IBC 2017

IBC 2017: Wheatstone to present FM-55e, PR&E DMX consol line, VoxPro, and more

Wheatstone is introducing its second-generation FM-55 audio processor, the FM-55e, PR&E DMX console line that is a complete, standalone studio system with console surface and IP audio networking, and the DMX AoIP at IBC 2017. The company is also set to introduce VoxPro, which is used worldwide in studios and newsrooms for live recording and editing of call-ins, interviews, and spots, as well as the AirAura X4 audio processor.  

The FM-55e includes all the same features that earned the FM-55 its reputation as the choice in value FM processing, but adds enhanced iAGC controls as well as an entirely new bass processing design.

“These enhancements give broadcasters that little extra competitive edge to what is still the best in its class, both from a sonic standpoint and from the list of features,” says Mike Erickson, Wheatstone Processing’s Systems and Support Engineer. “The FM55e is another step forward in the creation of processing that is naturally loud, where stations that are on a budget can still sit at the grown-ups’ table.”

The FM-55e is a multi-band audio processor ideal for FM stations requiring sound consistency across a variety of source material. It includes the popular intelligent five-band AGC technology — or iAGC — coupled to a five-band limiter and stereo generator, plus five-band stereo enhancement and program-adaptive L-R control for multipath mitigation.

Like the FM-55, the FM-55e fully supports the WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network, and is equipped with two analog composite outputs, two SCA inputs, balanced analog Left/Right outputs and an AES digital output that can be switched to deliver either discrete Left/Right signals or a baseband192 digital multiplex signal.

“So many broadcasters have taken advantage of the baseband192 digital multiplex signal in the FM55,” says Erickson. “Like all Wheatstone processors, the FM55e runs at a sample rate of 192kHz, so adding this extra feature early on was easy for us and allows for extra connectivity options for our customers.”

The FM-55e comes in a 1RU package with front panel OLED display and GUI navigation. Existing FM-55 owners will be able to update their current units with new FM-55e software when it is released later this year.  “The update from FM-55 to FM-55e is a free software update” says Erickson.

The new AoIP console line carries forward the rugged quality and practical functionality of the PR&E brand, but includes IP audio routing as an easy studio add-on. “This is an ideal setup for the two- or three-studio facility where each studio can act independently as a separate standalone entity, but the studios are linked together through an IP network,” says Jay Tyler, Wheatstone Director of Sales.

The DMX AoIP is all-inclusive without the need for an external Ethernet switch. It provides 1GB connectivity for robust routing of sources and destinations between studios and integrates easily into most existing radio automation systems using proven WheatNet-IP automation drivers.

The new DMX control surface is a fully integrated standalone console for on-air and production applications. It is available in an 8-fader (DMX-8) or 16-fader (DMX-16) frame with four program busses and bus-minus on every fader as well as a convenient control knob on each channel for adjusting pan, mode, and input sources. The console has talkback and cue functions, EQ/dynamics, and control room, studio and headphone monitors, plus LED metering, a built-in timer, and four-event recall.

This new console surface is available with a 1RU DMX mix engine and 1RU Razor I/O modules, which include 1GB Ethernet ports and RJ-45 interfaces for quick setup and easy audio routing between studios. The DMX console with AoIP is Wheatstone’s first PR&E product introduction since the preeminent studio equipment manufacturer purchased the Pacific Research & Engineering (PR&E) assets from GatesAir in February.

DMX consoles with IP audio networking are on display at SCMS booth 222 during the Radio Show. Wheatstone consoles will also be on display at stand 8.C91 during the IBC in Amsterdam and at booth 126 at the Radio Show in Austin.

VoxPro  consists of software and a USB hardware control panel, the control keys of which are mapped to specific functions in the software for exceptionally fast recording and editing without requiring a mouse. The hardware control panel incorporates a scrub wheel for simple yet precise editing of voice, sound effects and music clips.

Now, with new software version 7, VoxPro gets a new signal processing toolset that lets talent quickly clean up phone calls for on-air presentation. The new ClipCleaner toolset includes spectral display, parametric EQ, de-esser, compressor, expander, limiter and noise gate for processing channels independently or jointly. With a GUI derived from Wheatstone’s latest LXE console, the ClipCleaner toolset comes with a standard library of presets for easy setup.

Also included in VoxPro 7 are FX Macros for creating one-button macros for frequently used effects and other editing operations. FX Macros can be used to create a preset for any effect that can then be assigned to an on-screen button for quick recall. FX Macros can trigger an action or a chain of actions. For example, one click could call up an automatic sequence of actions, starting by removing silences in a call-in audio file (using GapBuster), then running the result through ClipCleaner, and finally normalizing both host and caller levels for final broadcast. In addition to a new FX Editor, Wheatstone designers also overhauled the VoxPro Effects menu, making special effects like chorus, reverb and distortion much more accessible and making recent effects settings “sticky” for automatic recall.

For navigating through files, a QuikSearch box has been added and conveniently located on-screen, along with the ability to color-code files and hotkeys so they’re much easier to see when searching through long file or hotkey lists.

Other additions under VoxPro 7 include support for importing 24-bit files, a new feature in GapBuster to automatically detect the noise floor, and the use of a hardware-based graphics library for smoother and more efficient performance.

“This latest version is all about audio quality and being able to do more in less time,” says Rick Bidlack, lead engineer for VoxPro.

VoxPro natively supports WheatNet-IP audio networking for easy access to any source anywhere in the network. All popular file formats, including MP3, M4A, MP2, WAV, AIFF and WMA files can be imported individually or in groups. Audio can be exported as WAV, MP3, or native VoxPro files.

This new FM and HD audio processor was built from the ground up based on several breakthroughs, including an innovative new system where all stages of processing are aware of each other. “This is a high IQ audio processor,” says Wheatstone Senior Product Development Engineer, Jeff Keith. “With all the stages of processing working in concert, the need to make loudness compromises is becoming an endangered species.”

In more traditional audio processing designs, the different stages are created to complement each other, but not all information between the stages is shared. The AirAura X4 breaks down that wall and allows the processor to share information between ALL stages. “The SST and original iAGC algorithms were a doorway into this, where the processor would share information in the front end about who is doing what. “The iAGC, limiters and clipper all share this information and changes can be made automatically, in real time, in ways never envisioned before,” says Keith.

Like its AirAura X3 predecessor, the AirAura X4 includes 31-band limiting, but utilizes it in a way that hasn’t been done before.

“As part of the X4 system, the 31-band limiter works directly with the X4 clipper, providing an audio blueprint for how the clipper should behave,” says Mike Erickson, Wheatstone Processing’s Systems and Support Engineer. “In the AirAura X3, the 31-band limiter was placed in the same manner as a traditional limiter, ahead of the clipper. By now incorporating it WITH the X4 clipper, it’s a huge step forward for transparent loudness as the clipper is not just protected by the limiter, it’s also managed by it.”

The AirAura X4 adds a number of other features, including a redesigned bass processor and enhancement controls in the iAGC that allow broadcasters to safely equalize audio for maximum consistency as well as full RDS capabilities.

Wheatstone’s popular HD/FM audio alignment makes the jump to the AirAura X4 as well. The system works either with third-party HD/FM modulation monitors or by itself, with the new FM/HD tuner built in to the X4.

AES insert points are also available for customers who wish to insert their ratings encoder into the processing system instead of placing it in front of the processor. “The insert point allows you to use the AirAura X4 iAGC ahead of the ratings encoder instead of having to add an outboard leveler,” says Steve Dove, Wheatstone’s Minister of Algorithms.

Experienced users of Wheatstone processing will be happy to know that many of the popular features in previous models have been incorporated in the AirAura X4, including an improved Multipath Mitigation algorithm, redesigned composite processing with selectable look ahead limiting or clipping, baseband192 composite AES connectivity, and a full set of analysis displays. The X4 features a new look and feel, with an intuitive GUI and dual touch screens on the front panel.

The AirAura X4, VoxPro audio recorder, FM-55 audio processor, the FM-55e, and PR&E DMX are all being shown at Wheatstone’s Radio Show booth 126 and IBC stand 8.C91.