, users can monitor and manage the translator network, get alerts of impending failures and send commands to fix problems. Users can also change the alert thresholds or event triggers from a Web-enabled PC. The monitor is a plug-and-play solution consisting of the hardware monitor and Airsis Vision, the company's Web-based management service. It provides the near real-time monitoring, alerting and report of the translators.
Router display software
Vscreen: This software is a PC application for the company's console router systems. Vscreen allows users to design custom operator interfaces consisting of faders, meters, buttons and graphics in any desired configuration. Users configure the software application with drag and drop. Starting with a blank screen, console and router control elements are pulled onto the screen and placed where desired. Any combination of faders, meters, control buttons and custom graphics can be placed on the screen.
Analog stereo matrix switcher
ADMS 44.22: The ADMS 44.22 is a four input stereo AES and four input stereo analog matrix switcher with two independent stereo analog and AES outputs in a 1RU profile. Each input is equipped with a three band EQ, five types of filters and a leveler function. Any or all of the inputs may be mixed, faded, dimmed to either or both output pairs. Additional features include selectable stereo VU meters; headphone amplifier; powered monitor output; 16 × 16 GPIO port and RS-232/USB port. The switcher is also equipped with an expansion port allowing a second unit to be added, increasing the inputs to 16.
Digital Juke Box
Digital Juke Box: The software runs on Windows XP and supports MP2, MP3, WAV and Ogg files. It can operate in full automation, live assist modes, satellite or any combination of the three. There are 50 instant-fire hot buttons for cart emulation. The included music scheduler can build logs and playlists. All audio and data files are always safely backed up the production system. The software offers built-in digital editing, voice tracking, time and temperature announcing and on-screen weather updated twice an hour automatically from weather.com. It uses off the shelf computers and any windows sound card.
FM receiver, translator
Model 631: This equipment is the second generation of frequency-agile, digitally tuned receivers for FM translator and other critical off-air reception applications. Featuring menu-driven access of display and function selections, the translator provides a switchable IF bandwidth to help solve difficult adjacent-signal problems and readouts of signal strength and multipath distortion to aid antenna alignment. Selectable options and alarms may be remotely controlled or monitored and high-resolution bar graph readouts provide indications of incoming RF and MPX/stereo audio levels.
K 28NC: The entire K 28NC package — miniature folding headphone, noise reduction filter with clip, airplane and stereo adapters — fits in a carrying case a little larger than a pair of sunglasses. The headphones employ acoustic and electronic systems to reduce ambient noise. The closed-back earphones help isolate the wearer from noisy environments. Electronic circuitry uses subminiature microphones integrated in the earphone shells to pick up low-frequency ambient noise such as jet engine roar. The active noise reduction filter reverses the polarity of the noise signal, generating an exact image. The noise and its opposite reach the ear simultaneously, canceling each other out while leaving the music or soundtrack virtually untouched.
TPC2976: This new current monitoring and power control system is a 19" rack-mount control panel with two individual current meters. The power draw of each piece of equipment can be individually monitored on the front panel current meters. This allows the user to accurately identify power draw without external meters. This can prevent equipment downtime by ensuring proper system loading. The unit also features an on/off/start switch and emergency power off switch. The start switch uses a latching circuit that prevents the equipment from automatically restarting after a power outage. The red EPO button can easily be pressed in an emergency situation, placing the equipment in a safe shutdown. The unit is 1.75"H × 7"D. The unit features an all-steel enclosure. The standard model features a 120V, 20A power input with a derated output of 16A. The front panel includes a 20A supplementary circuit protector.