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Author Topic: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter  (Read 1379 times)

Nick Anderson

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Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« on: August 14, 2020, 11:00:07 pm »

Hello,
New here and have a question about hooking up a Behringer X32 mixer output to an FM transmitter. Not familiar enough with the X32 to know if an XLR out or a 1/4 inch out or Aux out would be best. We have availability for all of them on our board. If the recommendation is an Aux Out, how do I program it to allow sound to go to the FM transmitter??  Any help or suggestions would be awesome.

Thanks.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2020, 06:15:24 am »

I'm sure someone will help once you log in with your real name as required.
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Nick Anderson

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2020, 07:56:42 am »

I have now updated my "real name". Wasn't trying to violate any rules was just not able to do this on a computer at the time so was using my phone.

I'm sure someone will help once you log in with your real name as required.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2020, 10:40:45 am »

Hello,
New here and have a question about hooking up a Behringer X32 mixer output to an FM transmitter. Not familiar enough with the X32 to know if an XLR out or a 1/4 inch out or Aux out would be best. We have availability for all of them on our board. If the recommendation is an Aux Out, how do I program it to allow sound to go to the FM transmitter??  Any help or suggestions would be awesome.

Thanks.

I'll bite.

What inputs does the FM transmitter have?

If it is a short cable (under 25') than 1/4 is fine, if it is a longer run than a balanced XLR would be preferred. This should not matter too much.

---

In all honesty, though this is probably is not your biggest concern. My guess without knowing more details (more of those would be good  ;D ) is that your church decided to do some sort of radio service/drive-in because of COVID?

Your biggest challenge here will be getting a "broadcast" mix, not only is this a different style of mixing, it also requires some significant processing. At minimum usually significant compression, multiband, a brick-wall limiter, and LUFS metering. Not only is it difficult to get this many layers of compression going on an X32 (it is possible) it does not have all of the tools needed here (the multiband is limited, there is no brick wall limiter, and it does not do LUFS metering). I am not saying you cannot use the X32 for broadcast, I have done it in a pinch before, I am just saying your results will probably not be fantastic.

Tell us more about what you are trying to do, and we will try to point you in the right direction.

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Jason Glass

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2020, 03:16:44 pm »

I'll bite.

What inputs does the FM transmitter have?

If it is a short cable (under 25') than 1/4 is fine, if it is a longer run than a balanced XLR would be preferred. This should not matter too much.

---

In all honesty, though this is probably is not your biggest concern. My guess without knowing more details (more of those would be good  ;D ) is that your church decided to do some sort of radio service/drive-in because of COVID?

Your biggest challenge here will be getting a "broadcast" mix, not only is this a different style of mixing, it also requires some significant processing. At minimum usually significant compression, multiband, a brick-wall limiter, and LUFS metering. Not only is it difficult to get this many layers of compression going on an X32 (it is possible) it does not have all of the tools needed here (the multiband is limited, there is no brick wall limiter, and it does not do LUFS metering). I am not saying you cannot use the X32 for broadcast, I have done it in a pinch before, I am just saying your results will probably not be fantastic.

Tell us more about what you are trying to do, and we will try to point you in the right direction.

All good insights!

There is still an elephant in this room: Someone who doesn't know how to activate aux buses or physically connect a console to an FM transmitter is going to operate an FM transmitter. Based on advice solicited from an internet audio forum.

I truly don't mean this to be offensive or rude!  This is not a trivial observation, and it's squarely in the realm of my business and my expertise.

The rules for legal unlicensed operation of FM transmitters are oh so much more complicated than multi-stage, multiband broadcast audio processing, let alone the basic task of connecting XLR mix bus, aux, or matrix outputs of a console to the inputs of a multiplexer and/or FM exciter.

The penalties for non-compliance can be staggering: up to $10,000 fine per day, per transmitter, over time, up to $75,000.00.

A minimum level of technical proficiency required for the OP's task begins with complete understanding of exactly what 250 uV/m @ 3 m means, exactly why it applies, how to measure it, and why and how to not exceed it.  Then moves on to understanding how your eBay or Amazon seller lied to you and your gear is in fact illegal to operate anywhere in USA, regardless of its fraudulently obtained and misused FCC ID number.

After that level is achieved, then talk of Omnia or Optimod style signal manipulation follows.  And it's a fascinating audio rabbit hole that is well worth a deep internet discussion!
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 11:20:07 am by Jason Glass »
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Matthias McCready

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2020, 04:02:31 pm »

All good insights!

There is still an elephant in this room: Someone who doesn't know how to activate aux buses or physically connect a console to an FM transmitter is going to operate an FM transmitter. Based on advice solicited from an internet audio forum.

I truly don't mean this to be offensive or rude!  This is not a trivial observation, and it's squarely in the realm of my business and my expertise.

The rules for legal unlicensed operation of FM transmitters are oh so much more complicated than multi-stage, multiband broadcast audio processing, let alone the basic task of connecting XLR mix bus, aux, or matrix outputs of a console to the inputs of a multiplexer and/or FM exciter.

The penalties for non-compliance can be staggering: up to $16,000 fine per day, per transmitter, over time, up to $2 million.

A minimum level of technical proficiency required for the OP's task begins with complete understanding of exactly what 250 uV/m @ 3 m means, exactly why it applies, how to measure it, and why and how to not exceed it.  Then moves on to understanding how your eBay or Amazon seller lied to you and your gear is in fact illegal to operate anywhere in USA, regardless of its fraudulently obtained and misused FCC ID number.

After that level is achieved, then talk of Omnia or Optimod style signal manipulation follows.  And it's a fascinating audio rabbit hole that is well worth a deep internet discussion!

Fantastic post Jason, and it is wisdom indeed. Thanks for addressing the elephant in room, as it one I have no experience with and could not speak into.

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Ed Hall

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2020, 08:15:35 pm »

All good insights!

There is still an elephant in this room: Someone who doesn't know how to activate aux buses or physically connect a console to an FM transmitter is going to operate an FM transmitter. Based on advice solicited from an internet audio forum.

I truly don't mean this to be offensive or rude!  This is not a trivial observation, and it's squarely in the realm of my business and my expertise.

The rules for legal unlicensed operation of FM transmitters are oh so much more complicated than multi-stage, multiband broadcast audio processing, let alone the basic task of connecting XLR mix bus, aux, or matrix outputs of a console to the inputs of a multiplexer and/or FM exciter.

The penalties for non-compliance can be staggering: up to $16,000 fine per day, per transmitter, over time, up to $2 million.

A minimum level of technical proficiency required for the OP's task begins with complete understanding of exactly what 250 uV/m @ 3 m means, exactly why it applies, how to measure it, and why and how to not exceed it.  Then moves on to understanding how your eBay or Amazon seller lied to you and your gear is in fact illegal to operate anywhere in USA, regardless of its fraudulently obtained and misused FCC ID number.

After that level is achieved, then talk of Omnia or Optimod style signal manipulation follows.  And it's a fascinating audio rabbit hole that is well worth a deep internet discussion!

I volunteer at a church, that like most, started live streaming in March. Ive tried to step up to the learning curve and have learned a lot. Audio for broadcast is different the live audio. Now they are talking about FM transmission for some services and events.

Jason, could you be talked into a thread going over the basics so others can know what to research to do this properly?

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Brian Jojade

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2020, 12:42:14 am »

The content that you are broadcasting on the FM spectrum isn't the concern.  The concern is that it's a licensed spectrum, and randomly using some FM transmitter without a permit can potentially disrupt a licensed user's broadcasts.  The licensed users paid a HUGE chunk of money to use that spectrum, so they aren't happy even with a little disruption.

To put it generally, no, you're NOT going to be able to legally pull this off on the FM spectrum.  It seems like a good idea, but don't waste your time. Others have tried to find loopholes, but it's not going to work. The fines if and when you get caught are HUGE.  Maybe if you did it for a one-off you could get away with it, but if you are doing this on a weekly basis, you will be found out.  The FM stations are certainly monitoring the airwaves and do not like finding surprise stations out there.

Don't do it.  Come up with another alternative.

Sorry to be blunt.
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Jason Glass

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2020, 11:21:02 am »

The content that you are broadcasting on the FM spectrum isn't the concern.  The concern is that it's a licensed spectrum, and randomly using some FM transmitter without a permit can potentially disrupt a licensed user's broadcasts.  The licensed users paid a HUGE chunk of money to use that spectrum, so they aren't happy even with a little disruption.

To put it generally, no, you're NOT going to be able to legally pull this off on the FM spectrum.  It seems like a good idea, but don't waste your time. Others have tried to find loopholes, but it's not going to work. The fines if and when you get caught are HUGE.  Maybe if you did it for a one-off you could get away with it, but if you are doing this on a weekly basis, you will be found out.  The FM stations are certainly monitoring the airwaves and do not like finding surprise stations out there.

Don't do it.  Come up with another alternative.

Sorry to be blunt.

This is good info, and the first paragraph is dead-on.

However, there are ways to conform to FCC rules and effectively transmit excellent quality unlicensed FM over fairly large areas.  But it requires an ethical and skilled RF expert to come to your site, analyze the local spectrum, and deploy appropriate TX equipment in a way that fits the unique needs of your site.  Deployment may possibly be a PITA, with long audio cables and lots of cable protection ramps, and won't be as simple as mounting an antenna to the bell tower and running a cable inside the building from a transmitter in a tech room.

Beware, there are many unethical so-called experts installing grossly illegal FM transmitters all over the country, all the time, while assuring their customers that they're completely legal.

Very few people are getting busted and fined right now, and those who are being prosecuted are repeat habitual offenders.  But that could change at any moment. And that should absolutely not be a factor for any legitimate business, charity, or house of worship in any decision.  "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."  To knowingly operate illegally is not civil disobedience, it's a crime that harms others.

Regarding unlicensed FM radio only (AM rules differ), FYI, in a nutshell:

If your transmitter is modified from factory stock configuration, especially regarding output power or antenna gain mods, it's illegal.

If your transmitter has a coaxial antenna output connector whose mate can be easily purchased, it's illegal.

If your transmitter is connected to any antenna that is not the antenna that the transmitter was sold and shipped with (or an identical replacement) it's illegal.

If your transmitter is connected to a directional or high gain antenna, it's illegal.

If your transmitter outputs enough power to drive a cable to an external antenna, it's extremely likely illegal.

If your transmitter specification claims an output power of more than 12 one-millionths of 1 Watt effective radiated power, mathematical calculation indicates that it's illegal.

If your transmitter doesn't have a prominently displayed FCC ID number, it's illegal, and when you Google that number it must be authorized for part 15 use.  If it's authorized for part 73 or 74 or any other use, it's illegal.  All internal and external photographs shown for that FCC ID number on its FCC ID page must exactly match your transmitter and its antenna, or it's illegal.

Even with a legitimate FCC ID number authorized for part 15 use, that alone is not enough. The transmitter must actually meet all of the technical specifications in the rules, in real-world use, or it's illegal.

If your FM signal is received consistently loud and clear 300 feet away from the transmitter, this is a strong indication that it's illegal.

If your transmitter causes any kind of interference to any licensed FM station, at any range, it's illegal.

I must be careful what I write here because the forum rules prohibit shilling of commercial goods and services, but I might know a guy who offers gear for rent with professional deployment and training services within a certain traveling radius of his business location.  If he exists, he'll be expensive but worth every penny.   ;)
« Last Edit: August 16, 2020, 12:24:42 pm by Jason Glass »
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2020, 02:56:47 pm »

And we haven't even got into the issue of copyrights.

If your congregation sings songs that have a copyright statement, you must have copyright licenses to:
  • Distribute a recording of that "performance"
  • Live stream that "performance" on the Internet
  • Broadcast the "performance" via radio

Each of those requires separate license terms. Your license for duplication probably does not permit radio broadcast. Copyright laws don't care if the broadcast is a hundred feet or a hundred miles.

Yes, this is for congregational hymns. When you distribute that through recordings, network streaming, or broadcast, that's considered a performance and is subject to copyright laws.

As for the FM radio broadcast, about the only way that you can legally broadcast on FM in an unlicensed mode is to get one of those adapters to allow you to listen to your iDevice on your car stereo. They have a range of a few feet.

Or, you could (gasp!) apply for an FM broadcast license and have proper broadcast equipment installed by a qualified installer. That won't be easy, cheap, or quick. (Funny how nobody ever seems to suggest this option.)

Look into unlicensed AM broadcast. The audio quality won't be the same as FM, but it's a whole lot easier to achieve your goals and be in compliance versus trying to do FM broadcast. There are turnkey package AM transmitters that fully comply with Part 15 rules for unlicensed broadcast and have been issued valid FCC IDs for the purpose.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2020, 03:00:35 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2020, 03:25:01 pm »

Hello,
New here and have a question about hooking up a Behringer X32 mixer output to an FM transmitter. Not familiar enough with the X32 to know if an XLR out or a 1/4 inch out or Aux out would be best. We have availability for all of them on our board. If the recommendation is an Aux Out, how do I program it to allow sound to go to the FM transmitter??  Any help or suggestions would be awesome.

Thanks.

Back to the original question, though, (assuming that you've figured out how you are going to broadcast legally and in compliance with FCC rules and copyright laws) a broadcast mix is typically very similar to a recording mix.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2020, 11:36:23 pm »


Or, you could (gasp!) apply for an FM broadcast license and have proper broadcast equipment installed by a qualified installer. That won't be easy, cheap, or quick. (Funny how nobody ever seems to suggest this option.)

For a hundred patrons in a parking lot, it would probably be cheaper to buy an IEM transmitter and put a recover in each car that plugs into the aux input. :)
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Brian Jojade

Marty Atias

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Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2020, 02:49:14 pm »

A better solution would be to employ one of the new WiFi based assisted listening systems with an outdoor WAP. It's legal, relatively easy, can have plenty of range for a parking lot, everyone has a WiFi device in their pocket, and most can bluetooth to their car audio.
After Covid, you can transition the system for use indoors using a standard WAP or your existing WiFi network.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Recommendations for X32 to FM transmitter
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2020, 02:49:14 pm »


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