Audio Engineering

The main focus of my study right now is the creation of studio music recordings. This is a field that is well over one hundred years old, and with such maturity comes a variety professional practices and definitions of  success. In order to develop and cultivate skills in this field I sought the guidance of local professionals in the field. My search lead me to Sprout City Studios where I enrolled in a class thought by its owner Thaddeus Moore. This series of  five lectures and discussions, with a small group of extremely passionate music enthusiasts, developed my skills in both the technical and personal aspects of the industry.

The technical aspects of the class ranged from proper microphone placement and recording techniques to the intricacies of various types of electronic signal processors like compressors, limiters, equalizers, and pre-amps. The difference between op amp, tube, and FET processors was also introduced. Several examples of microphone recording anomalies were discussed and demonstrated. The most interesting of there was the mid/side set up which allows for increably flexible processing after recording. Additionally the effect of doubling the distance of the microphone from the source was proved to create drastic changes in timbre. When the focus of the class shifted to the signal after recording the computer roll in the class became much more prevalent. Thad first began with equalization. He demonstrated the flexibility of modern digital equalizers then he moved on the show how digital emulations of hardware signal processors color or distort the sound to achieve a more “traditional” analog results.

The next discussions was all about how data compressions affects recorded sound. The meat of this discussion was establishing the nuances the differntiate bit depth and sample rate. Once that concept had been established the mechanism of audio data compression was introduced with the .MP3 format being the focus of the lesson. In short .mp3 files are inappropriate for professional audio production because they have been arbitrarily truncated, in terms of musicality, and inserting them into a project and arbitrarily truncating them again at the end of said project produces uncontrollable and often unmusical results.

Attending this series of lectures increased my understanding of professional recording practices. Not only was Thad more than proficient and explaining the technical side of engineering recordings. He also offered several insights throughout the class as to was type of etiquette is expected in an environment where you are receiving compensations to technical assistance in the creation of  another’s artistic vision. Delicacy, charm, and confidence all must coexist to get the most out of working partnerships such as these. I found these classes to be extraordinarily worthwhile because they not only laid  solid foundation on which to continue to expand my abilities, but also because they brought together a group of like minded people from various age groups and backgrounds and got them to share their thoughts and opinions on concepts that actually interested everyone there.

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