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Discover the Power of the New Orban OPTIMOD TRIO-AM and Conduct an Air Chain Audit

Discover the Power of the New Orban OPTIMOD TRIO-AM and Conduct an Air Chain Audit

If the poor quality of your station’s audio makes you want to scream, it may be haunted by ghosts of broadcasts past. BSW’s own John Lynch recently found himself in the middle of every engineer’s nightmare while visiting a station. Thanks to some common-sense magic from VP of Business Development at Orban Labs, Mike Pappas, this chilling story had a fairy-tale ending.

John assisted with a demo of the new Orban OPTIMOD TRIO-AM at Alpha Media’s KFOR AM 1240 a class C station in Lincoln, Nebraska. John, Mike and Alpha Media’s Market Engineer Greg Gade set up the TRIO-AM at the KFOR transmitter site and looked forward to hearing some amazing audio.

The audio was amazing, but not in a good way. According to Pappas, “the audio was way over processed, it all sounded like a thick blanket was covering the audio.” After some careful investigating of the audio path, long forgotten audio gear was found in the air chain. After removing the old audio processor and as Pappas put it, “unceremoniously dumping them in the dumpster” it was time to let the TRIO-AM loose on KFOR. Alpha Media’s Greg Gade notes that the “TRIO-AM gave KFOR a sound that outperformed the entire market and gave his station a superior sound to the 50kW Class A clear channel station in Omaha.”

Audit Your Air Chain

Mike Pappas says you should not tempt fate by using old analog equipment with today’s digital gear. “What sounded good fifty years ago sound terrible compared to what can be done digitally today. If your station sounds like Satan’s Shop-Vac, it’s time to carefully audit the entire air-chain.”, says Pappas. “Don’t assume there is nothing buried in the bottom of some rack that has been putting out horrendous audio for the last 20 years. We have found gear that nobody knew the station owned.” Another important thing to check for is audio phase. “Until the mid-80’s, XLR connectors were wired Pin 3 Hi and today the standard is Pin 2 Hi in the US. Especially older AM transmitter sites, we find XLR connectors mis-wired about one out of every four times.” Now is a good time to find old compressors, limiters, equalizers and ancient wiring and walk all of it out to the dumpster. If you have an AM station, this is also a good time to hire a consulting engineer to give your tower(s) a good tune-up.

If your on-air microphones, preamps, STL’s and wiring are more than 20 years old, upgrading to new gear will deliver an impressive improvement to the station’s sound. Mike advises to get a good pair of headphones and listen to the studio mic(s) when the talent is on the air. “If the On-Air mics sound dark and muddy, there’s nothing a processor can do to clean it up.” It’s time to invest in new mics and processors. Listen to the input of the STL and the output of the STL. Listen. Listen. Listen. With this approach you will soon discover gear that is causing problems. “At one station, we spend three days trying to find a rogue processor. We could hear it, but we could not physically find it. We finally located it in a Janitor’s closet on a small shelf near the ceiling.”

Once the air-chain is cleaned up and the audio sounds it’s best, it’s time to install a new Optimod and go for a drive. Listen for the improved audio (increased TSL!) and listen for increased coverage area (more listeners!)

If you’re interested in hearing what a new Optimod can do for your station, give BSW a call to set up a demo. Get ready for your station to sound better than it ever has!


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