As the NAB Show gets closer, we continue our series of short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Wolfgang Huber heads up public relations for Lawo and Stephan Türkay is product manager Radio/OnAir.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s NAB Show?
Lawo: After a very successful NAB Show in 2014 the year has been tremendously successful. The mix of new products like the first touchscreen-based radio console, Crystal Clear, or the purely software-based small console Jade Studio, our approach to workflow using a higher degree of automated operation to our broad experience on highly networked systems seems to have answered a lot of the demands that radio equipment manufacturers and broadcasters have these days.
RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2015 NAB Show?
Lawo: When purely talking technology, the use of IP technology for audio distribution and control is certainly the hot topic these days. We are especially happy to see that Lawo’s approach in pushing manufacturer-independent standards like AES67 and the open source control protocol Ember+ is broadly accepted and used in the market. Looking at the list of compatible new products that will be introduced industry-wide at the NAB Show this year, we sense that the door for deeply networked systems over IP is now wide open.
Wolfgang Huber RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?
Lawo: Radio broadcasters these days are under heavy pressure with the need to produce more content for more channels in less time and with the same amount or sometimes fewer people. To keep up with this output, optimized workflows and flexibility are the key aspect to a successful operation of the broadcast plant. Lawo’s highly-adaptable approach and solutions can be experienced on a fully working, real-world radio setup that shows how we address those demands every day all around the globe.
Of course the NAB Show is a perfect place to introduce new products and we will introduce new 64×64 audio channel Ravenna/AES67 extension cards for our radio console and router range enabling them to become high-density audio over IP nodes.
Furthermore, we will debut a new approach to visual radio by combining Lawo radio consoles and video products. Video signals can be attached to certain live audio sources and by audio detection the video automatically follows the audio. This way a video shot can be selected by just speaking into the microphone. In addition to visual radio, the same concept can be used to provide fully-automated audio and video coverage of sporting events, parliamentary meetings and surveillance applications.
RW: IP technology has affected console makers such as Lawo greatly over the last decade. It has made many things possible. What further technological developments can we expect in the near future?
Lawo: The use of IT-based technology — be it IP audio distribution or the use of standard servers, PCs and virtual machines in radio workflows — completely changes the way modern radio systems are designed. Lawo has addressed this with a growing number of software solutions for creating virtual control surfaces and even audio mixing to an IT environment. These solutions nicely complement our dedicated audio hardware and gives us the chance to create ideal workflow solutions for any size of system.
RW: Routing is another area where IP technology has made once seemingly impossible things possible, Lawo is also a major player in facility routing technology. What new things should we expect to see in the next few years?
Lawo: A proper networked audio system is the key to creating highly flexible and high-performing audio backbones, and this has been a key property of Lawo gear even before the use of IP. With the introduction of audio distribution over IP we enhanced our technological capabilities which have allowed Lawo to create flexible and dynamically scalable signal routing capabilities that were hard to achieve before. Of course, it depends on the demand of an installation which technical solution fits best for a particular job, IP signal distribution or dedicated audio routing infrastructure. We are in the lucky position to be able to answer any of the demands with equally powerful solutions. Nevertheless the key to these kinds of systems is the ability to unite the control of IP systems and dedicated routing infrastructure under a common umbrella and we will see major efforts in this area in the future
Stephan Türkay RW: The Internet has also changed the way people do business. Some would say that it has rendered shows such as the NAB obsolete. Is this true?
Lawo: Although the Internet is the major source of information these days and a key aspect for making business decisions, personal contact between customers and manufacturers and the ability to experience and to actually touch the products are still very important. Events like the NAB Show are the perfect forum for that. We think the best indicator of the importance of these events is that our booth grows every year.
RW: You’re show veterans, what’s your favorite thing about the show?
Lawo: The show is great place to meet interesting people related to broadcast from all over the world. Getting the personal contact is the best chance to really understand the customer’s approach and demands and it ultimately helps us to come up with better answers and products.
RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Lawo: Lawo will participate in the Public Radio Engineering Conference prior to the NAB Show. The NAB Show itself and the Broadcast Engineering Conference has shown a lot of interest in AES67 and its use. We’re especially interested in Kevin Gross’ workshop in “The All IP Facility” and Andreas Hildebrand’s session on “Rolling Out AES67 into Real-World Applications” are two events that will provide very valuable information for today’s and tomorrow’s technical concepts for broadcasting facilities.