IBOC Update - Oct 5, 2005
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AES Holds HD Radio Surround Tests in Cincinnati
The Cincinnati chapter of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), in coordination with Sonic Arts and Cincinnati Public Radio's Corbett Studio, has successfully completed listening tests to determine the cross-compatibility of several surround sound encoding and decoding solutions proposed for HD Radio.
Audio selections were auditioned by participants in calibrated 5.1 mix rooms at the Sonic Arts facility in Cincinnati on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10. Each test session lasted from 60 minutes to 90 minutes using each of 16 music selections encoded as reference samples as well as "A" and "B" samples resulting from the combination of encoding and decoding systems. During the test, participants were asked to note overall satisfaction with sound quality, audio imaging and placement with each audio selection, as well as the observed difference between each of the three samples. Participants were unaware of the types of coders in use, and a rigorous audio testing regimen was applied under the oversight of Dr. Ellyn Sheffield, PhD, and representatives from National Public Radio and the AES.
Specific systems placed under test were the Neural Audio 5225 Upmix and Downmix, Dolby DP563/564 using Dolby Pro Logic II, and SRS Labs Circle Surround Digital encoder/decoders.
According to Alex Kosiorek, recording and mastering engineer at the Corbett Studio, Sheffield is currently analyzing the test data, and results will be used to direct further research into HD Radio surround coding techniques.
More information on the tests is available at: www.digital-groove.com/aescincy/HDRadio_Test.htm
CPB Steps Up HD Radio Conversion Grants
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Ibiquity Digital have agreed to accelerate the conversion of more than 800 AM and FM CPB-funded stations to Ibiquity's digital HD Radio broadcasting.
Under the accord, CPB will purchase a group license that will allow more than 400 CPB-funded public radio stations to acquire Ibiquity's digital HD Radio technology. This group license will also cover costs associated with the technology's advanced services such as multicasting and datacasting. Previously, CPB provided direct funding for digital conversion costs to about 400 local public radio stations.
Speaking at the NAB Radio Show, Patricia Harrison, CPB president, referred to her organization's agreement with Ibiquity as historic.
NRSC Releases HD Radio Standard Revision
As promised, the NRSC's DAB Subcommittee convened during the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia, adopting a revision to the NRSC-5 IBOC standard and arriving at a key decision regarding supplemental audio service (multicast) channel IDs, according to recent edition of the NAB's Radio Tech Check.
The new version of the IBOC standard, called NRSC-5-A, expands on the original document released last April with the inclusion of an advanced data services transport protocol. Advanced data services are those data services not necessarily associated with audio programs, such as traffic information or subscription data services, and will be supported in NRSC-5-A using the Ibiquity Advanced Application Services (AAS) transport specification. The revision paves the way for the NRSC to consider standards and recommendations regarding advanced data service applications.
Another significant development emerged concerning the subcommittee's investigation of multicast channel ID. Since February 2005, the Supplemental Audio Service ID Task Group (SIDTG), co-chaired by Jeff Marrah of Delphi Electronics and Jeff Littlejohn of Clear Channel Communications, had debated how best to display the multicast channels supported by Ibiquity's HD Radio system. During the Philadelphia meeting, SIDTG submitted a formal recommendation that a suffix numbering system be used by manufacturers when designing receiver displays, and by broadcasters referring to multicast channels in on-air and print marketing. This recommended suffix scheme is compatible with all of the ID techniques discussed by SIDTG, as well as all known receivers currently in production that support HD Radio multicasts.
The subcommittee also decided to change its descriptive name from DAB to Digital Radio Broadcasting (DRB) to reflect the expanding scope of the working group's mission.
BBC to Expand DAB in UK
The BBC plans to expand its digital radio footprint by a potential 1.2 million listeners, according to an article by Neil Wilkes in the UK's Digital Spy online magazine. Coverage will be boosted via nine new transmitters across England and Wales over the course of the next 12 months.
Areas being switched on include Aberystwyth, Pembroke and Bangor in Wales, as well as Kendal in Cumbria, Grimsby, parts of Newquay and Canterbury in Kent.
"The BBC has been committed to DAB digital radio since its launch and we are delighted to announce our plans to expand coverage further," said Simon Nelson, controller of BBC Radio and Music Interactive. "We hope listeners in these areas will now discover the benefits and additional choice that digital radio offers."
HD Radio Will Test in Switzerland
Broadcast Electronics (BE) and Ibiquity Digital have announced their intent to jointly participate in the first tests ever of HD Radio in Switzerland. The first HD Radio broadcasts there could be heard as early as next spring on 88 Radio Sunshine, located near Lucerne.
"The overall motivation is the long-term digital future of independent FM in Switzerland," said Markus Ruoss, a principal owner of Radio Sunshine, the first private commercial radio station in central Switzerland, where mountainous terrain and 100kHz frequency spacing of FM stations pose unique challenges to digital broadcasts.
BE will supply the HD Radio transmission equipment and technical expertise to begin comprehensive testing, which may occur over a period as long as two years, starting with field-strength measurements of HD Radio broadcasts on Radio Sunshine's main channel. Depending on initial results, subsequent testing could include multicasting supplemental audio services and synchronous digital broadcasts on some of the station's 12 boosters and translators.
Pending successful test results, Radio Sunshine claims it will seek approval from the Office Fédéral de la Communication (OFCOM) for the operational use of HD Radio in Switzerland before 2010.
The announcement is likely to step up pressure on Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) to move quickly in delivering its promised non-proprietary digital radio standard for VHF FM broadcast bands, better known as DRM+. DRM's narrowband architecture for LW, MW and SW broadcasting has already been tested extensively around the globe.
HD Radio Promo Winners Announced
While most broadcasters try to find a formula that will make IBOC digital pay for itself, six individuals recently found that HD Radio can be very profitable, as Ibiquity Digital awarded cash prizes to the winners of the company's HD Radio promotion contest at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia.
Among the contenders, the coveted "Best in Show" prize of $10,000 went to Mark Tammany of WKQX-FM in Chicago for his HD Radio promo entitled "Stay Tuned." In addition to Tammany's top prize, he also received one of six $1,000 prizes awarded in categories designed to reflect the various types of talent involved in developing promos. The winners list also included:
Judges for the contest included Bob Shannon of Bobshannonworks, Bobby Ocean of Bobby Ocean and David Martin of Media Arts and Sciences.
The HD Radio nationwide promotion contest was launched in conjunction with Ibiquity's HD Radio Playbook, an online HD Radio promotion guide. The site combines how-to information and success stories with updated content to help stations market and promote digital HD Radio technology. It also offers strategic marketing advice, as well as sample and customizable audio clips, such as liners and ID promos. Designed by David Martin's Media Arts and Sciences, the online resource is offered for free to all broadcasters and can be found at www.hdradioplaybook.com
Audio files of the winning entries in the contest are also available on the website.
IBOC Across America
Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by state will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.
|WHJJ-AM 920||News/Talk||Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket||Clear Channel Radio||Yes||No|
|WRNI-AM 1290||NPR/Nws/Inf||Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket||Boston University||No||No|
|WWBB-FM 101.5||Oldies||Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket||Clear Channel Radio||Yes||No|
|WXNI-AM 1230||NPR/Nws/Inf||Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket||Boston University||No||No|
Eye on IBOC
Floor Talk in Philly
As the NAB Radio Show came and went last month, it was obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that IBOC digital has finally taken center stage. HD Radio provided the buzz that helped fill the booths at an event whose future was none too certain just a few years ago.
So what were broadcasters talking about? Whether from the programming or engineering side, there was apparently something for everyone.
AM engineers at the AM IBOC transmitter panel discussion learned that some directional antenna arrays may require significant investments of time and money to perform well with an AM HD Radio signal. While that information may perplex some owners, it could be a blessing in disguise for those trying to convince management that just because an AM antenna is legal doesn't mean it's right. And the need to get those antennas into shape is an undisguised blessing for AM engineering consultants and manufacturers of transmitters, phasers and ATU equipment.
But FM engineers and programmers had even more to keep them occupied, with a plethora of new products on the floor and many operating in live demonstrations.
Continental Electronics was showing its new 811HD all digital transmitter, available in power levels from 250 to 1 KW.
Day Sequerra offered abundant proof that their M4 HD Radio tuners are actually in production and shipping. A professional grade receiver, the M4 fill the need for a multicast-ready monitoring receiver that can be dropped directly into a rack out of the box. Meanwhile, Radiosophy's tabletop portable receiver probably found its way into a lot of Christmas shopping lists, proving that you don't have to break the bank to hear HD Radio.
Those interested in the programming potential of 5.1 surround sound were seen at the Harris booth, taking in live surround broadcasts from Radio One's WPPZ and WRNB via Neustar 5225 surround coders, the product of collaboration between Neural Audio and Harris.
Of course, programmers and engineers also got a good look at live multicasting, courtesy of Broadcast Electronics and Beasley Broadcasting's WXTU. And for the forward looking brodacster there was an impressive demonstration of integrated management tools that make the most of HD Radio's datacasting capabilities.
To be sure, a lot of questions were being asked by those still waiting to launch IBOC on their stations, but for the enthusiastic throng in attendance, there were also plenty of answers to go round.
HD Radio Terminology
Transfer Frame: An ordered, one-dimensional collection of data bits of specified length originating in Layer 2, grouped for processing through a logical channel.
Transfer Frame Multiplexer: A device that combines two or more transfer frames into a single vector.
Griffin Shipping IFM Ipod Radio Receiver
Podcasting News recently reported that Griffin Technology is now shipping its IFM, an Ipod add-on that reportedly brings FM radio tuning, recording and remote control functionality to the Ipod. The company says users can easily switch between their music library or FM radio broadcasts. The IFM also boasts recording functionality, including a built-in microphone and the ability to record FM radio directly to the Ipod. The Griffin IFM is said to be retailing for $49.99.
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