Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


The Pick Hits of NAB2005

The Pick Hits of NAB2005

Jun 1, 2005 12:00 PM, Compiled by Kari Taylor

Recognizing Excellence

The Pick Hits of NAB2005

The Pick Awards are the original technology award presented at the NAB convention. First awarded in 1985, the awards recognize innovation in product development with an eye to meeting the practical needs for radio. The winners are selected by a panel of radio professionals who work independently and anonymously to find the top new products introduced at the convention. The panelists met on Wednesday during the convention to make their final selections, which are limited to 15. With so many new products introduced, this can be a difficult task. While their identities are kept secret during the convention, we can tell you who they are now. See the list on page 50.

The Pick Hits judges also follow established guidelines to make their selections. See the rules below.

SPS-capable radio


Multistream: This transportable HD Radio receiver can handle any number of multiple digital streams along with existing HD Radio and analog signals. The removable receiving unit measures less than 6″ � 4″ and the complete radio is less than 16″ � 7″. When broadcasters add a second digital stream, the receiver will allow listeners to receive the additional programming.
fax 612-435-3380
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“This HD Radio receiver has hit an affordable price point.”
“Units priced like this will help accelerate the HD Radio transition.”

HD Radio monitor

Day Sequerra

M4: Like the M2, the M4 offers a low noise RF front end with built-in preselector and double-balanced mixer. Its low jitter DAC and Class A biased audio output provide playback of HD Radio 96kb/s programming. Synthesized pushbutton tuning for AM and FM bands, balanced audio outputs at +4dBV on 3.5mm Eurostyle modular connectors and a multi-function liquid crystal display are all features of this monitor. Ten preset stations per AM and FM band are offered, as well as left- and right-program signal indicators. The unit also features an HD Radio digital to analog program time-alignment monitor.
fax 856-719-9903
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“Finally, a rack-mount HD Radio receiver.”
“The compact size and affordable price caught my eye.”

Digital recorder


DR-100: Designed for broadcast journalism field work, this recorder captures sound through the built-in or external mic. The unit uses the same batteries as a Nokia cellular phone. Various file formats can be selected, and audio can be edited on the recorder. Files are transferred via USB. The recorder includes an FM radio with 20 presets.
fax 954-581-7733
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“It’s so compact, but so versatile.”
“The built-in tuner reduces equipment needs in the field.”

Broadcast console

Sierra Automated Systems

Rubicon SL: The Rubicon SL radio broadcast console control surface was manufactured for the smaller-market station or less demanding studio. Like its bigger brother Rubicon, the SL offers complete integration with the SAS 32KD and the SAS Connected Digital Network, as well as stand-alone operation with the new upgraded Riolink mixer and router.
fax 818-840-6751
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The smaller size fits into more applications.”
“A real space savings is provided by the new metering options.”

Voice processor

Aphex Systems

230: Features of this voice processor include a reflected plate amplifier tube mic preamp, an easy-rider compressor, a logic-assisted gate, a split band de-esser and an aural exciter. The processor offers +4dBu and -10dBV outputs, as well as 24-bit/96kHz A/D AES, S/PDIF and optical outputs. It also features a low-jitter word clock output, word clock input and a cough switch (soft mute).
fax 818-767-2641
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The slimmer size and simplified controls are great.”
“Incredibly affordable.”

USB audio interface


UAX220: This USB audio interface was specifically designed for broadcast and pro audio applications. Supplied in a 17cm � 22cm bag, the unit features two balanced analog inputs and two balanced analog outputs on Neutrik XLRs, 24-bit/48kHz resolution, a dynamic range greater than 103dB (A-weighted) and a �-inch headphone output. Once connected to a USB port on a computer (Windows 2000 and XP, Mac OS X, Linux), the unit is automatically recognized as a USB audio-compliant device without needing additional drivers. External power is not required.
fax 703-875-9161
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“Full-size connectors make this a robust unit. No more broken connectors.”
“Lots of power in a small package.”

Digital audio leveler

Translantech Sound

“The audio controls on the unit make changes easier than accessing software.”

Ariane Sequel: Like its analog predecessor, the Ariane Sequel features the company’s sum-and-difference processing. The audio processing path is fully digital, not a hybrid analog/digital design. It provides independent two-channel and stereo-linked modes, protection limiting, input and output level metering, TCP/IP and RS-232 remote control and software upgrade capability. Adapting the Ariane leveler concept to a digital system was the result of Translantech’s partnership with Broadcast Warehouse.
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The analog idea was good, but creating it digitally is better.”
“The extensive metering is impressive, and the ability to split modes of mono, stereo and matrix is useful.”

HD Radio importer, exporter and exciter


Flexstar HDI-100, HDE-100 & exciter: The Flexstar HDI-100 data importer and HDE-100 program exporter can broadcast supplemental audio and implement data services, maximizing available bandwidth within the transmission chain. The HDI-100 importer accepts all advanced application services, including supplemental audio program streams. The HDE-100 exporter multiplexes the data leaving the importer with a station main program channel and feeds all the data as one bit stream to an HD Radio exciter. The Flexstar exciter is HD Radio-ready and provides the capability to adjust the phase of the output for split-level combining applications.
fax 513-459-3890
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“I like the phase-adjustment capability that is built into the exciter, which is well suited for split-level combining.”
“This removes the need for the separate box for audio control and bypass.”

HD Radio monitor

Day Sequerra

M2: The M2 offers over-sampling 24-bit/96kHz DAC combined with the proprietary Class A-biased audio output circuitry that provides transparent and dynamic audio. The high resolution, peak and hold 50-segment LED meters indicate the RF carrier modulation percent and audio modulation in decibels. The M2 uses a multi-function display for tuning and other station information. The monitor also includes alarms for over-modulation, loss of audio and loss of carrier. All tuner functions can be monitored and controlled remotely via an optional PC interface.
fax 856-719-9903
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“It provides a great deal of monitoring power.”
“With SPS built-in, plus the modularity, it will not become obsolete.”

AM field intensity meter

Potomac Instruments

PI 4100: This meter measures electromagnetic field strength in the 520kHz to 5.1MHz frequency spectrum. This instrument combines a radio frequency voltmeter, a calibrated, shielded loop antenna, an internal GPS receiver, an internal calibration source and data acquisition hardware and software in a package weighing less than 3kg. Features of the meter include a 116dB dynamic range tuned RF voltmeter, digitally synthesized tuning in 1kHz increments and a spectrum display to facilitate various compliance measurements (field strength, harmonic level and spectrum occupancy). The unit’s data acquisition software and PC interface enable the collection, analysis and e-distribution of current field measurements.
fax 301-589-2665
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The lightweight and better package is great.”
“The display is clear and easy to read.”

Broadcast power monitor

Bird Electronic

BPM-E & BPM-E7: This system offers users more options in how they measure, monitor and protect their RF transmission systems. Its RF test port enables users to verify spectral compliance for many applications including IBOC. Features of this system include alarm detection and notification, instant e-mail alerts, remote power/VSWR monitoring and administration, RF test port, access to historical data through data logging, and a small footprint for minimal rack space.
fax 440-248-3790
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“This is an ideal system to monitor digital transmissions.”
“Eliminating the sampling slugs is a real step forward.”

Audio codec


Access: The BRIC technology (Broadcast Reliable Internet Codec) in this codec enables broadcasters to use a variety of commonly available Internet access points to broadcast real-time audio. The unit uses widely available wired circuits like DSL, cable, POTS and frame relay as well as wireless circuits such as Wi-fi, 1XRTT, Edge and 3G data networks. The codec is available in rack mount and portable units. Capable of providing voice quality connections over IP connections, the codec also offers a stereo mode that optimizes performance when used on managed data networks.
fax 978-784-1717
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“This has great flexibility for a wide range of uses.”
“The extensive compatibility with various paths is ideal.”

50kW AM transmitter

Broadcast Electronics

4MX 50: This 50kW transmitter is based on a patent-pending modulation design and is about half the size of comparable models. The transmitter is IBOC and DRM compatible. Notable features include PA modules that can be accessed from the front of the transmitter, while lift-off rear panels provide access to power supplies and all ac connections. Power can be cut back to 250W. A 15″ XGA GUI is provided for operation and diagnostics. This data is also available via IP. The unit’s power factor is greater than 0.98.
fax 217-224-9607
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The modulation technique is innovative, and the amplifier efficiency is amazing.”
“I like that each module has its own power supply.”

Radio encoder

Digital Radio Express

FM Extra: This encoder enables broadcasting of multiple digital signals on an existing FM carrier with flexible architecture that can use any available SCA carrier space. The unit offers expandable bandwidth, riding on up to 99kHz of baseband on standard FM exciters. It will work on IBOC stations or non-IBOC stations. The unit is capable of more than 128kb/s. The encoder can also be used to broadcast true discrete 5.1 surround sound, equivalent to Dolby Digital 5.1, and can broadcast multiple independent audio streams to provide multi-channel programming.
fax 408-956-8748
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The audio quality is impressive.”
“The compatibility with HD Radio offers some interesting possibilities.”

Portable recorder


PMD660: Featuring a built-in condenser microphone with automatic level control, one-touch digital recording to Compact Flash cards, on-board editing with mark segment, a virtual track mode for playback and instant audio access to the preset marked points, the recorder is a solid-state media recorder with one-touch digital recording. It can record for four hours running on four standard AA batteries. Uncompressed WAV files can be recorded at 44.1kHz or 48kHz, and MP3 files can be recorded in mono at 64kb/s or in stereo at 128kb/s.
fax 630-741-0652
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:

“The XLR connectors are perfect for broadcast use.”
“The recording presets will reduce recording errors.”

NAB2005 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 2005 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 2005 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.

Unlike other awards given at the convention, Radio magazine has clearly defined rules that are used to establish the winners. Radio magazine believes that ambiguous criteria, such as making the judges simply say “oh, nifty,” is ridiculous.

Pick Hits Judges

Bud Aiello, CBNT
Director of Engineering Technology
National Public Radio
Washington, DC

Gordon Carter, CPBE
Chief Engineer

Bill Croghan, CPBE
Chief Engineer
Lotus Broadcasting
Las Vegas

Steve Fluker
Director of Engineering
Cox Radio, Orlando
Orlando, FL Gary Kline, CSRE CBNT
Corporate Director of Engineering
Cumulus Media

Kent Kramer, CBRE
Director of Engineering
Los Angeles

Mike McBride
Chief Engineer, Wichita Operations
Journal Broadcast Group
Wichita, KS

Marshall Rice
Engineering Director
Bonneville International
St. Louis

Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT
Vice President of Engineering
Westwood One Radio Networks
New York