Translator Processing Upgrade

FM does it with frequency!
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Ryan Williams
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Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by Ryan Williams » Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:51 am

I have a pair of translators in adjacent markets (between market 100-200). Both of them are great technical facilities, as far as translators go, with more than 200+ watts from 150+ meters HAAT using the excellent VS1 transmitters. We opted for the budget-friendly Orban Inside audio processing cards. It's my understanding that the Orban Inside is roughly equivalent to an Optimod-FM 5500. I don't hate it, but I've tweaked and tweaked and just can't get as much oomph and loudness as I would like. One of the translators is spoken word and the other will also be shortly. While comparing spoken word (where some of the source material is not quite up to spec) against other FM signals in town blasting music is not quite a fair comparison, I think we should look into our options.

I have an Omnia ONE on an AM (also spoken word). It seems to have more oomph, but is a little on the muddy side, from my experience. I have not used a ONE on FM.

Any good suggestions that aren't 10k each?

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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by jammerdave » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:36 pm

I've had good luck with the BW Broadcast DSPX series stuff, which is reasonable. Also, the Wheatstone FM-55 might be worth looking at. Maybe you can get a demo unit to try.

Another note, what is the source material (mp3 or something similar) and what is the transport method to the sites? More mpeg, or similarly bitrate reduced audio? I ask, because stacking (series in the air chain) codecs will certainly suck the life and punch out of your audio. I learned that lesson long ago.


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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by Lee_Wheeler » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:13 pm

I though the Orban Inside was the equivalent of an 8500. I have it in my NV-10LT at the aux site and it actually sounds pretty decent. I have not tried to tweak on it but it really should be competitive. I do have to admit though that I have not spent a lot of time listening to the aux site since if we are on that site, by definition, I have trouble somewhere else.


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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by kkiddkkidd » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:49 pm

IIRC; the Orban inside is the equivalent of a 5500 without the box, display, etc.

I have a small market FM currently trying to use an OmniaOneFM and it is disappointing. I am not a processing Nazi nor is the owner but we both prefer the sound of the very minor protection processing built into the NVLt tx (without the Orban Inside card).

The OmniaOne is considerably louder but none of the presets sound very good and no amount of adjustments will make them do so. It was inherited with the station and might be broken but it doesn't sound BAAAADDDDD. It just doesn't sound GOOD... Muddy and squashed at all levels of processing is the best description I can think of.

Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
AM Ground Systems Company
KK Broadcast Engineering

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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by Shane » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:28 am

We have two translators here with the same gear as you have: VS1 with Orban Inside. These are primarily talk stations and they sound quite good using the Rock-Medium preset. Should also note they are mono.

Using Tielines on the proprietary Music codecs. Wasn't my choice. I think music actually sounds worse than talk on them. But once one gets used to the artifacts, the Orban preset we're using sounds pretty good.
Mike Shane, CBRE

Ryan Williams
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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by Ryan Williams » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:32 pm

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'm a little slow on the follow up. Good ideas mentioned.

Kevin is correct. The documentation on the Orban Inside says it is equivalent to the Optimod 5500, which is Orban's entry-level product. It's not bad, especially for the price. However, it isn't as loud and dense as I would like. I think it feels less forgiving on less-than-great source material.

Like Shane, I too am running mono and I'll have to double-check, but I think the Orban Inside is also using a modified version of of the Rock-medium preset.

We are using Comrex's AAC setting for the STL. Our source material is all over the map because of the format. Some of the programming has great production values and is high-bitrate MPEG while other sources are way "less diligent" about audio quality. There is not much I can do about that.

Looking at Orban's product matrix ( ... mpared.pdf), it appears that a 5700 is +1 dBu greater on loudness capability. On the 8600, Orban says: "In addition, the 8600 offers about 3dB more HF energy and more transient punch than other Optimod-FM processors." I'm not entirely sure what that would mean in day-to-day use and I'm also not sure loudness is my main issue, may be more density, although it does sound a little low, even in ideal program audio.

The 8600 is probably outside my budgetary constraints anyway.

I'm now looking through the audio chain to see if somewhere between the board and STL something stands out.

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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by bigic » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:54 pm

Maybe a PC with Stereo Tool or Breakaway One and a 192khz sound card?

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Re: Translator Processing Upgrade

Post by TPT » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:40 pm

At the typical transmitter site, just invites trouble--unless you enjoy running up to the site to kick the computer back on.

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