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Radio Ready Masters – Make the Most of Your Radio Play (Part 2)

In the first part of our writing, we discussed what happens with our song when it plays on the radio. Professional Music Mastering for broadcasting industries plays a vital role to create our song radio ready. However, the quality of the output device is also responsible for how good your audio sounds on a device like a home speaker, car speaker, boom box or headphones. In the below segment, a brief discussion will take place about the 7 components of a radio broadcasting processor that plays the main role to create your song ready to play for the radio broadcasting.

What Actually Happens on a Radio Broadcast – The Typical Chain Process?

The below elements are the components of a chain process. The following section has designed in the order they appear.

  1. Phase Rotator: This is a chain of all pass filters. There are many waveforms in general and male voice in particular typically exhibit up to 6dB asymmetry. However, the phase rotator has the ability to reduce the waveform of a voice even up to 3 to 4 dB. Well, on the other hand, phase rotator affects the music quality when it plays on a boom box, car radio, home radio, and Walkman.

But with the invention of CD, the scenario got changed as a phrase rotator changed the input waveform completely without harming the balance of frequency. There was a myth that any sound modifies at the broadcast industry is less clean and clearer than modification made for the Compact disc. But thanks to phase rotator, because of this element the myth never crossed the line of reality.

  1. AGC: In the next step it comes to the average responding of AGC. According to the standard studio recording guideline, AGC is used for operating over a high dynamic range of 25dB. AGC has the ability to exclude all the long-term dynamics from your recording. It is easy to understand that all the radio show director and producer wants to play their show loud, but it may often cause, their listener are not meeting the satisfactory level. In the radio industry, we call it “dropping off the dial.”

AGCs can work on both multiband and single-band. While working on two different band channels AGC works slowly. But intermodulation of spectral gain is not a big problem because in the later stages compression works really quick.

  1. Stereo Enhancement: Not all the audio processor has the ability to enhance the stereo of an audio. This is why stereo enhancement takes place after the AGC in this chain. The main function of Stereo Enhancement is to make the audio signal more dramatic. In simple word, stereo enhancement is the process of applying more L-R energy into the center channel of an audio clip.

However, the excessive stereo enhancement gains the multipath distortion. But, the excessive enhancement reduces transmission power and loudness. At this point, I need to mention one more thing that the mono channel audio stereo enhancement is not only loudest but also cleanest.

  1. Equalization: This is a tricky part of an audio channel processing. So time to time it can be as easy as fixing bass boost frequency or sometimes it can be hard like fixing parametric multistage equalizer. Based on an EQ’s working principle it has two different parts. The first one is establishing the signature for a targeted radio station and the second part is limiting high frequency and dynamic processing of subsequent multiband.
  2. Multiband Compression and Limiting: Based on the manufacturer multiband compression and limiting can appear in two stages. While running and multiband comparison on four to six bands the limiter or compressor decrease the dynamic range. Every controller of this component has their own effect on an audio clip. In the radio broadcasting room, there’s no audio mastering engineer available who can optimize the technique of processing every new song they received. But in the case of mastering an audio file in a studio; the sound engineer is available there to optimize the process.
  3. Pre-Emphasis and HF Limiting: FM radio, in general, gets pre-emphasized at 0.00005 seconds to 0.000075 seconds. This time period depends on the law of the country where the broadcasting is taking place. It depends on the manufacturer of the processor where they want to put the compressor or limiter of the multiband. It can either or after. Limiting high frequency can make the sound quality of an audio file distorted, dull or even both.
  4. Clipping: The last and final process of this chain is clipping. In almost 80% of the processor, clipping is done to limit the peak. Clipping is an important part of radio broadcasting because in radio transmission a simple clipping does not work. In the late ’70s, a skilled audio engineer discovered the process of cancelling distortion from audio clips. This process refers to manipulation that takes place on the distorted spectrum band. This whole part is done by the clipper.

Quick Tips:

  1. Concentrate more on your song mixing than mastering. Even a good mixing song with poor mastering sound well. But it does not work the other way round.
  2. To create an ultra-loud mastering keep that in mind that the song must be kept in 2 dB to 4 dB, that also has high RMS for loudness. But do not measure the loudness of a song by its average RMS but dynamic range.
  3. If a master has poor dynamic range then do not try reducing the amplitude of the music for making it radio-ready to master. Try remastering the song again.

Creating a better dynamic range for your song does not mean it will only improve the quality of the broadcasting. The quality of your recording will be enhanced.

Radio Ready Master FAQ:

  • Does radio-ready master really exist?

Whenever a new song released, the producer of the song sends a file to the targeted radio station. First of all, the concerned person at the radio station reviews the song and after that, they come to conclude a decision. After the process, your song can be either selected or rejected. So if your song can be rejected so there’s must a standard that must match the radio mastering quality. So the answer to your question is yes.

  • Why does a Radio Station refuse to play a song?

Some songs are just not ready to play on the radio. As a result, the management team of the radio broadcasting station takes the decision of rejecting the song. In simple words, if a song is not ready for radio master will not be played on the radio.

  • What will you do if your song gets rejected?

If your song gets rejected then it is time for you to understand the fact that your song is terrible. In that case, you might consider a re-master. But what I like to suggest you considering a re-mixing will be more effective for you.

  • Does a radio station have their own compression?

Of course yes. Every small and big radio broadcasting channels have their own compression and they typically apply it to the songs they will broadcast.

Conclusion:

Radio broadcasting is a sophisticated and complex job. One needs several years of practice to do this correctly. So I would like to suggest my readers who are running a radio broadcasting channel to take the helping hand and recommendation of Online Audio Mastering Service provider’s. It will help them with slow compression and equalization. And of course, they can apply other effects that a typical audio mastering engineer uses in the studio. As a result, radio broadcasting channels will achieve the ability to play the sound which will meet the desired level of their audience. Overall I can say that following this guide will help you broadcast a song with more punch, loud, life, and clarity.

Radio Ready Masters – Make the Most of Your Radio Play (Part 1)

Technology is meant to change. Even radio broadcasting is not out of this trend. Like all the technologies, radio technology is developing and changing constantly. With the invention of a digital radio system, our way of working has changed and that reflects on how we record a sound and struggle with the infidel internet radio. It is important for us to reproduce most of our recorded audio for quality analogue FM radio. Have you ever give it a thought what exactly happen to your songs when it broadcasts on a radio channel or did you ever made a strategy to make the most of your radio play?

The article you are going to read today is inspired by the by the famous book “Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science”. Mr. Bob Orban and Mr.FrankFoti wrote this book over 15 years back. In the year 2002, Focal Press published the book. Bob Orban is the founder of Orban Audio Processing Company. This international company is in the business of making an audio processor for television, radio and internet broadcasting. On the other hand, Mr. Frank Foti is the CEO of Telos Alliance that manufactures professional audio mastering products for broadcasting industries.

Orban processing
At the top, you will find the cuts of the music with enhanced visual density and loudness. At the bottom, you will find the same music that has passed through the radio processor of the Orban

The book contains many technical terms and radio mastering best practice terminology. As a result, it could be difficult for newbies and amateurs for understanding the professional music mastering process for broadcasting. The purpose of writing this article is to present radio mastering process into a simpler way so that anyone can get the glance of Mixing and Mastering Services for radio broadcasting. The writing will be published in two parts which will reveal what happens to your song when it plays on radio and what actually happens on a radio broadcast (Understanding the Chain Process). So let us move forward to the first part of our writing.

What Happens to Your Song when it Plays on Radio?

Many of us, who belongs from the professional mixing and mastering industry, know how to process a crude piece of recording before it plays in the FM airwaves. My purpose of writing this blog is to remove all the myths and misapprehension regarding the secret art of radio mastering. Most of the radio stations worldwide use an audio transmission process from station’s transmitter. The main function of the processor is controlling the transmitter’s peak modulation. This peak modulation’s frequency should match the standard regulatory body of the nation where the radio station is situated.

Just, like the other way round, there are only a few radio stations use limited functional peak. In reality, most of the radio stations use a complex chain of an audio. Using this technique, allow the broadcast station to play music louder within the maximum peak level. This maximum peak level is different for radio broadcasting in different countries. For example, the VU meters used in Australia and USA is recommended by EBU for radio broadcast in different countries in Europe. The IEC recommendations are as follows:

Analogue Peak Programme Meter: IEC 268-10
Digital Peak Programme Meter: IEC 268-18

Cancelling Noise and Increasing Loudness: Best Online Mastering Service provider and designer of the broadcast have achieved the knowledge of getting the maximum loudness that also consist audio punch and cleanliness. The mantra behind this success is very simple. Broadcasting an audio clip via radio depends on the quality of the source. So the bottom line is the relation between the quality of the broadcasted audio and the source audio is directly proportional.

The Competition of Being Loud – Radio Signal vs. CD: Singers, composers, and producers wanted to get the loud production of music. And on the other hand radio stations wished to offer the loudest signal. This war stayed for around 25 years. Before this competition started, radio stations were used to make simple audio clips louder. Mixing and mastering services providers for radio broadcasting has learned this technique for over 25 years. But now the technique has drifted to the CD Mastering Services industry.

Radio Broadcasting

Problem Today with Radio Broadcasting: The biggest problem with radio industry is facing today is that powerful and sophisticated sound processing for radio broadcasting transmission is no longer coexist today. Perhaps a professional who offers audio mastering services online can help you to deal with this. If someone limits the multiband compression of the source digitally that also reduces the peak of the short term to average ratio. As a result, the processor of the broadcast station handles the mastering material less naturally and less gracefully than it handled the source stuff.

Broadcast Process Affects Hyper-Compressed Material – Fact or Myth: The process of broadcast affects the hyper-compressed stuff. This is true only if there is no dynamic long-term range is coming in. In that case, broadcasting processor’s AGC will no longer be able to reduce it any further. However, a typical processor will still operate the hyper-compressed stuff and it will reduce its peak to the average ratio.

Not to mention it additionally, a hyper-compressed stuff does not sound loud when it plays on air. It sounds like the music is broken or distorted and flat. So your listener does not enjoy the music much. As a result, they pay no attention what is playing, or even worst they turn off the radio.

What Happens when Hyper Compression Combines with Major Market Broadcast Processing Level: When Hyper Compression get combined with broadcast processing, it exclude the drama, feel and life from the music. In extreme cases, the sound is completely distorted. The mastering sound seems flat, small and busy.

The quality of the Receiver’s Output Also Plays a Big Role: Even if you have done all the radio mastering process correctly and followed all the tips revealed here, you cannot be sure how your mastered audio will perform at the output speaker. The reason behind this many car users use a cheap quality of car speaker that can affect the quality of your audio mixing. On the other hand, economical ear buds and boom box can also be responsible for a poor output. So maybe your music is really sounds great but that does not mean that it will perform well on the output device. Errors in transmitting process and techniques can also play a vital a role in order to diminish the quality of your song. Well, that is none of your lookouts. You just focus on your part of the job and let the rest to happen the best.

Bottom Lines:

Time has come to sign off. Hope the article was helpful to you. If you have any quarries regarding the first part of radio broadcasting, feel free to ask me by using the comment box below.

What is waiting for you in the Next Post?

The post does not end here. Today we only discuss what happens to a song that played on a radio broadcasting station. That includes cancelling noise and increasing loudness and sound wave celerity, completion of being loud between radio signal and CD, the problem that we are facing today about mastering, effects of the broadcast process on hyper-compressed material and what happens when hyper compression combines with major market broadcast processing level.

So it was a quick recap of what we learn today. When we will come back with the next post, an in-depth analysis will take place on what really happened to your music broadcast and how mastering music online can enhance the audio quality while radio broadcasting. At last, I will provide you some valuable quick tips which will help you to perform a Professional Music Mastering and answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to radio mastering.