Test Drive: The AIR Corp Pro Announcer Model 500

by Jerry Vigil


Working in the communications industry in these last two decades of the twentieth century comes with a lot of advantages. The wizards of technology offer toys to producers like us that were never even dreamt of a decade ago. Yes, having access to these many high tech pieces of gear is wonderful, but along with this high technology also come long learning curves. Too many buttons and too many pages in a manual serve to discourage quite a few would be fans of all types of studio equipment. Does this ring a bell? If so, you'll love what AIR Corp has done to the ever popular mike processor.

AIR Corp is short for Advanced Instrument Research Corporation, which is based in Nashville. The box is called the Pro Announcer Model 500. If neither of these names rings a bell, you might recall the recent ads in the trades that have the word "BALLZ" screaming across the top. Yes, same machine, and "ballz" is what this box aims to give you.

The minds behind the Pro Announcer 500 are Jim Loupas and Michael Morgan who together make up AIR Corp. They decided there was a niche in the mike processor market and they set out to fill it. Jim, former production engineer and Director of Engineering for WCFL, knew what he wanted this box to do, and Michael made it do it. The result is a very clean and effective microphone processor designed by radio people for radio people that is not only affordable but extremely easy to use.

Beginning with the front panel controls, from left to right, we start with the Input Select buttons. These two up/down push buttons are used to select one of four different input level ranges. Four LED's to the left of the buttons indicate the selected range. The four points are at 0dB, -10dB, -30dB, and -50dB. This allows for either a mike level input or line level input to be connected to the balanced XLR input jack on the rear panel. An Input Adjust knob to the right of the buttons provides additional adjustment with a range of ±10dB. There is a red Clip LED next to the Input knob for visual assistance in setting up the input level. This very versatile input configuration makes it easy to use a wide variety of inputs. If you want to input a phantom powered mike directly into the Pro Announcer, an optional phantom power supply is available for around a hundred bucks which connects to the rear panel.

While the four input ranges mentioned above are fixed, they are very easy to change (by changing resistor values) to customize the unit to your particular needs. Let's say the box is to be installed in the control room where several jocks would be using it. The morning jock may be a smooth, quiet talker while the night jock is a screamer. The input ranges can be easily adjusted to compensate for the difference in levels of the two jocks. Furthermore, remote control of the input ranges is possible. The jocks can simply push a remote button to obtain their setting. More on the remote control abilities later.

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