Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Urgent Message to Ticket Engineering Czar

The Norm +1 with Jean-Jacques Taylor this morning has been a really good show.  They make a very listenable team.  The best I've heard JJT yet.
However, he presents Ticket engineers with a serious problem.

Norm, like most of the Ticket hosts, has a voice that pierces the spitguard and gets clearly into the mic in all registers.  This is a matter partly of his voice's natural timbre, and partly a matter of projection.   Which is to say that Norm, like pretty much every one of the Ticket hosts, has a natural talent for the medium, and devotes professional attention to the sound of his voice.

JJT, through no fault of his own, is not a radio talent and doesn't have the training to project his voice.  In fact, his voice is "soft," comes from back in his mouth and arrives at his lips somewhat muffled.

He also frequently speaks way too quickly, spitting out short syllables and then drawing out certain vowel sounds.

The result is that when you have Norm tuned in at a volume that is pleasant to the ear, JJT cannot be heard or clearly understood.  This isn't a problem when you're listening with phones or in a quiet room, but it's a real problem when the Ticket is on in the background or in a vehicle.  (This isn't just a Norm problem -- it was also a problem when JJT was on with Donovan and Rich, and it's a problem on the Sunday morning showgram.)  This may just be a matter of level -- "more Jean-Jacques," as it were.

This is not discretionary -- The Ticket may have scored a real coup in retaining JJT's services -- I need to hear more but so far I'm liking it -- but the station absolutely must find a way to make him audible and understandable at normal listening levels.

14 comments:

James said...

I agree. I'll just add that for those of us in Tarrant County, where the signal for the little Ticket is less-than-clear, this problem is even more pronounced.

P1 Steven said...

I think the JJT gig is mostly attributed the the partnership between DMN & The Ticket.

Anonymous said...

Plainsman, you complain a lot about levels and EQ. You either have lousy gear or ridiculously sensitive ears.

Dan, for example, may not have the most sonorous voice ever, but it's not as bad as you make it out to be. In fact, I think they do a good job of balancing Dan's voice. Norm's voice is also not nearly as awful as you suggest.

I agree JJT needed to be potted up at points this morning, but you're really making a big deal of very little. Further, I didn't think this was a problem at all when he did his Donovan shift.

Again, I say this in all sincerity, and not meaning to come off harsh, but I think you should check your setup.

see also: PEBCAK

Scott said...

Several things Plainsman, AM radio still sucks. You get about 10kHz of bandwidth, about 40 - 5kHz. Std land line phone is 300 - 3kHz. Figure your std car speaker poorly produced anything below 200Hz due to the wavelength size... and you are basically listening to a phone in your car.

That said, I rarely notice a difference from day to day in voices. That may mean they change EQ as people come in, or they just don't worry and primarily use compression and that is all.

I listen to the FM version and don't have many issues.

Keep in mind, that AM signal is affected by everything in the world.

I listened online and in the car this morning and heard little difference. I am sure those guys are working at it. From what I have seen at remotes, they don't get the nice Digi or Midas digital mixers to play with.

Also keep in mind, and I would have to go back and check he video from WE, there may be different type of mics in the studio, all yielding a somewhat different sound.
Lastly, it could just be that JJT has a great voice for writing

The Plainsman said...

Anonymous:

In fact, my audio is first-rate at home, in my office (I have a high-end component system sitting not three feet from me) and in my vehicle. My hearing is normal.

In reviewing my post, I see nothing in it that suggests that I think Norm's voice is anything other than terrific.

Thus, along the PEBCAK lines, I might suggest that you get a tissue and some solvent on your spectacles.

And by the way -- Ticket hosts should be audible and clear over ordinary equipment in typical listening conditions. If you are sitting and attending carefully to the broadcast, you can certainly make out what JJT is saying. If you're listening like lots of Ticket listeners, however, in a car or while you're occupied doing something other than listening -- a distinction I believe I suggested in the post -- the signal indeed appears to drop significantly when JJT speaks. He's not a trained broadcaster and he drops the ends of words and sentences. I'm not being critical of him; he just needs some help from the twiddlers/tweakers.

As far as Dan is concerned -- I'm hardly the only one who has noticed his distinctive bleat. Whether its pleasant to one's ear or not is a matter of taste. It's not pleasant to mine, but as I said a post or two ago, I'm starting to get used to it.

ap said...

I'll try and give you guys a third data point when I get around to listening to Norm+Jacques. I play the internet feed back (64kbits/sec compressed, mono) through a pair of decent sennheiser around-ear headphones, so if there's something amiss, it should be readily apparent.

Like there was a few weeks ago, for instance, where I was driven nearly bat-sh!t insane by the high-pitched dog-whistle that infected the studio. It forced me to apply a custom digital filter just to save my sanity.

The Plainsman said...

Appreciate the expertise, Scott and AP.

I listen about equally to AM and FM.

AP, if you're going to be listening to the shows with headphones, you're not going to hear anything amiss, as you say. You'll be able to hear and understand JJT just fine.

But JJT has a whispery voice and he drops the ends of some syllables and his voice falls way down at the end of some phrases. It doesn't penetrate the mic and it doesn't emerge at level from a speaker. If there's any ambient noise -- a car engine or road noise, for example, or other stuff going on in a room -- you'll miss something. You can turn it up, of course, but then the other host will sound very loud.

Anyway, I'd be interested to see what your VU tells you. It may not be level -- it may just be timbre and enunciation.

Sorta sorry I mentioned it now.

cancer monkey said...

I know what you mean about JJT and agree that it's his projection/enunciation and not an equipment issue. I was getting annoyed with him earlier in the week, but I think he's gotten better or I've gotten used to him because I thought he was more understandable today.

cancer monkey said...

Oh, and, it also helps when it's just him and Norm because there's less commotion and Norm generally let's him finish his sentences and doesn't start talking before JJT stops.

The Plainsman said...

Thanks, C-Monk. I had the same reaction. His voice is low and somewhat muffled, just plain not mic-friendly.

I made a special effort to listen this morning. I was fine until I got into my car, which is not particularly noisy, and on the Tollway with Norm at norm[!]al volume I'd lose JJT fairly often. I turned it up so that I could hear JJT consistently, and of course that resulted in Norm really blasting.

What makes this particularly frustrating is that Norm and Jean-Jacques seem to be a really, really good team. I think today's show may be the best drydock showgram I've heard.

If I were twiddlin/tweakin and had a separate EQ on JJT, I'd reduce his bass, leave the treble about where it is, and really boost the midlevel.

The Plainsman said...

PS: I gotta say -- Jean-Jacques is terrific this morning. He just said something that I'd been thinking but thought, nah, I gotta be wrong about this. (Which, of course, is why I think he's terrific this morning.)

He and Norm are talking about Miles Austin. JJT was talking about that first pass against Arizona where Miles fell down and the AZ guy intercepted. JJT said it: If you're an elite receiver -- paid like one, reputed to be one -- and not just a good receiver, then you should not fall down.

When was the last time you heard a sports guy hold an athlete responsible for avoiding what appear to be unavoidable accidents? Bravo.

Anonymous said...

JJT has indeed been good. And I'm shocked, because I have traditionally hated his columns and invested some of my valuable free time telling him so in the comment section of the DMN. To me, he has always seemed like a guy just looking for anything shocking or controversial to provide a hook for whichever piece he's writing at the time. In other words, he manufactures HSOs, whether they're valid or not.

But... in light of the Cowboys' 2010 collapse, he doesn't sound like so much of a sensationalist Pollyanna any more. And on the radio, he's been great. Good insight, good questions, and he provides other hosts a springboard to work from. He also knows how to joke around, and his noticeably large ego doesn't seem to get bruised when he's poked back.

Yeah, his radio voice needs some work, but I can't imagine it'd be that hard to improve. He just needs to pull up his chin, talk through the mic, and slow down a bit.

-Anonymous B

Shaggy said...

Since we're talking about JJT and the DMN, does anyone know why Tim Cowlishaw had never been on the Ticket in any capacity that I'm aware of? I think he'd be a perfect fit for interacting with BaD Radio especially, as his pop-culture preferences seem to line up with Bob and Dan's. He also seems to know a bit about stick and puck, which would fit well. I know for awhile he was co-hosting with Ben and Skin and that certainly precluded any Ticket appearances, but what about before that? And especially what about now, with the whole Ticket-DMN relationship?

ap said...

The following webcomic seems somewhat relevant to your post:

http://xkcd.com/841/

Hope you enjoy it!