Monday, March 16, 2020

Hi-Fi, Speaker Philosophy, BOSE, Apple and Andrew Jones

Been watching different things on YouTube in the last weeks. Something of a Rabbit Hole, of the videos offered to you after searching for something.

Rick Beato, in one of his videos is asked would he release his stuff in WAV format, and he said no,  as mp3 320kps is indistinguishable from uncompressed, and then presented a test with a young lady that proved that.  He also then went on about all these old guys in their late 50s and 60s who are world famous mixers, who cannot hear above 12~14 kHz and that wasn't relevant to what makes music sound good. In there somewhere the small Yamaha NS-10s is mentioned as a boring speaker, even though it was the speaker of choice for mixing with. 
Basically, some ideal of hi-fi has nothing to do with what makes music sound good.

Dr BOSE, and his philosophy of doing things differently, made BOSE a very successful company, even though Hi-Fi people hate them. BOSE is always overpriced for what it is, like Apple, and you can get much better products for less. But the way BOSE was sold meant you didn't get to see the competition, and the marketing scheme was very well executed.
Now the original BOSE 901 was a very interesting speaker and did get some large percentage of the market at the time. They have an exaggerated bass, as do all BOSE audio products.

Apple took note of that and their Dr.dre have exaggerated bass too, as does the HomePod, so these products also aren't "Hi-Fi".

Now Andrew Jones is an English man who is now a famous speaker designer, that originally worked at KEF inventing speaker measuring systems. Went on to design stuff at Pioneer, and recently at ELAC.
In a TESTED interview, he admits that measuring is more important then listening, and that designing the drivers is very important.  The original idea of Hi-Fi was to reproduce what the original concert was, but now, with everything from EDM and multi-tracked, multi-mic'ed electric guitars, there is no original "natural" source being reproduced.  You have to make that sound good. And "good" is the personnel taste of the speaker designer, and it seems that many agree with him. He doesn't like a bright top end, and that may seem to help.
His ELAC UB5 are apparently not expensive and very good. BUT also Hi-Fi.

Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac also has some interesting things to say. It isn't about absolute accuracy, but does it sound good. And you can get a system that sounds good for under $150.
Massive amplifies can make a system sound more effortless, than a small amplifier, but that isn't the same as better. But bigger speakers are usually nicer than small ones.

Audio is an interesting area and my own DIATONE 8" 3 way bookshelf speakers are currently powered by a tiny Nobsound NS-01G Pro Bluetooth Class D Amplifier in our new room. They are in a bookshelf, and angled into the room and listening position.

With the provided 12V PSU, it is probably about 12W RMS a channel. I have some polyfuse devices in series with the speakers, just in case.  Haven't found cheap Chinese made stuff to last very long.

An interesting video on using REW (Room EQ Wizard) and Equalizer APO, to correct for some room effects talks about  a "home curve".  This one:

This being the Harman desired response of the speakers in a room. Now a speaker that measures flat in an anechoic chamber doesn't measure that way in a real room. It has a falling output with increasing frequency, and that is what this "home-curve" is.

The red trace in a plot above shows the unfiltered response of our bookshelf speakers driven by the small Nobsound amp. The big dips are room nulls. This response is actually fine and shows a to be expected fall with increasing frequency.

To actually improve this, the first step is to acoustically treat the room, rather than use EQ of any kind. EQ doesn't get rid of slap back echo, reflections, standing waves or other effects. Treat the room with absorption at the first reflection points (this improves imaging) and  bass traps to reduce the bass area nulls.  The tech in REW and Equaliser APO is cool, but not really the first step to take to correct a room.

Here is the way to fix a room, this using RealTraps products, even if this is a VERY extreme approach, and not practical for a normal house you actually live in.

But after all that, the biggest difference is the source material. The quality of recordings, mixing and mastering is enormous. Even a great system will sound poor with badly recorded, mixed and mastered material.   There are "mixed for vinyl" albums (like Rainbow) that have no bass on them at all. Any "HITS OF '71" vinyl is terrible, as the music was mastered to take up little space on the each side of the disc.
The original DEEP PURPLE- BLACK NIGHT 7" single is thin and weak without dynamics compared to Rodger Glovers' remastered version from a few years ago.

After some listening in my new room, I think I can go back and improve my own musics mixing and mastering. My new room has given me a new perspective on my recordings.

We can be contacted at ArtAndTechnology

Monday, March 2, 2020

Project Studio Monitor Speakers

All the big name gear manufacturers have stuff for your small project studio now.

Of course the reason for this is that the big Music Recording Studio Business is  much smaller than it was and very much replaced by small project studios. Many of these small studios are doing significant work the studios once did.

My own studio is more Hobby than anything else though. It may have contributed slightly to the early success of my own YouTube channel, but few have played anything other than the theme HEAVY METAL GARAGE

Would having much better studio monitors from Genelec make a difference?

In practical terms of more people hearing my music? No, not at all. You see people don't listen because the mix or mastering isn't as amazing as it could be. Same goes for my instruments.

When that is the case, I take a now unconventional path to replace or upgrading equipment. I will use a traditional style stereo amplifier and passive loudspeakers, rather than the current powered monitor arrangement.

Any mixing or mastering needs to be done by direct comparison to the standard(s) of the day and however that sounds on your speakers in your room.  I do have a mono Auratone like single speaker for mix decisions, but it is all done via referencing commercial tracks you want to sound similar too.

I originally used a Rotel Receiver for many years. I then moved to a LM3886 GainClone amp, and had a Chinese 2 x 50W CLASS D amp for back up. Coming to Japan again, means my LM3886 amp needs a new transformer that I haven't replaced yet, so it was easier to change the plug on the universal laptop 24VDC PSU powering the Class D amp.

I have 2 sets of bookshelf speakers. Two way 5" woofer with 1" tweeter and a three way 8" woofer, midrange tweeter set.  Things all sound different on these and a speaker switch box allows for switching between them to catch what that is.

I used to always find the sound in the car to be the most revealing though. Simulating that would be the break thru the studio world has been waiting for. What listening in the car mostly revealed was if the low end was too loud. Small speakers and small rooms make judging that very difficult, as the low end doesn't get reproduced accurately. The room standing waves add nulls or peaks to it so you cannot judge correctly. Not easy to fix with room treatment in a normal room either.

Knowing your speakers well is important, but that was easier when I was in my 20s when you had the time for that listening.

We can be contacted at Art & Technology

Making New Free To Listen to Music Tracks...

Just looking at my Megacurve on Sound Cloud tracks and see I have 29 there.

If your not aware of Soundcloud , it is a website musicians put their music for people to listen to for free.  Bandcamp is another similar site. I am there too.

They are both kind of like YouTube for music, but unlike YouTube, I think most people going there are people that put music there, rather than music consumers.

I get one or 2 people listening to one or 2 tracks a week there. Always the same tracks, so my stuff doesn't get much traffic. I have used my music  for my sound tracks on my YouTube channel, so it is all 100% my own material, so I have no Copyright violations.

But algorithm changes on YouTube has meant I get far fewer views in recent years compared to when I started it, so there isn't any incentive to keep making videos, and similarly new music tracks for videos.

Last week I looking at the YouTube channel JohnAudioTech and he was saying how he doesn't get the views any more either, and that will probably impact how often he does them moving forward. I see he had over 1,000,000 views on one of his videos,  which is considerably more than the 58,000 of my most popular video.
I think that just means I am even less inclined to make any new videos when my last has had 24 views in 5 months.  Have heard other YouTubers talk about this issue too, as they are loosing income for it.

I will be spending the time doing something else more productive now.

We came to the conclusion years ago that Twitter and Facebook were a complete waste of time for promotion of our works.  The engagement they force doesn't help at all. Your more likely to come up against a Troll or "Fandom Gate Keeper" , (not going to name them here) that are far more destructive than helpful, and the nature of Social Media encourages those types and their followers. 

Now making music is fun and engaging so we don't need to stop doing it, but putting tracks up isn't worth the trouble the way things are at the moment.  No upside to it.

So we are diving into other Projects, written Japanese is one of them, and new approaches now, and of course, continuing with the Freelance Illustration work. 

We can be contacted at Art & Technology.

THIS IS WHERE THE SMOKE COMES OUT is a free online webcomic of our journey through drawing, music, Hi-Tech and to and from Japan. Only 40 pages at this point in time, and been told it is interesting.