Nortech Radio Comms » November 2016

Monthly Archives: November 2016

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DJs Shouldn’t Have to Live With Constant Ringing in Their Ears

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When you think about DJs you don’t worry about their hearing, but this is a real issue in the music world, they seem to be slow in picking up this issue, probably because the industry can be full of bedroom DJs, that don’t consider hearing protection. As the article below says, it interferes with the mixing. This article was originally published on THUMP Canada. 

I’m waiting to get my hearing tested and I’m scared. Most of my work as a music journalist, along with my social life, has revolved around loud music for more than two decades. While I often wear cheap foam earplugs, I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been, and I’m particularly worried about is the damage I’ve done while DJing.

I was never a famous touring DJ, but spent many years playing long shifts on a weekly basis at Toronto bars, sprinkled with occasional club and warehouse party gigs on larger sound systems. I’ve never worn any hearing protection in the booth, as I found earplugs interfered too much with mixing. Gradually I’ve noticed that I’ve been turning up the monitors over the course of a long night, and the ringing in my ears was taking longer and longer to fade away after each gig. A few years ago, I started to realize I was having trouble keeping up with conversations in situations where there was a lot of background noise.

Then one day that familiar ringing never stopped.

Even though hearing loss caused by loud music is a well-known reality, most working artists view it as an issue they’ll deal with when they’re retired, not aware of the fact that it can often impact artists at the height of their careers.

“I would go home after a gig and my ears would be ringing really badly, and then one day I noticed that they never stopped ringing anymore,” says Toronto house DJ and producer Sydney Blu, who’s been playing regularly since 2000. “Not long after that, I noticed that whenever I’m in a nightclub and someone talks to me in my right ear, I have to stop them and put my left ear to their mouth.”

She eventually got herself fitted for custom musician earplugs, but found she could never get used to DJing while wearing them. Instead, Blu just tries to keep her monitors as quiet as possible, and turns them down completely in-between mixes. “Most of the older DJs that I know all have tinnitus. I wish I had thought about it earlier, and realized how bad it could get.”

There is no way to reverse tinnitus currently, and the treatment options for hearing loss are still in their infancy. For busy DJs who are constantly touring and playing festivals around the world, many don’t notice the ringing in their ears getting worse until it’s too late.

“I think it’s rife in the DJ field,” says NYC house music veteran Roger Sanchez. “A lot of people have tinnitus and they haven’t even identified it. They’re just so accustomed to their ears ringing, and they think it’s just because of their gig the night before. But if you’re playing three or four times a week, your exposure is almost constant. Then when they step back, they realize they have tinnitus.”

Sanchez has been performing for 36 years, and started to experience permanent ringing towards the end of the 90s. Like Blu, he got himself fitted for custom earplugs, and feels they’ve saved him from further damage. However, he admits there was a learning curve when it came to mixing while wearing hearing protection.

“In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t hear things clearly. It was like someone had put their hands over my ears. It took me a while to acclimate, but what I started noticing was that I could turn my monitors up, but it didn’t sound piercing any more. I also had them put bass bins in a lot of booths, which helped compensate.”

Sanchez says that it’s become much more common in recent years for big name DJs to wear custom earplugs while performing. He finally got tested properly in 2010, and found there was a significant dip in upper range of his hearing around the 800hz range, but was relieved that the loss wasn’t worse. The persistent ringing in his ears is still there though.

“Right now I hear the ringing, but I’ve just become accustomed to it. I don’t notice it when I’m walking on the street, or if I’m not paying attention to it, but the second I quiet everything down, the ringing starts. It’s not too loud, thank god. I think using the filters prevented it from getting to that level. I know some people who have it very loud.”

Custom musician earplugs can cost more than $200, but they’re one of the few options for DJs who need to be able to accurately hear the effect of their EQ tweaks and filtering. The cheap disposable earplugs you can buy at the drugstore will protect your ears the same amount, but change the sound so much that few performers use them.

“A cheap foam earplug might bring the sound down by 25db at one frequency, and 10db at another,” explains Adam Rhodes, the US director of hearing protection company ACS Custom. “They muffle the sound, because it’s not a true response. You can’t hear anything, it takes away the enjoyment of the experience, so you just end up taking them out. When you’ve got the right filter though, you’re not sacrificing the quality at all: you’re just turning it down.”

ACS works with many of the biggest names in electronic music, from Tiesto to Zedd to Deadmau5. Rhodes says that there’s much more awareness of the issue now, although too often artists come to them after they’ve already done permanent damage. “Pretty much every week we hear someone say they wish they’d heard about this ten years ago. We hear that often,” he says. “I think it’s all about education. We’re at a festival every weekend in the summers, trying to make it as accessible to them as possible.”

Many touring musicians have switched to in-ear monitors in recent years, which block out external sounds, while amplifying what they need to hear. In the electronic music world however, they are far less common, as they require DJs to completely rethink their approach to mixing.

“In-ear monitors haven’t always worked for DJs,” admits Rhodes. “They like to wear the cans over their ears, so they can take them off, and do a mix with one ear covered. There are some DJs who use them though, like Deadmau5. We have one model now that have ambient microphones built in, so that they can still hear the mix. That’s kind of the next level, but it’s still hard to persuade DJs to use them. They’re so used to wearing headphones and it’s almost part of their outfit when they’re performing.”

One artist who has transitioned to in-ear monitors is Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke. He started wearing custom earplugs in the early 2000s, after becoming concerned about tinnitus and a growing lack of sensitivity to loud volume levels. Around 2008, he decided to give in-ear monitors a try and has used them ever since.

“I just wasn’t getting the definition I was looking for in DJ monitors. We tried the in-ear monitoring, and I was so happy with the clarity. Even in big halls with lots of reverb, my monitoring would always stay the same,” he says. “It was a revelation to me. I could keep the volume low, and still hear every little detail in the song. I couldn’t hear the crowd anymore, but that just made me work harder to get applause.” It wasn’t until three years ago that he finally got up the courage to get his hearing tested.

Thankfully, it turns out that his early adoption of ear protection had a huge impact, and the results were completely normal. Even the constant ringing and beeping that panicked him early in his career has subsided.

My own ringing isn’t nearly as bad as it was a year ago, but it sure seems loud in the complete silence of the soundproof booth in the downtown Toronto clinic where my hearing is being assessed. I struggle to hear the tones, but feel optimistic that I’m able to notice some of the very high-pitched signals they’re feeding me. However, I’m also noticing that there are long pauses during where I probably should be hearing something.

“Do you work with heavy machinery?” the doctor asks me as he looks at my results, which makes my heart skip a beat. When I explain that I’m around loud music constantly, he tells me that explains what the chart is telling him, and why the highest frequency range of my hearing is still decent.

“It’s not actually too bad. Your left ear has a dip at 1K, but it’s still within the normal range. Your right ear has a much larger dip though, at 4K. You should really get yourself a pair of custom musician earplugs.”

I leave his office feeling relief that my hearing isn’t worse, but embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to take it seriously. Thankfully, it’s not too late for me to stop things from getting worse.

Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.

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Ericsson first to deliver 5G NR radio

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We are seeing a new era in communications at the moment, the move from tetra and RF to the mobile network. The uk’s emergency services will be moved over to EE’s ESN system slowly until 2020 using Motorola kit designed particularly for the technology. The natural evolution is 5G, which we won’t see for many years, but Ericsson have taken the baton and are running with it.

  • World’s first commercial 5G New Radio (NR) radio for massive MIMO and Multi-user MIMO coming in 2017
  • New additions to Ericsson Radio System address key requirements of 5G, in today’s networks
  • Pioneering Industrialized Network Rollout Services solution facilitates complete rollout from configuration to verification in a single visit

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) is commercializing the world’s first 5G NR radio for massive MIMO, with the first deployments coming in 2017. Together with the Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins announced in June and Ericsson’s already commercially available Radio System Baseband 5216, which currently powers Ericsson’s award-winning Radio Test Bed, Ericsson is first to deliver all components of a 5G access network.

Tom Keathley, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, AT&T, says: “As we accelerate toward 5G, it’s beneficial to have a flexible radio platform that can be deployed not only for LTE, but also versions of future 5G NR standards.”

AIR 6468 combines advanced antennas with a large number of steerable ports to enable 5G technologies of beamforming, Massive MIMO and — building on that — Multi-user MIMO, initialized as MU-MIMO. These capabilities improve user experience while enhancing the capacity and coverage of the network and reducing interference. The new radio provides LTE support as well, so it is applicable in today’s networks.

Huang Yuhong, Deputy Head, China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI), says: “Massive-MIMO, also known as 3D MIMO, is an important milestone in China Mobile’s technology roadmap from 4G to 5G. We are very happy that Ericsson’s new radio product is coming to market soon to meet our needs and enable us to integrate 5G technologies into our existing networks.”

A host of new additions to the Ericsson Radio System are also coming that address key 5G requirements, in today’s networks.

Daniel Staub, Head of Joint Mobile Group, Swisscom, says: “On the road to 5G, we will continue to invest in LTE advancements that will become part of our 5G networks. For us, it is key that Ericsson has chosen to focus on advances that will support us in this evolution. These enhancements will further improve the customer experience.”

Additional new Ericsson Radio System gear addresses 5G concepts

  • Three new radios support Gigabit speeds for LTE and provide further flexibility in design: Radio 4407 and Radio 4412 enable 4×4 MIMO in one radio unit for FDD and TDD mode respectively, and Radio 8808 for advanced TDD beamforming applications
  • Addressing both the need for unlicensed spectrum options and the growing emphasis on small cells is the Radio 2205, a micro solution on unlicensed spectrum that is fully integrated in Ericsson Radio System, using the same baseband and network management
  • Two new baseband units support the growing need for densification: the outdoor micro Baseband 6502 and macro Baseband 6303 with Ericsson Rail System mounting for flexible site builds
  • Addressing interference issues in dense builds, Baseband P614 enables new band activation on challenging sites by mitigating Passive Inter Modulation, referred to as PIM mitigation, from static and dynamic sources both inside and outside the antenna system
  • Spectrum optimization is a growing need and Uplink Spectrum Analyzer is an Ericsson-unique software solution to remotely identify external interference without the need for costly measurement equipment and site visits
  • Exclusive to Ericsson is instant power sharing, used in the wideband Radio 2242. This capability allows power to be instantly shared between carriers, standards and bands, optimizing the use of radio resources
  • Cloud RAN will be an important 5G network architecture and Baseband C608 provides high-performance switching in Elastic RAN deployments

Peter Jarich, Vice President, Consumer and Infrastructure Services, Current Analysis, says: “Mobile operators, today, are clearly focused on the race to 5G commercialization, while also continuing to invest in their existing LTE networks. With a new 5G radio and LTE offerings which echo key 5G concepts – small cells, licensed-unlicensed band combinations, Cloud RAN, network densification, spectrum optimization – Ericsson’s new portfolio additions and Ericsson Radio System innovations provide a compelling way forward.”

To support new network builds, Ericsson has created the industry’s first Industrialized Network Rollout Services solution. The Network Deployment Delivery Platform coupled with Ericsson’s pioneering process facilitates the complete configuration, installation, integration, shakedown and handover of a fully verified site, ready in a single site visit.

Arun Bansal, Head of Business Unit Network Products, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson has driven innovation in every generation of mobile technology and now we are set to over-deliver on an aggressive promise. We are introducing the new hardware that 5G Plug-Ins, announced in June, will run on, so that the first operators can start to deploy 5G infrastructure.  And, we are also launching innovations that improve both the performance and efficiency of today’s networks using concepts that will evolve into 5G.”

We found this news story on the Communication news website

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World’s slimmest, buoyant DSC handheld radio unveiled

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Icom accessories

The IC-M93D EURO VHF/DSC handheld radio is the successor to the popular IC-M91D. Stylish and slim, this new Icom handheld contains an abundance of features including a dedicated built-in DSC receiver (meets ITU-R M.493-13 Class D DSC), internal GPS and active noise cancelling technology. In addition, an intuitive interface coupled with 2.3 inch full dot matrix high-contrast display and soft keypad makes this a comfortable and easy handportable to operate.

The IC-M93D EURO has an integrated DSC/GPS giving users the facility to send and receive DSC calls. A dedicated DSC receiver continuously monitors CH70 and is independent of the main receiver and other operation. Other important safety at sea offerings include a built-in compass, navigation and Man Over Board features.

Advanced noise cancelling technology on the radio reduces background noise by up to 90 percent on both outgoing and incoming calls making sure your communications are heard. The IC-M93D EURO come as standard with the BC-220 rapid charger which charges the standard Li-ion battery pack in just 2.5 hours. The handheld’s extended 1500mAh Li-Ion battery life provides a full day of use.

The IC-M93D EURO features Icom’s exclusive Float’n Flash and AquaQuake technology. Should the radio be dropped overboard, a flashing light will activate, making it easier to locate. The Float’n Flash feature works regardless of whether the power is turned on. The AquaQuake draining function uses low-frequency sound waves to clear water away from the radio’s speaker grill for clear audio.

Additional radio features include the IPX7 waterproof rating, 50 waypoint memories with alphanumeric names for navigation and a loud speaker.

Ian Lockyer, Marketing Manager of Icom UK, said: ‘The IC-M93D EURO combines advanced safety features with an intuitive user interface for faster and easier access to all the radio functions.’

The IC-M93D is now available to buy from authorised Icom Marine Dealers with a suggested retail price of £349.95 including VAT.