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One Engineer's View of IBC 2010
Amsterdam - Sep 11, 2010 - The IBC is commonly referred to here at the show as the NAB Show of Europe. Located at the RAI convention center in Amsterdam, the IBC uses all of the halls in the complex -- each one with its own theme. Finding radio or pro audio was a challenge among the sea of 3D television, but Hall 8 ended up being the place to be for a radio engineer. My goal was to investigate vendors and products I would not see at the NAB Show and I found a few. Here's a summary of what I found.
JoeCo Limited - Blackbox Recorder
The fancy lights and scroll wheel are sure to catch your attention, but what's behind the flash is pretty powerful. The Blackbox Recorder does one thing. It captures up to 24 individual tracks of audio and records them in synch to a USB2 compatible flash or disc drive. The files are broadcast WAV files with selectable sample and bit rates from 16-bit/44.1kHz up to 24-bit/96kHz. Up to four boxes can be stacked for a total of 96 tracks in synch.
Designed primarily for live, off-the-mixing-console recording, it allows you to capture a multiple-track live recording in high quality and then mix it with your multitrack Pro-Tools or Audition software later. The beauty is that you don't need to drag a production workstation on site to make your recording, just bring this 1RU box and a flash or hard drive and you have everything you need. Analog to digital converters are built in. The time remaining on the drive is displayed on the front panel, so you'll know how much space you have left.
It doesn't support compressed files yet, but Joe de Bie, JoeCo's international sales manager said that function is being considered.
+44 1223 911000
RaLex Solutions - MDC.net
In a small booth with two computers was this unassuming vendor with a very powerful product. The words "Codec Control" caught my eye and after a demo I was pretty amazed. In business in Belgium for 15 years, RaLex's Ramon Schaap has perfected an easy to use interface to remotely control ISDN codecs of all kinds plus audio routers as well. He supports all major ISDN systems you could think of in both serial and IP control.
The user interface shows all codecs available and their status. If framed, a yellow "F" is displayed. If only line one is in use, a T1 (T for Telecom) is displayed, and if both are used, a T2 is displayed. The B channels can be split, too. The interface also supports IP by displaying an N for network. Dialing can be done manually, through the built-in address book or a quick-dial page. All data is stored in a MYSQL database and it runs under Windows. One of the things Schaap was pretty proud of was that his software allows multiple users to see and control codecs. In many cases the manufacturer's own control software limits access to the device to one user at a time. I asked if server redundancy was possible. Schaap has a utility that can copy all data from one server to another but auto failover is not possible because of the external connection limitations. You can't really have two servers connected to all external devices simultaneously. However, to get server two up quickly just requires moving the control line from the main server to the backup.
So here's the other powerful part of this system: It has a built in scheduler. You can bring up a calendar on each device and program it to dial and hang up when you want, using network or ISDN and in what configuration (algorithm and bit rate). And an even better feature is that you can set it to auto hang up after it's been dialed. No more forgetting to hang up and rack up a huge long distance bill anymore.
Security profiles can be set on a per-user basis or in groups, preventing certain people from accessing certain devices.
As I mentioned, this unit can also be used to control an audio router. All the scheduling info can be applied to making and breaking routes on a timed schedule. One of the great things they've built into the user interface is a screen to look at all active routes. Presets can be programmed in as well. Routers supported so far include 360 systems, Pro-bel, Studer, Klotz, Siemens and Digigram to name a few. Some more common to the U.S. are not supported yet, but I was told that as long as an interface language could be provided, it would be no problem to add support for additional routers.
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