Clean, Flat, and Undistorted

The primary function of any broadcast audio signal is to present a recorded (or live) audio sound as a true representation of the original sound. Whether it’s mono, stereo, or 5.1, audio signals have certain parameters that must be met to achieve this goal.
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The primary function of any broadcast audio signal is to present a recorded (or live) audio sound as a true representation of the original sound. Whether it’s mono, stereo, or 5.1, audio signals have certain parameters that must be met to achieve this goal.

For decades, audio “proofs” were performed almost weekly at broadcast plants to ensure the quality of the audio content. These tests required signal generators, noise and distortion meters, and several pages of paper to graph the end result.

Today, in addition to all of the digital parameters that must be correct, the analog tests still serve a constructive role in overall audio quality. Even digital audio begins and ends as an analog signal.

Noise, distortion, and response can be easily evaluated using a variety of modern equipment.

There are very inexpensive software applications that can evaluate your audio stream, including signal generating capabilities. These applications are available for both Mac and PC platforms, running easily on most any modest laptop.

For a simpler yet very powerful alternative, there are pocket-sized signal generators that can provide both white and pink noise, as well as tone and sweep signals. In addition, there are pocket analyzers that provide graphical displays of sweep, spectrum analyzer, level, and noise.

These units run under $500 each and operate with either balanced or unbalanced signals.

Not only are tools like these useful around the studio, but anyone with an extensive ENG network would most likely see benefits almost immediately.