Life Slips By (and I Want You)

(Image Credit)

Hi everyone – still here, still extraordinarily busy with EduCorp®, and still (mostly) doing well with the M1 Macs. Waiting on Monterey to drop before the next TNSS post so I can give you an idea of how everything is jacked up yet again. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, I wanted to drop a few things from the past week I found significant.

The passing of Richard H. Kirk from Cabaret Voltaire/Sandoz/too many other Projects to list here was the kicker for me last week. Kirk has been a long-time influence on art, music, and music technology for me since I started dabbling with it in the early 80’s. So although I’ve spent the last few days reminiscing by listening to a bunch of his tracks, about all I can say is thanks for the influence Sir and you’ll be very much missed in my little world.

High point for the week: I have no idea how I’ve missed this for so long, but I just discovered it Friday and now you should too.

For the uninitiated, Martyn was the founder of The Human League back in the late 70’s before being tossed out. He and HL bandmate Ian Craig Marsh went on to form the British Electric Foundation and eventually to notoriety with Heaven 17

I’ve been pouring through the interviews, and they are just addicting. Yes, there’s a lot of music geekery in there (tech heads rejoice!) but there’s also a lot of history about the early electronic music scene and behind-the-scenes of who did what and how and where and when. Hearing Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson (both original CabVolt founders) wax on about early days and current affairs riveting listening, and although Martyn says he wanted to but never got to interview Richard Kirk, I have a feeling that Kirk’s penchant for solitude would have amounted to nothing ever being recorded anyway. 🙂

This is one of those ‘must listen’ audiocasts, even if you were just a fan of the music and care nothing for the business or tech behind it. He’s up to 57 episodes as of this writing, so get cracking… 

Until next time…

Happy Dynamic Range Day 2021!

Been listening to the livestream, and as usual there’s some great tips, tricks, and mostly a lot of positivity. You can catch the info and check out a replay by going here:

I must say that after several years of jamming Loudness Units and True Peaks and just not slamming everything into the Bus Processing as hot as possible, they *are* getting it.

And I still agree that you can be more creative dynamically rather than just making things loud.

Anyway, all good things – go check out the site above.

Before I go disappear into the eternal void of work and self-distancing I will say that I have the next installment of The New Shiny-Shiny coming up very soon. Progress is being made!

Hope all of you are staying safe, and have a fun and informative Dynamic Range Day!

…This Weird Trick

Here’s a Thought Experiment based on some of Laurie Santos’ work. You can find more like this at her audiocast The Happiness Lab. Well worth checking out…

Step One: Think about all of the things in your technology world that are actively trying to eliminate personal interaction with other living breathing Human Beings. We’re talking in-person, face-to-face, actually having to speak to another one of us here.

Step Two: If you can’t eradicate that technology because reasons, then how can you disrupt that technology so you can personally communicate IRL? 

You’ll be amazed at how deep that Rabbit Hole goes…

Amazon Music Loudness Normalization Arrives

From Saint Ian’s website – caught this on the Tweet Machine this morning:

Amazon Music Loudness Normalization Arrives – Production Advice

In related news I was dropped this the other day. The takeaway quote:

The least predictable (but not entirely surprising) resistance to externally mandated loudness controls seems to come from new, emerging “producers” and “mastering engineers.” In this new production paradigm/workflow—one mostly lacking a traditional professional infrastructure of managers or “gatekeepers”—these new “mastering” practitioners interact only with their respective artists. Many decisions in these relationships are invariably one-sided.

And that’s the disconnect: It’s not an overreach to say that artists are preternaturally insecure. After all, their job, if you will, is to absorb the heartbeat of the current culture … to translate this matrix of influences, not limited to affairs of the heart and politics, and blend in ideas, often abstract and ephemeral, then render it all musically. Does “accountability” have a place in the artistic zeitgeist? Does actual technical competence? What about an artist doing technical advocacy?

Loudness Normalization is the new Normal, so not making your mixes conform will only work against you and your art in the long run.

Learn, practice, and understand your craft if you want to have lasting appeal and longevity in the game.

Or just go for the Brass Ring, turn everything up to 11, diversify into anything and everything, and bitch about why you’re broke and unsuccessful after a year or so. The choice is yours.

Welcome back to! (finally!)

pexels-photo-125457Photo by Mabel Amber from Pexels

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: 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?