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Mastering 'Radio Version'? Pitch & Harmony Plugins
Old 6th March 2008
  #1
Gear Head
 

Mastering 'Radio Version'?

Anyone getting request for mastering a 'radio version'?

And if so, what do you do?
Deliver the same as always? - or maybe turning down the bass and trying to get the vocal up front?

...
Old 6th March 2008
  #2
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hepha Luemp View Post
Anyone getting request for mastering a 'radio version'?
Yep, but it's most often just an edit, and this may be no more than an early fade or a few bars of intro or a count in removed. Sometimes it comes in already edited.

Sonically the same.. you cannot master "for radio" as every station - and time slot - may be quite different. Two possible issues might be extreme high frequencies which can mess with the FM pre emphasis curve on transmission, or mono incompatibility (remix required).
Old 6th March 2008
  #3
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streaky's Avatar
 

Recently had a request from a client who heard their mastered track, loved the result but also asked for an alternative version with less compression (I hadn't compressed it a lot, honest ) because he said Italian radio stations are notoriously bad for compressing music. Not having ever listened to Italian radio, I don't know, but I did it anyway and he seemed pleased!

But I will generally not master with radio specifically in mind - I want it to sound good on any system and also great for radio. That said, there are definitely mix engineers who specialise in radio mixes, Jeremy Wheatley being one that is often used for single mixes - they often come out brighter, cleaner and generally more 'poppy' that the album versions.
Old 6th March 2008
  #4
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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There are two issues with radio.

1. what it sounds like on the air

2. what it sounds like during the meeting that determines if it will ever get on the air.

Unfortunately the best solutions to these two issues are polar opposites.
Old 6th March 2008
  #5
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Franco's Avatar
 

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When I get requests for "radio versions", that usually means "clean" (curse words taken out). Referring to hip hop cuts, I mean.

If that's the case, I always ask for a lyrics sheet (especially if they're heads from the 'Bay because they have slang there that only they understand and I don't have a clue as to what's acceptable for radio shows out there).
Old 6th March 2008
  #6
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heathen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boomshanka View Post
Yep, but it's most often just an edit, and this may be no more than an early fade or a few bars of intro or a count in removed. Sometimes it comes in already edited.

Sonically the same.. you cannot master "for radio" as every station - and time slot - may be quite different. Two possible issues might be extreme high frequencies which can mess with the FM pre emphasis curve on transmission, or mono incompatibility (remix required).
Thats interesting to note as I've generally noticed the exact opposite. A few weeks back a loud master I did for a guy was uploaded to JJJ unearthed, now initially I was not expecting it would ever get played on air and what happens? It f'ing gets played.

Was a hiphop track so it had plenty of bass and kick, the intro sounded fine until the first kick slams into the stations output limiter, got ugly real quick. Every station is different but I think conservative levels will win out every time on most stations, by this I mean 99.99% of -12 db rms masters will sound ****e on radio, which is usually what the client will want if they are a rock or hiphop outfit.

What would be the rough average average rms level you do for clients, on a master which sounds good everywhere? Just out of interest. Likely a lot less than -10 to -12 rms, I'd think.

So my opinion is if you want a bangin CD master that is real loud (yes I know I hate it too) then the only way to have it sound good on radio is have a radio master done also just by dropping the level several db and rolling off some/alot of LF.

Ending the loudness war would be the best option by convincing a client that the only master which needs to be done is the one which sounds good everywhere, including radio, am I right or wrong?

As Bob Olhsson said the masters which are best for the meeting is usually the polar opposite as to what should hit the air. I agree whole heartedly with this statement.

Thankfully I was able to download the podcast of what went to air with my dilemma and heard exactly how it had been molested by radio. So this will not happen again. Hmmmmm hopefully. I know why they played it, cause the track sounds massive and great, I wonder if the same track would have been played if I sent a more conservative master level.

Any clairvoyants on here?
Old 6th March 2008
  #7
Gear Nut
 
Franz's Avatar
 

A "hands on-tip" would be to cut some sub bass. That way the track will
play louder in the air, and the stations processors won´t pump as hard.
Try rolling off below 80 Hz, and maby give 100 Hz a little boost. I know
that some people can´t do this without crying, but it really works!
Old 6th March 2008
  #8
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heathen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franz View Post
A "hands on-tip" would be to cut some sub bass. That way the track will
play louder in the air, and the stations processors won´t pump as hard.
Try rolling off below 80 Hz, and maby give 100 Hz a little boost. I know
that some people can´t do this without crying, but it really works!
Yeah I agree here too, though most hiphop guys will cry when you do that.heh.

Thing is, a loud master that will sound perfect on radio may sound extremely thin and unnatural on a decent hifi.

I know my theory is probably not 100% correct but we learn from our mistakes.

I'll find a good middle ground soon, where things just work and my theory is a little more say ummmm, sound.
Old 7th March 2008
  #9
I recently talked a label in to putting versions out for radio that were less limited than the versions on the record. (Rock record.) It was only a half dB but allowed the the snare to better move around the vocal without competing for the same space dynamically.
Old 7th March 2008
  #10
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
There are two issues with radio.

1. what it sounds like on the air

2. what it sounds like during the meeting that determines if it will ever get on the air.

Unfortunately the best solutions to these two issues are polar opposites.

Once again Bob Olhsson hits the nail on the head with a quotation that I would love to put into the third edition of my book (if there ever is one).

Recently I had great success with producing a "TV" version of an a capella group's master. All love it, agree it sounds much better than the so-called "CD version" and the fact that it is a little lower in level doesn't seem to even be a problem The more we can educate listeners and perhaps the sooner we can get dialnorm-corrected or loudness-corrected preamps into the hands of A&R committees, the saner we will become.

BK
Old 11th March 2008
  #11
Gear Nut
 
Franz's Avatar
 

Good point, as allways.

But may we ask how you approached the task? Do you have any special
sound ideal in mind when the client asks for a "TV-master" ?
Old 11th March 2008
  #12
Here for the gear
 

I previously produced radio imaging (promos and such) for radio as my career. And I noticed over the years, after working at multiple AM and FM stations around the country, even and balanced is better for radio than compression and limiting... I tried to always use compression and limiting to, say, get VO to cut on top of sound design and music beds, but very conservatively on the master fader. Same problem, though, you play the PD the promo and it sounds too "thin" to him, but when it hits the air, it sounds huge and full.

Before doing imaging, I did a lot of board-opping. I was always entertained by hearing how the level going into the station's processing affected what came out... Very interesting. Generally, the louder you drive it, the more "dense" the material sounds on the air, but not necessarily louder.

In today's radio world, music gets dubbed or ripped into computers at the highest level possible before digital clipping, by seeing on-screen "segmented" peak meters. So, theoretically, something that is heavily limited will be dubbed in quite a bit louder than something with more dynamics. The end result is that the "louder", limited material will end up driving the station's processing even harder, and depending on what kind of AGCs are present in the station's chain before brute-force processing, it could end up sounding much more dense and less clean on the air.

My conclusion has always been that radio procession loves consistency. It "fixes" levels well over a few seconds in time, but any hugely abrupt dynamics changes will not be handled well (loud peaks followed by softer material knocks everything down for sometimes as long as 10 seconds as the release occurs).

So many processes will be done to the audio in a stations processor(s), including sheer clipping on the final, composite signal, that ideally the smallest amount of compression and limiting on a mix would be the best, provided the material is well-balanced.

Ideally I think there would be separate masters and even mixes for radio, but I guess that's not very realistic.

Satellite radio and "HD" radio...an even different story.
Old 11th March 2008
  #13
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franz View Post
Good point, as allways.

But may we ask how you approached the task? Do you have any special
sound ideal in mind when the client asks for a "TV-master" ?
Yup. K-14 or lower and it should sound damn good without any compromise in sound eu to arbitarily raising the RMS above that. Excessive peak transients from certain percussion instruments should be under "normal" but excessive control.

BK
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