Audio Over IP Storms NAB

by Steve Harvey. One noticeable trend at the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas was the increasing adoption of internet protocol as a transport and networking mechanism. The technology is not new, of course, but with the steady increase in broadband connectivity and installed intranets broadcasters are becoming more reliant on audio over IP, and have an ever-widening selection of products available to them both as cost savers and problem solvers.
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by Steve Harvey.

One noticeable trend at the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas was the increasing adoption of internet protocol as a transport and networking mechanism. The technology is not new, of course, but with the steady increase in broadband connectivity and installed intranets broadcasters are becoming more reliant on audio over IP, and have an ever-widening selection of products available to them both as cost savers and problem solvers.

There's little doubt that audio over IP products may be financially expedient. At the NAB Show, Barix announced its first Exstreamer 1000 installation in the U.S.: N. Hollywood, CA-based Standard Media Group is using the audio over IP device to deliver its Martini in the Morning program to 1480 KPHX AM in Phoenix, AZ for local transmission.

According to Brad Chambers, chief creative officer of Standard Media Group and on-air host of Martini in the Morning, "Audio over IP is incredibly cost-efficient compared to satellite distribution. We're saving approximately $55,000 using the Barix solution to launch our first terrestrial affiliate. We're looking to be in the 25 to 35 station range in the short term, and Barix will save us a lot of money compared to satellite."

Harris Corp. has expanded its range of radio broadcast audio transport products with the Intraplex NetXpress LX, which carries up to four bi-directional stereo audio streams. The IP audio codec offers full-time, mission-critical audio transport for point-to-point applications including STL (studio-to-transmitter link) delivery and studio-to-studio links.

"The audio transport market in the radio broadcast industry has been moving steadily from legacy TDM services to IP-based services," said Tim Thorsteinson, president of Harris Broadcast Communications. The new cost-efficient, compact package builds on the company's reputation for reliability in complex, geographically widespread IP audio networks, he said: "We are now bringing the same quality of service to broadcasters that are migrating to IP with more straightforward audio transport requirements."

At the show, APTX, well known for its audio codec products for transmission distribution and remote contribution, announced that it has signed a licensing agreement with Germany's Qbit GmbH for that the company's latest IP audio codec product offering. The Qbit Q560 offers low-latency Enhanced apt-X encode-decode of up to eight stereo channels (encoder, decoder or mixed) of elementary streams over IP and E1 networks, or the generation of DVB-compliant MPEG-2 transport streams over IP or ASI.

Logitek Electronic Systems launched its next generation product platform with the JetStream Mini IP-based audio routing/mixing system. The IP-based audio router, the first from the manufacturer, provides full functionality for up to 24 faders in a single or multiple consoles. The JetStream Mini is a configurable node that offers 64 channels of IP audio through five types of I/O cards. The Pilot router-based audio control surface, a modular system that provides up to 24 faders for radio broadcasting applications, is the first product to complement the new JetStream Mini platform. The first JetStream Mini system has been installed at KFCF Radio, a Pacifica affiliate station based in Fresno, CA.

Wheatstone introduced its WheatNet-IP audio-over-IP network system at NAB 2008 and now boasts hundreds of units in use as standalone routing and distribution systems, and in multi-studio facilities with Wheatstone E-series console control surfaces. New at NAB 2009 was the ip88e WheatNet-IP Mic Blade, a 1RU unit that makes eight mic channels available anywhere in the WheatNet-IP system. The eight analog outputs can access any system source, and are intended for studio headphone and speaker feeds.

Clear-Com Communication Systems (a Vitec Group brand) demonstrated a direct link from its IP-enabled V-Series panels to the Eclipse digital matrix intercom frames at NAB 2009. This new connectivity option, which supports up to 128 possible V-Series IP panel connections via Clear-Com's new IVC-32 IP cards, allows broadcasters to employ an existing local IT infrastructure to establish communications in locations where direct cabling is lacking, making it simple and affordable to expand intercom access.

"Thanks to the flexibility of the I.V.Core technology, V-Series panel users previously isolated from a facility's matrix intercom can now tap into that system, benefiting from the inherent reliability and functionality of its TDM (Time-Division Multiplexing)-based architecture no matter where they are located," says Simon Browne, Clear-Com's senior product manager.

Germany's Riedel Communications, the largest supplier of communications equipment to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, is a pioneer in Voice-over-IP products. The Connect IPx2 panel interface, introduced at NAB 2009, is designed to connect up to two Artist control panels to Artist intercom matrices via IP-based networks and is described as the perfect teammate for Riedel's VoIP-108 8-channel VoIP client card, which is installed directly in the mainframe. Riedel reports that its Voice-over-IP products are prepared for the upcoming AES IP standardization.