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Prevent Swearing on the Radio with a Profanity Delay System

A small slip up on air can be a big problem. Never spend another moment worrying about swearing on the radio by using a profanity delay system.

Jamie Ashbrook

by Jamie Ashbrook in Production

Last updated 06.08.2023

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Ever had a heated moment when you or your guest swore on air? Perhaps even just a small hiccup where something slips out? Every broadcaster knows how hard it can be to remain professional all the time, especially with guests added into the mix, so mistakes here and there are inevitable. A profanity delay system is your solution, allowing you to remove any unwanted or obscene words from your broadcasts, even if you're live!

A profanity delay system could be just what you need to prevent swearing on the radio.

What’s a Profanity Delay System?

Let’s get technical for a second. Also known as Broadcast Delay, profanity delay is a tool that allows you to censor or remove audio before it’s broadcast by creating a delay between the live recording and what listeners hear. It builds up this delay by subtly extending the natural pauses when hosts/guests are speaking, so the listeners won’t notice any gaps or unnatural pauses. The amount of delay can vary, and these systems allow you to choose how much delay you want, as well as whether you want to delete the offending segment or edit it with a sound effect.

Some situations where a profanity delay system may come in handy:

  • A ‘rowdy’ guest using bad or offensive language.
  • A host or guest that sneezes/coughs/breathes directly into the mic. (eww)
  • Cover for any technical issues.
  • To remove periods of dead air or awkward pauses.

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Types of Profanity Delay Systems

Because of how specialist profanity delay systems can be, as well as the complex technology they use, they tend to be very expensive pieces of kit. Some, like the Crystal Vision Cleanit, are available for hire, but if you want a profanity delay system as a permanent part of your studio, it’s probably going to set you back a fair chunk of change. As such, bear in mind that these are intended more for professional-level studios, so if you’re still broadcasting on a laptop microphone out of your bedroom, you may want to check out our article on building a basic studio instead.

Here are some of the best profanity delay systems out there for you.

Sonifex: Delaying Broadcasts

The Sonifex RB-PD2 is a broadcast delay system purpose-built to stop swearing on the radio.

The RB-PD2 comes as a rack unit which allows you to buffer your broadcast with anything between 2 and 55 seconds of delay, without negatively affecting the quality of your shows audio! You can control the Red Box through the front of the unit, or if you feel like controlling it through your computer, switch to remote control and lockout the front panel to avoid any mishaps.

You can choose to ‘Build Delay’, which will start creating a buffer for your broadcast. If disaster strikes, Sonifex has a few ways to remove swearing on the radio;

  • ‘Cough’ removes locally generated sounds.
  • ‘Dump’ has two modes. The first removes part of the audio that has already been buffered. The second plays a pre-selected audio file. The duration of the audio file will be equal to the delay you’ve built up. You can use the ‘Dump’ button as much as you’d like.
  • Holding down ‘Dump’ will trigger the ‘Drop’ function. This will discard all buffered audio.

Along with these features, Sonifex has added an audio stretch algorithm into the Red Box, which seamlessly reduces the delay to zero at the end of a program, so you don’t have any awkward holdover going into any other shows. It even has a feature that detects silence and plays an emergency audio file!

The sample rate caps at a respectable 48kHz/24 bit, ensuring professional quality audio for your broadcasts. Combined with the eight inputs and six outputs on the remote port, the Sonifex is fantastic value for a professional studio looking to tighten up their shows and manage risk intelligently.

Crystal Vision: Managing Live Video Broadcasts

The Crystal Vision Cleanit distinguishes itself from other systems by working with video as well as audio. This versatility can be used to help expand your station into exciting new types of content. Create live video streams of your station that can be controlled just as easily as your audio. This grants endless possibilities for expanding your reach and breaking into new markets, and the Cleanit gives you a buffer to avoid the usual risks that come with venturing into a medium you’re not familiar with.

You can operate the Cleanit through either the four buttons on the smart box unit or through your web browser, making it an incredibly simple tool for anyone getting to grips with the technology. The browser controller hosts clearly labelled buttons, indicating their functions, like mute, unmute, freeze etc. It also allows you to use these functions either on delayed or live audio, so you have even more flexibility to prevent swearing on the radio. These sorts of considerations make this profanity delay unit highly accessible, and a must-have for broadcasters looking to expand into live video content.

Depending on the quality of your streams, there are four different versions of the Cleanit system available, which each come with different amounts of delay time. For streaming at 3Gb/s, you have 10 seconds of delay, 20 seconds for HD, and a separate version for analogue audio. This limits use for those who stream at very high quality, but at least you have the option for a system that can handle streams that use more data.

As with the other units, the only downside is its price, however, Crystal Visions do allow the Cleanit to be hired and provide quotes here.

Eventide: Professional System at a Professional Price

The Eventide is a rack unit with similar functionality to the Sonifex; it can be connected to your computer via USB and can only be used with audio.

To indulge the techies out there; this unit allows you to customise your buffer from 4 to 80 seconds, and accumulates delay in 8-second segments, up to a max of 10 segments. The ‘Dump’ button deletes a single segment of your delay buffer and each time ‘Dump’ is pressed after, the next segment will be removed. Along with ‘Dump’, the BD600+ has a ‘Sneeze’ feature, which allows you to remove any coughs, sneezes, or other little blips without causing dead air.

New to the BD600+ is the appropriately named ‘Panic’ button, which expands ‘Dump’s functionality by playing a .WAV file that’s stored in a flashcard on the device. While this clip plays, more delay is being built up so you have time to get back on track.

While the BD600+ does come at a steep cost, Eventide states that their system provides incredible audio fidelity and great features, so it’s up to you to decide whether the price tag is worth it.

Stop Swearing on the Radio with Profanity Delay Systems

Never have an awkward live moment again and prevent swearing on the radio with a profanity delay system. Don’t worry about embarrassing moments spoiling your shows ever again.

Now that you know how a profanity delay system stops swearing on the radio, it’s time to set up your online radio. With you can get started for free, with your 7-day free trial.

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