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Comrex Earshot-IFB Heralds A New Era In Remote IFB For Live Radio And Television

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Interruptible Foldback (IFB) – aka Switched Talkback – is a one-way monitoring and cueing system used in television, filmmaking, video production and radio broadcast for communication from the studio director to on-air talent at a remote location. IFB is often facilitated using an earpiece that the on-air talent wears to get cues, instructions and direction from the studio or control room.

The entire setup uses an intercom buss that consists of a mix-minus or clean-feed of programme audio that can be interrupted or switched to be replaced by a talkback feed that overrides the normal clean-feed. On a television news programme for example, a producer can talk to the news anchors to tell them when they are live on the air and when to begin reading off the script on the teleprompter or cue cards. In live television, some news anchors are seen listening to IFBs through their earpieces in order to report breaking news and announcements.

Traditionally, IFB is sent to the remote site using normal PSTN Telephone Lines but by the very nature of PSTN, one telephone line is needed for each and every simultaneous IFB connection which has resulted in banks of legacy POTS lines (Plain Old Telephone System) being kept just to cue remote talent. The call may well connect remotely via a mobile connection with a Bluetooth interface such as BluePack or BlueKeeper, often used in OB Vehicles for talkback and IFB which is then distributed to the remote crew using wireless earpieces.

This is where Earshot-IFB comes in;  instead of using multiple PSTN lines for IFB, Earshot is a VoIP audio bridge to which up to 30 simultaneous users can connect bringing the power of VoIP (Voice-over-IP) to IFB technology, resulting in high-quality audio and significant savings in cost.

Comrex EarShot-IFB is a hardware-based system that delivers live audio feeds to callers. It is designed to provide telephone-based live studio programme and IFB audio to field-based remote broadcasts, ideal for Sports and TV ENG reporters making it possible to replace up to 30 POTS lines with one simple box.

EarShot has four audio inputs (or feeds) two of which can be configured for IFB.  Up to 30 callers can dial in and listen to audio from standard telephones (including Mobiles) and switch between the feeds using DTMF (Touch Tone) selection. Some feeds typically carry full programme audio with Clean-Feed / Mix-Minus on other Inputs to prevent echo and other audio flaws. This versatility makes it simple to tailor EarShot-IFB to individual needs.

EarShot interfaces to VoIP telephone circuits using SIP and can connect using cloud-based VoIP providers, VoIP-based PBXs (usually) or hardware VoIP/PSTN gateways. It can handle up to 30 POTS or 10 wideband calls and users can configure the box to handle a combination of each.  Subscribers use a normal ’phone to connect or the FieldTap application, CallMe Click-and-Connect or the hardware CallMe-T codec - to provide higher quality audio and additional flexibility.

For more information or to arrange a demonstration, Vortex distributes Comrex Codecs, Talk Show Systems and Telephone Interfaces – including Earshot.

This article is also available to read at BFV Online
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