What is it?A five-band and two-band digital audio processor for both analogue FM transmission and digital media. DetailsOffering stereo enhancement, EQ, AGC, multiband compression, low-IM peak limiting, stereo encoding and composite limiting, the Optimod-FM 8600 is said to deliver a “fresh, crisp sound”, which helps it “level the playing field between analogue FM and its more aggressive digital-only competitors”. Its dramatically improved peak limiter technology decreases distortion while increasing transient punch and HF power handling capacity. Compared to the FM-channel peak limiter design of its predecessor – the FM 8500 – the new model typically provides 2.5-3dB more power at high frequencies, minimising audible HF loss caused by pre-emphasis limiting. The FM and digital media processing paths split after the 8600’s stereo enhancer and AGC. The design incorporates two equalisers, multiband compressors and peak limiters, allowing the analogue FM and digital media processing to be optimised separately. More than 20 format-specific factory presets are available including all of the 8500’s presets plus new ‘MX’ presets designed by Bob Orban and Greg Ogonowski to exploit the new peak limiter technology. Although the factory presets are fully competent ‘out of the box’, it’s possible to customise them with a single Less-More control or with more than 60 advanced controls. Ethernet connectivity is standard, together with a Windows-based remote control application that can manage many 8600s on a TCP/IP network. In addition, programmable contact-closure control plus ACSII terminal control via the RS232 serial and Ethernet ports offer the freedom to interface with a facility’s remote control infrastructure. For FM-only broadcasters, an 8600FM model is available without digital processing at lower cost. Orban also offers an upgrade kit for 8500 and 8500FMs said to be is easily installed in the field by replacing the DSP board and CPU module without the need for soldering or special tools.