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.
• iAGC Intelligent Audio Management measures amplitude and density for perfect leveling
• 5 Band Spectral Controller perfects tonal consistency
• 10 Band Mastering Limiter auto adjusts attack and release times based on program content
• Separate bass enhancement, EQ and Peak Control for FM and HD processing paths
• Integrated diversity delay of 0-10 seconds, adjustable in 100 μS steps
• Codec conditioning to maximize the HD radio listening experience.
• FM peak control via oversampled distortion masked clipper
• Precision FM stereo MPX generator with multiplex mask filters and dual composite outputs
• Composite audio processor increases competitiveness without MPX degradation
• Digitized SCA inputs for reliable subcarrier generation and recovery
• HD Radio Automatic Time Alignment (with compatible monitoring system)
• Analog, digital and WheatNet-IP audio I/O with automatic 'failback to primary'
• BS412 Loudness Management
• Exclusive stereo multipath controller technology for enhanced stereo reception
• Remote processor control via wired Ethernet and Windows based GUI
• Front Panel touchscreen control with Guru GUI for easy setup and processing adjustments
• Wheatstone® baseband192 built in for digital link to transmitter