Orban Optimod-FM 8600 HD

Orban Optimod 8600 HD, Optimod-8600HD Digital Processor for FM

The Orban OPTIMOD-FM 8600 processor offers versatile five-band and two-band processing for both analog FM transmission and digital media to deliver exceptionally 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.

Dramatically improved peak limiter technology decreases distortion while increasing transient punch and high frequency power handling capacity. Compared to the FM-channel peak limiter in the acclaimed OPTIMOD-FM 8500, the new peak limiter typically provides 2.5 to 3 dB more power at high frequencies, which minimizes audible HF loss caused by pre-emphasis limiting. Drums and percussion cut through the mix. Highs are airy. Problem material that used to cause audible distortion is handled cleanly.

While this design offers about the same loudness as 8500 processing, its main goal is to make FM analog broadcasts more competitive with the cleanliness, punch, and open high frequencies of the digital media against which FM analog transmissions now battle. The FM loudness wars represent 20th-century thinking; in the 21st century, the new competition is digital media. Thanks to its fresh, crisp sound, the 8600 helps level the playing field between analog FM and its ever more aggressive digital-only competitors.

The 8600 offers 8500-style processing too. This allows broadcasters to run favorite 8500 presets if they wish. Because the input/output delay of the new peak limiter is too long to permit talent to monitor off-air on headphones, 8500 processing is useful for remotes and outside broadcasts where off-air headphone monitoring is desired and the 8600's low-delay monitor output cannot be brought to the talent.

The 8600 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.

Processing for digital media like netcasts and HD Radio is supplied standard. The FM and digital media processing paths split after the 8600's stereo enhancer and AGC. There are two equalizers, multiband compressors and peak limiters, allowing the analog FM and digital media processing to be optimized separately. This gives you processing that optimizes the sound of your FM channel while punching remarkably crisp, clean, CD-like audio through to your digital channel audience.

More than 20 great sounding, format specific factory presets get you started. You'll find all of your favorite 8500 presets, plus new "MX" presets designed by Bob Orban and Greg Ogonowski to exploit the exciting possibilities inherent in the 8600's new peak limiter technology. 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 OPTIMOD-FM 8500, 8400, 8300, 5500 or 5300, you'll find that they import perfectly into the 8600, retaining your carefully crafted sound. If you choose to use the 8600'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.

Ethernet connectivity is standard, as is an easy to use PC remote control application that runs on Windows 2000 and higher and that can control many 8600s on a TCP/IP network. In addition, programmable contact-closure (GPI) control plus ACSII terminal control via the 8600's RS232 serial and Ethernet ports and give you total freedom to interface the 8600 with your facility's remote control infrastructure, whatever it might be.


For an economical version with just FM processing



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.
64 kHz to 512 kHz, depending on processing being performed.
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 over-load-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 samplerate to allow the delays of the analog and digital paths in the HD Radio system to be matched at the receiver output. The delay can be applied independently to the analog output, digital outputs, and composite output in any combination. However, all outputs configured for delay will have the same amount of delay applied to them. Once set, this delay will remain the same regardless of which processing preset is active.
Minimum Processing Delay
This is the input-to-output throughput delay when the analog FM processing delay is defeated. It is 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. Approximately 150 ms for 5-band and 2-band "MX" presets, which use the 8600's new peak limiting technology.

Analog Audio Input

>10 k Ω load impedance, electronically balanced. No jumper selection available for 600 Ω. Through-hole pads are available on I/O module for user-installed 600 > termination.
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.
RFI filtered, with high-pass filter at 0.15 Hz.

Analog Audio Output

Stereo. Flat or pre-emphasized (at 50 µs or 75 µs), software-selectable. The output can be set independently to emit the analog FM processed signal, the diversity-delayed analog FM processed signal, the digital radio processed signal, or the low-delay monitor signal.
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.
≥ 90 dB unweighted (Bypass mode, de-emphasized, 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth, referenced to 100% modulation).
≤ -70 dB, 20 Hz - 15 kHz.
≤ 0.01% THD (Bypass mode, de-emphasized) 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth.
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.
RFI filtered.

Digital Audio Input

Stereo per AES3 standard, 24 bit resolution, software selection of stereo, mono from left, mono from right or mono from sum.
32, 44.1, 48, 88.1 and 96 kHz automatically selected.
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
RFI filtered.

Digital Audio Output

Two outputs, each stereo per the AES3 standard. The outputs can be set independently to emit the analog FM processed signal, the diversity-delayed analog FM processed signal, 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). Each output can apply J.17 pre-emphasis if desired.
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. Optionally, first-order highpass noise-shaped dither can be added; dither level is automatically adjusted appropriately for the word length.
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 samplerates 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 and HD Outputs
Depends on setting of analog processing channel delay line. Once set, this delay is constant regardless of processing preset in use.
RFI filtered.

Digital Sync Input

Used for synchronization of either or both AES3 signals to an external reference provided at this input.
32, 44.1, 48, 88.1 and 96 kHz, automatically selected.
XLR-type, female, EMI-suppressed. Pin 1 chassis ground, Pins 2 and 3 transformer balanced and floating, 110 &937; impedance.
RFI filtered.

Composite Baseband Output

Two outputs, each with an independent software-controlled output level control, output amplifier and connector. The outputs can be delayed by the diversity delay. If so, both outputs will receive the same delay; delay cannot be applied to only one output.
Source Impedance
0 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 Vpp).
Minimum Output Level
-12 dBu (0.55 Vpp) 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
Signal-to-Noise Ratio
≤ -85 dB (Bypass mode, de-emphasized, 20 Hz - 15 kHz bandwidth, referenced to 100% modulation, unweighted).
≤ 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.
≤ -80 dB, main channel to sub-channel or sub-channel to main channel (referenced to 100% modulation).
≤ -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).
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.
RFI filtered.

Subcarrier (SCA) Inputs

Subcarrier inputs sum into composite baseband outputs before digitally controlled composite attenuator.
> 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
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), XP, Vista or 7.
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 8600 PC Remote application through either a network, or, using a crossover Ethernet cable, directly to a computer. Also supports ASCII terminal connections via PPP.
Ethernet Networking Standard

Remote Control (GPI) Interface

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

Tally Outputs

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


100 - 132 VAC or 200 - 264 VAC, switch-selected on the rear panel, 50-60 Hz, 50 VA.
IEC, EMI-suppressed. Detachable 3-wire power cord supplied.
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.
0 - 5% RH, non-condensing.
Dimensions (W x H x D)
19" x 5.25" x 15.5" / 48.3 cm x 13.34 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.
Tested according to Cenelec procedures.
Shipping Weight
28 lbs. / 12.7 kg

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