Test Drive: Radio Systems RS2 Noise Reduction/Phase Correction System


by Jerry Vigil

It's not "RS two" or "RS to the second power." It's "RS squared." A safe assumption is that the RS stands for Radio Systems, and the "second 'S'" pertains to the new Dolby noise reduction process, "Dolby S." The RS2 is a noise reduction and phase correction system from Radio Systems, Inc., the first company to utilize the new Dolby S technology in a broadcast product.

We'll get into Radio Systems' application of Dolby S in a moment, but first, a few words about this new noise reduction system from Dolby. Dolby S is a first cousin to Dolby SR which we did a Test Drive on back in March of 1990. SR is more complex and more costly, but the amount of noise reduction provided by both is effectively the same (up to 24dB for Dolby S, 25dB for SR). Even more attractive is the price of Dolby S. Dolby's 363-SR unit, which handles two channels, lists for $2,655 (or did back in '90), and two channels of S-type reduction with the RS2 is less than half that (excluding the mainframe which houses the modules).

Dolby Laboratories developed this less costly derivative of SR in hopes of eventually making it a part of the huge analog cassette market. Though the demand for digital recording is increasing, the pre-recorded analog cassette market still accounts for more consumer dollars than CDs and LPs combined. With the introduction of DCC and Sony's MiniDisc, something like Dolby's S-type reduction is exactly what the analog cassette industry needs in order to stay competitive with digital. Dolby S not only provides up to 24dB of noise reduction, but also provides increased headroom and lowered distortion.

Radio Systems licensed the Dolby S technology and developed the RS2 for broadcast. More specifically, the RS2 is designed for use on cart machines, where radio stations need it most. The RS2 can also be used on microwave systems and hard-wired audio links such as phone lines. Of course, there's nothing to stop you from installing a set of RS2's in the production room on your analog multi-track recorder, too. In fact, running tape at 15 ips through the RS2 (instead of a cart machines 7.5 ips) provides even better results. The RS2 consists of a single rack unit frame which houses the power supply and up to three stereo encode or decode modules.