Welcome back to pokeintheear.com! (finally!)

pexels-photo-125457Photo by Mabel Amber from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/nature-sky-sunny-clouds-125457/

Looks like WordPress, Hover, and Squarespace have made nice and my web addy now happily redirects to the new home. Took some time, but I have to say that WordPress made it pretty easy to accomplish.

Okay, so with a ‘new’ site comes a new post: a ‘What I Did Over My Summer Vacation’ catchup piece. Enjoy. 🙂

So the new Course here at EduCorp® is running smoothly, and my cadre of engineers are doing surprisingly well mixing a song over a few weeks, and then trying their hands at mastering for the remaining fortnight. Of course there are the usual suspects of mixing solely on headphones so the bass is close to nonexistant (they get decent monitors as a part of the program, btw), and many of them are pushing the highs to swishy, eardrum-dissolving nastiness (all hail the EDM 10k Bubble!). And there are also still a few who believe that hypercompression and pushing the bus processing into sausage-factory mode is the way  great songs are made.

But in all honesty, I am amazed that most of them keep the levels pretty low and the dynamics mostly intact for their mixes. It’s the vast majority of what I get back.

Since we are the second to last class in the Program, I know they have some experience doing what I’m asking them to (they even get a passing glimpse at mastering half way through) and my being the Top Banana in the Shock Department, banging the drum for LU and Dynamics, and chanting ‘Death to Overcompression’ at every company function has (hopefully) pushed the needle with some of my colleagues into understanding the absolute necessity of bringing music back to a listenable (dare I say ‘enjoyable’?) state again.

And from the back end of it all, I can say that it looks like it’s working…

Mastering is a completely different animal though, and although I continue with the ‘Experiment Fail Learn Repeat’ model that I use with mixing, even passing expecations of making one of them persue mastering as a career choice is limited at best and wishful thinking at most. I try to demystify the process, show them the very basics of how to do it (with limited processing – the ‘Old School Way’), and what the outcomes should be in case they have to do it themselves. The Prime Directives are always first, always get a Mastering Engineer and second, if you have to master it yourself then keep the artists intent as gold and just make it sound the best it can. Simple and honest. Thanks per usual to Saint Ian for showing me the way forward on this. 🙂

And they’ve all been doing a seriously great job here. After letting them go crazy with whatever they want on the first pass, the second try after they see that just simple gain, EQ, and compression are all they (mostly) need is eye opening, and the very definition of ‘less is more’.

For those interested, I’m enforcing the -1.0 dbTPFS point for secondary (corrected) mix and master peak levels, and have settled on the -14 to -16 LUFS range (Integrated) for overall level. Saint Ian and Jon Tidey just did a podcast on mixing for LU where they say that -14 is *not* the level to aim for, but my reasoning is 1) we are only working on a single song destined for streaming (a.k.a ‘single’) and 2) we are still getting students up to speed with the LU concept. My cohorts here at EduCorp® are using -16 LUFS for their delivery specs, and I want to keep that familarity but also allow them to ‘stretch’ a bit by beign able to take the overall loudness up a few dBLU if they choose. Just that ability can show them how to change as specifications and standards so often do. Once you understand the rules of the game and how to get there (good metering and lots of listening) you can take the level to wherever it needs to go. As this will fluctuate a bit more before it settles into a ‘standard’, working at a unified target level across an entire program helps retention. And as that ‘standard’ moves, we can just as easily. 🙂

Again, I’m super impressed with how the course is doing, and just how dedicated and determined the students are. I am expecting great things from a lot of them, and hope to be hat-tipping a few of them here in the coming months and years.

That’s all for now everyone. I’m off to do a bit of maintenance and backup and then take a stab at trying a bunch of these new software goodies I’ve acquired over the past few months. Now that my ‘cold, flu, and busy season’ is over I’ve got a bit of time to catch up on technology.

Welcome back!




The Theatre of the Mind

Happy Post-Thanksgiving everyone! Hope yours was deliciously food-comatastic and every conversation was thought-provoking and positive. 🙂

Every Thanksgiving I have to watch ‘Turkeys Away’ from the classic TV show WKRP In Cincinnati. Much like the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon has become, it’s a holiday classic before the traditional holiday classics, and something to put a lot of giggles into your day while waiting for the graze-fest to begin.

After I watched the episode (and man is it still a laugh riot after almost 40 years) I did a bit of a deep-dive into some WKRP history and trivia and in the process found something very cool: http://wkrp-relived.blogspot.com. Roy Penney goes episode-by-episode of the Complete Box Set DVD’s, does a quick rundown for the uninitiated, and adds some analysis and twinkly-eyed nostalgia for those in the know. This is another reason why the Interwebz® are worth rooting around every so often to find the gems in the ever-growing pile of dirt.

Anyway, as I was looking up his account of the Turkeys Away episode, I found this statement:

“The second important aspect is that the magic of this episode mirrors the magic of radio itself: it’s all about the theatre of the mind. Radio is a medium that paints pictures with words. We see it performed in spectacular fashion on three separate occasions, kicking off the second half of the show.”

Wow. Never thought of this before, and as an Old Time Radio nerd I really should have. In that sentence he encapsulated why I have loved this show after all these years, and have always considered it one of the best television programs both written and performed. So I popped in one of my AirPods, cued up Turkeys Away, and just listened to it as I would any other OTR show, and it totally works as an audiocast.

Yeah, there are a few sight gags that get lost in translation, but to hear a show that was designed for a purely visual medium work comedically as audio alone is a testament to the producers, writers, and the actors. I can’t tell you if that was the idea the writers had initially, but if it was then it’s sheer genius. Even if it wasn’t intentional, it’s still an impressive feat and just fills my mind with ideas on how I can implement this into what I do in Audioland. And of course, now I have to see how well some of the other episodes (and possibly any other series’ as well) work as ‘radioplays’. Like I don’t have enough to do already… 🙂

Regardless, it just fortifies the concept of ‘The Theatre of the Mind’ and why I am so compelled towards creating and manipulating music and sound. Not only because of the camaraderie and creativity, but because it’s such a perfect way to impact the most powerful resource we have as emotional beings – our imaginations. Being able to turn physical auditory vibrations into feelings of deep sadness, resounding joy, or unseen landscapes full of awe and wonder is a positively magical thing. Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy so eloquently put this into words some 150 years ago:

”We are the music-makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams.

World-losers and world-forsakers,

Upon whom the pale moon gleams;

Yet we are the movers and shakers,

Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties

We build up the world’s great cities,

And out of a fabulous story

We fashion an empire’s glory:

One man with a dream, at pleasure,

Shall go forth and conquer a crown;

And three with a new song’s measure

Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying

In the buried past of the earth,

Built Nineveh with our sighing,

And Babel itself with our mirth;

And o’erthrew them with prophesying

To the old of the new world’s worth;

For each age is a dream that is dying,

Or one that is coming to birth.”

Our world here in music and sound is a powerful force, so how are you going to affect people with your Theatre of the Mind today?