What is Audio Engineering?

CRAS Instructor Eli Salazar Teaching Broadcast Classes

CRAS Instructor Eli Salazar Teaching Broadcast Classes

What does audio engineering mean? What does an audio engineer do? Do I need to go to audio engineering school for that? Is there a difference between audio engineering, music production, or sound recording? What about producing and beat-making? What are “recording arts”?

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Top 5 OS X Shortcuts for Audio Engineers

mac os x audio engineer

There is no doubt that Mac computers are found in staggering numbers within the music industry. While a common complaint about the Mac Operating System is that it is too “user friendly” and not “technical” enough, there are a lot of hidden tricks and shortcuts that can be phenomenally useful. Here are seven:

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Break in speakers: Do I need to?

break in speakersThere is a lot of talk about whether or not newly bought speakers should be broken in. On one side, speakers are a type of mechanical device and a lot of people compare new speakers to a new car. Most car manufacturers recommend that you drive the car specific ways to break in the motor and mechanical parts correctly. For example, it is recommended to drive at varying RPMs for the first 500 miles with some turbo or high performance vehicles, as opposed to setting cruise control and running it on the highway at the same speed.

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Rode i16 Surround Mic

i16 surround mic

Rode has recently announced their new i16 recording attachment for iOS devices. Based upon their critically acclaimed iXY attachment, which would allow iOS users do location recording with high quality mic capsules, the i16 extends this capability to full 16 channel surround sound.

rode surround mic

The iXY is a dual cardioid capsule bearing attachment, capable of up 96kHz sampling, and is aesthetically styled like a Zoom recorder. The i16 takes this idea further, providing 16 cardioid capsules in order to pick up the entire environment the user is operating in.

Rode founder and president Peter Freedman explains:

“When developing the iXY we were focused on providing the ultimate in stereo audio capture for iOS devices. But during the project it became that there was a large proportion of the market who wanted to record in complete surround. We’ve taken that seriously and produced the i16.”

The i16, when combined with Rode’s Rec app, can record up to sixteen tracks simultaneously at 96kHz. Using individual gold-sputtered capsules, the user is allowed full freedom to record mono, stereo, surround or anything in-between.

“Once the user records the surrounding environment, software processing inside RØDE Rec will allow them to cancel background noise through phase manipulation of the other channels, working much in the same way as noise-cancelling headphones.” explained Mr Freedman. “In this way the i16 is even more effective at recording dialogue than a traditional shotgun microphone.”

Read more about this at Rode’s website here.

How to Soundproof Your Apartment

Not everyone can afford a house, and in many places if you want to live close to where a lot of audio work is, you’ll probably have to live in an apartment anyway. Unfortunately, apartments aren’t designed to be the most sound acoustic space ever, and usually they are far from it. While mixing on headphones is OK from time to time, sometimes you just have to use speakers to really understand what is going on in your mix. If you want to actually record real instruments in your apartment, your neighbors are going to get tired of you real quick.

Alexander Gelfand wrote up a great article for Wired.com about what he did to his New York apartment so his wife could keep practicing drums without them being through out of the place.

They certainly took this job overboard and spent way more than most people probably would on this job, but they do have some great tips on what they have done:

  • Go Green

Green Glue is a new product made by the Green Glue Company. It is an adhesive used for mounting drywall, and it works really well at converting acoustic energy into heat.

  • False Ceiling, Real Results

Creating a drop ceiling allows you to control your acoustic space better, and having the buffer of empty airspace does a great job as a sound-trapping chamber.

  • This Carpet Sure Is Heavy

Even if you don’t have downstairs neighbors, a nice thick carpet and solid flooring can help isolate acoustic vibrations from outside your place. Most studios have a floating floor to accomplish this, but if you can’t replace your floor altogether you can use a couple different materials, such as mass-loaded vinyl to decouple what’s on your floor from the floor itself.

  • Block Those Exits

Doors are often the weakest links in a soundproofed room. Ensuring you have quality, thick doors, and no gaps in the weather stripping is a great start to solidifying your doorways.

  • Fill any gaps with flexible caulk
  • Mount anything that shakes on isolation pads
  • Make baffles for your walls and ceilings. Bonus if you can make adjustable ones so you can change the tonality of your room.

Read more about his experience and his tips on making this happen here.

Pitch Correction 101

It’s no secret that audio engineers can alter the tuning of vocals either during or after recording. Originally finding fame with artists like Cher and E-40, pitch correction using software runs rampant through the modern industry. Sometimes it’s used cleverly, sometimes it’s overkill, but love it or not it makes money in this industry so we may as well accept that fact at least!

pitch correction 101

Not only can pitch correction be used to make a performance sound better, but it can also be used as a creative tool, as we can see here…

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Grad Spotlight: Wes Willard

cras grad wes willard

Graduating in 2005, Wes Willard has been immersed in the audio industry for 8 years now. Currently he works as the Front of House engineer for Covenant International Church. He was kind enough to do a quick Q&A with some future CRAS students, and I thought I’d share it here with you all!

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Mopey Mic Stands

mic microphone stand stands

Mic stands are a necessary evil in the audio industry, whether you are in the studio, playing live, or doing post production work. Anyone who has been around their fair share of mic stands knows that eventually, the stand will get to a point where the boom just droops, no matter how hard you tighten the clutch.

This problem is caused usually by moving the boom around without properly loosening it first, although this will no doubt become a problem eventually with nearly any mic stand. The good news is that this issue can commonly be easily and cheaply be fixed.

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Why test mics by saying “check 1, 2”?

test mics hall check

Just about everyone who has seen a live concert is familiar with hearing the phrase “check 1, 2” or “test 1, 2” when people test mics. But why is this used instead of some other sort of phrase?

People tend to have varying opinions on this, but one thing is sure, no one likes to hear “check check 1 2” all night, so is it really useful? There are actually a few reasons behind using this phrase over others to test mics, although there are plenty of other phrases that can accomplish a similar task.

First off, let’s look into a few terms related to vocals, and specifically vocal miking and recording.

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Berkeley Creates the First Graphene Earphones

Postdoctoral researcher Qin Zhou and physics professor Alex Zettl have been working in Berkeley labs to come up with a revolutionary new audio technology. They have developed the first prototype speaker using a “new” material, graphene as the diaphragm. What is graphene?

graphene mic earphones headphones

Graphene is a material that has an extremely low mass density, but an incredibly high mechanical strength. Essentially it is a one atom thick sheet of carbon atoms, arranged similarly to a chicken wire fence. The piece of graphene they are using for this test is 7 millimeters across, but only 30 nanometers thick. This makes it one of the thinnest materials that could possibly be used for this purpose.

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