David Day is president of DaySequerra Corp. He comments as part of Radio World’s special series on tech trends in modulation monitor design.
Generally, how have mod monitors and station signal test gear changed in recent years?
Day: Faster digital signal processors (DSPs) and advances in software-defined radios (SDRs) give us the ability to deliver very precise measurements at a lower cost than at any time in the past. And engineers can use these monitors remotely, in some cases even from their cell phones.
In what direction is this business segment heading next?
Day: Customers want more automated monitoring systems that provide email and other methods for notification and correction of problems before the listeners are aware of them. Corporate groups want quality-of-service reporting to the headquarters to manage the issues in the field. Coupled with the advances in system integration, this means more autonomous interaction with the transmission chain.
You’ve been active in HD Radio monitoring and measurement. What’s the most common problem or misperception in this area?
Day: From an engineering perspective, I think maybe the most frustrating problem is maintaining HD Radio MPS and HD-1 time alignment. In the beginning, we all believed that you set the time alignment once and the streams stayed aligned. Experience has shown that once either stream drops a packet (or packets), the streams come unglued and drift. And then the PD calls — again …
What’s the next big challenge in this sector?
Day: Technology changes mean that radio monitors are much more software-based network appliances than they were even five years ago. This drives systems design much more towards software programmers than hardware designers, changing the very makeup of our workforce.
Your newest or most notable product?
Day: At NAB 2013, we’ll introduce our new line of DSP-based AM-FM analog and HD Radio modulation monitors, and our breakthrough HD Radio M4DDC TimeLock, a single box solution that automatically maintains MPS and HD-1 time and level alignment. The M4DDC is the first solution like this and solves a nagging, real-world problem for HD Radio stations.
Anything else we need to know?
Day: Scarce and thinning engineering resources truly have their hands full today. Imagine you have an FM HD Radio station that depends on a repeater, translator or synchronous transmitter to fill in a few holes in the main station’s coverage area. If you maintain these facilities — particularly in the case of synchronous transmitters — it is critical to the HD Radio signal that the signals are in perfect synchronization. This is just one more crucial aspect to keeping a quality signal on-the-air that keep engineers focused in 2013.