March 23, 2008

Sine Language – episode 086

I know, I know… I told you all that there would be no podcasts for 7 weeks, right?
Yeah well… I got a great e-mail from Meredith Matthews (otherwise known as Mer from Braindouche, but I hadn’t made that connection at the time I recorded this) who asked about the whole “loudness war” thing.
Which of course led me off on a half hour rant about peak limiting, rms, VU, average loudness… all the usual suspects.
Anyway… THIS will be the last podcast for another 6 weeks, ok?

The prosoundweb thread I mentioned is here.
And here’s some 1kHz tone to play with, if you’re interested.

And a late starter… the ModernMeter plugin can be downloaded from here (right click and “save as”).

October 14, 2007

Sine Language – episode 074

This week, I read an absolutely amazing thread on prosoundweb about digital levels.
Some of the ideas fly a little bit in the face of some of the things I’ve suggested in the past (particularly with regard to tracking as hot as possible).
Having now finished reading it (I was still half way through it at the time I recorded this episode), the main gist of what was being discussed (and there were some pretty big industry heavyweights in there) was that if you are tracking in 24 bit, there is no need to aim for the hottest possible level to disc. These guys were advocating tracking with average levels around -20dBFS (and peaks around -12dBFS)! Now, if anyone had tried to sell me on that idea a week ago, I probably would have held on to my existing position and disagreed.
But no, the theory makes a whole lot of sense.
In a nutshell, the idea is this:
At 24 bit resolution, we’ve got 144dB of S/N ratio to play with (or you could refer to it as dynamic range if you wanted to).
NOTHING (Shall I repeat that? NOTHING) that you are going to record into your DAW has that kind of dynamic range.
Nothin’, zip, nada, nil.
For podcasters, the widest dynamic you’re likely to deal with will be your own voice, and even if you’re REALLY inconsistent with levels (and don’t own an outboard compressor), the most you’ll have to contend with might be in the vicinity of 50dB (from the quietest passage to the loudest passage)…. but even that is unlikely.
So, if you track with peaks at -12dB, AND you happen to have a soft passage 50dB below that (-62dBFS), you’ve still got 82dB of S/N below ya!
But why would you need to track that low?
Well, the theory (and according to these heavyweights who are tracking and mixing this way, the practise) suggests that if you track too close to full scale, you might introduce clipping when you start running plugins (EQ, compressors, peak limiters, whatever) that don’t operate at higher bitrates.

Look, it’s not a thread for the faint hearted, but if you have an interest in getting the best possible quality out of your digital audio setup, it’s worth the time and effort.
It took me 4 days to get through it because I kept on re-reading lines and paragraphs to make sure I understood it.
Also, the real meat starts about 7 pages in when Paul Frindle weighs in on the discussion.

OK, enough of that.

This week in the podcast, part 4 in the series on constructing your own promo: some tips on track laying.

October 9, 2007

Some bedtime reading for you

Filed under: Analogue,Data compression,Ear,MP3,Sine Language — Bruce Williams @ 11:15

So, there I was, catching up on my morning round of tech blogs, when I cam across this great article on Ars Technica about how MP3 encoding works.

Having now read the article, even I have learned some more about how the prcoess works.

It makes interesting reading (if you’re into this kind of thing), and will only take you about 15 minutes (there’s 4 pages to the article).

Interestingly, the Nyquist Theorem actually dates from work done by Harry Nyquist way way back in 1928 (the Ars article says ’27, the Wikipedia article says ’28)…. certainly a lot earlier than I had previously thought.

Anyway, thought I’d share this with you in the absence of a Sine Language for this week.



September 9, 2007

Sine Language – episode 071

Filed under: !Podcasts,Analogue,Gain structure,Mastering,Sine Language,Soundbooth — Bruce Williams @ 21:45

This week, a quick mention of the fact that I’ll be doing a couple of e-seminars (just short 1 hour jobs) for Adobe Asia-Pacific over the next couple of months.
Specifically, October 19 and December 7.
For those who are interested, they will be about “Cleaning up audio with Soundbooth CS3.
Remember also that if you are interested in Soundbooth CS3, I have recorded a video training title for which you can check out here.
And if you’re interested in purchasing the CD-ROM, I’ll have copies available soon!

Also, I revisit the old “mastering to -1dBFS” argument again.

Plus, I do my best to answer a query from Bill Burns (at the Security Hype podcast) about calibrating input and otput leves between an analogue mixer and your PC’s (or Mac’s) soundcard and DAW software.

Conversion table for dBu and dBm

February 19, 2006

Sine Language – episode 002

This week, how sound moves through air,
the anatomy of the human ear,
how a microphone works,
how audio is stored on analogue tape,
and why a speaker is just like a microphone.

My Odeo Channel (odeo/fceadf13ab849224)