Mastering for the Radio

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Sonico, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. Sonico

    Sonico Guest


    I'am starting to produce some work (jingles)for radio play, and I'd like to know if the mastering aproach is similar to that intended for normal cd playback.
    Because of the compresion that happens in radio stations, I think the audio shouldn't be too processd, but I'd like to know your opinions.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Distinguished Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Jingles have a different purpose than music. it's intended to sell a product. With this in mind, your mastering should enhance this. Is the voice over clear and does the point get made? It's also experience, listen to what's on the air and see what works and doesn't. Put your masters through the ringer and see how they react to the best and worst conditions.
  3. Sonico

    Sonico Guest

    Thanks Michael,
    Is there a way to emulate a radio compressor or limiter?? I mean, some parameters that radio stations use. This would be good for mastering jingles or music intended to radio play.
  4. doug.ferrara

    doug.ferrara Guest


    >Is there a way to emulate a radio compressor or limiter??

    It would be difficult to generalize, other that to say most commercial/pop/country stations do use heavy limiting/compression. The signal processing parameters (attck time, release time, ratios, etc.) are usually closely guarded secrets between station management and their engineering staff.

    In addition, most radio stations also use other processing gear to maximize their coverage and and give them a unique 'sound' appropriate for their intended listeners.

    Doug Ferrara
    RealTraps, LLC
  5. Jbuntz

    Jbuntz Guest

    I work at a radio station and have produced jingles out of my studio. The radio is so heavily compressed, and chances are, production people are going to butcher your jingle, riding the volume, possibly even edit it. When mixing vocals, put them where you nomrally would, and then crank them another db or two. The music isn't very important on jingles compared to the vocals, and voiceovers always sound loud next to jingle vocals. You can help even this out a little bit more but limiting the jingle for a few more db of gain. Like I said though, It's already really compressed.
  6. RobyG

    RobyG Guest

    I too have spent time in radio from the studio up to the transmitter. The important thing to keep in mind is context. The transmitter we used had it's own compression and pre-emphasis on board so we didn't use external processing but set the transmitter for the appropriate value. I know others who use heavy external processing.

    Back to context. Is it playing on AM, FM or shortwave? Will it be heavy rock or jazz? Rock and pop use heavy compression usually, and classical/jazz use very little to allow the dynamics and nuance to shine. If you aren't playing with a major market or a national campaign then ask the broadcast engineer at the station what compression they use. Or, record a segment off the radio of a song you are familiar with and analyze it and compare it to the CD.

    It may be best to give your client several for AM, and a couple of the FM variants so that they or the PD at the station can pick the appropriate one.
  7. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) I hope that is true, really. Most of the cases I have found is problems on the STL rack with the optimod and every parameter cranked.

    What engineers? I found one tech handling five stations once. He asked me what kind of cables he should make me to troubleshoot with.

    Maybe today with a good digital multi-band comp/limiter/exciter they aren't having so much trouble. Most music only stations and services are MP3 anyhow.


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