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20/02/2019

Vortex Communications Exhibits CallMe IP Audio Codecs

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Vortex Communications has just returned from Exhibiting at the European Radio Show in Paris which claims to be the biggest Show dedicated to Radio in the world. Their CallMe low-cost IP Audio Codecs proved to be something of a "hit" providing a unique simple and low-cost way to get Guests, Expert Contributors and Reporters "on-air".
 
For more than 30 years, Radio has been a passion for Vortex Communications and its latest range of IP Audio Codecs still provide leading-edge solutions for Broadcasters. 
 
Since the 1980s, Vortex has been heavily committed to Radio with our first major order producing more than a thousand audio amplifiers and equalizers on Eurocard for the BBC World Service update of Bush House Control Room.  Every signal that came into and went out of the building passed through at least two of our amplifiers which provided sterling service until the BBC moved out in 2012 with, as it turned out, no failures over the entire period.
 
Since our beginnings, Vortex has been working with Comrex who specialise in sending high quality sound over public networks. The first products were Frequency Extenders that moved the frequency of the programme sound to fit into the telephone band of 300Hz to 3.4kHz, up-shifting by 250Hz at the sending end and downshifting at the receiving end thus providing an extra 2½ octaves at the lower frequencies – thus restoring the "weight of the sound" - at the expense of 1/10th octave at the top end. This was further developed into a 2-line and 3-line system where the programme audio was split into bands and sent over a number of telephone lines. BBC Johannesburg was linked to London using this technology and Capital Radio used two pairs for their "beach party" every summer, offering 5kHz audio using 2x telephone lines. Not bad for "nearly free".

This moved on through the early 1990s with ISDN when as part of an automation project, we developed our own "Baby Blue" Layer-II codec that offered 11kHz over 64kbps and some of these too are still in use today – though as we all know, ISDN itself is going away. Then taking advantage of the latest modem and DSP technology and more powerful audio compression algorithms came Comrex's Hotline – a POTS codec – that provided 10kHz over the Plain Old Telephone System (PSTN) which further developed to the Vector and Matrix offering 15kHz. With the addition of a GSM Module and battery operation - and even higher data compression - the first truly portable codec arrived offering 7.5kHz using a mobile network "free of wires".

And so to the present; Comrex is the world leader in IP Internet Audio Codecs for Outside Broadcast and manufactures the industry-standard ACCESS-NX which multi-streams low-delay high-quality live audio using the public internet. Literally thousands are in daily use here in the UK alone and the portable is known as "the Radio Car in the palm of your hand". 
 
As an add-on for our customers, we ourselves developed our own CallMe Click-and-Connect cloud codec that lets stations put guests and indeed reporters On-Air without the need for them to own their own codec or download special software. Originally developed to work with the huge installed base of ACCESS and BricLinks, we found that many smaller stations could not afford even the cheapest full-blown codec we developed CallMe-T (as in ET phone home) as a low-cost hardware back-end for CallMe Click-&-Connect. This range of low-cost IP codecs has now expanded to include CallMe-TR which has "quick-dial" buttons, making it an ideal for field use as an add-on for the large number of ISDN Mixers in use today, so that they can work over IP.  The latest addition of USB Audio allows direct connection of an external sound card, mixer or headset providing an ideal "Home Studio" solution for Journalists and Web Radio Stations. 

www.vtx.co.uk
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