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Tech Tip Of The Day: Preparing Audio For Broadcast

My mix sounds great on studio monitors but it sounds bad on the TV. What can I do to fix the problem in my mix?

By PSW Staff November 1, 2010

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: I’m working on a remix of a recent recording for a long time client which has me quite excited.

The reason is that this is my first ever project for broadcast!

I’ve been checking the mix on multiple sizes of monitors, including TV speakers, but something still doesn’t sound right.

Can you offer any advice?

A: We’ve encountered similar issues recently when mixing for broadcast.

We were quite happy with the way the mix sounded through studio monitors, headphones, and home stereo speakers.

But, when the mix was run through small, built-in TV speakers it had low-frequency build up that was making it sound muddy.

Our first instinct was to check the bass and kick drum for anywhere the mix had excess low frequencies we could cut, but found nothing out of the ordinary.

However, when we looked at the guitar track, we found the culprit. A slight bump at 100Hz was enough to cause the muddiness we were hearing.

A quick EQ adjustment dipping the level at 100Hz and boosting the level slightly at 200Hz cleared the muddiness right up. Now the mix translates well on all of our reference devices and is ready for broadcast!

The moral of the story: reference your mixes on as many playback systems as possible, and don’t automatically assume the “obvious” tracks are the source of a problem.

As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know how you check your mixes for broadcast. Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

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Jeremy Carter says

There is no mention of the broadcast audio chain here, which would undoubtedly include all sorts of leveling, multiband compression and the like. All this would affect the mix, too. One way I check for this is to send the track to iTunes on my laptop, where I also have a MultiBand compression plug-in (Volume Logic). The combination of the MBC and the laptop’s small speakers give me a hint of what the broadcast chain would do to the track. I’m sure there are a million other ways to do this same type of thing.

Michael says

With abour 15 years as a technician at a radio station, I totally agree that additional broadcast-compression (slight as it maby be) has to be taken in to account when mastering.

Many popolar tracks lacks dynamic range even without it!

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