January 10, 2010

Sine Language – episode 122

Happy new year!
A quick mention of our holiday cruise (blog and pictures start here),
an e-mail from Steve Filmer regarding a couple of articles on NPR;
this one on the loudness wars, inluding this great pdf,
and this on one the average level of TV commercials,
a quick mention of James Cameron’s epic, Avatar,
and the final segment (I guess?) on vocal recording, including hung mics and signal structure. I know I’ve covered signal structure in the past, but am having issues finding which episode that was in. If anyone knows off the top of their head, drop me an e-mail, would ya, please? Cheers! :)


October 18, 2009

Sine Language – episode 120

In episode 120, some thanks to those people who have made donations via the button on the front page of audio2u.com,
a couple of links to look at:
JR sent in this link to a laser microphone,
and somebody (apologies for not taking note of who sent this in) advised me of the forthcoming Waves Vocal Rider plugin.
Then, it’s on to a cotinuation of the discussion of vocal recording and processing methodoligies.


September 13, 2009

Sine Language – episode 119

This week, Jim Addie hits us with “War and Peace – part 2″ on the way dynamic volume adjustments are made on playback in home theatre receivers,
and Ernie asked if I could put together some thoughts on recording and processing the voice, so consider this the first part of a 2 or 3 part series on that.
Jim also provided a link to the Orban processor used for real time loudness adjustment for TV broadcast.


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


February 22, 2009

Sine Language – episode 106

This week, Jay asked about the audio processing used in movie soundtracks, and why the music in movies sounds so much better than the official soundtrack CD.
Scott Hess asked about using small amounts of delay to simulate spatial shifts, rather than using straight out panning.
And Greg Anderson wanted some feedback (from YOU as well as me) about creating a short list of technical ‘goals’ for personnel recording live lectures and conferences.
By the way, there probably WON’T be an episode of Sine Language next week, as I really want to get an ep of Building The Pod done. Just letting you know now, ok?


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.


September 14, 2008

Sine Language – episode 097

Filed under: !Podcasts,AEA,DC offset,Filters,Neumann,Peak,Psychoacoustics,R84,Sine Language,U87 — Bruce Williams @ 15:53

In ep 97, a quick look back at the definition of ‘bandwidth’ (in relation to peak filters, as mentioned in ep 96),
the Pro Audio Reference library at Rane is definitely worth bookmarking,
the Rane article on Constant Q Equalizers is worth reading too,
not quite a ‘war story’, but an interesting observation I made regarding mics in the studio,
not sure what a Neumann U87 looks like? Try this,
Jim Weishorn asked for further clarification on DC offset,
and Ross Bennett chimed in with a story about incorrect useage of technical terms in the IT industry,
plus a discussion on EQ and psychoacoustics.


August 17, 2008

Sine Language – episode 095

This week, so many e-mails to answer, I couldn’t get to them all!
Jim Addie chimed in with some follow up on DC offset (thanks, Jim!),
Steve Mayfield wondered if I’d got my HDMI issues sorted (Yes! Thanks, Steve).
He offered a link to another site that reviewed some hand held field recorders, registered his ‘vote of confidence’ for a video podcast for SL100, and expressed his appreciation of the new audio2u.com podcast imaging.
Then, we heard from Ike Tamigian who owns the Tascam 122L audio interface and reckons that “for the money you can’t go wrong”. Thanks Ike!
Then, Noel Payne asked about what eq filters (high pass, low pass, notch, band pass etc) to use under what circumstances. And after I finished editing the podcast, I realised there’s more I need to add to this topic, next week. Stay tuned, Noel!
And finally, Ron Eastwood wrote in with a photography analogy regarding sample rate and bit resolution, and asked what is the most important factor (with regards audio quality)?


July 21, 2008

D’oh! How about those links?

Filed under: DC offset,Direct Stream Digital,Sine Language — Bruce Williams @ 22:57

Sorry gang.
Completely forgot to post the links I said I would with the SL093 show notes.
So, here goes:

Direct Stream Digital
DC offset

In future, let me know, will ya?
:)
Cheers.


July 20, 2008

Sine Language – episode 093

Filed under: !Podcasts,DC offset,Sine Language — Bruce Williams @ 7:00

This week, another e-mail from Jim Addie about early (mid 80′s) digital recording systems.
Plus, a discussion on DC offset… what it is, why you don’t want it, and how to fix it if you’ve got it. Sounds like a disease, doesn’t it?

Links:
Direct Stream Digital
DC offset


June 29, 2008

Sine Language – episode 092

Hold on to your hats, people…
In episode 92, a listener (who wishes to remain anonymous) commented on the possibility of hearing damage inflicted by driving with the windows down, and the possibility of same being caused from riding your pushbike in busy traffic. The earplugs he’s using while riding are these.
Of course, my regular listeners know that I love my Sennheiser CX300′s… damn, I oughtta be on commission!
And that led to a discussion of noise-isolating vs noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones.
All of which led me to speculate on telephone handsets and whether or not they do us more harm than good.

Then, Jim Wesihorn checked in with news of a new pdf from the good folks at Izotope (makers of the VST/DirectX Ozone mastering plugin).
Seems they’ve turned out a whopping great 75 page document on audio restoration.
Going to have to check that out some time soon!
Thanks Jim!

Then, Steve Mayfield sent me a link about a dummy head binaural mic for your video camera!
Crazy looking thing.
One would hope it works well given the price tag!

Another long time listener who wishes to remain anonymous wrote to assure me that no, there is no distorion in my podcasts!
Phew! What a relief!
I didn’t think there was, mind you.
:)

He also went on to provide some interesting real-world feedback on sample rate conversion.

Then, Matt sent me this screen shot of the Pro Tools manual where apparently, even Digidesign doesn’t know the difference between “bit rate” and “bit resolution”.
Why do I feel like I’m fighting an up hill battle here? :)

Pro Tools manual

Then, Luke asked about vocal training.
I suggested googling some of these words:
‘voice’, ‘vocal’, ‘coach’, ‘training’, ‘tuition’, ‘diction’, ‘eloqution’, plus your local area
or check your local phone book.

Next, E. Bernhard Warg sent me an mp3 of a shoot out between a Coles 4104 ribbon lip mic and a standard lav mic, with regard to ambient noise suppression.

Then, Jim Addie sent in some great information on how the Red Book standard was established.

And finally, there were some listener comments on audio2u about my disaster last week.

p5rn7vb

June 15, 2008

Sine Language – episode 091

Filed under: !Podcasts,DVD-A,Nyquist,Sample rate,Sine Language — Bruce Williams @ 13:56

In episode 91, Felix left a comment on audio2u.com regarding “ratios”,
Kevin Smith asked about selecting sample rates in your multitrack project,
which led to discussions on the Nyquist theorem,
and the DVD-A spec,
Ross Bennett wrote to say that a) he loves my new mic, b) appreciated my discussion on near field and mid field monitoring in ep 90, and c) to remind us all that good monitoring is all well and good, but we should also take some time out during a large mixing session to listen to a mix we respect so that we don’t get lost in our work.
Plus, Leon McCormick wrote to ask about the processing of my voice when I’m reading out the e-mail.


February 3, 2008

Sine Language – episode 080

This week, some e-mail to answer regarding what sampling frequency should we use as a default and why,
utilities to use for ripping and encoding your mp3′s,
how to mix podcasts that prevent your listeners from falling asleep (an area in which I apparently succeed!),
and recording audio on a laptop.
Also, Bruce’s recent home theatre trials and tribulations.

Links:

dbpoweramp
Speek’s multi front end
Lame
Rarewares
EAC
Netvibes
Marantz PMD660

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