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Braodcast Compressor foe Classical Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Broadcast Compressor

Thoughts on suitable units; clean, neutral, 2-channel bus compressors for live classical music broadcast chain?

D.

Last edited by tourtelot; 3 days ago at 07:05 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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Hardware/plugin? If plugin, does latency matter?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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jünger d02 or jünger accent without any doubt (or any competitor - well, except for weiss ds1), waves maxxbcl (but only if used carefully), tc finalizer/dbmax and maybe drawmer 2496, while orban/omnia are not really nice/impossible to adjust on the fly.

all in daily use here (except for the latter, because of the handling issues...)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Sorry! Hardware.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Live classical broadcast?

There surely will be a multiband compressor/expander/limiter/exciter (Orban alike) before signal gets air/streaming. No need to compress mixbus.

When doing live classical broadcast I only put a limiter at -1dBFS "just in case" somebody hits a mic, etc.

My mentors have been recording and broadcasting classical music for more than 50 years without mix bus compression. I trust them.

Keeping levels conservative and fader riding is more than enough. Push a little on ppp, pull a little on FFF

Last edited by leitmo; 4 weeks ago at 07:04 AM.. Reason: Incomplete info
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leitmo View Post
Live classical broadcast?

There surely will be a multiband compressor/expander/limiter/exciter (Orban alike) before signal gets air/streaming. No need to compress mixbus.

When doing live classical broadcast I only put a limiter at -1dBFS "just in case" somebody hits a mic, etc.

My mentors have been recording and broadcasting classical music for more than 50 years without mix bus compression. I trust them.

Keeping levels conservative and fader riding is more than enough. Push a little on ppp, pull a little on FFF
while i have no doubt that music with lots of dynamics can be enjoyed live and also on digital media such as cd and dvd-a etc. for listening at home which does not need (much) limiting, things are a different when you go on air, especially with fm transmitters: with just a bit of level riding and no limiting in place, chances are that you're not getting the music across your audience if you are not hitting the broadcaster's target, especially if you need to monitor your mix under suboptimal conditions like in a church...

i always ask about the broadcasters signal chain and what i'm supposed to deliver at the end of my signal chain/their pickup point, whether i'm in charge to fulfill their specs (whether these are mindfull or senseless is another topic); they'll happily give you a window within which things are okay and you may indeed need not to do much...

this however does not mean that your carefully crafted mix goes on air unaltered: none of the european broadcasters i've been working for goes on air without a serious amount of level change! - here's a tool which can do so quite nicely and which is installed in many broadcast trucks:

8 Channel Level Magic™ Surround Audio Processor - D*AP8 TAP EDITION - SLIM LINE - Junger Audio

gear used to be a bit simpler in earlier days:

Transmission Processor d05 - CLASSIC LINE - Junger Audio

many ob vans have their limiters not accessible to guest engineers (watch the key on the d05) - for a reason: you provide content, they care about delivery!

you may condemn this practice, but sit down once with some of this gear or let an engineer show you how things sound before and after processing: you might be surprised to find out how good these processors sound even with a serious amount of processing going on! - i personally wouldn't wanna miss them on any music i get to mix/master and the broadcast gear often wins over the more traditional mastering gear...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
while i have no doubt that music with lots of dynamics can be enjoyed live and also on digital media such as cd and dvd-a etc. for listening at home which does not need (much) limiting, things are a different when you go on air, especially with fm transmitters: with just a bit of level riding and no limiting in place, chances are that you're not getting the music across your audience if you are not hitting the broadcaster's target...

i always ask about their signal chain and whether i'm in charge to fulfill their specs (whether these are mindfull or senseless is another topic) at the end of my signal chain/their pickup point or what else i'm supposed to deliver; they'll happily give you a window within which things are okay and you may indeed need not to do much...

this however does not mean that your carefully crafted mix goes on air unaltered: none of the european broadcasters i've been working for goes on air without a serious amount of level change! - here's a tool which can do so quite nicely and which is installed in many broadcast trucks:

8 Channel Level Magic™ Surround Audio Processor - D*AP8 TAP EDITION - SLIM LINE - Junger Audio

gear used to be a bit simpler in earlier days:

Transmission Processor d05 - CLASSIC LINE - Junger Audio

many ob vans have their limiters not accessible to guest engineers (watch the key on the d05) - for a reason: you provide content, they care about delivery!

you may condemn this practice, but sit down once with some of this gearor let an engineer shiw you hiw things sound before and after pricessing: you might be surprised to find out how good these processors sound even with a serious amount of processing going on! - i personally wouldn't wanna miss them on any music i get to mix/master and the broadcast gear often wins over the more traditional mastering gear...
OP asks for Live broadcast.

Working in broadcast industry I've been asked to use compression only for aesthetics not for dynamics control.

I regularly see FM transmitters applying 20dB of GR on music. The ones that sounds best is the most dynamic ones (see Orban papers).

Not condemning anyone. We do what it works for us

As mentioned before: if OP needs that one piece of gear I recommend TC M6000. Used in broadcast, very versatile and you can adapt presets to station targets.

These Swiss Army tools are knives, they can save your life or ruin it in multiple ways
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leitmo View Post
OP asks for Live broadcast.

Working in broadcast industry I've been asked to use compression only for aesthetics not for dynamics control.

I regularly see FM transmitters applying 20dB of GR on music. The ones that sounds best is the most dynamic ones (see Orban papers).

Not condemning anyone. We do what it works for us

As mentioned before: if OP needs that one piece of gear I recommend TC M6000. Used in broadcast, very versatile and you can adapt presets to station targets.

These Swiss Army tools are knives, they can save your life or ruin it in multiple ways
...so we're not suggesting much different gear (see my list in my first post), except that i mentioned some older and less expensive gear from tc.

i also mentioned older jünger processors 'cause they are by far the most easy to adjust for live broadcasting: it's literally three clicks and you're there! something you cannot say about orban (although very capable machines; i just don't like programming them).

imo old jünger processors almost always outperform any tc (even after extensive tweaking), except for m/s processing which is a nice feature on the m6000 and the dynamic eq on the finalizer, both of which the jünger d0x series are 'missing': i therefore have been using a combination of both for so long that i cannot even remember or imagine NOT using them on any recording session, live, studio or broadcast mix, regardless of genre - essentially a portable mastering chain...

but hey, whatever works!


p.s. and yes, live broadcast (i'm not getting your point)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 4 weeks ago at 12:59 PM.. Reason: edited
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Thoughts on suitable units; clean, neutral, 2-channel bus compressors for live classical music broadcast chain?

D.
Suggestions going all sorts of directions here, what are you attempting to do Doug...a one-off live broadcast, set up your own radio station or transmitter, or are you simply advising a 3rd party on purchase options ?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Hmm. I had thought this was going to be simple. But this IS GearSlutz after all.

My bad for not being super-specific.

Okay. There are times when the performances that we record go straight to air via the local FM classical radio station. Sometimes, these performances travel to the station over an old school ISDN (copper) line. Picky about clipping levels. and, as some have already mentioned, I'd like to have my work presented on-air with as little station processing as possible.

Sometimes it is just "live to tape." But the dynamics need to be controlled; a nice "fat" signal with no overs.

My boss uses the JDK R22, which he likes, but I am looking for other opinions on a similar box. Or maybe the R22 is the perfect choice. He's a smart engineer.

Better post I hope.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Oh, and whatever box I get, do I need a $2500 AC cord to make it sound the best?

D.

Sorry. Couldn't resist.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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None is needed if you keep your peak level to -10dBFS. (-12 on Telos Zephyr)

Or use a VU meter and peak at 0VU.

Otherwise any dbx unit will suffice. That is because the radio station's broadcast chain is unlikely to be very good.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Oh, and whatever box I get, do I need a $2500 AC cord?
Probably, but I guess we'll never know.

Couple more questions.

1. Are you able to (or planning on) printing the mix before it hits the limiter?

2. Will the limiter be seeing analog or digital? :-)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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jdk makes some serious gear yet i know but their 8mx2 mixer (brilliant piece of gear!) - the thing with analog limiters is though that they (mostly) cannot prevent from overshooting of transients while (many) digital limiters have a look ahead function and hence are true brickwall limiters [well, kind of, there could still some inter sample peak modulation occur... hard to measure, you need sophisticated gear to do so; tc m6k csn do so if i remember right].

also, analog gear needs to be matched in the analog domain else you're level meters don't mean much and you still risk of hitting the transmitter (or codec) too hard.

dunno about radio stations in your area; around here, they are pretty well equipped, even if privately run (as the government enforces some pretty strict regulations) and finally no, i cannot recommend the cheaper dbx gear, certainly not as master bus compressors...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
... and finally no, i cannot recommend the cheaper dbx gear, certainly not as master bus compressors...
I'm pretty sure that was snark.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
None is needed if you keep your peak level to -10dBFS. (-12 on Telos Zephyr)
As you are aware, I'm certain, such simplistic pronouncements are fine if you are not recording and transmitting real world performances.

No sound checks, no tests, no trials (and perhaps some errors.) Put up the mics, scratch together a mix and send it over. Oh, that bass drum in Mvt 3? A bit hotter than you expected? Oops!

That's live to air. If I am sending over a mix that accounts for those things, the overall level is low and I will hear about it, even if they gain it up at the studio. And sending over a too-low mix because of one bass drum hit is silly. Hence, the compressor (or limiter.)

Please don't be obtuse.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post

also, analog gear needs to be matched in the analog domain else you're level meters don't mean much and you still risk of hitting the transmitter (or codec) too hard.
I am pretty comfortable matching analog meters and digital meters at this point. There are meters everywhere now days, from the preamps to the ISDN, within view.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
As you are aware, I'm certain, such simplistic pronouncements are fine if you are not recording and transmitting real world performances.

No sound checks, no tests, no trials (and perhaps some errors.) Put up the mics, scratch together a mix and send it over. Oh, that bass drum in Mvt 3? A bit hotter than you expected? Oops!

That's live to air. If I am sending over a mix that accounts for those things, the overall level is low and I will hear about it, even if they gain it up at the studio. And sending over a too-low mix because of one bass drum hit is silly. Hence, the compressor (or limiter.)

Please don't be obtuse.

D.
Sorry if I came across in an obtuse way. I was trying to be concise. I have made over 1000 live broadcasts of chamber, orchestral music, and opera for WFMT Radio, America’s largest and most important classical broadcaster. So I know what you’re facing.

First off, of course, you WILL REQUIRE a test at a rehearsal or extended warm up.

If you keep your peak to -12 on the Telos Zephyr meter, (Telos Zephyr meter is to its own scale, not a genuine ppm)
the radio station’s compressor should act very well in keeping the program at a good level. It would probably bring it up by 5dB. That’s if they are a music station and not a NPR talk classical outlet.

My suggestion to use a dbx limiter is genuine. Even the basic ones are working well if set correctly. You would have to set it at a rehearsal or run through. Remember that in broadcast, -18 dBFS equals 0 VU.

Last edited by Plush; 4 weeks ago at 07:18 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
No sound checks, no tests, no trials (and perhaps some errors.) Put up the mics, scratch together a mix and send it over. Oh, that bass drum in Mvt 3? A bit hotter than you expected? Oops!

That's live to air. If I am sending over a mix that accounts for those things, the overall level is low and I will hear about it, even if they gain it up at the studio. And sending over a too-low mix because of one bass drum hit is silly. Hence, the compressor (or limiter.)
This helps to answer the questions I had earlier. You might try one or the other of the TC Finalizers, the "normal" or the Express. They'll both pleasantly oomph things up and limit transparently. They both have lookahead, which you want for transparency of your limiting. But you don't want lookahead if you have, say, a live announcer who's hearing your mix on cans as he works. The lookahead is easily defeatable on the front panel of the Express, but it's a giant pain (or maybe impossible, I forget) diving into the menus of the "normal." On the other hand, you can externally clock the "normal" but not the Express. Non-issue if you're going in analog.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 4 weeks ago at 07:47 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post

Picky about clipping levels. I'd like to have my work presented on-air with as little station processing as possible.

Sometimes it is just "live to tape." But the dynamics need to be controlled; a nice "fat" signal with no overs.

D.
Some old ISDN codecs (very old) suffer drop outs when clipping. If you mix on digital board just throw a limiter. If you work on analog just keep levels down.

Your work will be presented "processed" by Station anyways but you want to process it before. Talking from experience: double processing is asking for trouble if you don't know what you are doing.

Nice "fat" signal for classical???

If you insist on getting more gear just get it. This is gearslutz!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm pretty sure that was snark.
not really: i mean, it's a bit of a difference whether you put two $100 dbx 160a on a master bus or a much more pristine dbx 160sl...

i wouldn't mind the latter but frankly, broadcasting imo is an area in which digital limiters have a clear edge over analog designs: other than for sonic reasons, i can't think of any other good reason to leave the digital domain. however, most engineers of classical music don't really rush to use 'colourful' comps/limiters; many even shy away from any kind of dynamic 'mainpulation'...

i wouldn't hesitate to use a drawmer 1960, dbx160 or summit dcl200 etc. if i'd need to do something about levels and no digital comp would be available*, yet i'd stayed away from 160a in this application.

(nothing wrong with a couple of d160a's on inserts for mixing r'n'r on an analog desks though!)



* which never happens: i'm taking some toys with me anywhere i go...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Most radio stations set up their delivery processing to provide a certain "window" where input within that range will be transmitted satisfactorily to their taste. You can't do much about this non-linear path.

In terms of your delivery processing, the first suggestion is to actually have a listen to the station on-air. It will immediately become obvious what type of processing the station is employing, and what type of dynamic is acceptable? (Quiet living room or car driving on the freeway at 60mph with the windows down ... was it really a good idea to take this job?).

Maybe a good idea to have available an off-air reference check, so you can hear what the station is doing to your signal. Do they observe the principle that dynamic range is set at the point of origination? Can you get the board op to put the OB fader at reference level and leave it there, so you are not second-guessing each other? "It's OK leaving me" is not the most rewarding thought in this situation.

Otherwise, in terms of "problem-solving", the limiter/compressor I recommend is a "musical associate" with a copy of the score, and your right hand always on the send level master fader.

Have fun!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by panatrope View Post

Otherwise, in terms of "problem-solving", the limiter/compressor I recommend is a "musical associate" with a copy of the score, and your right hand always on the send level master fader.
+1

If OP use to broadcast won't be difficult to compare his/her live mix against broadcasted through podcast.

I "use" musical associate reading score and giving me cues well in advance. We use to do a couple rehearsals but we sometimes record and broadcast without rehearsal, just line check so gain adjustment is critical but drive them low and knowing your mics/preamps is not that hard.

If you have money to burn get the best device you can afford. I will be happy feeling free just by mic placement and fader riding
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
I run into this every time I do live sound mixing for TV at my local public access station. Fortunately there I don't have anything in between myself and the input of the master control room where all the limiting takes place. I find that if I set my output hard limit at -5 dBFS, and mix for a target program level of -20 LUFS, the signal passes through unmolested. I make this work by sending my mix output through a DAW with Tonebooster's Barricade V4 on it, it gives me the limiting and loudness metering I use for reference. It adds maybe 50 ms delay but that's ok - I don't listen to it, I listen to the live 2mix and just watch the levels on the daw as a sanity check.

Now, you've got a couple of added complications - you have the transmission line in the way, AND you want a hardware device. So in that case I recommend you try and measure the codec, and figure out where you have to set your new hardware limiter to avoid codec-induced horrors. Then just set-and-forget the limiter, so you know you'll be sending the station a clean signal.

If you can work with the station, you can probably play prerecorded source music over the codec to them to set a reference level that will get through their compression chain relatively unscathed. Then you mix for that level, and perhaps you add a little gentle compression ahead of the limiter to make the overall program "louder" if you need to.

Honestly, if you can't get the cooperation of the broadcaster to do the work to define what "good" is, then the best you can do is limit the signal to take the codec out of the equation and hope for the best. It took me a fair amount of work to get the cooperation of the technical folks at my station to try and ensure that music sounded "good".
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Try back at base as much possible, before the fateful day arrives.... If you know what sort of concert is likely to be broadcast....is it to be choral, organ, Beethoven 9th, French chamber music ? Dig out your own recordings appropriate to the anticipated and insert a comp/limiter into your playback chain.

Experiment with various 'dynamics envelopes'....see how much range still sounds natural, at what point does it sound squashed, make a note of that threshold and try to stay within it on the day....either by fader riding ahead of the score, or auto via hardware (always have a -1dB brick wall softclip a la TC M6000 regardless...insurance !) or a combo of both. Hit it as hard as you can within your predetermined limits, so the station by default therefore does far less hitting....they probably call it "shaping" or "sculpting" or something equally prosaic.....

A wild card variable not yet mentioned....many stations having a sliding gradient of compression depending on the time of day of broadcast. Have a guess what happens between 7-9am and 4.30-6pm, when the station anticipates that a lot of their listeners will be tuning in inside their cars, during the daily commute ! Compression can get pretty brutal at 'Drive Time' !

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 02:27 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
A wild card variable not yet mentioned....many stations having a sliding gradient of compression depending on the time of day of broadcast. Have a guess what happens between 7-9am and 4.30-6pm, when the station anticipates that a lot of their listeners will be tuning in inside their cars, during the daily commute ! Compression can get pretty brutal at 'Drive Time' !
Really good point.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
Really good point.
not sure: there are so many regulations for fm broadcasting in place (at least in western europe) that i doubt that this is even allowed.

also, sometimes there are mpx encoders and decoders running which could not endlessly be overpowered. then there are relay stations in place, signal boosters and again signal processors right at the transmitter stations which measure signal strength over larger periods of time and which i suspect would bring down such level shifts...

it's been too long though since i got a chance to see, hear and measure the whole signal path of a national radio broadcaster but after seing all the gear, i was amazed how much processing was going on - way more that what i ever guessed or of what i was aware of as a guest engineers in the studio!

mostly all gone (or on the brink of sinking into oblivion - it's digital/network architecture/audio over ip these days...



anyway: if you wanna find out what's happening (from a musical perpective), record some music getting aired and then compare to the original release.


p.s. while we're at it: the new studer microcore is a very affordable small broadcast desk - no heavy processing though (but nice for small outside broadcast or any small studio)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 4 weeks ago at 04:00 PM.. Reason: p.s. added
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
T...many stations having a sliding gradient of compression depending on the time of day of broadcast. Have a guess what happens between 7-9am and 4.30-6pm, when the station anticipates that a lot of their listeners will be tuning in inside their cars, during the daily commute ! Compression can get pretty brutal at 'Drive Time' !
I can't imagine being a station GM and telling my sales manager, "Mid-days we're gonna cut back on our reach so Rush Limbaugh will sound prettier."
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I can't imagine being a station GM and telling my sales manager, "Mid-days we're gonna cut back on our reach so Rush Limbaugh will sound prettier."
My guess is Limbaugh's mean:peak is pretty consistent and level, even without dynamics intervention, though he probably self-tweaks it via caffeine intake...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
it's been too long though since i got a chance to see, hear and measure the whole signal path of a national radio broadcaster but after seing all the gear, i was amazed how much processing was going on - way more that what i ever guessed or of what i was aware of as a guest engineers in the studio!

mostly all gone (or on the brink of sinking into oblivion - it's digital/network architecture/audio over ip these days...



anyway: if you wanna find out what's happening (from a musical perpective), record some music getting aired and then compare to the original release.


p.s. while we're at it: the new studer microcore is a very affordable small broadcast desk - no heavy processing though (but nice for small outside broadcast or any small studio)
The bad news is that the 'broadcasters' over ip are applying the same processing, even where it isn't required, because they want to sound like radio.

In my public access situation, because the radio is delivered as part of a TV signal, all those loudness rules are applied. It's quite a challenge to figure out how much dynamic range is actually available.

My show often starts by telling folks to turn up the volume.
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