Best Processed Audio

Discussion in 'Local Radio Discussion' started by Carroll A, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Over the years of radio listening and employment in radio I have always been one of those people who love great audio processing. The other day while my fiancée was running errands I listened to some of the stations here in central South Carolina. Both IHeart and Cumulus owned stations had similar processing which was muddy, pumping, and just plain bad. Not sure if its like the good old days where the PD can decide how he wants his station to sound or if It is dictated from HQ. Alpha Media stations had a much better sound which was pleasing to my ears. I did not feel fatigued even though I'm not a Hip Hop fan. Alpha also has a really good sounding Hot AC station which is sad because it was last place amongst the Nelson rated stations. The processing is very good and fits the format perfect. I lament back to the good old days of analog processing was amazing. The best processing I've ever heard was from September of 84 til Oct of 86 when 99.9 Kiss FM (WKSF) in Asheville NC was a hot rockin' flame throwin' top 40 with balls to the wall audio. You wanna talk about audio that popped this station did it. They had a monster signal to boot being able to be picked up in 6 states! What was or is the best sounding station you like to listen to or did listen to? It is to quiet here so let's see if we can get things rolling.

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  3. Analog processing may be making a comeback. The "loudness wars" in bigger cities are, indeed, ear fatigue ready to happen. Pushing to be LOUD, and high compression or other processing especially on music recorded in the last decade or so are a recipe for disaster. How do I know this? I've spoken with one engineer that tells me some of the new digital processing actually has an UNDO button which undoes the heavy processing evident in today's music before applying the "sound" the program director may want. Pretty interesting, huh?

    I'm biased, but for AM, I think our way of treating the stereo AM signal yields the best possible AM sound. It may not be as loud as some, but it's clear. I think we have the best sounding AM in the nation. Our FM is only 212 watts, but both the AM and FM use rebuilt CRL brand processing, which was the forerunner to the ORBAN OPTIMOD series, very popular in the 80's and 90's.

    Back in the day when I was morning host on WLKI in Angola, IN, our station's sound was so GOOD you could use it to sell the highest dollar stereo equipment. Then we lost our engineer to a different gig, and the new engineer insisted on playing with digital processing. I recall coming in to do the show and finding a delay in my headset. Hated it. NOTHING sounded as good as a properly set up Orban Optimod 8100 with full cards. The sound was AWESOME. WLKI's never been that good since, and is now heavy with bass playing newer music and forces me to reset my Jeep's audio settings different from all other stations. Thud....Boom...Ick!

    We hope in the near future at WION to replace our CRL on the FM translator, (only heard locally, not online) with an Optimod, rebuilt and set like it would have been back then. I have, however been very happy however with what we have. Our Monday night classic rock host (Popeye John) came in to do his show last Monday. He'd recently updated his car stereo amplifiers and head-end. He said to me, "why is it that every OTHER station sounds distorted but WE sound so clean?" I explained what I said above. Newer music, overprocesed when recorded, then run through a loudness war of processing equals crappy sound. He was so excited to be part of what we do...and for me, hearing a young person comment on this made my week!

    So, for fun...try AM stereo online from our website.... .(128kb stream) Or search google play or I-tunes and listen on your phone with our 48kb stream. We don't stream our FM, it's identical in content, and I love the comments we get on our AM. Even MONO radios sound better. IN our area, probably the best processing on FM is actually on a "jukebox country" station in Lansing, MI; 94.1...or WITL on 100.7. Both have processing without OVERprocessing, yet sound crisp, clean, and have "punch." I co-own an FM 20 miles away, but...even with our OMNIA series processor, I don't think we have the clarity we should. We're installing a new control board there, and need to do an "audio proof" end to end. When we do, I may update my post as to whom I think has the BEST processing.

    Back in the 70's, in the upper midwest, hands-down on AM, it was CKLW. Today on AM in Canada, CFCO's AM stereo signal is darn nice.

    Off to sleep. Morning shows come early...IN THE MORNING. Hope this has not been boring.
    You can learn about Optimods and other processors by googling "vintage audio processing" or similar.
  4. The 8100's were amazing. Even if you wanted loud audio back in the day it never fatigued you like today's processing does. Hyper compressing of music does not help matters either. I will give you guys a listen. I love unique stations that offer something different. My old ears may not be as sharp as they use to be, but I still love good audio.

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  5. #4 harshness, Mar 21, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
    Isn't processing audio a little like adding salt and pepper in the kitchen?

    Surely you have to do a little coloring to cover digital artifacts, but shouldn't equalization should be left to the listener? I don't imagine many use broadcast radio as a reference for calibrating their audio systems.

    My local Entercom stations have the bass turned up so high it distorts like someone is playing a record with the speakers turned up high enough to shake the turntable.

    edit: The term I couldn't think of was "feedback" in reference to the Entercom EQ.
  6. About 20 years ago I helped set the audio for our oldies station. It was a process that took a few months to get just right. We were running an 8200 and the CE set it to the oldies preset. It was lifeless, boring, and just missed the mark. This was a small station so tinkering was a lot easier. We decided to check out different presets as a building block. We settled on the pop presets as they offered the best sound. We then slowly made modifications to what we liked and didn't like until we found the magic spot where everything in our audio chain clicked on all 8's. I knew we were just fine when we got compliments from other broadcast engineers and PD's asking what our secret was. I can still hear our owner say it's the blind guy secret and he ain't tellin'. Now I'm going deaf in my left ear, but I'm still good. Like you say processing is like cooking we add the salt and pepper, but the end user adds the ketchup which would be their adjustments on their own audio systems.

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