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In this episode of Sound Design Live I talk with the founder of SIA Acoustics and SIA Software and the originator of Smaart©, Sam Berkow. We discuss acoustics, sound system design, and audio analyzer pet peeves.
- How did you get your first job in audio?
- What’s one of the best decisions you made to get more of the work that you really love?
- You have managed to build a business that successfully marries acoustic consultancy and system design and integration. It seems like these two jobs would always go hand in hand, but they don’t. Is that because sound system design is a much younger field? Could you talk about what separates and joins the two?
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making who are new to audio analyzers?
- Is it cheaper to make a room quieter or make the sound system louder?
- Tell us about the biggest or maybe most painful mistake you’ve made on the job and how you recovered.
- From FB
- Kip Conner: What happened to the Tacoma Dome case study? Can it be reposted?
- Jason Kleiman: Does he have any advice and/or opinions on using FIR filters in system design and optimization. What is an example use case?
- Cuauhtémoc Méndez: What are his thoughts on “immersive installations” and their future. Will it last?
- Aleš Dravinec: Ask him how Kayden is doing.
- What’s in your work bag?
It’s always cheaper to design it right the first time.Sam Berkow
- All music in this episode by Wowa.
- System toning songs: Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate – Debe, Diane Reeves – One for My Baby, Galactic – Black-Eyed Pea
- David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway
- The Band’s Visit on Broadway with Engineer: Kai Harada
- Workbag: Earthworks, B&K, Studio6 Digital, Hilti laser measure, rubber mallet to bang on walls, a strategy for approaching projects
- Podcasts: Live From Here, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, TWIT “This Week In Technology”
- Books: Love is a Dog From Hell, Sound System Engineering, Sound Systems: Design & Optimization
- You don’t need to know why gasoline burns to drive a car, but it helps is you understand the fundamentals of how cars work and how they respond.
- Noise Criterion a series of curves where you make octave band measurements and what curve you stay under you use as your number.
- I think making rooms quiet makes them sound better. But if the show is 100dB then it doesn’t matter.
- It’s always cheaper to design it right in the first place.
- I’m a big believer in delaying the main system to the backline of rockbands.
- People are working to make the audio experience at concert venues like a movie experience.
- Because the transfer function inherently at mid and low frequencies is looking at the interaction of the room and the system and at high frequencies is looking at just the system I was hoping that as a tool, Smaart would bring those two things [acoustics and sound system design] together.
- The idea of low frequency decay being in some reasonable balance with high frequency decay in a room is critically important and a very important design tool and something that’s easy to measure in Smaart.
- My biggest pet peeve is people looking at the screen and not listening.
- If you have 80Hz as your crossover point, but your subwoofer is 6-8dB above the full range device, your acoustic crossover will be much lower than if you turn the subs up 10-12dB more. You’ve kept the electronic crossover, but slide the acoustic crossover up by changing the gain. I think you create a lot of mud in those cases, by having the subs go so much higher. I like to add EQ outside the bandpass on the subwoofer to make steeper crossovers and reduce the interaction in those areas.
- Complex FIR filters that address low frequencies introduce a lot of delay.
- I’m a big believer in delaying the main system to the back line of rock bands. So much sound is coming off of the stage that 7 or 8ms really makes a big difference for the front of the audience. The people up front stop hearing two snare drums.
- If you’re going to go out and optimize a system, you should have a step-by-step process in your head.