Field Report: Inovonics INOmini 632
One surprisingly challenging issue with operating HD Radio technology, especially using FM HD Radio multicast channels, is cost-effective and professional monitoring. There are elaborate devices, modulation monitors and test equipment that poll, sample and test HD Radio signals but there's been a great need for inexpensive, straightforward monitoring of the station's digital signals.
The need for this sort of monitoring made for one of the most anticipated products from the Radio magazine Pick Hits of the 2011 NAB Show: The Inovonics INOmini 632 FM and FM/HD Radio monitor/receiver. Although the unit was shown in the spring, Ibiquity certification took a little longer than expected. The reason is apparently related to some of the most useful and important features of the receiver.
The INOmini form factor is 1RU by 1/3 rack space width. The 632 is specifically designed to monitor FM HD Radio in professional radio station environments. The unit can demodulate analog and decode HD Radio (including multicast) channels. The front-panel display is a selectable readout showing frequency, channel, signal strength, left and right audio meters, RDS (PI, PS, PTY, RT and even RT+!) or HD Radio PAD (name, type, lname, artist, title). The audio output uses XLR males for analog and AES/EBU, and a 3-pin Phoenix connector with open-collector alarm outputs that indicate carrier loss, digital loss and audio loss.
The 632 is powered using an external supply. Using the parallel power jacks and a supplied dc jumper, up to three units can be daisy chained to help manage wall-wart congestion in equipment racks.
|Performance at a glance|
|◊ Displays essential RDS and HD Radio PAD
◊ Analog and AES3 outputs
◊ Front-panel alarms and rear-panel tallies
◊ Receives FM analog and HD Radio broadcasts
◊ LCD screen and jog-wheel navigation
When I received the unit I did what just about any engineer would do: I opened the box, plugged it in and connected an antenna and a set of headphones. In fact even the manual anticipated that reaction: "If, like most of us, you've allowed youthful enthusiasm to override methodical procedure, you've either already figured out the 632 receiver menu for yourself, or you are ready to throw this unit under the wheels of a passing locomotive."
Open the box
- continued on page 2
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