2007 Pick Hits


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During and after a convention, everyone asks, “What was new at the show?” Here's your answer: the Radio magazine Pick Hits. These 15 new products were selected by a panel of eight radio broadcast engineers, who have a combined radio experience of 225 years. I know that you'll recognize at least a few of their names. We list them on page 20.

The Pick Hit Awards were first awarded in 1985, which makes them the original technology honor of the NAB convention, and this year's collection continues the tradition of recognizing technical excellence and innovation with a broad range of products and services.

Talkshow system

Telos Systems

Nx12: The Nx12 provides support for POTS, ISDN and Livewire audio-over-IP technology. The system is a self-contained, 12-line system that includes four hybrids. Available with analog or AES inputs/outputs, the system mixes callers down to two separate analog or AES feeds when the built-in outputs are used. Four hybrids remain present. The system includes echo cancellation for VoIP and cell phone callers. With two program-on-hold inputs and two analog or AES outputs, the system is capable of handling the telephone requirements for two stations simultaneously.
216-241-7225; www.telos-systems.com; telos-info@telos-systems.com

What the judges had to say

  • Four digital hybrids in one unit: great idea.
  • Support for POTS and ISDN offers many potential options.

Intercom monitor, talk panel

Sierra Automated Systems

ICM-32: Designed for a variety of broadcast communications, the monitor features 32 separate talk/listen channels, each with a two-line/eight-character VFD display; dial-up listen and talk of any router system source or destination; and mixing of multiple sources for listen with independent volume control adjustment. Connectivity is via Internet, local LAN or directly to the SAS 32KD.
818-840-6749; www.sasaudio.com; sales@sasaudio.com

What the judges had to say

  • Provides the missing component of the router system.
  • It fits several applications with the IP audio interfaces.

IP audio codec

APT

Worldcast Eclipse: The Worldcast Eclipse is a multi-interface, multi-algorithm audio codec that offers Ethernet, X.21/V.35 and ISDN ports providing access to a wide range of networks such as IP, leased line, satellite, microwave and dial-up. Broadcasters can also choose from coding algorithms such as standard and enhanced Apt-x, MPEG 1/2 Layer 2/Layer 3, MPEG 4 AAC, G.711 and G.722. The codec is designed with a DSP-based architecture. Enhanced 16- and 24-bit Apt-x are standard.
800-955-APTX; www.aptx.com; info@aptx.com

What the judges had to say

  • All the encoding algorithms and a plethora of connection options.
  • Built-in bonding of four ISDN lines provides an ideal high-quality back-up path.

Audio processor

Audemat-Aztec

Digiplexer 2/4: This processor is also a full RBDS encoder, and a digital, stereo encoder. It allows I/O remote control and backup audio. The processor uses high-speed DSP to create a stereo signal and radio data messages. With the Ethernet connection and the PC software, configuration is possible from anywhere in the world. The processor features a real-time clock for RBDS scheduling, two-band audio processing, 2 giga-flops of DSP power, clippers that run at 1.5MHz, LCD screen and Ethernet, USB and RS-232 ports, all in 1RU.
305-249-3110
www.audemat-aztec.com
contact@audemat-aztec.com

What the judges had to say

  • This has everything: processing, RBDS and a hard drive for back-up audio.
  • I can use this at some of my translator sites.

Remote receiver

Burk Technology

Watchband: Delivering station and market monitoring tools to managers, engineers and programming departments, this receiver provides stereo, phase and field intensity data, streaming audio and decoded RBDS to any PC with an Internet connection. Broadcasters can record audio streams for remote playback, as well as log audio metrics for review and analysis. Automatic logging routines allow station-to-station comparisons for the entire market. Logged RBDS data reveals content on market stations.
800-255-8090
www.burk.com; sales@burk.com

What the judges had to say

  • I needed something to log all our RBDS messages. This can do it.
  • A good way to monitor lots of station parameters in the entire market.

Flash memory audio player

Kowa

PX10: This player is easy to start: insert a USB drive and play. Users can store audio by dragging and dropping on the PC screen. The graphical vacuum fluorescent display is bright and clear, showing the counter, level meter and content status. Its triangular-shaped aluminum enclosure makes it strong and lightweight. No moving parts, such as cooling fans and hard disks are used. Users can switch among six pages to access up to 300 audio files. Direct mode allows the user to choose any of the clips assigned to any of the 50 hot keys. A preset mode allows continuous looping.
310-327-1913; www.proaudiokowa.com
pxinfo@proaudiokowa.com

What the judges had to say

  • File loading is amazingly simple.
  • The USB jack is a great use of an established storage medium.

Cable connector

Neutrik

EMC-XLR: The EMC-XLR is comprised of three-pole male/female XLR cable connectors with integrated LC-filters, which avoid the RD interference and LF noise. There is also a 360° shield contact on the female connector that ensures shielding and chassis contact. This connector can solve problems such as ground loops, RF interference and Pin 1 problems.
732-901-9488; www.neutrik.com; info@neutrikusa.com

What the judges had to say

  • It has incredible RF rejection.
  • The common XLR has been given a useful upgrade.

Wireless audio interface

JK Audio

Daptor Three: Using Bluetooth wireless technology, this interface connects to the user's cell phone like any other Bluetooth-enabled headset. The interface allows balanced and unbalanced connections to a cell phone or other products, such as a laptop, that allow a similar headset connection. Features of the unit include XLR balanced line input and output, and a 9Vdc battery.
800-552-8346; www.jkaudio.com
info@jkaudio.com

What the judges had to say

  • It's far beyond a phone interface.
  • The endeavor to do this with Bluetooth is a bold move.

Warning enunciator

Alert System

Alert System: Unlike other alert enunciators, when there are no alerts, this system does not remain dormant. This system can be synchronized to the Internet desktop or clock system to display time, it can display information for a kiosk, function as a digital signage system, or display telephone call screener information. The enunciator displays a picture image on a computer monitor when an alert is received. The system can store and display 20 screen images. Each of the screens can display a single picture or a picture slide show with as many pictures as wanted, changing the picture every one to 99,999 minutes, in order or randomly.
817-944-5903

What the judges had to say

  • Finally, an incredibly versatile way to display multiple alerts.
  • An elegantly simple solution to a common problem.

Twisted pair products

RDL (Radio Design Labs)

Format-A: Format-A twisted pair products send, receive and distribute audio via CAT-5 cable. Modules are available for mounting in walls, cabinets and racks. Sending and receiving modules are equipped with connectors and terminal blocks for standard -10dBV unbalanced and +4dBu balanced line levels, and standard microphone levels. Format-A uses one pair for power and three pairs for signals. Sending and receiving modules each use one pair, two pairs or all three pairs for audio signals. Single-pair products allow the installer to select which of the three pairs is used to send or receive the signal. Two-pair products are used for stereo audio. Three-pair products send and receive three separate signals, which may comprise three mono signals or microphone plus stereo line signals.
800-281-2683; www.rdlnet.com; sales@rdlnet.com

What the judges had to say

  • The power inserter is just one of the practical elements.
  • Lots of accessories and adapters in the system.

HD Radio monitor

Day Sequerra

M3: The 2RU monitor provides three frequency-agile AM, FM and HD Radio multicast tuners, each equipped with analog and digital balanced outputs, streaming RS-232 PAD data outputs and six programmable dry, floating contact alarm relays — 18 relays total. Each tuner stores 20 AM and 20 FM presets, decodes HD-1 through HD-8 multicast channels and displays signal strength, multipath, HD Radio PAD data and analog RBDS data. Indicators report HD locked, multicast present, delay bit set and tuner alarm. Audio output is uncompromised with an oversampled D/A converter driving Class A biased audio outputs. HD Radio stereo separation is better than 90dB, and THD+N is less than 0.005 percent.
856-719-9900; www.daysequerra.com; info@daysequerra.com

What the judges had to say

  • An ideal way to monitor an HD-1, HD-2 and HD-3 in one box.
  • This one stood out as a very functional tool.

HD Radio STL

Nautel

Reliable HD Transport: This system features Clock Packet Tunneling that arranges clock packets to be sent during times when no data packets are using the STL bandwidth, facilitating a more accurate measurement of the STL throughput delay. Data rebalancing ensures continuous operation without dropout by creating a constant bit-rate stream, reducing instantaneous STL bandwidth requirements. Its automatic E2X start-up sends the initial control packet only once.
207-947-8200; www.nautel.com; info@nautel.com

What the judges had to say

  • Adds another level of robustness to the HD Radio system.
  • Provides a simpler, more cost-effective data link.

Retrofit adapter

Dialight

D264: The D264 Series retrofit adapter allows for simple retrofit of a new LED beacon to an existing incandescent base, eliminating the need to fully dismantle the old fixture. Remove the top half of the existing incandescent light and the retrofit adapter securely mounts to the existing hinge. The adapter uses a socket-based electrical interface. Other features include interfacing with most existing fixtures and reducing retrofit time for an LED beacon to a fraction of what would be required for a complete fixture removal.
800-835-2870; www.dialight.com
info@dialight.com

What the judges had to say

  • Eliminates the costly replacement of the entire lamp assembly.
  • Reduces the capital outlay when converting to LED lighting.

Guy anchor rod

ERI-Electronics Research

Ultra Guy Anchor Rod: This guy anchor features a port to allow non-destructive ultra-sonic testing of guy anchor integrity, without soil excavation. It's noninvasive because there is no digging and nondestructive because there is no surface damage. No temporary anchors are required. The equipment provides more detail than a visual inspection, including detection of stress cracks and internal flaws. The rod is Polyethylene sealed and anti-corrosive.
812-925-6000; www.ERIinc.com; sales@ERIinc.com

What the judges had to say

  • A well-designed upgrade to a common piece of hardware.
  • Addresses a potentially costly problem to diagnose and correct.

PCI sound card

Audio Science

ASI6585: The ASI6585 is designed for use in an Axia Livewire IP-audio based radio broadcast automation system. It uses the Livewire protocol to record and play audio streams over a standard Ethernet network. The card provides eight play streams that are mixed to eight stereo outputs and eight record streams fed from eight stereo inputs. Choose from uncompressed PCM, MPEG Layer 2 and MP3 for recording and playback. Compression is handled by an on-board floating point DSP. MRXT multi-rate mixing technology allows streams of different sample-rates and formats to be mixed digitally. TSXT time scaling allows compression/expansion of playback streams in real time with no change in pitch.
302-324-5333; www.audioscience.com
sales@audioscience.com

What the judges had to say

  • Supports all the algorithms and features that the Axia driver does not.
  • The on-board DSP handles all the processing instead of relying on the computer's CPU.

TECHNOLOGY HONOR

Central monitoring systems

Moving beyond basic facility monitoring, current monitoring and control systems are being used for functions beyond transmitter functions. Broadcast equipment and computer networks are only one part. Telco services, HVAC, security systems and almost any system can be monitored and controlled now, and systems from companies including Statmon, Evertz, Burk, Audemat-Aztec and Wit recognize this function.


Conditional Access for HD Radio

As HD Radio continues its roll-out, the technology continues to evolve and develop. Enhanced services are a promised function of the system, but realizing a return on the investment to deliver these services has been elusive. Conditional access from NDS, shown as a concept, is one of these enhanced services that stations can use to realize a return on their digital radio investment.


The Pick Hits Judges

Bud Aiello
Director of Engineering Technology
National Public Radio • Herndon, VA

Roswell Clark, CSRE CBNT MSCE
Director of Technical Operations
Cox Radio - Tampa • Clearwater, FL

Don Danko, CBRE CBNT
VP of Engineering
Cincinnati Public Radio • Maineville, OH

Jack Hoeppner
National Director of Engineering
Corus Entertainment • Winnipeg, MB

Keith Smeal
Director of Technical Operations
Greater Media New Jersey • Windsor, NJ

Jeff Smith, CEA CBNT
President
JRS Broadcast Engineering • Monroe Twp, NJ

Dave Supplee
Regional Engineer
Cumulus Media • Mifflintown, PA

Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT
VP of Engineering, Radio Division
Lincoln Financial Media • Atlanta, GA

Only the Pick Hit Awards reveal the names of the judges, who follow a fixed set of rules. The rules are listed below.


The 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. Software, firmware and operating system updates are eligible, but the new revision must carry an obvious designation (1.0 to 2.0 for example) and the feature set must provide clearly identifiable changes or updates.

  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 2007 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 2007 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.


Only the Pick Hit Awards have an established list of official rules, unlike some other convention awards. Radio magazine believes that simply having the judges claim that a product is "nifty" is absurd.




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