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The Audio Expert

Book Description

The Audio Expert is a comprehensive reference that covers all aspects of audio, with many practical, as well as theoretical, explanations. Providing in-depth descriptions of how audio really works, using common sense plain-English explanations and mechanical analogies with minimal math, the book is written for people who want to understand audio at the deepest, most technical level, without needing an engineering degree. It's presented in an easy-to-read, conversational tone, and includes more than 400 figures and photos augmenting the text.

The Audio Expert takes the intermediate to advanced recording engineer or audiophile and makes you an expert. The book goes far beyond merely explaining how audio "works." It brings together the concepts of audio, aural perception, musical instrument physics, acoustics, and basic electronics, showing how they're intimately related. Describing in great detail many of the practices and techniques used by recording and mixing engineers, the topics include video production and computers. Rather than merely showing how to use audio devices such as equalizers and compressors, Ethan Winer explains how they work internally, and how they are spec'd and tested.

Most explanations are platform-agnostic, applying equally to Windows and Mac operating systems, and to most software and hardware. TheAudioExpertbook.com, the companion website, has audio and video examples to better present complex topics such as vibration and resonance. There are also videos demonstrating editing techniques and audio processing, as well as interviews with skilled musicians demonstrating their instruments and playing techniques.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Full Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. About the Author
  9. Introduction
    1. Bonus Web Content
  10. Part 1 Audio Defined
    1. Chapter 1: Audio Basics
      1. Volume and Decibels
      2. Standard Signal Levels
      3. Signal Levels and Metering
      4. Calculating Decibels
      5. Frequencies
      6. Graphing Audio
      7. Standard Octave and Third-Octave Bands
      8. Filters
      9. Phase Shift and Time Delay
      10. Comb Filtering
      11. Fourier and the Fast Fourier Transform
      12. Sine Waves, Square Waves, and Pink Noise—Oh My!
      13. Resonance
      14. Audio Terminology
      15. The Null Test
      16. Summary
    2. Chapter 2: Audio Fidelity, Measurements, and Myths
      1. High Fidelity Defined
      2. The Four Parameters
      3. Lies, Damn Lies, and Audio Gear Specs
      4. Test Equipment
      5. Audio Transparency
      6. Common Audio Myths
      7. The Stacking Myth
      8. Myth-Information
      9. The Big Picture
      10. Summary
    3. Chapter 3: Hearing, Perception, and Artifact Audibility
      1. Fletcher-Munson and the Masking Effect
      2. Distortion and Noise
      3. Jitter
      4. Audibility Testing
      5. Dither and Truncation Distortion
      6. Hearing Below the Noise Floor
      7. Frequency Response Changes
      8. Ultrasonics
      9. Ringing
      10. Aliasing
      11. Phase Shift
      12. Absolute Polarity
      13. Ears Are Not Linear!
      14. Blind Testing
      15. Psychoacoustic Effects
      16. Placebo Effect and Expectation Bias
      17. When Subjectivists Are (Almost) Correct
      18. Summary
    4. Chapter 4: Gozintas and Gozoutas
      1. Audio Signals
      2. Audio Wiring
      3. Audio Connectors
      4. Patch Panels
      5. Impedance
      6. Summary
  11. Part 2 Analog and Digital Recording, Processing, and Methods
    1. Chapter 5: Mixers, Buses, Routing, and Summing
      1. Solo, Mute, and Channel Routing
      2. Buses and Routing
      3. Console Automation
      4. Other Console Features
      5. Digital Audio Workstation Software and Mixing
      6. The Pan Law
      7. Connecting a Digital Audio Workstation to a Mixer
      8. Inputs and Outputs
      9. Setting Record Levels
      10. Monitoring with Effects
      11. The Windows Mixer
      12. Related Digital Audio Workstation Advice
      13. 5.1 Surround Sound Basics
      14. Summing
      15. Gain Staging
      16. Microphone Preamplifiers
      17. Preamp Input Impedance
      18. Preamp Noise
      19. Clean and Flat Is Where It's At
      20. Summary
    2. Chapter 6: Recording Devices and Methods
      1. Recording Hardware
      2. Analog Tape Recording
      3. Tape Bias
      4. Tape Pre-Emphasis and De-Emphasis
      5. Sel-Sync
      6. Tape Noise Reduction
      7. Tape Pre-Distortion
      8. The Failings of Analog Tape
      9. Digital Recording
      10. In the Box versus Out of the Box
      11. Record Levels
      12. Recording Methods
      13. Specific Advice on Digital Audio Workstations
      14. Copy Protection
      15. Microphone Types and Methods
      16. Micing Techniques
      17. The 3-to-1 Rule
      18. Microphone Placement
      19. DI = Direct Injection
      20. Additional Recording Considerations
      21. Advanced Recording Techniques
      22. Vari-Speed
      23. Summary
    3. Chapter 7: Mixing Devices and Methods
      1. Volume Automation
      2. Editing
      3. Basic Music Mixing Strategies
      4. Be Organized
      5. Monitor Volume
      6. Reference Mixes
      7. Panning
      8. Getting the Bass Right
      9. Avoid Too Much Reverb
      10. Verify Your Mixes
      11. Thin Your Tracks
      12. Distance and Depth
      13. Bus versus Insert
      14. Pre and Post, Mute and Solo
      15. Room Tone
      16. Perception Is Fleeting
      17. Be Creative!
      18. In the Box versus Out of the Box—Yes, Again
      19. Using Digital Audio Workstation Software
      20. Slip-Editing and Cross-Fading
      21. Track Lanes
      22. Normalizing
      23. Editing and Comping
      24. Rendering the Mix
      25. Who’s on First?
      26. Time Alignment
      27. Editing Music
      28. Editing Narration
      29. Re-Amping
      30. Backward Audio
      31. Mastering
      32. Save Your Butt
      33. Summary
    4. Chapter 8: Digital Audio Basics
      1. Sampling Theory
      2. Quantization
      3. Sample Rate and Bit Depth
      4. The Reconstruction Filter
      5. Oversampling
      6. Bit Depth
      7. Pulse-Code Modulation versus Direct Stream Digital
      8. Digital Notation
      9. Sample Rate and Bit Depth Conversion
      10. Dither and Jitter
      11. External Clocks
      12. Digital Converter Internals
      13. Bit-Rate
      14. Digital Signal Processing
      15. Latency
      16. Floating Point Math
      17. Digital Audio Quality
      18. Summary
    5. Chapter 9: Dynamics Processors
      1. Compressors and Limiters
      2. Using a Compressor
      3. Common Pitfalls
      4. Multiband Compressors
      5. Noise Gates and Expanders
      6. Noise Gate Tricks
      7. Expanders
      8. But
      9. Dynamics Processor Special Techniques
      10. Other Dynamics Processors
      11. Compressor Internals
      12. Time Constants
      13. Summary
    6. Chapter 10: Frequency Processors
      1. Equalizer Types
      2. All Equalizers (Should) Sound the Same
      3. Digital Equalizers
      4. EQ Techniques
      5. Boosting versus Cutting
      6. Common EQ Frequencies
      7. Mixes That Sound Great Loud
      8. Complementary EQ
      9. Extreme EQ
      10. Linear Phase Equalizers
      11. Equalizer Internals
      12. Other Frequency Processors
      13. Summary
    7. Chapter 11: Time Domain Processors
      1. Echo
      2. Reverb
      3. Phasers and Flangers
      4. Summary
    8. Chapter 12: Pitch and Time Manipulation Processors
      1. Pitch Shifting Basics
      2. Auto-Tune and Melodyne
      3. Acidized Wave Files
      4. Summary
    9. Chapter 13: Other Audio Processors.
      1. Tape-Sims and Amp-Sims
      2. Other Distortion Effects
      3. Software Noise Reduction
      4. Other Processors
      5. Vocal Removal
      6. Summary
    10. Chapter 14: Synthesizers
      1. Analog versus Digital Synthesizers
      2. Additive versus Subtractive Synthesis
      3. Voltage Control
      4. Sound Generators
      5. Modulators
      6. Filters
      7. MIDI Keyboards
      8. Beyond Presets
      9. Alternate Controllers
      10. Samplers
      11. Software Synthesizers and Samplers
      12. Sample Libraries
      13. Creating Sample Libraries
      14. Key and Velocity Switching
      15. Sampler Bank Architecture
      16. FM Synthesis
      17. Physical Modeling
      18. Granular Synthesis
      19. Prerendering
      20. Algorithmic Composition
      21. Notation Software
      22. Summary
  12. Part 3 Transducers
    1. Chapter 15: Microphones and Pickups
      1. Microphone Types
      2. Dynamic Microphones
      3. Dynamic Directional Patterns
      4. Ribbon Microphones
      5. Condenser Microphones
      6. Condenser Directional Patterns
      7. Other Microphone Types
      8. Phantom Power
      9. Microphone Specs
      10. Measuring Microphone Response
      11. Microphone Modeling
      12. Guitar Pickups and Vibrating Strings
      13. Summary
    2. Chapter 16: Loudspeakers and Earphones
      1. Loudspeaker Basics
      2. Loudspeaker Drivers Types
      3. Loudspeaker Enclosure Types
      4. Subwoofers
      5. Enclosure Refinements
      6. Crossovers
      7. Active versus Passive Speakers
      8. Room Acoustics Considerations
      9. Loudspeaker Impedance
      10. Loudspeaker Isolation
      11. Loudspeaker Polarity
      12. Earphones
      13. Loudspeaker Specs
      14. Accurate or Pleasing?
      15. Summary
  13. Part 4 Room Acoustics, Treatment, and Monitoring
    1. Chapter 17: Acoustic Basics
      1. Room Orientation and Speaker Placement
      2. Symmetry
      3. Reflection Points
      4. Calculating Reflection Points
      5. Angling the Walls and Ceiling
      6. Low Frequency Problems
      7. Reverb Decay Time
      8. Stereo Monitoring
      9. Surround Monitoring
      10. Summary
    2. Chapter 18: Room Shapes, Modes, and Isolation
      1. Modal Distribution
      2. Room Ratios
      3. Modes, Nodes, and Standing Waves
      4. ModeCalc Program
      5. Room Anomalies
      6. Odd Room Layouts
      7. One Room versus Two Rooms
      8. Vocal Booths
      9. Surface Reflectivity
      10. Calculating Reflections
      11. Isolation and Noise Control
      12. Air Leaks
      13. Room within a Room
      14. Summary
    3. Chapter 19: Acoustic Treatment
      1. Acoustic Treatment Overview
      2. Buy or Build?
      3. Flutter Echo
      4. Absorb or Diffuse?
      5. Rigid Fiberglass
      6. Absorption Specs
      7. Material Thickness and Density
      8. Acoustic Fabric
      9. Wave Velocity, Pressure, and Air Gaps
      10. Bass Traps
      11. DIY Bass Traps
      12. Free Bass Traps!
      13. Diffusers
      14. Treating Listening Rooms and Home Theaters
      15. Bass in the Place
      16. Front Wall Absorption
      17. Treating Live Recording Rooms
      18. Hard Floor, Soft Ceiling
      19. Variable Acoustics
      20. Treating Odd Shaped Rooms
      21. Treating Large Venues
      22. Room Equalization
      23. Summary
    4. Chapter 20: Room Measuring
      1. Why We Measure
      2. How We Measure
      3. Room Measuring Software
      4. Configuring Room EQ Wizard
      5. Using Room EQ Wizard
      6. Interpreting the Data
      7. Waterfall Plots
      8. RT60 Reverb Time
      9. Energy Time Curve
      10. Using the Real Time Analyzer
      11. Measuring Microphones
      12. Microphones Comparison
      13. The Results
      14. Calibrating Loudspeakers
      15. Summary
  14. Part 5 Electronics and Computers
    1. Chapter 21: Basic Electronics in 60 Minutes
      1. Ground
      2. Volts, Amps, Watts, and Ohms
      3. Electronic Components
      4. Capacitor Upgrades
      5. Inductors
      6. Power Ratings
      7. Solenoids
      8. Transformers
      9. Switches
      10. Diodes
      11. Parasitic Elements
      12. Active Solid-State Devices
      13. Amplifier Damping
      14. Negative Feedback
      15. Power Supplies
      16. Passive Filters
      17. Amplifiers
      18. Active Filters
      19. Digital Logic
      20. Practical Electronics
      21. Splitters and Pads
      22. Phone Patch
      23. Summary
    2. Chapter 22: Test Procedures
      1. Frequency Response
      2. Ringing
      3. Harmonic Distortion
      4. IM Distortion
      5. Null Tests
      6. Disproving Common Beliefs
      7. Oscilloscopes
      8. Summary
  15. Part 6 Musical Instruments
    1. Chapter 23: Musical Instruments
      1. Instrument Types
      2. Sympathetic Resonance
      3. The Harmonic Series Is Out of Tune
      4. Equal Temperament
      5. "Wood Box" Instruments
      6. Bowed Instruments
      7. The Bow
      8. The Stradivarius
      9. Plucked Instruments
      10. Amplification
      11. Solid Body Electric Guitars
      12. Blown Instruments
      13. Flutes
      14. Single Reeds
      15. Double Reeds
      16. Brass Instruments
      17. Percussion Instruments
      18. The Piano
      19. Mozart, Beethoven, and Archie Bell
      20. Summary
  16. Index