I am a strong proponent of non-computer-based air chain processors. Something about listening to dead air while the computer reboots is annoying and every computer needs to be rebooted every now and again.
All of that being said, I recently had a chance to play around with Breakaway Broadcast audio processing software. I have to say, as a low-cost, very versatile platform, it can not be beaten. I would put it up against any of the high-end FM audio processing, provided one uses a high-quality sound card with an adequate sample rate.
Claesson Edwards Audio has developed several software-based audio processors for a variety of end uses. They make several recommendations for hardware and operating systems, Pentium 4 3.2 GHz or better, dual-core preferred. If one is interested in using the sound card to generate composite audio, then any sound card capable of a true 192 KHz sample rate will work. They list several that have been successfully tested on their website.
For approximately $1,200 dollars or so, one could buy a decent computer, the Breakaway Broadcast software, and the Airomate RDS generator software. For a Mom and Pop, LP, or community radio station that is looking to do some high-end audio processing and or RDS, that is a good deal. I would add a UPS to the computer and keep backup copies of the software installed on an emergency computer just in case. One can never be too safe when it comes to computers, viruses, hackers, and other malicious persons.
Things that I like
- Inexpensive, the fully licensed version is $200.00. The demo version is free but there is a 30-second promo every thirty minutes.
- There are several factory presets, but everything is fully configurable, changes can be named and saved allowing some experimentation.
- Audio cards with 192 KHz sample rate or greater can be used to generate composite audio, eliminating the need for a separate stereo generator
- RDS capable with additional software (Airomate2, approximate cost $35.00)
- The same processing computer can be used for streaming audio and or AM audio processing simultaneously.
- A full set of audio calibration tools for AM and FM transmitters allows correction for tilt, overshoot, and linearity. Can add pre-emphasis at any user-selectable rate.
- Fully adjustable phase rotators.
Things that I don’t generally like:
- A computer-based system using Windoze operating system
WXPK in White Plains, NY has been using this software to process their streaming audio for about 2 years now. The software itself is extremely stable running on a stand-alone Windows box with XP service pack 2.