Federal Communications Commission was seeking electronic comments in its filing system to revitalize the AM radio service broadcast band in the United States until January 21, 2014. This was our chance to be heard on this important issue! Further details are located here>> Proceeding Docket Media Bureau 13-249.
Brian J. Henry of Napa, California, completely understands what needs to be changed for the AM broadcast band to be revitalized! Brian writes, "Without an improvement in AM broadcast receivers, there can be no AM revitalization! The single biggest factor in the technical decline of AM broadcasting lies with the deterioration in receiver performance. The vast majority of AM broadcast receivers do not have wide bandwidth audio frequency response that matches the transmitted audio frequency response, and their audio frequency distortion performance is orders magnitude worse than that of the worst commercial AM broadcast transmitter ever manufactured. I believe that the public interest would be served by The Commission mandating an analog audio quality standard for AM broadcast modulation and demodulation with flat end-to-end audio frequency response from 50Hz to at least 7.5kHz- with a 10kHz receive notch filter, and low audio frequency distortion that is modeled after the Electronic Industries Association and National Association of Broadcasters AMAX certification program to help AM regain some of its technical footing." We agree with Brian's comments and also support the AMAX initiative, authored more than 20 years ago, and still worth its weight today. In order for AM fidelity to improve, there has to be received analog audio fidelity complemented by the broadcast audio fidelity.
Matt Krick, AM music station engineer, writes to the FCC: "It has come to my attention that the vast majority of AM receivers on the market are designed with 'Good Enough' mentality and quite frankly make anything received sound like mud. I'd like to propose the FCC implement requirements for manufacturers of radios to actually design a decent performing receiver."
meduci has answered your calls! Wideband high fidelity AM analog tuners are available from meduci since late 2005. Unlike conventional AM radios, meduci tuners are optimized for music, and reproduce many limitations of the air interface and AM station's transmitter. This increased fidelity and crisp reproduction of the transmitted source program material may now be fully enjoyed and appreciated by the audiophile expert. For the first time in radio history, AM fidelity is not strictly limited by the receiving equipment.
Virtually all other available AM medium wave receivers and tuners drop audio fidelity to 2kHz maximum response. This is good for a telephone conversation, however not for long-term listening sessions to high definition music programing.
Will the FCC mandate that all manufacturers to build and to sell higher fidelity AM radios? This is not likely. FCC is not in the business to advocate how well an AM radio receiver sounds or receives stations in its overall performance. Can the FCC stop the HD Radio madness on the AM broadcast band? Yes, definitely!
Brian J. Henry further writes, "The vast majority of licensed AM radio stations are not embracing in-band / on-channel digital operation and those that are only exacerbate an already bad situation with regard to interference to analog operation, particularly at night. There is unfortunately no way for there to be a high fidelity analog AM broadcast transmission system when there is a digital service operating in the audio pass band between 5kHz and 15kHz. The current combination approach is not benefiting either technology. They simply are not compatible. I feel that the public interest would be better served if the Commission authorized full AM digital operation at the broadcaster's discretion in lieu of analog operation. Implementing AM stereo may be a viable path forward for AM broadcasters until enough digital receivers have been acquired by the public to make the switch to all-digital transmission a worthwhile consideration, especially since some recently manufactured HD receivers are able to decode C-QuAM AM stereo."
WBT "NewsTalk 1110" in Charlotte, North Carolina conducted an all-digital HD Radio test broadcast on August 18, 2013 to meaure the strength and fidelity of their broadcast. We heard this all-digital HD Radio test broadcast, and we were not impressed with the WBT HD audio sound quality. It was far from being exceptional. In fact, it sounded very artificial, especially when music snippets were played. This all-digital transmission method will not revitalize the AM broadcast band. WBT also reportedly used an omni-directional pattern during the all-digital test, since their directional pattern was not up to the task. WBT has not conducted subsequent tests, and we can only conclude that the all-digital test failed.
During their promotional announcement, it was stated, "WBT is one of a handful of radio stations in America that is capable of broadcasting in digital HD." We agree with that statement. There are many technical reasons why HD Radio is not more widespread, especially for night-time AM broadcasts.
What can you do to receive better sounding analog AM radio broadcasts? meduci sells quality wideband high fidelity AM stereo tuners and decoders intended for the C-QuAM stereo format. Our newest model, the MW-2 PLL tuner, boasts recovered audio bandwidth beyond 10kHz in the "wide" mode, and 5kHz bandwidth in the "narrow" mode. This fidelity competes with other media devices. Our tuner is the answer to the availability shortage for high fidelity AM tuners today. Our analog tuners are intended to be a large part of the AM broadcast band revitalization process.
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KINTRONIC LABORATORIES DEMONSTRATES C-QuAM AM STEREO AT THE NAB 2014 SPRING SHOW
Bobby Cox and Tom King from Kintronic Laboratories showed their fondness for C-QuAM AM stereo by proclaiming "Come hear what AM Radio can really sound like using today's technology." They also answered questions in their booth at the National Association of Broadcasters Spring 2014 show, and discussed C-QuAM AM stereo technology and the FCC petition that they organized to improve the AM broadcast band. Anyone willing to listen to high fidelity AM audio was greeted with a pair of headphones for a shoot-out test. Both the Carver TX-11a and Sony XDR-F1HD tuners definitely showed the disparate differences in AM tuner audio bandwidth and distortion in these headphones. Alan Alsobrook and The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource reported on the NAB festivities.
Tom King wrote letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 04, 2014 regarding the AM Revitalization process (FCC NPRM Docket No. 13-249):
Subject: Meeting with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and Mr. Peter Doyle,
Chief of the Audio Division of the FCC Media Bureau
at the offices of the FCC in Washington, DC on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.
To All AM Broadcasters in the USA:
Kintronic Labs is concerned about the declining position of the AM radio service in the United States, which we reflected in our Reply Comments to the FCC NPRM Docket No. 13-249 on the subject of "AM Revitalization," issued on October 31, 2013. In the interest of preserving this great national resource for local public media, we have scheduled a meeting with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and Audio Media Chief, Mr. Peter Doyle, to address what we believe are the critical steps toward putting AM radio on a more competitive basis with FM as follows:
(1) FCC enforcement of regulations relative to the power distribution industry and the consumer electronics industry that are not currently being enforced, resulting in a constantly worsening electromagnetic environment for AM radio service.
(2) The need for parity between AM and FM receivers through the establishment of minimum technical standards for AM receivers that would become effective as soon as January 2016. We plan to demonstrate a comparison of full-bandwidth C-QuAM AM stereo reception with a local FM station and with a typical AM receiver in a popular consumer multi-band receiver. The effects of adjusting the AM bandwidth from 2.5 to 10 kHz in 2.5-kHz steps will also be demonstrated.
(3) The need for FCC authorization of AM synchronous boosters. Unlike FM translators, such on-channel boosters would serve to increase the AM stations' audiences while concurrently maintaining the future viability of the band. The related technique of wide-area AM synchronization for coverage improvement will also be addressed.
Referring to Step #2, it is absolutely essential that very close to full parity be established for new AM radio receivers versus their FM radio counterparts. This includes all key AM receiver performance attributes, including:
Without fulfillment of the first three requirements (this also includes the associated AM antennas both for vehicles and for home use), basic AM reception will suffer significantly compared with FM. Without the last two, the output sound quality cannot be closely competitive with FM (i.e., 10-kHz full bandwidth on AM versus 15-kHz nominal for FM).
We therefore petition the FCC to mandate the following minimum allowable performance specifications for all AM receivers that will be manufactured and installed in new automobiles as of January 1, 2016:
Audio Bandwidth: 10 kHz typical, adaptive, with a minimum nominal bandwidth of 7.5 kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: minimum 55 dB, preferably 60 dB
Sensitivity: -120 dBm for a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 10 dB
Selectivity: 25-50 dB (adaptive filtering, using co-, adjacent-, and alternate-channel detection)
Dynamic Range: 100 dB
Noise Figure: 1 - 3 dB
Image Rejection: -50 dB
Intermod: IP2 , IP3 intercepts +10 to +40 dBm
IF: low with image-rejecting down-conversion, or double-conversion
Stereo Separation: minimum 25 dB
Tom F. King