September 6, 2009

Building The Pod – episode 137

This week, a quick follow up clarification on something I mentioned in ep#136 regarding the ‘order’ of filters. Thanks to Jim Weishorn for pointing out the ambiguity (or error) of my comments.
Then Ron Tostevin asked about purchasing a second-hand Mackie Control Universal off EBay now that the prices of same have come down so much.
Also, the ‘Donate’ button is now back on audio2u.com, so if you feel like making a donation toward paying for the bandwidth, that would be greatly appreciated!
And then, it’s on to the ‘modulation’ sub-menu of the effects menu, which includes Chorus, Flanger and the Sweeping phaser.

Effects/Modulation/Chorus

01chorus

Effects/Modulation/Flanger
02flanger

Effects/Modulation/Sweeping phaser
03phaser


August 30, 2009

Sine Language – episode 118

Filed under: !Podcasts,Ambience,Loudness,Pro Tools,Sine Language,Sound design — Bruce Williams @ 20:22

This week,
The audio2u.com forum is open. And a big shout out goes to Mike Wills for helping with some of the background tweaking,
Bomar wrote to ask about the sound design elements I use for the intros to my podcasts (or at least, the one at the beginning of Shutters Inc which sounds like the Batmobile),
Somebody (apologies for not remembering who it was) wrote to remind me of the “portabooth”, a home-made solution for recording in ambient spaces without picking up said ambience,
J.R. also wrote in to tell us about the Reflexion Filter made by sE.
J.R. also wondered if anyone else is having dramas with getting Pro Tools 8 to play nicely with Windows 7,
and finally, Jim Addie wrote an epic e-mail about loudness meters, in all their various forms.

Some links that relate to that discussion:

Durrough meters
Fletcher Munson curves
ITU-R
CBS Labs
ITU-R BS.1770
The Orban meter that Jim mentioned
THX Loudness Plus
Dolby Volume
Audyssey Dynamic Volume
Audyssey Dynamic EQ
and finally, The Frank Foti/Robert Orban white paper I mentioned toward the end of the podcast.


July 19, 2009

Sine Language – episode 116

This week, a short episode featuring a heap of positive feedback on the Integrate ’09 vendors episode.
Then, Bomar asked if he should buy an audio interface with some DSP that he can track through, or should he just record clean and use plugins later,
and David McKeitch brought us up to speed on his indie-film tracking project.

Oh, and a reminder that there’ll be no podcasts at all next week, as Cath, Max and I are away on holiday.


July 9, 2009

Recording interviews with field recorders

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve recorded several interviews at 2 different trade shows. Those interviews have ended up in episodes of both Shutters Inc and Sine Lanugage.
In the wake of this, I’ve had a couple of enquiries from listeners as to my technique for recording interviews on flash-based field recorders like the Zoom H2.
These listeners have commented that they never seem to achieve the same level of results as I have managed, and have asked for some insights.
So, I shall endeavour to outline the pitfalls as I understand them.

First off, tempting though it may be, do not record to mp3!
Remember, mp3 is a lossy format, and we don’t ever want to save production audio (clips which still need further work before release) in a lossy format.
And for that matter, don’t record at 16 bit wav either.
No, your preferred option is to record 24 bit wav.
Yes, it will chew up your memory cards quicker, but memory cards are really not that expensive these days, so carrying a couple of extras shouldn’t represent too much of a burden, either physically or financially.
If your recorder of choice does not offer 24 bit wav, then fall back to recording 16 bit wav instead.

Secondly, your recorder SHOULD offer a choice of microphone gain sensitivities.
The Zoom H2 offers low, medium and high.
Low will turn the sensitivity down (useful for really loud sources), medium is what it sounds like, and high turns the sensitivity up (for really quiet sound sources).
I have found that the medium setting usually works well for these trade show interviews, but obviously, judge each on a case by case basis.
Remember, we are recording at 24 bit, so we don’t NEED to peg the meters at zero!
Peaks of -20dB to -12dB are just fine!

Third, if your recorder of choice has a headphone output (I don’t imagine there’d be any which do not, but you never know), then absolutely have some form of monitoring with you when you are recording.
This may be a set of lightweight street headphones, or even a decent set of earbuds.
Me? I use my trusty old Sennheiser CX300′s, with just one earbud stuck in one ear.
The reason for that is that through that ear, I can hear what the microphone is picking up, and through my other ear, I’m hearing the world around me.

Now, because you are monitoring (via your earbud) what the microphone of the recorder is hearing, you are able to move the recorder around as necessary througout the interview to make sure the talent stays ‘on mic’.
Now, you might be thinking that people aren’t going to like having a flash recorder stuck in (and moving around in front of) their face.
I would contend that if they have agreed to do an interview, then they are probably going to be ok with it.
My technique is to hold the recorder at chest height between myself and the talent.
That way, you SHOULDN’T get any plosives (pops), but the mic should be able to hear the talent fairly well, while keeping the ambient noise reasonably under control.
If you talent is a very soft speaker, then you may have to move the recorder closer toward them, and that may feel a little uncomfortable at first.
If the talent keeps backing away from the mic, stop the interview, explain to them that you NEED the mic that close in order to hear what they are saying without being drowned by background noise, then recommence the interview.
Thing is, MOST of the time, the person you’ll be interviewing is from the marketing department or the sales team and they generally don’t speak that quietly!!

OK, so now you’re back at your desktop (or in your hotel room working on your laptop) and ready to edit and mix.
Drag the files into your DAW of choice.
DO NOT go and normalise the waveforms!
Remember, they’re 24 bit files, so it’s all good.
In your multitrack (which is also mixing at 24 bits or higher, right? RIGHT??), lay up your interviews where you want them.
Adjust the gain so you’ve got peaks around -20dBFS to -15dBFS off each channel. At this point, you should have NO processing on your master output.
Put in some per channel automation to keep each interview roughly in the bacllpark in terms of output level. You don’t have to get too finicky with it, just ‘in the ballpark’ will be good enough at this stage.
Now, if your final audio piece is going to feature other pieces of audio as well, I’d suggest setting up a submix (buss) for just the interviews to go through.
Then, slap a peak limiter across that buss with an output level set for -15dBFS, and the threshold set so that you’re getting about 4-6dB of gain reduction on that peak limiter.
Then, AFTER the peak limiter, put a compressor with a moderate attack (~20-30ms), moderate release (~100-150ms), a medium ratio (3:1-5:1) and again, enough threshold to give you another 3-6dB of gain reduction.
Your interview submix should now be exhibiting tightly controlled dynmaics, but not sounding squashed.
Go ahead and mix it in with all your other audio bits so that everything sounds roughly equal in apparent volume.
Slap a peak limiter across your master output, and you should be cookin’ with gas!
Have fun!


July 7, 2009

Sine Language – episode 115 (Integrate ’09 vendors)

In episode 115, I caught up with some of the exhibitors at Integrate ’09; a pro audio, video and lighting trade show in Sydney.

00:00:44 Ben Sneesby – Bees Neez Microphones
00:02:48 Andy Eastwood – Dynamic Music
00:07:59 Mick Wordly – Mixmasters
00:19:37 James Hicks – Oceanic Distribution
00:22:46 Ben Redzic – Lightsounds
00:25:04 Joshua Fielstra – Native Instruments
00:31:55 Steve Vranch – Yamaha
00:35:26 Maxwell Twartz – Technical Audio Group
00:39:50 Leon Hart – Amber Technology
00:44:22 Filip Saelen – Amber Technology
00:52:02 John Fuller – Sound-Music
00:55:14 Brian Zolner – Studio Connections Australia
01:07:23 Greg Cato – Major Music Wholesale


July 5, 2009

Sine Language – episode 114

In ep 114, how NOT to attend a trade show,
my man in Hollywood gets back to us on track laying for motion picture,
and JR asked about the best way to record some character interviews outside of the ideal studio environment.

A couple of links for you:

FMR Audio (makers of the RNC compressor)
The Wiki article on dBm,
the Wiki article on decibels,
the Wiki article on Dolby Surround (including info on LtRt), and
the Wiki article on downmixing (which also includes info on LtRt).


May 24, 2009

Sine Language – episode 112

This week, a couple of links from my man in Hollywood:
An article from Sound On Sound magazine on surround sound,
plus this excerpt from the NAB Engineering Handbook on Audio for Digital Television.
Also, another war story for ya!
For anyone who needs help remembering their DAW’s keyboard shotcuts, try Editor’s Keys.
A quick moment of introspection about the quality of my work at ARN,
Jim Weishorn brought the Pleasurize Music Foundation to our attention, including their free Dynamic Range meter.
Then, Felix told us about his home made plate reverb.
He also pointed me to this article on tightenening up your mixes with the aid of a spectrum analyzer.
Which proved a nice link to my final piece…. my newly acquired Genelec 7050B subwoofer.


March 8, 2009

Sine Language – episode 107

zv7qrnb

In episode 107, Rob Scalise gets on my soapbox about the potential dangers of prolonged use of headphones.
My man in Hollywood got back to us with answers to Jay’s questions from ep 106 re: movie audio.
Ernie wrote and mentioned that he prefers my AKG C3000 to my R84. He also commented on previous assertions that my podcasts were distorted, and asked about recording nature sounds with field recorders and what would be the best way to approach it.
This led me off on a discussion of how it’s not JUST the microphone which influences our perception of the recorded sound, but that the mic preamp, plus any outboard gear etc etc also play a big role.
Which then led me off an a train of thought related to Slau’s latest podcast episode where he did a shootout between a whole bunch of large diaphragm condensor mics.


February 21, 2009

Video tour of my new space

As promised, here’s a short video tour (approx 7.5MB, MPEG4) of my new mixing and editing space.
This is also where I record my podcast voice tracks.
However, I have a room on the other side of the house set up as a voice booth for those occasions when I’m working with separate voice talent.


February 15, 2009

Sine Language – episode 105

We’re back!
The new studio, whilst not complete, is certainly functional.
So, this ep begins with a bit of a chat regarding what the last 6-8 weeks has entailed.

Then into the meat of it:
An interview with Nick Dika (Product Manager and PR guru for Izotope) about the just released version 4 of their great mastering plugin, Ozone.
If you are interested, they have a fully-functonal 21 day trial version available for download.
Also, make sure you read the pdf on the mastering process.

Then, it’s on to some e-mail, including a lengthy one from Jim Addie about the nature of VU meters, and the benefits of having a fast-attack-fast-release compressor early in your mixdown chain….
This is rather timely, as I have recently read a piece by Mike Stavrou espousing a technique which is almost identical… and which challenges everything I have always believed (and subsequently advised my listeners) regarding dynamics.

Then another e-mail, this time from another Jim, asking about:
a. external plugin processing cards (like the TC Powercore, SSL Duende and UAD-2)
b. third octave pink noise mp3 files, and
c. audio over gigabit ethernet.

And finally, an e-mail from Ron Eastwood asking about USB turntables and cassette decks,
the legal mumbo-jumbo you hear at the end of radio commercials,
plus some tips for me on geography!


January 29, 2009

The studio move – part 3

Filed under: 5500,API,Building the Pod,Marantz,PMD580,Shutters Inc,Sine Language — Bruce Williams @ 20:52

I don’t have a pic yet, but I am now sitting at my DAW desk in the new space.

Clouds are hung? Check.
Internet connected to this side of the house? Check.
Mic cables and headphone lines run through from booth on other side of house? Check.
Said cables tested? Not yet.
Rack (for outboard gear) stripped back and re-painted? Check.
Outboard ready to go into rack? Almost.
Max’s crap moved out of the new studio space? Not quite.

If all goes to plan, Barry (the tech from work) is coming over tomorrow night to look at the couple of jobs I have for him.
And all things being equal, he’ll spend the weekend here getting all of that done… wiring up the rack, krone block and outboard gear, plus advising on further acoustic treatment for the back wall.
If that happens, then by Monday, I will have 95% of my studio the way I want it.
Still to be done after Barry has done his bits will be to replace the curtains to my right (those tacky old vertical drapes you can see in the last photo I posted).
In the last 4 weeks, I have also purchased an outboard eq for tracking purposes, after consultation with various industry heavyweights whose opinions I respect.
What did I go with?
An API 5500.
4 bands of the highest quality discrete eq. In other words, it’s not fully parametric. You can’t just dial in ANY frequency you like. You can jump between about 7 discrete frequency positions within each band, and those positions overlap between bands.
Cheap? Hell no.
Awesome? Hell yeah.
And because it’s stereo, I can also use it for mixdown duties if I want to.

Plus, I’ve just ordered a Marantz PMD580 rack-mounted compact flash recorder to replace my ageing Tascam DA20 DAT machine.
My poor old DA20 is about 16 years old, and is causing dropouts every time I record on it these days which essentially makes it worthless.
On top of which, DAT is linear (How old school is that? I don’t have time to waste waiting for tape to spool!), plus it’s only 16 bit.
The PMD580 addresses both of those concerns. Recording to CF cards means no spooling to access files, plus you can drag-n-drop from the card straight into your DAW of choice.
And it records at 24 bit.
And with the price of CF cards these days, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper for media than buying DAT tapes!

If this weekend is as fruitful as I’m hoping, then next week will see the studio functional… thank goodness, as I have that e-Seminar next Friday, so we’re cutting it close.
And that will most likely mean that I won’t get any podcasts recorded next week (as much I’d dearly love to!).
But it should mean that the following week will see a return to the podcasts!! Woohoo!
So, that’s the state of play, for now.


November 23, 2008

Sine Language – episode 102

This week, Greg Anderson sent in a voice comment of his own “radio war story”,
Jim Weishorn wrote to ask for more info on subtractive eq,
Alexander Williams* (no relation) wrote to ask about processing audio for live streaming (as opposed to pre-producing content),
…which led me to again remark about having VU meters rather than just peak program meters (PPM’s), and a great free VST plugin VU meter is the Modern Meter,
and then Jim wrote again asking about home theatre… setting up speakers and subwoofers and so on.
After I finished mixing this episode, I realised I didn’t really finish answering Jim’s questions, so consider this ‘part 1 of 2′.
And talk about freaky… in the very week I talk about my Energy 10.2 subwoofer, the damn thing decided to die on me! About an hour after I recorded this ep, I realised that the sub wasn’t working. After some investigating, I came to the conclusion that it had died. I took it to 2 different stores to be checked, and they both deemed that it was dead, too. So, I’m taking it to a friend’s place today for him to have a look at it (he MIGHT be able to fix it). But if he has no luck, looks like I’ll be buying a new sub in the next week or so.

* BTW, I love Alexander’s tag line for his streaming show:

“Like a morning show. Only interesting. And at night.”


November 9, 2008

Sine Language – episode 100

Yes folks.
Believe it or not, we’re finally here!
The building of this video has been an absolute labour of love…. I’d estimate that it’s taken me about 20 hours of work to complete!
Maybe, that’s partly my inexperience at producing video podcasts, but hopefully, when you watch it, you’ll see where those hours went.
In an effort to ease the load on my hosting company’s servers, I will be setting up a torrent feed later tonight.
Check back here later for a link to the torrent file.
There’s also a copy of the file at YouSendIt, plus the copy here at audio2u.com.

To download manually from audio2u:
sl100.mp4 280MB

From YouSendIt here:
sl100.mp4 280MB

If you want to download a copy of the final mix of the song (featuring a couple of extra tweaks I did later), grab that here:
Fear of Holding On – 320 kbit joint stereo (13MB)

Towards the end of the podcast (or is that vidcast?), I mentioned that I would make the individual instrument tracks available to anyone who wanted to have a crack at mixing the song for themselves.
Drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you the link to download the files.
Just be warned… that’s an even bigger download than the mp4!!
The tracks are 32bit mono and total about 1.1GB!
The download will be in .rar format, so you’ll need an archive utility like WinRAR (or similar) which is capable of unzipping a .rar file.


October 12, 2008

Sine Language – episode 099

This week, an answer for Bomar who thought he heard distortion in episode 98,
another mic comparison, this time between the R84 and my AKG C3000,
Jim Addie wrote in with detailed definitions of DC offset and wave asymmetry,
plus a reminder about a great thread on PSW about digital recording levels.

Also mentioned, the Shure SM81, and Rycote wind socks.


October 5, 2008

Sine Language – episode 098

This week, a ton of e-mail to answer from the last month or so,
including some reminiscing about the transition from analogue to digital within the radio industry through the late ’80′s and early ’90′s,
Ron Eastwood tried recording quasi-binaural on a boom box,
Jim Addie sent in a link to an interesting article on the merits, or lack thereof, of recording at higher sample rates and longer wordlengths (when I recorded this episode, I commented that I hadn’t read the entire article. I now have, and have the feeling that at some point in the past, I’ve been pointed to it, and have actually read it. Still, it was good to read it again!),
Greg Andreson (who is all “Bruced” out) wrote to tell me about his Zooms (the H2 and the H4!) and how much he likes them, and to comment on the wildly different standards of audio production that exist within the podcaster community,
and Pascal asked about sidechain compression.
One free VST plugin that I know of which does sidechain compression is Sidekick.
And finally, a bit of a chat about what is in store for episode 100.

Next Page »