What is the est. price of a HD FM Transmitter? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Old 10-13-2007, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I was wondering if someone knew of just a est. price of a HDFM Transmitter? A friend of mine that works in Radio I always ask him if their radio station is going to upgrade yet but he said probably not anytime soon because its expensive to get. I just wondered what was the est. price of one. for a 100kw station.
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post #2 of 7 Old 10-14-2007, 08:09 AM
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I'm not sure about pricing, but I believe it takes a complete second transmitter (a Digital one), to transmit the digital sidebands that wrap around the existing analog FM signal.

So, I'd expect it to be comparable to a low-power FM transmitter. You'd need proper RF combiners, and probably some computer stuff, if you are going to do any on-screen "real-time" info. A studio upgrade, to all-digital consoles and servers, would be adviseable, too.

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post #3 of 7 Old 10-15-2007, 06:05 AM
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You may be able to upgrade to HD with an upgrade to the exciter in the existing transmitter. However, you may want to contact an applications engineer at your supplier of choice to understand any issues related interfacing with the existing transmitter. One solution is at the below link:


John Melzer
Components Engineer
Harris Corporation
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post #4 of 7 Old 10-15-2007, 08:10 PM
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Common amplification of the local signal is possible with most AM solid state transmitters (AM HD transmission on a tube transmission isn't possible).

On the FM end, there are three ways to transmit HD Radio:

1. Common amplification: One transmitter powers HD and analog, and transmitted over one antenna (no combiner or new transmission line). Any antenna can broadcast this signal as long as it has enough bandwidth to broadcast the digital sidebands along with the analog signal, so a new antenna may not be required. However, most such transmissions require a brand new transmitter.

2. Seperate amplification: This is what kenglish describes. Again, no combiner needed, but a new transmission line run is needed between the (brand new) digital transmitter and a brand new digital-only antenna, usually located below the analog one.

3. Split-level combining: Apparently a Harris-exclusive. Here, yes, a new digital-analog transmitter is required like with common amplification, and a combiner is needed, as well as a Harris multi-purpose exciter (which was linked by the Harris guy). However, no new antenna is required if the current one can pass the digital+analog bandwidth. Also, if one of the transmitters fails, the other one can be used immediately as a backup, and in the meantime, the analog-only transmitter can have some of its transmitted power output reduced as the new hybrid transmitter takes up the slack.

In all these applications, there's a lot of new equipment, and therefore a lot of time and money investment. I've read that early on in HD Radio's existence (late 2005), the total monetary investment was about $70,000. I don't know what it is today, but I would think it's still over $50K for FM. For AM, ironically, if the antenna(s) can pass 30 kHz of bandwidth, and the transmitter is solid state, HD can get on air for the cost of a new (or used) exciter, maybe a few misc. other pieces of equipment, and a few hours tops.

To provide fairness, here are the links to other providers of FM (and in most cases, AM) transmission equipment:

Nautel: http://www.nautel.com/broadcast.aspx
Contenental: http://www.contelec.com/fm_index.html
Broadcast Electronics: http://www.bdcast.com/hierarchy/major.php?maj=104
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post #5 of 7 Old 10-17-2007, 08:41 AM
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None of our existing FM transmitters could be upgraded with just an exciter change.

I have a Harris HT-30 transmitter that is very similar to the HT-HD+ models that Harris now ships using common amplification. There are some very specific differences between the models. Beyond the HD exciter:

1. Power control is now done with varying exciter drive instead of PA screen. The screen operates at a fixed voltage. This is done with the addition of a new card in the controller.

2. Linear IPA. The IPA section is linearized to pass the additional bandwidth without clipping the digital peaks.

3. Final tube bias. Tube bias is set closer to class AB to reduce clipping of the digital peaks.

Those are off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others. It's feasible to retrofit an older transmitter to common amplification but it will take more than just an exciter upgrade.

In addition to the 3 methods listed above, there is a 4th method for HD. Standard combining. The split level combining detailed above shares the load for the analog output between the existing transmitter and the new HD box. A combiner can be added with a new HD only transmitter and the existing analog transmitter. That was the original design. With a 10db combiner ten percent of the existing analog output is sent to a reject load and ninety percent of the new digital output is sent to the load. The rest is combined and sent to the antenna. Other ratio combiners could also be used but you are throwing away more and more analog power. The new split level combining method eliminates most of that reject power by using both boxes to provide some of the analog output and setting the ratios correctly.

Our new HT-HD+ boxes are complete replacements. It's a one box solution and it cost WELL over $100k. It's good for TPOs up to 25kW according to Harris. I don't want to speak specific dollar amounts because the pricing varies based on group purchases, contracts, etc.
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-26-2015, 12:21 AM
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Any update?
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post #7 of 7 Old Today, 02:37 AM
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I left the broadcast radio industry just as HD was rolling out. I was a program director, so the equipment side of the house was not my bailiwick. However, I think the original question assumes too much. The up-front cost of HD radio equipment is only a small part of the picture. There are other factors involved, of which the following come to mind:
  • Training of engineering staff and/or cost of contracted engineers who know how to maintain the HD gear
  • FCC licensure for additional band use
  • Fees to Ibiquity, which has an FCC-sanctioned monopoly for HD radio infrastructure (It's not a coincidence that Ibiquity's website is a .com and not a .org domain!)
  • Issues with other broadcasters using a shared, leased antenna mast
  • Listening area issues, especially terrain and sacrificing long-range coverage for close-range quality.
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