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Old 18th February 2007
Here for the gear
kladdekagan's Avatar

There are a couple of issues to think about when producing for radio. One thing is that the radio station might process your sound in a way that makes your great sounding mix sound dull, low or lack punch. From my experience processing your audio to hard might work against you. Ie, use of to much limiting or multiband compression may sound good and loud in your monitors, but on air your commercial sound lower than the rest. Most stations where I live (Sweden) use an Orban Optimode on the stations outfeed and the sound that you deliver have to be produced to suit that. The problem is that different stations use different settings because of format or taste. Remember, it's the ON AIR sound that is important, not what you hear in monitors. And here you have to learn by doing. Produce a commercial, listen to it on air, the next time you produce change what went wrong in the first place.

If you produce a lot for the same station you eventually will learn how to process your sound. The problem arise when you produce a commercial that is to be broadcasted on several stations, or if it is a national campaign. Then you can't tailormake the sound, you have to go for a sound that will work OK on most stations.

I usually compress the VO track, 3:1 and 2-3 gain reduction just to tighten the sound. If needed (mostly it is) I eq around 3-4 khz for precence and around 8-10 khz for air, just 1-3 db. I use only the plugins that come with Logic, except for the master fader, I think they work just fine for radio. I ride the faders on background music and ambiences/effects. On the master fader I use a good limiter (before the L2, nowadays Izotope Ozone) set to moderate settings. With Ozone I get a few more db out of the sound compared to some other limiters I have tried. Although it might be tempting to use the other great stuff on Ozone like the multiband, I do not do that for radio commercials. I have learnt that the simpler the better.

Regarding problems with SSS i don't experience that anymore. Decent microphones, acoustics, cables and preamps most of the time eliminates that. You don't need really expensive stuff for radio, just decent. I use a Rode NT2A microphone, Grace 101 pre amp and RME Fireface 400 running into Logic. And all Monster cabling. Can't remember when I had to de-ess the last time, but that must be many years ago. And I record A LOT of different voices into the same system. I had more problems when I started with radio many years ago. Then I used a Neumann U87 and unfortunately cheap cables and pre amps. A petty for this expensive mic :-( Had to de-ess all the time.

I have read the comments above regarding text. It's a very common problem that the text is too long. Either the client is too eager to tell the WHOLE story, or the writer is unexperienced writing for radio. It is also a common problem that the client first buys the media time (like 30 or 45 sek, sometimes just 20 sek) and that the time is too short for the creative solution. In an ideal world the client should first produce a script and a commercial that can market his produkt/company in a good way, and then buy whatever lenght of media time needed.

This is just my point of view, from a Swedish perspective.