Rumor has it that iBiquity is going to release a software upgrade for the AM IBOC system they peddle. Allegedly it is going to improve the sound quality of the digital signal, allow the analog signal to increase its bandwidth to 10 kHz, and provide data such as song titles. No word on whether they will be providing software upgrades to consumers for the many HD radioTM receivers out there.
I have been following a discussion on AM quality over the last few days. It seems many engineering types at least, acknowledge that analog AM can sound good, if not more natural than FM. The addition of IBOC hybrid mode on AM station has created more noise and further degraded the station’s main signal by reducing the bandwidth to less than 5 kHz.
Tonight I am listening to WWVA on 1170 kHz, and there is this horrific white noise/hash over top of the station. Same thing on 1190 kHz, all courtesy of WHAM 1180’s IBOC transmission. It is one thing to trash your own station, limiting the analog audio response to 5 kHz. It is quite another thing to trash the adjacent frequencies with noise making them unlistenable.
Here is a brief clip (recorded at 8:00 pm EDT, March 24, 2010):
The second clip, WWVA has faded out (recorded at 9:10 pm EDT, March 24, 2010)
The audio in these videos is adequate but not the best, still, it is pretty clear that there is a whole bunch of white noise on top of WWVA’s signal and on 1190 where no station is coming in. The only conclusion that I can draw is that WHAM is operating with their IBOC turned on. This was recorded at a location that is 197 miles from WHAM and 364 miles from WWVA. I have made several better recordings directly into the computer without the video frequency readout reference.
In 1990, the FCC mandated NRSC-2 (73.44) spectral mask on all AM stations, requiring them to put in brick wall filtering to limit the bandwidth to 10 kHz or less. They also require all AM stations to do “equipment performance measurements” (73.1590) to verify that the stations are complying with FCC regulations. This was done because of excessive sideband splatter by AM broadcasters creating interference to adjacent channel stations. I agree in principle with the NRSC-2 standard, I think it serves a purpose. Why then, are stations allowed to interfere with other stations with IBOC signals? Even though Ibiquity has put up a spectral mask that complies with NRSC-2, it still creates interference. Isn’t this a double standard? A station in Pennsylvania gets fined $4,000.00 for operating past its sign-off time (because operating after sign-off might create harmful interference), yet, WHAM gets to generate noise all night and drowned out adjacent channel stations that are hundreds of miles away.
In the meantime, if the FCC inspector shows up at a station that has not made the required “equipment performance measurements” they will get a fine too.
Am I crazy, or is it hypocritical bull shit to fine one station for potentially harmful interference, but then the FCC to ignores its own rules and allows another type of interference? Hint: I am not crazy.
I have recorded this in .wav format and I am sending it to the FCC with an interference complaint letter. It is about time somebody made some noise about this noise. Apparently, there are many engineers who feel the same way. Will Ibiquity listen, or will they keep doing CPR on a corpse?