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Playing with HD 2

February 8, 2013

Well, I will start by saying I am not a huge fan of the HD technology for digital radio here in the U.S.  I see all this progress on all digital DRM and DRM+, but I do not, and have not follow it that much.  I do believe the future is an all digital solution, but what type and when is not clear.  In any case, as an engineer we are at the whim of either programming or some corporate mandate.  This week it is at the whim of programming wanting to utilize an HD2  channel.

First, as I know some other mandates are coming down the pike, I decided to update all my Exporters and Importers to the latest software/firmware.  Believe it or not it was not that difficult.  Over the years it seems to have gotten a bit more stream-lined.  The thing that makes me laugh is that, just now, the Importer software supports Windows XP SP3, so I had to update the machines from SP2 to SP3.  Since SP2 is no longer really supported, I had to download from Microsoft a update executable to SP3.  Once installed all the Windows Update stuff started working again.  My question is will any of this stuff work on Windows 7 or 8, or will it go to a Linux based OS like the Exporters?  I guess I will know and learn about that some day!

To add to the complexity, the HD 2 will be run on our simulcast stations, so I first attacked the main and got that running.  I then performed the configurations for the simulcast station.  All works pretty well I might add, but I did discover an oddity.  When configuring the Capture client for the second station, I noticed that I had one, and only one choice of sound card.  This made me wondered how I would know if I have my audio feeding the “right” one.  I did a bit of digging and everyone says that if there are two sound cards, they should show up in the list to be selected.  That is definitely not the case on ANY of the Importers I have with that software and version.  All have 2 sound cards.  No where can I find in any configuration where the capture client gets its information on sound cards.  The Windows OS shows both, the Orban software shows both, but not the iBiquity stuff.  When I receive a definitive answer I will follow up with a note.

So, I had to determine which is the “right” sound card.  Yes, the station is “out of range” to monitor HD at the studios, so the only test would be to feed audio to both cards, get to a receive location, and then disconnect one to determine which is correct.  Logic prevailed as I chose the proper one initially.  Now if this programmer goes nuts and wants an HD3, well, then we have a new issue:  How to get the second sound card to feed that stream.  I guess I will cross that bridge when we  get there.  For now, things are ready to roll when the programmer decides to pull the trigger.

My conclusion is nothing is easy or intuitive with HD and the iBiquity hoops we jump through to make this work.  Some day I will gather my thoughts and post what my future of radio will look like in the fully digital world.


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