I am working on a project in Logic Pro, and for part of my song, I want to make it sound like an AM radio is playing a segment from a talk show reporting on a sport event. What effects can I apply to achieve this?

5 Answers 5


I guess you'll be able to reach the desired result by applying these effects:

  • EQ - Boost around 2KHz and cut everywhere else. (You can play with the frequencies and see which one suits you the best. To do that just boost one frequency and swipe it across the area).

  • Distortion - After setting the EQ, you could add just a bit of distortion to the signal.

P.S. And of course, as GratiTous mentioned, you can use the presets which often supplied with many software.


Most EQ's have a preset called Radio or Old Phone. Simply just find the preset and enable it!

A cool tip for automation purposes would be to open a separate EQ, apply the Radio/Old Phone preset to it, then automate it to turn off and on only when needed!

  • I'm planning on using a set of tracks only for the radio section, so I'm going to route them through an aux and apply the EQ to that. Thanks for the advice!
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 15:22

I feel your choice of plugins might get you near the sound you want to hear in your song (heck, they might even get you somewhere better!) but as for recreating the distinct sound of AM radio (specifically AM TALK radio)... well, I'll just say that your way seems like WAY more work than it needs to be, and start with the explanation.

Before we start recreating "the AM sound" we should take a second and define what the differences we are trying to recreate ARE. It's obvious that it sounds DIFFERENT but what are those differences? Well, people usually say that FM radio sounds both cleaner and brighter than AM... when they say cleaner, they usually mean that AM is more "static-y" and FM isn't but if you removed all the static I'd be willing to bet they'd still say FM sounded clearer and brighter than noise-free AM signal. This is because the "AM talk radio" sound is due entirely to AM radio stations' baseband being limited to 5kHZ of bandwidth where FM stations' baseband is limited to 15kHz. Neither are large enough to include the full range of human hearing (15Hz-ish -> 22kHz-ish) which is why FM doesn't sound like a CD but more like a 128-192k bitrate MP3.

In all that I said two things - that I don't think a simulation of static is necessary (or desired) to get the "AM sound" that you want
There are two detectable ways in which noise/interference/static-free AM sounds different than FM- they have been termed "brightness" and "clarity" and ARE separate differences, yet they have the same origin - 5kHz of signal vs 15kHz of signal. (I say 5kHz instead of 10kHz which is what AM is really allocated by the FCC, but we are gonna call it 5Hz for a reason that I may or may not get into; I just didn't want to give bad info.)

Have you ever listened to AM talk radio stations on XM or Sirius radio? Noticed that they sound WAY different? To me, it sounds like no matter how loud I turn it up, I just can't quite make out some of the things they said. If you flip over to the same broadcast on actual AM radio the difference between the two will be immediately apparent - it's like on XM radio, an AM talk radio broadcast is lopped off on both ends of its frequency range and it's this little stream of signal lost in this big range of "empty frequency" it's been mixed with and the empty frequencies fill the space at a cost to overall volume. But I digress...

According to the FCC regulations of AM radio "Emissions 10.2kHz to 20kHz removed from the carrier must be attenuated at least 25 dB below the unmodulated carrier level". Above 20kHz the attenuation keeps ramping up and the FCC quote about it was long enough to require paraphrasing. ;)

What this boils down to for us is that since they start lopping off the AM signal by turning down the volume 25dB over 10k->20kHz, in the interests of maintaining a loud signal, most AM talk radio broadcasts lop off everything above and below a 5kHz-ish sized width of band. Therefore all you should have to do is resample your audio at a lower rate - somewhere between 5kHz and 10kHz is about right... also, I would suggest doing it this way in Soundforge; that's what I'm thinking of as I write this - SF even calls one of its resample presets "radio quality". However it's really quite a basic thing so while I'm certain there are many programs that will do it (Bitcrusher does it but it also does more stuff to get its sound so it might not sound right). I can only really speak for the audible results of doing it in SoundForge... I'd go out on a limb and say Audacity as well, but there's a WORLD of difference in how their normalize function ends up sounding so maybe they can screw up resampling, too. :)

Or, of course, you could attenuate the signal 25dB for the freq range of 10.2-20k, maybe 35dB for 20k-30k and then 50dB+ above 30k. Or just half the volume of 10k-20k and cut the rest.

Additionally, you could always use two smartphones; one to play the audio on speaker and one to record it with the mic of the other phone. Two iPhones would work superbly, as would many Androids as well.

If you are still hung up on clarity of signal, you could probably use the vocoder and modulate your audio signal with noise and play with that. I'll bet it would be a convincing replication of AM interference. At least it'd probably sound cool.

Hope this helps.

  • I ended up using the vocoder side-chained to white noise, an EQ cutting out most frequencies, and a little bit of bitchrusher. Thanks for the advice!
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 0:50

This answer is a bit late in the day, but the most effective way to do this is to create an impulse response through an existing AM radio, and then convovolve your audio stream through this impulse response to get the exact same result.

There is an article on this very technique on this website.

  • I've always thought that this is intended for reproducing interior reverb only yet apparently an impulse can be fed through filters as well
    – Dalv Olan
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:31
  • you can create an impulse response from pretty much any programme chain you like. They are a very useful tool to have in the arsenal.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:35

Three plug-ins I'm already thinking about using are

  1. I'll use Bitcrusher (a distortion plug-in that decreases the quality of the incoming audio) to make it sound like the recording quality of a radio show

  2. I'll use EVOC 20 TrackOscillator, a vocoder, to process the audio like a radio recording

  3. I'll use Vinyl, a third-party plug-in that simulates the sounds of scratches on a record being played, to simulate radio static.

  • Add this to your question, don't answer it yourself (unless this is the only accepted answer you've found out)
    – Eugene S
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 11:08
  • 2
    @Eugine: I disagree. StackExchange encourages answering your own questions ( blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/07/… ), so I thought I'd post the ideas I've had so far while seeing what others think I should do.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 15:20
  • 1
    This is fine if this is your final solution (as I have mentioned in my initial comment). If these are just some thoughts/additions to your question, it should be the part of the question.
    – Eugene S
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 23:49
  • 3
    The Vinyl plugin does not sound like radio static, and bitcrusher distortion does not sound like AM radio distortion, so this solution isn't going to work very well.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 22:29
  • 1
    There are other ways to distort audio besides a bit crusher. Bit crusher is a purely digital effect, so it does not make sense to use it to emulate an analog 'feel'.
    – soultrane
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 1:48

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