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One in Four Engineers Can Recognize Processors by Ear

That’s among findings of a Wheatstone white paper exploring perceptions of audio processing

It might not surprise anyone to hear that stations in larger markets adjust audio processing more often than stations in smaller markets do, or that loudness is more important in bigger markets while a “brighter” sound is more important in smaller ones.

But you might not have thought that programmers are more skeptical than engineers or other managers on whether processing can differentiate one station from others, or that the acoustic quality radio people now find most valuable is “cleaner” sound.

Those are among conclusions of a white paper published by Wheatstone Corp. on the “changing role of audio processing in the radio industry.” Wheatstone makes Vorsis audio processing, among other products.

The company said it sent a survey to four mailing lists covering radio engineers, managers and programmers. “We wanted to uncover what respondents believe processing can and cannot do, what its relative importance is and how it affects programming,” wrote Josh Gordon, the company’s director of marketing and content development.

The findings about acoustic qualities is shown in the graphic below. Among other findings:

-Radio engineers see more value in the high and low ends of the audio spectrum than do programmers and managers.

-When it comes to audio processing, the largest percentage of stations “set it and forget it.”

-Processing’s top benefit to radio is the sense of quality it creates.

-Few believe that processing helps radio compete with satellite radio, iPods, or Pandora.

-Respondents see audio processing as first serving their stations’ programming, not so much as delivering a unique “signature sound” that sets their station apart.

-Programmers see less value in processing than do engineers or managers

-One in four engineers can “often” or “always” recognize the signature sound of different processors just by listening to the sound of a station

The white paper was posted on the company’s website in support of its AirAura processor, which the company promotes as “the radio clean machine.”