August 22, 2005

The 'other' Don

An ongoing joke between my house engineer and I, is Don La Fontaine (Watch video #4 - 5 Men In A Limo!). Can you imagine living this guys life? ...or having a multiband processor attached to YOUR voicebox somehow, making you sound like a complete fuckwit at the supermarket?? ... Even his breaths are as audible as his speech. [Don La Fontaine -wikipedia]

CAN (ah) I (ah) HAVE (ah) FIVE HUNNNNRED GRAMS (zuh) OF (ah) LUNCHEON (ah)?

It's compression, or processing that helps make this guy sound like the "voice of god".

It's a quirky piece of hardware is on every radio stations checklist. Girls will have nail polish remover, guys with their aftershave. Radio has multiband processing. Its one of those things that is essential in the radio industry. TV, production houses, recording studios and video suites all have them also but for radio, it's one of those 'cool requirements'.

High-end stuff like Optimod and Omnia dominate most high powered radio rack rooms. For LPFM, those are wet dreams.
Most LPFM stations tend to get by with a cheap Compressor/Limiter, just a Limiter, or DSP based processing. Wether you're a big guy or a little guy, technical or not - its worth knowing at some level, why multiband processors are there. Yes, a requirement of license, but also shaping the sound of your station.

Never noticed it? The technical director of your station would be grinning right about now. Painstaking hour after hour of listening to sonics through the beast has paid off. Now, if you are more aware of these things - like "why does the music seem to get louder when I dont talk, and when I do, it goes down again until Ive finished?" AGC is the simple answer to that question. A more detailed answer includes the terms threshold, ratio, release, clipping, compression, gating, sidechain... on and on.

If you want to know why, and can tolerate some technical gobble - read up here. It's an excellent article which also talks about 2-way radio, but has all the right information which explains the answer, and will give you a small insight as to how much work really is required to make your station sound the way it does (good or bad).

Happy Monday(ah)

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