Todor Ivanov is president and CEO of DEVA Broadcast Ltd. This is one in a special series on tech trends in modulation monitor design.
How have FM monitoring receivers and analyzers evolved?
Ivanov: Until recently we could not have imagined that we would be able to get the full picture and analysis of the signal of a given radio station while traveling on a plane or on a business trip. Today this is perfectly possible even via a mobile phone.
Nowadays, to produce a mod monitor without it being able to provide remote connectivity is next to pointless. All our products offer this option regardless of the platform used, Android iOS or Windows. Through an intuitive Web interface you can check at a glance what your RDS is, as well as the modulation, RF or audio levels. Another essential feature is the option to remotely listen to your audio signal; we were among the first to have this function embedded.
In what direction are FM monitors heading?
Ivanov: A good question! All manufacturers are striving to ride the (crest of the) wave. We are continuously trying to implement serious improvements, add features, to offer wider opportunities.
We are increasingly aware of the question whether radio will be able to retain its position among leading media or if it will be replaced by something new and better. We all work hard so that radio can remain one of the main channels in an increasingly expanding media market. We have witnessed significant events to ensure radio’s market share: DAB, HD Radio and DRM; with these changes, we will need newer, more modern and high-tech solutions.
Thoughts about Single Side Band Suppressed Carrier?
Ivanov: Although the discussion is still in a relatively initial stage, it is becoming increasingly popular. Its application entails a number of advantages over the classical stereo encoding method. I very much hope that the FCC will legalize SSBSC as standard in analog FM radio.
After the appearance of the first forums and articles, we took the interesting challenge to experiment with SSBSC. Our first attempt was with an LPFM transmitter fed with MPX generated by our own DSP-based stereo generator, where we rejected the upper side band of the 38 kHz subcarrier. After our tests, we feel SSBSC would reduce the impact of multipath in cities and on rugged terrain.
For many mod monitors in the market, accurate measurement of the FM carrier’s modulation level in case of HD Radio sidebands is problematic. This method is the right approach to narrow the RF bandwidth of the carrier, which would decrease interference with the HD Radio sidebands and adjacent channels.
What should a smart buyer know?
Ivanov: The choice of a good mod monitor is not an easy task. The competition is severe while the market has dwindled. Some clients may choose based on a brand’s former glory but are left disappointed.
Spend time getting acquainted with the products of leading companies. Important factors include the technology used, the ease of interface, and device connectivity. It makes no sense to buy an entirely analog mod monitor in view of the DSP technology available. An option for remote Internet LAN connectivity is a must; and regardless of your smartphone type, imagine the amount of time you could save if your signal could be checked through it.
What is your most notable offering?
Ivanov: Our DB4004. We pride ourselves on this powerful product, which we developed for demanding professional operators.It has a high-resolution OLED graphical display and ultra-bright bargraph LED 60-segment indicators. Its oscilloscope represents all components of the observed signal; spectrum analyzer mode allows analysis of the input signal and other features. MPX Power and other level measurements are supported by measurement history data. RDS information in the processed MPX signal is easily visualized and represented as RDS/RBDS Data and detailed statistics.
The monitor supports USB and LAN communication interfaces. The user can do channel status monitoring or audio listening from anywhere through a mobile phone. With the Audio Stream Server you can listen to, skim and record audio. Off-air monitoring enables you to keep an eye on other stations and measure your own signal. And Adjustable Alarms enable alerting for important signal components and parameters.
Anything else we should know?
Ivanov: DEVA is deliberately trying to impose a new pricing policy on the mod monitor market. Until recently, most of our competitors’ products were very costly to buyers. I am glad that in the last few years, this has started to change.
Our policy is to create products affordable for all types of users, from large corporations to small LPFM stations. Radio is a passion for us.