What we think vs the audience opinion!

okay … here’s a topic that’s probably gonna start some fist fights, bruise some producer’s ego’s & finally ruffle @Mike’s feathers enough to make some deep commentary.

Let’s begin by saying we all think our stuff is top notch when we create it. We are all working, allegedly, on systems that have great frequency response to hear the subtle tones of our work…FULL STOP !!!

What about our end users… what devices are they listening on. Pc’s with 7.1 Surround sound, car stereos via bluetooth connection or how bout a laptop or tablets ( really small crappy spkrs) or the worst offender the speakers on a mobile phone.

They are the customers we’re trying to reach with our audio products.

Do our products damage their hardware because we’re brick wall limited at -0.01dB. Do they distort like hell on tiny laptops or tablets. On the music side, do our imaging products overpower our music. The user with 7.1 Dolby Surround always has the luxury of turning us up to suit taste. The opposite with smaller devices isn’t always true.

So for the radio crowd … is your station’s signal pleasing to the smallest among us or are you leveled to suit YOUR personal taste

For the producing crowd … do you ever ask a prospective client what platform the majority of their users listen on.

Here is what I am NOT ADVOCATING that everything you do must be customized & tweaked infinitum. I am very curious if ANY of you have ever given consideration to these trade offs. Remember in most countries terrestrial broadcaster have limits placed upon them regarding signal power & freq response thru transmitter requirements. In the DIGITAL WORLD …not so much

Just my 2 cents


This is such an interesting topic @MSJ - thanks for starting the debate!

I think that originally radio stations were processed so heavily so that those listening in noisy environments could hear everything. It was radio designed for busy cafes, gyms, in the car with a loud engine and loud workplaces.

The temptation to hard limit by audio producers is even greater causing a double compression when something goes out on air.

I was able to learn the hard way by producing what I thought were great pieces and heavy compression. When they went through the Optimod they sounded like trash!

Now I think we’re getting to a time when compression and limiting can be dialled back a little bit especially for podcast production. I think your last point on considering the digital world is important. We no longer need to create the loudest thing on the FM dial to stand out. In fact creating the loudest podcast can work against you and hurt the heads of your listeners.


If I’m producing for my own internet radio station then I know the exact processing that audio goes through between playout and stream so I know exactly how much to master my jingles and sweepers so they sound good at the other end.

If I’m producing for something else I will master lightly so everything sounds balanced but not over processed. Then if it’s for radio it will go through their processing chain ok or the final choice will be with the client as to whether or not they want to, or want me to process it a little heavier.

Constast that with somewhere I work who have (badly) made some music imagers for the top of the hour finishing with a station ID jingle. That jingle has been heavily compressed for those imagers and sounds woeful even in the studio off the desk so I hate to imagine how bad it sounds when it then goes through processing between the desk and the listener.

My general advice would be mindful of the source you are producing for. Radio, TV, Podcast and master your productions with that in mind. I wouldn’t suggest considering the different ways that listeners or viewers would be listening as that would just be too complicated. For example I might be listening to radio in my car which is a different environment to listening on my iPhone through the standard apple headphones. To be fair even plugging my beats into my iPhone is totally different to the ones Apple supplied.

I could be listening to the same station on FM in the car through the speakers one moment and then park up and listen online via my iPhone headphones but the output is processed by the station the same regardless of whether I’m listening on a car stereo, home stereo, laptop or mobile and that’s the way it should be. The end listener does of course have control via the volume firstly and equaliser secondly to “tune” the sound to their preference.