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'OZ online volume variations

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Is anyone else having problems regulating the volume for the online WWOZ streaming feed?

I listen at work and, song to song and mic to mic, the volume seems to go up and down. One song will be fine, then the next will boom out of my speakers. The same with the mics; the host will be clearly heard, then the guest will be inaudible without turning it up.

I love to listen @ work, but it's hard to suddenly have to stop to adjust it so my co-workers aren't blasted with my musical source choice.

I don't notice this on the broadcast feed on my radio.

volume varies

Shoeless,

Truthfully much of this comes from the show hosts not paying as much attention to the volume as they should when they are doing their shows. Sometimes the recorded announcements are at different levels and it takes a moment to turn it up or down. You keep reminding us and I am sure everyone at the station will get better at bringing you great music at the proper volume. Thanks for the question, this is a big one that gets emailed to our help desk all the time.

tom

Sound volume problems

Tom,

Of course I agree the proper approach is for us to just watch our levels and I know Fred is constantly reminding hosts of this practice. However, I am hoping you might have some guidance on working with recorded source material that widely varies both in actual recorded levels and the amount of compression effects. With these actual and subjective volume variations, even if we are watching levels closely, there is plenty of volume variations even during that short time before our reaction and corrections.

I believe we compress our board's output if the output signal over-modulates so I usually run my shows a little hot (0 to +3dB in the red) and allow the board's compression to automatically level the variations over 3dB during my reaction/correction time. I'm making plenty of assumptions that this works but I know there are some great radio and engineering minds at WWOZ. Do you know whether this is a satisfactory workaround?

I know your early jazz show has even greater variations, what do you do?

Cross fades

Tom,

Last night during my show, I realized that I and most hosts do not cross fade between channels. In fact, most hosts just keep all the pots completely hot because the cd players start faster than the time needed to (1) start the cd player then (2) find and fade in the proper channel with your left hand (while the right hand fades out the expired channel). Of course, WWOZ's listeners have all heard the mistakes caused by open channels.

Shoeless' note got to me so I tried cross-fades all last night but the cd players come up to speed so fast that my fade-ins from the bottom to the top of the pot were jarring. I then tried fading in from only 20 dB down which sounded better and removed the initial sound spike from a loud piece. Unfortunately, the logistics of doing a good cross fade requires quickly moving your left hand from the cd player to the board then slowly and smoothly pot up in the remaining instant before you get the new cd's sound. In the rush, I tended to over-react and I kept potting up too high and creating over-modulations that would not have occurred if I just left the pots fully open. I'll keep working on my technique but there may be a technical assist to our manual techniques:

A proper cross fade would be greatly facilitated if the cd players fired from the board (like the turntables). This would allow us to keep our hands and eyes exclusively on the board and meters instead of splitting attention and efforts between geographically separate pieces of equipment. Our attention really needs to be focused entirely on the board during that instant of channel transition when levels must be dynamically monitored and adjusted.

sound levels

Jamie,

I agree it would be nice to do proper cross fades made easy by the CD players firing from the board though I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. It just takes paying attention, which is easier said then done, to keep the levels balanced. You start a CD, answer a phone call, put the song into your playlist and look over and it is way too high or low. I think that looking back over almost thirty years of community radio that it wasn't as bad when most of your music came from major record labels. Now days so much of our music comes from independent releases that are put out as cheaply as they can be. I am not dissing our local sound engineers but there are some local cds where the volume varies greatly. It used to be that you had to watch 45s as they were much more dynamic than 33s. I don't spin that much vinyl any more and I haven't put anything from my 45 collection on the air in a long time. Times change.....

As to open channels, one of my major pet peeves are show hosts that leave their vocal mics potted up so they "pop" whenever they turn them on. Not a good thing.
Tom

Yes, but ...

I wonder if the replies are on target here. Shoeless says that he dos not notice the volume variability on his broadcast feed, just the internet stream.

Could someone in the city (away from the studio) compare the radio broadcast and the internet stream side by side? I've listened via internet for years now, and it seems like a relatively recent problem. If it were pilot error, I think I would have noticed it before.

Agreeing with Tom on this one...

As a host myself, the braodcast levels of the "carts", Cd's, LP's, et.al. must be watched/listened to, in order to assure a constant output level. During interviews good mic technique is essential by the host and the guest to maintain levels and headphones are essential. You the listeners are our quality control, let us know when we do it well and when we don't...

May All Your Blues Be On The Radio.... D

online volume variations

listener-93

Hi everybody,

everything said so far sure is true but i would like to
point out some aspects to focus the problem:

The volume shifts are relatively recent. In April i had no internet access but my first mail referring to this is of May 17 this year.
Till the end of march this never had been an issue.

Another clue from your posts is that these volume variations do have there origin in NOLA. Since i listen from abroad i was concerned that it might be somewhere along the backbone. So i always checked the status at the Streamguys.

@Tom: the 3dB are burned into my mind when using tape machines with big reels. I always took a similar approach back then.

generally + @Big D: What bothers me most is not a momentary drop - nobody is perfect and i think all the showhosts do a truly great job ! - but when the volume stays so low for half an hour or one or two shows. In fact recently it got so low that i had to push all my sliders to the max. (beware when a system alert is triggered !)

just a thought - maybe a question to those 'great radio and engineering minds':
Compression can be very tricky. I remember when they started with VOIP that compression and noise reduction systems from devices and the network in some cases added up to blackouts.
Maybe if levels go much higher as these 3dB compression strikes hard and keeps it down ?! Eventually you have to reset it sort of...

What advice can the techs from the recording trucks give ?
These things must be full of compression and limiters and that kind of stuff.

Final remark:
This (on my behalf) is not about peaks and drops but to be able
to hear OZ !!
Peaks and drops happen - OZ is live.

Over all i am against (unnecessary / too much) compression.
An electronic 'safety belt' is ok though.
imho a lot of today's records miss 'natural' dynamics in the questionable attempt to gain max. output.

Sound volume problems

read all your posts again...
Sorry - it was Jamie not Tom who brought up the 3 dB.
I apologize to both of you - got that wrong in my last post.

Anyway things like (not)crossfading can not be the point
since these volume shifts occur only for the last few months.
Or all the showhosts must have forgotten collectively at one point what they did so well for a long time.

Something else comes up in my mind: When did you get your new (digital) board ? Does this roughly relate to the point from where volume shifts occurred ?
I do not work with such equipment but let's say if they change the steering wheel against a joystick i know i would have to learn steering again.

And finally something that leaves me speechless:
The soundboard is utilized 24/7 - right ?
So you need real pro radio gear.
And this board is a most important production means - right ?
But you can not fire the cd player from the board ?
And you truly do not have a crossfader ??
But you got not one but two recording trucks which of course do park most of the time !

Who did make that kind of plan ?

Almost every DJmixer has a crossfader module (Behringer offers them as replacement) and there are already MIDI control/fader consoles with motorized faders and recall and fader automation.

So some support should be available for pros as well...
You deserve this kind of equipment !

streaming OZ

I talked with our engineers and they are going to work on the stream with the hope of smoothing out the volume levels. Our digital board does have faders on the pots so we can crossfade but as to the CD players firing from the board I wouldn't expect that anytime soon. Our broadcast trucks will be going to Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis and San Diego in the next month. Stay tuned to the live events area on the web site for what and when we'll broadcast from these cities.

WWOZ Forum Moderator

streaming OZ

Hello Ghost of K.Doe,

thanks for the quick respond !
The only "help" i can offer is that there is absolutely
no pattern recognizable when shifts do happen.
What happens sometimes over night: either volume nosedives completely or the stream is off or 'empty'. But that happens mostly when unattended shows are running or had been running.

Excuse me Ghost of K.Doe, you picked a very ambitious name but please read my post again. Of course your board has faders ! (with which you can realize a crossfade)
But obviously it does not have a crossfader: that would be an extra slider which crossfades source a with source b.
And in a better version you can switch the device to crossfade source a with source c etc.
As well some of the more smart ones you can be "pre programed" to say crossfade the new source from 20 instead of 0 and so on...

To get that right i do not expect but i wish you the best gear in this world. I am here because i love NOLA music and people and everything connected - sure not to get a presentation of the latest equipment.

For the rest i will open a new thread - this is already ot some time.

Please be a good ghost and remember that if it looks like we complain it is only because we love OZ so much it hurts when we can not hear you !
Thanks

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