Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks | DiskMakers

shutterstock 170956478 Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks

[This article was written by Alex Andrews of Ten Kettles Development.]

The equalizer (EQ) is a very powerful tool that is EVERYWHERE. Seriously. Open up iTunes and click on the “Window” menu. There it is. As a musician, you’re going to see some form of EQ on virtually every soundboard and amp you play through. This is fantastic, because if you spend a bit of time developing your EQ skills, you’ll suddenly be able to bring a lot more control to your sound—no matter what venue you’re playing in. This article is for new bands looking to take control of their sound and bring it to the next level. Looking to get your head around the basics? You’ve come to the right place. Welcome.

Primer: what’s an EQ anyway?

There are many different types of EQs—graphic, parametric, semi-parametric, and so on—and though they’re each used a little differently, they all do a very similar thing: an EQ makes a group of frequencies louder or quieter. For example, think of the “Bass” knob on a stereo: it’s just a simple EQ that controls the low frequencies. Getting comfortable with the idea of frequencies is a great first step in gaining control of your live sound. 

iTunesEqualizer 1 Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks
The graphic EQ in iTunes controls 10 frequency bands

Let’s take a look at the iTunes equalizer (if you have iTunes, just click “Window” and then “Equalizer”). You’ll see a 10-band EQ like the one on the right. Those numbers at the bottom of each slider are the frequencies—e.g., the slider labelled “32″ controls the very low sound around 32 Hz. Our ears generally hear between around 20 Hz and 20 000 Hz (that’s 20 kHz), so this EQ has us covered!

Different frequency ranges have different qualities, different characters, different feels—and knowing this stuff is the foundation of your future EQ mastery! For example, too much volume around 1 kHz is going to sound nasal; too little 8 kHz will sound dull. Knowing this, we can just turn up or down the right sliders to fix the problem. We’ll hear some examples of this once we get to the video!

EQing the band: it’s a team sport!

Before we get into some specifics, there are two HUGE points often overlooked by beginners, and I can’t emphasize them enough:

1. Even if all instruments sound great on their own, they may not sound good together. EQing a group of musicians is about making sure they sound excellent as a unit. If you take a great sounding band and have one member play on her own, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t sound great: a bass may sound dull, a guitar or vocal may sound thin. That’s OK! All these instruments leave a bit of space in their sound so they can jigsaw together into one impressive band sound. At a show, you play together—so that’s how you should EQ too. EQing is a team sport.

2. To make one instrument sound its best, consider everyone’s settings. For example, if the bass guitar has its highs turned up loud, the guitar may not pop through. Just turning that guitar up—instead of tweaking the bass’s settings—could cause more problems.

So what do you do? A rule-of-thumb for beginning EQers is to let each instrument own a zone. In a classic four-piece (guitar, bass, vocals, drums), give the bass the lows below ~200 Hz (turn these down on the guitar and vocals), give the guitar the mids (up to roughly 1 Hz), and let the vocals pop by owning the high-mids (around 4 kHz). A simple way to cut high-mids on an electric guitar or bass is with the tone knob usually found on many electric instruments. And this can be quite a small change too — even just a 1/8 turn can do wonders.

The vocals: making them pop

To get a good vocal sound out of a basic soundboard, you can do a few simple things. (We focus on vocals here, but many of these tips will apply to all instruments.)

Turn down the lows. Women generally don’t sing much below 200 Hz; for men it’s 100 Hz. So, any sound below those frequencies that makes it into the microphone is probably not what we want. Maybe it’s the rumble of nearby traffic, or some low-frequency electrical hum. Let’s get rid of it!

The next step depends on your equipment. You’ll likely have at least one semi-parametric EQ for the vocal track mids. (Wait, what’s a semi-parametric EQ? It’s just two knobs: one for the frequency, and one for the level.) Now listen to the vocals (with the whole band playing), and pick the problem that’s most obvious: muddiness, a nasal sound, lack of warmth, or lack of presence. Picked one? Then follow the instruction below that fits. If you have four of these semi-parametric EQs, then you can move onto the other three instructions when you’re done. If not, you’ll need to choose carefully!

SemiParametricEQ Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks
A semi-parametric EQ controls the volume of sound at a specific frequency.

Turn up the presence range. Sometimes you put on a record or go to a show, and you can clearly hear everything: lead vocals, harmonies, guitar, bass, drums—it all sounds terrific. And yet, you find one particular instrument is highlighted—usually the lead vocals. While you hear everything, you find yourself listening to that one instrument above the rest. You can place an instrument at the forefront, just like this, using the presence range (around 4 kHz). For example, if you want the vocals to really pop through, turn up this range on the vocals and turn down this range on everything else. Changes of even 3 dB (that’s small) can do a great deal.

Cut the mud or increase the warmth. The muddiness/warmth region is around 250 Hz. If your vocals are muddy and the words just aren’t making it through, you may want to cut this region. On the other hand, if the vocals sound weak and need some warmth, you’ll want to raise it.

Reduce the nasal sound. The nasal region is around 1 kHz. If you find the vocals are getting too nasal, cutting this range a little can make a noticeable improvement.

Finding the frequency. Now that you know which frequency range to adjust, let’s improve that vocal sound! We’re going to assume you have a semi-parametric EQ control for mids (explained above). To start, crank the level knob most of the way high or low, depending on if you’re cutting (e.g., to reduce mud) or boosting (e.g., to increase presence). Then have the singer sing normally (not just say “Check.. 1… 2…”!), with or without the band, as you slowly turn the frequency knob around the frequency range you want to change. For example, scan from 2 kHz to 8 kHz for presence. Somewhere in that range the effect will really stand out—that’s the magic frequency, and it’s a little different for everyone. Bring the level back to something a bit more subtle, and you’re good.

Remember: when you’re EQing the vocal, your goal is to make it sound good with the band, not just on its own. Make sure you always do some EQing with everyone playing!

The caveats: EQing is great if

Building your EQ skills can lead to a giant improvement in how your songs sound to the audience. But, just like any effect, they aren’t a fix-all: songs still need to be awesome, and the performance should still be both engaging and tight. Music comes from the heart, makes its way through your instrument and sound equipment, and connects to your audience. Knowing your effects, like EQ, makes sure it gets there in one piece! And for you vocalists, know your distance to the mic! If in doubt and you’re using the usual SM58-style microphone that you’ll find in most clubs—stay very close!

Train those ears: enter hearEQ!

Developing good EQ skills involves building both knowledge and experience—and that practical experience can be tough to get at first. That’s where hearEQ comes in. If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you can check out the hearEQapp—a 99¢ app that teaches you about different frequency bands, and then helps you practice EQing using custom exercises—all on your very own tracks. Understanding how the different frequency ranges sound—so you can say “hey, sounds like the bass could cut the highs a little” or “vocals could be warmer, let’s boost around 300 Hz”—is a powerful skill and hearEQ helps you get there. We are super proud of this app, and we hope you find it as useful as we have. Check out our video below to learn more—it’s also got some cool EQing examples!

hearEQ: Ear training for musicians, engineers, and audio lovers from Ten Kettles on Vimeo.

Bio: Alex Andrews is an engineer (B.Sc. Engineering Physics, M.Sc. Electrical Engineering), active musician, and Founder and CEO of an app development company called Ten Kettles. After ten years working with some terrific research labs—from physics to music psychology to cochlear implants—founder Alex began Ten Kettles as a creative, productive, and thoughtful company. He is passionate about creating software and mobile applications that have a positive, meaningful impact. Based in Toronto, Canada, Ten Kettles focuses on apps for music and education.www.tenkettles.com

Do traditional tours still make sense for independent artists? | DiscMakers

shutterstock 180210833 Do traditional tours still make sense for independent artists?

[This article is written by guest contributor Jason Schellhardt, writer for the live entertainment concierge service Rukkus.]

Few things in the music industry are more romanticized than the image of the battle-tested road warrior. The old rock and roll narrative suggests that being a musician means going out on tour for months at a time, hitting any and every market along the way.

This used to be the most effective way to build a fanbase outside of your local scene, but like most other things in the music industry, the internet has changed that. Booking cross-country tours no longer makes sense for newer independent artists.

The advantages of social media have been well documented as it pertains to independent musicians. It has provided an unprecedented connection between artists, fans, media, labels and so on. Artists can record a track at home, post it on their SoundCloud account and share it via Twitter or Facebook without any other means of production or distribution.

While this has been a major coup for the independent artist, there is another major advantage to new media that is often overlooked. While it is great to know who is listening to your music or following your band, it is just as important to know where these people are.

Brett is a D.C.-based indie-pop band with a unique perspective on this issue. Though Brett is a fairly new band, all of its members have had experience touring the country in previous projects. They have seen the pros and cons to the lengthy, expensive traditional tour and the more cost-effective, targeted approach.

In an interview with DMVicious last year, guitarist Kevin Bayly and vocalist Mick Coogan explained how traditional tour schedules have become somewhat counterproductive for new artists.

“The whole concept of promoting your band by hopping in a van and touring the country is ridiculous. It’s backwards now. It used to be that way,” said Bayly. “We did that when we were younger, that’s how you had to get out there and meet people. Now it’s all online. It’s cheaper and you end up playing quality shows instead of Duluth, MN, on a Tuesday.”

“For the next year we plan on hitting [D.C.], New York City and Los Angeles. Those are the most important markets for us,” added Coogan.

By paying careful attention to the band’s online presence, Brett has pared down its most important markets and focused its attention squarely on audiences that have shown that they are receptive to the band.

The pros to this approach far outweigh the cons for a newer band looking to establish itself. Once a band has built a following online and in its targeted markets, national tours make a lot more sense. But, until then it is most often a massive drain on the band’s resources.

Here are a few geo-specific strategies to help you target your band’s prefered markets:

1. Build a strong social media presence and pay attention to every single one of your followers. This one sounds like a no brainer, but it is an invaluable resource. Figure out where your followers are located and if there is any obvious trend among them. If you notice a handful of fans in the same region, you are probably onto something.

2. Maintain your website and monitor the analytic data. Similar to the social media idea, using Google Analytics, or similar tools, to monitor your web traffic can tell you where each view is coming from. Many young bands forego their own websites in favor of maintaining their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but they are all equally important.

3. Keep track of any media coverage you may get. Another major factor in your band’s web presence is the amount of coverage you are getting from online media. Keep track of any blog or website that posts your music and find out if they target a specific geographic location. You can set up a Google Alert to make this easy to track.

4. Develop relationships with media in areas you intend to target. In addition to the last item, you should seek out blogs that are prominent in certain markets and try to arrange coverage for your band. This step would be most helpful once you have established a couple of areas you intend to target.

5. Pay attention to similar artists. Imitation is an age old tradition in the music industry. Find a more established band that is similar to your own, and look at the markets where they have had success. Chances are, you could find some success there as well.

Every band is different, and what works for some may not work for others, but this geo-specific strategy is a great jumping off point for any band looking to expand its audience beyond the hometown crowd.

If nothing else, this strategy will keep you from burning a ton of money and playing empty rooms in “Duluth, MN, on a Tuesday.”

Pre-production tips for recording drums | DiscMakers

by DAN GONZALEZ

Every studio recording should begin with pre-production – here are tips to help you prepare for a drum recording session

pre-production and recording drumsThis post on pre-production tips for drummers originally appeared on Cakewalk’s blog. These tips apply to drummers, producers, and engineers preparing for a session recording drums. Reprinted with permission.

1. Practice to a click track
If the drummer in a session isn’t rehearsed, you will either spend a lot of time in the studio or a lot of time editing drums. Spending time in the rehearsal room practicing to a click track is much easier than spending hours and hours behind an editor. Sit in on rehearsals and even record them to get an understanding of timing and how proficient the drummer is. Here are some solutions for drummers who have a hard time playing to just a click:

• Have someone else in the group play along with the drummer
• Use song demos as guide tracks
• Record in shorter sections, instead of longer sections
• Try different percussion as click tones (e.g. cowbell, woodblock)

2. Demo songs before you record them
Prepping for a studio recording is the only way to successfully take advantage of the time you have and cut the best performances of your songs. Practice recording yourself playing your band’s songs to understand how your tracks will come together in the recording studio. Review your recordings and focus on the group and your parts to understand where improvements need to be made to lock down the tracks. Take the time to finalize specific drum fills, hits, and patterns.

Techniques vary from drummer to drummer: some play behind the beat and others will play ahead of the beat. Sometimes drummers do not realize how hard they need to be hitting the drums to get a proper sound for recording. As an engineer or producer, you want to eliminate all the possible surprises before entering the studio.

3. Find the right type of drum head for the music you are recording
Different jobs call for different tools, and pairing the right drum head with a music genre is an important factor in the final sound of any record.

Single ply. These are some of the most common drum heads. Their sensitivity is perfect for light hitters. Single ply heads produce high-end frequencies when hit, and their pronounced tone and sound can be useful in arena rock shows as well as quiet jazz ballads. Single ply heads are typically made from one layer of 7 mil Mylar and are considered the thinnest of all types of drum heads. Unfortunately this means their durability can be sacrificed if they are hit too hard.

Double ply. Double ply heads have two layers of Mylar and can vary in thicknesses, the most common being two 7 mil layers. Double Ply heads do not produce as many overtones and frequencies as single ply heads, and the two layers of Mylar provide more attack and better control of the sound. Double ply heads are typically easier to record in studio applications.

Coated. “Coating” a drum head means that some degree of dampening has been applied. There are many variations of this, but the goal is to soften up the sound of the head so that it produces a warmer sound. Drum heads that are coated are sprayed, covered with Mylar film, or have some sort of other substance applied to make the drum sound warmer and less like abrasive.

Pre-muffled. Eliminating overtones and resonant frequencies from a kick drum is common practice for many styles of music. Rock, metal, pop, and country typically keep the tone of the kick drum from ringing in order to achieve a blend of the “thud” of the drum and “thwack” of the beater against the batter head. Pre-muffled heads come pre packaged with foam or other damping features to suppress unwanted frequencies, which can be important in a recording studio setting.

Once you’ve found the head you want to use, start the session with new and seated (broken in) heads. Make sure to have spares on hand.

4. Tune your drum heads, and continue to tune them as you record
Drum heads always need a good tuning before any recording. They start to change in tone as they are played or left idle and should constantly be re-tuned as you record for long periods of time. Drum tuning does not necessarily mean the drums are tuned to a set of pitches. They are usually tuned so to sound compatible when played in succession. Each size drum head has an optimal range for its tone, and tuning your drums outside of this range can result in strange aliasing or cause other drums to be pushed out of their own optimal tuning range.

5. Prepare in advance for tempo and time signature changes
Tracking a session that has multiple tempo and time signature changes can get complicated if your metronome track is not set up in a way that makes sense to the drummer. Once you get your hands on some demos of the group, tempo map the songs so you can give the drummer a decent click track to practice to before entering the studio. Getting used to multiple tempo changes and time signature changes can be a tricky task, and you do not want to break the drummer’s spirits by surprising him or her with a confusing or inefficient click track while they are trying to record. Prepare a track before you enter the studio with cues and count-ins.

6. Consider using triggers
A trigger is a transducer that is placed on the head of a drum. Once the drum is hit, a signal is sent to a sound generator which sends the programmed sound of a drum or MIDI information. A drum trigger can come in handy regardless of what style of music you are recording. You can record the MIDI information of the drum for easier time adjustment, to enhance the acoustic sound of your drums by blending the two, or to use the information to better understand where the attacks of each transient are. In music styles that are kick-drum centric, a common practice is to use a trigger to level out the differing hits in order to achieve an almost inhuman sound. As an engineer, the use of triggers has not handicapped my session flow or drum editing at all. In fact, it has made certain situations a bit easier.

7. Be prepared
Here are a few items that you as an engineer or producer should always have on hand with you when tracking drums.

• Moving blankets. Use these to isolate kick drums, cover hard/reflective surfaces, and change the acoustics within a room.

• Spring camps. Helpful for holding loose cables and moving blankets.

• Bungee cords. For tying up blankets, loose cables, etc.

• Counterweights. Counterweights are useful when working with inexpensive microphone stands that can fall and lose their placement.

• Extra tuning keys. Tuning keys always get lost. Purchase a few of these to keep on your keychain.

• MoonGel. This is a blue dampening pad that you can buy to place on drum heads during recording. It reduces the ringing and decay of a drum.

• Measuring tape. When setting up overhead microphones, you need to make sure the distance from the snare to both overhead microphones are the same distance.

• Gaffers tape. This tape is great for the studio because it is strong and does not leave a residue when removed.

• Acoustic foam. It is always good to have extra foam on hand if you need to muffled drums.

• Pillows. Removing the front head of a kick drum and stuffing it with pillows can reduce resonance and bring out more attack from the drum.

• Cinder blocks. Placing one of these in front of the kick drum can keep the whole set from moving forward in a room with a slippery floor.

• Camera. Take pictures of the mic placements to save for the future in case you need to re-track.

• DI box (triggers). Most trigger outputs are quarter-inch jacks, you will need this patch into a tie line box that only has XLR inputs.

• Spare snare head. 14” coated snare head. A broken snare head can bring a session to a sudden halt.

Read more: Pre-production tips for recording drums – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/03/pre-production-tips-for-recording-drums/#ixzz31hIT592b

Vocal Health Basics – How to Properly Care for Your Voice | DiscMakers

Vocal health is often taken for granted, but problems can stop you dead in your tracks, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

It seems that hardly a month goes by where a top singer isn’t forced to interrupt a tour, take a break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their voice. Vocal health is often taken for granted, but once problems develop, they can stop a singer dead in his or her tracks, and in some cases require surgery and a lengthy post-surgery period of rest and recovery.

While we don’t normally think of singers as world-class athletes, some medical professionals are making the case that the demands put on one’s voice when singing one to three hours a night is as intense as those made by an Olympic marathon runner on his body. Additional factors such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and proper voice training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a singer’s ability to hit the stage night after night and perform at their best.

Like many health-related issues, prevention is much easier and less expensive than having to undergo surgery, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

Superstars Losing Their Voices
In 2011, three major recording artists dropped out of circulation due to vocal health issues. Each developed a slightly different voice problem that required rest and eventually surgery.

Adele's vocal health issuesArguably the most valuable voice in pop music, that of the talented British pop singer Adele, was silenced when she was required to cancel seventeen US dates mid-tour and have laser surgery due to the condition of her vocal cords. Her condition is just one example of a high profile artist facing problems maintaining their vocal mechanism. Adele’s condition, reported in the press as two hemorrhages of the vocal cords (the terms vocal cords and vocal folds are often used interchangeably), was likely exacerbated by the stresses of touring.

Steven Tyler's vocal health issuesSuch hemorrhages are often the result of phonotrauma, the physical stresses caused by vocalizing, upon the tiny blood vessels of the vocal fold. Loud singing or pushing the voice when it is tired or if one is ill may predispose a singer to such vocal hemorrhages. The latest news reports suggest that as Adele’s recovery progresses, she will start back very slowly taking what she has described as some “very basic voice lessons.” She will likely take the first half of the year off from performing to help ensure a full and complete return of her famous voice. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler was reported to have struggled with the same condition in 2006, requiring a similar surgical procedure as Adele. Noted voice expert, Dr. Steven M. Zeitels, a Harvard Medical School doctor who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, treated both artists.

Keith Urban's vocal health issuesCountry icon Keith Urban also underwent surgery in November 2011 to remove a vocal polyp, a lump that may develop near the midpoint of a singer’s vocal cord. (According to the glossary found at voicemedicine.com, a polyp is a specific and clearly demarcated mass – the word polyp means “lump” and does not imply a cancer or pre-cancerous lesion). The midpoint location of such a polyp suggests that it too may be the result of phonotrauma. Urban was ordered to take three months off from singing as his recovery was monitored by a team of health professionals.

Singer/songwriter John Mayer was another major artist to recently face vocal health problems. In October 2010, his manager announced that after a series of extended rest periods, Mayer’s voice was not improving and he decided to have surgery. Mayer’s condition was described as a granuloma, a benign growth that results from irritation or trauma to the vocal fold. It’s often found at the back of the vocal fold, over a part of cartilage called the vocal process, which lies just underneath the membrane covering the larynx. As with Adele and Keith Urban, Mayer stopped work on his album, taking the advice of his doctors to not resume singing until his voice has fully recovered from the trauma and surgery.

While it may seem like there’s an epidemic of vocal health issues affecting the music industry, there are various common-sense factors that play into the increase in high-profile artists addressing these challenges.

First, awareness and treatment options have increased dramatically since the 1990s. Dr. Zeitels was quoted in the New York Times as stating that the use of fiber optic cameras to scan performer’s vocal cords for abnormalities and miniscule injuries has become more common over the past fifteen to twenty years. At the same time, vocalists have become more aware of the possible long term consequences of letting small problems go untreated and now consult more readily with health professionals.

Another factor is that, since recorded music sales often represent a smaller part of an artist’s overall revenue stream, touring schedules have become more extensive. To further maximize touring profits, concerts are often scheduled back-to-back on consecutive nights, placing greater stress on the vocal instrument, which can benefit from having a day or two rest between performances whenever possible.

Paul Stanley's vocal health issuesTo prove the point, Paul Stanley, front man for the legendary rock band Kiss, had vocal surgery to tweak blood vessels in his vocal cords. Commenting on his forty years of touring in which the band’s shows were packed as tightly together as possible to maximize profits, he offered that “the nature of rock singing is a strain on the voice, and when you compound that with [the number of shows we play], you’re not giving yourself enough time to recuperate and the problem is compounded. I was finding myself working harder and harder to do what was once effortless, and having passed through puberty, I was surprised to hear my voice cracking.”

How to Properly Care for Your Voice
While there is no doubt that singing in front of a rock band requires practice and stamina, vocalists who sing for hours at a time with no amplification, over a full orchestra in a packed house holding 4,000 people, place even greater demands on their voices. Enter the opera singer and those who train them, such as Dr. Lynelle Wiens, Professor of Voice at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA.

Dr. Wiens is a former faculty member at the Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice in Philadelphia, and at the Pacific Voice Conference in San Francisco. She was also a recipient of the prestigious “Van L. Lawrence Fellowship” that is awarded jointly by the Voice Foundation and National Association of Teachers of Singing in order to foster interdisciplinary education among laryngologists, voice scientists, singing teachers, and speech pathologists. Dr. Wiens has taught aspiring classical singers for more than thirty-three years and offers a number of simple, common sense tips that can help any singer to reduce the risks to their voice.

Like any other musical instrument, the voice needs proper care in order to be ready when called upon to perform. Wiens counseled, “In order to function properly, the voice needs to be well lubricated. The effects of alcohol, cigarette smoke, marijuana, and other drugs cause dryness of the vocal instrument and can lead to vocal fold edema and inflammation.”

Wiens advises that “It’s essential to drink lots of water before, during, and after performances. It’s also very important to get plenty of rest and exercise and eat properly between performances. To the extent that is possible, try to avoid noisy places where you will have to shout to be heard.” For example, trying to be heard above the sound levels backstage during an opening act or in a typical van traveling for hours on the freeway come to mind as situations that might lead to further strain on one’s voice.

Dr. Wiens cautions that “throat clearing, yelling or screaming, singing too loudly for an extended period of time, singing a song that is pitched too high or too low, or putting too much pressure on your voice, all increase the strain on it. If it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. Listen to what your voice is telling you.”

Over-singing on stage, especially when the monitor situation is not optimal, is another potential cause of vocal strain. Especially for musicians on tour, Wiens counsels, “You have to prioritize what you absolutely need your voice for and then make the best decisions to protect it.” So if you are out on tour and have been nursing a sore throat, maybe the band’s guitar player can give the interview and appear at the local record store for autographs while you stay back at the hotel to rest your voice for that night’s show. Wiens added, “Taking care of your body and learning to manage your physical and emotional stress are also key factors in maintaining good vocal health. Perhaps the best preventive care is good training. Finding a good coach is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Dr. Wiens advises that a singer should seek a professional if they have a concern about their own vocal health. “If there is a sudden change in your voice from what is normal, or if you experience persistent hoarseness and/or vocal fatigue for more than two weeks, I would suggest you see an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) who is experienced in caring for singers. Be sure to ask for a strobovideolaryngoscopic examination in order to get the most thorough assessment of the health of your voice.”

If there has been damage, a singer should ideally be treated by a team of professionals that may include an ENT doctor, a voice teacher/vocal coach that can help a singer avoid any techniques that may exacerbate problems, and if appropriate, a speech pathologist who can assist with proper rehabilitation of the voice.

“The voice is a delicate mechanism,” Wiens concludes, “so it makes sense to take preventive measures in order to help ensure a long and productive singing career.”

Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Disc Makers Echoes blog and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.

Read more: Vocal Health Basics, How to Properly Care for Your Voice – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2012/01/vocal-health-basics/#ixzz31hHDQbcQ

Loudspeaker Sensitivity: What’s A Watt Anyway? | ProSound News

Shedding some light on the sensitivity specification and how it may translate to the real world performance of a loudspeaker system…
psw study hallThe specification of a loudspeaker’s sensitivity is probably one of the most common, yet perhaps one of the most misunderstood.

It’s common to see the magnitude response of a loudspeaker system reduced to a single number as a sensitivity rating. This is perhaps at the heart of the confusion.

One would think that this metric should give some indication as to how loud a particular loudspeaker will be when reproducing a signal. One may also think that two loudspeakers with the same sensitivity rating will be equally loud when reproducing the same signal. Each of these assertions is only partially true.

A loudspeaker’s sensitivity can give an indication of its output level but only for a signal with a specific bandwidth and spectral content.

Similarly, two loudspeakers with the same sensitivity may not output the same SPL when excited by the same signal if the frequency response limits of the two loudspeakers are different. Let’s look at the underlying cause of each of these effects, bandwidth, and the role it plays, and also look at why sensitivity may no longer need to be referenced to a watt.

According to the standard IEC60268-5, a loudspeaker’s sensitivity is determined by measuring its output when driven by a band limited pink noise signal with a Vrms equal to the square root of the loudspeaker’s rated impedance and referencing this SPL to a distance of 1 meter.

The bandwidth of the pink noise is limited as a function of the effective frequency range of the DUT (Device Under Test). This is done to ensure that the test signal is confined to a portion of the frequency spectrum in which the DUT has appreciable output.

If a particular loudspeaker isn’t capable of reproducing signals below 150 Hz it does no good to excite it with such signals other than to generate heat. The same holds true if the loudspeaker can’t reproduce signals above some high frequency limit.

A high-resolution transfer function measurement of the DUT can also produce an identical sensitivity rating when the average magnitude is calculated on a log frequency basis. As an example, let’s look at Figure 1. Here we see the on-axis response of a loudspeaker. Its sensitivity rating is shown as the straight line.

Figure 1: Magnitude response and single number sensitivity rating of loudspeaker system A. (click to enlarge)

The length of this line coincides with the upper and lower frequency limits of the pink noise used to measure the sensitivity rating.

The spectral content of this noise signal is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A from Figure 1. (click to enlarge)

If a signal with different spectral content, but the same broadband level were used to drive this loudspeaker, would it result in the same SPL as the sensitivity?

It’s impossible to determine this without knowing both the spectral content of the signal and the response of the loudspeaker. (Note that 20 Hz to 20 kHz, or in the case of Figure 1, 110 Hz-8.3 kHz, does not specify the response of a loudspeaker. A graph of the response curve really needs to be known.)

With knowledge of these, we can certainly make an estimate to answer this question.

The spectral content of three different signals is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A in Figure 1 (red), speech (grey), and speech-shaped noise with approximately the same spectral content as the speech (blue). (click to enlarge)

One is the band- limited pink noise signal used to determine the sensitivity of the loudspeaker. The others are speech and a shaped noise signal having approximately the same spectral content as the speech. This speech-shaped noise is used instead of speech as its RMS level is more consistent as a function of time than actual speech.

Thus, it will be easier to determine the SPL output by the DUT with this signal. All three signals have approximately the same broadband RMS level. From approximately 200-800 Hz the speech-shaped noise signal has greater level than the pink noise signal.

Above and below this frequency region the pink noise signal has much greater level than the speech-shaped noise signal.

Comparing this to the response of the loudspeaker in Figure 1 we see that the loudspeaker has limited output below 150 Hz. The greatest output in the response of the loudspeaker occurs in the 300 Hz-3 kHz region.

If the speech-shaped noise signal were used to drive the loudspeaker with the same broadband level as the noise we could reasonably expect the broadband SPL to be greater than when driven with the pink noise signal.

This is exactly what happens.

The sensitivity of the loudspeaker is 97.1 dB. When driven with the speech-shaped noise the SPL is 98.1 dB, an increase of 1.0 dB.

This results from the higher level of the speech-shaped signal in the frequency region where the loudspeaker has higher output capability compared to the rest of its pass band.

Conversely, if the low-frequency band-limited pink noise shown in Figure 4 were used to drive the loudspeaker it is reasonable to expect that the SPL would be less than when driven by the noise signal.

This results from the low-frequency pink noise signal having a higher level in the frequency region where the loudspeaker has lower output capability.

The SPL produced by the low-frequency pink noise is 94.9 dB, a decrease of 2.2 dB.

Figure 4: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A in Figure 1 (red) and of low frequency band limited pink noise (green). (click to enlarge)

Now let’s compare two different loudspeakers.Figure 5 shows loudspeaker A compared to loudspeaker B. Notice that they both have the same sensitivity, 97.1 dB.

Loudspeaker B, however, has greater low frequency and high frequency extension than loudspeaker A.

Figure 5: Magnitude response and single number sensitivity rating of loudspeaker system A (red) and loudspeaker B (black). (click to enlarge)

Because of this the bandwidth of the pink noise used to determine the sensitivity of loudspeaker B is greater than the bandwidth of the noise used for loudspeaker A (Figure 6).

As a result, the mid-band level of the noise for loudspeaker B is slightly less than that of the noise used for loudspeaker A. It’s a bit difficult to see but upon careful observation the black trace can be seen to be an average of 0.5 dB below the red trace from approximately 100 Hz-10 kHz.

Figure 6: Spectral content of signal used to determine the sensitivity rating of loudspeaker A (red), loudspeaker B (black), and broadband pink noise (green). (click to enlarge)

This is due to the greater bandwidth of the signal used for loudspeaker B (black trace). Remember that the broadband levels of both these signals are identical.

So what happens when each of these loudspeakers is driven by the broadband pink noise signal (20 Hz-20 kHz) also shown in Figure 6? As each of the loudspeakers used in this example are markedly not flat in their mid-band response there may be some tonal, and potentially measurably, differences in the SPL.

Hopefully, the reader can put these issues aside for the moment. All other things being equal, the loudspeaker with the greater effective frequency range (low- and high-frequency extension) should have greater SPL output.

Loudspeaker B should have slightly greater output when driven by this broadband pink noise signal. In fact, loudspeaker B measured 0.8 dB greater than loudspeaker A, 97.0 dB compared to 96.2 dB.

From these examples one should be able to see that the SPL generated by a loudspeaker is a function of both the loudspeaker’s transfer function and the spectrum of the signal being reproduced.

Several acoustical room modeling programs take this into account when calculating the SPL produced over an intended audience area. They may allow for the selection of pink noise, some sort of speech spectrum, or a user-defined spectrum.

This should aid the sound system designer, while still at the drawing board stage, to better understand the potential SPL capabilities of the sound system with the typical program material the system is likely to be reproducing.

The other item I mentioned at the beginning of this article was referencing sensitivity measurements to one watt being dissipated by the DUT. There are several reasons why I think that this is not beneficial with modern sound systems.

First, it is somewhat cumbersome to determine how much voltage is required across a particular DUT such that the input current drawn from the driving source yields 1 watt. This can be done using dual channel FFT measurement systems and an appropriate current monitor or probe.

But would this give us useful information for the design and/or specification of loudspeakers or sound systems?

We can simplify this measurement procedure so that we don’t concern ourselves with the dissipation of a real watt by the DUT. Instead we apply a voltage across the DUT that would dissipate one watt in a pure resistance having the value of the rated impedance of the DUT.

This certainly is easier, but again, does this give us useful information for the design and/or specification of loudspeakers or sound systems? Perhaps. My thought is that more useful comparative information would be gained by applying the same voltage across the DUT regardless of its impedance.

The majority of amplifiers used in sound systems today are of a constant voltage type. That is to say, their output voltage remains constant independent of the load placed on them. Of course, the load must be within the specified operational limits for a given amplifier.

The salient point is that for a given drive voltage, a lower impedance loudspeaker will have greater SPL output than a higher impedance loudspeaker; all other items being equal.

Shouldn’t this be reflected in the sensitivity specification of the loudspeaker? Why then would one want to use a 2.0 Vrms signal to drive a 4-ohm loudspeaker and a 2.83 Vrms signal to drive an 8-ohm loudspeaker to determine their respective sensitivities?

Think about it this way; let’s connect two virtually identical loudspeakers to an A/B selector switch driven by the same amplifier.

The only difference between these loudspeakers is that one is half the impedance (rated at 4 ohms) than the other (rated at 8 ohms).

When switching between these two loudspeakers the output voltage of the amplifier does not change, however, the current drawn from the amplifier does. This results in the loudspeaker with the lower rated impedance producing greater SPL.

Measuring and specifying sensitivity with the same voltage, regardless of the impedance of the DUT, would accurately reveal the SPL differences that occur.

From these examples, I hope that it’s clear that the input signal and the magnitude (frequency) response of a loudspeaker will determine the SPL generated, not just the sensitivity rating of the loudspeaker.

It’s much better to have knowledge of the loudspeaker’s response in the form of a graph than a single sensitivity number. The latter may be derived from the former.

Charlie Hughes has worked at Peavey Electronics and Altec Lansing, and currently heads up Excelsior Audio Design & Services, a consultation, design and measurement services company based near Charlotte, NC. He’s also a member of the AES, ASA, CEA and NSCA.

Does This Mislead The Artist? | Bryan Farrish

This is an email sent to me by a reputable radio promoter.  I think it has some hyperbole but also some good points.  Worth a read.  We can discuss in the comments.  – JLT

By Bryan Farrish

Below is an email sent out by a large online music site about college station WKRB:

“Rotation on Terrestrial and Online Station Reaching 1.5 Million” 

It’s our opinion that emails like this are the reason that musicians get misled. After trying any and all such opportunities, and selling zero, the artist ends up thinking that the music must not be good. But is that the case? 

The first thing to know about broadcasting is that more than 99% of the listeners are live (real-time, tuned in while it’s happening), and less than 1% of the listeners are “delayed” (listening later). KROQ in Los Angeles (largest alternative station in the world), for example, has about 30,000 people listening at this moment, but not enough “online listeners” to even show up in the ratings at all. And WLTW in New York is the largest station of any format, and has 100,000 people listening at this moment, but not enough “online listeners” to show up in the ratings either. And these stations are promoted by billboards, stadium concerts by Arctic Monkeys and Katy Perry, TV stations, Leno and Letterman, massive advertising, etc. 

But somehow, college station WKRB in Brooklyn (New York) is supposed to have FIFTEEN times more listeners than WLTW, and THIRTY FIVE times more listeners than KROQ, even though WKRB has no billboards, no concerts, no TV stations, no ad budget at all (it’s non-commercial), and get this… only 10 watts:

http://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/finder?call=wkrb&x=-526&y=-283&sr=Y&s=C

Well, college radio is great for some things (like music opinions, and referrals to gigs), but reaching listeners is not one of them. Check the New York ratings, by Nielsen, here:

Use the drop-down box on this link:
https://tlr.arbitron.com/tlr/public/market.do?method=loadAllMarket 

Select New York (where WKRB is) and click GO.

Notice how WKRB is not listed; this is because it has NO LISTENERS. The top station, WLTW, has only 100,000 listeners. There are NO online stations listed at all. Matter of fact, if you select any other city, you’ll see there are NO online stations, because none have enough listeners to even rank a 0.1 which is the bottom.

Matter of fact #2, if WKRB really did have 1.5 million listeners, it would be worth 15 times as much money as WLTW; well, WLTW is worth about $500,000,000 (five hundred million) dollars if you want to buy it. 

Matter of fact #3, every 10,000 listeners results in a music sale (album or single) for an indie, so one “spin” on WKRB would result in 150 sales, and ten spins would be 1500 sales. Yet somehow, spins on WKRB don’t result in any sales at all that we have heard of.

So, are artists being misled by online statistics such as this?


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Bryan Farrish Promotion is an independent promotion company
handling airplay promotion and booking promotion
310-998-8305 www.radio-media.com airplay@radio-media.com
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Why social media sites aren’t always the best places to hold a contest | DiscMakers

Chris Bolton

Champions Cup Icon Band ContestHolding a contest online is a great way to engage your audience and make new fans. But, I think a lot of artists go about it the wrong way. A lot of contests happen exclusively on social media, and this is a missed opportunity. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use social media to promote your contest—you should—but you want to make sure that ‘the act’ of actually signing up for your contest happens on your website. You need to lure your friends and fans from the seductive world of social media and get them to visit your artist website. Why? Well, let me tell you . . .

 

On your website, you can capture emails instead of likes
You’ve seen the stats. With Facebook’s constant algorithm updates, only a tiny fraction of your Facebook fans actually see your posts. Facebook has become a pay-to-play game. So how do you connect with your fans without paying Facebook your hard-earned dough? Simple: get your fans signed up to your email list and you can chat with them anytime you like—for free. Next time you hold a contest, ask your fans to sign up to your email list and leave a comment on your blog to enter. Forget about getting people to like your Facebook post or Facebook page to enter; an email address is worth far more.

 

Asking more of your fans means deeper engagement

A ‘tweet,’ ‘like,’ or ‘comment’ on a social media site takes almost no time and thought. Fact is, you want people to actually think about what you are doing. You want them to listen to your music and show up at your next concert. So asking for a little more time is OK. In exchange for this attention you might have to give away something better than a cassette recording of your last practice. And That’s OK. Sweeten the prize. You’ll be rewarded for it. Throw in a date with your bass player, a bottle of champagne, or a song on your next album named after the winner.

Traffic on your website is the best kind of traffic

Where do you want your fans to hang out? Mark Zuckerberg’s website or your own? Seems obvious right? It’s always better to have fans on your website where they can buy stuff and communicate with you directly. So don’t bother directing people to a social media site to find out about your contest. Instead, direct them from social media websites to your own. Not only that, in addition to entering your contest, some people will probably spend some time checking out your concert calendar, your blog, your videos, and whatever else you have on your site.

On your website, you’re the center of attention

Social media websites are attention deficit playgrounds. Thousands of things are always going on at once. I’m surprised people manage to concentrate long enough to comment on a post or hold a conversation. On your website (assuming you haven’t plastered your website with ads) there is only one thing for visitors to pay attention to: YOU. You’re in the driver’s seat and you don’t have to worry about competing with advertisers and Upworthy posts. On your website, your fans can read about your contest, focus on the rules, and signup without being distracted by alerts, ads, and messages.

So for your next online contest, whether you’re giving away a t-shirt or a date with your bass player, make it happen on your site and reap the rewards.