Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

... edited by Barry Mishkind - the Eclectic Engineer    

NAB 2014

Some comments on NAB 2014
(last update 4/9/14)

[4-9-14]  April, NAB, and Las Vegas - they all seem to go together.  So here we are again, enjoying the chance to see old friends and make new ones. This year the NAB has announced the attendance to exceed 93,000 already on the first day. The total was lifted to 98,015, with 1746 companies exhibiting.

[Day 0] Of course, events start before the floor opens on Monday morning. There are a number of user groups and special interest meetings that pick up on Sunday, to set the stage for the week.

For example, for many folks, Sunday is the day for the NUG (Nautel Users Group) meeting in the AM, lunch, and then  the BWWG meeting on the state of EAS and the  work being done toward the coming Part 11 rewrite and the current request for comments on multilingual alerts.

Nautel welcomed over 250 folks this year. It was mentioned that the NUG meetings started with eight people about 16 years ago. The program was nice mix of info on new products, tips and tricks, and a live demo on how to update the firmware in a Nautel transmitter - with a unit being upgraded from 2.x to 4.x in a little over 20 minutes in front of the group. The Nautel theme of "Continuous Improvement" was clear - the company intends to maintain their premiere place among transmitter manufacturers by never forgetting their customers' needs. Indeed, the 45-year-old company still  supports every product they've ever made.

The new GV line of transmitters was discussed along with the new features of the 4.x software. GV units are designed to run HD and still handle the rated analog carriers.

The firmware update improves a lot of features, adds some new ones, and responds to a number of user requests.

At the BWWG EAS meeting, the recent CSRIC presentation to the FCC was discussed, along with other current concerns, including message flooding, EAS in advertisements, SECC issues, and the need to bring programming and management into the EAS groups if we are ever going to see better acceptance and utilization of EAS.  Lots of folks went off to dinner ... or to the Showstoppers event at the Wynn.

The floor opens in the morning, with Nautel hosting an event to again "unveil" the GV transmitters.

[Day 1 - Monday] Monday is always the day of anxiety: will this year have good floor traffic? The answer from a number of vendors is, yes, this year is even a bit better than last year.

I spent the day shuttling back and forth from the Central, North, and South Halls. One of the things I wanted to see was the Rhode & Schwartz THR9 FM transmitter that Alan saw unveiled at the Fall Show last year.

The THR9 is an interesting model, as it brings to the FM transmitters a liquid cooled unit. The glycol-cooled system is exactly the same as used by the R&S TV line, with over 600 in use in the US, some for up to nine years. With many parts and systems the same as in the TV models,  it was, naturally, a TV station in Dallas that has taken delivery of the first THR9. This is a good-looking transmitter with its own  design philosophy, something US stations may wish to look at and see if the German product might meet their needs.

Making a quick run through the halls, it was clear, if no one had told us, that TV is king this year. But radio was not taking it laying down.

Kurt Gorman at Phasetek displayed his new filter that allows stations is close as 60 kHz to have separation of 32 dB or better.  At least four manufacturers were showing new receivers designed to quality measurement or to feed translators. The codec wars continue, with several companies vying for the lead in stable, reliable connections. And the a number of new Internet streaming monitors and backup systems were shown around the floor. Add  to that quite a few software/firmware updates to add features to all sorts of products and there is a lot to see.

Day 1 is also the day for the Keynote Address, this year by NAB President Gordon Smith. Smith raised the question "Why doesn't the FCC have a National  Broadcast Plan?" Contrasting the service by broadcasters during disasters with the limited or non-existent broadband and cellular service, Smith called the FCC on the "broadband obsession" that seems to put broadcasters as no longer needed and  whose frequencies are better use to auction off  to cellular companies.

The question is "are they listening at the FCC - at least to more than the lobbyists?"

Day 2 - Tuesday

As usual, Tuesday is largely consumed by the "Lunch Gathering" ... now the the 22nd annual opportunity to get together for lunch during the NAB and network a bit - along with a few doorprizes and other surprises. Due to the closing of the Riviera Buffet, we had to move over to the LVH Buffet, and it is good to report that they were cooperative - and that the food was better than what we got at the Riviera.

Back at the Convention Center, the political posturing continued ... with the NAB accusing the FCC of ignoring broadcasters (did you see our Editorial from February?) while getting ready to push the Radio Floor into the back corner of the Central Hall.

The FCC, for its part was emphasizing that misuse of EAS tones - ior soundalikes - in commercials would bring the wrath of the Enforcement Bureau, as the recent $1.9 million fine showed.

On a more helpful mode, the FCC continues warning stations to actively control all equipment connected to the public Internet. The "Zombie Alerts" last year from EAS boxes hooked directly to the Internet were alarming enough,  but the abiilty of hackers to compromise Barix boxes and change the audio feed to a rude, crude, rap site has not gone away, last summer's attacks were repeated recently in some areas. In addition  to the embarrassment, there could be a fine for "failure to control what is broadcast on the station. Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau chief Admiral David Simpson (ret.) said the number of attacks mean “It’s no longer a question if broadcasters need to secure their facilities, it’s a question of when,” adding “and I suggest the when is now.”

The few minutes available on the floor allowed inpsection of several new receivers and a rebroadcast unit. The Inovonics Aaron 650 receiver is a winner, along with the BW Broadcast unit. Crown was also there, as well as DEVA, to give a wide range of receiver technology, features, and pricing. 

Over at the RDL both, they continue their lines of helpful modules and applications.A remote controlled audio switcher was among this year's new items.

In the North Hall, Orban, Wide Orbit, Digital Alert Systems (DASDEC), Day Sequerra, and GatesAir were among the radio oriented companies showing. Orban's offerings bring their line into a one rack unit size, and some significant price savings. New products include the upgraded 5700 processor and the 1552 Opticodec system, with the software running native of computers, no add-on cards needed.

Day 3 - Wednesday

I finally get to wander a bit ... and check out old friends and make some new ones. The Aldena antenna maker from Italy was showing in the back of the Central Hall, and their designs definitely could save money in an installation.  Like their American brethren, Jampro, Shively, and ERI, not only design and installation are important, but also  maintenance. In upcoming months, we hope to share some tips and best practices to ensure getting the most out of your antennas.

Several companies, including Moseeley, followed Omnia/Nautel with composite to digital units, allowing processing to be at the studio, and a non-overshoot digital composite signal  to get  to the transmitter. 

ESE was showing a couple of new products, including their new PoE ... power over Ethernet ... clock system, making it possible to install the clocks in many more situations, without electrical inspection issues.

Comrex continues its work on better IP links. Similar to some others, a dual IP link allows for solid receptions despite dropouts on the Internet. Their TV streaming product is still gaining interest, especially with the ability to stack feeds to send out higher resolution video streams from anywhere.

Day 4 -Thursday

There is still more ... including pictures and Alan Alsobrook's look. Stay tuned!


Some Show Stats

The NAB reported total registered attendance for the 2014 NAB Show was 98,015, four percent over 2013. Exhibit space was also up, with 1,746 exhibiting companies spanning 945,000 net square feet of exhibit space.





The 2013 NAB Show final attendance was 93,850.

Check back for more observations, and some pictures as the week rolls on!