Radio EQ and Compression Standards for Mastering Purposes

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by BigTrey, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. BigTrey

    BigTrey Active Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    Grandville, Michigan
    Home Page:
    Hey guys, I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction as far as the standards used in mastering for radio as far as eq and compression goes? I ask because I have some crappy songs lying around that I would like to experiment mastering techiniques on. Any and all responses woud be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I know of no EQ "standards" as such these days for radio (or TV). (Compression is another matter, of course)

    In terms of EQ, your best bet is always to go with the most accurate, transportable mix you can come up with, and hope for the best. As for bass and sub-bass, you may want to make sure there's not too much for "Generic" release, but these days, unless its killer sub-bass for trance or dance tracks, I'd just make sure the mix sounds good on a variety of systems, and hope for the best. (Even home systems have subs to handle that. HD Radio is slowly making inroads, and Network TV shows now have some great soundtracks as well, most in 5.1)

    As for compression...that's going to depend on the genre/style of your music; and I think you're best to make it sound as good as you can on its own, regardless of the medium it's being played on. (eye-pods, CDs, radios, surround systems, etc)

    In some schools of thought, it was considered smart to pre-emphasize CDs with compression and limiting for the most loudness possible, the thought was that if you crunched it ahead of time, then Radio and TV compressors (Optimods and other pre-emphasis devices used in Radio transmitters) wouldn't be doing anything "Bad" to your sound - if it's already crunched, then it wont need to be crunched any more. That's part of the "Loudness Wars" we've all been talking about here and on other forums.

    I don't have the links handy, but if you do a search here or on Google, or websites of manufacturers like Orban (who makes the Optimod) you'll find that the conventional wisdom is swinging the other way - and that pre-emphasis and over-compression BEFORE it goes to the Optimod is actually a bad thing. (More info there about clipped waveforms, etc.)

    In genereal, avoid overdoing it with comp/limiting if at all possible,and go for the best sound you can come up with. It's a tough thing to live with - not knowing what others are going to do to your sound, but you're not alone, and that's why the good stuff sounds good no matter where it's played.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    As you know, the entire face of "radio" broadcasting is changing. I would hope that by now, you have heard of Serius and XM satellite radio? Not to mention the barrage of radio commercials on conventional FM stations touting the new "digital high definition radio stations", that are free to listeners who purchase new high-definition digital FM radios, now available at your local "Best Circuit ElectronicPets Mart" stores? Aggressive, overly processed recordings along with their digital high-definition radio stations will only help to alienate listeners, in comparison to the way CDs sound to everybody now in comparison to vinyl and cassettes. I think we'll soon see the loudness wars start to fadeaway with the newer technologies? Mastering for analog radio? How old are you? It certainly was more important when we were in our cars with the Windows open at 60 miles an hour, with analog radio and Arbitron. Now, we have JBL's and 500 W amplifiers connected to our CD changers in our cars and we don't need no stinkin' limiters on our CDs because now we have DYNAMIC RANGE. I mean, size does matter, but not when it comes to db's no mores. (in my best fourth-grade English)

    I'd go with Joe!

    It's more important to be good, than big
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    Sep 29, 2004
    HD Radio is anything but.... Multicast stations, such as the one I work for, run 64 kbps on HD-1 (the digital partner to the analog FM at that frequency), maybe 32 kbps on HD-2, and only 20 kbps on HD-3. The bit reduction algorithms used by Ibiquity (the owner of HD radio algorithms) are different than mp3, etc but I would argue that they are roughly equivalent in sonic performance.

    One listen will certainly tell you. We broadcast 24/7 classical on HD-2 (~32 kbps) and on a separate analog FM channel. The analog channel slays HD-2 sonically. We broadcast 24/7 jazz on HD-3 (~20 kbps). It sounds like crap. I haven't had the opportunity to listen to our web streams on a good system but I wouldn't be surprised if the web sounds better than HD.

    So, processing the heck out of the analog signals feeding the HD encoder is probably just going to make the HD-induced artifacts even worse.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Sad... :cry:

    As much as I love XM too, their reduction algorithms suck. It seems as though, however, they do actually process different channels at different rates. The classical channels appear to be clear and less affected than some of the other channels. Interesting...

    At least I can hear George Carlin and Mitch Hedberg the way they were supposed to be heard though without the FCC sh*tting all over them. (Was my use of censorship ironic?)
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