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The Pick Hits of NAB2006

The Pick Hits of NAB2006

Jun 1, 2006 12:00 PM, Reported by Kari Taylor, senior associate editor

Recognizing Excellence

The Pick Hits of NAB2006

Reported by Kari Taylor, senior associate editor

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 in number. 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 below.

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

Digital audio toolbox

Sencore Electronics

DA795: Analyze any stereo digital audio signal and generate low-noise digital test signals, all at up to 24-bit/96kHz sample rate resolution with this device. The unit offers two sets of AES/EBU and S/PDIF inputs, including Toslink and ADAT, plus word clock in. Digital outputs, including AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and Toslink/ADAT and word clock out are also available. A transparency test verifies that a device passes digital test waveforms without errors, using synchronous or asynchronous test. The bit stream analyzer analyzes digital stream characteristics to check actual word length and sample rate, bit activity, header information, flag errors and low voltage. Bitscope shows distortion, noise or jitter on an S/D or X-Y scope, and also applies the results to the internal speaker, headphones and line output.
fax 605-339-0317

What the judges had to say:
Lots of great test functions.
Recording measurements over a period of time is a great feature to have.

Data collection system

Day Sequerra

Market Area Monitor: Designed for HD Radio, analog and Internet broadcasts, this data collection system offers radio broadcasters a set of resources for local, regional and national HD Radio confidence monitoring and competitive analysis. The MAM system offers diagnostic measurements for any HD Radio station (AM or FM), whether an independent operation or part of a national multi-station group. Using 1RU of space, the MAM receiver records a complete snapshot of any station’s HD Radio output including audio S/N ratio, level and time alignment as well as audio program samples, along with cataloging that station’s full HD Radio data payload. The system also provides monitoring, cataloging and sampling of legacy analog AM and FM radio and Internet-streaming broadcasts.
fax 856-719-9903
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
I like being able to monitor all the AMs and FMs in my market.
Excellent logging features.

IP audio distribution

Barix Technology

Instreamer, Exstreamer, Exstreamer Gold: With Instreamer, stations can distribute audio and deliver music and announcements via any IP path. The Exstreamer MP3 Player pulls digital audio from the network while converting it into music or voice. It communicates over a standard network connection (10/100 Mb/s Ethernet) with PCs, digital audio servers and Internet radio stations. It is controlled using a standard Web browser or IR remote control. The Exstreamer Gold is a MP3 player that can pull digital audio from the network while converting it to music or voice. This device includes its own built-in amplifier and speaker output. It communicates over a standard network connection with PCs, digital audio servers, Internet radio stations and analog audio sources using an Instreamer.
+41 43 43322 11
fax +41 44 2742849
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
An inexpensive way to provide an IP stream.
I could use this for in-house monitor feeds.

USB-to-XLR codec

Henry Engineering

USB Matchbox: Replacing a computer sound card, this codec provides stereo line-level inputs and outputs at professional levels and eliminates the hum, buzz and other interface problems caused by in-PC audio cards. The Burr-Brown 8�� ADC/ADC provides audiophile performance with the ease of USB interface to any PC. The unit features XLR connectors and monitor output with muting. The unit occupies �� rack width and is 1RU tall.
fax 626-355-0077
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
The audio-to-computer bridge is still an obstacle in many installations.
This is a perfect problem solver.

Transmitter remote control system

Burk Technology

Arc Plus: Automatic functions are built in, and backward compatibility with the Arc-16 provides flexible roll-out options. The system is a next-generation transmitter remote control system for full-time, multi-site or dial-up operation. Taking advantage of the scalability of IP, the unit connects an unlimited number of sites, each with as many as 256 channels of metering, status and command. Access the entire system from the front panel of any unit, take control using a Web-browser or PC software or dial into the system over the phone. Advance facility management operation incrementally with this equipment, and protect the station’s hardware investment.
fax 978-486-0081
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
It handles a tremendous number of sites.
Backward compatibility with the ARC-16 is a good evolution path.

Analog, digital translator

Armstrong Transmitter

TRX-HD series: Designed to transition a translator station from analog-only broadcasting to digital, this series receives an FM station’s entire signal payload over the air, including its HD Radio digital component. The signal content is transferred to the TRX-HD transmit side for retransmission on the translator frequency. The TRX-HD10 provides 10W in the hybrid digital mode, the TRX-HD50 provides 50W hybrid digital, and the TRX-HD100 is a 100W hybrid digital translator. Higher hybrid power levels are achieved by adding an Armstrong solid-state amplifier.
fax 315-673-9972
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
Stations with translators have been wondering how they will accommodate HD Radio. Now they know.
To have it all in one package makes it an elegant system.

Signal processor


AP-1000: This multiband, dual-path FM plus HD Radio processor features an interactive user interface for remote monitoring and control. This 31-band processor features three-band preprocessing AGC, an AM/FM output limiter, an HD Radio output limiter, four-band full parametric EQ, variable high- and low-pass filters and Ethernet control. It provides HD Radio latency FM delay, FM stereo MPX generator, a 24-bit sample rate converter, de-esser, and accepts a 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 96kHz or 192kHz inputs.
fax 252-635-4857
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
The user interface is incredible, and it sounds very clean.
The graphic representation of the settings is outstanding.

Analog stereo matrix switcher

Broadcast Tools

ADMS 44.22: The device is a four-input stereo AES and four-input stereo analog matrix switcher with two independent stereo analog and AES outputs in a 1RU profile. Each input is equipped with a three-band EQ, five types of filters and a leveler function. Any or all of the inputs may be mixed, faded or dimmed to either or both output pairs. Additional features include selectable stereo VU meters; headphone amplifier; powered monitor output; 16×16 GPIO port and RS-232/USB port. The switcher is also equipped with an expansion port allowing a second unit to be added, increasing the inputs to 16.
fax 360-854-9479
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
Switching analog and digital is something that I needed.
The extra features, such as EQ and remote control, are great.

FM/HD Radio mod monitor


Model 532: The company’s first product manufactured under license for Ibiquity’s HD Radio digital transmission system, the monitor measures parameters of the analog FM and the digital HD Radio program channels, and includes a display of the occupied spectrum. It measures the injection of FM subcarriers and displays signal strength and multipath effects. Built-in spectrum analysis provides for incoming RF and FM baseband. Its tuning range is 87.9 to 108.1MHz in 200kHz steps. Other features include a sensitivity of 10dBf for 50dB mono quieting; RS-232 serial, USB and TCP/IP network ports; and power requirements of 95 to 250Vac, 50/60Hz, 50W.
fax 831-458-0554
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
The easy-to-read display is fantastic.
All the functions are built-in, including subcarriers and digital.

Safety system


D-Tec II: The built-in anti-collision system automatically stops mast extension, providing added protection from overhead hazards for the operator and equipment. The D-Tec II is equipped with the Emergency Bypass System, providing a safe means of bypassing the D-Tec II in the event a malfunction or false trip occurs preventing mast extension. System safety features include dual threshold ac alert, E-field (current) and H-field (magnetic); ac current and ac voltage sensing; audible alerts; and expanded self-testing features. The system offers an ac voltage detection range starting at 110Vac/60Hz.
fax 330-684-1190
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
Wonderful solution for mast safety.
E and H field sensing is a needed feature.

Eight channel remote control system

Broadcast Tools

WVRC-8: This system comes equipped with a browser-based function program scheduler and alarm logger, while the user may select from four e-mail recipients or different sounds to play when an out-of-tolerance alarm is generated. The unit offers eight high-resolution telemetry channels, while each of the eight optically isolated status channels may be configured for five to 25Vdc wet or dry input monitoring. The eight control channels are equipped with independent SPST 1A relays for the raise/on and lower/off functions. Other features include stereo silence sensor audio and balanced caller/send telco audio; a jack for external fail power supply; 1/8″ TRS jack for an optional external temperature sensor; a front-panel mic for remote aural monitoring; and a front/rear panel RJ-11 telephone jack for user voice response recording.
fax 360-854-9479
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
Lots of control in a small space.
An excellent solution for smaller installations.

Mini console

Sierra Automated Systems

Rubi-T: This mini Rubicon broadcast console is 6″ high and features any number of input modules, monitor modules and talkback modules. This console is useful for news booths, edit booths, voice booths, voice tracking and mini secondary effects mixer in on-air studios. Features include a full-length 100mm P&G fader, on and off, and four programmable source select or bus assignment buttons.
fax 818-840-6751
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
Lots of routing and mixing capability in a tiny space.
Great for voice tracking, news editing and talk-show host positions.

Digital clock reference


Lucid Genx192: Designed to fit in a variety of digital audio situations, this system provides a low-jitter master clock reference in several digital audio formats. It is capable of handling sampling frequencies up to 192kHz, and it features two operating modes that are accessed through the front-panel interface. A Sync Source select knob allows the operator to choose internal reference and distribution functions. In distribution mode, an external AES or word clock sync source fed into the device appears at each of the Genx192’s 14 sync outputs. The unit also includes circuitry that examines the word clock connections and indicates, via a rear-panel LED, whether that particular connection is properly terminated.
fax 425-787-3211
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
Everyone needs a solid time reference now.
Lots of outputs and selectable time reference.

HD Radio exciter


Flexstar HDX-FM: This exciter provides real-time adaptive correction technology that offers noise reduction and transmitter and antenna linearity. The unit features adaptive group delay equalization; secondary auto-switching of AES3 and composite inputs; and hybrid/straight FM outputs for the split-level combining method, which enables a power-efficient implementation of FM HD Radio using a station’s existing FM transmitter and antenna.
fax 513-459-3890
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
The multiple inputs and auto input switching are great features.
The two RF outputs facilitate use for high-level and split-level combining.

Tower safety messaging


Collocom-2: This system is useful at the base of a tower, the doorway leading out to the antenna rooftop or the side of the equipment housing. This audio-based safety device will automatically provide one or more verbal messages to all site visitors so that they may be properly informed of any safety hazards present. The Collocom Solar Datalogger is solar-powered; it will also run on ac, dc or a site’s battery bank. The system features multiple messages and alternate language record and playback capability, as well as a 250-event non-volatile event logger. It’s constructed in a NEMA 4 cabinet that is waterproof and a 1/4-turn twist lock with key.
fax 954-428-0233
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
This is a great idea with the recent attention to safety.
The switch for the tower ladder and the motion sensor ensure that the warning will be heard.

Digital recording mic


Flashmic DRM85: The Flashmic combines a Sennheiser omni-directional condenser capsule with 1GB of flash recording memory to create a portable recording device with no cables and connectors. Either WAV linear or MPEG 1 Layer 2 encoded files can then be transferred at up to 90x real-time via USB. A date/time stamp is stored along with the file, with the internal real-time clock set and synchronized automatically by the host computer. The mic is powered for more than six hours by a pair of standard AA batteries. Customizable parameters include audio mode (six settings with a maximum record time of more than 18 hours), automatic gain control on/off, record level, pre-record buffer (zero to 10 seconds) and high-pass filter on/off. Operating at the industry-standard 48kHz/16-bit, the recordings can be played back under independent level control on headphones connected via a socket on the base of the unit.
fax 860-434-1759
[email protected]

What the judges had to say:
I like that the controls can be locked.
It’s ideal for the quick reports that will return to the studio regularly.

Pick Hits Judges

The Pick Hits Judges cover the entire convention floor and make their selections independently and anonymously. Only Radio magazine tells you who its award judges are.

Bud Aiello, CBNT
Director of Engineering Technology
Washington, DC

Gordon Carter, CPBE CBNT
Chief Engineer

Bill Croghan, CPBE
Chief Engineer
Lotus Broadcasting
Las Vegas

Steve Fluker
Director of Engineering
Cox Radio
Orlando, FL

Gary Kline, CBNT
VP Corporate Engineering/IT
Cumulus Media

Kent Kramer, CBRE
Director of Engineering
Reach Media

Marshall Rice
Engineering Director
Bonneville International
St. Louis

Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT
Thomas Media
Bloomfield, NJ

Pick Hits Rules

Unlike some other convention awards, the Radio magazine Pick Hits are selected by following a set of established, published 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 2006 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 2006 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.