Compression Question

FM does it with frequency!
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newbieradioshow
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Compression Question

Post by newbieradioshow » Wed May 23, 2018 7:03 pm

Hello, I have been in television for over 20 years and have just begun prep to regionally syndicate a 3-hour weekly show (music-based). I apologize if I'm asking the wrong folks, or in the wrong way, but I am not knowledgable in the ways of FM compression and normalization, and in the TV world, I always went to my engineers for the correct answers.

My basic question is regarding the volume and compression of the program I deliver. Do radio stations (and engineers) want programs to be already compressed/normalized, or just normalized, or purely raw? I want a nice, clean, consistent level of compression and volume throughout the program and I definitely want to send out programs that the tech folks at the stations will be happy with.

Thank you for any information and insight you can share.

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Deep Thought
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Re: Compression Question

Post by Deep Thought » Wed May 23, 2018 7:12 pm

You'll make a lot of friends at the station end of things if you deliver them a nice, clean, normalized program file with no unnecessary compression or limiting beyond what you feel is appropriate to produce a professional-sounding product.

Keep in mind that almost every station is heavily processing the audio before it is transmitted, and one of the banes of station operation these days is programming which clipped and shredded before it even gets to the processor.
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

w9wi
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Re: Compression Question

Post by w9wi » Wed May 23, 2018 7:57 pm

Let me second that. We want it normalized, but would rather handle any further processing ourselves.
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Re: Compression Question

Post by TPT » Thu May 24, 2018 6:54 am

Also....

Watch overall levels when recording. My rule of thumb is to keep voice peaks about 12 db below maximum. You can then do some normalization after the show is done. However, the waveform should not look like a solid black bar when you get done with the program--like you see if you rip some of the modern music.

newbieradioshow
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Re: Compression Question

Post by newbieradioshow » Thu May 24, 2018 7:48 am

Thanks so much for all of that information! I really appreciate it. I figured that any compression would cause an issue but wanted to be sure. Can't thank you all enough for the insight. Best to you all.

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Dale H. Cook
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Re: Compression Question

Post by Dale H. Cook » Thu May 24, 2018 7:50 am

Deep Thought wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 7:12 pm
You'll make a lot of friends at the station end of things if you deliver them a nice, clean, normalized program file with no unnecessary compression or limiting beyond what you feel is appropriate to produce a professional-sounding product.
I will strongly second Deep, first as an engineer who has dealt with syndicated programs for decades, and secondly as one who has recently begun hosting and producing a pre-recorded music program for an LPFM for which I hope to find other non-profit outlets.

I have recently been experimenting with loudness normalization rather than peak level normalization.
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Jim Sofonia
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Re: Compression Question

Post by Jim Sofonia » Thu May 24, 2018 12:45 pm

I had a friend who used to work for the JCOR group. He tells me the owner of the group wanted the modulations up higher and would buy a steak dinner for any engineer that gets a violation from the FCC!

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Compression Question

Post by kkiddkkidd » Fri May 25, 2018 5:59 am

I even more strongly 3rd the suggestions above.... No heavy compression, very limited limiting, good normalization.

AND if your show is satellite syndicated, check with your sat provider on what their "normal" level should be. I have a couple of sat switchers set up with duplicated input channels with different output levels just trying to compensate for widely varying show levels.

OR if your show is FTP or stream syndicated, try to match your levels and preprocessing (within reason) to other similar genres. Levels/processing that might be used for a heavy duty narcotic rock and roll show would be in inappropriate for a beautiful music or light jazz show.

Also remember that heavy processing doesn't play well with bit compressed formats (mp3, etc) nor does cascading encode algorithms.

Good luck,
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Re: Compression Question

Post by ChuckG » Tue May 29, 2018 12:30 am

I'll 5th or 6'th it... heavily processed audio stuffed into a radio station processing chain drives it nuts. It will look for "something" to do, even though the audio is already compressed and limited..and that "something" isn't often pleasant sounding.
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jakebechtold
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Re: Compression Question

Post by jakebechtold » Thu May 31, 2018 7:10 am

I'll 7th (8th?) the above comments. As a station engineer I would much rather have clean audio that is normalized that I can process with my gear without worrying about what it will sound like.

Good luck with your show!
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