(click thumbnail)Eric L. RichardsonQ. It seems the world of networked audio has been almost revolutionized in recent years. How as that affected Digigram, and what kind of products or services does your company now offer for radio broadcasters?
A. Digigram was a pioneer in networked digital audio starting with our NCX, HitPlayer and EtherSound products. However, these were largely adopted by the installed and live sound markets. Today we are convinced radio broadcasters are ready to deploy network audio on a large scale. This is due in part to the EBU’s finalizing of the N/ACIP IP audio interoperability recommendation, and the fact that the cost benefits of IP-based infrastructure are now superior compared to traditional audio transports. Our product and technology portfolio reflects this fundamental change, notably with Visiblu, our network audio operating system, which includes our “FluidIP” audio-over-IP transport technology. In the past, our offer to radio broadcasters was focused on radio automation audio interfaces – PC sound cards – and the expert technical support required for our software development partners. Today, Digigram is even more IT-centric and our offer encompasses the entire audio distribution infrastructure and management system. In that respect, I think the market will be astonished by what we will show at the NAB Show in the spring of 2008.
Q. You have recently announced a relationship with ENCO Systems, tell us about that.
A. Actually, ENCO Systems is one of our oldest development partners, going way back to the days of MPEG audio and our first PC sound cards. We have always admired their initiative to innovate and provide their customers with unique solutions. This past fall, we helped them identify a way to turn a data link used for FTP program transfer into a live audio-over-IP-based “STL-on-demand” from 20 geographically dispersed production studios to four transmitter sites. Using Visiblu, this was done without adding a single additional hardware codec, saving the broadcaster significant costs. Knowing ENCO, we think this is just the first example of how they will employ their Visiblu-enabled software to their advantage.
Q. What is Visiblu?
A. When we look at the history of digital audio in broadcast, we note several disruptive innovations that changed everything. For example, audio data compression and Digigram PC sound cards enabled the economic storage and distribution of radio content on hard disks and standard IT networks. The trend we’re speaking of now towards IP infrastructure will have a similar profound effect. Visiblu, in a nutshell, turns any Windows or Linux PC with a sound card into a broadcast reliable audio router, mixer, and real-time audio stream transport, connecting to any compliant RTP/UDP IP audio codec. But to say that it just provides IP audio streams in software would miss the bigger picture of its integrated system level management and distributed audio processing. In one software development kit (SDK), a Visiblu development partner can also take advantage of our 20 years of experience converging broadcast audio with IT expertise.
Q. What’s new that you will show at the NAB Show and what should radio broadcasters look for there?
A. Without giving it away, we will show our commitment to IP audio systems and interoperability with a completely line of new products. These products are designed to work within an existing broadcast infrastructure, while providing a gateway to fully network-based systems. With the unifying theme of Visiblu, these products will also complement our existing sound card and EtherSound range.
Q. Who owns the company? Where are you based, and how many employees do you have?
A. We are a publicly traded company on the Paris Euronext stock exchange. We are based in Grenoble, which is often referred to as the “Silicon Valley” of France. We maintain a lot of autonomy in choosing our mission, especially in how we navigate the shift from PC audio to network audio. We have about 70 people worldwide of which more than 30 are dedicated to R&D and technical support.
Q. Anything else we should know about your company’s business direction or new products?
A. Obviously we see tremendous growth in the network audio side of our portfolio. Our direction is to continue supporting our development partners with enabling technologies such as our Visiblu SDK, while also developing our own new generation of finished goods that are ready to create a complete audio routing and transport infrastructure.