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Product Spotlight: Bridge 2001

Jan 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

What it is: Bridge 2001 digital audio network router, introduced at NAB 2001 by Wheatstone, a supplier of audio mixing consoles for the broadcast industry.
Product rollout: Wheatstone, based in New Bern, N.C., has begun shipping the router to radio and TV stations around the country. Radio station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles, for instance, is in the process of installing the router.
Target market: The Bridge 2001 is an audio router and is primarily geared toward radio stations, but TV stations that need audio-only routers may also want to use it, said Phil Owens, sales engineer with Wheatstone.
Market trend: Routers, which connect sources to destinations, are growing in popularity as more radio stations operate from shared or common facilities. “If a radio station says, `We have to do the morning show out of Studio B today. We need to send the whole studio down to the transmitter link,’ that’s what the router allows,” Mr. Owens said. It provides the flexibility to send audio anywhere in the facility, he said.
Features and benefits: The Bridge 2001 router can handle both analog and digital signals and can send an analog signal to a digital input. “If you have an old spot on a reel-to-reel machine and want to burn it to a CD, you can take the tape machine and use the router to connect it to burn the CD,” Mr. Owens said.
Users can also add additional cages throughout their facility and need only a fiber-optic cable to connect the boxes, rather than separate wires for each additional output. “That can really save a lot of wire,” he said. In most installations, the system can be expanded to link four cages together up to a kilometer apart to create a system that is 2,048 inputs by 2,048 outputs. Larger systems can be created in a multi-tier configuration. Each cage is capable of handling 512 simultaneous audio channels.
Control for the router is addressable through the TCP/IP protocol, which means the system can be configured and maintained from any networked PC. In addition, the product’s companion Xpoint Windows-based software allows a user, such as the station’s general manager, to listen to any of the different inputs on a desktop PC.
Cost: $25,000 to $85,000.