How do you get a radio friendly mastered sound?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by bewailin, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. bewailin

    bewailin Guest

    hey there ppl.

    i've been trying for some time now to get a more punchier, crisp, louder final result, but after I master my songs, then play them on a stereo, it's always quieter than radio songs. But if I boost the signal anymore on the program I use, which is Cakewalk Producer, it will feedback and distort.

    I'm wondering if I need a better pre-amp, or anything like that to boost the signal prior to recording. I usually just get a clean signal into the computer, then do all the effects, compression, and tweeking on the computer. maybe this is the problem....dunno. I just bought Cubase, so maybe this will be a start, cause I hear bad things about Cakewalk. Anyway, any advice on how I can get a final, radio friendly level, and overall mixing advice will help.

    I'm sure I should buy a mastering program too...

    I use a Dell Dimension 9150, 3 Ghz, 1 G, 160 GB


  2. bowman

    bowman Guest

    I'm not sure you have the right starting point! Maybe your tuner has a higher output then your CD player or your PC (wherever you play your songs from). It will always sound louder/"better" then your quieter source on the same volume setting. Try using SPL meter and level the sources.
  3. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    You could hire a professional mastering engineer..but that would be too cheap and too obvious. Besides, everyone these days with a plug-in is a "mastering engineer". Rates start at under 50 dollars an album for some of them. Unfortuantly, for my rates, you can buy the equipment and do it yourself. Most people seem to think that is the way these days.


    Sorry that sounds so cynical..but really to get a really professional product that you intend to put on the air, I would think you may want to consult a mastering specialist. At least let them do one track and tell you what they 'did' to get it where it needs to be. If you read through the archives, the general experienced consensus is that mastering should be at the very least, another pair of unbiased ears, on your project. The unexperienced usually waits for quite a while and many failures before they become experienced and reach the above conclusions.
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Where the hell is the "Thumbs Up" icon...

    Oh - There it is... :cool:

    I'm not even sure of Bill's rig (I'm sure it's excellent) but even with the rig I have, I *STILL* won't master my own mixes. I've been "forced" into it on occasion, and have regretted it terribly almost every time.

    That being said - (A) Volume isn't everything (B) "Mastering programs" are usually anything but (C) Why do people always try to compare recordings with budgets in the hundreds of thousands just in labor with teams of professionals with decades of experience in multi-million dollar facilities against home recordings done over the weekend on a five or ten thousand dollar rig?

    I'm really not trying to discourage - But let's be realistic here. Great recordings *can be made* with less than "stellar" gear IF the engineer has the necessary experience and "ear" to make them. I'm making the assumption that the original poster doesn't have that type of experience yet. Or else, he wouldn't have asked the question.

    I don't mean to rant - This has been coming up SO frequently lately...

    Now if you'll all excuse me - I'm trying to find out why my Jeep Grand Cherokee won't do the 1/4 mile as fast as a Lamborghini Diablo.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    OK, it is a loudness war between radio stations and part of what you are hearing on the radio is referred to as "spectral processing", i.e. multiband limiting. These are limiters that an electronic analogy would be separate compressors on each band of an octave graphic equalizer. (you can find old Dolby A. noise reduction processors that can be used this way since it is a "spectral noise reduction unit" utilizing a 4 band compressor section. Dolby actually offered an outboard controller for just that purpose) Then the radio station also puts that signal through a broadband limiter and then onward to a "composite clipper" which clips any transients above 75kHz deviation. Blah blah blah Fido! (Gary Larson cartoon, " what the dog hears")

    Not even a mastering engineer will get you that LOUD! They will just get you a better sounding mix and not necessarily the loudest sounding mix that radio stations vie for.

    If you want something that will approximate what you hear on the radio for your mixes, try searching for a piece of mastering software by I. K. multimedia called T-Racks. They make a standalone 2 track version and a VST/DX plug-in, of which I like the standalone version best.

    It has a broadband compressor section and a tube emulated equalizer, which can be switched pre-or post compressor. The limiter section is a multiband type (3 bands) and it includes an output clipper along with an adjustable distortion/saturation oriented control that provides nonlinear distortion. Now everybody on this forum has put down this piece of software but if you want something that sounds like what you hear on the radio, with all of the radio station processing you hear, this is your ticket to ride. You could try to find this piece of software through some of those peer-to-peer file sharing programs, otherwise it will set you back about $300 and worth the cost of admission. I love it when used sparingly. It comes with a bunch of presets that I do not particularly like as I find them too over-the-top sounding of which I believe is the reason most everybody seems to put this particular software down on this forum but when used properly and sparingly, I find it quite musical. Nobody else seems to (particularly the starving mastering engineers). Just take it from a 50-year-old multi-award nominated producer/engineer, studio designer and maintenance, Fido!

    Remy Ann David
    say it fast three times and it sounds quite RAD
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    My mastering engineer is just that....a mastering engineer. He has a nice set-up, reasonable rates, and GREAT listening environment, and experience. My made at home recordings sound very good mastered and have the levels correct. We also made two sets of masters. One is eq'd for your general listening pleasure and the other is made specifically for radio taking into account all the processing that RAD was referring too.

    I would NEVER master anything without help from someone who knows....and I'm pretty good with knobs and such. However, if I were to master my own material, the budget would be astronomical.
  7. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Here ya go John, a partial list.

    I will not have any pics until I finish with the rooms for beauty sakes. 3 hurricanes took their toll..and now I have 3 separate buildings to work in..including one in the house for receive/transmit, and trimming.

    New web site is being worked on here.. (not finished, got another engineer working on it..very preliminary at this point)
  8. bewailin

    bewailin Guest

    thanks to all for the imput.

    Remy, I appreciate the tip on the mastering program T-Racks...I'm gonna check it out.

    As far as everyone else, I agree that I need to have un-biased ears. So, I was wondering if anyone out there would be so kind to spare 5 minutes to listen to this song I've been working on for months (recording all the instruments), and could give me their opinion on the mix itself and the mastering that needs to be done. Then, at least I could know what you are talking about, using this song as an example. I do plan on hiring someone to master it, but until then, this could be a good experiment with my ear vs. unbiased ears. And I'm not trying to promote my music at all here.

    well, if anyone is interested, PM me, and I'll send you the mp3.


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