Some recent listener feedback


Welcome back, Bruce!
I missed you every day, and I’m glad to have you here again.
I dabble in audio engineering because of YOUR podcasts. It’s because I found YOU in eyetoons.
Jim Weishorn

Bruce, so great to see this post.
Will subscribe today.
Cheers and welcome back!
Rob Scalise

This is such great news it's back.
Was always one of my favourite pods.
Steve Mayfield

A great listen. Thanks mate. Glad you had your Blues Brothers moment, and put the band back together. Looking forward to the next episode.
Peter Buckley


July 26, 2015

Episode 147 – The sounds of Borneo

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This week,
I’ve just returned from a 3 week holiday in Borneo (photos are here if you’re interested).
While I was there, I had a couple of interesting acoustic experiences which I ended up recording on my trusty little Tascam DR-05 handheld recorder.
After I recorded the podcast, I got an e-mail back from Gunung Mulu National Park HQ informing me that the name of the insect is a katydid.

Peruvian leaf katydid

The Peruvian leaf katydid, which is almost identical to the Borneo variety.

Apparently there are a few different types of katydids in the world. The attached image is of a Peruvian katydid, but the Borneo variety looked almost identical.
I’ve also analysed the katydid sound and found that the wing vibration is occurring at 560Hz with harmonics (as you’d expect) at 1.1kHz and 1.7kHz.

Deer Cave

The main cavern inside Deer Cave at Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Borneo.

And the second image is the main cavern inside Deer Cave (at Gunung Mulu National Park). Look closely and you can see two people on the boardwalk, which will give you an idea of the scale of the space.

I also came across this blog post over at the izotope site, regarding mastering for compressed formats.
Although I hadn’t got around to reading it prior to recording this podcast, I’ve since read it, and there is some really useful info in there regarding (arguably) the three  most popular platforms (iTunes, Youtube, and Soundcloud).

Having now read the article, my takeaways are:

Mastering for iTunes
Apple requires 24 bit .wav files
Recommends -1dBFS maximum
Soundcheck means there is no loudness benefit. Woohoo! The Loudness War is coming to an end.

Mastering for Soundcloud
SC converts EVERY file uploaded to mp3, even if it’s already in mp3 format.
Therefore, best to upload a 24 bit .wav and let SC do the transcode from there
All SC streams are 128kbit mp3
No volume normalisation on playback
When creating your master, consider narrowing the stereo image of the high frequencies for improved artefact-minimilisation

Mastering for Youtube
Regardless of encoding format, 360p and 480p video will playback audio at 128 kbps
All video resolutions from 720p upwards will playback audio at 384 kbps
YT only down-converts, never up-converts, so upload highest quality you can.

I would also add to this list that if you’re uploading to Vimeo, check out Vimeo’s mastering suggestions.

Karel Weis reached out to me to say that he had been asked to provide some voiceovers in what the client referred to as “HD audio” format.
The list of parameters was quite specific, and Karel wanted some clarification on those specs.

HD Audio Level Requirements

The loudness level of the programme material must be in agreement with the EBU R128-2014 directive, including the following delivery specifications :

• Reference Level : 1kHz@ -18dBFS
• Integrated Loudness Program : -23 LUFS
• Target Level Tolerance : +/-0.5 LUFS
• Maximum True Peak : -1dBTP
• Maximum Momentary : No Limitations
• Maximum Short Term Momentary (3 Sec) : No Limitations
• Loudness Range : No Limitations

Codec : Integer (Little Endian) PCM Sample Rate : 48kHz
Sample Size : 24bit
Channels : Stereo

For those not familiar with LKFS/LUFS metering, here’s a primer.


May 3, 2015

Episode 146 – Zombie binaural ears & ASMR fetish tribes

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This week, the reasons behind the month-long break,
further discussion on the pyramids,
dimensions of the King’s Chamber,
musical acoustics,
the speed of sound,
the Golden Ratio in music,
part 4 of Rob’s epic e-mail concerning binaural recording and playback,
the video that Rob referenced from The Verge,
a discussion on the use of binaural sound in Hollywood,
a great analysis of drum overhead miking techniques,
extinguishing fire with sound,
and no, Bill Gates DIDN’T say that!

Pic 1

The dummy head, as used in The Verge’s video

Pic 2

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April 6, 2015

Episode 145 – Our unbearable incredulity about the future

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 10:37

Apologies for the late post. This whole Easter thing has got my days all mixed up!
This week, Alan Blumlein honoured (somewhat belatedly) for his contributions to audio and various technologies.
To this day, the Blumlein Pair is still my favourite mode for recording stereo.
So, think you can tell the difference between 16 bit audio and 8 bit audio? It’s not as black and white as you might think.
Try your hand (or your ear) here.
Rupert Neve and sE Electronics want to give you a new mic,
and we get to part 3 of Rob’s epic e-mail:
Our unbearable incredulity about the future.

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March 22, 2015

Episode 144 – The Toy on Stage Effect

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This week, I start off with an apology re: the sound of the last episode, why it happened, and what I’ve done to fix it.
Steve Hope sent me off to look at Jaguar Audio Design,
I saw a musical instrument project on Kickstarter which I thought was an interesting twist on a few different ideas,
Youtube apparently doing its part in killing the loudness war,
I came across a nice video piece about the Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam, which initially grabbed my attention for Shutters Inc, but then it got me thinking about the acoustic properties of just such a space,
which reminded me of Paul Horn and his flortist activities in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid at Gizah.
As I’m sitting here writing these show notes, I’ve just come across this quite detailed account of the recording process, taken from the autobiography “Inside Paul Horn”. (Harper, San Francisco, 1990 – Chapter 14)
Seems, my memory of this session may not have been as accurate as I recalled! :) Turns out the King’s Chamber does NOT have a perfectly square base, as I said on the podcast.
Anyway, here’s a couple of links for you to check out:

Paul Horn – Inside the Great Pyramid vocal
Paul Horn – Inside the Great Pyramid (playlist)

I then moved on to part 2 of Rob Bettla’s epic e-mail. This section was called “The toy on stage effect”.
Links included:
how Justin Bieber sounds when slowed down by 800%,
and the Wiki article on Dieter Rams.
As promised, here are Dieter’s 10 Rules of Design, along with Rob’s adaptions for audio:

Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Yes, hardware/software audio technology is constantly evolving, there is no reason to become swamped or declare it “complete”

Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Yes especially to DAW and audio GUI more personally perhaps it could be used to make your creative project understandable to the target audience, unless your purpose is to alienate your audience which would be more performance “art”.

Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Yes, especially if we take into account how people react to audio and how it changes us. Our minds are used to mix and audio is likely to change us.

Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? This is a difficult one because audio can be purposely mysterious and enigmatic but where it does apply is how our audio design is planned as the overall purpose to guide and/or manipulate our audiences reactions and emotions.

Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Most likely to GUI in plug-ins and DAW’s and let me tell you, there are complete train wrecks that do not follow this at all.

Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Same as above i.e. GUI in plug-ins and DAW’s. It can however apply to the honesty of the project and its purpose with the audience’s emotions.

Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Same as above i.e. GUI in plug-ins and DAW’s.

Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? It applies to everything we do professionally.

Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the life cycle of the product.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? I’d say no.

Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
*Can it be adapted to Audio? Yes and no, while simplification can apply to everything we do professionally sometimes audio does need some frills but at the same time why burden our project with something that will impede its purpose? If it does not fulfill a purpose or hampers other element’s purpose, then it should not be there.

Your thoughts?

I was going back over the show notes of the few episodes of this podcast which I released in 2014, and came across my promise to talk about the GRL acoustic session at ARN’s Sydney studios. A little late, by a follow up none the less, with the live performance included after the show closer.
Plus, I’ve bought and executed my first electronics project. A very simple peak program meter. This was based on Jaycar project kit KJ8212, and was included in their book, Short Circuits Volume 2.
Although I could have bought a black and white photocopy of just the instructions for this project for $2.50, I’m glad I bought the book. It set me back the princely sum of $12.95, but has a few benefits.
1. It’s in colour, which helps with identifying parts
2. It has a bunch of pages (at the beginning of the book) of technical info on all the components you’re likely to come across. Resistors, capacitors, diodes, etc, what they are, what they do, how they work and so on. Definitely a worthwhile purchase if you’re thinking of getting into this kind of stuff.
As promised, below you’ll see a photo of my completed project in full flight. Behold the magnificence!

My peak program meter

Built from Jaycar kit KJ8212

 

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March 8, 2015

Episode 143 – Speech-to-text conversion

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This week, Bill Vencil wrote to tell us about his tape vs digital shootout. The videos he put together are available right here.
Did you hear the one about the guy who placed his iPhone inside an acoustic guitar body and shot video of the resonance of the strings? No? Well, check out the cool aliasing of the video frame rate!
Having said that I wasn’t going to go purchasing new gear, I did follow Rowan Matthews’ advice and picked up a Cloud Microphones’ Cloudlifter. And it delivered as promised! Extra gain out the wahzoo. Thanks Rowan!
As you’ll hear on this episode, the Cloudlifter allowed me to run my AEA R84 ribbon mic through my Focusrite Voicemaster Pro channel strip…. something I’ve never been able to do with my voice as a source. Sure, an electric guitar would be fine, as the input would represent a louder source, but for spoken voice, the VMP never had enough grunt to drive the ribbon mic. Now it does.
And whilst we’re on the topic of gear I’m not going to splurge on, this week saw Neve announce the 1073DPX, two channels of transformer-coupled mic-pre and 3 band EQ. Plus, later in 2015, they plan to release a digital output card which will be able to be retro-fitted to the 1073DPX.
Incidentally, the Neve 1073 mic pre has just received the nod by Sound on Sound readers as the Best Mic Pre for the 3rd year in a row. Nice work.
Although I’ve moved on from CrowdAudio, I have been to the Telfunken website and grabbed the multitracks for Francis Dunnery’s ‘Immacualte’, which I’ve mixed and included at the tail end of this episode.
I’ve deliberately set the mp3 bitrate for this episode to 256kbit, just to do the song justice.
And I received an EPIC e-mail from Rob Bettla with not one but four topics to discuss.
Might have to break it up over a few episodes. This week, we cover the first topic…. the history of speech-to-text conversion from the 70’s up to the present day.
Rob included a bunch of links, including:
How we ended up with Siri,
Talking with computers,
this video about electromyographic signal recognition (using the muscles of the larynx, rather than the actual voice, as a control signal… interesting stuff!),
a NASA article about the same technology,
brain-to-brain instant messaging, anyone?,
or this video from UC Berkley about visual reconstruction based on brain activity.
Thanks for the links, Rob!

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February 22, 2015

Episode 142 – Voice recording, and hi-res mobile audio

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This week, fun and games on two wheels.
Feedback on episode 141 from Rowan Matthews, who mentioned Cloudlifters, a DIY kit from Seventh Circle Audio called the J99, and the Warm Audio WA76 compressor/limiter.
Karel Weis chimed in about voiceover recording and wanted to know my approach.
This was the image that Karel sent me (which is quite low-res)…

Karel's compressor

…and this was another image I found of the same unit.

tesla_compressorThis image came from this thread over at gearslutz.com, which seems to be a discussion of that very unit. Karel, you mind find something of value here. Good luck!

For those who haven’t yet read it, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of Stav’s “Mixing with your mind“.
Got some time to kill? Check out the Evolution of Music by Pentatonix,
As promised, a link for Holger Brockmann. Holger is a great guy, and he’s blessed with a magnificent voice to boot!
A snippet of brilliance from Yep in this epic thread from the Reaper forums,
dub-to-dub degradation, and how it applies to images as well as to audio,
and Rob Bettla wanted to discuss the impending early death of Neil Young’s Pono player. Interestingly, through the week, I came across this article on Slate about just this very topic as well.


February 8, 2015

Episode 141 – The state of play

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

I’m baaaaack!
This week, re-launch #2,
why re-launch #1 failed,
my plans for SL and recording projects in 2015,
gear lust,
and the yumminess of analogue hardware.
Some of the gear I’m talking about it this episode:
AEA R84
AEA TRP
AEA RPQ
API 5500
Safe Sound Audio Dynamics Toolbox (discontinued)
Focusrite VoiceMaster Pro (discontinued)
Drawmer 1960
Universal Audio 2-610
Rode M5
MXL v67i
Behringer Eurorack MX2004A
Seems I have a knack for buying gear that gets discontinued!

The AEA R84 passive ribbon mic.

The AEA R84 passive ribbon mic.

Looking down the length of Studio Vino, which is both my cellar and my recording space. Might not be able to stand upright, but you'll never go thirsty!

Looking down the length of Studio Vino, which is both my cellar and my recording space. Might not be able to stand upright, but you’ll never go thirsty!

The Marshall Electronics (MXL) v67i dual diaphragm condensor mic.

The Marshall Electronics (MXL) v67i dual diaphragm condensor mic.

One half of the Rode M5 matched pair of small diaphragm condensor mics.

One half of the Rode M5 matched pair of small diaphragm condensor mics.

The project box I bought at Jaycar, with 2x XLR mic sockets and 2x 6.5mm headphone sockets.

The project box I bought at Jaycar, with 2x XLR mic sockets and 2x 6.5mm headphone sockets.

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January 28, 2015

Testing

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 11:07

Nothing to see here folks.

Although I am planning a new episode (or is that a second re-launch?) of Sine Language… stay tuned!


August 10, 2014

Episode 140 – Infrasonic sound

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 18:03

This episode, the guys at MIT have managed to reconstruct audio from nothing more than video footage!
Infrasonic sound, what it is, how it affects us, and its use in cinema,
which got me talking about Mount Yassur,
Izotope have just announced the forthcoming RX4, an update to their Emmy Award-winning audio restoration software,
and I’m facing a recording challenge tomorrow with new girl-group G.R.L.
At this point, I’m thinking of placing the girls in an arc around a pair of U87’s in XY mode. I’ll let you know how it went next episode!

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June 1, 2014

Episode 139 – Flash recorders and Ozone

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This episode, Tom Ferguson (who is looking to digitise his vinyl collection) wrote to ask my thoughts on 19″ rack mountable flash recorders.
He’s been looking at the Gemini DRP-1, which doesn’t look too bad (from the specs), although I did have a couple of concerns.
Some alternate products I suggested he look at included:
the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder (not rack mountable),
the TASCAM SS-R100, and SS-R200 (both of which ARE rack-mountable),
and the Marantz PMD620 MKII, again, not rack-mountable.
Unfortunately, the unit I own and love (the Marantz PMD580) is now a discontinued product, but there some lurking around on Ebay.
Then, it’s on to a demonstration of iZotope‘s Ozone 5 Advanced mastering plugin. Not only did I use Ozone to master the song featured in this podcast, but I also used it to master this episode (and will be using it for all my podcast mastering going forward.
The kind folks at iZotope have set me up with the Studio & Repair Advanced Bundle, which consists of Alloy 2, Nectar 2, Ozone 5 Advanced and RX3 Advanced.
If my mastering of Dave Garner‘s ‘Tilting at windmills’ (as performed in this podcast) comes up short, I’ll blame the fact that I was having to do it with headphones on, where I would normally be using monitors.
That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it! :)

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May 25, 2014

Episode 138 – Channels, channels and more channels

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This episode, a long-overdue response (and apology!) to an e-mail I received from Greg Anderson a couple of months ago,
Greg mentioned Dolby Atmos, and Headphone:x,
I also saw this a couple of weeks back: a guy who took a slice of a tree and played it like a piece of vinyl!
I also received another epic e-mail of weirdness from Rob Bettla,
which included amongth other things, links for:
Neil Young’s Pono player,
Samsung’s new graphene technology, plus this link,
new Australian research leading us toward graphene-based optical storage,
and how about graphene in three dimensions?
and graphene condoms!
Something tell sme that Rob has a bit of a graphene fetish!
Plus your chance to score some free software from the folks at Izotope! As I explained in the podcast, simply produce a training video using the Izotope software of your choice, host it anywhere you like (youtube, vimeo, dailymotion, on your own website, etc), then tweet (use this link) a link to your video including the mention @iZotopeInc and the hashtag #TipsFromMyStudio. You could end up on the receiving end of a $500 voucher for the Izotope software of your choice! Sweet. Get busy, peeps!

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May 4, 2014

Episode 137 – Crest factor

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

This week, Sine Language is brought to you by Bill Vencil!
Bill asked me to talk about Crest Factor, what is it and what is its importance?
He also wanted to know my thoughts on technologies like SoundCheck, which iTunes is now using to create playback-managed volume levelling.
Will technolgies like this bring about the end of the Loudness War?
I guess we can only hope so, Bill!
Plus, he wanted to know about my current hardware setup.
As I said on the podcast, I don’t think anything has changed since I last spoke about it, but just in case, my current set up consists of:
an AEA R84 ribbon mic and TRP,
an API 5500 4 band parametric equaliser,
a Safe Sound Audio Dynamics Toolbox,
a Marantz PMD580 flash recorder (no longer available),
a Focusrite VoiceMasterPro, (no longer available),
and an Alto HPA4 headphone distribution amp.
Monitoring is still provided by my trusty Genelec 8030A mains, and 7050B subwoofer.

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March 30, 2014

Episode 136 – Loudness

Filed under: !Podcast — Bruce Williams @ 09:00

This week, I’ve musing over some things that crossed my radar over the last couple of weeks.
Joel, one of the Broadcast Tech’s at work recently posted about the Orban Omnia 9 on his facebook timeline.
The Omnia 9 is designed to undo the damage done by excessive peak limiting at the mastering stage. Probably not the kind of unit you’re going to buy for your home listening pleasure, but at least it shows that there are people in the industry concerned enough about the damage the Loudness War is doing to our musical listening experience.
Which of course leads to a reminder about the brilliant article that Bob Orban and Frank Foti wrote ages ago concerning excessive peak limiting of music. Definitely worth a read if you’re at all concerned by the Loudness War, and particularly how that plays out in the broadcast space.
Engineers at Duke University have come up with a design that allows for the acoustic cloaking of objects.
There’s a new music-creation piece of software out now called Bitwig Studio. I don’t know much about it, and I’m certainly not about to jump from Reaper (which I love), but I am keen to follow it’s progression. If you end up trying it out, let me know your thoughts. Aspects of it remind me of AudioMulch (whose name I couldn’t remember at the time of recording).
And finally, a great article that I saw on TapeOp about the difference between Conscious Blind ABX testing vs Sub-conscious Blind ABX testing. It may just have changed my mind regarding hardcore “audiophiles”.

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March 16, 2014

Episode 135 – The future of audio

Filed under: !Podcast,Surround sound,Vinyl — Bruce Williams @ 10:30

This week, Rob Bettla opened a huge can of worms regarding the apparently never-ending quest for improved video, while almost no progress seems to be hapeening in the area of improved audio quality.
This led to a discussion of (count ’em!) 22.2 channel audio reproduction systems,
ultra high def TV,
Occulus Rift,
these strange video pods in Japan (video 1, video 2),
and the image resolution of the eye.
Somewhere in there, we also got onto the subject of the range of human hearing.
In the last 12 months, I’ve also rediscovered the joy of vinyl. Mmmm, vinyl.
The great folks at Izotope have just published this great pdf file (completely free… go grab a copy!) of mixing tips,
and over at the Dolby blog, I found a great (and not too lengthy) article about 7 iconic movie sounds, and how they were created.

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January 26, 2014

Episode 134 – Mid-side processing

Filed under: !Podcast,Mastering,mid-side processing — Bruce Williams @ 12:00

Happy new year, one and all!
This week, an e-mail from Carlos in Venezula, asking about the state of the pro-audio industry in Australia,
more hilarity from Rob Bettla,
and Karel Weis (via Facebook) asked me to discuss mid-side decoding…. what it is, when and why we’d use it, and how to do it.

As my source, I borrowed from a post by Brad Blackwood on his (now defunct) mastering forum at ProSoundWeb many years ago.
Here’s Brad’s instructions:

Take your stereo track and copy it (or mult on an analog console) to the streams beneath it, so you have 2 identical stereo streams (we’ll call them 1&2 and 3&4) of the same track. Make sure you keep them locked in the same position, as sample accuracy is vital.

1] In your mixer, pan the first piece (1&2) as a normal stereo track of music, hard left and right.

2] Next, pan the second track (3&4) dead center for both channels and reduce their level by 3db. This will make the track mono.

3] Now phase reverse both channels of 3&4.

If you kept the tracks sample tight, when you play, you will only hear the stereo information – anything common to both channels (mono) will go away. If you bounce this resulting output to a stereo file, you have the side information isolated for further processing (we’ll call this 5&6). Now, if you mute 1&2 (leaving only 3&4 in mono and phase-reversed) you can bounce this resulting output for your mono information (we’ll call this 7&8).

Now, flip polarity on streams 5&6. Then reduce 7&8 by 3db (and make sure both 7&8 are panned center), they’ll recombine, giving you your normal stereo output.

Now you can strap whatever processing your want across these streams to affect just the mono image or just the stereo information…

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Filesize: 32MB
Duration: 58:41

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