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Exhibitor Viewpoint: Tom Hartnett, Comrex

"My hope is more effort will be shown by the big players toward interoperability"

The spring NAB Show is 11 weeks away. Here we begin a 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. Tom Hartnett is technical director of Comrex.

Q. What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2015 NAB Show?

As in recent years, the hot trend will still be studio-based IP audio. My hope is more effort will be shown by the big players toward interoperability. AES67 is a good start, but there’s a long way to go before actual users can buy gear that’s interoperable. With regard to Comrex, we’ll have something to talk about in this field >wink<.

Q. For radio attendees, what will the emphasis be at Comrex, either new products or other offerings?
Updated functionality to existing lines for the most part this year. From our IP-based talk show systems, to our audio codec hardware, to our LiveShot video codecs, we’re releasing new firmware for each that dramatically changes and improves the functions.

Q: How is your new product different from what’s available on the market?
With regard to the STAC-VIP talk-show system, the upgrade allows you to run two independent talk shows in two separate studios on a single hardware system.

Q: Someone recently told us that when it comes to bit rate reduced audio, it’s all “marking time” until linear audio can be sent reliably and cheaply. How close are we?
I’m not buying that. Audio compression is and will still be critical to everything we do outside the studio. The good news is that when deployed correctly it sounds good, withstands tandem coding and is more compatible than ever before.

Q: In addition to radio broadcast offerings, Comrex has been active in the bonded cellular video market. How is that going and what should we expect next?
We’ve been working that angle for several years for the video market. We’ve finally brought this back to our audio gear. With Access and BRIC-Link firmware 4.0, you have the ability to run multiple networks on one end or both, whether those are Ethernet ports or USB modems, simultaneously. This can dramatically improve reliability either for remotes, or for fixed point-to-point IP connections.

Q: Anything else we should know?
Cellular USB modems are critical to our remote customers. Because the mobile carriers are starting to obsolete them (in favor of Wi-Fi hotspots), we’re introducing our own line of 4G LTE modems for use with our products.

Booth: C2627

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