The Giz Wiz, Dick Debartolo, admits he’s no engineer. But he does have an eye - and ear - for fascinating devices and products. Some are useful - others, not so much. MAD magazine’s maddest writer joins Chris Tobin and me, Kirk Harnack, to ooh, ahh, and snicker at the some gizmos he found at CES.
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Kirk: This Week in Radio Tech, Episode 288, is brought to you by Lawo and the crystalCLEAR Virtual Radio Console. crystalCLEAR is the console with a multi-touch touchscreen interface. By Telos and the Telos VX VoIP Broadcast Phone System. Powerful, flexible and scalable - phones never sounded this good. And by Axia Audio and the Axia Radius Networked IP-Audio Console. Throw your budget a curve and meet Radius.
The Giz Wiz, Dick DeBartolo admits he's no engineer, but he does have an eye - and ear - for fascinating devices and products. Some are useful, others, not so much. MAD magazine's maddest writer joins Chris Tobin and me, Kirk Harnack, to ooh, ah, and snicker at the some gizmos he found at CES.
Hey, welcome into This Week in Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host. I'm delighted to be here. We had a fantastic show last week. I hope you didn't miss it. But if you did, you can go back and watch from the archives, either at gfqnetwork.com or at thisweekinradiotech.com. Colleen Kelly Henry was our guest. Absolute video magician. So you ought to check that out.
But I'm glad you're here for this show. This is the show where we talk about audio technology. We talk about, sometimes, RF transmission technology, Internet technology, the things that broadcasters, webcasters, podcasters, people who want to get good quality audio out to the rest of the world need to know about. Sometimes, we actually get to have a lot of fun doing it, and that is this episode exactly. We're going to have a fantastic time with our guest, who we'll introduce in just a second.
First of all, I want to bring in the best-dressed engineer in radio. Live from New Jersey, it's Chris Tobin. Hey Chris, welcome in.
Chris: Hello. Yes, it's a fun time. We're going to have a good time today. I'm looking forward to it.
Kirk: Are you in the same room that you're usually in, or is that a different room?
Chris: Same room, just different scenery.
Kirk: Oh, different lighting? Did you do something to the background?
Chris: I did a Charlie Rose set, half a set.
Chris: The black drape. Since we had such a firestone of conversations about 66 blocks, I thought I'd cover them up.
Kirk: Well, it does have a Charlie Rose-ish look there with you all lit up.
Kirk: I got a new camera here. I'm trying to get used to it. It's a Logitech C930. The 920 died a couple weeks ago. This one's got a wider view, so I had to clean up. Actually, you can see a stack of magazines behind me.
Chris: Oh, yes.
Kirk: But generally, I had to clean up a bit more here in the office. So I think I got more work to do. So usually, we do a little bit of weather and jazz like that. Let's just cut right to the chase and bring in our guest.
Kirk: We're so glad that he's able to join us. Also from the New York City area, it's a guy usually introduced as maddest MAD writer, it's Dick DeBartolo. Dickie, welcome in to the show. Glad you're here.
Dick: Thanks, guys. Thank you. this is very exciting, especially since I know nothing about sound.
Kirk: But you do.
Dick: So when I started doing the Giz Wiz with Leo Laporte, coming up in February, will be 10 years.
Kirk: Holy cow. Wow.
Dick: They sent me a P40 Heil mic.
Dick: Then I called the engineer there and said, "Do you know the mic, it has like a thing hanging on the end that's supposed to plug into another thing?"
Kirk: Oh, yeah.
Dick: "Can you send me the thing that the thing plugs into?"
Dick: But now I know. I said, "Get it now." After 10 years, I now just called the engineer, Jammer B and said, "Jammer B, I need the box that the thing plugs into."
Kirk: So you've learned the lingo.
Dick: Oh yeah, I've learned the lingo. And I want a black one. And I want knobs. I want knobs and I want things that glow.
Kirk: You know, Dick, I knew this was going to be great. I can tell already, because talking to you is just like Chris or me talking to the disc jockeys at the radio station.
Kirk: Yeah, it's the same thing.
Dick: Oh my god.
Kirk: Hey, I need the thing with the stuff that plugs in there. It's not working right.
Dick: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kirk: Hey, we're going to take a quick...
Dick: I'm speaking your language. That's good.
Kirk: Hey, you are, actually. We're not going to try to change the way you speak. We're going to interpret it and then Chris and I will talk among ourselves and get it figured out.
Kirk: Hey, our show is brought to you in part by the folks at Lawo. L-A-W-O, Lawo, a German company that makes audio consoles that are around the world. They do have an office in the US. They have an office in a number of larger countries.
Lawo, you may know of them on making these great big audio consoles for television trucks and television production studios, live sound venues. But they also make a line of consoles for radio stations and smaller studios. It's called the Crystal line of consoles from Lawo. Lawo is German engineered. They just do a fantastic job with the hardware and the software.
This is their crystalCLEAR Virtual Radio Mixing Console. It's very popular. Folks who are enthused about the idea of doing their mixing on a virtual surface that is a screen, a touchscreen, a multi-touch 10-touch. You can put all 10 fingers on there - a 10-touch touchscreen - and move the faders up and down, push the buttons, do all the things that you normally do with hardware console, you can do it on a touchscreen and it's really amazing.
What's also cool is that because the console exists solely in software, well, this gives the designers of the console a lot of leeway in how they're going to make the buttons react, and what colors are they going to make them. You're not stuck with a lens cap that's red or white or yellow. You can light that button, because it's a virtual button, you can light it up any way you want.
You could also make the buttons activities or actions to be contextual to what you're doing. So an options button, for example, on the console, on the crystalCLEAR console knows if you've got a microphone attached to it, or maybe it's a telephone hybrid coming in, or perhaps it's your grandma's Victrola coming in. But it knows the behavior of what that source should be like. It knows that there should be a backfeed, and if the backfeed should be mono or stereo or split at certain times. So these little details are all taken care of in the programming and software of the crystalCLEAR console.
If you go to the Lawo website, you're going to read all about the crystalCLEAR Consoles. A couple of the other good things about it - it does have available dual redundant power supplies. The crystal part of it, this is the part that goes into the rack, it's got your mic inputs, line level and AES inputs and some outputs as well. Plus, it's got a network jack for Ravenna, which is also compatible with AES67 devices. So it can talk to a growing world of external professional audio devices out there. Plus, there's some GPIO built in to light up your tally lights, your "on air" light, your "no smoking" light, whatever it is that you have to do.
Some radio stations have even, you know, hooked their "on air" light to locking the control room door when they have a problem with salespeople coming in the control room when they shouldn't be. I'm not sure it's a great idea but you could do that too. All kinds of possibilities are possible there with it.
If you go to the Lawo website and you'll see a video in the upper right-hand corner of this page for the Lawo crystalCLEAR Console. That's Mike Dosch. He's the director of virtual radio projects at Lawo. In that video - it's about six minutes long - he will take you through a tour of that console. It's highly recommended. I wish you'd do that and check it out. Go to the website Lawo, L-A-W-O dot com. We appreciate their sponsorship of This Week in Radio Tech.
Kirk Harnack along here. If you just joined us, Chris Tobin is along, and our guest, Dick DeBartolo, the Giz Wiz. Dick, you're now not only on Leo Laporte's TWiT network for gizmos, but also on some national television, aren't you?
Dick: Yeah. I do World New Now, which is the overnight network news. It turns out that there are a lot of insomniacs in this country. So it's kind of fun to get e-mails at quarter to three in the morning. "What did you say the name of that thing was?"
Kirk: Years ago, Dick, I was doing a lot of engineering in a little town called Paducah, Kentucky, and I had to take care of this huge 10,000 watt AM transmitter site that had four towers, and nothing ever worked right and I was always fixing stuff. So I was there a lot of times at midnight, 1, 2, 3 in the morning, and I was listening to Larry King. Larry King was on with his radio show. This was before he was on CNN.
Kirk: Yeah, that was a long time ago. Man, the people that come out of the woodwork to talk to Larry King and his book authors, typically. So I know what you mean about people being up that late.
Dick: Yeah, and that was great. I actually like it better. I did six years on "Good Morning America." I'm a night person. But getting to "Good Morning America," you had to be there at 4:30 a.m. Then they had to rehearse everything before 6. Then you would go to the green room for, like, 2-1/2 hours.
Then, so when this opened up on "World News Now," they said, "You know, you'd come in at midnight and tape your spot and be out of here by 12:30, but is midnight all right with you?" I said, "Yeah. I'll just be finishing lunch. It's perfect." But, yeah, so.
Kirk: Well, I'll bring out the first gizmo.
Dick: Oh, okay.
Kirk: It's not really much of a gizmo. Just in case there's a problem with show today, I did bring...
Dick: Oh, great.
Kirk: Yeah. I brought this. Now, this is an F-bomb. It doesn't get rid of F-bombs. It is one.
Dick: Oh, it creates... it actually says those words?
Kirk: Well, no, it's for exercising your hand.
Dick: Oh, oh, oh.
Chris: For the hearing impaired.
Kirk: But if anybody's going to throw out an F-bomb on today's family-oriented show, it will be me.
Dick: Oh, okay.
Kirk: There it is right there. I've thrown out the F-bomb.
Dick: Oh, okay. Well, I...
Kirk: We don't have to worry about it anymore.
Dick: I have a lot of sound machines because I used to do a lot of radio shows. So I could always add my own applause. This actually is still available and this is really nice. It's on Amazon and I think I only paid like $7 or $8 for it. It's like a dozen sounds. The audio quality is not bad on them. But my favorite thing is long gone. You know, on the Giz Wiz, I do a thing called Dick's Gadget Warehouse where I go back and dig up gadgets that I bought years ago.
Kirk: Oh, in the warehouse? Yeah.
Kirk: Well, that's actually the thing that I've watched you on the most is that Gadget Warehouse.
Dick: The Gadget Warehouse. So the Xcuse Box, which has not been made for years, if you really are a liar and need sound effects back-up, the Xcuse Box has - I'm looking here - 10 background noises. The problem with most sound machines today, they will give you a little 10-second sound bite. But the Xcuse Box gives you a full minute. Let me just see if this is... I still have batteries in it. "Yeah, I'm at the airport. The flight's late. You can hear them in the background. So I can't do the show. Okay?"
Kirk: I love it.
Dick: It's just there's the background noise of a mechanic shop. It's really very clever. Since it runs a minute, the little 10 second machine I have here somewhere, you have to call up and make up an excuse really fast. "Hi, honey. I'm at the airport and the plane is late. I can't talk. Bye." With the Xcuse Box, you have a whole minute to embellish your lies.
Kirk: Even better if they had loop button on there.
Dick: That would be... do you know what? That would be good.
Dick: That would be good. But it does immediately start up again, if you press the button quickly.
Kirk: Okay. Okay.
Dick: I don't think anybody would notice the pause.
Kirk: Chris, do you need an Xcuse Box sound effect where you're at the transmitter site? Oh, okay, Chris is taking care of something.
Chris: I'll be right back.
Kirk: I've seen this meme going on, Dick, around the Internet with Dr. Evil, right.
Dick: Yes, yes, yes, right.
Kirk: And he's got his air quotes up and he says, "Engineer is at the transmitter site."
Dick: That's very funny.
Kirk: Oh, gee. Yeah, because every engineer, you know, you've got to go to the transmitter site, and people think that you're taking the day off. "No, we're working. Well, at least I was. Maybe I should have used that as an excuse."
Dick: Well, you know what, in the old days when I was a kid, my family had a house in the country and we used to drive to Jersey, and there were those transmitter towers with a little house at the base out in the middle of a swamp somewhere.
Dick: And I would think, "What kind of a show business job is that?" "I'm in charge of the transmitter for INS Radio. Yes, and if want to visit me, you have to go through some swamp land and bring a mosquito net."
Kirk: And that's true.
Kirk: In different countries, Dick, some of the transmitter site houses, the way they used to do it and build it, they could be pretty nice. I got to visit a 50 kilowatt - no, no, it was like this 200 kilowatt AM tower site in Bogotá, Colombia. A family - the engineer, his wife and kids - all lived on the property, and they had an armed guard at the gate.
Kirk: Yeah, to protect the transmitter from insurgents or, you know, rabble-rousers or whatever. And so the engineer was there. While we were there, his wife made sandwiches and coffee, fine Columbian coffee. So there could be benefits to having [inaudible 00:14:12].
Dick: Wow. Yeah. You know, that almost sounds like what they did in lighthouses, when we had lighthouses, where people... at first, the Coast Guard ran them all, but then for a while, they just let people live in them and run the lighthouses. You had to have those giant bulbs that go up there.
Dick: Change the bulb.
Kirk: They'd change the bulb.
Dick: Now it's LED. I guess they'd put one in there and they go, "Well, we'll be back in a hundred years."
Kirk: Yeah, that or GPS, and they turn the lighthouse up. I don't know. Chris, you're back with us?
Chris: Yes, yes, I'm here.
Kirk: Oh, good deal. Okay. All right. Feel free to jump in.
Chris: Yeah, that transmitter site at [inaudible 00:14:53], you can go to the swamp where you can pull up to the building where driveway is and enjoy the nice scenery.
Dick: So you've been out there then? You've been out to Jersey.
Chris: Yeah, I actually worked for them for 20 years.
Dick: Oh my goodness. Did you work in one of those desolate towers?
Chris: Well, the desolate towers didn't have to be visited often. There was a nice brick building at the roadway before the swamp.
Dick: Oh, okay.
Chris: Yes. But there were many nights we had to work at the base of the towers in those wooden houses where the tuning equipment is. I will tell you that, yes, some strange things do swim in the swamp.
Dick: Oh, yeah.
Chris: And jump out of the high grass.
Dick: Wow. So you really were in the middle of show business.
Chris: Yes, absolutely.
Kirk: Dick, what's next in your bag of tricks?
Dick: Let's see, at Mad, what am I doing? I even forgot.
Kirk: Well, we had the Xcuse Box. You had the airport sound and you had an auto mechanic sound.
Dick: Oh, yeah.
Kirk: Anything else particularly cool about that?
Dick: Let me just find that guy and see what else is on here. Oh, so you can do police sirens, okay? We have that. That's pretty typical.
Kirk: "Honey, I'm being chased right now."
Dick: And then you go, "Oh, guys, I got to go. It's the operator breaking in." When I want to get off this show, I can get off it in one second.
Kirk: You'll have no problem.
Dick: Yeah. Then I have, for people who go on too long and you're paying no attention and they just keep talking and talking and talking. Then you have the - oh, just give up the ghost. One second - hang on. Okay. [inaudible 00:16:51].
Kirk: That would be ideal for the conference room next to the speakerphone. Make sure you mute the speakerphone because the boss in Cote d'Azur.
Kirk: You know, talking to his troops back home. Mute the speakerphone and put the blah-blah-blah on for the [inaudible 00:17:07].
Dick: Yeah. You know, I had a great gadget. I don't know if they make it anymore. Let me just shut this box off. It was a clock for meetings. It was very clever. You looked around the room and you guessed at to how much each person made an hour, okay? So there were six people in the room and you figured, "God, everybody in her is worth $100 an hour." So you put in $600. Then you started the meeting and the clock not only tells you how long the meeting is, it tells you in dollars how much is being spent by the company for these six people sitting there talking.
Dick: It's a great way to speed up a meeting, if you care about what the company is spending. If you don't care...
Kirk: Yeah, I wonder, would they be doing something more productive if they weren't in the meeting? Maybe.
Dick: Yes. Yeah, maybe.
Kirk: Maybe not.
Dick: The meetings I've been in, I don't go to a lot of meetings, but the ones I've been in, I could have used my time better.
Dick: But you don't have meetings out at guys from Queens, right?
Kirk: You know, I know we do have meetings, but there typically at a drinking establishment.
Dick: There you go.
Kirk: [inaudible 00:18:26].
Dick: [inaudible 00:18:26].
Kirk: Chris, you've been to a few GFQ meetings. I really haven't. I've only been to one.
Chris: Yes. We've had very good meet ups. Let's see, Rattle and Hum, and we sort of rattled our way home from there. Then there was Press 195 where we sort of pressed the pavement to get home. Yeah, it was good times. We did well.
Kirk: What's the [inaudible 00:18:44].
Dick: Oh, I thought we were talking about meetings. Meetings, as to the direction of the company.
Chris: Yes, those conversations do take place there.
Dick: Oh, okay. Okay.
Chris: Somewhat unconventional for some, and maybe unorthodox thinking. But when you're able to liberate the mind a bit with some adult beverages, you'll be amazed the things you can talk about for goal setting and, you know, milestones and where you think things should go and where they haven't gone. Then, again, it becomes a personal thing, and before you know it, you're yelling at each other who does a better job than the other.
Dick: Okay, and you have alcohol to soften the blow.
Dick: Perfect. Perfect.
Kirk: So Dick, what's next in your bag of tricks - audio or otherwise?
Dick: Boy, I'm doing a lot of stuff from CES. Let me just think if I had any audio. My favorite thing is the Kangaroo. Do you know about that?
Kirk: No. What's that?
Dick: This is a Windows 10 computer that costs $99.
Dick: Basically, it's the size of a large smart phone, and it has USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 in for a keyboard or Bluetooth. It has Bluetooth, WiFi, and HDMI out. So anything you have HDMI, it's a go. So I bought a Vizio 4K TV for myself for Christmas. So I plugged it into that, and now in my living room, I can do e-mails. I don't even need my glasses to read my e-mails because they're on a 43-inch UHD screen.
Dick: And the thing is $99. It is just great.
Kirk: Really? It's fast enough to do something and play videos?
Dick: It's fast enough. You're not going to do gaming on it.
Dick: But for doing e-mails, I watched some videos through it to make sure that you could do that.
Kirk: If you're designing even one of these USB stick computers, you've got to be able to play a video. You've got to have enough hardware to do that.
Dick: Yes, absolutely. The advantage of the Kangaroo over one of those PC sticks is that the Kangaroo also has a built-in battery and can run for up to four hours away from power.
Dick: Now, what's weird is, it's the weirdest description I ever saw. It says, "Four hours of casual use." So I envision me sitting in my lounge chair with my feet up and maybe a gin and tonic. I think that's casual use.
Kirk: You have to wear blue jeans.
Dick: I'll get the full four hours. But if you're chain smoking in khakis...
Kirk: If I'm wearing slacks and a tie, does maybe the battery poop out quicker?
Dick: Yeah, 2-1/2 hours. Just 2-1/2 hours to you, pal.
Kirk: Chris, a few of friends - Alex Hartman, Chris Tar - have played with these sub-$200 Windows 10 PCs that are USB stick or HDMI built onto a big dongle.
Kirk: Have you played with any of those yet?
Chris: Not those, no. I've playing with a couple of thin clients and the NUCs. I think they call it that. The N-U-C computer.
Kirk: Oh, the NUC, yeah.
Chris: Yeah. But the Kangaroo, I just looked that up. The Kangaroo looks very, very promising. I actually may have a couple of applications for that. I like that.
Kirk: Yeah. Go ahead.
Dick: What's neat about it is it comes with a dock that the USB and the HDMI and the power source goes in, and that disconnects from the Kangaroo itself. So if you buy another dock, and the docks are $39, you could leave it wired up, say, at your office and then just run back and forth with it. It looks just a tiny bit bigger than that. You could run back and forth with the Windows 10 computer and just lock it in in your living room or at the office and have a real easy way to take your computer with you.
Kirk: I keep getting pop-up ads from some of these Chinese sales companies like GearBest. They've been showing me a PC that looks like it's the size of one of those small cans of evaporated milk, or one of those small European sized Coke cans, right, maybe 4-1/2 inches tall and about 2 inches, 2-1/2 inches in diameter. So that's what I've been getting ads about.
Dick: Oh, yeah. Do they have a price on it, an American price?
Kirk: About $100.
Dick: Yeah, about $100.
Kirk: About the same as this Kangaroo. Yeah, I see the Kangaroo with a dock. I see it now. That's pretty cool.
Dick: Yeah. Yes, it's really neat. It's really neat.
Kirk: All right.
Chris: What was your impression at CES? Did you get out to see CES?
Dick: Yeah, I did. You know what, it was better than the past few years. In the past few years, it was wall-to-wall iPhone cases, external battery chargers, Bluetooth speakers. I was so tired of seeing all those things that I just thought, if they could put the cases and the external battery chargers in one building, they would save me half the time walking around looking at things. But this year, there was more diversity. So that was fun.
just brought up my "World News Now" page here. I have to see what else there was. There's the Kangaroo. Oh, the Zolt. The Zolt is a great idea. It's a little USB charger, powerful enough - 70 watts - so it can run your laptop. So it runs your laptop. After you plug the cable into your laptop, it has two free USB terminals so that you can plug in and charge your smartphone and your tablet. So all you do is carry around the little Zolt, which weighs just 3 ounces.
Dick: And you eliminate a ton of cables that you would have to carry around.
Dick: So that was pretty neat. Then I also thought of something called TempTraq for people with babies. It's a great idea. It's a little patch, goes under the baby's arm, and it's Bluetooth enabled. So it sends the baby's temperature to your smartphone within Bluetooth range. So you don't even have to be in the room with the kid. You can set the temperature range that you want to be notified of if hits that.
So the baby can sleep through. It's a very small patch. And you can be in another room. You can go to bed and just set your smartphone and alarm to say wake me if the temperature reaches 100 degrees. I thought that was a great use of Bluetooth for watching over the baby and being able to get some sleep yourself.
Kirk: Yeah, that is a good idea.
Kirk: Yeah. Okay. So yeah, a wireless baby monitor that's... it's not video right?
Dick: No, it's not video. It actually goes on the skin.
Kirk: It goes on the skin, okay.
Dick: So it's actually sending the baby's exact temperature at that moment. The most bizarre thing, I'm sorry none of these have sound.
Kirk: It's quite all right.
Dick: It's not coming until the fall, but it's so amazing. It's from First Alert and it's called the Environment... I forget. Anyway, this is the deal. You are not at the office and someone's sick at home or you're trying to keep track of your aging father, you can actually, using your smartphone, turn the camera to face them and it can send out his heart rate so that you can see what his breathing is. It'll send out a diagram of his breathing.
He can be dressed. I assume he probably can't have a coat and hat on. But it can just read the respiration through the clothing, house clothing you'd be wearing in the house, so that you can check it on someone who was ill or you're worried about anywhere that you have a smartphone. It connects to this camera through WiFi in the house. So I thought that was pretty amazing.
Kirk: That's interesting. Do you remember the name of this device that would measure temperature on your kid? I'm looking at the...
Dick: Yeah. It's called TempTraq, T-E-M-P...
Kirk: Oh, TempTraq. Okay.
Dick: Yeah, T-E-M-P-T-R-A-Q.
Kirk: Of course, it had to be something...
Dick: Yeah, exactly. Otherwise, they can't trademark it. Do you wear readers or are you wearing magnifiers?
Kirk: Well, when I'm wearing contacts - I'm not today - but when I wear contacts, I do wear readers when I've got to work on close-up stuff.
Dick: Yeah. There was a neat thing there called ThinOPTICS, and I'm turning around. I don't know where I put them. ThinOPTICS are... oh, you know what. I know. Let me see. I think I have them attached to my cell phone, which I left on the desk. They're tiny little magnifiers so small that you can stick them on the back of your smartphone...
Kirk: Yeah, I just Googled that. Here they come.
Dick: Yeah. Okay. So they are neat. You can twist them and bend them. Somebody said if you break them, we'll give you another pair free. I thought they were great. They came in three magnifications. I thought that was pretty swell.
Kirk: It says, "free replacement glasses forever." So I guess if you lose them or sit on them and you mess them up...
Dick: I think they're like titanium. There's a video on their website of a machine that bends them 5,000 times back and forth, just to show you that. When I ordered them, I said, "Don't send me the pair that's in the machine."
Dick: I want a brand pair. I want to bend them 5,000 times myself.
Kirk: Yeah. So it looks like you buy your phone case, which is a phone case that just has a thin little pocket in the back of it. It barely adds much to it. Then you buy the ThinOPTICS glasses.
Dick: Yes. You can do it three ways. You can buy glasses just by themselves. They're $20. You can buy them in a little pod that has a peel-off stick and stick it on your own phone. Or they make phone cases just for the popular phones. They make it for Galaxy, I think, 5 and 6, and the iPhone 5 and 6S.
Dick: So then you'll have the whole case with the pod and the ThinOPTICS built right in. So I thought that was clever, especially if you're past 50, which is now, what, about 55% of the population.
Kirk: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Dick, I got a question about CES. I've gone there to CES probably half a dozen times. Haven't been there in the last two years or so. I'm persistently overwhelmed. Where do I start? I can't see everything here. There's no way. So, how do you map? How do you plan? How do you map this out?
Dick: You know, it's actually very easy for me, is that the whole object of the Giz Wiz is to find niche-y things. Going on 10 years ago when Leo said, "I do a weekly show, I do a monthly show, I don't do a daily show, so possibly do a daily." I said, "I could do a gadget everyday." I said, "But Leo, the thing is there's going to be no video games, no TV sets, none of the stuff that everybody's covering. It's going to be the more offbeat gadgets," like the things we just talked about the temperature under the arm and these mini glasses.
So, I don't go to any press conferences at all. I pretty much avoid the main hall, which is Panasonic and Sony and LG, and I troll the lower floor where the press never goes. I see happy faces going, "Oh my god, a press person." It's still overwhelming because the show has grown. I believe they sent out an e-mail last week that it was 170,000 attendees at this past CES. So, now, it's the complete convention center and four hotel convention centers. So it's huge.
Kirk: But how do they decide what to put in the hotels? Is it category?
Dick: Well, you know what? It's interesting. Yes, it's done by categories, which helps a lot. For example, there's one hotel that is nothing - and this is where you would go - one hotel is just high end audio. So that's something that I wouldn't cover in a million years because the worst demo on television is speakers.
Dick: "Don't these sound good?" "Oh, yeah. You know, on my $89 set, they don't sound that good." So the whole venue is high-end audio, and then the main floor is mainly the big guns like LG, and they take huge amounts of space. They give tours through, and each tour is probably an hour by the time you go to all their different divisions. So all that stuff, I just bypass and look for the niche-y things.
Kirk: Now, you said that for Christmas you bought yourself a 4K television. Two to three years ago at CES, these were really new and still very expensive, and now, I see them at Costco for $800.
Dick: You know what, it was unbelievable. I got a Vizio, which I'll tell you how far back. My older one is an Olivia. Do you even know that name?
Dick: Okay. Olivia was the first flat screen TV company that got into really driving the price of flat screen TVs down. They're often credited with the fact that they came in at such a low dollar thing that other companies, to not lose all the business to them, just started pricing their stuff more realistically. So Vizio is very highly rated and very affordable. So when I was looking for a new TV, I wanted five HDMI inputs because my old TV had two and I got tired of changing things in and out that I wanted to use.
So, I looked and the set was about $400. I was looking at 37 to 45 inches. Then I saw a Vizio 4K on sale for $550, and I thought, "You know, $150 more than what I was looking at, I might as well get a 4K." It had five HDMI inputs. The best thing in the world - and maybe you've seen this on other remotes - it's the first remote that I ever had that on the back of the regular remote is a QWERTY keyboard. So when you have to search something out, you don't do that dreadful alphabet - A... B.
Kirk: I've only seen those remotes in hotels. I've never seen one available for consumer bring-home TVs, but they have them.
Dick: Yeah. YouTube's built-in, Netflix is, everything's built in. It's very funny. I bought a TV so I would have five HDMI inputs, and everything's built-in so I don't even need the inputs. But I'm glad I've got it. The picture quality is amazing. There's not a lot of 4K video, except I think Netflix is now doing a fair amount of 4K stuff. Yeah, so you're absolutely right. Now, what we have to wait to come down in price is OLED. Have you seen any OLED TVs?
Kirk: Not on a TV. Certainly, I've seen it on my phone. My Samsung Note 4 is OLED. The company that I work for, Telos, we make a number of products that have monochrome OLED displays, which are terrifically sharp and bright.
Dick: Oh, yes.
Dick: Yeah. LG is making like a 60-inch OLED TV. It is windowpane thin. As a matter of fact, it's... well, you know this better than I. OLED is almost film, right, thick, an OLED screen? So they mount that, like, on glass.
Dick: So, the TV is, like, infinitesimal. But I think it was - I don't know ¬¬- $15,000, $18,000, $20,000?
Kirk: Of course. Yeah.
Dick: So five years from now, when they say, "We can't think of anybody, let's call Dick," I will say, "Oh, you know, Kirk, five years ago, guess what, OLED TVs are now just $500."
Kirk: Yeah. And you'll know where to get the best price on one, I'm sure.
Dick: Well, I just went to Best Buy.
Kirk: Okay. Hey, you said you were looking for a TV that had five HDMI inputs, and some folks will think, "Five, that's crazy." But you know what, I had the same problem with an older, actually, it's a plasma. The picture is fantastic on it, still, almost 10 years later. It's a plasma TV, about a 55 incher, and I was out of inputs on it. So I bought - speaking of gadgets - I bought off Amazon an Orei, O-R-E-I, HD 5:1 switcher. Yes, this does result in one more remote control in the couch.
Dick: Yes, I bought one from Monoprice.
Kirk: Oh, okay. Yeah. Maybe it's the same chipset, I believe.
Dick: Probably. Yeah. You're right, another remote control. Oh, another remote control! Here's something that I saw at CES. I don't know when it's coming out. I wish I could remember the name of the company. It's like Seven Keys. The ultimate remote control. So you aim the remote control at your TV set, the screen on the remote control shows you a picture of a TV and you click yes. Now, all of the buttons controls that TV. You raise it from the TV up toward the ceiling and a picture of a light bulb comes on and you tell it yes. Now it knows that you want to control that light. You go around, yes.
Dick: It recognizes...
Kirk: The object you're pointing at.
Dick: The object, and then instead of going through menus and buttons, and I thought that was really neat.
Kirk: Now, what if I - now, I'm kidding here, folks - but what if I pointed it at my mother-in-law? Will it get that?
Dick: Yeah, it shows her mouth open and then a mouth with a zipper, and you just choose what you want.
Kirk: Ma, I didn't mean that. I'm just joking here. Okay.
Hey, Chris Tobin is with us and Dick DeBartolo is with us. It's This Week in Radio Tech, our 288th edition, and we're going to take a quick timeout here for a sponsor. In fact, this is a sponsor who all... well, we all know Telos. This part of the show is brought to you by the Telos VX. It's been a while since I talked about the Telos VX. It's a multi-line, multi-studio talk show system. So it connects up to SIP or regular phone lines through an adapter, through a gateway, and lets you put phone callers into multiple studios. Of course, you can use it for one studio.
In fact, there's one guy I know who uses it for one studio. It's this guy right here. It's Leo Laporte. He just wrote in Radio World, he just wrote a user report on the Telos VX. Leo was kind enough to send us a picture of himself. Well, he sent it to Radio World, actually, in submission for this report. He talks about... he says, according to Leo here, "I'm the host of The Tech Guy show on the Premiere Networks. As the Tech Guy, I have to use the latest hardware and software and it better work or I'm The Wreck Guy, and all my credibility is shot. That's why I rely on equipment from the Telos Alliance for my entire audio workflow, including my new Telos VX Phone Interface." He goes on to talk about this.
This article is not online yet. It probably will be about the time that the next edition of Radio World comes out. But if you are a broadcast engineer or other broadcaster, you probably have a copy of this latest Radio World sitting around the office. It's this one, where it talks about foreign ownership caps being under scrutiny. It's the January 20 edition. Please, get to that edition, open toward the back to the Buyer's Guide and read this wonderful user report from Leo.
He tells the story of how they decided that they needed their own phone system. Because when Leo does The Tech Guy show - it has a couple hundred affiliates across the country - he takes phone calls from people saying, "I can't get my WiFi to work." Those calls were being taken at the network headquarters.
Well, with digital being what it is and latency a little bit high going all the way back to Leo's studio and back to the network and back to the phone caller, if the phone caller is on a VoIP phone or a cell phone, there got to be some latency there and people would be stepping on each other. So the decision was made - let's put the phone system at Leo's studio, and that's what they did. They brought in a call screener and she screens the calls, and they put the calls right on the air from the studio. Then it shoots to the Premier Radio Network, and it just works great. Then Leo is very happy with it.
There are hundreds, now, of Telos VX customers. They're all just delightedly happy. Some big, big networks with three and four letter names that you've certainly heard of, and then there are broadcasters literally all around the world who have put the Telos VX system in. You don't have to have multi studios, you can put it in just for one studio.
The Telos VX natively talks SIP, so you bring in digital SIP service from your provider, or you can convert your existing service to SIP using a gateway device. Some stations do that, they bring in PRI or other digital service and they turn it into Ethernet SIP. Then every caller - this is cool - every caller gets his own hybrid in the system. That means every caller gets music on hold and gets audio processing, and you can put multiple callers on the air at the same time. That's one of the cool things about the VX. Literally, you can put 10 people on the air at the same time. Now, it may be a free-for-all in terms of people talking, but every single one of them will sound great because they each have their own audio processing.
Check it out. If you are a broadcaster or you just need to put a lot of people on the air, great for conferencing systems. Hey, there's even one TV station that uses it for play-by-play tornado coverage. It's pretty interesting - the Telos VX. Thanks, Telos, for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech at telosalliance.com. You can go there and see the Telos VX.
Chris Tobin is along here, in his lair in New Jersey. Hey, Chris, welcome in. Glad you're here. And also, Dick DeBartolo is here from his lair not too many miles away in an undisclosed location in New York.
Kirk: All right. So Dick agreed to be on our show to talk to us about gadgets - audio and otherwise. I've got a gadget here I'm going to share with you in just a second. A lot of you will recognize what this is.
Dick: Is that the talking clock?
Kirk: It's a Chumby.
Dick: Oh, the Chumby.
Kirk: Yeah, from years ago.
Dick: Yes. I have one of them.
Kirk: You have one? Oh.
Kirk: Well, the service that backs it up, like a few years ago, went out of business or closed, and so it would do next to nothing because it depended on a server to display the information that you want, like David Letterman's Top Ten List or recipes or interesting webcams from around the world.
Dick: It did the stock market, didn't it?
Kirk: Oh, yeah. It had all kinds of apps available for it, but all that shut down and for a couple of years, the only thing it would do was a Star Trek themed clock. That's it all would do. I haven't researched it, but whatever it is, they've got some apps for it now and it's running again. This actually is Leo Laporte's Chumby. That sounds dirty but it's not. He gave it to my wife, and my wife said, "Here, why don't you put it in the office?" So there it is.
Dick: Neat. That is neat.
Kirk: Leo's Chumby. I guess it'll talk to you. I haven't played with it in quite a while. I need to find some apps. It says now there's more than a thousand apps for your Chumby if you go to chumby.com. All right.
Dick: Now, see, I learned something. That's good. I'll have to dig my Chumby out now.
Kirk: It's useful once again.
Dick: While you were talking, I went out and got those glasses. So that's what they look like.
Dick: Okay? Then this is the case they make for the Galaxy. So then the little glasses just go right in the back of it like that. Now you have reading glasses with you. Then, this is the size of the Zolt. So with carrying this around with you for your laptop is better than carrying the brick that comes with it. Then you have, one of these USB has to go to your laptop, and you get the cable with it. Then the other two are charging ports for whatever else you bring with you. Then at the bottom is a foldout plug for the wall. If you don't like the way the plug is facing, the plug turns, and you can put it in so that the cable is faced the way you want. So that's the Zolt.
Kirk: Dick, some time at CES, I'll be really excited when they come out with wireless power cords, in, like, one-meter, two-meter, ten-meter lengths.
Dick: Wow. I would like that.
Dick: I would like that. The only thing is if walk between the wireless power cord and [inaudible 00:46:05], you'll get electrocuted. So they do have it, but it is dangerous. It's those big signs you have to have on either side of the invisible ray going through that kind of makes it not fit for the marketplace yet.
Dick: But it'll be here soon.
Kirk: So Dick, what else at CES caught you attention, or other things from your warehouse that's close at hand there.
Dick: Well, you know what, with thinking - and you can appreciate this - was things that as little as, like, six or seven years ago in the pressroom, someone came in and said, "This credit card is a 1 gigabyte memory card." Everybody's going, "A gigabyte? What does it cost?" "It's $200." They go, "Oh, well that's kind of up there." When you think about what you can buy now, is I have a drawer full of SD cards because I can resist the price. You'll open something and it'll go 10-gigabyte SD card - $5. I go, "Oh, I need that. I need that, but I have no use for it. I have too many memory cards." So the way price is going, that is amazing.
But someone once asked, "What is the dumbest thing you ever saw at CES?" There are certain you see at CES you know are never going to see the light of day." There was a device, and I think it named itself. I think it might have been called the iOdor or the iSmell. It was bizarre. It was the size of a small printer. It hooked to your TV set.
The theory was TV stations would send signals out to this device. This device had four aroma cartridges and it would mix the aromas so that, like if they were making coffee, you would smell coffee in your living room. Or if they're running through the meadows, you would smell fresh mowed grass. I mean, you're standing there just knowing it's never going to happen. I feel like saying, "Are you guys from MAD magazine, because this is not a device? This is a premise. This is an article." So, I didn't see any of those this year.
I'm trying to figure out what else I've seen.
Kirk: Now, this is interesting, though, the subject of aroma generating machines. Now, of course, we've heard the word Smell-O-Vision. That's been around for a while. That's kind of what you're talking about there, right?
Dick: Yes, yes, yes.
Kirk: So when you're watching the police drama show and they go invade in the basement of the sketchy guy's house. They investigate the grow room. What smell comes out then?
Dick: God, well, I don't know. I guess you'd have to have some sort of legalized pot smell. Also, the other thing is, do you miss it? I mean, like when you watch TV you go, "This is a great movie. But if I could smell this movie, I would like it a lot more."
Kirk: Chris, have you ever watched a show that you, "I wish I could smell that."
Chris: No, no. Wonka Vision came close, but no.
Kirk: Wonka Vision?
Chris: That's right. That's right.
Dick: Well, what was it called?
Chris: Wonka Vision. Willy Wonka.
Dick: What was Wonka Vision?
Chris: Well, the Wonka Vision was actually, I mean, it draws you down so you could be moved around and put anywhere you'd like, so you could actually participate in the action.
Dick: Oh, okay. I think they're still trying to do that, aren't they?
Chris: Oh, yeah. That'll go on for a while.
Chris: But smelling scenes as I'm watching them, I don't know. Unless I'm actually running in the meadows, I don't think it's the same thing.
Dick: No, absolutely. It's solutions to which there is no problem.
Kirk: Yeah, there's that. I've been told that if you walk through a mall and there's a Subway sandwich shop there, and you're smelling, I mean, the whole time they're open, you're smelling the smell of fresh baking bread. That is actually produced by a machine that's behind there that's wafting, that's creating the aroma of bread and wafting it out. It's the same kind of machine that the, I mean, if you walk anywhere near an Abercrombie store in the mall, you smell that strong cologne coming out of it. That's the same kind of machine with a different cartridge in it.
Now, I've had people in the food service industry tell me that these machines exist and that they are there to make you hungry when you're [inaudible 00:51:20].
Dick: I bet. I would think.
Kirk: I'm sure it's true.
Dick: Yeah. Yeah, I think it is.
Chris: Have you ever been down Main Street Disneyland?
Dick: Oh, yeah, I have.
Chris: There you go, as you pass those storefronts.
Kirk: Wow. So Dick, you were talking about a credit card sized memory. This is a, of course, a USB key. I know you can't see it on this camera, but it is one terabyte.
Dick: That is one terabyte?
Kirk: A terabyte! Unfortunately, it worked for 20 minutes and quit. It came from that cheap Chinese website, GearBest.
Dick: What did it cost?
Kirk: It was, like, $29. It was unbelievably cheap.
Dick: Yeah. Did you read the fine print? It said, "One terabyte, only 2 gigabytes usable."
Kirk: Yeah, or usable once.
Dick: Once, yes.
Kirk: Read-write once memory.
Dick: Yeah, exactly.
Dick: Someone said, "Can I take a regular video camera under water?" I said, "You can, just once."
Kirk: Dick, I wonder if you might speak to us for a minute about the philosophy of gadgets, and how inventing and producing gadgets, most of which probably flop, how does that relate to inventing and producing things that don't flop, that people really need later on, that actually are reliable, well-made, and make our lives better. Is there a relationship there between the inventors and sometimes their crappy stuff - maybe a Ron Popeil Kitchen Magician or a Fisherman or a Mr. Microphone - and the real world of usable stuff?
Dick: Well, I think the problem is that, like, one of those shows that I love to go to also is the hardware show. The hardware show is actually seven shows in one. It's the hardware show, it's the paint show, it's the home and garden show, the outdoor show, tons of gadgets. They have a lot of mom-and-pop invention things. What I see with a lot of inventions is that people think it's a great invention because it fills a need of a problem they have.
There was a guy. He was trucker, and he had this device that could bale 30 boxes in 7 seconds. He said, "It bales like this. But if you want to use rope, here, just click in this thing. Now, if you want to use baling wire, just click in." I didn't have the heart to say, "Sir, what are there, nine truckers in the country that need this?" You know, put the boxes on the truck, you bale them and put them on my truck. So I think one of problems is that a lot of devices don't solve a problem.
But then you had someone like Steve Jobs. I don't know what he was like in person. I've seen all these movies, and he might've been a monster, or he might not. But the idea that he wanted people to be able to carry music with them in an elegant form and a lot of it was something everybody wanted, because we were all wearing Walkmans and they were big. If you wanted to have a lot of music, you carried 9 cassettes or 55 CD-ROMs, CD discs.
Dick: So, I think the problem is people who really succeed fill a need that more than half the world is waiting for, like the iPod. And in its own way, Sony Walkman, I guess maybe without the Walkman, we might not have even decided to go to the iPod and the iPad.
Kirk: You've seen those meme ads every now and then where, on Facebook, typically, somebody will show a whole bunch of typically black-and-white photos from the '70s or early '80s of all these different devices that you used to have in your possession - a cassette, a Walkman, a TV set, a telephone, maybe a big honking portable phone, a tape recorder, a camera - all these things. Now, of course, they show them as being, "Hey, all these things exist now in your smartphone."
Kirk: So, it took a guy. You mentioned Steve Jobs. It took a guy like him to have the vision to take all these things and say, "You can simulate all this in a piece of hardware with a CPU and a camera and a screen. We can do all that stuff." And a microphone and a speaker.
Dick: Yeah, absolutely.
Kirk: We can do all that stuff.
Dick: Not only that, but they started so many industries. Like when we were talking earlier, the iPhone case industry is huge.
Kirk: Yes, yes.
Dick: And people making accessories for charging stands and extension speakers and things to plug into your iPhone or into your Android phone. But there are too many way-out gadgets that people don't want. You know, there's the - what do they call it - the Selfie Toaster. Do you know about the Selfie Toaster?
Kirk: I don't know. What?
Dick: You can send them your picture and they'll send you plates that go in the toaster so you can have your picture on toast.
Kirk: Oh, yeah.
Dick: Oh, you want one? Now he wants one.
Kirk: It's not just an accidental picture of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on the toast.
Dick: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's you.
Kirk: It's a purposeful picture of me on the toast?
Dick: It's you.
Kirk: Oh my god.
Dick: Yeah. There you go. There you go.
Kirk: You have to stay ahead.
Dick: Hammacher Schlemmer is very big at these kind of devices. It's kind of clever because you buy it and it comes through with, I think, the logo of the company that makes it.
Kirk: [inaudible 00:57:24].
Dick: Then in the meantime, you e-mail them your photo and in - whatever it is - two weeks, you get back two new plates, that you lift out the logo plate, drop in the new plates and now it's you.
Kirk: Dick, I would do that. Narcissistically, I would do that just so I could take a picture of the toast with my picture on it and use that as my avatar, my profile picture on Facebook.
Dick: There you go. Well, now you have a use for it. That's not too outrageously priced. I think it's $70.
Kirk: Okay. Well, we don't need a toaster. We have a big [inaudible 00:57:58] toaster.
Dick: Oh, okay. Okay.
Kirk: Oh, man. I guess you can pay to have more than one plate made, right?
Dick: Yeah. You can have logos made. I think originally, I believe it came out as the logo toaster, and then someone, when selfies became big... and there was a guy - boy, it must have been, I think I was still doing "Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee" when the guy came out with the pole that your camera went on. I forgot what... it was not called "selfie." It was like the extender rod or something. You know, Regis said, "Who's going to stick a camera? You're going to be out in public and extend a camera like that? Who's going to buy that?" Then someone decided, "Well, let's do the same rod but let's call it the selfie." Boy, talk about an industry that everybody's in - Selfie Sticks. It's just amazing. Yeah.
Kirk: Chris, you know who's using Selfie Sticks now, I mean, that interests you and me, is these crazy Russian kids that's climbed to the top of towers and take selfies of himself on top of skyscrapers and radio towers.
Chris: Yeah, that's scary. That is scary.
Chris: Yeah. You always have a few in the city who fall off the buildings.
Kirk: Oh, no. Really?
Chris: You know, [inaudible 00:59:15] subways all the time.
Kirk: Oh, jeez.
Chris: [inaudible 00:59:21] great. You can't help but be in somebody's selfie at least two, three, four times a day.
Kirk: I make it a point. The last time I was in New York and a lot of people were doing the selfies, I make it a point to get in the picture and do something goofy.
Dick: Oh, okay.
Kirk: Yeah. I make that a point, because it's fun. They're going to take me home with them that way or discover me when they get home.
Kirk: And maybe, just maybe Facebook will identify me in the back of their picture.
Dick: Well, yeah. And if they want to get even with you, I would worry about that.
Kirk: Do you want to tag Kirk Harnack?
Dick: Let's get that guy that keeps showing up in our selfies.
Kirk: Hey, we've got to take one last break, and when we come back, Chris and Dick, if you could each come up with a tip or something interesting that you'd to close with, that would be fantastic.
Dick: What's that? Very good.
Kirk: Our show is brought to you in part by the folks Axia. I've got to tell you, the very show that you're listening to right now, I know my video might be a little bit jerky, but the audio on the GFQ Network, as well as other podcast networks that use our equipment, that use Axia gear, and literally, thousands of radio stations around the world now. I mean, their number is approaching 10,000 consoles out there from Axia that are audio over IP. They work great.
One of the things I love about the Axia Radius Console, and I've got some stations that have this console. They're out in American Samoa of all places. But there's also one right in the GFQ Network headquarters that our voices are going through now. These counsoles are simple to use. They have, you know, standard on/off buttons. There's a beautiful - we were talking about OLEDs earlier - beautiful little one and a quarter inch OLED display at the bottom of each fader.
The Radius Console has got these bright LED VU meters up at the top. Every button that's on there that's lighted is lighted with an LED, so nothing to burn out. It lasts for years and years and years. The markings on there are just, everything is just so superbly well done mechanically that it's just going to sit there and last for years and years.
Hey, my consoles in American Samoa at our radio stations there, they get used. They get used kind of hard. We've got two active morning shows going on there, afternoon shows, and we have a newsroom. We have a news lady there who's a great news lady, but not the most technically adept. Now, I don't get calls or e-mails anymore about, "Something's wrong with the console." It works great over and over. And the audio quality - superb. I mean, this is digital, bit for bit, right through the console.
There's also this thing that's automatic mix-minus, and that's what podcast networks like GFQ depend upon to keep the audio clean and clear coming back into our headphones here. So Chris Tobin, at his end of things, he's on Skype, he's getting a clean feed. He's hearing everything except himself. I, on my end here in Nashville, Tennessee, I'm hearing everything except myself. Dick DeBartolo in New York City, he is hearing our whole show but not himself back, because that would be confusing. There'd be a delay there.
It's the same thing for any time you want to have people on the air being interviewed, whether it's through satellite, through codec, through telephone, or through something like Skype or FaceTime. It works great because that automatic mix-minus keeps echo from happening and keeps confusion from happening. It's just amazing. It happens automatically, just with a simple setup, a couple of clicks in the configuration of an Axia console. All of the Axia consoles do this, not just the Radius, not just the Element, but the fusion, the IQ and the smaller consoles, the desk and the rack.
I've got to tell you, this has just been amazing stuff. I've been promoting and talking about the audio over IP technology in Axia for over 11 years now. My goodness, it just works and works so well. I hang my reputation on the quality and just how well it works. The whole notion of doing audio over IP in a live environment is just fantastic.
Check it out, if you would. If you haven't gone that route yet with your studio, do check it out. Talk to customers, other people who own these consoles. Watch the videos that are linked there on the website at telosalliance.com. Click on Axia and click on any of the consoles. Read about them, and watch the videos. We've got some really good videos about how they work and what they do. Thanks to Axia for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech.
All right. We'll save Dick for last. Chris Tobin, you usually have something interesting and useful for us as broadcast engineers to think about for the week or the day or the moment. What you got for us this week?
Chris: Well, yes, actually, the big thing now is for stations that are streaming, there's the new level standards they're working out. What is it, minus 18 or something like that, I think, is what people are trying to shoot for. Then there's also the great talk of LKFS audio levels. If you're a content distributor and you're aware of the fact that in public radio especially, but in many broadcast facilities now, the new standards are they're looking at about, I think, minus 24 LKF or less, depending on which semantics you want to go with.
So what I recently checked into is Orban's Loudness Meter. It's real straightforward. It's free. It works on, I think, Windows, definitely, on Windows PC, and I believe Mac. Version 2.8.2 supports the ITU B.1770 plus 3, which is the latest LUFS, LKFS measurements. I say this only because there's so much going on now with all those crazy levels and [inaudible 01:04:53], and everything's digital, it's handy to have something real quick you can check. There are many other products on the market that you can purchase that are more detailed and give you more history, instantaneous or measurements over time, but the Orban Loudness Meter. Give it a try. You can search it and it'll come up. It's Version 2.8.2. It's very handy. Actually, I've been using it a lot lately.
Kirk: I've got that on my Mac, but I'm running it in a Windows virtual machine on my Mac. I found that meter to be, indeed, very helpful. I had a little with the scaling of the meters versus the background, so I need to find out what I'm doing wrong there, but it's probably just some resolution thing that I've got wrong.
Kirk: There's also the NPR meter. NPR makes one that reads out, not with moving bar graphs, but with numeric digits.
Chris: Yeah. Well, there are several ways you can do it. I mean, I'm just saying if you want to dabble in if there's loudness concern or if you're trying to get consistency in your plant and you're distributing materials, even if you're using it within a house and STL levels or making sure, because if you're doing AES or you're digital, you've got to watch levels, and everything's being calibrated in such a different manner that if you use traditional VU settings, the ballistics are different. Using this meter is a quick launching pad to get into it. You'll see the difference right away and realize, "Wow, we never did have much headroom under all the mess that we were using." It's handy.
Kirk: I guess when you're measuring, let's say with the Orban meter, what's is its reference? Is it just looking at the number of bits filled up? Is it referenced to zero dB full scale?
Chris: Yeah, it's referenced to the dB full scale. It goes with the algorithms that are set for the short-term and integrated settings for the BS1770. It also does the CBS volume max algorithm that was done by [inaudible 01:06:45]. Let's see, what was the other stuff it had? It also follows the PPM ballistics. I believe of the BBC - oh no, EBU PPM. It does a couple of other things.
It also has VU bar graph, which is VU ballistics. So you could see all of this working at once in the same waveform and understand, wow, how things are so different. It's like, "Oh boy, this is, you know, it's important." It's helpful. I mean, I do it and streams. I go across different screens and look at it like, "Oh, look at this guy."
Kirk: Actually, I just submitted a book to audible.com that I had produced for an author, and just as a last check to make sure my levels were what's in their spec, I ran the file. I played it and watched it on the Orban Meter to make sure, "Yeah. Okay. [inaudible 01:07:28]." Mostly, it was minus 18, minus 19 LKFS, and then they were really wanting minus 18 to minus 23, or so. So it was at the top end of what they want, but it was there.
Chris: That's good. Well, see, there's the point in case - case in point, that is. It's a really handy piece of software. Get started with that, and there's plenty of others that you can purchase that are more in depth, detailed and do crazy stuff with audio level loudness algorithms that are coming up. You can use it for television as well. It doesn't have to be just radio folks, and even streaming. If you're doing any podcasts and everything else, it's handy.
Kirk: I'll bet you with all this alphabet soup, we've probably put Dick to sleep.
Dick: No, not at all.
Kirk: Dick, are you there?
Dick: Yeah, that was my... Chris just stole my hint. That was it - the LSD meter. I was going to put that in my head. Then I had a clarifying filibuster transistor resistor thing.
Chris: Then there was the toaster.
Dick: I got a voltmeter, and I think I'm an engineer. No. I'll tell you one thing, this is going to be very stupid compared to what you're talking about, something great to buy on Amazon is a battery tester that can test every conceivable kind of battery - button batteries, 9 volt batteries, and of course, your A's and then double A's, and all the others. My postage scale died scale died yesterday, and I bought one on Amazon, Amazon Prime - two-day shipping. But for some reason, they delivered it overnight.
So I undo 9-volt battery and it's wrapped in plastic and it's a thing and it's got plastic over the contacts, and nah, nah, nah. So I do it and I turn the scale on - it's DOA, dead on arrival. I go, "Is it humanly possible that this brand-new scale was shipped with a dead 9-volt battery?" So I got out my little trustee, voltmeter, and indeed, they sent a scale with a dead battery. So I had a big box of batteries, so I put in a new one. But it didn't even dawn on me. When you buy something brand-new, you would assume that the battery was packed that well... anyway. So buy yourself a battery tester.
Chris: There was a time.
Kirk: Hey, you guys. Chris, you and Dick riff for a second on that battery thing. I got one 10 feet away, and I've got something interesting to say about it. So talk about that.
Dick: Okay. Then I've got to go. I have to get ready for my show as soon as you come back.
Dick: Okay. Anyway...
Chris: [inaudible 01:10:13].
Dick: Go ahead.
Chris: Go ahead.
Dick: No, I was going to say one other silly thing that I get on Amazon that helps a lot - and I just happened to look over at a little monitor I have here - is I had a monitor that I wanted to slip into a specific place here. But on this little monitor, the cables came out the side and it just could not go where I wanted. Then I thought, "You know, let me just go into Amazon and type in . . ." I needed audio cables and a video cable and I just typed in "90 degree audio video cables." There's a bunch of those little 90 degree angle converters. So I was able to have the cables go straight on down and this thing slipped into where I needed.
Chris: That's amazing.
Dick: Yeah. It is unbelievable.
Kirk: Hey Dick, have you tried... in New York, do you guys have Amazon Prime Now yet?
Dick: We do, but I have not tried it.
Kirk: Chris, you have tried it?
Chris: I have not tried it, but it is here in the city, yes.
Kirk: So yeah, here's a great idea for Amazon Prime Now. By the way, I had to, just over Christmastime, you're busy, you don't really want to get out in the car and go somewhere to get some tape or wrapping supplies or even, as I needed, a Siamese headphone adapter. I got Amazon Prime Now. It doesn't work on your computer, you have to do it with the app that's on the phone. I don't know why. But if you're in a market that has it, and you know what, literally, an hour and 10 minutes later, I had the wrapping supplies, the tape, the bows, and the Siamese headphone adapter. The guy just brought it to the door, and I couldn't have done it faster myself.
Dick: Unbelievable. What extra is the charge?
Kirk: No extra charge, per se. I'm sure you're paying absolute retail for the products themselves. But here's - a little bit sneaky and I think Amazon needs to change this - they tack on a tip for the driver and you don't really have much of a chance to delete it or change it.
Dick: Oh, I see. Okay.
Kirk: And get this, to keep everything legal beagle, your credit card gets charged twice - once for the Amazon and separately, a day or two later, for the tip. You're wondering, "What's this 20?" I ordered a bunch of stuff and the tip was $20. So that's, like, the delivery charge. But Amazon needs to be a little bit more... come clean up front about that.
Kirk: But I mean, I don't mind paying it. But I just wondered, "What the heck is this?" Okay, I'm an engineer, been building radio stations for years and years. Frankly, I had this attitude. For years, I thought I was way above having a battery tester in my arsenal. I've got voltmeters. I've got $300 Fluke meters. What do I need with a two-dollar battery tester? I'm telling you, I have gotten my $2 out of this thing over and over and over again for checking the kid's toy batteries. I mean, any size goes in here, any normal size, any common size.
Dick: Yeah, that's good. Can you do button batteries?
Kirk: Yes, it does button batteries, and it's got a separate scale for the button batteries for watches and stuff.
Dick: Oh, yeah? Great.
Kirk: Yeah. I do it down here, and it tells you what scale to read it on, depending on which size that you're reading. So Dick, I always thought, "What do I need a battery tester for? That's for sissies." No.
Dick: No, no, no. You need it.
Kirk: It's just helpful.
Dick: It's a man's tool.
Kirk: That's right. All right. Hey, thanks for the tips, Dick and Chris. I sure appreciate it so very much. Thank you much.
Kirk: Our show with Dick DeBartolo and Chris Tobin here has been brought to you by Lawo. Visit them at lawo.com. Also, the Telos VX multi-line multi-studio phone system. And by the Axia Radius Console at telosalliance.com. We thank them very much for supporting our show.
Hey, tell your friends about This Week in Radio Tech. We're going to get back into probably Sirius antenna towers and, you know, subjects like that here pretty soon. But we've had a couple of weeks here we've gone off the reservation, and had a great time doing it, with Colleen Kelly Henry last week and Dick DeBartolo this week. Tell your friends about it.
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