Getting the Right Radio Mix

When it comes to mixing spots for the radio, there are a number of factors that come into play in achieving the perfect sound. These factors are important in your overall sound too, as you’ll want your spot to sound its best to attract listeners and stand out from the crowd. From balance to clarity, attaining the perfect mix for radio is important, and it’s not an easy task.


A poorly mixed spot may be noticed by listeners as a bad commercial, ultimately affecting the reception of your message and negatively affecting sales. To achieve success on the air you need to mix like the pros, and while your spot may sound great when played back on your own device, that may not be the case when played over the airwaves.

What to Avoid

Often times when you’re seeking that great sound in your mix, inserting significant amounts of processing such as compression and EQ don’t result in a better sounding spot. Additionally, layers and layers of sound effects may reduce the clarity and impact of your mix and ultimately create a muddy sound when played on the radio. Mixing for the radio presents a variety of things to both include and avoid. Some of these factors may include:

  • Excessive Compression: Radio stations often add compression to your completed track, resulting in a distorted sound. Generally, too much compression does not translate well to radio.

  • Cluttered Sound Effects: The overuse of sound effects on a spot can present problems when played over the radio. ‘Less is More’ is a rule that definitely applies here. Use sound effects selectively, making sure that each sound effect adds to the overall story.

  • Balance: It’s a good idea to create multiple mixes to test your levels. Mix your spot a few different ways and play it back on various speakers to see which mix translates the best.

  • Panning: Avoid any extreme panning. You don’t know the quality of the listener’s playback system—one side of their speakers could be out. Also, listeners in their automobiles may not hear something panned to the opposite side from where they are sitting.

In addition to the tips above, other factors that come into play when achieving the perfect mix include the right amount of brightness, and refraining from the overuse of EQ. Dynamic range is also a key factor in radio mixing. Give your track different peaks of sound throughout, as dynamic range is defined as the range of volume of different elements in your audio. Don’t forget that silence can be as effective as loud sound!

Things to Keep in Mind

As you work on the perfect sound for radio, you’ll want to consider the variables that play a part in the reception of your radio track. For instance, your audience may be listening through low-quality speakers. So, while your track may sound fantastic through your high-end audio equipment, the listener could be hearing something completely different. Using cheap speakers or headphones as reference monitors, you can ensure your track sounds great through a variety of outputs. Ensure your track has the right sound by mixing at a lower level to correctly hear all parts.

Additionally, your radio track should sound great from the start. An awesome sound effect that ‘pops’ right at the beginning of your spot can immediately draw your listener in. Make sure you keep the voice overs prominent and clear, you need to be able to understand everything that is being spoken. Don’t let a loud music track distract from the voice message.

Leave it to the Pros

A great sounding radio mix isn’t easily obtained. For those who struggle for a perfect sound, Creative Media Design offers radio mixing and sound design to help your track stand out from the crowd. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you and take a look at our range of services for all of your audio needs.