The Telos Alliance
|Headquarters||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Products||On-air telephone systems, broadcast codecs, audio loggers, audio processors, mixing consoles, distribution systems, TV loudness monitoring and metering tools.|
The Telos Alliance is an American corporation manufacturing audio products primarily for broadcast stations. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, the company is divided into six divisions:
- Telos Systems manufactures talkshow systems, IP audio codecs and transceivers, as well as streaming audio encoders.
- Omnia Audio makes audio processors for AM, FM, HD Radio, and Internet audio streaming applications.
- Axia Audio builds mixing consoles and audio distribution systems based on Livewire IP networking, an audio over Ethernet protocol.
- Linear Acoustic, whose product line includes TV loudness controls, metering and monitoring devices, along with upmixing and Metadata tools.
- 25-Seven Systems specializes in broadcast delays, time management and processing products.
- Minnetonka Audio Software delivers software-based audio automation to media production infrastructures.
History and Founder
The Telos Alliance began as Telos Systems, a part-time project founded in 1985 by radio station engineer and talk show host (WFBQ, WMMS) Steve Church. Its inaugural product was a telephone hybrid, the Telos 10, which was based on digital signal processing. It was the first application of this technology to radio studio equipment. Sales of the Telos 10 telephone hybrid eventually increased to the point that Church decided to quit his day job and commit to the company full-time.
Over the years, Church continued to apply emerging technologies in new ways to solve problems in radio engineering. He had been researching a developing technology, known as audio coding, during the latter part of the 1980s. He made a pilgrimage to a small town in Germany to visit a research lab known as Fraunhofer. There, he learned of an exciting audio coding algorithm known as ISO MPEG Layer-III audio coding. After a listening test, Church became very excited by MPEG, and thus, Telos became the first licensee in the United States of what is now a household word-MP3.
MP3 was licensed by Telos as part of the solution to another problem that had plagued broadcasters for years. Long distance remote broadcasts had always been difficult and expensive. From the dawn of radio in the 1920s, the only option was leasing telephone lines from AT&T. In the 1970s, satellite technology became available as an alternative. Both options however, required considerable lead time, and didn't always work. There was no way to do spontaneous long distance remotes, let alone maintain broadcast audio quality.
Around the same time that MP3 audio coding was being developed, ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) was also being launched. ISDN was designed to deliver simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the telephone network. Church was able to combine MP3 audio coding with ISDN technology to create a high-quality digital audio dialup service for broadcasters. The result was the Telos Zephyr, a point-to-point audio codec which made it possible for radio and television stations, networks, and recording studios to link studio quality audio paths over long distance digital telephone lines. The Zephyr revolutionized remote broadcasting, and in some ways, programming, by enabling the use of spontaneous interviews for morning drive shows and newscasts.
Next, Church turned his attention to the way audio was distributed around the broadcast plant. At that time, the infrastructure of analog radio plants consisted of miles of multiconductor audio cable wired to walls full of punch blocks at each end. Installation and maintenance was time consuming and expensive. Church set out to find a better way.
He looked to computer networks for inspiration. If data could be divided into packets and routed on a single Ethernet cable, why couldn't the same thing be done with broadcast audio? There were many hurdles, such as latency, lost packets, and prioritizing audio over other traffic on the network. One by one, these and other problems were solved. The theory was put into practice, and workable products were developed.
Livewire made its debut in 2003 at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. The original Liveweire-capable products included the SmartSurface console, Studio Engine, analog, AES, mic and GPIO nodes, as well as the Router Selector node. The NAB premiere of Livewire marked the dawn of Audio over IP (AoIP). The concept caught on, and before long, other manufacturers were making their own AoIP broadcast equipment. Soon, there developed the need for a standard so AoIP gear from different manufacturers could communicate with each other. Telos, along with other manufacturers, worked with the AES, and the AES 67 standard for AoIP interoperability was developed.
Church received many accolades for his work over the years. In 2010, the National Association of Broadcaster's (NAB) honored him with its Radio Engineering award. He stepped down as CEO of Telos in January 2011, and died on September 28, 2012 after a three-year battle with brain cancer.
In the following years, the company also expanded its product lines. Telos Systems continued to develop broadcast telephone systems, IP audio codecs & transceivers, and processing as well as encoding for streaming audio. Networked radio consoles, audio interfaces and routing control, networked intercom, and related software were created under the Axia Audio brand name. Audio processing, processing and encoding products for streaming audio, voice processing, analysis tools, and studio audio processing was developed under the Omnia Audio brand. The three companies were under the larger corporate umbrella known as Telos Systems.
Growth of the company continued with the acquisition of new partners. Linear Acoustic of Lancaster PA was acquired, along with its product line of TV loudness controls, metering and monitoring devices, along with upmixing and Metadata tools. The corporate name was changed to The Telos Alliance. Shortly thereafter, 25-Seven came on board. This Boston-based company specializes in broadcast delays, time management and processing products which result in more efficient and profitable radio operations. In September 2015, Minnetonka Audio Software joined the Telos Alliance through a merger of the companies. the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company delivers a file-based software alternative to hardware program optimizers, providing audio automation to media production infrastructures.
The TV Solutions Group was formed in September 2016, to focus on the expanding needs of the television broadcast market. The new division consists of both Linear Acoustic and Minnetonka Audio products, staff and brands.The group will provide solutions to aid broadcasters in the transition to the latest TV technology. The AES67 AoIP standard is a key strategic focus for the new group.
- Steve Church and Skip Pizzi (2010). Audio over IP: Building Pro AoIP Systems with Livewire. Amsterdam, Boston, London, New York, SanFrancisco, Sydney: Elsevier/Focal Press. ISBN 978-0-240-81244-1.
- Olszewski, Mike (2003). Radio Daze: Stories From the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars. Kent, Ohio and London: The Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-773-2.
- Gorman, John with Feran, Tom (2007) The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Company. ISBN 978-1-886228-47-4.
- NAB honors Steve Church of Telos Systems, Radio World, 19 April 2010, retrieved 12 September 2016
- Paul McLane (2012-09-28), Steve Church Dies, Radio World, retrieved 12 September 2016
- Telos Alliance website
- Telos Systems website
- Omnia Audio website
- Axia Audio website
- Linear-Acoustic website
- 25-Seven Systems website
- Minnetonka Audio website
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