Friday, April 18, 2008

NAB: Back home

I have returned to the land down under...eight feet of snow. Heh, it DID actually snow in Geneva last Sunday, but it's a pleasant 75 degrees and sunny today.

To put a bit of a wrap on the NAB trip, I would say that there were really only three things that were interesting and "additive":
  • Nautel's impressively small - yet high-powered - transmitters. They had a 44kW TPO FM that was perhaps the size of two or three refridgerators.
  • Nautel again with their cool peak-smoothing of IBOC carriers. This could be really important if the FCC decides to allow more watts on the digital side.
  • iZotope's ANR-B automatic noise reducer, which gets high "coolness" points and is remarkably useful, too.
In all fairness, both Logitek and Enco had interesting things, although Logitek's is more about announcing what's coming up in the future for their product line (a move more towards IP audio, similar to Axia's LiveWire) and Enco's product is ready now but is for a concept that is still more in the future than it is today (iTunes tagging and PADapult for HD Radio).

John Kean/NPR Labs' receiver interference report was fascinating but unfortunately short on details...I understand it has to pass through CPB first and will be released in about a month, which is good. It promises to give a FAR better idea of what pubradio stations' coverage really is.

And that really sums up the show in a nutshell: lots of interesting ideas tossed around, and a lot of learning what we don't know ("negative" info)...but not a lot of hard "additive" info to take home and use.

For example, in my case I've got to put in an order for a new transmitter in the next four weeks or so, and I have to decide whether to gamble that the FCC will not authorize IBOC carriers to be increased to -10dB (from -20dB), and thus get a lower-powered transmitter that is much cheaper....or gamble that they WILL authorize it, and thus pay for a much higher-powered transmitter that's much more expensive. The problem is that more digital watts cannot happen in a vacuum; you must also proportionally increase analog wattage, and that proportion is steep. As in, increasing our digital TPO by 10dB will require DOUBLING the analog. Eep!

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