Clearing the Air on Loudness

Did we hear you say, “Let’s start an audio cleanliness war?”

BoxingAirAuraX3 2560smV6N8 9.15.15
“I want to start an audio cleanliness war…Who is with me?”

It was music to our ears when we saw these words posted on the Facebook “I Love Broadcast Audio Processing” discussion page recently.

If only!

In many ways, we at Wheatstone have been slowly working our way toward that day when ears no longer bleed and modulation monitors look like they’re glued to 100%.

So while we’ve built into our audio processors the tools you need for both a loud and an open and clear sound on the dial, so much more can be done. Even with so many AirAura’s, VP-8’s and FM-55’s in the field, it’s time to talk about what it takes to create clean audio on the radio -- something that can be applied no matter what type of processor you use.

  1. Make sure that your source material is linear. Storage is cheap. There’s no reason to use lossy audio codecs on the air. It’s said that cleaning up your source material can have the same impact as getting a new on-air processor.
  2. Set standards. Having a set of standards in place for production is paramount for a consistent sound. When people come in and record anything at any level they want, or add equalization while others don’t, this adds up to a poor overall sound on the air.
  3. Weed out unnecessary equipment. Your on-air signal could be passing through two or three devices in the air chain that are no longer needed, but no one took the time to remove or bypass. Go over your air chain and simplify it as much as possible. The less gear the on-air signal needs to pass through, the better.
  4. Optimize STL paths. It’s not always possible to have a linear path, but when you can, do so. Also, you will get better results almost every time when you use composite over discreet AES left and right. The stereo generator in a modern audio processor is almost always better than one built into an exciter. Of course, with Wheatstone processing and the right exciter, you can have both AES and composite!
  5. Maintain your transmitter. Transmitter site maintenance is key in making sure your station sounds good. Proof of performance, while no longer required, is still a good idea. The engineer and the transmitter building should not be strangers!

Your processor can do amazing things, but only when it’s fed amazing audio and feeding a linear path. If you haven’t had time to focus on your audio plant, make yourself an early New Year’s resolution to do so!

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