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Tag: audio

Buy only what you really need

Ok, I know, it’s Black Friday. This means every company on planet Earth try to convince you that they have the best deal in the universe, now you really must buy that gear, plugin, etc.

I don’t want to be the old wise man. I just want to offer a sane voice. Buy only plugins you really need and you’ve already thoroughly tested. Buy gear you have experience with, you’ve used in on numerous occasion and you’re certain that you’re going to use it often.

If you keep these two things in your mind, I’m sure your Friday purchase will be well thought out and necessary. Eschew impulse purchase, that’s the worst. Believe me, been there, done that.

These offers might seem a once in a lifetime chance, but there will be Christmas, New Year, etc. offers.

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Next steps…

Every year a few times I wrote a little note about what will happen on this site. But looking back I always thought it’s something merely interesting for me only. Now it turns out some of you are interested in these, so here’s the next episode of this “what will happen in the next few weeks/months on this site”.

1

As I continue to do some live sound shows (a bit more in the summer) the first big thing here will be a brand new look. Brand new, because it’s going to look gorgeous even on a mobile phone or tablet. As usual though, it won’t be filled with spectacular graphics and animations, I strongly prefer to keep it in the minimalist form as in my opinion in our profession content should prevail fancy outlook. Not that I’m against anything beautiful looking thing, but this is a personal site and I don’t have the talent and the time to do such high standard graphics.

2

Will continue the Plugin purchase series with some really great candidates that I think you should check out if you haven’t already. I’ll try to introduce them succinctly but meaningfully so you’ll get a clear picture what you can expect if you download those plugins for a test.

3

This has been a long term dream for me, I want to start an Avid S6 mini series which would give the current users great little tips, and a bit more insight to those whose interested or plan to try one or buy one. I already have many notes for this, only need a bit more time to make it reality.

4

Great tips are very useful, but I’d like to write more in-depth articles about mixing related things, like template building and refining, the process of score mixing which is a vast topic if you consider that there are many different types of score and method exist.

5

Share experiences. Many times I fall into the trap of writing and writing then forgetting and deleting things. Instead, I’ll try to share them in smaller posts. For example a month ago I did a short score mix for major television show which was very interesting, but as I tried to depict the whole process very elaborately somehow the meaning lost between the sentences, then weeks went by without cleaning out the unnecessary parts and then the whole thing became obsolete.

One thing at the end. I discovered that my email system deleted some mail that was detected as junk but turned out those emails sent to me by real people. Now I tried to fix this thing, hopefully from now on I really receive every email so I can answer them.

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The small details makes the difference

Or at least that’s what we all hope. But at the end of the day, it really seem to count, a lot actually. I’ve been harvesting the very broad experiences as I actively doing both live sound and post production. In post, we seem to be obsessed with tiny details, correcting, editing, noise reducing and tweaking audio until it is really a shining diamond. In live sound however, very often you have to be extremely fast and efficient under impossible technical circumstances, which obviously leads to more and more compromise.

Suddenly it seems that those tiny details are not that important, they don’t make such a difference at the end. Well, the bad news is that those seemingly unimportant things really can change the outcome, although I can totally agree with that many times there’s just not enough time, nor sufficient technology available to solve them.

Being fussy vs. being thorough

Being fussy. Although live sound has come a long way, there’s still many who think that it’s a job where you have to paint with broad strokes and shouldn’t mess with those very small things. In my experience though, those minute details are what really separates the usual OK sounding concert from a truly brilliant sounding show.

Obviously you need to prioritise things, it’s absolutely not ok to tweak your bass compressor when you can’t even hear the singer, etc. But when you have a pretty good balance, everything is fine, sounding great and punchy, you might want to investigate those microscopic details that can really elevate the sonic experience.

These are the things we are obsessed with in post production. And these are the things that’s worth your attention. I’m often accused of being fussy on smaller live gigs, but then for example almost always asked how I did some cool sounding stereo or special effect.
Those special things come from my post production life, where dealing with these attributes is a daily habit, not a waste of time.
In post, our sonic microscopes (the calibrated studio monitors in a good room) are generally much more revealing and honest than any PA system in the world. Therefore most of the times we must work harder to create a believable or amazing sonic experience. When you daily “fussing” with these nanoscale elements, you just kind of develop a habit of being very alert to these things, even when you’re out of the comfort zone of the studio.

Please help me, I need a good psychiatrist

I’ve met many incredibly talented engineers over the years who regularly work both in live and post production. It seems that each and every one of us has his/her own obsession when it comes to live sound. Some have a serious eq fetish, filtering out unnecessary things, making everything sound clean or characterful, some has strong effect addiction, tweaking the delays and reverbs until they can create different layers, some have compressor craze, spending time to create and shape transients and gain control over overly dynamic things.

This serious addiction come from the endless hours in the studio testing, adjusting, tweaking every nuance until it satisfy both us and the client. During this long process, our brain learn to detect so tiny details in the compression characteristics that after a while we are able to hear almost the smallest parameter change, we get so intimately familiar with different types of reverbs that each hidden parameter become so obvious, every masking frequency become painfully evident. This doesn’t mean that we’re superheroes. It only means that we would like to mix the best possible show under the circumstances.
To be honest, almost everyone of us have these addiction to a degree, and to be fair, even many live sound only guy have these. In the midst of chaos, tension and other distracting things it is very easy to think that these detail oriented engineers are only try to make themselves seem important. But believe me, it cannot be further from the truth. We just try to do everything in our power to make the sound as good as possible. That’s it. We don’t want to freak out anyone, nor want to embarrass the crew.

Final thought

Developing this kind of analytical habit can only help. If you appreciate the smallest details, you’ll always try to improve, which, obviously very beneficial to sound. These minute things just add up at the end, so they’re worth your attention.
If you’re a bit confused about the vagueness and the lack of clear direction of the whole article, you might be not alone. It is merely a passing thought based on my past and very recent experiences in live sound. I guess the whole thing can be summarised by this very short sentence: details definitely matter.

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Book recommendation #2

You can find myriad of books on audio and I’m sure about that many of them are quite useful, however, there’s a few that stand above the rest. Either because it’s so informative technically or because it is not really technical but helps you think/hear in a different, more polished and more mature way.

Today, I would like to recommend you a “big classical”, which I have reread a few times already, and will read it again and again because I always find something new in it.

David Sonnenschein: Sound Design: The expressive power of music, voice and sound effect in cinema

I always recommend this to everyone. If you buy only a few or only one book, choose this one. This is not really a technical book, although you can find quite a few technical things in there, but you can learn about listening techniques, methods for selecting the right material, developing a sense for sound aesthetics.

The real power in this book is that it is not a simple guide. Instead, David try to encourage everyone to explore the “sound world”, to experiment with the tools, to really give your sound consciousness a big boost.

Now it’s available as a paperback as well as in kindle (e-book) format through Amazon for example.

Be prepared, it’s not enough to read it only one time. Enjoy!

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