The Gibson Tonewood Debacle

On my audiophile daily rounds I came across this article which I’d like to point you to. It describes the raid on the Gibson guitar factory in Nashville, Tennessee during August, 2011. The raid was apparently over a supposed violation of the Lacey Act, which was enacted to protect endangered materials, which are sometimes used in the making of guitars. The CEO of Gibson claimed in an interview that the raid was a perversion of the law and was based on the nations exporting the materials desiring more labor for their workforce rather than any actual infringement of the Lacey Act. He expresses concern about the interpretation of the Lacey Act for corporations and consumers alike.

Anyway worth a read for all those that just love any news about Gibson guitars! Read the full article here:
The Gibson Tonewood Debacle

Autotune Accidentally Invented By Oil Scientist

For today’s daily audiophile roundup I thought I’d share this article written by the excellent Bobby Owsinski of about auto tuning. Given the recent popularity of T-Pain and you tube clips of interviews turned into songs everyone knows about auto tuning but what will surprise you is that it was not a musician nor a production company that invented the technique. It was rather a man simply experimenting with ways to find oil! He was just a simple oil digger.

His technology for finding oil involved sound waves and he just stumbled on the auto tune technology and being a lover of music saw a prospective use of it in the modern music industry. Since its discovery in 1990 it has been used for everything from, well, lousy out of tune singers to those who adapted it into their overall style.

If you want to learn more about the history and discovery of auto tuning, best to read more. 

Read the full article here:
Autotune Accidentally Invented By Oil Scientist

When Is Your Mix Done?

Are you ever really done mixing a song? Choosing when to call it quits can be a tough decision. Try to get yourself under control by setting time limits that work for you. It can be tempting to keep trying to find that perfect mix. So, pick a number of revisions and stick with it. Forcing yourself to stand by your decisions lets you complete more work and move on to try again.

Read the full article here:
When Is Your Mix Done?

Should I? Two Words You Should Never Say In The Studio

On my daily audiophile round up I came across the following interesting post about making the most of your studio time. In the piece the writer states that “Should I” are the two words you should never say in the studio. The main reason for this is the fact that learning how studio equipment works involves trying new equipment out and seeing what sound comes out. Instead of saying “should I” in the recording studio just try it out for yourself first and see if you like it or not.

Read the full article here and let me know if you agree:
Two Words You Should Never Say In the Studio

“Radio Receiver Operating In An Automobile”

In Harry F. Olson’s book entitled, “Acoustical Engineering” which was originally published in 1947, he discusses a radio placed in an automobile. It is interesting to see the “acoustical thought” that was in use in 1947 and compare that thinking and application with current acoustical trends.

Rather than paraphrase his book section and make comparisons to modern day applications, I will just quote the entire section below and let you, the reader, make the modern day similarities and differences. Any parentheses inserted are by myself to improve understanding when text refers to a graphic:

Acoustical Engineering – Automobile Radios
The primary loudspeaker in an automobile is usually located in one of four locations, namely in front of instrument enclosure (this would be a front panel mounted speaker), in the top of the instrument enclosure (this would be a dash mount speaker firing into the windshield), in the fire wall or dash, and in the header above the windshield. The header location gives somewhat better distribution of the high frequency response in the back seat than the three other locations. However, the low frequency response of a loudspeaker mounted in the header is usually attenuated due to the small volume behind the loudspeaker.

The dash or firewall location gives fair distribution of the high frequency response in the front seat, but very poor distribution in the rear seat. The low frequency response in this position can be made very good by employing a large loudspeaker case or by venting the back of the case into the engine department. Sometimes a combination of a low frequency dash loudspeaker and a high frequency header or instrument panel loudspeaker is employed. At the present time, the favored position for the loudspeaker appears to be in the instrument panel because in this location the radio receiver, loudspeaker, and controls may be combined into a single compact unit.

The distribution of sound is excellent in the front seat and good in the back seat. The stiffness presented to the back of the cone because the entire radio receiver case volume is used to enclose the back of the loudspeaker. In this manner, the response can be maintained in the low frequency range. In order to improve the reproduction of sound in the rear seat, a secondary loudspeaker is used in the rear. (header area between rear seats and windshield)

The conditions under which an automobile radio receiver operates differs widely from those of a loudspeaker in the living room. It will be seen that the automobile is a small enclosure with short distances between the loudspeaker and the listener. This is fortunate because wind,road rumble, and engine noise mask the reproduced sound. The power output of the receiver should be powerful enough to override these noises and give intelligible reproduction of speech and pleasing reproduction of music.

In view of the fact that the sound level delivered to the loudspeaker is quite high under the noise conditions, it is important that the frequency response characteristics be smooth and free of peaks, otherwise the reproduced sound will be disagreeable due to the high level of peaks relative to the general level. It is also important that the nonlinear distortion be kept at a low value because spurious components in the reproduction of sound are more apparent at the higher sound levels.

Speaker locations today, differ slightly from those represented in this book chapter. Now, we do most of the speaker and sound manipulation in the digital domain and bounce the sound around between the speakers inside the vehicle to try and produce some order to our sound presentation. It is difficult in a “glass bowl” for even a computer.

The Deflavorizing Machine

Woody Allen once imagined a “Deflavoring Machine” with which his mother must have used to make certain that dinner was utterly without taste. The Deflavoring Machine concept also comes to mind in this review of modern digital music production and it’s sterile, negative effect on recorded music. While many champion the pure realistic sound of digital, many audiophiles still feel that often the soul of the music is lost in the zeroes and ones.

Read the full article here:
The Deflavorizing Machine

Broadcasting Studios in 1947

In Harry F. Olson’s book, “Acoustical Engineering”, originally published in 1947, he discusses acoustical room treatment for the broadcast studios of this time period. It is always nice to look back at what used to be and compare it to what is now. Maybe, we can learn something.

In his section on “Broadcasting Studios”, he says that the acoustic goal “in the early days” was for a very low reverberation time. Obviously, more absorption type material used, the more difficult it is for singers and instruments to come through consistently and predictably all the time. He goes on to say that now (1947) the microphones are used are directional. This use of more directional microphones (1947) ” has eliminated the necessity of extremely dead studios.” As a result of this, ” the quality and artistic effects of the collected sound are materially enhanced.” Once again we are in 1947. I wonder what sound engineers today, would say about this microphone technique.

He then focuses on the current thinking (1947) of acoustic room treatments for broadcast studios. He talks about reflections from room boundary surfaces and “standing wave systems”. These “standing waves systems” produce uneven pressure distributions throughout the room and their value must be reduced down to the lowest level. This can be accomplished by leaving the walls very absorbent, thus producing a very “dead” room. Olson goes on to say that a better balance is a blend of diffusion and absorption. He discusses four different diffusion/absorption blends that they used in his time.

The first room treatment absorption/diffusion product combination was a series of different size rectangular patterns containing some type of absorption material. The absorbing material was to be placed at certain positions on the room walls. These positions were based on a paper written for the Journal Of Acoustics by Potwin and Maxfield. I am guessing that direct opposite walls had opposite treatment arrangements. Anyway, this method involved a series of arranged sound absorbing panels hung on a standard wall and the wall itself that was not covered by the absorbing panels provided the “diffusion” for this scenario and the rectangular panels the absorption.

The second blend of treatment was a series of poly cylindrical devices with a curved surface placed side by side throughout the studio walls. This states the author provides diffusion. Today, we now know that a curved surface such as found in a poly cylindrical unit is really sound redirection and not actual sound diffusion. No matter what the nomenclature, Olson figured out one had to use both diffusion and absorption to achieve some sort of sonic reality in a small room. This is still not known today, both at the professional and the consumer level.

Method three is a series of panels once again, but this time the flat panels are placed next to each other, but at about 30 degree angles from each others corners The surface of each panel is serrated to provide “diffusion”. Once again, more sound redirection instead of real diffusion as we know today. Method number four is identical to number one, but with spherical shaped absorbing panels instead of rectangular shaped ones. I am assuming the same described layout in number one is preferred.

It is great to see that absorption and “diffusion” (sound redirection) room acoustic technologies were alive and well in 1947. They were a solution to “dead rooms” in 1947. This combination of actual sound diffusion and sound absorption is used today with many variations on this standard and time tested theme for room acoustic treatments.

How Do You Stop Low Frequency Issues in a Small Room?

How does one stop low frequency issues in a small room? The short answer is that one does not stop low frequency or bass issues in small room acoustics. The best we can hope for from an acoustical design perspective is for minimization of the major issues and some patience and toleration of the others. The reason for this is basic physics.

Physics 101
A 40 Hz. wave is how long? A 40 Hz. wavelength can be found by dividing the speed of sound in feet which is 1,130 feet / second by the frequency we need to find the length of. Dividing 1,130 by 40 produces a quotient of around 28 feet. Therefore, a 40 Hz. wave is 28 feet long.

If we wanted to be absolutely sure acoustically, we need a room at least 28 feet long in every dimension in order to not have this long, low frequency wave cause any acoustical issues at our listening position. Unfortunately, real estate is expensive and having a room with a 28′ length, width, or height is a rarity. We need a powerful “sponge” to deal with these low frequency wavelengths.

Current low frequency products in the marketplace do not work for many reasons. Sometimes, a low frequency or “bass” absorber is an afterthought to an existing companies product line. They spent their monies on middle and high frequency control and left the more difficult design issues of low frequency absorption on the sideline.

Since they are marketing absorption panels, they need a bass absorber to round out their product line. I have seen companies even raise the definition of low frequency control to match their products poor absorbing performance. Some companies consider low frequency absorption to be at 400 Hz. Really?

Most low frequency absorbers simply don’t cut it
Most low frequency absorbers in the market place can be thrown over your shoulder and carried out of the room. How does one absorb enough low frequency energy to have a sonic impact in their products if one can carry it out by hand. How does one absorb parts of a 28′ long wave with a hand held device. The answer is you don’t.

One can change the design absorption frequency to match what the product actually absorbs at and call it a low frequency absorber, but the reality is that it is not a low frequency absorber. It is only marketing jargon that the uninformed will buy into and eventually purchase. after a brief period of use, they will still have low frequency issues.

Address the energy that falls below 100 Hz
Low frequency energy control requires a design parameter that addresses low frequency energy that falls below 100 Hz. It must have this design criteria firmly in line and focus if it is going to create a product that actually absorbs below 100 Hz. It must also absorb at a high rate and level at the most problematic frequencies found in most rooms.

These are the low frequencies that fall from 30 Hz. – 50 Hz. One can not absorb effectively at these frequencies with a product that is lightweight and small. The laws of physics will not allow for this no matter what the companies sale literature says.

In Summary

If you have any questions follow up questions on this subject please feel free to email me and I will be happy to help. Please message me at [email protected]. If you want to learn more about room acoustics please sign up for our free acoustic video training series and ebook. Upon sign up you will have instant access to the room acoustic training videos and ebook to help improve the sound in your studio, listening room or home theatre.


4 Myths About Making It

This article is about how the celebrity, famous world is not as glamorous as it appears to be. The author of this article explain 4 different reasons why being famous and making a lot of money is not so great. His reasons range from not a definite guaranteed perfect lifestyle to aspects about making the money. He explains that it is a long process and can take many years to finally start making lots of money and then when you have the money you have to protect it.

Read the full article here:
4 Myths About Making It

Rage Guitarist Tom Morello Talks Gear Reality

I just came across this interesting article on which dicusses the fact that the musical equipment Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello uses to this day is pretty much the same kit he has used for nearly 20 years. In fact, he claims that the newest piece of gear that he uses today was purchased in 1991. This surprises the author, and he states an interesting point that their must be a balance between being obsessed with one’s “gear” as a musician to find perfect tones, and simply letting your musical styles dictate the sounds a musician makes naturally.

Read the full article here and let me know what you think:
Gear Wisdom From “Rage” Guitarist Tom Morello