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


May 29, 2016

Episode 157 – The value of music

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

This week, Izotope has set up a training ground for audio engineers called the Pro Audio Essentials.
Even as a 30 year veteran of this stuff, it makes for a good refresher/reality check! I highly recommend you check it out if you are interested in any form of recording or mixing.

Rob weighs in with a treatice on the imaginary value of music.
Links included:
Spotify payout rates to artists
Tidal on shaky ground?
The 27 Club

Then there’s these headphones. Full disclosure, I’ve never heard a pair. But based on what I just read, I don’t think I need to, either.

Karel asked about what the differences are between 1/4″ tape and cassette tape.
And finally, a public shoutout to Rowan for his assistance on a wiring issue I was having.

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May 6, 2016

Public Service Announcement

Filed under: blog — Bruce Williams @ 11:54

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you would by now be aware of my loathing for all things Apple.

Well, this just solidifies it.

Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

“When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted.”

If you’re an ITMS subscriber, I suggest you read the blog post I just linked to. I would seriously go postal if this happened to my music collection.


April 10, 2016

Episode 156 – The benefits of distortion

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

This episode, a little late now, but still worth a read… Rupert Neve’s touching tribute to Sir George Martin.
I get on my soapbox about the (in my opinion) incorrectly-referred-to “phase switch”.
This week, I was alerted to this unbelievably amazing video, which you need know nothing about. Just click the freakin’ link and be done with it, ok? 🙂
Last episode, I promised to post links to some audio of Ray McGregor, and then promptly forgot it. Whoops. My bad. Rob sent me this link to an aircheck of Ray on 4IP, a radio station located just outside of Brisbane.
That piece of audio is part of a larger playlist of Ray’s work, which Bill Weaver created on Soundcloud. The pieces that I would have linked to are part of that playlist.
Rob Bettla introduced me to Sony’s Project N,
the Future Lab (also a Sony property),
and the LG Tone Infinim (a similar product to Project N).
And then I get onto a bit of a discussion about drive and distortion, and what they can do for your mix (in modest quantities).

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March 13, 2016

Episode 155 – From Nervana to MQA

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

This week, a company called Nervana plan to bring you some headphones which will promote the release of dopamine in the body, whilst you’re enjoying your toons.
Some guy with waaaay too much time on his hands built this amazing hand-cranked marble-powered music machine, which he calls the Wintergaten.
Mobile phone manufacturer HTC in conjunction with Meridian Audio has just shown off (at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona) a new audio coding algorithm called MQA.
And Rob opened up a discussion on the future of voice talent; both flesh and blood, and canned.
Links included:
Voice changing algorithm
I am not a robot.

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February 21, 2016

Episode 154 – False Surround Dictatorships

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

This week, I had a follow up e-mail from Ernie re: location recording for his video naturescapes,
Rob wrote another epic titled “False Surround Dictatorships” about the disparity between the R&D dollars spent on 3D video as opposed to any kind of 3D audio (links at the end of this post),
Steve Hope asked the following, regarding podcast mastering levels (which may very well inspire a forthcoming episode of SL):

A question without notice. When you are producing your podcasts what is the maximum level you mix to in dBFS. For instance for TV broadcast the standard is line up tone -20dBFS, maximum peak level -10dBFS (some say -12dBFS) However with podcasts there isn’t a broadcast chain so what are the standards you use?

Chad is of the belief that he will have finished the final graphic edits to his movie in the next week or so, and that there will be a screening in Seattle sometime early in March (just a couple of weeks away).

I have been spending a bit of time writing answers on quora.com and have now achieved the status of “One of the Most Read Authors” in the subjects of ‘Audio recording’ and “Acoustics’ (where I am currently ranked #7 for both).
My most recent diatribe was this sub-Bettla-worthy analysis of why .wav is superior to .mp3.
And finally, a thorough explanation of just what Bit Bandit is. The free and pro versions are now both available in the Googe Play Store. And if I’m not mistaken, they are available in the iToons Music Store as well (to be confirmed).

 

Rob’s links:

HTC Hive
Oculus Rift
Google Project Tango
Magic Leap
Google and GoPro
Video from inside the cockpit of a jet fighter
Lytro Immerge
Logitech g35
Razer Kraken 7.1

 

** Addendum **

After I’d written up these show notes, James advised me that the website for Bit Bandit is live now. You can find it here. Please give the free version a go, and if you think it’ll be useful to you, dig deep for the $2 for the pro version. 🙂 And please pass the word along to any of your audio engineering friends! Cheers.

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January 3, 2016

Episode 153 – Who’s responsible for the Loudness War?

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

Happy New Year!
This week, I came across this blog post, highlighting the 50 best free VST plugins of 2015.
Along the way, I talked about the plugin Ambience from smartelectronix. One of the best algorithm-based reverbs I’ve come across (not that I use them much these days; I mostly stick to convolution reverbs).
Plus I received an e-mail from Ernie (who we haven’t heard from in ages).
Ernie wanted to know who was responsible for the Loudness War,
whether or not I’d ever come across another 2 track editor as feature-rich as Adobe Audition,
and whether I had any tips on picking microphones.
Ernie likes to record video ambience tracks, and included a link to one of his creations.

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November 22, 2015

Episode 152 – Compressor design topologies

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

This week, a “just-in-time” e-mail from Rob Bettla reveals his difficulties with deciphering Aussie slang,
his interpretation of the sound of a piece of 4″x2″ (via his soundcloud account),
the Japanese engineer with a few patents to his name, including how to make speaker cones out of wood (see the pic),

Wood speakers

and the Top 25 list of audiophile-grade home hi-fi speakers.
But I was surprised NOT to see Duntech Sovereigns on that list.

And then it’s on to my skype call with Christopher Dion of Quantum Mastering in Quebec.
In July of this year (2015), Christopher wrote a great article about the different compressor design topologies, which I came across when someone posted a link on the Reaper forum.

Here’s a brief re-cap, but I do highly recommend you read Christopher’s article…

VCA:
Stands for “Voltage Controlled Amplifier” and its compression behaviour is based on PEAK, with fast attack and release.

Opto:
Much slower response time than a VCA design. If the detector in the VCA design sees the exact signal, the opto will see an ‘averaged-over-time’ version of it.

Vari-mu:
The transfer curve is far from being linear. That means that the louder the input signal gets, the harder it is going to be compressed (compression ratio increases as the input signal level increases)

FET (Field-effect transistor):
The slowest attack time available on the FET is usually faster than the fastest attack time on a variable mu.

Here’s a couple of similar articles about design topologies:
Tangible Technology, and Sound on Sound.

Plus I found this page which describes a bunch of well known (and some obscure) compressor plugins, and the type of analogue hardware they are each designed to model/emulate.

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November 8, 2015

Episode 151 – Questions about ‘audio for motion picture’

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

This week, I answer a couple of e-mails from both Rob Bettla and Greg Anderson, regarding the move to audio for motion picture.
I WAS going to cover the compression discussion as well, but decided at the end that I’d leave it until the next episode.

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November 1, 2015

Episode 150 – Working on a movie

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

This week, iZotope is teasing the forthcoming release of Ozone 7,
plus RX5 (their awesome noise reduction suite) is out now.
Ever wondered what a close-up view of a needle tracking on a piece of vinyl might look like? Well,  wonder no more!
Interestingly, during this video, the guy talks about a format I’d not heard of before called a ‘Capacitance Electronic Disc’… apparently an analogue large-disc video format.
Plus I talk through the process of what I’ve (so far) done on Chad’s short movie.

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September 20, 2015

Episode 149 – Learning new stuff

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

This week, Rob Bettla sent me a link to an interesting product designed to augment our audio reality in real time.
You can see the company website or their promo video.
The quote I was trying to remember was from Benjamin Franklin…
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” According to wikipedia, this was first written by Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its Reply to the Governor (11 Nov. 1755).
Also, fellow Lynda author, Chad Perkins and I are currently working on the audio tracklaying and mix for a short film he has written and directed. More on this project over the coming weeks.

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August 23, 2015

Episode 148 – Stoic audio donkeys

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

I have seen, over the last week or two, a couple of different references to an issue which pivots on the holy trinity of Windows 10, FAT32-formatted removable media, and files with a .wav extension.
One instance was at Pro Tools Expert, and the other was at Sound-on-Sound.
Seems that the issue is not affecting everyone, but I just wanted to make you aware of it if you’re about to make the leap to Win10.
For years, I’ve been going on and on about consistency of audio levels in your mixes. I recently came across this blog post at current.org. It’s over 12 months old, but the information has the proverbial “long tail” (meaning it will be relevant for a long time).
Bit Bandit
Myself and a good mate are jointly working on developing an audio-related Android app, which is going by the name of Bit Bandit. Not going to divulge too much info about it yet, but we’re hoping to have something ready in the next 4-6 weeks or so. In the meantime, you can follow us (under the name audiomates) on twitter and instagram.
Rob Bettla sent me another epic e-mail, and included a piece about those people he considers to be stoic audio donkeys.
And Reaper has now officially moved on to v5. If you haven’t yet given Reaper a try, do yourself a favour!

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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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