Audio Processing

FM, AM, Mic & Internet Audio

Why Use Wheatstone Processing?

Wheatstone Audio Processing: Deliver sound so good, you can feel it. Bring it on with Wheatstone's ultra high resolution Vorsis processors for voice, AM, FM on-air or streaming. Sound that's loud, yet detailed. Only Wheatstone offers processors with the surgical precision of 31-band processing for audio detail that sings! It’s the Vorsis advantage and it's all inside: brilliant highs, articulate vocals, bold bass…ambience. If you need sound shaping for FM, AM, HD, television, webcasting, podcasting, mastering or live audio, this is the place. 

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Wheatstone Audio Processing: Deliver sound so good, you can feel it. Bring it on with Wheatstone's ultra high resolution Vorsis processors for voice, AM, FM on-air or streaming. Sound that's loud, yet detailed. Only Wheatstone offers processors with the surgical precision of 31-band processing for audio detail that sings! It’s the Vorsis advantage and it's all inside: brilliant highs, articulate vocals, bold bass…ambience. If you need sound shaping for FM, AM, HD, television, webcasting, podcasting, mastering or live audio, this is the place. 

Vorsis ultra-high resolution proessing technology is embedded in every Wheatstone processor to create the cleanest sound possible for the most decibels.

We've actually arrived at a whole new benchmark for on-air programming that severely lessens the tradeoff between loudness and quality. With Vorsis, you can have the best of both worlds.

Getting there required a completely fresh approach to spectral audio processing. Like dynamic compression and multiband AGC circuitries that work together, not against each other, to give that consistent spectral balance Vorsis processors are known for. We also add some oomph to the bass with our Vorsis Bass Management System (VBMS), which means you can deliver pristine, deep, distortion-free bass over the air. No other processor delivers bass this bold and clean. Then there's our superior stereo enhancement feature, which creates a smear-free perception of a wider sound field in the cleanest possible way. Our limiting and clipping are, bar none, the finest you’ll ever use.

Did we mention that our AirAura and FM-531HD are the first and only processors with 31-band spectral shaping for the cleanest, loudest signal on the dial?

You're going to feel good about your Wheatstone Vorsis sound!

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  Click to download our NEW RADIO PRODUCTS FOR 2015 Brochure

On-Air Digital Processors

Vorsis inside

AirAura, our flagship spectral audio processor for FM, now has NEW X3 technology that delivers loudness without sounding harsh, clipped, distorted or overdone.

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This new FM processor offers multiband precision similar to our flagship AirAura processor, but in a budget-friendly 1RU package.

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Our new FM-55 audio processor is ideal for FM stations requiring sound consistency across a variety of source material. New intelligent five-band AGC technology — or iAGC — coupled to a five-band limiter and stereo generator provides automatic and superior real-time program density control for a consistent, spectrally-balanced sound regardless of density variations in incoming source material.

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NEW! Ideal for LPFMs, the new FM-25 has intelligent two-band AGC, limiter and stereo generator, plus stereo enhance!

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NEW! The newest design in AM audio processing based on adaptive intelligent AGC action coupled to a five-band limiter.

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Our new SG-192 FM stereo generator has intelligent stereo multipath controller and includes AES MPX baseband for passing digital audio to the exciter. The SG-192 complements the Wheatstone Vorsis audio processing line and can be used with other manufacturers’ processors and/or for single frequency networks, translators or repeater applications (a dedicated 10MHz synchronizing input is included).

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Full AGC, compression and limiting functions for HD, streaming or podcasting eight separate channels of programming in one IP networked unit.

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Full AGC, compression and limiting functions for HD, streaming or podcasting eight separate channels of programming in one IP networked unit.

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This processor for AM, FM, TV, web or live sound has six independent processing functions and is fully network-enabled with WheatNet-IP and baseband192.

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VOICE/MIC PROCESSORS

Vorsis inside

Personalize your voice with this super-quiet mic processor featuring an extremely low noise floor, very wide dynamic range, faithfully accurate transient response, and ruler flat frequency response.

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Dual channel mic processor featuring extremely low noise floor, very wide dynamic range, faithfully accurate transient response, and ruler flat frequency response.

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Gives you four channels of low noise, high dynamic range and accurate transient response in an IP networked rack unit. 

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NEW from Wheatstone to give you four channels of low noise, high dynamic range and accurate transient response in an IP networked rack unit. 

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MODERNIST BANNER

Video: FM-55/FM-25 Quick Start with Mike Erickson

E-man
In this ten minute video, Wheatstone engineer Mike Erickson takes you through the initial setup of the FM-55 processor from out of the box to on-the-air. These instructions also apply to the FM-55's little sister, the FM-25.

No BS Guide to Radio Podcasting

PODCAST ARTICLE_IMAGE_1500Amateur podcasters can call them what they want, but between us broadcasters, we know those so-called subscribers are really listeners with earbuds and a cellphone.

And that means we can reach them like we usually do -- through their ears.

No one knows those ears better than broadcasters. We know about good content and good sound. What’s new to us are the codecs and the listening environments and devices used for podcasts. To explain what it all means, we asked our audio pros Jeff Keith and Mike Erickson to give us a quick sound check on podcasting.

Oh, the places they go, the things they do

The iPhone, Android and other smartphones are skewed to the vocal range for obvious reasons. Subtract from this equation the codec bit-rate reduction needed to get that sound to those earbuds, not to mention all that background noise your listeners are subjected to while listening on the move, and there’s no way you should hand them a full dynamic range of sound.

Removing program content that can’t be heard by these devices will improve the subjective quality of your audio. Jeff suggests that anything below 100Hz and above 12kHz won’t be missed. In fact, he says, “Removing those frequencies might actually help your sound, due to reduced or removed ‘codec teasers’ such as hiss or hum.”

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For all those other unwanted frequencies that happen during pauses in programming or when the AC kicks on during a recording, you’ll need a noise gate same as any other program production. Any good mic processor (such as our M1, M2 or M4-IP mic processors) should have a noise gate to keep the noise floor from rising during pauses in vocal content. This, too, will give the codec less nonsense to work with and turn into noise.

Processing to the codec

Unlike processing your on-air signal in which modulation control is the goal, processing for podcasting is all about controlling what the codec sees. This is why it’s important to give the codec consistent levels and a balanced left and right, especially at lower codec bitrates. Jeff recommends switching from stereo to mono for podcasts at bitrates less than 48kbps in order to preserve audio quality. The ideal is to maintain consistency going in, although often some audio processing can be helpful to smooth out level variations than can cause the codec to overwork. Avoid overly boosted highs, any noticeable hiss or hum, and distortion due to badly clipped audio, all of which adds to the codec’s work (and bit) load.

Adding a trace of AGC or compression can add a measure of “presence” to a podcast, but careful. Keep in mind that many of your podcast listeners will be listening in on headphones, and too much compression this close to the ear could cause fatigue. Others will be listening to longer form podcasts through their sound system in the car, all the more reason why processing that isn’t fatiguing is important.

How aggressive should you set the processing for podcasting? Mike says just enough to raise the audio above any ambient noise for listeners who don't have noise cancelling headphones, but not so much that you remove all trace of quality for those who are downloading low bitrate podcasts.

Most any audio processor that you have in the chain will work. But if you have a choice, use a processor like our Aura8-IP processing BLADE (which has eight separate multiband processors, one of which you can use for podcasting). It lets you selectively add AGC, compression or limiting by bypassing the other sections, rather than require all three functions to operate interdependently. This selectivity makes it a little less tricky to get the right amount and type of processing needed.

For more information on processing for the Internet, download Jeff Keith’s white paper, "Audio Transfer Through the Internet." Wheatstone also introduced a new Audioarts console (our new Audioarts 08 has USB and balanced or unbalanced stereo mixing bus) made for podcasting that is worth checking out if you plan to set up a separate sound booth or studio for podcasts.

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ACI: It’s Wheatstone’s DNA Needle and Thread

ACI STORY_1000We have built into all of our audio processors a control protocol we call ACI, for Automation Control Interface. ACI is how Belar’s FMHD-1 with new ADC algorithm tells our audio processors what corrections need to be made for a consistent and seamless HD blend to analog whenever HD Radio coverage is less than robust.

ACI operates over the locally connected network via TCP/IP and can touch any parameter on the processor, whether it's a setting for the diversity delay, recalling a preset, changing input sources, modifying output levels, or even lowering just the AGC band three threshold by 1.62dB during some externally triggered event. Most of the program automation systems can also talk ACI, as can our console surfaces, so ACI brings new possibilities to our audio processors as well as WheatNet-IP system.

Time to Align: Belar and Wheatstone

BelarStory2 2000We went live in New York and Detroit with a Wheat processor and Belar’s ADC algorithm to determine the success of HD radio and analog signal alignment in blended areas.

Tests so far look promising, indicating a consistent and seamless HD blend to analog whenever HD Radio coverage is less than robust.

"We've had the system on since the beginning of May and the delay between the analog and HD has been within one sample. It was pretty close before, but now it's spot on,” said engineer Brian Kerklan with WMUZ-FM in Detroit, a market chosen for its ties with the auto industry. Belar’s FMHD-1 continuously measures FM/HD time alignment and transmits closed-loop diversity delay corrections back to the Wheatstone on-air processor via our ACI interface. (See related article in this edition of Wheat:News: ACI: It’s Wheatstone’s DNA Needle and Thread).

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Initial Findings

Belar's FMHD-1 has a +/- 375mS correction window, so if alignment is within that error band, it can measure it and tell the processor what correction to make. Our processors can adjust over their entire diversity delay range. ”Because the correction scheme is 'closed loop', there are normally no large jumps in delay as correction is applied. With a closed loop system, delay correction is typically on the order of a few samples at most, once the target delay value is met. If I were to go and purposely enter a 300ms offset at the processor, the Belar would see it, order the processor back to the correct value, and then keep it there - probably in one or two or perhaps three correction jumps from what I have observed,” explained Jeff Keith, Wheatstone’s Senior Product Development Engineer for the Vorsis line.

Also being field tested is a new Wheatstone “ramp delay correction” feature that if the time offset error is larger than "x", the correction ramps the delay towards zero offset in user-definable small increments steps over "x" time; both variables are user-definable.

These new developments will eliminate the need for yet another box in the air chain to correct for diversity delay errors between the HD digital and FM analog signals. Wheatstone processors AirAuraX3, FM-531HD, VP-8ip and FM-55 support the automatic diversity delay correction.

Super Duper Mic Processing

96K VOICE_PROCESSORS_2560In the M1, M2 and M4-IP mic processors, the A/D converters and all the processing run at 96kHz (or 88.2kHz in a 44.1kHz context). This is done for three reasons:

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  1. Reduced latency. This is the time delay through the processor, end-to-end. An unfortunate aspect of digital systems is that such delays are endemic and cumulative, so any opportunity to reduce them must be seized. It is particularly crucial where presenters are involved: any significant delay can be seriously disturbing to them, and even short delays can produce comb-filter coloration when the talent's own voice, heard via bone-conduction, mixes with the headphone audio. This colors their perception of what they sound like. Mess with an artist's self-perception at your peril. In short, running at a super-rate halves the conversion times - the major source of latency in a processor - shaving a big chunk off the delay.
  2. Improved high-frequency EQ. Not generally appreciated outside the lab is that the top octave (say from 10kHz on up) in a 48kHz system is dominated by the tyranny of inevitable “zeroes” (notches) at 24kHz, half the sample rate. These zeroes affect the calculation for and accuracy of digital filters in this upper range, taking some questionable heroics to beat them into acceptable sonic shape. Alternatively, running the EQ at 96kHz blows right past the problem (the nettlesome top-octave is now in inaudible-land). Subsequent reduction to 48kHz does not meaningfully affect the now wholly accurate EQ characteristics.
  3. Accurate dynamics behavior. Certain spot frequencies (sub-multiples of the sample rate) can suffer serious detection inaccuracies, particularly with peak-sensing detectors found in limiters or fast compressors. In some cases, such as a protection limiter, these can even render the device useless. Running these dynamics at super-rate forces the worst of these “black holes” an octave up and generally out of harm's way, with any remaining stragglers far easier to contain.

These three results of high-rate processing confer obvious operational benefits and superior sonic performance. An adjective commonly used about the M1 or M4-IP's sound is “sweet.” High-rate processing is a large part of the reason.

Here’s some other stuff you probably didn’t know about Wheatstone M-1, M-2 and M4-IP mic processors.

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