(click thumbnail)Kevin CampbellQ. What’s new products from APT?
A. We plan to show the recently launched WorldCast codec range, our exciting new range of IP audio codecs. Rolf Taylor, our new U.S.-based project and tech support engineer, will also be attending his first trade show as an APT representative. Rolf is well known within the industry and is a welcome addition to the team at a time of unprecedented growth for the company.
Q. What is apt-X Live and why should radio readers care about it?
A. apt-X Live is a new algorithm emanating from APT’s R&D department. The algorithm is based on the core principles of Enhanced apt-X, so it offers the same low delay, almost-lossless compression, but the compression ratio has been doubled from 4:1 to 8:1.
The algorithm has already been licensed outside the broadcast codec market to a number of key players in the world of pro audio and will eventually be spun into APT’s WorldCast series of hardware codecs. This will allow broadcasters to continue to use the APT family of codecs even in bandwidth-restricted situations, for example, on remotes over EVDO Rev A, FIOS or ADSL (WiFi / WiMax).
Broadcasters have already deployed APT codecs and the Enhanced apt-X algorithm over these types of links with great success for remotes. With apt-X Live they will have the ability to achieve even greater frequency responses over even less bandwidth and still have that natural talkback between studio and remote for which apt-X is renowned.
Q. The codec market is very competitive. Characterize your success to date in the U.S. radio market and what you’re doing to grow it.
A. We have had a fantastic six months with the launch of the WorldCast Series at NAB2007 and the successful installation of high volumes of WorldNet Oslos in the top 10 major broadcast networks for T1 and IP applications.
The WorldCast Horizon IP codec offers a solution that just didn’t exist prior to its launch here — it delivers high-quality Enhanced apt-X audio over IP on a DSP hardware platform for a very affordable price. The WorldCast Meridian and Eclipse units, which build on the base Horizon and offer additional transport interfaces and algorithms, have also been well received by broadcasters for a range of applications including STL, SSL and remotes. Sales of the WorldNet Oslo audio multiplexer have hit record levels and, while we are still shipping many units with T1 interfaces, we have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for IP transport interfaces on this unit.
Q. How much more efficient can codecs get?
A. If you mean compression algorithms, then the challenge for real-time application is keeping a minimal latency and delivering bandwidth efficiency. For many years this paradox existed, but since the launch of apt-X Live, we have fundamentally addressed this issue.
If you mean the actual implementation into hardware, then broadcasters will always be challenging manufacturers to supply new features, for example, different transport mediums, higher sampling frequencies, additional audio channels, more ancillary features, greater levels of redundancy, etc., and all at a cheaper price, with 24/7 support and units guaranteed for 20-plus years with free upgrades to the latest technology.
Q. What are the most common questions or concerns you hear from your radio clients?
A. The most common complaint I hear on an almost-daily basis is “twice as much work with only half the engineers available to deal with it.” This is a consequence of the takeoff of HD Radio, the growth of IT within facilities and the consolidation of stations.
Broadcast engineers are looking for rock-solid reliability in the solutions they deploy, coupled with plug-and-play configurability. With APT’s product range we have married DSP technology with GUI software control to give engineers exactly what they desire — 24/7/365 reliability with intuitive 60-minute deployment.
Q. What trends affect radio buyers in your part of the business?
A. There definitely seems to be a renewed focus on quality, with many broadcasters wishing to eliminate lossy psycho-acoustic links from their broadcast chain. More and more we are encountering broadcasters who insist on linear or Enhanced apt-X for their STLs.
This awareness has come about for a number of reasons. First, with the advent of HD Radio, there is now a lossy algorithm at the end of the broadcast chain on emission to the consumer. Any lossy algorithms chained into this will have an adverse effect on the audio quality and, therefore, on the listener experience.
Also, hundreds of broadcasters with no prior knowledge of the apt-X algorithm are experiencing it through Verizon’s rolling replacement of the legacy balanced analog circuits with a channel bank card running, what else, Enhanced apt-X.
So, if you have recently had what you believed was an analog circuit installed by the telco, and couldn’t understand why it sounded so darn good, well now you know.
Q. What else we should know about your company?
A. APT North America is based in Waltham, Mass. To service the needs of the U.S. broadcasters, we have recruited heavily since setting up our operational center and have doubled our workforce with additions to marketing, pre- and post-sales support and project management. At our corporate headquarters in Belfast and sales offices in Japan, London and Germany, a further 40-plus people are employed.