The Virtual Reality of IBC 2016 (Part 2)

Part 2 of a 2-part blog on IBC 2017 

Voldemort
The biggest stand in the Future Zone was home to 4K's Voldemort, namely 8K. NHK had a huge screen (composed of 4 discrete screens) showing 8K coverage of the Olympics. And mightily impressive it was too. I’m not a betting man but I would put a tenner on 8k overtaking 4k before the latter can get mass market penetration.

The Future Zone tied me neatly into what I was really over in IBC for, namely those exhibitors is Hall 8: The audio hall. Sennheiser were demoing their new product, the Ambeo, a four-capsule surround sound microphone. It records to four channels and then by use of associated software, the audio field can be manipulated accordingly. Having written a review on their surround-sound Esfera product a couple of years ago, I hope to get a review model for evaluation at a later date.

Achilles heel

At the other end of the audio chain Sennheiser were show-casing the new HMD 27 headset, the replacement for the HMD 26. And guess what? Sennheiser have listened to customer feedback and removed the Achilles heel of the predecessor. The ’27 hasn’t got the microphone mute switch on the mic arm! That should improve reliability. Good on you Sennheiser.

 

"Blinking mic's packed up on my HMD 26s AGAIN!"

Elsewhere there were microphone add-ons for the Go Pro camera (one on each of those VR Go Pros, to augment the 360 degree image with surround sound, would increase Sennheiser’s profits greatly) and a range of products aimed at the Smartphone market. All of these came equipped with minijacks as the I/O, just, as the Sennheiser rep wryly remarked, for Apple to lose the minijack on the iPhone 7!

AES 67 Built-in

The AES 67 based, AoIP format, Revenna had a much increased presence at the show. As well as their own stand, Sonifex were exhibiting their new, and very nice, AVN talkback system, which uses Revenna connectivity and I saw many other stands with the Revenna logo, indicating that the manufacture had adopted this standard.

Audio is of course all about how things sound, but what apiece of kit looks like is important too. The adage “Hansom is as hansom does” is so true. One product that, in theory should have said that in spades was the Yellowtec Intellimix 2, the replacement for its handy audio-workstation mixer the Intellimix. Except in this case it was “Hansom doesn’t” as I have been reliably informed by the UK rep that, since it was first exhibited at IBC 2015, no pricing or availability has been forthcoming and none seems to be on the horizon. Which is a real shame as it really is a nice looking control surface.

Radica had some nice no-nonsense DAB receivers on their stand. Made by Invonics they are part of the companies INOmini range. For DAB check monitoring they constitute a good half-way house between the full-spec, main TX site, DAB check receiver and the basement solution of a Pure Evoke. With a 1U/3rd rackwidth footprint. I’m sure these products would find a home with the operators of small-scale DAB stations who won’t have the luxury of a 24/7 managed service looking after their transmitter.

Finally, a small product from Canford got my attention, and its application is certainly not for radio, or audio for that matter. HDMI, good or bad as a video/audio/data connectivity standard, is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. It’s fine as a short link method of connectivity, but functionality is not guaranteed over a 10 metre run and even that is with a following wind behind it. Sending such signals over that distance generally means you have to resort to fibre, with its associated cost and faff of converters and the powering of them. On the Canford stand I was shown the Lusem Oxlinx range of HDMI extender cables: A simple set-powered in-line HDMI to fibre converter with an integral run of fibre to an opposite converter at the other end. That’s it. No separate converter box with its power supply, no mess of cable-ties as you lash said box to the back of a monitor or rack.

Nothing.

Available in multiples of 10m from 10 to 100m they will (virtually!) make some installers lives easier.

For 2017?

So that’s it, my IBC for another year. Overall a good show with, whilst I found it not to be massively busy the feedback I gathered from exhibitors was that confidence was high in the industry and enquires with serious rather than virtual tyre kicking.

 

And the organisers “next big thing” for IBC 2017?

Not sure, but something tells me I should put a £10 bet on it being 8K.

Just a thought....

Iain Betson