(click thumbnail)AEQ Broadcast International, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Spain, introduced Swing, a compact, lightweight and easy-to-operate portable ISDN unit.
Measuring a scant 10 by 8.5 by 3-inches and weighing less than 3 pounds, this little mono audio codec comes equipped to handle the multitudinous and often incompatible ISDN interfaces around the world.
Selecting among the DIP configuration microswitches permits the unit to work with the respective geographic area.
With a built-in ISDN terminal adapter sporting dual-port S and U interfaces, the Swing understands its mission - to provide the best possible transmission method permitted by the location.
Programmable automatic startup configurations include G.711 (allowing voice calls to be place over an ISDN line); G.722 Statistical (the most widely used algorithm for two-way communications due to low delay factor); G.722 H221/H242 (which provides an ancillary data channel); ETSI (European) and ANSI (National-1, or US) MPEG Layer II-compatibility at both 64 Kbps and 128 kbps.
Product CapsuleThumbs Up
Microphone filing down a POTS line (built-in phoner unit)
Lightweight built-in uninterruptible power supply
Dialpad vulnerable to being crushed
Price: $2,295 list
For more information contact AEQ Broadcast International U.S. in Florida at (954) 581-7999 or visit www.aeqbroadcast.com or www.aeq.es.
Yes, other codecs are capable of these settings, but few do so simultaneously. Other devices permit access to only one ISDN standard at a time. Additionally, the substantial cost of each card for each location must be added to the price of the basic unit.
The Swing offers a simultaneous-use digital hybrid with echo cancellation and frequency extension, allowing for high-quality transmissions from locations when no ISDN line is available. This feature makes the unit stand out from all others - you can file a spot using your handheld microphone to transmit and headphones to monitor.
As you can imagine, the fidelity of a traditional phoner filing is distinctly more hi-fi through this unit than a conventional telephone handset. This little wonder box also lets you simultaneously talk on the line and receive a fax. It provides foolproof mix-minus for you. Pretty cool.
The connectivity of the Swing is impressive - Neutrik integrated XLR and 1/4-inch TRS female jacks allow up to three high- or low-impedance microphones or two microphones and one line-level input. Two headphone jacks with independent volume controls and program "mix" pots permit individually tailored monitoring environments.
RJ11 and RJ45 ISDN jacks snuggle next to each other; a second RJ11 is present as well for analog telephone service. An RS-422 V35/x21 interface permits use in a fixed line application by bypassing the terminal adapter function of the unit and just accessing the codecs.
An RS-232 port provides for ancillary data and control channel, permitting remote control of the equipment from a PC. A four-wire connector permits auxiliary analog audio input and output, allowing for an intercom between two or more Swings. The device will work as a standalone mixer.
My colleague Michael Cullen sussed out the functions without reading the manual (the real goal of all new gear investigations), giving us confidence that we can expect successful operation in the hands of a trained, non-advanced user.
Setup is accomplished through a familiar pushbutton telephone dial pad; Yes and No buttons; and Up and Down arrows. The tiny backlit LCD screen is acceptable because it toggles important information every few seconds, confirming status and numbers dialed.
Eight-segment LED meters give visual monitoring of transmitted and received signal volume. Large, well-marked knobs line the left and right of the dialpad, along with LED-equipped microphone on and off buttons make the Swing status quite coherent.
The unit enunciates an incoming call with a distinctive ring, and has a memory bank for preloading numbers.
One reservation concerns the robustness of the unit; although it comes in a handy shoulder-strapped soft carrying case, there is no provision in that sack for the 1.5-pound external power supply, forcing the user to stash that elsewhere. The power supply does come with its own soft case, attachable to the carrying strap. If one were to toss a Swing in its case into an overhead bin, it could be damaged. I recommend a sturdy flight case to transport it.
Powered by an external 12 VDC power supply (90 to 250 VAC, 50/60 Hz) that cleverly includes a self-charging UPS inside of it, the flat cool exterior and small footprint makes the Swing really, well, swing.