Orban Optimod-FM 8600S

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Brand: OrbanOrban


Optimod-FM 8600S: Overview

The clarity and punch of Optimod-FM 8600 processing, now available in a compact package.

Optimod-FM 8600 was a hit as soon as it was introduced. Compared to Orban’s previous flagship, the 8600’s dramatically improved “MX” peak limiter technology decreased distortion while increasing transient punch and high frequency power handling capacity. A significant number of broadcasters have asked us to make the 8600’s sound available in a compact package at a lower price. Orban’s response is the 8600S, which offers 8600-class sound in a single rack unit. An efficient, switching power supply ensures that the 8600S runs cool even in a crowded rack. The 8600S is available in two versions: an FM-only version 8600S-FM and a version 8600S-HD that includes simultaneous processing for FM and for digital transmissions like netcasts, DAB+ and HD Radio. The 8600S 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 8500 presets, plus the 8600 "MX" presets designed by Bob Orban and Greg Ogonowski to exploit the exciting possibilities inherent in the 8600's  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. Full Control gives you the versatility to customize your audio further. Orban’s Quick setup, which is a guided sequence of screens through the 8600S ‘s setup, is the easiest way to have your station On Air quickly.

Improved Peak Limiter Technology

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 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 analogue broadcasts more competitive with the cleanliness, punch, and open high frequencies of the digital media against which FM analogue 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 8600S helps level the playing field between analogue FM and its ever more aggressive digital-only competitors.

Diversity Delay

For Digital Radio broadcasters who prefer using a separate processor for the digital channel, the 8600S 's built-in delay (up to 16 seconds) in the analogue processing path vastly improves installation versatility in HD Radio facilities, freeing you from the need to use the delay line built into the Digital Radio exciter. This allows you to use the 8600S-FM's built-in stereo encoder and composite limiter to drive the analogue FM transmitter, ensuring no-compromise analog-channel loudness.

Independent Processing

The 8600S-HD (“Digital Radio”) output is designed to feed streaming, netcasting, and digital satellite or cable radio channels, which can be Eureka 147, DRM, DAB + or the iBiquity® HD Radio system (formerly known as “IBOC”—“In-Band On-Channel”) approved for use in the United States.

The equalizer and five-band compressor/limiter in the HD processing chain have their own sets of user-adjustable audio controls that are independent of the controls in the FM analogue transmission chain’s equalizer and five-band compressor/limiter. 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.

Loudness and True Peak control

The digital radio and analogue radio processing chains offer ITU-R BS.1770-3+ Loudness Meters and Safety Limiters for use in countries that enforce a BS.1770 loudness limit on digital and/or analogue radio broadcasts.The 8600S-HD implements “true peak control” in the HD processing chain by oversampling the HD peak limiter’s sidechain at 256 kHz. This allows the 8600S to prevent clipping in a playback device’s analogue signal path by predicting and controlling the analogue peak level follow the playback device’s reconstruction filter to an accuracy of better than 0.5 dB. For typical program material, accuracy is 0.2 dB. Without true peak control, analogue clipping can occur even if all peak values of the digital samples are below 0 dBFS. This phenomenon has also been termed

“0 dBFS+.” Thanks to true peak control, sample rate conversion, unless it removes high frequency program energy or introduces group delay distortion, cannot cause sample peaks to increase more than 0.5 dB.

Versatility doesn't stop with sound.

The 8600S has an internal, DSP-based stereo encoder (with a patented “half- cosine interpolation” composite limiter operating at 512 kHz sample rate) to generate the pilot tone stereo baseband signal and control its peak level. The composite limiter is a unique, “you can only do this in DSP” process that beats composite clippers by preserving stereo imaging while fully protecting the stereo pilot tone, RDS/RBDS, and subcarriers. For our European customers, a second generation ITU BS 412 multiplex power controller yields the best possible coverage while flawlessly complying with the standard. You can adjust it to maximize loudness within the constraints of the BS 412 standard or to produce less gain change at the expense of slightly lower loudness. The 8600S has the ability to apply MPX power gain reduction after the clippers so that the texture of the processing can include more "clipper sound" when desired. Regardless of how you adjust the multiplex power controller, you can be sure that you will always meet the BS 412 requirements flawlessly.

The stereo encoder’s stereo subchannel modulator can operate in normal double sideband mode (DSB) and in an experimental compatible single sideband mode (CSSB) that is offered to enable users to compare and assess the two modes. Users who are required to comply with the ITU-R BS.412 multiplex power limits should note that CSSB operation puts 3 dB more power into the stereo subchannel than conventional DSB operation does. The 8600S’s built-in ITU-R MPX Power Controller automatically compensates for this increase.

A loop-through connection is provided to enable a ratings encoder (such as Arbitron®) to be inserted between the output of the audio processing and the input to the stereo encoder.

A 10 MHz frequency reference input allows the stereo pilot tone frequency to be locked to GPS or another high-accuracy frequency standard. This improves the performance of single-frequency networks in areas where coverage of the transmitters overlaps.

Analogue Fallback to Digital control that allows Silence Sense to switch the active input from Analogue to Digital if silence is detected in the analogue input signal but not on the digital input signal.

This function works vice versa as well on both analogue and digital AES input. The silence sense parameters apply to both simultaneously and both detectors are available to drive the 8600S’s tally outputs and sending SNMP Traps/Alerts.


The 8600S includes a full-featured RBS/RBDS generator at no additional charge. The generator supports dynamic PS. It can be controlled via 8600S presets and an ASCII terminal server that can be connected to automation to support displaying title and artist.


Ethernet connectivity is standard, as is an easy to use PC remote control application that runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and that can control many 8600S’ s on a TCP/IP network. 8600S PC Remote software allows you to access all 8600S features and allows you to archive and restore presets, automation lists, and system setups (containing I/O levels, digital word lengths, GPI functional assignments, etc.). 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 8600S with your facility's remote control infrastructure, whatever it might be.

Administrating and Monitoring

The SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) features allow you to monitor your Optimod’s status and to send Alarm notifications via your Optimod’s Ethernet connection to your network.

API: This interface can be used to allow custom third-party applications (including automation systems) to recall presets, view status and set the controls.


There are two versions of Optimod-FM 8600S. Model 8600S-HD is the full analogue and digital radio version and the analogue FM-only version is 8600S-FM. The 8600S-FM can be upgraded to 8600S-HD functionality.

The upgrade kits can be installed in the field and purchased from your dealer. Upgrading is convenient. There is no need to remove the 8600S-FM from the rack.