iHeart Audio is Horrible
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Thread: iHeart Audio is Horrible

  1. #1

    iHeart Audio is Horrible

    Why do all the LA iHeart stations sound so terrible? I'm talking about the broadcast, not the stream. There's an "in a can" sound on all of them, like a really low-quality mp3. I flipped back and forth between MY-FM, KIIS and SirusXM, and SiriusXM had a much less compressed sound and better stereo separation. Is this all about Voltair? I don't understand the technical end of why this screws up your audio, but I've heard it does. Damn, one thing live radio had going for it was decent sound (on FM anyway) and now...well, yuck. Are listeners so used to crappy sounding audio that they just don't care anymore?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by BennyB View Post
    Why do all the LA iHeart stations sound so terrible? I'm talking about the broadcast, not the stream. There's an "in a can" sound on all of them, like a really low-quality mp3. I flipped back and forth between MY-FM, KIIS and SirusXM, and SiriusXM had a much less compressed sound and better stereo separation. Is this all about Voltair? I don't understand the technical end of why this screws up your audio, but I've heard it does. Damn, one thing live radio had going for it was decent sound (on FM anyway) and now...well, yuck. Are listeners so used to crappy sounding audio that they just don't care anymore?
    Possibly due to aggressive Voltair settings. But...
    You can still have a very good sounding radio station while using Voltair and still get plenty of watermarks out there for the PPM meters. Audio processors have the ability to make your audio shine and they also can easily make you sound really bad. It's all in the ability of the person who cranks the knobs.
    Voltair honks on the section of audio Nielsen uses to encode the "watermarks" which PPM decoders, worn by panelists, uses to register which station audio the panelist is listening too. Research found that with certain audio, especially talk and certain voices, the watermark population was lower. Voltair ensures plenty of those watermarks are present all the time. Anyone who has seen the before/after knows it works.
    Some stations are very aggressive with the Voltair settings and you can hear it affecting the audio. But it doesn't make the station sound more compressed and shouldn't affect separation.
    I'm guessing you're hearing a new processor and they are still dialing in the sound. Or maybe a PD who subscribes to the "suck the jock through the mic" sound. Hard to tell without being able to hear it...

  3. #3
    One bit of information the OP left out here is his own specific monitoring system. That might explain a lot.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by BennyB View Post
    Are listeners so used to crappy sounding audio that they just don't care anymore?
    Yes. Compare the waveform of a CD from 30 years ago to one made today. Add lossy compression to the "brick" of a waveform and there's not much original quality left. But today's listeners are fine with that - they don't know any better.

    BTW, BennyB is making a relative judgement which is monitoring-system dependent only to an extent. Artifacts are more noticeable on some systems, less noticeable on others, but destructive none the less.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post

    BTW, BennyB is making a relative judgement which is monitoring-system dependent only to an extent.
    His comparison is between broadcast and satellite, not two broadcast stations. He only mentioned compression, not frequency response.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    His comparison is between broadcast and satellite, not two broadcast stations. He only mentioned compression, not frequency response.
    Doesn't matter. It's a comparison of two audio sources on the same system. And if a broadcast station sounds worse than Sirius/XM that's really saying something!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post
    Doesn't matter. It's a comparison of two audio sources on the same system. And if a broadcast station sounds worse than Sirius/XM that's really saying something!
    If we take his opinion as fact. I don't know his monitoring system, and that's how he's making this judgment. In MY opinion, Sirius sounds MUCH more compressed than ANY broadcast station, and much more limited by frequency. So who's right?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    If we take his opinion as fact. I don't know his monitoring system, and that's how he's making this judgment. In MY opinion, Sirius sounds MUCH more compressed than ANY broadcast station, and much more limited by frequency. So who's right?
    Big A makes an excellent point. You notice much less artifacts on 4 inch speakers in a noisy pickup truck than you do in a $5K audio system in a quiet Lexus.
    If you have setup audio processing you know how difficult it is to find the "magic" setting for ALL radios. It MUST sound good on the PD and GM's radios and then all the other millions of people who might listen on everything from table radios with 3 inch speakers to $50K audiophile systems. You can make it sound great on home stereo systems and it sounds anemic on car radios. Make it sound good on a boombox with 4 inch speakers and it sounds like crud on decent systems. If you've been there, done that, you know what I'm getting at.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post
    Doesn't matter. It's a comparison of two audio sources on the same system. And if a broadcast station sounds worse than Sirius/XM that's really saying something!
    You make a good point too! Many, not all, but many of the satellite channels are so code stripped they sound ridiculous! Your point about the audio kids listen to today is valid also. Listen to some (not all) college radio...they play some of the worse sounding (technically) audio imaginable. And they think it sounds fine....

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    In MY opinion, Sirius sounds MUCH more compressed than ANY broadcast station, and much more limited by frequency. So who's right?
    You are right. If Siruis XM's highly digitally compressed audio sounds better than an FM station, the FM station owner should look in the mirror and decide whether or not to continue operating.

    The compression that Sirus XM uses is blatantly obvious. It makes most HD-2 channels sound good.
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
    After receiving that copy, I quit the VO industry.

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