The Quest for the Best - The Pick Hits of NAB2003

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Software monitor


Wizard for Windows:

This software consists of two parts: a data acquisition and control module, and a Java applet. The data acquisition and control module establishes the connection to the units, provides management of users and allows continuous logging of data to the host computer. The module connects to the remote units using a direct RS-232, modem or with an optional external interface box, a LAN/WAN or the Internet. Multiple users can be assigned a unique user name and password. Unit access is further restricted by specifying an observer, operator or supervisor classification. Data may be logged at user-defined intervals or 24 hours continuously. The Java applet display module provides a virtual front panel interface to all the available units, as well as various graph and histogram displays. Any remote computer that can address the host computer's IP or URL with a Java-enabled Web browser will be able to run the applet.

What the judges had to say:

"I'll use the heck out of this."

"I really liked the pull-down menus and on-screen display."

fax 610-687-2686

Audio logger/skimmer


Eskimmer 4.2 Appliance System:

Version 4.3 of the Eskimmer Appliance System allows high-quality recordings of on-air signals, performances or communications, and allows playback over its Webskimmer interface via a LAN, WAN or the Internet. Easy-to-use controls allow a user to listen to audio from down the hall or across continents. Encoding on the fly allows audio that is still being recorded to be immediately accessible for playback and verification. E-mailing a recorded audio cut to a consultant or colleague takes seconds rather than days via conventional shipping methods.

What the judges had to say:

"The ability to load a show clock makes it a smarter logger."

"The combination of mixed recording formats, multiple audio feeds and automatic file purging makes it very flexible."

fax 541-967-8721

Wireless network interface


Matrix Wireless Module:

Broadcasters can transmit remote audio over a wireless network without a telephone line or a separate wireless phone with this module. The module incorporates a GSM wireless phone, a 2W power booster and the firmware to transmit high-quality audio over GSM networks, all enclosed in compact housing. An external antenna comes with the module. With its optional battery kit, the network can broadcast in the field for as long as seven hours.

What the judges had to say:

"Provides a lot of potential for remote-intensive stations."

"After years of being told that cell phone remotes will never sound good, this is good news."

fax 978-784-1717

Digital/analog AM transmitters



This is the first product in a family of 1kW to 6kW AM transmitters designed to provide analog and IBOC performance. The transmitters provide linearity and wide bandwidth to deliver a clean analog sound. This design also provides an accurate reproduction of the IBOC signal at all power levels by using Harris' Digital Adaptive Modulation, which uses a digitally generated AM waveform with DSP-based adaptive correction. This technology enables sampling of the transmitter output, and corrects for load-induced distortion. The transmitter was designed with a modular architecture and uses hot-swappable modules.

What the judges had to say:

"The ability to automatically adjust to the antenna system is a real plus."

"A welcome introduction for AM IBOC."

fax 513-459-3890

Audio control surface

Sierra Automated Systems


A stand-alone control surface, the Rubicon integrates directly into the SAS 32KD digital audio network to control mixing, switching, level control and effects. Customizable, completely modular and fully programmable, this control surface is for a medium- or large-market facility.

What the judges had to say:

"A great example of the next generation in radio audio equipment."

"This allows for interconnected, expandable, superflexible and easy-to-operate systems designed for consolidated operations."

fax 818-840-6751

Remote control and monitoring


IP2 Choice:

From the new generation of Audemat-Aztec remote control devices, IP2 Choice enables full control of all conditions on the transmitter site. It acts as a gateway between the Ethernet or telephone network and the remote equipment. This flexible, modular unit can be made up of a mix of digital input boards, relay boards, analog metering channel boards and RS232/485 communication boards. Occupying 2RU, it can be integrated with as many as 16 boards. One unit can be equipped with as many as 128 digital inputs or 64 digital inputs, 32 relays, 32 analog metering channels and four RS-232 communication ports. The IP2 technology is accessible in the device through its embedded website offering IP2 services for remote IP connection.

What the judges had to say:

"The combination of programmability, script creation and IP connectivity make this an ideal system."

"Great flexibility and a large channel capacity."

fax 305-682-2233

Audio network

Telos Systems


Livewire conveys audio and peripheral data streams over standard Ethernet hardware, reducing the infrastructure costs incurred with traditional audio routing methods. The audio network uses Ethernet as a universal studio interconnect. A single CAT-5 or fiber conveys multiple audio channels, control, program-associated data, VoIP telephone and computer data. This product uses switching Ethernet hubs to provide reliable audio quality. Audio is prioritized and takes precedence over all other data types. This approach results in low latency, enabling real-time monitoring of live audio sources: per-link delay is less than 1ms for high-priority audio signals. A Livewire 100Base-T link can carry 50 bi-directional stereo channels of 48kHz, 24-bit linear PCM audio.

What the judges had to say:

"This takes the router-based system to a new level." "When other audio devices add IP connections, the true flexibility will be obvious."

fax 216-241-4103

Digital matchbox

Henry Engineering

Digimatch 2×6:

This digital Matchbox converts between S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital audio signals. It also functions as a digital audio distribution amplifier with inputs for AES/EBU and S/PDIF signals. Its six outputs can drive AES/EBU and S/PDIF equipment. The unit is ⅓ rack width and includes a built-in ac power supply, so no wall warts are needed.

What the judges had to say:

"The AES-3, S/PDIF and distribution amp capability is very flexible."

"This provides another opportunity to adapt consumer equipment for pro use."

fax 626-355-0077

Digital on-air control surface


Generation-4 and Generation-9:

The G-4 surface controls Wheatstone's G-4 mixing engine, which plugs directly into existing Bridge Router cage systems to give the user control of thousands of sources and destinations. It allows the creation of a platform-based system whereby 50 surfaces can be configured to share sources, destinations and control signal information. Bridge Router cages, which house the I/O ports and engine cards, can be wired in tandem within a single equipment room, or be interconnected with fiber optic or CAT-5 wires. The G-9 radio control surface is an extension of the established Bridge digital audio network routing system. Bridge engine components allow as many as 256 mix buses in one rack mount system. Multiple components can be linked to form a networked system, making it a useful solution for large station integration projects.

What the judges had to say:

"This addresses the engine and console need for the production studio."

"It provides an easy upgrade path to connect existing consoles into the Bridge Router system."

fax 252-637-1285

PDA audio recorder



Pocketrec represents a new generation in portable digital audio recording and editing that integrates all the steps in the workflow of electronic newsgathering into one continuous process. This product uses standard Pocket PC PDAs. The software turns the PDA into a portable digital audio workstation, providing the journalist with a set of professional tools on the Pocket PC that replace their need for other equipment. Because of its size and weight, a complete recording and editing kit is greatly reduced. The platform is a single unit, meaning that no additional high-end audio card or separate recorder is required for the field reporter to perform a quality job. Other applications running on a standard Pocket PC that many reporters already carry for notes, e-mails, contacts and Internet access are still available. Standard accessories are available for and integration of other media that can be used and attached to filings.

What the judges had to say:

"Recording, editing and wireless upload make it a complete package."

"Reporters can lighten their load with a single PDA/cellphone/recorder."

fax 703-281-1074





Powered by Neural Audio, Neustar works in the front (studio) and back end (transmission site) of the air chain, and by offers compatibility with a large range of digital formats including AM/FM IBOC, DVD, DAB, DRM and the Internet. Neustar works with the bandwidth limitations of digital delivery systems to provide audio processing free of the artifacts associated with conventional audio compression and limiting processors.

What the judges had to say:

"The codec preconditioning reduces coding artifacts very well."

"This could be start of an entirely new generation of digital audio processing products."

fax 513-459-3890

Pick Hits Rules

  1. Products must be new and not shown at a previous NAB Spring Convention. In some cases, distinguishing a new product from a modified older one is difficult. For “Pick Hits” purposes, a new product is one with a new model number or designation.

  2. Products must have some positive impact on the intended user's everyday work. Judges search for equipment intended for use on a regular basis. Products should provide new solutions to common problems.

  3. Products must offer substantial improvement over previous technology. Unique circuit architecture need not be included, but some new approach or application must be involved in the product's design.

  4. The price of the product must be within reach of its intended users. The judges seek products appropriate to a wide range of facilities.

  5. The products must be available for purchase within the 2003 calendar year. Equipment must be on display on the show floor, currently (or imminently) in production, and some type of product literature must be available. Judges take the exhibitor's word on availability dates. Products demonstrated in private showings do not qualify.

  6. The Pick Hits judges operate independently from one another and remain anonymous to everyone including other judges until the selection meeting. This ensures that the products chosen are truly representative of the industry, that the judges were not persuaded in any way, and that the entire selection process is as fair as possible. The judge's identities are published in the June 2003 issue.

  7. The editorial staff of Radio magazine serves only as a moderator during the final selection process and has no influence or decision in determining the winners.

Pick Hits Judges

The judges cover the convention floor looking for new products to consider for the Pick Hits meeting held on the third day of the convention. They operate independently and anonymously to ensure that their selections are not biased.

The judges for NAB2003 are:

Bill Croghan, CPBE - Chief Engineer
Lotus Broadcasting - Las Vegas

Steve Fluker - Director of Engineering
Cox Radio Orlando - Orlando, FL

Gary Kline - Corporate Director of Engineering
Cumulus Media - Atlanta, GA

Kent Kramer, CBRE - Vice President of Engineering
Big City Radio - Los Angeles

Dan Mettler - Regional Engineering Services Manager
Clear Channel - Indianapolis, IN

Milford Smith - Vice President of Radio Engineering
Greater Media - East Brunswick, NJ

Mike Starling - Vice President of Engineering
NPR - Washington, DC

Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT - President
Thomas Media - Hollywood, CA

Trying to visit every booth to view new product introductions at NAB2003 can make anyone feel as though he is running through a maze. Imagine having to run the maze and find 10 award-winning products. In the end, the Pick Hits judges found 11 products (10 winners and one honorable mention) that they felt offer significant technological improvements and serve everyday applications. Did you see these products in the maze? For complete rules governing the Pick Hits selection process, see below. A list of judges can also be found at the end.

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