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Ear training

I would like to introduce you two very helpful applications, which may help you train your ears. They are good for training but equally useful only to practice a little.

The best way to practice and train your ears of course is to record, to mix, even when you don’t really have a real duty, just for the sake of practice. With all that said, in my opinion it is never a bad thing to sometimes do a little “ear workout”.

Mounties Feedback Trainer

This app is very simple and probably more aimed toward the live sound market, but still useful for post (aspiring) engineers too. Although you may only learn to identify single frequencies, your brain gain more awareness about the quality and tone of those frequencies and ranges which could be tremendous help later on.

You can practice and learn different frequencies with a graphic eq style interface. If you simply want to learn, just click on any slider and you’ll hear the corresponding frequency for a few seconds. When you feel you’re good enough, start the real test.

Select the number of “questions”. I think to be really useful, you should guess minimally ten. Progress can be monitored by little charts. Don’t go nuts with it, you don’t have to be absolutely perfect. With a little practice, almost anyone can be a good feedback hunter. As I’m a classically trained musician (trombonist) these tests are quite easy for me, but still find it useful.

Highly recommended for live sound guys, but also useful for post guys.

Quiztones

This is originally an  iOS app that  works on the iPhone or iPad and iPod and lately it is ported to the Mac. This little app takes a step further.

You can identify frequencies here, you have to guess frequencies from four choices through 10 occasions, and at the end you’ll got a score. One thousand is the perfect, you’ll get a hundred if you guess it right for the first, etc. This is the easy part of it.

The second part is the eq test. Here you should identify different frequency boosts and cuts on varying material. You can use your own music library or try your abilities on acoustic guitar, drums, electric bass, electric guitar, orchestra, etc.

This test is a bit harder than pick the right frequency, and can be even more hard if you’re up to it. In every quiz, you have to choose the difficulty level: easy +10dB, hard +6dB or hard –10dB. It is much harder to correctly identify which frequency has been boosted or cut.

If you like to go even further than this, you can buy the pro version of Quiztones which offers gain level comparison quizzes and eq expert quizzes.

A few tips

You may see these apps as unnecessary things in the post world, but believe me that they are not. Both little apps are very useful not only for beginners who would like to get better at identifying certain frequencies, but for any engineer who like to keep his hearing in top shape. Our brains is a spectacular thing, practice with these apps help raise sharper awareness and focus on our hearing.

Other useful practices. Record or grab some ambiences or effects, and start to eq them first with a sharp notch filter, later with more gentle bandwidth like an octave to experience the effect of boosting or cutting different frequencies.

Listen to music in “high focus” mode. Try to pick certain instruments and focus on them throughout the song. Try to be focused, hear and notice every note played by the picked instrument. Note that this exercise is hard and by the way completely ruins the pleasure of listening to music, but still a great exercise. Enjoy!