Incorporated Bluetooth technology in the BluePack allows the user freedom of movement without a cable between the interface and phone. This freedom comes at a price however, Bluetooth technology is purposely limited in audio bandwidth (300-3400 Hz) since the additional audio information would be lost on a standard phone connection. Klinger also tells me a new Bluetooth standard called HD Voice is coming soon. It will support 50-7000 Hz bandwidth with lower noise and improved dynamic range. The RemoteMix One wired connection, however, retains the full 20k audio range.
The advent of IP codecs has changed the remote production landscape. Now, full bandwidth audio can be transmitted back to the station via the cell phone network using 3G, 4G and Wi-fi-enabled phones. The RemoteMix One is a cost-effective alternative to the stand-alone IP interface.
Out of the box
Simple to set up and operate, the RemoteMix One needs very little preparation. Install a single 9V battery, hook up the headset cable to the cell phone audio jack, plug in the mic and you're ready to broadcast. Though anecdotal, the power consumption during testing was minimal. The manufacturer boasts run times in excess of 10 hours on the BluePack (20 hours on the RemoteMix One) with a single battery.
Using the BluePack requires the process of "pairing" to a Bluetooth enabled phone. Pairing begins by pressing and holding the Multi Function Button (MFB) for 5 seconds. The pairing request should appear on any Bluetooth enabled phone within range. Once bonded, future connections will take less time as the phone data is stored in memory. Up to 16 devices are held in the memory. Pressing and holding the MFB for 20 seconds clears that history.
Tests were conducted in conjunction with an iPhone, iPad and multiple phones on the Android platform. No configuration or modification to the phone is necessary using the RemoteMix One. The phones used during the test immediately recognized and configured themselves for headset operation.
A popular smart phone IP codec was chosen to test the full bandwidth capability of both the RemoteMix One and the BluePack. iPhone/iPad performance was flawless with both interfaces. Tests using a Samsung/Android and HTC/Android also yielded very satisfactory results. Only in one case was there a problem with distorted audio when using the BluePack with the IP codec. It turns out the HTC Model PC36100 running Android version 2.3.5 had a difficult time translating the Bluetooth audio to the IP codec. There were other problems encountered with the same phone model such as distorted audio when placing phone calls after using the IP codec. It was isolated to this particular phone/OS/IP codec combination. No other phone tested had these issues.
Whether it was coverage of Fan Fest at the World Series, drop-ins with a morning show host or on-the-street interviews, the RemoteMix One and BluePack met or exceeded expectation.
Chestnut is assistant chief engineer, Entercom Communications, Kansas City.