Best of Show Up Close: Alteros GTX-FX8 Direct-to-Fiber System

Alteros' winning product offers wireless mics able to work in areas with minimal spectrum.
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BOS-TVT (1)

“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about nominees and winners in the annual Future Best of Show at NAB award program.

We spoke with Jonathan Novick of Alteros, which was a Best of Show winner with its GTX-FX8 direct-to-fiber system.

TVT: Alteros wrote an article earlier this year on TVT about the impact on loss of spectrum for wireless mics, can you highlight the major parts of this issue?

JONATHAN NOVICK: Most wireless mics have traditionally operated in the UHF TV band in the white spaces between local TV channels. The FCC has auctioned off a third of that spectrum to roll out to cellular and broadband service providers. TV stations are being repacked into the remaining UHF and VHF spectrum leaving little to no white spaces for the operation of wireless mics. The repacking process is scheduled to be completed in July 2020. We are not even half-way through the process yet and broadcasters are already experiencing significant interference problems with their existing wireless gear. Sporting and similar events with high wireless channel counts are particularly impacted.

TVT: The GTX series is the flagships for Alteros, what does this technology offer broadcasters?

JN: The GTX series provides up to 24 wireless mics that will work just about anywhere, with no changes in performance as the UHF spectrum becomes increasingly compromised. It avoids the spectrum crunch by operating at 6.5 GHz, well outside of the TV and ISM bands. Its UWB technology employs low-power RF pulses instead of continuous carriers so there are no intermod problems as channel count increases. The net result is lower operational costs as there is no need for RF coordination and specialty hardware (filters, antennas, combiners, distribution hardware and low-loss coax) each time the UHF environment changes. In fact, it even lets broadcasters keep their existing UHF wireless operational a little longer by clearing out 24 channels from the UHF band.

The GTX Series is simple to set-up, easy to operate and always provides the highest level of performance without compromising latency, channel count or audio quality. It is basically the only set-and-forget wireless mic solution available to broadcasters today.

TVT: What is it about the GTX-FX8 that sets it apart from similar offerings in its product class?

GTX-FX8

GTX-FX8

JN: The coverage area of the GTX series is defined by the placement of the GTX32 transceivers. Up to 64 transceivers can be used at once to define both large areas and separate zones with high levels of reliability resulting from our mesh coverage and maximum diversity MIMO technology. The transceivers utilize Cat5 wiring, which typically is limited to 1000-foot runs to the master control unit. The GTX-FX8 extends that distance by 10,000-feet by using fiber instead of Cat5. Unlike traditional RF-over-fiber solutions that employ analog conversions onto and off of the fiber (even with digital mic signals), the GTX-FX8 keeps the signal in the digital domain. This eliminates many potential signal degradation issues, reduces interference potential and reduces latency.

TVT: What does it cost? Is it shipping?

JN: The GTX-FX8 is shipping now and sells for $3,200.

TVT: What else should we know about the GTX-FX8 or Alteros?

JN: Each GTX3224F Master Control Unit has ports for up to six GTX-FX8 fiber breakout boxes. Each GTX-FX8 in turn can connect to eight GTX32 transceivers via Cat5. This enables one to mount 48 transceivers up to 2 miles from the control unit with no signal degradation.

Alteros is a relatively new name but the company has deep roots. Alteros is wholly owned by Audio-Technica and its founders ran AT’s R&D and engineering team. We have many years of experience working with both fully digital wireless and the higher frequency ranges. An early version of UWB technology first appeared in AT’s SpectraPulse wireless conference room systems almost 10 years ago. The GTX series was developed in conjunction with broadcasters to extend and improve the technology, refining it for the flexible high-performance needed for the most demanding applications.