Orban Optimod-FM 8500 HD

Orban Optimod 8500 HD, Optimod-8500HD v2.0 Digital Processor for FM

Introducing Optimod-FM 8500: Orban's new flagship processor and the next step beyond the Optimod-FM 8400. The 8500 builds on the proven, competitive sound of 8400 version 3 while adding features that make it the ideal choice for FM stations simultaneously transmitting iBiquity's HD Radio, Eureka 147, or a netcast (where it works particularly well with Orban's aacPlus Opticodec-PC LE). "Under the hood," they redesigned all of the circuitry using the latest components. They also doubled the DSP power, so the DSP not only supports the new features but also provides comfortable headroom for future DSP improvements.

Featuring versatile five-band and two-band processing for both analog FM transmission and digital radio, the 8500 provides consistent sound, track-to-track and source-to-source. This consistency allows you to create a sonic signature for your station with the assurance that your signature will stay locked in, uniquely branding your sound. The 8500 provides stereo enhancement, equalization, AGC, multiband compression, low-IM peak limiting, stereo encoding, and composite limiting — everything that even the most competitive major market station needs to stand out on the dial.

More than 20 excellent sounding, format-specific factory presets get you started. You'll find all of your favorite 8400 version 3 factory presets, plus some new ones designed by Bob Orban and Greg Ogonowski to please any broadcaster. Although the factory presets are fully competent "out of the box," you can customize them with easy one-knob "LESS-MORE" control or with more than 60 advanced controls, whose versatility will satisfy even the most finicky on-air sound designer. If you have created custom presets for your 8400, you'll find that they import perfectly into the 8500, retaining your carefully crafted sound.

Effective 16 kHz band limiting on the analog-FM left/right output (analog or AES3) allows this signal to pass through a 32 kHz uncompressed STL without added overshoot—44.1 or 48 kHz channels are not required. If you choose to use the 8500's superb DSP-based stereo encoder and composite limiter, be assured that they deliver an FM analog signal that is always immaculately clean and perfectly peak limited, with full spectral protection of subcarriers and RDS/RBDS regardless of the amount of composite limiting.

Processing for digital radio/netcast (DR) is now supplied standard. Orban increased the base sample rate of all processing to 64 kHz so the DR output can readily provide 20 kHz audio bandwidth for those who prefer it. Moreover, a built-in 8-second delay in the analog processing path vastly improves installation versatility in HD Radio plants, freeing you from the need to use the delay line built into the HD Radio exciter. This allows you to use the 8500's built-in stereo encoder and composite limiter to drive the analog FM transmitter, ensuring no-compromise analog-channel loudness.

The 8500's digital radio processing contains look ahead peak limiting that operates in parallel with the FM-channel peak limiting. Orban optimized the look-ahead limiting to make the most of the limited bit-rate codec typically used in the digital channel. By eschewing any clipping, the digital radio processing prevents the codec from wasting precious bits encoding clipping distortion products, allowing the codec to use its entire bit budget to encode the desired program material. The look-ahead limiter receives the output of a new mixer that sets the balance of each processing band for the digital channel, independent of the balance in the FM processing. The bottom line? Processing that optimizes the sound of your FM channel while punching remarkably crisp, clean, CD-like audio through to your digital channel audience.

Orban haven't forgotten pure analog FM broadcasters. If you defeat the 8-second delay, you'll find that the 8500's base throughput delay has decreased by almost 4 milliseconds compared to the 8400. This makes off-air headphone monitoring even more comfortable for talent. Of course, they've retained the 8400's "headphone monitor" output option, which now has a negligible 2-millisecond delay regardless of the processing structure on-air. They've also added the "ultra-low-latency" structure first introduced in Optimod-FM 8300. This structure yields about 3 milliseconds of throughput delay at the expense of lower loudness.

Ethernet connectivity is now standard, as is a new, easy to use PC remote control application that runs on Windows 2000 and XP and that can control many 8500s on a TCP/IP network. In addition, RS232 serial control and programmable contact-closure (GPI) control give you total freedom to interface the 8500 with your facility's remote control in-frastructure, whatever it might be.

User interface improvements round out the package. Orban started with the 8400's easy to use joystick, knob, and button navigation system and added a bright, active-matrix color LCD that makes it easier to program the 8500 from its front panel. The panel's eye-catching new metallic blue styling makes the processor look as great in your rack as it sounds on the air.

The 8500's 64 kHz base sample rate allows it to provide up to 20 kHz audio bandwidth at its HD output. The HD bandwidth is user-settable between 15 and 20 kHz to optimize the processing for the codec employed in the digital chain. Many low bit rate codecs operate better when fed 15 kHz audio because this enables them to use their available bit bandwidth most efficiently. This is particularly true for low rates, like 32 kbps. However, at higher sample rates, full 20 kHz bandwidth provides the same bandwidth as typical source material, so the user may prefer to use it for these higher rates.

The first-generation iBiquity exciter requires 44.1 kHz AES/EBU audio streams for both its analog-FM and digital inputs. The sample rates for both streams must be identical. This requires two AES/EBU outputs from a single-box processor, both of which can be locked to an external AES reference signal. Because the output sample rate on either or both of the 8500's AES3 outputs can be locked to either the 8500's sync reference input or to its AES3 input, the 8500 fully meets the requirements. Moreover, because of the 8500's built-in 8-second delay on the analog-FM channel, it is possible (and usually desirable) to entirely bypass the analog-FM side of the iBiquity exciter and to use the 8500's built-in stereo encoder and composite limiter to drive the analog FM exciter directly.


It is impossible to characterize the listening quality of even the simplest limiter or compressor based on specifications because such specifications cannot adequately describe the crucial dynamic processes that occur under program conditions. Therefore, the only way to evaluate the sound of an audio processor meaningfully is by subjective listening tests.

Certain specifications are presented here to assure the engineer that they are reasonable, to help plan the installation, and make certain comparisons with other processing equipment.

Specifications apply for measurements from analog left/right input to stereo composite output and to FM analog left/right output.


Frequency Response: (Bypass Mode; Analog Processing Chain)
Follows standard 50 µs or 75 µs pre-emphasis curve ±0.10 dB, 2.0 Hz - 15 kHz. Analog left/right output and Digital output can be user configured for flat or pre-emphasized output.
Noise: Output noise floor will depend upon how much gain the processor is set for (Limit Drive, AGC Drive, Two-Band Drive, and/or Multi-Band Drive), gating level, equalization, noise reduction, etc. It is primarily governed by the dynamic range of the A/D converter, which has a specified overload-to-noise ratio of 110 dB. The dynamic range of the digital signal processing is 144 dB.
Total System Distortion: (de-emphasized, 100% modulation) < 0.01% THD, 20 Hz - 1 kHz, rising to <0.05% at 15 kHz. <0.02% SMPTE IM Distortion.
Total System Separation: > 55 dB, 20 Hz - 15 kHz; 60 dB typical.
Polarity: (Two-Band and Bypass Modes) Absolute polarity maintained. Positive-going signal on input will result in positive-going signal on output.


Defeatable Analog FM Processing Delay: 16.2 seconds (maximum), adjustable in one-sample increments at 64 kHz sample rate to allow the delays of the analog and digital paths in the HD Radio system to be matched at the receiver output.
Minimum Processing Delay: Processing structure dependent. Typically 17 ms for normal latency 5-band, 13 ms for low-latency 5-band, 3 ms for ultra-low-latency 5-band, and 17 or 22 ms for 2-band, depending on crossover structure chosen.

Analog Audio Input

Configuration: Stereo.
Impedance: > 10 kΩ load impedance, electronically balanced. (No jumper selection available for 600 Ω. Through-hole pads are available on I/O module for user-installed 600 Ω termination.)
Connectors: Two XLR-type, female, EMI-suppressed. Pin 1 chassis ground, Pins 2 (+) and 3 electronically balanced, floating and symmetrical.
Nominal Input Level: Software adjustable from -4.0 to +13.0 dBu (VU).
Maximum Input Level: +27 dBu.
A/D Conversion: 24 bit 128x oversampled delta sigma converter with linear-phase anti-aliasing filter.
Filtering: RFI filtered, with high-pass filter at 0.15 Hz.

Analog Audio Output

Configuration: Stereo. The analog output can emit the analog FM processed signal, the digital radio processed signal, or the low-delay monitor signal. The FM processed signal can be flat or pre-emphasized (at 50 µs or 75 µs), software-selectable.
Source Impedance: 50 Ω, electronically balanced and floating.
Load Impedance: 600 Ω or greater, balanced or unbalanced. Termination not required or recommended.
Output Level: (100% peak modulation)
Adjustable from -6 dBu to +24 dBu peak, into 600 Ω or greater load, software-adjustable.
Signal-to-Noise:= 90 dB unweighted (Bypass mode, de-emphasized, 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth, referenced to 100% modulation).
Distortion:= 0.01% THD (Bypass mode, de-emphasized) 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth.
Connectors: Two XLR-type, male, EMI-suppressed. Pin 1 chassis ground, Pins 2 (+) and 3 electronically balanced, floating and symmetrical.
D/A Conversion: 24 bit 128x oversampled.
Filtering: RFI filtered.

Digital Audio Input

Configuration: Stereo per AES3 standard, 24 bit resolution, software selection of stereo, mono from left, mono from right or mono from sum.
Sampling Rate: 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.1 kHz and 96 kHz automatically selected.
Connector: XLR-type, female, EMI-suppressed. Pin 1 chassis ground, pins 2 and 3 transformer balanced and floating, 110 Ω impedance.
Input Reference Level: Variable within the range of -30 dBFS to -10 dBFS.
J.17 De-emphasis: Software-selectable.
Filtering: RFI filtered.

Digital Audio Output

Configuration: Two outputs, each stereo per the AES3 standard. The outputs can be independently set to emit the analog FM processed signal (with or without diversity delay), the digital radio processed signal, or the low-delay monitor signal. The FM processed signal can be configured in software as flat or pre-emphasized to the chosen processing pre-emphasis (50 µs or 75 µs). The digital radio processing chain receives the output of the multiband limiter and processes it through a look-ahead peak limiter that operates in parallel with the main FM peak limiting system. The DR and FM signals are always simultaneously available. Each output can apply J.17 pre-emphasis if desired.
Sample Rate: Internal free running at 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.1 kHz or 96 kHz, selected in software. Can also be synced to the AES3 SYNC input or the AES3 digital input at 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.1 kHz and 96 kHz, as configured in software.
Word Length: Software selected for 24, 20, 18, 16 or 14-bit resolution. First-order highpass noise-shaped dither can be optionally added; dither level automatically adjusted appropriately for the word length.
Connector: XLR-type, male, EMI-suppressed. Pin 1 chassis ground, pins 2 and 3 transformer balanced and floating, 110 Ω impedance.
Output Level: (100% peak modulation)
-20.0 to 0.0 dBFS, software controlled.
Frequency Response through Digital Radio Processing Chain: For output sample rates of 44.1 kHz and above, the frequency response from input to DR-configured output is ±0.10 dB, 2.0 Hz - 20 kHz; flat or with J.17 pre-emphasis applied. The user may specify low-pass filtering to constrain the bandwidth to 15, 16, 17, 18, or 19 kHz.
Relative Time Delay between FM & Digital Radio Outputs: Output of analog-FM processing chain can be delayed up to 16.2 seconds (adjustable in 15.6 microsecond increments) with respect to digital radio processing chain. Once set, relative delay between the FM and DR processing chains is constant, regardless of preset in use. The delay can be independently applied to any output emitting the FM-processed signal.
Filtering: RFI filtered.

Digital Sync Input

Configuration: Used for synchronization of either or both AES3 signals to an external reference provided at this input.
Sampling Rate: 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.1 kHz and 96 kHz, automatically selected.
Connector: XLR-type, female, EMI-suppressed. Pin 1 chassis ground, Pins 2 and 3 transformer balanced and floating, 110 Ω impedance.
Filtering: RFI filtered.

Composite Baseband Output

Configuration: Two outputs, each with an independent software-controlled output level control, output amplifier and connector.
Source Impedance: 0 Ω voltage source or 75 Ω, jumper-selectable. Single-ended, floating over chassis ground.
Load Impedance: 37 Ω or greater. Termination not required or recommended.
Maximum Output Level: +12.0 dBu (8.72 Vp-p).
Minimum Output Level: -12 dBu (0.55 Vp-p) for 0.5 dB adjustment resolution.
Pilot Level: Adjustable from 6.0% to 12.0%, software controlled.
Pilot Stability: 19 kHz, ±0.5 Hz (10 to 40 °C).
D/A Conversion: 24-bit.
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: = -85 dB (Bypass mode, de-emphasized, 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth, referenced to 100% modulation, unweighted).
Distortion: = 0.02% THD (Bypass mode, de-emphasized, 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth, referenced to 100% modulation, unweighted).
Stereo Separation: At 100% modulation = 3.5 Vp-p, > 60 dB, 30 Hz - 15 kHz. At 100% modulation = 1.0 - 8.0 Vp-p, > 55 dB, 30 Hz - 15 kHz.
Crosstalk-Linear: = -80 dB, main channel to sub-channel or sub-channel to main channel (referenced to 100% modulation).
Crosstalk-Non-Linear: = -80 dB, main channel to sub-channel or sub-channel to main channel (referenced to 100% modulation).
38 kHz Suppression: = 70 dB (referenced to 100% modulation).
76 kHz & Sideband Suppression: = 80 dB (referenced to 100% modulation).
Pilot Protection: -60 dB relative to 9% pilot injection, ±250 Hz (up to 2 dB composite processing drive).
Subcarrier Protection: (60-100 kHz)= 70 dB (referenced to 100% modulation; with up to 2 dB composite limiting drive; measured with 800 line FFT analyzer using "maximum peak hold" display).
57 kHz (RDS/RBDS) Protection: -50 dB relative to 4% subcarrier injection, ±2.0 kHz (up to 2 dB composite processing drive).
Connectors: Two BNC, floating over chassis ground, EMI suppressed.
Maximum Load Capacitance: 0.047 µF (0 Ω source impedance). Maximum cable length of 100 feet / 30 meters RG-58A/U.
Filtering: RFI filtered.

Subcarrier (SCA) Inputs

Configuration: Subcarrier inputs sum into composite baseband outputs before digitally controlled composite attenuator.
Impedance: > 600 Ω.
SCA Sensitivity: (Both Inputs) Variable from 220 mV p-p to >10 V p-p to produce 10% injection. Two trim pots, adjustable from the rear panel, set sensitivities.
Connectors: Two BNC, unbalanced and floating over chassis ground, EMI suppressed.
19 kHz Pilot Reference: SCA2 input jack can be jumpered to provide a 19 kHz pilot reference output or to serve as a second SCA input.

Remote Computer Interface

Supported Computer & Operating System: IBM-compatible PC running Microsoft Windows® 2000 (SP3 or higher) or XP.
Configuration: TCP/IP protocol via direct cable connect, MODEM or Ethernet interface. Suitable null modem cable for direct connect is supplied. Modem and other external equipment is not supplied.
Serial Connectors: RS232 port (3) DB-9 male, EMI-suppressed. Serial Connector 1 uses PPP to provide for direct or modem connection to the 8500 PC Remote application. Serial Connector 2 supports communication to a computer or remote control system via simple ASCII commands for administration and recalling presets. Serial Connector 3 is reserved for future developments.
Ethernet Connector: Female RJ45 connector for 10-100 Mbps networks using CAT5 cabling. Native rate is 100 Mbps. Provides for connection to the 8500 PC Remote application through either a network, or, using a crossover Ethernet cable, directly to a computer.
Ethernet Networking Standard: TCP/IP.

Remote Control (GPI) Interface

Configuration: Eight (8) inputs, opto-isolated and floating.
Voltage: 6 - 15 V AC or DC, momentary or continuous. 9 VDC provided to facilitate use with contact closure.
Connector: DB-25 male, EMI-suppressed.
Control: User-programmable for any eight of user presets, factory presets, bypass, test tone, stereo or mono modes, analog input, digital input.
Filtering: RFI filtered.

Tally Outputs

Configuration: NPN open collector.
Maximum Voltage: 30 V DC, reverse-polarity protected.
Maximum Current: 30 mA.


Voltage: 100 - 132 V AC or 200 - 264 V AC, switch-selected on the rear panel, 50 - 60 Hz, 50 VA.
Connector: IEC, EMI-suppressed. Detachable 3-wire power cord supplied.
Grounding: Circuit ground is independent of chassis ground can be isolated or connected with a rear panel switch.
Safety Standards: ETL listed to UL standards, CE marked.


Operating Temperature: 32 to 122 °F / 0 to 50 °C for all operating voltage ranges.
Humidity: 0 - 5% RH, non-condensing.
Dimensions (W x H x D): 19" x 5.25" x 15.5" / 48.3 cm x 8.9 cm x 39.4 cm. Depth shown indicates rack penetration; overall front-to-back depth is 17.75" / 45.1 cm. Three rack units high.
RFI / EMI: Tested according to Cenelec procedures.
Shipping Weight: 40 lbs. / 18.1 kg

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