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Mastering for Radio - by John Vestmen
Q) I have heard of people "slamming" (over limiting) a song. It sounds good on home stereos but when the same CD is played on the radio, certain instruments fall out - like during a chorus the guitar sounding quiet, then when there is a pause in the vocal, the guitar level comes back up again.

I would have a different description for that - I would say that what you're hearing is in the vocal pause, the guitar is coming UP because in the rest of the song has been flattened DOWN. When the vcoal comes back in, the guitar really isn't going down, it's really going back to it's place that is VOCAL-DEPENDENT, meaning the level of the vocal is pressing into the station's limiters, ducking the whole mix down, not just any specific instruments.

Even if it sounds good on all home systems and as loud as major artist cds I do not want it sound bad on the radio.

Dynamics can sound very good when played on a home system, and the radio station needs to overcome very poor signal-to-noise ratio. That's why those soft sections come "up" - so that the listener doesn't gag from the amount of air noise. They figure it's better to whack the music than loose the listener if they percieve the station as being too weak or noisy. Just give it your best, reference to other commercial CDs, or call upon an expert mastering facility with the experience needed to create a competitive (but not over-done) product.

John Vestman is a veteran mastering engineer with over 26 years in the industry. His credits include: Hole (Courtney Love), Juice Newton, Ambrosia, Andre Crouch, The Wynans, Great White, Candyman, Billy Davis Jr./Marilyn McCoo and more. John Vestman Mastering is located in Orange County, California, and his web site offers over 40 pages of information about successful studio recording techniques and sound philosophy.

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