Studio Recording Techniques – Microphones

A microphone is a transducer or sensor that transforms sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications within live and recorded sound engineering. Most microphones today use electromagnet induction (dynamic microphone) or capacitance change (condenser microphone). In this post I will explain the features of each as well as the differences of a Dynamic microphone, a condenser microphone and a ribbon microphone.

Dynamic

  • Rugged and reliable. Meaning they are suitable for most conditions and can withstand heat and moisture making a very handy microphone for general use
  • Provides coloured sound/recording. This suggests that the sound given from the microphone will be crisp and clear, making recording session as well as performances have quality sound from the dynamic microphone.
  • Dynamics are usually cheaper making it easily available for many. Creating great versatility with its uses.
  • Prone to proximity effect. This means that the quality of the sound depends on the microphones proximity to the sound source giving a higher or lower velocity rate.
  • Can handle high volume levels which backs up its general use purpose. So it can be used to record drums, vocals or even be used in live performance where the microphone will pick up many signals around it.
  • Has a tailored frequency response, meaning it will pick up certain frequencies at different decibels, making the microphone produce a unique sound.
  • The diaphragm is attached to the coil. When the diaphragm vibrates in response to incoming sound waves, the coil moves backwards and forwards past the magnet. This creates a current in the coil which is channelled from the microphone along wires. A configuration is shown below.
  • Dynamic Microphone

Condenser 

  • Very sensitive and responsive, meaning it will pick up very faint sounds. This suggests its not capable for general purpose use
  • very good for acoustics due to it being sensitive and responsive.
  • Gives off a more flatter sound that a full sound like the dynamics.
  • Requires power from a battery or external source like “Phantom Power”
  • has a wide smooth frequency response suggesting it can pick up many frequencies at a a smooth rate.
  • Includes a pad switch that allows the control of the volume within the microphone making it easier to master volume on the desk so the sound does not clip.
  • Filter cut off switch allowing the control of which frequencies get cut off and which frequencies get recorded.
  • Not suited for high volume work due to it being so responsive to the faintest of sounds, therefore it would not be suited for live performances.
  • The sound gives off very detailed and extended highs giving it a more high sound rather than a low bass like sound.
  • Transient attacks sound sharp and clear, this is related to drums, the initial hit is referred to the transient.
  • Has SPL – the higher the sound source the higher the velocity.

A Picture of the make up of a Condenser Microphone is shown below.

Ribbon

  • Give off a great warm, smooth sound
  • They are less sensitive than dynamics
  • Very Delicate so they need to be handled with great care
  • Construction: metal foil/ Ribbon is suspended in a magnetic field. Sound waves vibrate the ribbon in the field and generate electrical signal.
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Studio Recording Techniques – Monitors

Studio monitors are loudspeakers specifically designed for sound production applications such as; recording studios, film-making, television studios and radio studios, generally where accurate audio reproduction is crucial. Whereas reference monitors refer to loudspeakers generally used to gauge what a recording will sound like on consumer-grade speakers.
Among sound engineers, the term monitor usually implies that the speaker is designed to produce relatively flat or linear phase and frequency responses. In other words, it has little emphasis of particular frequencies and the monitor gives an accurate reproduction of the tonal qualities of the source audio giving an “uncoloured” or “transparent” sound, and there will be no relative phase shift of particular frequencies, meaning no distortion in sound stage perspective for stereo recordings. Beyond stereo sound stage requirements, a linear phase response helps impulse response remain true to source without encountering any distortion.

Nearfield

A certain type of monitor is referred to as a near-field Monitor. This is a speaker small enough to sit on a stand or desk in proximity to the listener, so that most of the sound that the listener hears is coming directly from the speaker, rather than reflecting off of walls and ceilings thus picking up colouration and reverberation from the room. Also, studio monitors are made in a more physically robust manner than normal home hi-fi loudspeakers. Normal home hi-fi loudspeakers often only have to reproduce compressed commercial recordings, studio monitors have to cope with the high volumes and sudden sound bursts that may happen in the studio when playing back unmastered mixes.

Many audio engineers use monitor speakers for audio mixing and mastering tasks. This enables the engineer to mix a track that will sound pleasing on the widest range of playback systems, in other words; high end audio, low quality radios in clock radios and “boom boxes”, in club PA systems, in a car stereo or a home stereo.

Accurate sound reproduction will also mean that the engineer is less likely to miss any undesirable tonal qualities of the recording, and so can compensate for them. On the other hand, some engineers prefer to work with monitors that are known to be flawed in ways that are representative of the systems end-users are likely to be listening with. In fact, most professional audio production studios have several sets of monitors spanning the range of playback systems in the market. This may include a sampling of large speakers as may be used in movie theatres, hi-fi style speakers, car speakers, portable music systems, PC speakers and consumer-grade headphones.

Midfield

Midfield monitors are designed to be heard from a reasonable distance from the engineer meaning, mid-way between him and the studio. They are usually passive so can be induced by feedback very easily. As the importance of proper room acoustic trreatment became more evident and available, people started to not only listen to the material coming from the monitors but also how the sounds interacted with the environment. This was the original purpose of mid field monitors. Mid field monitors are normally placed farther from the person mixing the song. Many included larger transducers to reproduce the lower frequencies in the mix as the air needed to be moved farther.

Use of mid field monitors also required proper installation of room acoustic treatment to avoid room acoustics from coloring the sound and biasing the mix. The mix usually sounds very different through near field monitors then mid field monitors. By using near field monitors and switching to mid field monitors, an engineer could hear potential changes to the material as it interacts with the environment.

Active & Passive

Amplification: Studio monitors may be “active”, meaning, they include one or more internal power amplifiers, or passive, this means they require an external power amplifier. Active models are usually bi-amplified, which means that the input sound signal is divided into two parts by an active crossover, used for low and high frequency components, both parts are amplified using separate low- and high-frequency amplifiers, and then the low-frequency part is routed to a “woofer” and the high-frequency part is routed to a “tweeter” or “horn”. Bi-amplification is done so that a cleaner overall sound reproduction can be obtained, since signals are easier to process before power amplification. Consumer loudspeakers may or may not have these various design goals.So monitoring is a vital part of the recording chain.

Two-Way & Three-Way Speakers

To put it simply, if a speaker is referred to as a 2-way loudspeaker it means it has 2 speakers in it. If it is a 3-way loudspeaker it will have 3 speakers in it. Different sound waves are reproduced better by different speaker sizes. High pitched sounds like cymbals require a speaker to move very fast to reproduce the sound, as where low frequency sounds like a bass drum or guitar require a much larger speaker to move a greater volume of air. Although you could have one speaker to do both, a two-way loudspeaker breaks up the task into two speakers, each specializing in producing a specific range of sounds. This means that each speaker will do a better job of reproducing the sounds within its frequency range. Low frequencies usually are those below 150Hz while most speakers can produce sound as high as 20kHzFrequency Range

Frequency Range What type of sounds
Very Low under 30Hz Bottom notes on a pipe organ, rumble of explosion – Subwoofer only
Low 30Hz to 160Hz Bass Tuba, Bass Guitar – Woofer
Mid 160Hz to 3kHz Human voice, Trumpet, Sax – Woofer or Midrange
High 3kHz to 20,kHz Cymbals, Piccolo – Tweeter

Crossovers

To split the sound between 2 or 3 speakers, something called a crossover is used. The crossover takes the signal from the amplifier and splits it into 2 or 3 frequency ranges and sending those signals to the speaker best designed to handle those frequencies. In a 2-way speaker, the sound is split between the tweeter and the woofer. The highs go to the tweeter and the lows to the woofer.

Three way speaker systems include a mid-range driver. This is usually a speaker that is smaller than the woofer in the system, and gets program material in the “middle” of the frequency spectrum. This allows the system to have one speaker that can concentrate on producing things like voices, saxophones and other instruments in this range. 

Although it would seem that splitting the signal into three ranges would increase the accuracy of the music reproduction of a speaker, it depends on how well the crossover is “tuned” and several other items including cabinet design, how well the other speakers are matched to each other, the listening room and what type of sound the engineer is going for.

Business Plan – Finance

The banking system and loaning institutes as well as investors play a major role in raising the capital necessary to begin a new business. They place certain financial requirements and other demands before they supply the money for initial operating costs. A business needs to establish collateral, this is an asset of value that the individual or company has that the bank or loaning institution can take if the debtor is unable to repay the loan

A certain business plan must be drawn up that has a realistic plan of turning a profit and repaying the loan. Banks and other lenders will establish an idea of the financial fitness for a business loan. So the company or individual must have a good history of repaying loans.

Overdraft

This occurs when money is withdrawn from bank account and the available funds go below zero. Interest is normally charged from the account provider for the repayment of the overdraft.

Overdrafts

This refers to an ongoing expense of operating a business, the costs include; fixed costs, variable costs as well as indirect and direct costs

Employment subsidy

This serves as an incentive for the business to provide more job opportunities to reduce level of unemployment in the country.The government provides assistance with wages. It allows a person receiving the benefit to enjoy some minimum standard of living.

Knowing the financial aspects of running a business is important with regards to accounting and money handling. Having a knowledge of these areas will greatly help with knowing what to spend money on and also what a business manager does not want to happen with the money of the business.

Solvency

This is the degree to which the current assets of an individual or company exceed their current liabilities, and can be described as the ability of a company to meet its long term fixed expenses and accomplish long term expansion and growth.

Indebtedness

This is the state of being in debt, or the level of the liability of the debtor. With regards to accounting, it is used to know how much a debtor owes a creditor.

Profit Margin

This is a ratio of probability calculated as net income divided by sales. It measures how much money of sales a company actually keeps in earnings, this is useful for comparing companies in similar industries. A gigher profit margin indicates a more profitable company that has better control over its costs compared to its competitors.

Cash Flow

It is the movement of money in or out of the business. It is usually measured during a certain period, like a couple of months. And this measurement can be used for calculating other parameters tat give information on a company value and situation

Market Share

This  is the percentage of a market, accounted for by a certain industry of business, such as the “car” industry. Increasing market share  is one of the most important goals a business should focus on, because by having more market share means the business owns more of the market. Market share shows how well a business is doing against its competitors.

Business Plan – Tax and Credit Control

Maintaining the finance of a business is difficult and that leads onto being able to maintain tax of the business as well as the credit control. i will analyse the different aspects of the tax system with regards to business as well as how credit control works within the business and how it benefits the company as well as the worthy creditors.

Credit control

Credit control is generally a simple procedure that increases as the time between invoicing and payment escalates. Credit control is not debt collection, debt collection is only interested in getting the money. Credit control engages and communicates with customers to make sure they are paying their debts on time. It is aimed at serving a dual purpose of increasing sales revenue by extorting credit to customers who are deemed a good credit risk and by minimising risk of loss from bad debts by restricting or denying credits to customers with bad credit risk. The effectiveness of credit control lies in procedures employed for judging a prospects credit worthiness rather than in procedures used in extracting the owed money.

Tax Liability

Tax liability is the amount of unpaid tax. The term tax liability is used in cases where the tax on a person’s or organization’s taxable activities is estimated, meaning, the tax liability of a corporation is much more than that of an individual. The activities of the organizations such as production and export and so on, also affect the tax liability. In some cases, governments also charge interest to the amount of unpaid taxes.
Calculating tax liability of a particular person or an organization can be easily calculated. The annual tax can be estimated by totaling percentages of the types of taxes and deducting them from estimated income for that financial year. For example, the income tax percentage is applied for the gross profit of the organization. Sales tax is applied to the Trading and Production account of the organization.
The tax liability has to be paid off by the organization or person every year to the appropriate government agency, otherwise the liability keeps on building up. Many organizations therefore, prefer to prepare a separate reserve or provision for tax liabilities

National Insurance

This is a system of contributions paid by workers and employers towards the cost of certain state benefits. Initially it was a contribution system of insurance against unemployment but it now also provides retirement pensions. The self employed contribute partly by a fixed payment and partly on a percentage of net profits above a certain point.

PAYE

The Pay As You Earn, PAYE, system is a method of paying income tax and national insurance contributions. The employer deducts tax and national insurance contributions from the employees wages or occupational pension before paying the employees wages or pension.

Wages includes sick pay, maternity or paternity pay and adoption pay. Employees pay tax over the whole year, each time they are paid, rather than paying tax in one massive sum. The employer is responsible for sending the tax on to the HM Revenue and Customs. Each pay day, employees will get a pay slip setting out their pay, tax and national insurance contributions and any other deductions from the pay. At the end of the tax year, employees receive a form which sets out the total amounts paid to them and deducted from them for the previous tax year.

If one pays tax on their wages or occupational pension under PAYE, the PAYE system can also be used to collect the income tax on any other taxable income they have. For example, if one pays tax under PAYE on an occupational pension, the tax due on their State Retirement Pension is collected through PAYE by deducting tax from the occupational pension. The PAYE system can also be used to collect tax due on other sources of income such as untaxed interest or rent.

VAT

This is a form of consumption tax, taken from the perspective of the buyer, it means it is a tax on the purchase price. From the perspective of the seller, it is the tax on the value added to the product, or service from an accounting point of view. The purpose of VAT is to generate tax revenues to the government similar to the corporate income tax.