Archives For audio

Qu16-comp

The topic of the day is audio compression. Compression is a common tool found on digital mixers, dedicated outboard units and audio software. Compressors can be tremendously helpful, but they are intimidating at first. This is partly because they seem to be doing lots of math, hidden behind complicated terminology. I’m not going to lie to you: compressors are not simple. They are probably the most advanced tools you will ever use in a mix. But I’m confident you can learn to use them and that’s why we’re here. To start, we need to understand what compressors do:

Compressors reduce the dynamic range of a source to help it sit better in the mix.

“Dynamic range” is the difference between the softest and loudest sounds in a source. A compressor reduces this range, evening out the levels of a performance and often making it sound louder in the end.

How does it accomplish this? Continue Reading…

In-ears-brighter

Over the next six months we will be switching all our sites to in-ear monitors. We made the move at our Production Site a number of years ago and we haven’t looked back. The clean looking stage and the clean sound both for the crowd and the band have been fantastic. But the transition is not always easy. In-ears take some getting used to. This is especially true for vocalists who will hear their voice in a whole different way, and often for more experienced musicians who have grown accustomed to performing with stage monitors.

By some miracle of providence, I’ve been involved in transitioning bands from wedge monitors to in-ears four times in my career. As a musician and a tech, I’ve experienced both the stage and the mixer, big venues and small venues, big bands and small bands. And I am a big fan of in-ear monitors. I have some ideas for easing the transition and getting the most out your monitors.

What are we talking about, here?

Continue Reading…

Ian_rocks_out

The best part of my job is visiting all thirteen of our sites. I get to meet great people, make observations, comparisons and recommendations. Then, because of my fancy nametag, people usually do what I suggest. But in the hustle of setting up portable church (twelve of our sites are portable) I don’t always have the time to thoroughly explain the reasons behind my recommendations. And when I’m not at the Meeting House, my rule is “say nothing unless you’re asked”. Words to live by, but it can lead to intense experiences of cringing followed by iPhone photos that make their way onto twitter after a few days (to protect the identities of the perpetrators).

One such issue is speaker placement. “Where do the speakers go?” It ought to be a straightforward question – it’s one of the more purely scientific parts of live production – but I’ve seen some interesting answers. Science-fiction answers. It’s time to set the record straight on a few things.

Continue Reading…

Part 2 of 3 in the series EQ

Saw

If I could only give one tip for working EQ it would be to cut first, boost if you have to. There are a few good reasons I say this, but first I want to make sure we all know what I’m talking about.

Cut first, boost if you have to

Last week we said that EQ is a volume control for a specific frequency. It lets you add or subtract gain at a specific frequency to [hopefully] balance the sound of a source. Boosting turns up a particular frequency, while cutting turns it down. So, if the goal is to make everything heard clearly, why shouldn’t we just turn up the frequencies we want to hear? I’ll give you two reasons: one technical and one artistic.

The technical reason is that, when it comes to EQ, boosts aren’t as clean as cuts. Boosting frequencies soon results in Continue Reading…

Gain-knob

It’s the knob at the top. The importance of getting the gain right can’t be overstated. It’s the fundamental first setting on each channel that affects every knob, fader and external processor all the way down the chain.

The simplest way to define gain is as a volume control on the way into the console.

Gain is a volume control on the way into the console.

Microphones output a very quiet signal which we call “mic level”. The exact level varies based on the kind of microphone, the source volume and the distance from the source to the microphone, but it’s in the millivolt range. Continue Reading…

What is Sound?

Jared Taylor —  February 4, 2013 — Leave a comment
Sound represented in a histogram

Music represented in a histogram

Have you ever seen sound? Unless you’re one of a small percentage who experience chromesthesia, the answer is probably no. But you’ve likely seen sound represented graphically in a histogram. It’s a common and useful way of displaying information about sound, but it is not what sound looks like.

Sound is wave of varying pressure, compressing and decompressing at a rate our ears can detect. If we could see it, it would look more like ripples in water, only they’re in the air and moving right at you! Continue Reading…

Part 1 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Louise listens

Mixing starts with listening! Good listening technique can improve the way we perceive a mix. Any audio sources can be broken down into the smaller sounds it’s comprised of. When we describe these “building block sounds” we create a language for critical listening, which is a foundational exercise for anybody who mixes audio.

You can think of critical listening as two phases:  Continue Reading…