NAB Show 2017 as Seen by San Diego Engineers

A number of San Diego broadcast engineers got away for a few days to the NAB Show in Las Vegas and came back with some good impressions of technology advances on display there.

Chris Aamodt of KFMB Stations said, “The new Volicon products are impressive and much easier to use than previous models.”

Leon Messenie of KPBS responded, “The only thing I saw different was the Ross Graphite.  It is a new low-cost production system to go after the Tri-Caster market.

“I spent most all of my time looking at TV and radio automation systems, Items for the FCC repack, and production automation systems. These are projects active at KPBS.”

Scottie Rice of KSDS made a few picks:

“The new SAS iSL with OLED displays and programmable LED switch colors. It is the combination of quality and sex appeal! The Premium SR color on it also makes it durable, as well as functional. The new iSL is the hit of the show.

“The new Wheatstone Air Aura X4 processor with the multipath mitigation software is absolutely superb. Its loudness and functionality are amazing.

“The product that everyone has been waiting for is the new Nautel Importer/Exporter all in one box. With the extraordinary quality and service of Nautel, it is on KSDS’ wish list for next year to replace our old Harris HDI-100 and HDE-200.

“The mic/recorder from Yellowtek is quite superb. As our SS portable recorders are dying here at the college I intend on replacing them with the Yellowtek. Quite a nice product, established, and the German engineering is quite superb.”

Matthew Anderson of iHeartMedia added, “Especially with the TV repack coming up, there was a lot of good information from vendors and those in the know about what is the real future for wireless mic use.

“One great feature of the NAB is to meet the engineers behind the products you love. Bugs, features, and enhancement requests were all talked about. I talked with Aaron, working with SAS and our conversations sparked a project we are going to work on to add older Telos system interoperability to the SAS Phone Controller.”

Bill Eisenhamer of Entercom said, “Truth be told I was not impressed by much there.  I already own the Tieline Via used for baseball.  We look at most anything IP-based. I am interested in the AVT phone system. Comrex is trying, but seems to be missing the point of who their end users are. That’s about it from me.”

This year I concentrated mostly on RF products and spent time holding down a booth, so my impressions were limited:

Synegy showed a low-cost IP-based modular master control playout system that appeared easy-to-use, stable and mature.

GatesAir showed its Maxiva liquid-cooled and air-cooled high-efficiency TV transmitters with impressive remote control and monitoring options. They can work with either ATSC-1 or ATSC-3, or any number of international standards like DVB-T2. Its clean layout seemed to be designed for ease of service.

California-based antenna manufacturer Jampro offers a number of solutions for TV spectrum repacking projects, including a nice circular polarization panel antenna and broadband slots for all power levels.

I checked out the 8K video technology display at NHK. I swear, every time I see one of these demos, I think they’ve finally come to the peak of technology’s ability to recreate a real-life visual experience, and every time it just gets better. This demo had 23 audio speakers to envelope you in the concert experience. My neighbor commented that “we ARE in this symphony!” Yeah, it was that good. Not currently transmittable in real-time over consumer-friendly paths, but I wouldn’t bet against it in the future.

Similarly, Harmonic showed an impressive 8K demo using their compression equipment and digital media. The color is astoundingly realistic. They have ATSC 3.0-ready multiplexer/encoders ready-to-ship.