HEALTHY HEARING COVERAGE
Thank you for the excellent pieces on hearing protection inJanuary's Mix. There is a point that could benefit fromadditional emphasis, however. If a mixing engineer has sustainedsignificant hearing damage, it is indeed probable that theengineer's perception of tonal balance is not going to be the sameas the general population's. Bob McCarthy correctly describes thischange in perception in terms of a graphic equalizer; theindividual's ears are EQ'd with a broad high-frequency roll-off. Itis also the case that the dynamic range of this individual'shearing is constricted so that, on a broadband basis, music is notgoing to sound nearly as loud as it does to the average listener.If you put these two characteristics together, it is clear thatthis engineer's mixes could be both excessively bright and (forlive sound) even painfully loud when heard by nondamaged ears.
In standard audiometric practices, most clinicians only measurehearing sensitivity up to 8 kHz, and most are not trained in audioproduction and so are not able to suggest meaningful strategies toengineers. It seems that what is necessary is a convenient methodfor any engineer to determine how his or her ears perform, over thefull range of frequencies and sound pressure levels, compared tothe average person; and, more important, a signal processingstrategy that will allow the engineer to compensate for hearingloss (if desired) through a private, personal monitor system, forthe same reasons that we compensate for room acoustics. Ideally,mix adjustments should be made with accurate knowledge of one's owndistinctive hearing characteristics, particularly after one hasspent many years at the console.
Ear Q Technologies LLC
January 2001 Mix was most interesting for the articleson in-ear monitors and hearing. The articles by Mark Frink and BobMcCarthy were just the kind of viewpoints that working soundprofessionals need to be aware of.
I was shocked and saddened, however, to see a photograph of justthe kind of thing we all should be working to eliminate. In theMoonshine Overamerica “Tour Profile” is an extremelyscary photo of young people plastered against the speakers.
Was someone providing evidence for a negligence lawsuit, or didthis one slip in under the radar of your editors? The young womanin the lower left of the photo is literally sitting with her headagainst the speaker grille (no doubt a subwoofer bin, the mids notfar above), and the semiconscious folks to her left seem just asclose, if not closer, and arguably senseless from either the sonicassault, or perhaps from things they ingested…
Hopefully, we'll see the end of this type of danger posed tonaive or unaware concertgoers, before lawsuits begin to fly.Clearly, someone needs to protect children (and adults who act likethem) who still think it's cool or hip to endure a lethal sonicassault. Maybe once-upon-a-time this was considered fun andrelatively safe (considering the ±200-watt boxes that wereused decades ago), but, today, the instantaneous damage inflictedby the kind of direct exposure to the drivers in the enclosurespictured in this article must be massive, immediate andpermanent.
Concert venues and clubs have bouncers and security who protectperformers and equipment. It's time someone protected the audiencefrom their own ignorance, as well, and kept a safe distance betweenthe speaker bins and the audience's ears. Why not make it mandatoryto fly speakers or place protective barriers around high-SPLcabinets so that the sound is evenly distributed throughout thevenue, instead of directly into the ear canals of theattendees?
Bravo on your DVD-A edition (December 2000 issue)! I have beenvery involved with the format for two years here at Sonic, inassisting our clients in workflow/title production. I am verypleased to see such good information published after all this timespent working toward the launch!
I appreciate that your magazine has been proactive in educatingthe audio community about the format. This will certainly helppeople conceptualize what the format can deliver so that they,hopefully, will decide to come onboard as demand increases.
NEW YEAR, NEW FORMAT
I liked the December edition of Mix, closing out theyear with top-of-the-line A/D converters and the DVD-A section. Ilook forward to reading more about professional production forDVD-Audio covering all steps in the process, from some company'searly meetings about a project to the mix house to the masteringstage and replication. Would you also encompass the availabilityand future of the hardware and software for consumers? I fullyexpect to read the review of the first official professionalDVD-Audio player for studio reference playback in the pages ofMix.
In covering DVD-A, I hope you ask engineers who remaster olderalbums if they did a full remix from the original multitrack tapesor a mixed down 2-track. This is the stuff I find interesting whenreading about remastering albums. Also, if the original was adigital recording, was it upsampled for the DVD-A release?
In reading other industry magazines covering surround soundproduction, I have found many differing perspectives on what goesinto those six channels, and sometimes four channels. This is newground to be covered, as surround mixing will become standard thisdecade. It is in these early years that we will see reallygroundbreaking new techniques. I think you should have a sectionevery month that covers some aspect of DVD-Audio.
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