Supply Side is a series of occasional interviews with industry manufacturers and service providers,
Ben Barber is president/CEO of Inovonics Inc.
Radio World: What’s the most significant technology trend for radio stations in your part of the business?
Ben Barber: Monitoring of their stations. That is the biggest growth sector in equipment that we see. Engineers are spread thin, and they need to know what is happening at their remote stations.
RW: How is the company approaching that?
Barber: Inovonics has two new HD Radio Modulation Monitors. Model 551 is a 3U box with lots of meters and diagnostics on the front panel. The Model 552 is a 1U box that is more for the remote site where you use it to log in remotely to obtain all the pertinent data you need.
RW: How are these different from what’s on the market?
Barber: Both models, 551 and 552, have web interfaces so they are accessible from any web-enabled device and not from a PC application. This makes them much easier to monitor and remotely operate. Second is SNMP functions for everything in the box, both monitoring and control.
As I mentioned, monitoring your station’s modulation and overall signal health has become a larger part of our sales over the past year or two. I think the reasons are twofold.
Engineers are stretched more thinly and the ability to know what is going on at stations they can’t easily monitor is essential. Secondly, more and more networks are centralizing their operations and they want to know what is going on in remote markets. So, for the single engineer monitoring a number of local stations or the large network wanting to monitor all of their stations, the needs are very similar.
For years, engineers have approached us to come out with an HD modulation monitor with a number of key features that have been missing from current offerings.
- The ability to check your FM/HD modulation from any web-enabled device, and from anywhere. Having a PC application is fine but what about when you’re using your tablet or smartphone and you need to check modulation levels, Artist Experience or other transmission metrics? A comprehensive web GUI can’t be beat.
- SNMP. This is a huge piece of the pie that has been missing. More and more remote controls are using SNMP to aggregate alarm data and then feed that information to engineers. Networks that have NOCs (network operation centers) need to be able to poll all of their sites to get up to date information on their health. SNMP is the way to do this.
- Monitor multiple HD Channels simultaneously. Both of our new HD modulation monitors can monitor 4 x HDs simultaneously in real time and supply metrics and audio back to the engineering team.
- Meter History. Our monitors can show the past 24 hours of RF metrics, audio metrics and alignment measurements. This is very useful in seeing trends and finding problems in the field.
RW: How has the pandemic affected Inovonics’ business?
Barber: Sales were where you would expect them for such a year. The shutdowns of 2020 were hard on us, though we all came through with our jobs intact! The good news is that we were able to focus on product development.