In-Depth - OPTIMOD-FM 8700i Audio Processor
OPTIMOD-FM 8700i is Orban’s flagship processor. Featuring versatile five-band and two-band processing for both analog FM transmission and digital media, the 8700i provides the industry’s most consistent sound, track-to-track and source-to-source. This consistency allows you to create a sonic signature for your station with the assurance that your signature will stay locked in, uniquely branding your sound.
Exclusive Xponential Loudness™ processing exploits psychoacoustics to revive music that has been “hypercompressed” in mastering and/or passed through lossy compression, like MP3. It’s like an audio magnifying glass that brings out hidden detail, clarifying audio while reducing listening fatigue and inspiring audiences to listen longer.
The 8700i builds on 8600 V4’s outstanding reliability and industry-leading sound quality. It adds Dante audio-over-IP connectivity (full AES67 support coming Fall 2017 via free, easy software upgrade) and a hot-swappable, dual-redundant power supply with automatic failover. A digital MPX output using a 192 kHz AES3 connection is now standard, as are two digitized SCA inputs. A new program-adaptive subharmonic synthesizer ensures punchy bass, even with older program material. An important feature is a phase skew corrector/multipath mitigator that prevents high-frequency loss when receivers blend to mono and minimizes energy in the stereo subchannel without compromising separation. The phase skew corrector uses a proprietary multidimensional processing program algorithm that can simultaneously correct several unequal delay errors, such as multiple-microphone pickup of a single instrument in the original recording session combined with left/right gap skew-in an analog mixdown recorder.
In addition to subharmonic synthesis and phase skew correction, the 8700i provides stereo enhancement, HF enhancement, equalization, AGC, multiband compression, low-IM peak limiting, stereo encoding, and composite limiting — everything that even the most competitive major market station needs to stand out on the dial.
Orban’s exclusive MX peak limiter technology decreases distortion while increasing transient punch and high frequency power handling capacity. Compared to the 8500’s limiter, the MX limiter typically provides 2.5 to 3 dB more power at high frequencies, which minimizes audible HF loss caused by pre-emphasis limiting. Drums and percussion cut through the mix. Highs are airy. “Problem material” that used to cause audible distortion is handled cleanly.
The 8700i’s main goal is to make FM analog broadcasts more competitive with the cleanliness, punch, and open high frequencies of the digital media against which FM analog transmissions now battle. The FM loudness wars represent 20th century thinking; in the 21st century, the new competition is digital media. Thanks to its crisp, punchy sound, the 8700i helps level the playing field between analog FM and its ever more aggressive digital-only competitors.
The 8700i offers 8500-style processing presets too. Because the input/output delay of the MX peak limiter is too long to permit talent to monitor off-air on headphones, 8500-style is useful for remotes and outside broadcasts where off-air headphone monitoring is desired and the 8700i’s low-delay monitor output cannot be brought to the talent. The low-delay headphone monitor uses a separate processing chain (based on the 8700i Ultra-Low-Latency processing structure) that allows you to dial in the precise amount of “FM clipper sound” that your talent prefers.