Why I should pay for Studio 1 while there are several other programs available for free?
On what Studio 1 is better in comparison?
We hate making comparisons but I'm also tired to see the above discussions so I feel forced to give some explanations.
SDR is a relatively new technology, at least in radio amateur applications. The principles behind SDR are not yet well understood by many, at least not as much as the "good old" analog technology that ruled the market until not many years ago.
The recent introduction of cheap SDR hardware has led to the wrong assumption that a good SDR receiving system can be built with a few Euro and free software. The reality of course is very different: a good old "analog" Icom R-7000 is still far superior to a RTL dongle (plus software) as a radio. SDR technology can be superior only if properly applied.
All the above is about the first question: what is the purpose and target of Studio 1?
Studio 1 has been designed to provide high-end receiving performances when used in combination with high-end hardware. For example, today a Studio 1 plus Perseus (about 800 Euro) can provide better performances in comparison to a rack mount $15,000 professional receiver of not so many years ago, plus new features not even possible in the past (like multiple receivers). As Studio 1 price is very accessible, it can be used also in combination with cheaper hardware but remember that final results are as good as the front-end used.
Second question: on what Studio 1 is better in comparison to free programs?
The first big difference is in the Digital Signal Processing core, the "radio" itself. In a SDR system traditional analog circuits are replaced with software functional blocks; the quality of the processing is heavily influenced by the design. In Studio 1 the spurious/alias free dynamic range is greater than 130 dB
(measurements data will be published as soon as possible but you can do tests yourself) and at the same time the DSP core is so efficient that the program can be used with older PCs (Pentium 4 machines) with excellent results.
We can safely state that Studio 1 is the most efficient SDR program available (at CPU resources level) when compared to free ones. For the less technical readers, the spurious free dynamic range influence the capability of the receiver to resolve small signals in presence of in-band strong signals. In comparison, other software has as low as 70 dB (or less) SFDR when strong signals are inside the down-sampling band; still as an example, other software is much more "heavy" on CPU resources by one order of magnitude at least.
Further more at the DSP level Studio 1 features (among others):
A selectivity filter with an ultimate rejection greater than 140 dB.
A unique distortion-free double stage AGC with fully adjustable parameters.
Multiple notch filters with BW adjustable down to 1 Hz, Notch Lock feature.
A unique synchronous AM mode with selectable/adjustable sidebands, dedicated PLL input filter, selectable PLL time constants.
The best FM implementation available with BW from 0 to 192 KHz and 4 sub-modes: NFM (narrow FM), MFM (medium FM), WFM (wide FM), SWFM (stereo wide FM); 50, 75, 520 us de-emphasis, post demodulation adjustable pass-band filter, monitoring grade stereo demodulator and sensitive RDS demodulation-decoding. Also Studio 1 is the only SDR software that features SNR (stereo noise reduction), our proprietary noise reduction algorithm for stereo broadcast which alone worth the program price. FM AFC / AFT.
Our unique AM "soft-filter" with old-style IF response emulation (tube like).
Accurate spectra with 8 selectable FFT windows: Hann, Blackman, Hamming, Sin^3, Sin^5, Nuttall, Flat Top P401, Rectangular (the Flat Top P401 allows precise amplitude measurements), selectable overlap, adjustable speed and averaging.
Noise Reduction, Wide Noise Blanker, Narrow Noise Blanker.
Digital and analog style S-meter with calibration; peak and RMS indication, peak hold.
FM tuning meter.
Distortion free output limiter in all modes excluded SWFM.
Arbitrary input sample rate up to 4 MS and above.
Compatibility with almost all the available hardware via ExtIO libraries.
Some GUI and operational details:
Custom designed windows and controls.
Modular Graphic User Interface and multi-monitor support
Resizable spectra windows (SP1 up to HD size)
Spectra can be disabled in order to save CPU resources
Multiple instance - multiple receiver per instance design
(up to 16 virtual receivers per instance).
Each instance and virtual receiver has its own settings.
Each virtual receiver can have a different output (real or virtual)
and its own CAT settings
Native Tmate controller support (available in any virtual receiver)
Can read all IQ file formats
Screen setups can be saved as workspaces (up to 10 for each instance)
Up to four programmable offset for downconverters.
Just compare the above features with those offered by some free programs and judge yourself.
Third and last question: why Studio 1 is not free?
Well, Studio 1 is our full time job and so far, the result of 2.5 years of development; customers have a quick support by email and free upgrades up to the next major release. Studio 1 is constantly developed by SDR Application which is a company, not an individual, with all the relative benefits. The money earned from Studio 1 sales serves to cover development costs.
We hope that all the above will clarify many aspects of Studio 1 for good.