Letters to Mix - Mixonline

Letters to Mix

MARCH MADNESS I'm a little bugged. Much of the March issue, including the editor's note, was given over to convincing readers that the 48k era is entering
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MARCH MADNESS

I'm a little bugged. Much of the March issue, including the editor'snote, was given over to convincing readers that the 48k era is enteringits twilight years. In the same issue, Paul Lehrman notes that at hispeak, he could hear “up around 22 to 23 kHz,” frequenciesthat can be comfortably recorded with 48k.

So, what is the sonic benefit of huge sample rates? There are plentyof important improvements that can be made to digital recordingformats, but this one just seems like pure bulk (twice the data, twicethe processing power, twice the storage) for a benefit that isinaudible to humans.

Rather than just publish photos of the new 96k-plus gear, itwould've been more useful for you guys to A/B said equipment at 48k and96k.
Matthew Butterick
Via e-mail

EARS ARE RINGING

I just finished reading Paul Lehrman's latest installment of“Insider Audio” (March 2002 issue), and I felt like I wasreading a history of my own hearing symptoms. I've been involvedprofessionally in recording and music since 1974, and have also noticedthe high-end drop-off over the years. A couple of years ago, I alsonoticed a ringing in my ears, which I have learned to live with, andwhich doesn't seem to affect my ability to do my job as anengineer.

However, I never went to an audiologist about the ringing and havealways had a nagging uncertainty about how it was really affecting me.Your article has put me much more at ease with the situation and givenme a much better insight into tinnitus. I'm also very curious to readthe answers to the questions you pose at the end of the article, asthey are the same questions I've asked myself occassionally.

Lee Bargeron
Kismet Audio
Via e-mail

LISTEN CLOSELY

I just read Paul Lehrman's column about tinnitus in MarchMix. I, too, have developed this damn condition! Like you, Ifirst noticed it after being in a very loud environment. I wassurprised to find that there was still ringing the next day, and thenbecame concerned when it did not subside. In my case, the tone is onlyin the right ear, and is very low in level.

I went to an ENT doctor who is known to handle hearing issues. Hewas initially suspicious of the loud noise I had been exposed to, butultimately removed a huge amount of wax from my ear, and the problemseemed to go away. After a few days, however, I realized it was stillthere. (I suspect the wax had made it seem worse by blocking offoutside sounds.) So, I took an audiology test, then went back to theENT. When he saw that the hearing test was normal, he was prettyconfident that ear trauma from noise exposure was not the culprit. Thenext likely possibility for me is my TMJ. Apparently, the continuedtension of the jaw muscles from bite misalignment or other TMJ issuescauses stress in the hearing system, as well. This can cause tinnitus;in fact, the ENT says it is the second most likely detectable cause. Hedid put me on a course of Prednisone, which reduces internalinflammation and sometimes cures the problem, but it did not help.

At this point, I can either consult further hearing specialists, seea dental specialist about the TMJ or do nothing. My investigation intothis issue so far has shown that there are many known causes andvirtually no solutions — as you pointed out — if the sourceof the problem cannot be pin-pointed and eliminated. However, theUniversity of Maryland tinnitus clinic was started by a doctor whoinvented a tinnitus “retraining” program, which is aboutlearning to adapt to the noise until it becomes unnoticeable. It ismainly suggested for people with very severe tinnitus, but I guessanyone can do it.

As a musician and audio professional, I had often thought that thisailment would be the worst thing that could happen, short of losing myhearing altogether. I'm sure you have had similar thoughts aboutwhether it would get worse, whether your hearing would fail, etc.Fortunately, I only notice the tone when I am in a very quietenvironment or my ear is covered. It does seem to vary in level, butnot in pitch. This has one good side: I can now have a kind of“virtual” perfect pitch by having a reference note in myear!

I also had similar thoughts to yours about the people who practiceaudiology and hearing medicine. I felt as though I knew more aboutsound than the person doing the tests and probably more than the ENT,as well. In fact, I had to ask to have some tones tested that liebetween the octaves they normally use (also topping out at 8k, Ibelieve). I began to think about what it means to be a medicalpractitioner who deals with the sense organs; they really need to knowa fair bit about the physics connected to the sense, as well as thebiology.
Eric Wenocur
Lab Tech Systems
Via e-mail

Note: You can read much more reader feedback about tinnitus andhearing problems in Talkback, the MixOnline Reader's Forum —— Ed.

CILETTI DIGS DEEP

Just a note to let you know how much I have enjoyed Eddie Ciletti'sarticles and reviews. His in-depth knowledge of electronics and curiousnature add considerable credibility and interest for me. I have alwaysthought that reviews of products that basically “parrot”the specifications from a manufacturer's brochure and then say,“It sounds great!” were pretty useless. Ciletti is notafraid to dig in (or shall I say, stick an oscilloscope probe into)these products and actually show us what is going on. It is a reallearning experience that helps me to understand why a product works,which is very important to me.

Charlie Fox
Via e-mail

THE TRUTH ABOUT TUBES

I am somewhat confused by the article “Sweet and Warm,”which I assume was supposed to be a review of“top-of-the-line” microphone preamplifiers (April2002).

How did Mix come to compare $300 to $700 units like theBehringer and Bellari with the $2,000-plus Avalons, Millennias,etc?

This whole “tube” business has been a wonderfulmarketing tool for so many manufacturers, and I don't doubt that someof these so-called “tube” units make a marked improvementin some users' recording chains. But those of us educated readers know— or should know — the difference between a true tubepreamplifier and one that simply puts a 12AX7 with 50 volts or less onits plates between a couple of IC's or transistors.

Chuck Kirkpatrick
Via e-mail

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