Over To You: Getting Mix Levels Right For Online Radio

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 30 August, 2017

Our reader has been successfully streaming from his DJ controller to online radio, but is struggling with levels (not the Avicii song, we’re all struggling with that…)

A reader writes: “Hey folks, I currently have a regular slot on an online radio station every Monday afternoon. I’m playing from an XDJ-RX going via the Line In on my Mac and then via Nicecast to the radio station. I’m enjoying doing it but have had some difficulties getting my levels right.

“I play a mix of styles – breaks, dubstep, techno and house – and find that sometimes the difference between it being too quiet or clipping is very close. Had a friend today let me know when it was too quiet so that helped, but was wondering if an external sound card or small recording mixer might be worth getting. Any tips etc would be greatly appreciated.”

Digital DJ Tips says

A few points here. The type of music you play is immaterial, because if you correctly gain stage each new track, they should sound fine together. By that, I mean jump to a loud part of the track and adjust its gain so that the level is a high as possible without going into the red, before you actually mix it in. That said, if you are using autogain in the software, that should more or less take care of this for you.

You may find it helps to reduce the input volume on your Mac to very low, and turn up the output volume on your XDJ-RX; we record to Line In on Macs here in the studio a lot and find that gives us more control.

Broadcast radio stations always apply compression to the output before sending it to the transmitter. Although we’ve never done this, it may be possible to do so routing the audio internally within your mac through an app or plugin. Compression reins in the loud parts of your output signal while boosting quiet sections, giving a smoother, louder overall sound.

As we don’t have much experience of this type of set-up though, I’d like to throw this one over to the readers.

So, do you broadcast online? Do you use a set-up like this, and if so, how do you ensure you provide a nice, balanced signal to the platform you broadcast on? Please share any insights below!

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