After relying on rentals for some time, Tennessee-based J&B Production Company wanted to add a dedicated video encoder to its permanent kit.
The sought-after product had to be reliable enough to perform flawlessly during high-profile productions and versatile enough to support in-person, virtual, and hybrid events of all sizes. The team found the perfect fit in Epiphan’s Pearl Nano.
The challenge: Searching for a dependable dedicated encoder.
A packed calendar of hybrid and virtual events across the United States made one thing clear to the team at J&B Production Company: investing in a permanent hardware encoder, rather than continuing to rent one, made a lot of sense.
Thus began J&B’s search for the perfect video encoder to pair with its production switcher. At the top of the company’s wish list was a rare combination of small size and professional features to facilitate transportation and to afford the team the flexibility to serve their diverse client base.
The search started with a misfire. When J&B tried an encoder offering from one company, the device failed within the first hour of pushing a stream to it.
Eager to secure an encoder in time for their upcoming dates, the team thought back to a source of past success – a rented Epiphan Pearl-2 hardware encoder – and knew just where to look.
“We stopped looking at other companies and looked harder into Epiphan’s product line for what product made sense.” Ethan Johnson, President and Co-founder of J&B Production Company
The solution: Pearl Nano, the perfect-fit streamer and recorder
“We always had good luck in the past with Epiphan hardware,” Johnson continues. “We’ve never had huge issues, which usually doesn’t happen. I can name many audio consoles and switchers that have failed countless times in the 14 years I’ve done this.”
The decision came down to two Epiphan products: Pearl Nano and Pearl Mini. Ultimately, the team chose Pearl Nano for its refined yet versatile feature set and ultraportable package.
J&B purchased two Pearl Nano units, which have delivered the desired flexibility while helping to streamline production setup with the following:
· Built-in inputs for HDMI and SDI (a rare find on encoders in this price range) make converters unnecessary.
· XLR inputs for professional audio (versus only audio via a headphone jack or RCA, as is standard on other smaller, medium-range devices), cutting down the number of cables and adapters.
· Scaling capabilities, eliminating some previously required gear.
“Pearl Nano had everything we needed. It was easy to set up and navigate on the webpage. It fit the price for what we needed and were doing then. We haven’t rented another encoder since we bought them.” Ethan Johnson, President and Co-founder of J&B Production Company
Also appealing about Pearl Nano was its compact size (206 mm x 150 mm x 43 mm) and low weight (907 g), making the unit exceptionally easy to transport.
Pearl Nano’s cost-to-value ratio was attractive, adds Johnson. “In the grand scheme of things, the price is small. It’s cheaper than an Apple computer, and you get a lot in a size you can carry. I don’t have to rack it or carry a case. You can put it in your backpack, and that’s impressive for what it does.”
Another plus is that the device can meet the strict security requirements of J&B’s clients. This includes medical companies that must adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and a major social media platform in Silicon Valley that must maintain a robust security posture.
Results: Rock-solid streaming and recording for every event
Pearl Nano proved a perfect fit for J&B’s needs. “For what we invested to get the units, we’ve gotten twenty times more out of them than what we paid at least,” Johnson says. “For me, it ticks everything. I really couldn’t ask for more.”
Trusted performance, unmatched flexibility
With its rugged chassis and reliable performance, Pearl Nano has brought the J&B team the reliability they needed in an encoder. “They’ve been thrown into many Pelicans and sent all over, and we haven’t had an issue,” says Johnson.
Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) also showed its production-saving potential when, during a rehearsal, someone stepped on a unit and killed the power switch. Thanks to Pearl Nano’s PoE+ support, the system kept going.
The team also values Pearl Nano’s versatile feature set. It lets them offer clients more options without adding cost – especially important for those trying to keep their overheads down by hosting virtual events.
Another favourite feature is Pearl Nano’s flexible storage. We can remove the SD card and transfer recent recordings to a laptop, Johnson says. “Whoever is free can start backing up stuff.”
Straightforward in anyone’s hands.
Pearl Nano’s intuitive interface makes it easy to set up and stream. That’s a big plus over competing products, which the J&B team found clunky and slow.
“The best way I can describe it is that you must know how to code with many other encoders. It’s kind of like that older style of menu, where you must know every little navigation to set it up correctly. I could probably hand this to a tech who has been in the industry for a year or less. If they know what an encoder does, they can quickly set up a stream with Pearl.” Ethan Johnson, President and Co-founder of J&B Production Company
Adding efficiency is a time-saving feature, like setting up multiple stream keys in Epiphan Edge and applying them to devices as needed. Johnson adds that the team greatly appreciated this for one client who required seven stream keys daily.
Production peace of mind
J&B’s new video encoder hardware has also brought the team something you can’t put a price on - less stress. This is crucial for virtual events, which add the network layer as a significant potential point of failure, says Johnson.
“Pearl Nano has saved me a lot of stress and a lot of worry. As soon as we got them and used them on a few events, I realised I no longer had to worry about the encoder side. I trust it will do its job and hasn’t failed.”
*This blog is extracted from Epiphan Video.
About Epiphan Video
Epiphan Video provides award-winning, purpose-built hardware solutions that help your business create impactful video content.
The Epiphan Pearl range of hardware encoders is the ultimate system for maximum versatility with multi-encoding, multi-streaming, recording, custom layouts, switching, and more. It is ideal for live event production, enterprise communication or lecture capture in higher education.
AP Tech is the authorised Australian distributor of Epiphan Video products. Every Epiphan solution from AP Tech is backed by local warranty and support.