NAB 2017: Wheatstone To Unveil New AirAura X4 Audio Processor
Wheatstone’s (N6531) new top-of-the-line AirAura X4 audio processor, unveiled at NAB 2017, builds on the tradition of audio processors from Wheatstone that have earned the distinction of raising the listenable loudness bar.
This new FM and HD audio processor was built from the ground up based on several breakthroughs, including an innovative new system where all stages of processing are aware of each other. “This is a high IQ audio processor,” said Wheatstone Senior Product Development Engineer Jeff Keith, who has been testing the design in the lab and in the field since last summer. “With all the stages of processing working in concert, the need to make loudness compromises is an endangered species.”
In more traditional audio processing designs, the different stages are created to complement each other, but not all information between the stages is shared. The AirAura X4 breaks down that wall and allows the processor to share information between ALL stages. “The SST and original iAGC algorithms were a doorway into this, where the processor would share information in the front end about who is doing what. In the AirAura X1, that was expanded to include the limiter. Now the iAGC, limiters and clipper all share this information and changes can be made automatically, in real time, in ways never envisioned before,” commented Keith.
Like its AirAura X3 predecessor, the AirAura X4 includes 31-band limiting, but utilizes it in a way that hasn’t been done before. “As part of the X4 system, the 31-band limiter works directly with the X4 clipper, providing an audio blueprint for how the clipper should behave,” said Mike Erickson, Wheatstone Processing’s Systems and Support Engineer. “In the AirAura X3, the 31-band limiter was placed in the same manner as a traditional limiter, ahead of the clipper. By now incorporating it WITH the X4 clipper, it’s a huge step forward for transparent loudness as our clipper is not just protected by the best limiter design on Earth, but also managed by it.”
The AirAura X4 adds a number of other features, including a redesigned bass processor and enhancement controls in the iAGC that allow you to safely equalize your audio for maximum consistency as well as full RDS capabilities.
Wheatstone’s popular HD/FM audio alignment makes the jump to the AirAura X4. The system works either with third-party HD/FM modulation monitors or by itself, with the new FM/HD tuner built in to the X4.
AES insert points are also available for customers who wish to insert their ratings encoder into the processing system instead of placing it in front of the processor. “The insert point allows you to use the AirAura X4 iAGC ahead of the ratings encoder instead of having to add an outboard leveler,” said Steve Dove, Wheatstone’s Minister of Algorithms.
Experienced users of Wheatstone processing will be happy to know that many of the popular features in previous models have been incorporated in the AirAura X4, including an improved Multipath Mitigation algorithm, redesigned composite processing with selectable look ahead limiting or clipping, baseband192 composite AES connectivity, and a full set of analysis displays. The X4 features a new look and feel, with an intuitive GUI and dual touch screens on the front panel.