William P. Abbott is general manager of WDJA(AM).
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — An industry colleague recently referred me to the new Comrex ARC software for Android-based phones.
Being the GM of WDJA, I am familiar with the Comrex systems. We have been using the Comrex Access rack unit and the Comrex Access Portable for years. Some months ago, I purchased an HTC EVO 4G phone for use on the Sprint Network.
After learning about Comrex ARC I went to the Android Market and downloaded it directly into the phone. Being a former corporate IT person, I had low expectations for this software. After all, what could a phone do any better than a proven platform for live remote broadcasts? I was surprised. Proxy server
The hardest part about setting up Comrex ARC is that in most cases it will require you to use an SIP proxy server to function correctly. I went to the Comrex website and downloaded the manual for Comrex ARC. It outlined a step-by-step process for installing the software and configuring a free SIP proxy server at www.iptel.org.
The process for setting up the SIP server account was pretty straightforward. Once that was done, all that was left to do was to configure the Comrex ARC SIP settings to match what was set up on the server.
Comrex ARC will connect through any data connection that your phone is capable of providing. I first tested it on a Sprint 3G connection. I was able to connect quickly and maintain a feed with approximately a 1 second delay. I did experience some minor packet dropout from time to time. However it was not bad and seemed to be normal network congestion.
The 4G test was nearly flawless. With that much data bandwidth, dropouts were hard to find. Above all, the best experience was with Wi-Fi. I performed a 60-minute test on Wi-Fi and experienced no data packet dropout at all.
The audio quality will also depend heavily upon your individual phone’s microphone audio. I found that with my HTC EVO the audio quality using the built-in microphone was good but the level was high due to the type of microphone that it is.
I purchased an adapter cable that plugs into the audio jack on the EVO and breaks it out to an XLR connector for microphone input and a 1/8-inch female jack for headphones. Using a Shure Beta 58A microphone and standard headphones the audio quality was crystal clear. The microphone audio level control in the Comrex ARC software was much more sensitive and responsive when using the external microphone input.
I compared the audio quality of the Comrex ARC to the Access Portable unit. The Comrex ARC audio quality using my HTC EVO with external audio input connected sounded equally as good as that arriving via the portable Comrex codec. I recommend it for live remote broadcasts, especially when you may have a lone reporter in the field attempting to capture a live interview, where a full-blown Comrex Portable might be too cumbersome.
I have been receiving requests from some of the station’s brokered show clients asking if I will set up Comrex ARC on their phones so that they can broadcast from home or wherever else they may want to broadcast from. I can see how this type of technological convenience will be a game changer for the talk radio industry.
For information, contact Comrex in Massachusetts at (978) 784-1776 or visit www.comrex.com.
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