Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Mixing Broadcast Radio Live


Recommended Posts

I have NEVER heard a band performing live in a live studio performance on the radio sound good. Bands that I KNOW are phenomenal will perform on the air and it ALWAYS sounds HORRIBLE. I've always just chalked it up to the radio station engineers not knowing how to mix a band since they usually just have a few talk mics and some bumper music to contend with. But some of it just seems so bad that a total novice could do better, so maybe I give them too much trouble and there are additional challenges I'm not considering. Most of the time you can't hear any instruments and it's all lead vocal. Below are a couple videos of me playing in an old band I'm not in anymore. I'm playing bass in this video. This one is actually relatively good compared to most of the times I've heard my friends on the radio. But even still, there is a ton of vocal distortion , feedback, etc. I think probably during sound check they don't realize when you're saying "Check" it's going to be MUCH hotter when you actually sing and don't address gain on the fly. They are used to mixing talk, not singing. I should note that other than our guitars, everything else was studio gear - drums, mics, amps, monitors, etc. and they do this with others. Seems like they should be familiar with their own gear. Let me know what you think.

 

First part:

 

[video:youtube]

 

Second Part:

 

[video:youtube]

 

Note: this was 5 years ago and I haven't been in the band for probably 3-4 other than filling in once when the new bass player couldn't make it.

 

But main thing again - are there unique problems for broadcast or is it just that the engineers are used to speech?

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 13
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Quite few factors here.

 

Radio stations run their compressors more or less as limiters, they "smash" everything. You can hear that, if something is louder than anything else in the mix, it brings the other elements down in volume. Listen to the announcers, they are SMASHED but they don't have playback speakers to contend with. Pre- LUFS days of "maike EVERYTHING the LOUDEST."

 

If you bring your hands up near the windscreen ball, especially BOTH HANDS, you turn a cardiod microphone into an omnidirectional microphone. That's where the feedback comes from and the phase cancellation that robs you and the drummer of bottom end. The lead singer in your videos sings well but he has an unfortunate habit. Especially with compressoion, it can really drop all the fat and meat right out of the mix.

 

A huge factor in the lack of definition in the instruments is the father and son team playing in unison most of the time. Better arrangements would make a positive difference, although it would still sound like a rado station broadcast.

 

Broadcast engineers are used to things that are more controllable, like DJs taking and recorded music which has already been compressed at least once. Real music has a much larger dynamic range.

 

Last but not least, you won't be given much time to sound check. Usually you are supposed to show up, set up and play. On to the next.

 

That's my spin, and I'm sticking to it. Cheers, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some radio stations are equipped for live music performance, some aren't, and those that have devoted the space, money, and resources to accommodate live music for broadcast generally have engineers that know what they're doing - including engineers on the broadcast end who know to change the settings on the tail-end processor to allow the music to come through relatively unharmed. Most of those stations are well funded public stations like KCRW in Los Angeles. Some are college stations that have a music department. But if your bar band drops in to your local rock station for a quick interview and a song you can expect chaos.

 

It's possible, but it takes dedication.

 

One thing somewhat related which has blossomed in the coronavirus era is live home shows on YouTube or Facebook Live by musicians who want to keep their chops, their audience, and maybe make a few bucks in tips. Usually it's one or two people often using nothing but a phone, and no "engineer" to help with the few things that can be controlled. Some, particularly those from really good players, can be at least tolerable. Some are, audio-wise, absolutely dreadful.

 

A couple of Saturdays ago it was World Fiddle Day, and a campus station that has a regular Saturday morning show of old time fiddling, devoted their time slot to call-ins from fiddlers to play a tune. I finally gave up after about an hour and a half, and some of the players are quite well known. At least two said they were playing in the back seat of their cars because it was the quietest place they could go. The combination of the acoustics (probably the least worst contributor), random mic placement, and the poor phone call quality made what was probably good music unlistenable.

 

But, hey, it's music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

J. Dan, I want to apologize to you. I was stressed by other circumstances when I wrote my post above - a fight broke out in the courtyard of our condominum the night before and a witness saw a gun pulled and knives drawn, fortunately the police arrived swiftly. As president of the board of directors and a resident, I was pretty on edge and what I thought then might be humorous I see now is probably just offensive.

 

I've edited my post, I still think my technical points have validity. I simply removed the smartass BS stuff.

 

I hope you understand and accept my apology, we are brothers in music even if we never play together. The other videos you posted recently were really excellent and I enjoyed them. I would like this band live with good sound too but as you pointed out in your OP, the sound needed improvement. Cheers, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a lot of it is about time. think about how much time it takes in the studio to get a good sound. Probably the bottom line for radio is if you want to sound good, sing with an acoustic guitar :)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a lot of it is about time. think about how much time it takes in the studio to get a good sound. Probably the bottom line for radio is if you want to sound good, sing with an acoustic guitar :)

 

Yes, and I've done that at the college radio station in Fresno. We even managed a duet. Just a single mic, back about 3 feet. It sounded fine. We spent a little time prior to, coming up with things to say.

Had a cheat sheet on the floor. One could speak while the other read if they needed to.

 

Bands have to choose their battles. A cajon instead of a kit, one small bass amp to add some thump. One or two mics for the entire ensemble, no more than that.

 

Do it live but simple.

 

We had maybe 5 mintues to be ready, just enough time to sit and tune our guitars. That is probably typical.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing somewhat related which has blossomed in the coronavirus era is live home shows on YouTube or Facebook Live by musicians who want to keep their chops, their audience, and maybe make a few bucks in tips. Usually it's one or two people often using nothing but a phone, and no "engineer" to help with the few things that can be controlled. Some, particularly those from really good players, can be at least tolerable. Some are, audio-wise, absolutely dreadful.

 

We did that from our porch in the cul-de-sac a month ago. We already had the idea to try it but were further encouraged by the neighbors, a couple of whom were having birthdays. We set up on our front porch and my wife put her MBP on a folding table out toward the front of us and went live on FB. The audio quality was horrific when we listened back later but we were flying by the seat of our pants, I'd never attempted that before and didn't bother to check levels or anything on her computer. In any case the neighbors really enjoyed it, sounded a lot better to the folks in attendance of course and turned out to be a "paying" gig when later they gave up some gift certificates to one of our favorite restaurants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That arrangement reminds me of the live setup when I record gigs by our 7 person covers band.

I have a multitrack recorder which can capture 12 separate lines at once, so I can actually hear every separate line and adjust them in the mix later on.

What I hear in your video is similar to what I hear when I first listen to the capture on my multitrack recorder, before having made any adjustments.

 

Some observations from your first song (We Can Work It Out)

I can hear the snare's close mic, but the rest of the kit is almost lost.

When I mix our band's recording, the drum overheads never have as much volume as I want.

I record in 16-bit, so instead of reducing the other tracks I duplicate the tracks for the overhead.

I would be shocked if the radio show was doing anything similar.

Also their overheads are located too high - I would lower them at least a foot.

Yes a drumstick might hit them once in a while but if the capture doesn't capture, what's the point?

These are the reasons why you can't hear anything except for the snare.

 

The sound from the snare mic has almost no "snare" aspect to the sound - it almost sounds like a smaller tom.

I have heard similar from the few cases where I dedicated a line to a separate snare mic for our covers band.

I don't know if this is because I had the angle or placement wrong. Some have suggested putting a snare mic *under* the snare.

I tried this as a test once at our rehearsal space, but not at a gig.

 

The vocal mic gots a good capture but they are dry - a moderate amount of reverb was needed.

I can't tell if any vocal compression was applied.

My guess is that no edits of any kind were applied. You have good vocalists with good harmonies.

 

The bass is also lost in the mix, but you probably already knew that.

 

One of the challenges is that instruments which have loud amplification on the sound stage tend to get underrepresented in the mixing board.

This can be fixed in the mix later on, if each separate track is captured, and you have an opportunity to adjust volumes in the mix.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to publicly say that I had no problems with anything KuruPrionz said. I think everything was on point and valuable information. I don't know what happened - if somebody else had trouble - I didn't.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to publicly say that I had no problems with anything KuruPrionz said. I think everything was on point and valuable information. I don't know what happened - if somebody else had trouble - I didn't.

 

Thanks J. Dan, nobody said anything to me. I reconsidered just the sarcasm and felt it best to delete.

 

Maybe it was funny but maybe not so much. I'd much rather err on th side of caution and not cast unneeded negativity.

 

Now, once in a while, I can't help myself!!! Cheers, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate sarcasm in all its forms!!!! I have a thick skin, trust me my brother!

 

Just watch yourself, because I have a pretty brilliant sarcastic streak myself! I keep it in my back pocket until strategically valuable, LOL!

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate sarcasm in all its forms!!!! I have a thick skin, trust me my brother!

 

Just watch yourself, because I have a pretty brilliant sarcastic streak myself! I keep it in my back pocket until strategically valuable, LOL!

 

Some day on here, perhaps we'll do the nines! :laugh:

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lesson to the rest of you guys how to be friends AND give each other shit....you CAN do both! Moving on.....regardless of everything else said, I still struggle regardless of the bad habits of the singer why they can't just put his volume down. Most radio performances I hear you hear NO instruments...like they MAY be in the room, but you wouldn't know. Vocals are up front and dry like somebody who would be talking. No instruments, and even the best vocals sound bad.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lesson to the rest of you guys how to be friends AND give each other shit....you CAN do both! Moving on.....regardless of everything else said, I still struggle regardless of the bad habits of the singer why they can't just put his volume down. Most radio performances I hear you hear NO instruments...like they MAY be in the room, but you wouldn't know. Vocals are up front and dry like somebody who would be talking. No instruments, and even the best vocals sound bad.

 

The training is so different. I have a great friend and fellow songwriter who worked for 35+ years in local television. He did everything there that could be done, including over 4,000 live news stories in Vancouver BC.

We were putting a band together and he brought his trusty EV 635A with him, an omnidirectional news gathering mic - one of the best for it's purpose. You can beat a pile of SM57s to useless rubble with it and all you need to do in an interview is hold the mic somewhere inbetween both parties to get the entire conversation.

 

Then, he wanted to sing about 16 inches back from the mic. Pretty much useless, you cannot have any gain in that situation and it causes phase problems with EVERYTHING.

It took some talking to get him to use one of my cardiod mics and get much closer but he finally got it.

 

DJ's don't usually try to talk in front of PA speakers, they have headphones on. Same deal, almost. Not at all the same deal as getting a good sound at alive show in the bar or out on the deck.

Ideally you'd have a soundman who also understood working at a radio station.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...