Future of FM Processing

We grabbed Scott Incz, BW Broadcast CEO and lead designer of the DSPX processor range to hear his thoughts on how the processing landscape will change over the coming years.

In the big scheme of radio broadcast audio processing, what’s the next frontier?

I believe that the next technological frontier that broadcast processing faces is in the delivery medium to the listener. With the rising popularity of on-demand services, I see the challenge is for audio processing to make use of future client hardware platforms to deliver the quality of today’s broadcast processing on mobile and utility devices. This is about optimizing processing and developing even more efficient algorithms that can run on low cost mobile and low cost utility devices.

I think a lot of the drive for loudness has come from listening to the radio in an automobile. Dealing with high noise environments that require audio with a low dynamic range but allowing people in a better listening environment to enjoy a higher fidelity version of the audio is an interesting challenge.

How has streaming changed the landscape; and what is BW Broadcast’s response?

The potentially massive audience provided by online streaming has resulted in it being so popular for broadcasters. The level of competition is also huge so it’s going to be hard to get a large audience; therefore the budget for streaming audio processing is usually much lower. BW Broadcast understood this decade ago and started adding value to their products by adding full bandwidth secondary outputs to its FM and AM processors that are optimized for streaming and digital radio. This has allowed radio stations to not only get a better return on investment from their audio processors but to sound great both on conventional radio and online. BW Broadcast recognizes and appreciates the impact of processing on codec technology and vice versa, and has multiple processing products that contribute to making streaming radio stations sound great – in fact, any digital station sound great, IP based or with data over an RF carrier like HD or DAB.

I personally believe that some audio processing will be in the client to give the listener more control of the sound and the environmental effects on the sound. It won’t be long before we will be designing client based audio processing for translucent touch screen shower cubicle speaker doors to cancel out the water noise.

Some audio processing is always required for radio and in the short term the requirement for audio processing won’t go away. In the future I think that an unobtrusive smart multiband device like the Ariane AGC leveler is the best way forward for radio stations, and then give the control to the listener in the client device.

What is your latest audio processor introduction?

At NAB 2013 we revealed our new V2 FM transmitter range, for which we won an industry award at the show. Among the features that engineers loved was the inclusion of an embedded DSPX family 4-band audio processor, from which users can adjust from the front panel and the remote control interfaces.

Never has such a powerful processor been included as standard with an FM transmitter, and never has an FM transmitter sounded so fantastic out of the box.

Although it is not strictly a new processor from a technical perspective, the Ariane Sequel AGC leveler is now being manufactured under the BW Broadcast label since we took over the rights to it earlier in the year from TranLanTech.

DSPX-FM Audio Processor

For the full interview with Scott, download the new Radio World e-Book ‘What’s New in Audio Processing?’:

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