I've been listening to old KISS FM disco mixes from Shep Pettibone and Tony Humphries and I've been trying to work what form of studio effects these guys might have been using to give those old records that nice warm sound that the original 12"s they are playing quite often lack.
One thing I notice is that despite the fact that a lot of those records have very different sound characteristics to one another due to mastering/pressing variances, they seem to tie together nicely on these particular radio mixes.
Anyone here happen to know (or have an idea) as to what studio processing these mixes might have been run through before being broadcast to air? I'm guessing some form of compression or limiting, but I'm hoping for some more partiuclar info if possible!
are you listening to recordings made from the broadcasts?
If you're listening to recordings made from the broadcasts, you're hearing the effect from the large amounts of multiband compression and limiting that is commonly used in the processing chains of radio stations (even 20 years ago it was common).
A typical 80's major-market "pop music" broadcast airchain would have started with a high-quality AGC/leveler like an Aphex Compellor, possibly used an Aural Exciter and/or a "stereo enhancement" box, definitely some form of multiband compression (CRL and Texar both made popular units for broadcast, often these were "hot rodded" by engineers to give a station a "signature sound", and then about 90 percent of major-market broadcasters in the 80's were using Orban's Optimod 8100 as the final limiter (this was/is actually an extremely complex piece of equipment, providing specialized protection/loudness enhancement geared specifically to the needs of FM radio...much different than doing audio processing for digital media). Add in some composite clipping (don't ask), and there you have that "radio" sound you're hearing on those tapes.
You could get some approximation of this sound with some of the digital plug-ins (chained together to simulate the kind of broadcast airchain I described above)...the multiband compression in particular will help even out the "sound" between different songs. I personally don't feel that most of the current plug-ins sound very good compared to the older analog hardware (at least in terms of the actual processing activity....designing good-sounding algorithms either analog or digital is really an artform as much as science). The Waves C4 and Linear Multiband sound better than most of the others to me.
I find that music in general is overcompressed when heard from the radio. But I guess they do not have any choice and the real target is to make the music sound as loud as possible to the listeners. I have been using the Really Nice Compressor by FMR audio for minimal compression of the audio. I use it in the FX loop in my Urei mixer and gives the audio a more natural sense of blending of sounds when mixing songs. That's what you hear on the radio mixshows, but they over do it.
A lot of local djs in my area are using multitracking software to do mixsets instead of turntables and a mixer. They want the sets to be perfectly tight and perfect as far as the level of the sources, fading, etc.