Theme Music, Rejoin Music Incredibly Low

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soundesigner's picture

I tried an email about this a few weeks ago, but I imagine with the hundreds of messages that must flow into Thom's show each day (hour? minute?), it probably got caught in the flood.  In the meantime, the problem persists.

I listen to the show on XM and via the web so I don't know if others experience this or not.  Maybe it's just because I'm an old radio person myself (actually true on both accounts...old and...), but the Thom Hartmann Show theme and rejoin music (not to be confused with the bumper music discussed in another thread) are incredibly low in volume--like 20 dB below program level.  Because of road and engine noise, when listening while driving this basically sounds like the radio has gone silent.

Maybe it sounds fine in the studio and control room, but I suspect there's something-something that needs to be adjusted.

Does this bug anyone else?  Can the Powers That Be fix this, or is this a "Volume Units Austerity Plan"?


Now, that is interesting,

Now, that is interesting, soundesigner, because those of us watching Thom live during the show on or on are having the opposite experience ... the news segments and the music are coming across at a higher volume, not lower than Thom's portion of the show. Several of us in the chat room have sent messages at about the same time saying "too loud", or variations on that.

Which ever stream is being used, there should be some form of volume regulation used. Having to adjust the volume up or down repeatedly is very annoying.

captbebops's picture
Once when the streams were

Once when the streams were dead I posted here about that and Louise or the boardop asked me when I notice that to drop into the chat room during the show so they could deal with it immediately.   The other day I dropped in because the levels were all over the place.   The show was fine but the bumpers, news, ads, etc were barely audible.   I listen to other streaming shows throughout the days usually on their own MP3 stream too not by a radio station app and those are well balanced.  Not sure what is going on here.  Probably staff spread too thin.

I asked some broadcast engineers about this and they say they pay as much attention to the streams as they do the broadcast output because now both are important.  That's why I mention I listen by the MP3 stream (the Flash app stream is the same) because the radio station apps are being monitored and adjusted by engineers so you "may" not hear it there.  I don't like the station apps though as they tend to be clunky.


soundesigner's picture
Caution:  Wonky technical

Caution:  Wonky technical stuff to follow!

As a cranky old broadcast engineer myself, I'm wondering if they are using "sends"--audio console controls that allow one to vary the volume of a particular audio source and pipe it to a destination independent of the main mix.  By using sends, one could set up a scheme by which each different audio destination--TV, radio, satellite, or internet broadcasts, the telephone, studio, etc.--could have audio mixed to its needs.  The problem is, unless you actually listen to (or otherwise monitor) the sends (not an everyday practice), the audio engineer will look at his/her meters and listen to the main mix in headphones or speakers and say, "Sounds great!"

I'm not usually in a position to participate in the live chat, but maybe I can give 'er a go and throw my 1.5 cents in.  I just wanna hear the "dee-dee-dee-DEET-dee" rejoin music! 



thboardop's picture
Good morning all! Thanks for

Good morning all!

Thanks for giving me the "heads-up" on this!

On the rejoinder music and beginning of the intro music being lower than the rest of the broadcast...

I do get emails, comments about this from time to time.  We send the show feed out to a number of affiliates.  Some run local liners/station ID's at the top of the show, and going back into show segments.

So - we purposefully have the music levels lower at those times - so those affiliate liners can be heard.

I realize that the level is really low for those listening where no liner is played.  

Sounddesigner - yes, we could put together separate aux sends - but, our aux's are used for production sends (to callers, Skype, ISDN, etc.).

On the ad levels being different from the show - this is largely a function of the affiliates.  We do run ads in our feed, but local ads supercede ours in many markets.  When I put together our ads and news - they should be at a slightly lower level than the show.  When I get the ads, I go through them one by one - and if I see any that are way outside normal levels, I adjust them.  I'll keep a better eye out :-)

If you guys would let me know when and where levels get way outta wack, I can see if anything can be done.  But, we send a common feed everywhere - so what I can do to fix that is limited to the audio we send.  Affiliates take our feed, then add their own on top.

Thanks - I hope this helps!!


BM77's picture
Shane - I listen to the show

Shane -

I listen to the show on Sirius (and the stream when I work from home). On Sirius (which is probably the same audio feed you send to all affiliates), the intro/rejoiner music is really low....although the announcers voice is normal. This issue has appeared within the last few weeks (change any equipment around lately?) From an audio engineer perspective, it almost sounds as if the source is out of phase.....or one channel has the ground lifted. Then again, this wouldn't make much sense if you are using the same computer to play the intro and all of the bumper music/in-house ads/etc.

Although, if the intro is true stereo and the others are mono or dual mono, a lifted ground or a reversed pair would cause this issue with the stereo signal and would not be noticed on the mono/dual mono material.

Good luck in tracking this one down....I have spent days tracking issues like this before and it's not fun. And what's worse is that it is typically something simple (device setting on a computer, a punch block joint that worked loose, or a bad solder joint on a DB-25 pigtail connector on the console). And let us know what you find....those of us in the trade always enjoy hearing "The issue turned out to be..." stories....and it might help one of us someday.

soundesigner's picture
Shane-O: Thanks a kerzillion


Thanks a kerzillion for looking into this!  When I say "low", I'm talking reallly (almost not there) low!  Since you're sending a common feed everywhere, I'm surprised nobody else down the chain has complained.  Oh wait...there aren't humans in the affiliate control rooms any more, are there?  Anyway, good luck with it. 


Amen to everything you said!  I tore a control room apart earlier this year because of distortion I simply could not track down...until I found a couple of audio adapters that had been "parked" on an a backup program feed.  Turns out that shorting balanced outputs causes problems...who knew?

captbebops's picture
Today I go from one stream

Today I go from one stream which is pretty much the same level as other streams on the net and then to Thom's stream where the news at the top is running and it is barely audible.  Finally the show itself has the highest level but still probably about 60% of other streams levels.  I'm listening to all these streams with VLC.  This is getting old.  It didn't used to be this way.



BM77's picture
Soundesigner - A few months

Soundesigner -

A few months back I had something similar to this going on in a small AM station out in the boondocks. Due to the lack of inputs on the ancient console (I'm thinking 40's era with the big black rotary Bakelite knobs), some "engineer" decided to use RDL Stick-On line mixers to sum two computer based audio sources together. On channel lost its ground completely inside the RDL...yet still managed to pass just enough audio to make it through the console. Took me forever to find the problem as the device was wedged under a desk behind a snarl of abandoned in place wiring.

Fun stuff.....