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Correct HD/FM Signal Configuration Is Crucial

Monitors available to help correct diversity delay

During a Feb. 4, SBE webinar on HD Radio advancements and trends, Alan Jurison, iHeartMedia’s senior operations engineer for the Engineering and Systems Integration Group,said “your signal configuration impacts the HD Radio listening experience,” noting that diversity delay is probably the number one listener complaint OEM automotive manufacturers hear.

Typically, the listener with such a complaint either calls the dealership or takes a car in and says the radio skips, according to Jurison, who also writes for Radio World. Complaints are also logged from listeners when or he or she isn’t seeing the song title and artist displayed.

These are signal configuration issues, said Jurison, as he cautioned broadcasters to spend time to get their digital and analog transmission aligned using diversity delay alignment techniques. He urged broadcasters to obtain a broadcast monitor that measures diversity delay.

“Over 300 samples offset is audible,” he said in the Wednesday Webinar. But, the specification is 0 samples plus or minus 3 samples. “It’s very difficult to get that level of precision using the old split level receiver and manually making adjustments method,” said Jurison.

A few automated alignment solutions are on the market, but the iHeart engineer hopes to see more solutions become available in the next few years: products would detect an issue and tell an HD exporter or processor for example, to make a correction. Another solution Jurison hopes becomes available are devices that can be inserted into the analog or digital air chain to measure and control the delay independently of the other components.

Other problems Jurison sees with station displays on receivers around the country include missing album art, incorrect title and artist displays, or receivers that show a factory default message rather than song, title and artist. Middleware metadata products such as Broadcast Electronics The Radio Experience, Jump2Go, Emmis Interactive’s TagStation and Arctic Palm’s CSRDS can help manage this, he said.

Jurison also discussed new program format codes for RDS and HD Radio that are managed by the NRSC, which was recently covered in Radio World.

Additionally, some receiver manufacturers are starting to roll out units this year that use HD Radio signals to deliver enhanced emergency notifications. Jurison said some of the features of these new receivers may include a pop-up alert message with an action request, receiver wake-up and alert reminders. Special needs functionality such as multiple languages and message filtering are also options as part of the iBiquity specification, so receivers that implement this could allow listeners to choose what type of messages to receive.

In order for stations to support enhanced emergency notifications, they need to have the latest version of the HD Exporter encoding software, according to Jurison.

Alerting products that accommodate the alerts include ComLabs EMNet software and the Sage Digital ENDEC. HD Radio exporters from BE, GatesAir and Nautel can support the alerts as well, provided they are running the appropriate software versions.

IBiquity can provide stations information on how to configure the two components. It’s important to ensure the TCP/IP network between the alert encoder and the exporter is reliable and bi-directional, he noted.