Modifications & 222A Photo's
PLS: If anyone notice any error or misspellings please let me know to correct it.
There are produced only two
"stereo enhancers units" which designed specifically for broadcast use. First
was the StereoMaxx at about 1985 by Mr. Eric Small of MODCSI (he co-operates with Bob
Orban for Optimod’s 8000 & 8100) and then at about 1988 the stereo spatial enhancer
222A by Bob Orban. In general, the broadcast enhancers manipulate the stereo difference
signal (L-R) only, so they don't have the mono compatibility problems that the
general-purpose boxes have.
The Orban 222A works by detecting attack transients in the L+R domain and momentarily
increase or left as is the L-R content when this occurs, so stereo information stay’s
always “constant”, the level of this constant varies from the user giving threshold on
front panel knob.
This exploits the fact that the ear tends to localize on transients while minimizing the
average amount of L - R gain increase. L-R gain increase, while not directly impacting the
mono signal, can reduce L+R loudness because it increases the peak modulation of the left
and right channels in FM Stereo forcing the average modulation to be reduced to ensure
that the peak modulation remains within the limits set by the government authorities.
If the intelligent inputs monitor circuit see that comes a track with already wide enough
stereo image then automatically minimize or defeat the enhancement L-R process, the same
will happen if the monitor see only one channel or mono information on inputs, both states
are indicated by minimum or no lit of front panel LED’s meters, by that way 222A did not
exaggerate stereo image neither produce any kind of phase problems at high freq. on mono
Orban 222A Or StereoMaxx? That’s the question
Orban 222A and StereoMaxx are identical on overall design. Orban 222A is more on
“purist” side as Bob Orban is, simplicity & effectiveness dominates on 222A.
On StereoMaxx dominates more the “fancy” tricks with its accompaniment side-effects.
The listening results from StereoMaxx impressive, generally has that popular “wow
factor” but on other hand “overdone” his job and “steal” the mono information
from a music program. MPX FM Stereo broadcasting needs the “mono” information, like
the color photo needs the white, can color photo exist without white? definitely NO.
StereoMaxx If I must name it I may give him the name of “kitsch-y”:) on lot people
like that way especially the Netherlander’s, even his face plate is “kitsch” with
that “fancy blink” LED’s, practically that popular “kitsch-y” over-stereo
imaging effect can heard on all of Omnia’s boxes, to listen that “the stereo is steal
my mono” effect do that, just when you hear a super wide music i.e. an old 60’s track
simply switch your fm tuner to mono and vise versa, easily can you notice an about 40%
lowering of audio especially at HF region where stereo enhancer acts, StereoMaxx’s L-R
action region is from 50Hz-18Khz, Orban 222A L-R action region is from about 900HZ-4Khz,
please do not confused by the more extend frequency range here, on stereo spatial enhance
techniques the opposite is true, so that “narrowed” 900HZ-4Khz L-R action region of
Orban’s 222A means in general “lesser” artifacts, stereo image width has more
natural results than of any unnatural “baggy stereo image” except if you want this
“kitsch-y”:( look for your radio station, don’t forget radio means “image”, but
if your “goal” is that “fancy” & “kitsch” look for your radio station then
Orban 222A is NOT for you. By the way the principles of 222A & StereoMaxx now is on
all latest processors of Orban or Omnia as a software.
I really need this or other
brand Spatial Enhancer?
Yes & Not. The Orban 222A by himself did
not solving you any separation problems. Like other similar units simply add an effect an
illusion that the stereo image is larger than life :-) "is more noticeable on cars
and not on headphones" with its “pro and con”, so it’s a matter of taste to use
this or other brands stereo spatial effect.
If you thing that your
overall on air stereo image is not so wide & solid as others on air radio stations,
first thing to do is to make a detailed separation test, from console trough exciter
including STL & Processing Box. Or you must need to upgrade all your audio side chain
(if it’s old) including the Tx path i.e. STL fm exciter etc.
NOT make separation test with the Enhancement knob of 222A at IN position due the
accidentally On & Off of mute FET, if you cut one audio channel L or R saying by the
mixing console on other dead channel may you listen enough sound (cross-talk) along with
that “swishhhy” sound when the mute FET goes On & Off state thus your on air
separation will suffer.
My results & opinions
I use this unit for about
3 years it was ahead of my Orban Optimod 8200. Definitely and without any doubt I find his
sound results much better and for that reason 222A stays longer on my air chain than of
StereoMaxx. Of course nothing is perfect, as StereoMaxx have his weakness so and 222A is
not completely Free from nasty things as for example the noticeable on some cases the
ON-OFF action of control FET that will heard as “swishhh” also with some unusual music
tracks may accidental triggering the ON-OFF FET which open or close unnecessary the L-R
VCA produces that noticeable (at quiet
passages) “swishhh” sound. The same ON-OFF FET action is present and on StereoMaxx
with more noticeable side effects especially on quiet music, overall 222A is more quieter
here, audio path on 222A is DC and more
simpler than of complex StereoMaxx, this means that audio passes trough lesser IC’s thus
audio has lesser quality degrade due lot IC’s & passive parts as is transformers,
Construction of the unit follows the typical high quality of good old analogue Orban i.e. Silver Mica capacitors, Tantalum by pass
capacitors, precision metal resistors, selected IC Signetics NE5532, excellent PCB with
great shielding. Balance In & Out’s, sufficient NON “fancy blink” metering
. Due his clever monitor circuit there is
nothing much to do, for most music formats without any problem with mono or multi-path the
giving setting for enhancement front panel knob is from 3-4 point, the internal width
limit pot at 1:1 this always give the best of 222A L-R results.
Orban 222A match perfectly with every kind of know processing. As any gear on processing
world I must remind you the golden rule “Less is
More”. Good luck.