Compromise. It’s something you find yourself doing when you need to buy something but have to stick to a budget. The hope is that it will be good enough. In broadcasting today, with the connected dash and so many options, good enough is NO LONGER good enough, no matter what your budget. It was that thinking that inspired the creation of a line of budget priced audio processors from Wheatstone. The FM25 and the FM55 experimented in territory never before seen in an entry level processor. The secret got out, and the result? The FM25 and FM55 brothers are the fastest selling budget audio processors on the market today.
With that in mind, it was time to take the next step. Bring new features and new technology into a mid-priced audio processor for FM and HD stations while keeping the price just right. And with that, Wheatstone proudly presents the AirAura X1.
The AGC (Automatic Gain Control) in a modern broadcast facility works harder than ever before. More and more often, studios are unmanned and the levels on your console become set it and forget it. If your sources aren’t carefully controlled it’s up to the AGC to make those corrections. But even then a competent AGC is not enough. Differences in amplitude AND dynamic range must be considered for an AGC to properly operate in “the zone”. That’s where iAGC comes in. Not just a leveler, the iAGC is an amplitude AND dynamics manager that helps ensure the right amount of processing is added to your source material.
Is it too dense? The iAGC relaxes the processing so that dense material doesn’t sound “double processed”. Does your audio need more punch? If there is a lot of dynamic range in your audio, you can choose to leave it alone, or let the iAGC make real time adjustments to “program match” your audio to yield a consistent audio signature.
The choice is ultimately yours, but the possibilities are endless!
Competitive audio in any market requires the use of multiband. Since the dawn of the multiband AGC/Compressor, the goal has been to improve tonal consistency and increase loudness by making algorithms smarter and, in turn, making the effects of multiband control less audible. We have something very new and very exciting in X1 that takes that control to a new level.
Most processors have AGC or Compression or maybe both. At any given time, these algorithms are working based on user settings, regardless of the type of audio being fed to them. We sat and thought about that for a bit. We also have AGC and Compression in our 5 band processing and it’s really a good performer. But how can it be better?
The iAGC in the FM55 and AirAura X3 is a very smart algorithm and we collect a lot of data from it. We can slow down and speed up the processing based on dynamic range and amplitude. But what if we could also use that data in our 5 band AGC/Compressor to make IT even smarter?
Introducing our 5 Band Spectral Controller. Calling it an AGC or Compressor is not really valid anymore because it’s both… or one or the other… or sometimes neither. In our effort to minimize processing artifacts wherever and whenever possible, the development of the 5 band Spectral Controller allows us to use the iAGC technology built into X1 to map not just amplitude and dynamic range, but also to chart spectral history. This data can be used to dynamically adjust our 5 band spectral controller to yield unprecedented tonal balance cut to cut WITHOUT the audio sounding over-equalized, artificial or “boxed in” to a signature. Of course, if consistency to the SOURCE is what you are after, that can easily be attained as well. What’s the purpose of having your cake if you can’t eat it?
New challenges bring new ideas. It’s behind everything we do at Wheatstone, and processing is no exception. You’ve read about how we customize audio for consistent level and tonal balance, now it’s time to really get serious. Peak management that doesn’t distract from the sound you’re after.
Introducing another first in a Wheatstone audio processor – the 10 Band Mastering Limiter. There’s one for FM and one for HD.
It starts with something that sounds pretty simple: a 10 band limiter. What’s so special about that? When the limiter works in conjunction with the data pulled from the iAGC and 5 band spectral controller, things start to sound more interesting. When we tell you that the 10 band limiter makes on-the-fly decisions from the real world data we have collected to maximize clarity, things become exciting. And when we tell you the audio from each band of the 5 band Spectral Controller is managed by not ONE but TWO limiter bands to allow for more precision, the choice is obvious.
The HD and FM side of your audio processor require much different approaches for peak control and bass management. What sounds good on FM may be too much for the HD component. You want to emulate your FM signature on HD, but also make it stand out on its own. When the receiver blends to HD, the sound should have more detail and should be engaging to listen to but not SO different that it becomes distracting.
With X1, you have the tools to create on your audio canvas on both the FM side and the HD. There’s no real worry that adjustments made to the 5 Band Spectral Controller will improve one path and degrade the other. With our separate 10 Band Mastering Limiters, the right amount of virtually everything is applied, matching your signature sound to the medium.
We’ve already gone over your audio foundation that applies to both the FM and HD path, now let’s talk about the controls that help you customize your audio for each mode. You have separate 10 Band Mastering Limiters, separate dynamic bass enhancement, separate parametric equalizer controls and specialized final overshoot controllers for FM and HD. Our dual processing paths truly give you the power and control you need so that your listeners have the ultimate FM and HD experience.
Exclusive to the Wheatstone line of audio processors is the Multipath Limiter. This single user control can help mitigate the audible effects of multipath as well as reduce receiver-induced stereo blend by limiting the amount of L-R as a percentage of L+R for a more consistent and predictable sound. The end result is a much more natural blend at the receiver when the listener drives into adverse signal conditions.
Wheatstone’s baseband192 is an open standard technology that eliminates the use of an analog composite interface between processing and transmission, which has been the last holdout to the 100% digital air chain. A single AES/EBU cable between a Wheatstone processor and a current solid-state FM transmitter carries the baseband signal, bypassing the need for multiplexing in the exciter and eliminating the resulting signal overshoot with associated loudness tradeoff.
- See more at: Wheatstone Audio Processing Technology Overview
Essential to the livelihood of most major market stations is the ratings watermark. We will admit that there is a lot of information available out there on how to deploy and use these watermark encoders. We’re just here to say we give you an extra option; the option to insert your watermark encoder towards the back of the processor, where it just may be a bit easier to detect by the meter. It also doesn’t hurt to place the watermark encoder AFTER processing stages that have maximized your source material so that it’s as consistent as can be, yielding even more opportunities for the watermark encoder to embed its signals.
With our partners at Belar and DaySequerra, you can now guarantee that your HD and FM audio is perfectly time aligned. With either the Belar FMHD-1 modulation monitor or the DaySequerra Series 2 M4 Time Loc, you can continuously measure your FM/HD time alignment and transmit closed-loop diversity delay corrections back to the Wheatstone on-air processor via our ACI interface.
In a modern broadcast facility, your gear needs to talk with other devices to get the job done. Along with its brothers the FM55 and AirAura X3, the X1 does this with aplomb. Whether it’s streaming AES 67 compatible WheatNet-IP, talking with an HD time alignment product or sending composite audio down an AES pipe, the X1 blends the biggest features into one affordable box. Add in the processing smarts and you’ve got a processing SYSTEM that meets today’s demands and the promise of tomorrow.
- See more at: Wheatstone Audio Processing Technology Overview
Literature for the AirAura X1
Jeff Keith, in this white paper, indicates effective measures for dealing with Multipath issues.
In this White Paper, published in the Septemnber Radio World Engineering Extra, Jeff Keith explains baseband192 technology.
How can radio stations enhance their relationships with listeners? One way is through better use of audio processing technology. Because audio processing is such a subjective topic, we asked a wide variety of individuals to contribute their views. You'll hear from 26 processing experts in this new white paper.
A white paper by Josh Gordon discussing the changing role of audio processing in the radio industry.
This brochure describes the entire line of Wheatstone's audio processing products.
This paper examines QoS, transport, protocols and other issues relevant to extending AoIP networks for sharing resources and controlling studios across a wider area network.
Shows the new products we are working on for 2016
A full-color brochure describing the BLADE-3 line of WheatNet-IP network access points.
This brochure provides overviews of the entire WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network. It includes technical details as well as acts as a catalog for all Control Surfaces, BLADES and Accessories.
A document describing configuration of the Cisco 3750G, 3560G, 3650 and 3850 ethernet switches for use with the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network.
This is a technical manual covering all of the WheatNet-IP BLADE-3s.
This document shows simplified diagrams of the proper wiring and connections for logic I/O on WheatNet-IP BLADEs.
This document is a brief description of the logic function names used in the Wheatstone WheatNet-IP system.
IP Audio Networks: Planning for Reliability A white paper by Andrew Calvanese, VP Engineering, Wheatstone Corporation
WheatNet-IP brings added convenience and simplicity to the configuration of a PC- based automation system such as RCS Zetta. Where once it was necessary to employ a specialized sound card, discrete analog or digital audio wiring, a logic interface, and control cabling, with WheatNet-IP’s PC Driver, we can accomplish all of this over a single Ethernet cable. The driver effectively acts as a WheatNet-IP BLADE, and lets the PC enjoy full access to all aspects of the WheatNet-IP intelligent network. The driver is available in versions that offer one, four, eight, twelve, and twenty-four stereo input and output channels. For situations where discrete outputs from Zetta players are desired, we recommend at least the four-channel version of the driver.
This is a GREAT article from Pro Audio Asia...
Reprint of October 2016 article from Radio Magazine on the Hubbard broadcasting in Phoenix.
Saga Modernizes with Wheatstone by Jeff Den Adel, Engineer, Saga
Building an AoIP Network with BLADES by Amanda Hopp
IP At Center of Rogers' Console Decision by Mike McCabe, Engineerin Manager Rogers Broadcasting
A look at sending audio over IP via packets, and network considerations such as latency and jitter. A Radio World Engineering Extra by Greg Massey and Jon McClintock. Reprinted by permission.
In this video, Wheatstone's Mike Erickson introduces the Wheatstone AirAura X1 Digital Spectrum Audio Processor.
Wheatstone Processing Videos
In January 2017, Mike Erickson sat down with Scott Fybush to talk all things processing. We shot video of the conversations and got some exceptional stuff. Learn about what it takes to provide modern, airwave-dominating clean sound that listeners rave about.