How Planes in WW2 Can Inform your Mic Choices

articles Aug 28, 2019

This week I saw a viral post on Facebook regarding survivorship bias (a subset of selection bias) regarding planes in WW2. Survivorship bias is the logical error caused by concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions.

During the war researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses looked at the damage done to aircraft that had returned from missions and they recommended that extra armour should be added to the parts of the aircraft that showed the most damage.





Mathematician Abraham Wald noted that this logic was flawed as these planes still made it back to base. The areas where there was no damage to the returning aircraft would be the areas in which the plane is unlikely to survive and therefore these parts should be re-enforced. 

It might seem a bit off-topic but this example lead me to think about when...

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Masking 101

articles videos Jul 29, 2019



Auditory masking occurs when a sound is obscured by the presence of others. This can be either simultaneous or non-simultaneous. When masking occurs, the sound you wish to hear is called the target signal and the sound/s that is/are obscuring is/are called the masking signal.

Simultaneous masking is also known as frequency-domain masking or spectral masking. This is when two signals compete with each other in a similar frequency range at the same time.

Non-simultaneous masking is called temporal or time-domain masking. This is when two signals are competing with each other, but are not occurring at the same time. Temporal masking is particularly problematic between transient sounds (percussive sources like kicks, snares and claps). There are two varieties of temporal masking: forward and backward.

Forward masking is when the quieter target signal occurs after the masking signal; for forward masking to occur there needs to be less than 200 milliseconds between the sounds (although,...

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Referencing 101

articles videos Jul 21, 2019

When you are mixing it is easy to lose perspective on the track you are working on, it is also very easy to put the listeners focus on elements of the mix that were designed to be more texture or backing parts. Due to this and many other reasons, it is important to be able to return to a more “objective” state. Utilizing roughs mixes and commercial referencing are great ways of being able to quickly analyse your mix direction and to also “reset your ears”.

Roughs

When a piece of music is being recorded there will always be some sort of vision. It is the mix engineer’s job to take the raw recording and make it sound as good as it can, whilst retaining the vision set forward by the producer. Some styles of music and its arrangement will mean that it is a straightforward task to match the mix to the vision, for instance, a classic punk track would be very difficult to misinterpret (provided you know the remits of the genre in the first place). However, a...

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The Problem with Mixing on Headphones

articles videos Jul 15, 2019

To understand why mixing on headphones is difficult we need to understand what happens to sound in a real room environment.

 

In a real room sound reflects around the room boundaries or any physical objects in that room so when a sound leaves a speaker it doesn't just go to the listening position it just bounces around everywhere and those reflections
changes the perception of the sound at the listening position.

Simplified example of sound reflections in a control room.

 

On headphones that doesn't happen the sound is literally directly coming out of the drivers of the headphones and directly into your ear.

 

This means that you are getting absolutely zero reflections from the acoustic environment and this makes listening on headphones a completely different experience to listening on speakers.

 

To be able to make good mixing decisions the acoustic environment has to sound good and a lot of people have acoustic environments that are sub-optimal and a bad...

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Why You Suck at Setting an Expander/Gate

articles Jul 10, 2019

Expanders and gates are an integral part of music production. However, time and time again I see students implementing them poorly.

The first decision that you should make is whether you need to use one in the first place. Expanders and gates are less important than they used to be, this is because of the extended functionality available in modern DAWs. In a DAW it is simple to splice, crop, cut regions of audio or automate sections. Extended tools are available in some DAWs which make it even easier to manipulate sections of audio such as clip gain and strip silence macros.

In practice doing these tasks offline in a DAW often gives you more control, flexibility and precision. I find that this eradicates my need for an expander/gate 90% of the time.

Despite the advantages of using a DAW to achieve these effects. There are still times I prefer to use expansion/gating:

  • For kick and snare drum,
  • For side-chaining purposes,
  • To reduce noise accumulated from many instances of analogue...
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