I’ve had Melodyne in my audio production arsenal for many years and have used it only occasionally to play around with for radio imaging voice overs. It’s main purpose of course is to fix out of tune singers in music production. I call it the more beautiful sister of Auto-Tune.
The other day a friend of mine sent me a video interview his son had done with Dr. Gerald H. Pollack talking about The Fourth Phase of Water [video]. The interview was well done, good questions, great information, nicely edited but at one point in the video the thing all sound guys fear the most when doing these kinds of documentary interviews, outside the location a truck started backing up! Beep, beep, beep, beep….
While it’s understandable given the location and while slightly annoying, I thought it would have been better to find a way to get rid of it in post production. The best they could have done was to play with the EQ and try to knock it down a bit so it wasn’t as harsh…but then I had a thought!
I opened up a new session in ProTools and imported the video with it’s audio track. Loaded the Melodyne plug in on the audio track and voila! There it was as clear as day…!
I highlighted it and hit delete. And as simple as that, the sound of the backing up truck was gone! Amazing!
Of course there is a bit of EQ tweaking to do but for the most part Melodyne had done the job.
Try it out next time you have the same issue, you’ll be amazed too!
Whether you work in a radio production studio, post production sound studio, TV edit suite, a bedroom project studio or world class music recording facility, the placement of your reference monitors matter.
When making critical decisions about EQ and stereo placement…if your studio reference monitors are not placed correctly your audio mix will not translate outside of your studio environment.
I’ve put together these 6 tips to getting your reference monitors properly setup and placed so you can get the best out of your studio recordings.
1. Don’t Use Consumer Speakers
It must be said straight away that using so called “consumer” speakers as a way to mix your audio is a mistake. Most consumer speakers are made to enhance the sound coming out of the speakers, to make it sound more pleasing for the casual listener. In your recording environment you want the flattest, most neutral sound possible to help you make the right decisions for your mix.
I remember many years ago when shopping for a pair of new speakers for my home, the salesman placed the speakers right up against the wall, going as far as to cram a cassette tape box between the speaker and the wall to “bring out the bottom end” as he put it. When you place a speaker against a wall it gives it an accentuated bass response…something that may sound cool in your living room, but simply won’t do in a recording studio environment.
Freestanding placement of your reference monitors is ideal. See my example below.
Most studio reference monitors come with recommendations to compensate for your room if you need it. My Behringers let you adjust low frequency, high frequency and give an option for room adjustment (see photo below). Read the manual that came with your reference monitors.
3. Keep Them Symmetrical
When you place your studio reference monitors keep them positioned symmetrically. The distance from the speaker to the left and right wall should be identical. Likewise the 2 monitors should be the same distance from the back wall.
4. The Ideal Angle
Putting your reference monitors too close or too far apart from each other will give you a false sense of the stereo image you’re trying to create. Ideally, place your speakers about 3 feet apart and each speaker 3 feet from your sitting position. The ideal angle for your reference monitors is 60º…or 30º to the left and 30º to the right of your listening position.
5. Watch Out for Reflections
To get the most out of your reference monitors you’ll want to have as clean a monitoring environment as possible. This means minimizing the amount of reflective surfaces in your room. Keep in mind that reflections don’t just come from the walls but also from unavoidable surfaces like your mixer or table top, maybe even a TV screen. Minimize the amount of reflective surfaces directly between you and your monitors as much as possible by laying down a thin rubber mat on your table tops, perhaps lift up the rear of your mixer to change the angle of any reflection bouncing up at you from it. You’ll also need to think about your ceiling…reflections will be bouncing down towards you unless you place acoustic treatment up there also.
Don’t forget reflective surfaces behind and/or to the side of your listening position. They will add longer (delayed) reflections and influence your mixing choices.
It goes without saying that working in your studio at high volume levels is not good for your hearing over the long term.
In the short term, mixing at loud levels will give you bad results when your mix is listened to at average, lower levels.
It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your reference monitors, it’s a scientific fact that the louder you listen to music the more the lows and highs drop off. Trying to EQ the low end of your project while blasting your speakers will leave the bottom sounding flat when listened to at normal volume, the same goes for the high end. The phenomena is best explained through the Fletcher-Munson curves.
If you want to get the most out of your reference monitors use them at a reasonable volume in the range of 80-85 dBspl.
Setting up your studio reference monitors properly will enhance your recording studio environment and ultimately the audio output of your studio.
I hope these tips have helped you. Do you have any tips to add? Enter it in the comments field below.
Admittedly, one of the hardest things for radio people to do is to listen to their radio station the way a listener listens, but it remains a crucial skill that broadcaster’s need to develop before they can properly brand their radio station.
For far too long radio programmers have thought they heard listeners say they wanted “Less Talk, More Rock”, yet that was an over simplification of what listeners were asking for from their radio station.
With radio’s ever increasing competition from satellite radio and internet radio websites (like Live365.com and Shoutcast.com), not to mention a flotilla of other entertainment options like digital TV, home theater and video games, we have to better understand what listeners come to our stations for and echo that proposition in our imaging statement.
It doesn’t matter how hard you want to be “The Rock Station That REALLY Rocks”, if the audience doesn’t see you as being that then you will only be “The Rock Station That THINKS It Really Rocks”. Branding begins in the consumers mind so the first step to better branding is to understand how we are perceived.
What’s For Dinner
As an entertainment option, let’s try to understand why people turn to radio. Imagine this: You and your significant other go out to a restaurant for dinner with a couple of friends. What are you actually going out for, the food? Not necessarily. While the food is the object of the get together, it isn’t the reason for getting together, you want to talk, catch up and share stories. In the same way, your listeners are coming to you for the music (or information if you are a News/Talk station) but what’s making them stay and what compels them to come back time and time again? As I’ve said in other articles, songs (or information) are the bricks of this ‘radio house’ if you will, but what holds it all together is the mortar…what’s holding your ‘radio house’ together?
Better Radio Imaging Through Better Understanding
So how does all of this relate to imaging your radio station? As soon as you realize that the reason your listeners are listening to your radio station isn’t just for the music you’ll see that “Less Talk, More Rock” isn’t a very good way to brand yourself in fact it’s quite limiting. Saying that you play “10 Songs In A Row” or “100 Songs In A Row” for that matter, doesn’t cut it either. If that’s what they really want they’ll just plug into their iPod and get 1,000 songs in a row! It’s necessary to understand what makes your listener listen and then give them that wrapped up neatly in your imaging. If your audience’s understanding of what your station is doesn’t match yours then ask yourself why? Then decide if you should change your station or adjust your imaging to match your listeners expectations.
Time to Rethink
Branding is an art that honestly, most radio people haven’t mastered yet. You need to capture your listener’s imagination while reflecting their perceptions. To help make my point I use this example often: if a radio person were in charge of coming up with the imaging statement for Coca-Cola it would be something like, “Your Favourite Blend of Sugar, Water and Artificial Coca Flavouring”. Uh, yeah, that’s what it is, but how is it perceived in the mind of the consumer? It’s seen as being the number one Cola on the market, they defined what all Cola’s are, Coca Cola was the first cola drink most of us ever experienced, which is why it is better branded as: “The Real Thing”.
The Hudson’s Bay Company isn’t branded as “Cloths, Perfume, Kitchen Appliances and Furniture”, it’s branding statement is “More Than You Came For”
Hewlett Packard is not “Printers” it’s imaging statement is “Invent”
Bell Mobility isn’t “Cell Phones and Accessories” it’s “We Are All Connected”
Microsoft isn’t “Computers”, it’s “Where Do You Want To Go Today”
Do you see how brand savvy companies have captured the spirit of how the consumer sees their product? So why would you brand your radio station as being the station that “Plays Your Favourites Of The 70’s 80’s, 90’s and Now”. It’s time to rethink the way you brand your radio station. Ask yourself, what is the unique proposition that you can offer a listener. Or better yet ask your listener what they think of your radio station.
While a perceptual study is a good idea I would never rely entirely on its outcome, the way they are done can be misleading. Remember it was a focus group that gave us “Less Talk, More Rock”… That being said listen to what your jocks are saying about the calls they get, at public events strike up a conversation with a listener or even hang around in the lobby and listen to what contest winners are saying about the station to your receptionist. You may be surprised at what you actually hear your listeners say about your station…because it won’t be about the food!
David Tyler is a creative communicator and voice over talent with 25+ years of experience in the broadcast world of TV and radio.
His mantra of 'Stop Communicating and Start Connecting' is his counsel to anyone attempting to use media, old or new, broadcast or online.
He writes and lectures on "The Art of Communicating Ideas".
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