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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.

Audio Mastering Explained at Red Mastering Studio London

Audio Mastering
Audio Mastering at Red Mastering London

What is Audio Mastering?

Audio mastering is the final and last step in the process of creating that perfect sound that we so often hear everywhere. While to us mere mortals, it may only be seen as a complex post-production behind-the-scenes step, the actual process of mastering audio is a lot more interesting and intriguing than it sounds. Simply put, audio mastering is the process of taking a mix and preparing it for distribution, but as we all know, nothing is as simple as it seems and there are many factors that feature in audio mastering.

Audio mastering as we know it was first born into the music industry with the introduction of the first commercial tape recorder (Ampex 200 model) in 1948. Prior to this, all audio recordings were made by printing directly to a wax disc in real time and the role of the mastering engineer was not a separate discipline but that of the recording engineer. But with the appearance of the tape recorder, a new era of audio mastering was born.

And if 1948 was not exciting enough for the music industry, Columbia records also introduced the Long Play (PL) Vinyl record that same year, which meant that each vinyl could play for more than 20 minutes per side compared to less than 5 minutes per side previously.

As the entire record industry was quick to move with the emerging technology everyone soon adopted recording on tape as a new industry standard and a separate engineer was needed to transform the tapes to a master.

The Mastering engineer (or transcription/transfer engineer at the time) was given the difficult task of preparing master discs from the tapes they were given by the recording studio from the recording sessions. Since the belief at the time was that the tape-to-disk transfer was a technical step, many industry professionals had the view that a mastering engineer had to simply replicate the sound on the tape and was not allowed to use any creativity or artistic license during the mastering process.

Pop Music and Audio Mastering

During the pop music boom from 1950’s to 1980’s, audio mastering became seen as a highly prized skill allowing the mastering engineer to use creativity and more freedom as it was found that by making simple adjustments to the equalisation (amplitude of sound at different frequency bands) prior to the cutting of the master, the record would sound much better.

Before the 1990’s all form of audio mastering had to be analogue and done using electro-mechanical processes, but since the creation of digital technology, audio mastering can now be done in a studio using a digital audio workstation (DAW), and while there are still many engineers in the music industry that specialise in analogue mastering, the use of the digital audio workstation is proving to be one of the most popular choices in the industry today.

Audio mastering requires experience and critical listening, in this modern age of technology, there are many software tools that exist in order to make the process easier and clearer. A good mastering engineer needs to have technical knowledge as well as great equipment. The accuracy of speaker monitors as well as the listening environment will have a huge factor in the outcome of the final master. Experience and skill is needed to apply corrective equalisation and dynamic compression in order to achieve a well-balanced record with optimum translation for all playback systems.

Having an organised audio mastering engineer is always a good idea too as it’s always worthwhile making a copy of the master recording in case the original master is damaged or lost (in the industry we call this a safety copy).

With all the technological advancements in the music industry, the process of audio mastering has become a lot more creative and the role of the audio mastering engineer has now become to shape and enhance the music instead of simply replicating it. This makes audio mastering a far more interesting and creative process that is seen as a crucial step in the production of audio and music.

Let’s see what modern-day digital audio mastering entails here.

Audio Mastering, Mixing and Creating Great Music!

Audio Mastering And Music Creation

Whether it is commercial music or audio for other purposes such as movies, you can be sure that the audio has been through quite a long process of being created, recorded, edited, mixed and finally, mastered. While the creation of music by artists still remains the most important element of the process, the music would not exist on record without the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to release this music in many different formats which can be played on modern technology.

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Red Mastering London Studio

So let’s have a look at what the process of creating music involves and what role audio mastering plays in it…

Audio Mastering Explained

Step One – Rehearsing and Recording Audio in the Studio

The first step is for the artists to rehearse and record their sound at the studio with the help of the producer and recording engineer. The recording engineer can enhance the talent that already exists and can add extra spice to the vocals or instruments that are being played. Usually this is done through the knowledge and understanding of the studio as well as choosing the correct equipment for each individual piece of music. This is why it is very important to choose the right studio and recording engineer as whatever your sound may be, you want it to come out sounding the best that it can. By choosing an experienced recording engineer that has good extensive knowledge of the studio equipment, you can ensure that it will do just that!

Once the audio is rehearsed and recorded, it then goes to the next stage of the process; audio editing.

Step Two – Audio editing and DAW

Nowadays, audio editing is mostly done on the computer using a Digital Audio workstation (DAW) by an experienced audio editing engineer. This process ensures that the audio is “cleaned” up and allows for the editing of any flaws such as clicks, hums and hisses.

A digital audio workstation is commonly found in many audio editing facilities and is the centre of the studio. It will usually be a desktop computer with a graphic user interface (GUI), at least one mixing console, a control surface as well as an audio converter and data storage. DAW is the interface where all your equipment is connected and all your files are stored and its primary job is to simulate studio equipment.

Most of the audio editing is performed using software such as Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, Steinberg Nuendo and Logic Pro.

This prepares the audio for the next phase of mixing which is done by an audio mixing engineer.

Step Three – Mixing Audio and the Audio Mixing Engineer

Choosing the right audio mixing engineer is extremely important as during this process, depending on the taste and style of the sound that the client is trying to achieve, there is a level of creativity that can be added. The audio mixing engineer can add subtle changes to the music and make small tweaks to give it a flavour of a particular style of music.

Once the mixing process is completed, there should be no more changes made and this should be seen as the final version of the music. Once everyone is happy with the final result, the audio then goes on to its last and final stage of the creation process and is passed on to the audio mastering engineer.

Step Four – Audio Mastering and the Audio Mastering Engineer

When music reaches the audio mastering engineer, their main job is to listen to what they have been given. They will usually listen to the audio a few times; maybe first just to listen, then to analyse and then to decide what must be done to meet the client’s needs and requirements and enhance the audio. Depending on how the audio is recorded, edited and mixed, it may not require a lot of input from the audio mastering engineer and may only need the very basic enhancements.

As this is the first time the mastering engineer has heard the audio, the advantage is that it will be heard with a fresh mind and fresh ears allowing for very critical listening.

After listening to the audio a few times, the idea and picture of what must be done to the audio are created and from that stage, the audio mastering engineer knows what steps must be taken to achieve this, allowing the engineer to be organised and precise when mastering. Once the mastering engineer knows the correct steps to take and can get practical with mastering that sound we all love so much!

Previously audio mastering did not involve much creativity and the mastering engineer’s job was to produce a transparent master that was a replica of the original sound, but with the advent of technology, the role of the mastering engineer has grown and now there is a demand and requirement for creative input during audio mastering.

This can breathe life into the audio and bring that something special to an already finished mix. By listening to what’s already there in the audio, an experienced mastering engineer can quickly tell what is missing. For this, state of the art equipment is required as well as a good ear and years of experience. By finding out what the emotion, rhythm and vibe of the song is; the mastering engineer can use his knowledge to add depth and colour to the audio and enhance it. Of course, as every piece of audio is different and individual, the creative process of audio mastering can be different for each client.

The mastering engineer will master the audio in his studio using his Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) specifically designed and set up for audio mastering. This has many benefits and allows the engineer to do many different things such as apply noise reduction to eliminate clicks and dropouts, adjust stereo width, add ambiance, adjust volume, etc. Removing any minor issues is usually the first point of call and is done before any other adjustments to the track are made.

If the track contains any faults that may be bigger, sometimes the mastering engineer will need to go back to the mixing engineer and isolate the problem.

The importance of having good quality equipment and monitors is also extremely important at this stage as this allows for a much finer tuning system to find all those little mistakes that previous engineers may have missed. Once the issues are resolved, the creativity can start to flow, which can be anything from changing the EQ, the base or anything else that may improve the quality and sound of the audio.

The mastering engineer can ensure that there is balance throughout all the instruments and no part of the audio becomes overbearing so that there is equality throughout the music. Sometimes the client requires more creativity and sometimes they need more transparency which must be followed down to the ‘t’ to ensure a happy and satisfied customer.

If more transparency is required during the mastering process, then there will be less changes made to the audio and if more creativity is needed, well, how long is a piece of string!

Once the mastering is completed, the engineer will usually go back to the beginning and simply listen to the track to make sure everything is as it should be and sounds just right, sometimes even leaving the track for a few minutes to have ‘fresh’ ears again and really be able to hear any last minute issues.

When the mastering engineer has decided that the audio is the best that it can be, CD markers will usually be inserted along with the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) and any other information that is needed to replicate the CD.

Audio Mastering and mixing at our Red Mastering Studio London

Mastering Audio at Red Mastering studio London

Red Mastering studio London is an audio mastering studio specifically dedicated to high quality audio mastering and mixing. We have created a professional audio environment that allows us to work in the fast-paced and ever-changing music industry, and allows us to provide only the best service to our clients at affordable and competitive prices.

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Red Mastering studio London

Red Mastering studio London has audio mastering engineers with over twenty years of experience in the music industry and as such, we are able to meet the demands and requirements of all our customers whether they are already established in the business or just starting out.

Find the Right Audio Mastering Engineer

We understand how difficult it can be to find the right audio mastering studio for your needs and we aim to provide a friendly, professional and relaxed environment where you can get the most out of your music. Whether you require transparent audio mastering or an injection of creativity, we can help to master your music in a way that reflects you and enhances your sound so you have that perfect finished product.

Through the hard work and growing reputation of Red Mastering studio London, our clients have come to expect only the best service software that is personalised and competitive.

Music Mastering is an art and we have a wonderful team and studio to support you through every stage of your journey with Red Mastering London for all your online audio mastering and mixing needs.

Whether you are simply looking for information, technical advice, or need our services for mastering and mixing, please feel free to get in touch through our website Onlinemastering.org.uk or browse through our pages to find what you are looking for.

A warm welcome from Red Mastering Studio London and the team!