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In this episode of Sound Design Live, I am joined by mastering engineer and live sound engineer Michael Curtis. We discuss loudness meters, setting compressor attack times, and how he screwed up a $200K sound system. We also discuss learning the LV1, using Reaper to host plugins, real time noise reduction, getting your first 10 clients, how to find a floor bounce, Soundgrid server, and Starbucks training.
- Lots of us are doing a lot more broadcast audio during quarantine. Is it important for me to have a loudness meter? How do I get one? How do I connect it? What settings should I use?
- How do I identify a floor bounce and avoid trying to EQ it?
- How do you remember the speed of sound?
- What is compression attack time?
- Tell me about this article you published call How I Screwed Up Deploying A $200k Sound System.
Routing and gain structure are 80% of the job.Michael Curtis
- All music in this episode by Zen Man.
- The CALM Act (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act)
- Loudness units relative to full scale (LUFS): EBUR128S2
- Loudness Penalty website
- Audio Math Survival Spreadsheet
- Real World RF Troubleshooting
- Andrew Scheps at the University of Oxford – “What Comes Out Of The Speakers”
- Workbag: Behringer P1 in-ear pack, Reamp from DIY Recording Equipment
- Books: The Practice
- Podcasts: Sound Design Live, Akimbo, Deep Questions
- When people have all of these expectations in the process that don’t get met, I’m the person that has to revive all of them.
- I did stupid things like run ads. Wrong platform with no credibility. I saw no results very quickly.
- People often want 100 clients before they want 10, but often if you do really good work for those 10, then will become your own marketing force.
- Why is my stuff quiet? Compared to what?
- A floor bounce can be identified with a comb filter.
- It was a really high pressure thing…the CEO of the largest company in the world. It turns out that I forgot to plug in the ULXD to the distro.
- Routing and gain structure are 80% of the job.
- We decided as a crew that we had a specific target to hit for press and that was -24 LUFS.
This transcript was automatically generated. Please let me know if you discover any errors.
I’m Nathan Lively and today I’m joined by mastering engineer in live sound engineer Michael Curtis. Michael Watson, Sound Design Live is great to be here. I definitely want to talk to you about loudness meters for about the speed of sound setting, compressor attack times and how you screwed up two hundred thousand dollars sound system.
But before I do that, after you get a sound system set up, what’s maybe one or two of your favorite test tracks to play through it? Get Lucky by Daft Punk. Just kazatsky, Bob Ludwig, a brilliant band, it’s just, you know, I think you should have reference tracks like he was sonic perfection encapsulated and that’s one of them for me. It’s just so good. Tight, but still deep. They kick hits enough. It’s not overbearing.
Vocals are smooth in the middle. High hats are real crispy. And so if you’re getting your head torn off or something wrong, because they’re like they have a lot of highs, but it’s nowhere near overbearing. So it just reveals a lot about a system.
I think I notice that I’m paying more attention to the things that you say about timbre and sound quality than other people do or that other people might, because you have this word mastering engineer états immediately, like take your opinion more seriously.
Do you feel like is that that fair or unfair?
I know. I think that’s fair. I think a lot of people I think we I talk to you about this yesterday. When’s the last time you’re sitting next to someone on a plane? You said, hey, we don’t have to be best friends. My name is Michael. What’s your name? My name is John and I’m a master engineer. You don’t meet them out in the wild. And it’s just such an uncommon crap.
The only unless you’re on gear, Siletz or whatever, you really don’t have that camaraderie with your friendly neighborhood mastering engineer. And so since it’s this kind of perceivably Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, send it back and I get a better type of craft. And it’s not very relational at this point in time. And I hope that changes.
We don’t live together for a month while we do a record. Exactly. It’s very much like, oh, I got this guy or girl somewhere who’s going to go do it. And it’s very much other it’s very distant. It’s very misunderstood even by other professionals in the career. And so when someone says hi and this, it carries just a different sort of me, even though, you know, what do you think the assumption is?
Because I feel like the assumption is that I send you a thing and you use your golden years to tell me what’s wrong with it. Sure, sure. I mean that. Are you asking, like, qualifying that assumption is what you have. I’m saying that’s that’s I’m realizing that’s kind of my assumption. And I’m wondering what you think. What is the common assumption in your desk?
I think that’s a great one. If I had to say here’s what people commonly have and what I wish they have, here’s here’s the commonly have is post production. There wasn’t a thing before it was. It went straight to tape or Divino straight live. And then now we have post-production. We have time to mess with things. And then now that mixing and producing is becoming even more blended and all these different things like you could do it all by yourself.
So it’s like, how much do you want to divide up the train into how many cars and who’s in charge of what car on the train as it’s driving past at the very end, I’m the caboose, you know. And so but that could be the engineer at the front if they wanted to. I mean, just like you have guys who do it all their basement and that’s fine. That’s great as a more power to you. But I would say that when people have all these things that were missed or expectations, not that they’re actually in the process that don’t get met on the person that has to revive all of them because the can is being kicked down the entire road.
And I’m literally the last place they can stop. And so if there there’s any sort of I wish this would sound better.
I wish I had this other mix engineer or I hate my bass tone, whatever, I’m supposed to fix it, which is sometimes unfair. Sometimes that’s a fun challenge.
But I’ll have to say it’s I am the last stop before it goes to the listener. So that is just a weird moment for an artist. Like I have to let this go now. And so it’s a very an emotional thing that I have to handle in a very technical way. And so so some people had this was really well and trust me a lot, let me do my thing. And they’re like, OK, cool. Some people have a lot to say and have really specific outcomes.
But back to what you said, like, yeah, I would hope to use my experiences, my set up and my gear to hopefully bring my honestly biased opinion to your music and make it sound better. What annoys me is when people, namely MAPP engineers, say like, well, I’m a transparent, unbiased master engineer, there’s no such thing. You have your experiences, your gear, your process, and that makes you you. And so by saying I’m transparent, I approach everything with a clean slate.
You’re like, you’re lying.
It’s too true bias or people really like, is that really a valuable asset? Like, can you really get paid good money to to be transparent? I don’t know.
I guess I mean, that’s what our jobs are. I guess at the end of the day is to just make things louder and have no one notice us. Yeah. Sorry, I’m opening up like a whole other worms I guess. But that’s interesting that.
Yeah. To how do you market yourself. But maybe that’s just part of marketing, maybe mastering engineers to say I’m transparent because that’s what the client wants to hear.
Yes. Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Like you said, that’s a very giant can of worms, but I think I should be able to say I’m good at X, Y and Z and this is how I listen and why and why I make these decisions. And if you like that you want that outcome, then hire me if you don’t hire somebody else. So because some passengers want to what they think it’s an asset that they’re able to work on every genre, which is cool.
It’s great to be able to listen to classical and know what a few guys or a German. And its sixth or whatever, and then go to death metal and be able to keep up with the kick pattern, but that just takes a lot of time to be able to be well versed in all those different genres. So let’s talk about getting work for a little bit. You told me something interesting yesterday, which is that you went to school in Arkansas, then decided to move back to Texas.
So this is right around the time that you got married and you and your wife decided to move to Texas and you said, I’m going to start my own production company doing Masters. And so so that’s all interesting because I’ve moved a lot as well. And I’m always kind of interested in how people are sort of rebuilding their careers.
And when you move, you really learn how important personal referral and building relationships are. And so you move back to Dallas, the Dallas area, and you tell me that for your first six months there, you just kind of went door to door to all of the studios and production houses in the area and just tried to get coffee dates with everyone. And then you said about six months after meeting with everyone, then people started calling you. So I want to know more specifically how you did that and how it worked.
But my first question when I heard that was how did how did you know to do that? Like, I did so many things wrong in terms of trying to get work before I learned kind of how the system works. So so how did you know that that would work? It was until I did other stupid things first. And so I did do stupid stuff like run ads just on like a LinkedIn thing, which is again the wrong platform, number one.
And ads with no credibility don’t work. And so I did do that. I saw zero results very quickly. So I was like, OK, this isn’t the easy way out. Like, I can’t build a career doing it, just throwing money at well, looking for a way.
How can I do the least amount of work and talk to no one.
Yeah. Yeah. You’re so right. That’s so funny.
Yeah. So I just kind of go back to, I was saying earlier is like you don’t run into your friendly neighborhood mastering engineer. And so if I approach the studio in a personal way that was interested in how I can help their music connect with not only the artists they serve and their fans better, that speaks, I think, volumes to people, because at the end of the day, even a mix engineer is unsure of their work. And so if they have something that they trust when they send it to, that’s not just I’m not just the humanized lander of just upload to a server, get it back and hopefully it sounds better.
I am the person actually most the times giving feedback on the works and the clients I enjoy working with the best I’ve had for a long time. They like my ears and they ask me questions even before it’s time for me to get the mixes. The Master, this is version two and I’m mastering version four. But they’re like, Hey, the client asked for this. Are the vocals really that on top? Can you take a listen real quick?
So that type of relationship I really enjoy, it’s not necessarily a mentor role, but they just know that been working on this project for a month, they’re in the hole. Their objectivity is waning away. And having a set of ears that they trust to weigh in on stuff is really helpful, especially when you’re mixing song number 12 on the record and you’re like, just get this out of here. So being able to be in the room with them and say, like, I want to do that and not just be a meat grinder, it was really helpful.
That’s really interesting. So it sounds like you your pitch to them when you met with these studios was really just sort of make more transparent this relationship and how it could benefit them.
Yes. Yes. And I mean, it also just helped that you were clear that having relationships with studios would be really helpful because I wouldn’t even thought of that. And I think what a lot of people do, like I would have first thought, oh, she’s a director, artist. And it’s a lot harder to explain the problem solution scenario of mastering. Exactly right.
You now that you nailed it. Yeah. Artists don’t want to see another eighty dollar line item like what’s that for. But when their mix engineer says, hey, I’ve got this guy or girl I really, really trust and they’re going to raise the level of your work, at least a letter grade, even after you already trusting with me. Is that worth eighty bucks to you for a song? And most often to say, yeah, great. So so I want to know then how that worked out for you in Live Sound, because after you’re in Texas for a while, then you decided to go back to Arkansas and you went back to work for a company you already have been working for, but you’ve been freelance doing various audio things for a while.
So. Yeah, yeah. So have have you have you pretty much exclusively relied on this process of get one on one meetings, get work like is kind of two step process. Tell me about finding work in live sound. Yeah. People want one hundred clients before they want ten. But oftentimes if you do really, really good work for those ten, they become your own marketing force for you. And so people think about scale way before they think about intimacy, trust to relate.
And so you have to just like any type of plant that you have that can you can kind of prune and multiply. I don’t think pruning is the right word, but you can kind of graft off and take over. You have to have a healthy plant to begin with, to take something from plant it somewhere else. Right. And so I think fine, 10 seeds and not water them to death.
That would kill the plant, but help them grow really, really well. And then there will be as they grow and mature and they their own careers grow and their skill sets grow, they are going to help kind of multiply for you. And so I would say just find those 10 that you can really, really, really, really trust. And I did that usually first with in-person meetings. But it’s just like, you know, I meet with a concert promoter who or a person who is actually in charge of a concert series who then get moves over to this nonprofit and they have a banquet.
So it’s like people are changing roles. So they’re going into different spheres. So if you can have all these really, really, really healthy plants to beat that analogy to death that are all moving around, growing their own careers, they bring you with them, which is cool. And so I think just make ten people as happy as they freaking can’t. That’s the best way to get done in my book. And that sounds great. So how do you find those ten?
I mean, are you doing research on these people before you reaching out to them and making sure that they do the kind of productions that where you felt like you would be successful? Yes, yeah. You definitely have to qualify those relationships. And to a certain point, making sure you’re ready for every gig that you come across is a hard thing to do. But there are certain base level skills that can apply a lot of areas. And that’s why what was helpful for me is like I’m a bass player, too, is being an engineer and only having that skill set and not being on stage is good.
Or maybe it is helpful to have that skill set. But what helped me actually accelerate that, as I was not only to mix with people, but I can go on stage and play with other bands and then I would play and develop those relationships. And if they wanted to go do a record or do something, they’re like, oh, if you’re good at Bass, you’re probably good at other things. So having adjacent but also different skill sets, that could put you even different, more different situations.
And if you were just running sound is also helpful. And so I went and say that, like, if you really want to go on tour, then the next best thing is to sell mattresses, because you just because you meet a lot of people. But adjacent skill sets that put you in different networks are also really helpful to lean on if you want to grow that network faster.
Can you give me an example of something for you personally, not selling mattresses? Yes. And so I could probably three different times. I’ve played bass for a group just because someone else either referred me who was either had done work with the band before. So that was a referral number one. I played bass for them and they’re like, we’re working on an EP. We were in the studio and like, well, I do mastering like, oh again, they’ve never met a friendly neighborhood mastering engineer and they’re like, cool.
Yeah. And I, you know, I mastered the record or even doing a doing a bunch of corporate shows in northwest Arkansas.
I’ve mixed talking heads forever, but then they built this twelve thousand cap venue. And because I did good on those kind of, you know, sometimes not very exciting corporate shows, they say like, well, you know, your audio fundamentals really well. Are you familiar in the music scene? Like, yeah, well played a lot. I haven’t done a huge bunch of huge arena shows, but because I knew the technical side, I can troubleshoot and do whatever they like.
OK, come help system tech at this venue.
Sure. And I’m sure that connects over to the corporate world as well. You might join A, B and I section and and meet people there who are going to end up hiring you for stuff, maybe the I don’t know, the tickets that you go to or the church that you work at. I’m just trying to think like even potentially the band that you play in.
Yeah, yeah. It’s just the audio umbrella is getting even even wider these days of this particular skill sets are niches, are opportunities that can go and like even someone on a Zoome call have people don’t know how to get their internal microphone working. And so just being like a person who’s friendly, you can help people troubleshoot a zoom call gives you a little bit of credibility in their book you can go to. And so just being helpful, not overly available because that’s exhausting, but helpful to those ten.
And there are concentric circles around them really goes a long way.
I have other stuff I could ask you about your career, but I don’t really know. To me, this has already been really helpful. So is there anything else you think we should talk about? Any points that you felt like, I don’t know where big decision making moments for you or things that you think people don’t know about? Yeah, I mean, when it was until a few years ago, they discovered about myself that I don’t want to do mastering all day, every day.
OK, and so someone is thinking they have to pick one kind of job and just do that. Yeah, probably not true, especially with covid just upending most people’s tours or any kind of live stuff. Like if you had that mentality, you would start. You have to. And so I think it’s more useful to think about your career as a singer, as a portfolio than a single skill set. And just like anyone diversifies in the stock market, you have stuff that’s half of it is a growth stocks if you’re young and then so but stable stuff, just a case of tanks.
And so if you just look at your skill sets and like, how can I build a meaningful portfolio? So there is a consistent view of my skill sets and brands because I’m not selling mattresses and then also writing sound, but like system checking versus playing bass versus mastering all belongs in that same sphere. And so how can you stitch together a portfolio that make sense from a time standpoint, from availability standpoint? Your experience, I think is a more helpful conversation than saying I want to tour with Bono.
Let’s talk about some tech stuff. So sweet. You have a new site. You you really rebuilding your site because you’re sort of thinking about rebranding and you have this new blog that is at where is it that produced by MKC, dot WordPress, dot com.
I guess I’ll back up and buy real domain some time, but that’s that right now. Fine.
I just I was going through it and it just provided me a lot of great stuff that we could chat about because you have a lot of little compelling titles. So I want to jump through a lot of those because they’re just so helpful as a reminder to people who already know them and to people who don’t know them. This will be new. So I think a great place to start would be loudness metering. You have a lot more experience with that than I do.
I think definitely because of being a master engineer. Sure. So a lot of us are doing a lot more like broadcast and live streaming stuff during quarantine. Is it important for me to have a loudness meter? How do I get one? How do I connect it? What settings do I use? Everything, because all the cheat codes. And so the one that I use and I only find literally a week ago I found it is this is really new for me, but it’s just the best one out there.
I stitched together a couple of other free plug ins that would host an rieper, and I’ll talk about that in a second.
But the Uihlein loudness meter, it’s a funny name, but it’s spelled Wiremu Ellie.
And I’m not sure where it might be that I have no idea. But that’s the American phonetic spelling of his name, OK?
Yeah. And so, yeah.
Anyway, so that is so a lowness meter is tries to emulate how the human ear would react to a certain level. Right. And so but the end of the day for allowing me to work in the digital world has to take an incoming signal that’s already digitized and it’s just a series of ones and zeros. And so it’s not really loud or soft. It’s like how full or empty is that digital container? Right. And so it’s recording the unprocessed audio, but listening it in a biased way to think about how would a human judges loudness.
And so loudness meter sets a common point where, like, you should probably hang around this point. But if you open the loudest meter, you know, the great thing about standards is you have so many to choose from.
So they look like old programing or whatever. And so so there are a ton out there. And why that is, as we’ve all seen, Billy Mays just like us after watching football or whatever, and he’ll be like, oh, our ability to just be really loud.
And so people got mad about people basically squashing the death of the audio on a commercial, getting really, really, really loud and being significantly loud than the program material. And so they said then. So loudness metering is that how can we measure that and enforce it? So it was actually signed into law with the Calm Act and so TV and radio. So if you listen, loudness meter and we’ll get to how to set it up in a second.
If you watch any even online news broadcasts, it’s going to be coming in about negative. Twenty three negative twenty four Aliyu first and that’s loudness units relative to full scale. So full scale audio being zero dB aifs at the top. And so you can have you been listening to any number of these standards in each of them going to have a different bias or setting that measures to the loudness in a different way and wants you to shoot for a different target.
People should know that you love this meters free. Yeah, it’s crazy. You only have to pay for the presets and he lists all the presets so you can program them in your stuff. So I actually paid for it. Yeah. So I could get the presets because all I need to do is choose iTunes when I export this podcast so I can see that. But it was worth it for me. Yes. Yeah. I think it’s such an amazing product.
I was happy to give them the forty fifty bucks and just for the. The pro version and just the ease of being a pop round and see exactly what you just mentioned. Yeah, but the cool thing is, is I think it was August of last year was the new Ebbie you are one twenty eight as to what is that.
It was the first. The editorial are twenty eight was the standard that says, hey, you should be shooting for across your entire program. An average level of negative. Twenty three. Again your peaks no higher than negative two I think. Yeah.
But there began this huge discrepancy between broadcasted and TV elements like radio and TV versus online streaming because online streaming normal like Spotify listening to on Spotify is all going to be normalized, the negative 14. So that’s an almost 10 dB difference. So tell me about normally and tell me about penalty, because, yeah, this is what I’m worried about. And I and tell me if I should not if I should be worried about this or my fear, since I don’t quite understand this, is that if I go over the limit, then I will be penalized in my live stream or the stuff I upload to YouTube will actually turn it down.
And then my client will say, why is my stuff quiet?
Is that true? It is true. It is true.
And the thing is, you had to think, well, why is my stuff quiet? And the question is always compared to what? Compared to what is the big question? Because even on Spotify, they have this really cool normalization algorithm and YouTube and Tidal, everything has its own algorithm, which is all listed in Uihlein, and it basically analyzes the entire file and picks more or less an average ish. It’s not quite an average, but just assigns a single number to entire file and says it’s about negative 12 and our target’s negative 14.
So we’re going to turn it down to dB. And so you can use a website called Loudness Penalty Dotcom, upload any file and it will process it and tell you all those numbers in advance. And I’ve used that a lot before. And me as a massive engineer trying to tell this to artists when I get something to a certain level and if they just play it outside of an environment that doesn’t have normalization and they compare it to the new Taylor Swift stuff that’s just slammed the hell, it’s going to sound quiet compared to that.
And even if I get my stuff, the negative 16, if I’m using a lot of compression or 17 ways vocal writers in a row and nothing ever moves, it’s going to sound louder.
Right. So 17 ways vocal writers in a row. That’s brilliant.
Yeah. Yeah. So something like that.
So, yeah. So again, loudness is always well compared to what. And since that we have a finite digital container. Twenty four bits to work with. That’s kind of the world everyone’s running around in. And I can’t or I guess people still do all the time, even when they push stuff out. It’s like, OK, so that regulatory stuff at twenty three is supposed to just to keep everyone on a somewhat level playing field.
I don’t know who calls you or penalizes you, reinforces that.
But in on the Internet, not television or radio, there’s no police. If I were just broadcast to go into black box cast or whatever, streaming service, Rezaee, whatever, and each platform in and of itself when it’s going live, I actually don’t know if they they will adjust your volume on the fly. I don’t think they do. And so the new two standards to the ABC are twenty eight as to has a dialog setting, it’s implicit, it’s meant for dialog and it has to music.
So and so when you deliver stems, let’s say you’re mixing a show for Netflix. This is and this is why the system’s broken. They want you to be at a certain number as well. But if you have a show, it’s primarily drama. It’s a bunch of talking and then there’s a big crazy chase scene. It’s all loud, right? Because A, if you’re watching a movie that’s delivered at NEKE thirty one and you have thirty one dB dynamic range for a movie because they want a gunshot to feel like a gunshot.
But that’s smaller now with Netflix, but they call it the anchor element. So if it’s primarily speech that should be at negative twenty four. But if you have then it’s also a disco band playing at the end for the credit or whatever it’s like louder. That’s OK. And so, but that’s the problem with assigning a single number to an entire piece like an episode of a TV show or podcast or whatever is not everything is supposed to be felt at that same volume.
And so it’s just like, how do you tell an algorithm to listen? Like, Okay, this is the music portion, should I touch it? But I pay the mixer to mix it like this and it just gets heart both.
Let’s talk about how we can kind of just respect industry standards with our live streams.
OK, love, thank you for taking that rabbit rabbit hole. OK, so I would say if you are mixing I primarily dialog based show, I would use the if you are only twenty two and that’s negative eighteen. So which is great because most console’s that’s your incoming nice reference level four equivalent is your you again that’s not if I pass a sign tone at one K at eighteen over to the loudness. It’s not going to be the same if I do it one hundred hertz vs.
one K vs. 10 K, they’re all going to be different because it’s listening at different frequencies to emulate the human ear. And so basically, you won’t know for sure how it’s going to go until you actually play into the meter. Yeah. So you can’t do a single test tone to do that. But yeah. So the dialog and so that should be plenty of loudness where someone on their iPhone is able to crank it up all the way to put it up to the ear to hear it.
But it’s not going to be so little head room where you’re hitting a compressor, remember, all the time. So I think it’s a great choice that they want to maintain.
And then negative 16, if it is a primarily music based live stream. And so just a couple of dB more. I’m not sure if the algorithm listens differently or if I just hey, you get to dB more because that’s closer to Spotify, because if so, listen, Spotify like 14 down to 18 for dB. That’s a lot. It’s a big discrepancy. And so I think they’re trying to get in between what was it broadcast? Twenty three and twenty four.
If if you’re in America, up to closer to these common levels, people are used to listening at negative 14 for Spotify.
OK, so that’s the setting. They’re using my loudness meter. So how can I get the set up then in a live setting so that I have my loudness meter going? And so I know, for example, since I have the loudness, people could use whatever they want. But in this case, we’re just using that as an example. It has a standalone version. So I can just start that up on my computer. And then can you walk me through how you set up getting audio in and out of the computer to do the monitoring?
I love it. So it’s a little counterintuitive that if you just. Oh, I thought I could just open up Spotify hit play and I’ll start metering my computer’s output, but actually looking for an input to meter and so on x thirty two or five all the time. And so depending on whatever protocol you need to have your program or stream stereo mix piped out digitally out of the console into your computer. And so if you’re an X two, you can just use the USB card and go in and within your computer, choose it as your audio driver, and then just make sure you’re sending it into the card and put one and two, because it’s going to be looking for that one.
I’m not sure. Within the lane you can have a look for a different stream or not three or four or five or six or whatever. But I know one and two it works. And so just go on the routing tab card’s out one or two, patch it over and you’ll be seeing it on the loudness meter right away. Oh yeah. And then in other situations, I guess you just need some other protocol to get digital audio from the back of the computer.
Yeah. Where that’s down to virtual sound card or sound grid or whatever, you could pipe anything. It just some sort of digital. And I need to say it needs to be specifically digital because if you run an analog out of the console, you are piping something out in accordance with that that reference level for that console and then whatever piece of gear using to get it back. The digital computer has its own internal reference level, and so it’s no longer accurate anymore.
So it has to be a digital copy.
OK, Michael, how do I identify a flaw, balance and avoid trying to secure it? Yeah, the nice thing about floor bounces is that they follow a pattern like a floor, bounces look like filters and those follow a pattern and patterns that a pattern. What’s to come filter the code filter. Allow it to come with you. Are you see the letter? OK, so a filter is when two correlated or same sources arrive at a single point and are mentioned together, but they’re offset by time.
And so when they combine at the same place, they have destroyed against both constructive and destructive interference. And so they will basically make this regular pattern of peaks and valleys looking like a comb.
It’s a weird looking comb. Why does it seem to change size of bristle of the comb as it gets higher frequency?
Yes, because most of our audio analyzers are displaying a linear phenomenon over a log graph. OK, yeah, that’s a weird looking count.
It’s a look at it on a linear graph. It’ll look like a yes. Exactly. Yes. All right. Yes. OK, so so I kind of so step one is identified as a filter by just learning what that pattern looks like. And so then you’re saying from that then I can find the floor bounce. Yes.
And so there are you can either look at what would be your magnitude response and look there and look at those regular patterns or usually how I try to look for it first. If I is. I guess that’s why I wanted a separate comb filter from floor bounce is that you can get some filters from not just the floor from just like delays and digital processing or whatever is just in floor bounce. Usually means I can look at my impulse response. If you’re in smart, that’s the top thing.
And you’ll see a spike where you’re delay calculators latched on to said, yes, this is my reference signal and you see another smaller spike after it. And that means there is a it’s another signal is coming in and it’s being included in your measurement. And so a floor bounce means that it’ll have a. Flow, which is usually it’s going to be more exaggerated, is you’ll see it’s hitting your microphone and it’s also hitting the floor and bouncing back up into the microphone.
And so if you take depending if you’re doing like a seated audience or standing audience, I guess a particular blog post where I wrote about it, it was three point eight two milliseconds was the offset delay. So this is what you saw in your live wire window. You saw Spike at the center of this zero. And then there was another spike later at three point eight four eight five milliseconds later, OK? Yes. And so I was like, OK, the impulse response is supposed to tell you what would a theoretically perfect spike of all frequencies for one sample look like if it passed through my system?
And so if my system is perfect, it will output will perfectly reflect the input, but it doesn’t since it’s passing through a speaker and all these things that alter it. And so seeing two spikes means way. I’ll give you one. Why am I getting I mean, this is a great for in stock market, but well, only one out if I give you one in.
And so I just put my cursor over that and tells me it’s three point eighty five and then I put that three point eight five number in a handy spreadsheet I made that tells me I’m glad you mentioned that. OK, so recently you published the spreadsheet called Audio Math Survival Spreadsheet. So let me just give a quick intro to this. Yeah. Because I think this is funny. So I think all of us, when we have read Bob McCarthys book for the first time, we’ve gotten about halfway through and we thought, you know what, I wish someone would make an Excel spreadsheet that had all of the math that he talks about in the book.
And that’s what you’ve done. Most of it. If you were reading the book, you took all the things that you were learning and all of the math that he talks about and little equations and calculations and conversions. And you put that all onto one page. So, yeah, and it’s not even really that overwhelming. Well, let’s see how many rows is it? So one hundred and sixty eight rows. And so there are probably like 20 little calculators in here.
And it starts off with things as simple as converting frequency to cycle, time to wavelength and then vice versa. Samples to frequency phase delay to time and frequency, voltage change. So a lot of really helpful things here. And you can download that where probably easiest place is going to my blog.
And there is a blog post that has the link. I just have to put that along with you. Just post the link in the show notes or whatever. It just a Google sheet. That is a public link. So copy it, share it, do whatever you want. Cool. Put my name on it to take credit for your work. Sure.
OK, so there is a section you added called Filter, right. Yeah. Yeah. OK, so forty nine. Yeah.
And so it’s the spreadsheet has inputs are orange, outputs are blue. And so if you see a blue cell you can put a number. So Consultor says time offset. And so I put in three point eight, five milliseconds because I looked at my impulse response. And so I got another spike right there. And I has some math set up on DIBP one dip to dip three and then pick one peak to peak three. There are more deep, deep, some picks, dips and peaks after that.
But the first three usually the most strong in the math. When you figure out your first dip takes, you’re basically it’s three point eighty five does perfectly correspond with a specific frequency to complete a full cycle. And so if I put that, that is two hundred fifty nine point seventy four hertz. And so if I take that and to get my first dip, that means it is arriving one half of wavelength differently. So that’s one hundred thirty hertz.
And so that’s can be my first dip as half of that frequency. And so that’s just the math there. And then to get dip to dip three, you just add that full wave in frequency again and again. So that’s the linear phenomenon. And then if you want to go to peak that the first peak is like if a signal arrives exactly one half wavelength or one full wavelength away and adds again, you’re going to get if it’s the same level, you’re going to get six dB increase.
So you don’t get quite six. But it’s right there at two sixty and then pick two. It’s multiplied by two and then by three. So just adding and adding. So those right away. And so then I can go confirm at my magnitude response and see those three depths of three peaks. And if they’re there, that looks like a comfort to me. OK, so it sounds like a comb filter is a pattern of cancelation information. So it’s going like Valley Peak Valley, Peak Valley, Peak Valley, Peak Valley, forever and ever.
And and so if I can correlate this pattern that I’m seeing in the LIVI where I see, oh, there’s a there’s some kind of a reflection or echo or something there. I see a second peak, if I can call like that to the cone filter. Then you’re saying I put those two together and I know flameouts. And then if I’m looking at my mounting response that might have this bit, you know, in this case, I saw a big peak at two 60, which is like most people, you know, I hate to pick on a specific frequency, but like a big build up to 50 as sounds just kind of throaty and nasty sounding and just sounds cheap to me.
And so this big peak was like, well, if I stand closer to the father figure, that’s going to change. And so I can’t make a single move across this rig to solve that. This is a timing problem solving with electronic means, which isn’t going to get you anything. And so you can, of course, try, like window out stuff and blah, blah, blah, blah. But, you know, it’s there are other reasons I wouldn’t choose to do that.
But basically any sort of mess I’m seeing in that pattern, I basically ignore it. Michael, how do you remember the speed of sound so at the high school I went to, there are two times you need to remember is when is lunch and when do we get out of here? And lunch was at eleven thirty and I got to school at three forty five. So eleven thirty is close at seventy point nine one degrees. That’s why I have that as the starting temperature from my calculations in the graph is seventy point ninety one degrees, gives you eleven thirty feet per second.
And then since a lot of people want to know stuff meters to myself, remember that’s about three hundred thirty meters per second. That’s great. Yeah. That’s how you mind. Yes. I updated my blog post and.
Oh really I did. I don’t know why but when I am trying to remember numbers, ask and try to look at how they related and add and subtract them. I love it. So when I was trying to remember my I just moved a few months ago and I was trying to remember my address that way, my new address. And so for me, I was finally able to remember the speed of sound because eleven minus two equals nine. So I remember eleven, twenty nine for some reason.
That works well with my very great. Yeah that’s awesome. And three, four or five is helpful for me. For me. OK, great. OK. And then once you have I’ve found that once you have one number memorized it’s easy to remember all the others stuff. Now that I have eleven, twenty nine memorized I can remember eleven thirty really easily like. Yes most people use eleven thirty. Sure I remember eleven twenty nine. Oh yeah.
Most people. So now, now it’s just all easier. I referred to my own calculation wrong.
I said three three earlier it is three forty five. OK, so here’s how easy it is.
OK, tell me about you published this article. One of your very first ones is called How I Screwed Up Deploying a two hundred Thousand Dollar Sound System. So tell me about that.
Yes, this was the commencement ceremonies for the University of Arkansas. And so they so it’s four days of graduations.
So it just day long just calling out names. Handing out diplomas. Yeah, because, I mean, the university Arkansas, I think has fifty thousand students and both graduate students, undergrad, whatever.
And so like the school of business would have to the school of Agriculture would have won an art and science would have won. And it’s always different. Schools have their own ceremony. They all have a little bit different. Some of them have specific walking playlists. I’m going to bring in bands to play what people are walking in. So it wasn’t just a podium the entire time. There was every ceremony had a little something fun that was different. So I got the mixing bands on the floor of an arena off to the side where the play was pointed at the floor for the students.
So that was kind of interesting anyway. So I was in charge of placement and the band couldn’t be on the stage because that’s where all the faculty was sitting. So they were kind of off to the side and getting the P.A. back at them and whatever. So anyway, so I was a one on that. And so I had to deploy a system for the floor to cover the entirety of the basketball floor. And when Bud Walton Arena, where the hogs play basketball, it’s a nineteen thousand seat arena and so have a pay that covers the entirety of the floor primarily for the students, or there’s all this ADA seating around the edges and stuff to start to get.
That’s everything except the stage. Then also my feet up to the flown rig that covers the entire bowl plus delays and all that. OK, so how I screwed it up. It was I had caracara what have you it and we had two hands of twelve boxes which now doing the show for the fourth time now I’ve managed to play it right but the first time I played it wrong, what I did is I use gained shading to accomplish all the distance offsets between the top box on the bottom box throw.
So it was big money Nottie. I know you’re right and acoustics does not like they don’t. They don’t. You’re probably blacklisted now. I know we shouldn’t be talking about that. You’re going to ruin your career. You probably will be like that guy. Yeah. So anyway, I was actually in the middle of Bob’s book. Well I did this and so but up until having getting to fly a lot of bigger arrays, I had either done just like K-12 single kind of points.
Which kind of stuff or constant curvature arrays like Durex. And even that point gain shading isn’t always the best thing to do for constant curves your way. But up to my knowledge at that point, how you got over that gain offset, which is like, well, it’s down the front turn the bottom box, you limited limited resources, tools to get terms like, OK, cool, I’ll do that. And and so I just overlaid that logic even on a line array, not really taking into account the I guess how Bob says that the group think of letting the boxes come together and throw and do all that.
And so I even though I have read those portions of that stuff, I just that way of treating an array of speakers which is so ingrained in me that I overlaid it on top of this really nice covering the graduation happen. No one got bad. There weren’t like this giant lo, but two hundreds, like no one, like, threw their diplomas at me. But it’s just really it was really, really humbling after I actually sent my system designed to you, Nathan, and you tore apart on the Internet and you used the word tore it apart like I’ve made fun of you.
You did it. You were you were very gracious. And very generous to do that, and that kicked off our relationship and which was awesome and so but it was just so cool. Oh, man, I just it just very few moments in your career, like, I have been thinking about this entirely wrong, and you got to illuminate that for me. So thank you for that. And since then I was like I just maybe doubled down even more of like, well, I really need to do my stuff if I’m going to be put in charge of this really expensive rig and be in charge of people having a good experience, being able to be not only personable and all the soft skills and with audio of just really knowing the math behind it and why I need to do certain things, just became that even that much more important.
So since that time ago, I just really have chosen to invest in that and get better at it.
And hopefully it’s it’s paying off. Wow.
Well, I’m just so happy that you had the chance to do that gig multiple times because there’s so many times when other people have done things, I’m sure. And when I’ve done things where you realize later, even years later, that you made some mistake and you don’t get the chance to try it again and do it again and really learn from it. But this really cements the learning when you’re like, oh, I made a mistake and I can fix it next time.
Yes, that’s great. Yeah, that’s very rare. And, you know, I think the company who has the contract has it for the next five years. And as long as I live in Arkansas, I have that show. So I get to try out a lot of different projects.
So we talked about one mistake about more. Great. Keep it coming. Man, can you think of something else? Is there a moment that comes to mind when I say biggest mistake that you’ve ever made? Is there one moment that was especially painful that you can share with us? Yes, I was. It was actually here in D.C. five years ago, something like that. I was mixing for the Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit. And so it was at the top of the Newseum.
So it’s it’s kind of a museum about news. And that was the venue was really cool. Is this all around glass super high profile event, had the CEO of Coke, CEO of Wal-Mart. So in a corporate sense, like a lot of big players in the room, it was a couple of days long. And we were in the literally the last session. And the CEO of Wal-Mart, Doug McMillan, is giving his, like, ending thing.
I was mixing it and was in charge of deploying RF as well. I didn’t have a two, so I was all under my purview. So it’s a smaller room, probably one hundred one hundred seats. Something like that was a long summer down at the end of the room off to one side because Egressed was at the back and we had RF there and it was setting up just normal. Sure. You Aleksi stuff, but I think it was twenty four channels and so we had RF distributor Destra and all of a sudden Doug is talking.
He’s got ten minutes left on the time clock like we’re on homestretch and he’s on a lot of you elected to one forget and gone. It’s gone. No, no. This is being broadcast back to the Walmer Home Office. This is here in the room. And luckily no, I did have a two, but I deployed the RF and luckily my pops up has a handheld as pocket no less than three seconds later hands it to him. But without that safety net offending really quick and being able to get the handheld up there.
And of course, it’s not fun for it. It just rattles you when you’re talking also on your mikes goes out. So just him just being, oh, well, this is this and he roll with it. He’s a super nice guy, but just like really high pressure thing, I’m like I’m the CEO of the largest company in the world. And so I’ve come to find out. I went back to try to figure out what’s wrong, that I get stepped on to do whatever.
And I out of that, that I was using the single rack unit, you see ones that were put together. And so they have the AV antennas. And I forgot to plug in that specific unit into the distro.
So it had no antenna connected, no one to no one.
So it was a miracle it was working from the get go because zero antenna. And so how it made it that long, I don’t know. But all the other ones were in. But for whatever reason, that unit and that he got because he was a day in the days he was farther down the list. So RF eight.
Wow, that’s really interesting. So obviously you learn to always double check your Internet connections, but what about other RF? Is there an RF set up procedure verification step that would have identified that problem?
Yeah, I mean, just make sure your cables are it. I now do that like especially like usually when doors start or whatever, I’ll like walk my entire front house are set up and literally like look and verify each cable as I do that now because of that situation. And so it seems we think we’re all professionals here, but that stuff happens. And then secondly, having some sort of testing procedures that’s having walking out with each microphone and then having wireless workbench logging the activity, you know, because at that point, my the test that was for success for me is like, could I hear it?
So at the beginning of the day, I had my walk up like I heard it. I heard it. Heard it right. With all the microphones there about to walk in, get off the stage, whatever. But actually seeing. Data from wireless workmen saying this was the quality of the connection. He just happened to be up there when it was working and there could have been a broadcast truck pulled up outside. There might have been close to where it was at.
It just kind of drowned it. Who knows? But I think just just like having lowness metering is such a good tool to be able to see what’s going on with the loudness standpoint for having RF. I mean, it’s a free software. And if you’re using your stuff, just being able to see like. Can I trust this microphone that’s about to be brought up for the CEO of the largest company in the world and I’m the same as you, I think three or four, a few months, maybe four or five years ago, I was the only test I had was turn it on and see if it works.
And now and because of going through some painful moments, just like you did to. Yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t know about it before, but now. Well, I took Stephen Pavlik course. It’s called The Real World R.F. Troubleshooting. And so now I just know I should do a link budget before every show. And then once everything is deployed, I now always do wargaming and a walk test. Yes. And those have really helped me feel more confident about my setup so that when something’s going wrong, yes, I have a better idea of like where it could possibly be going wrong.
And I can also just like deliver more confidence to my client and say, hey, I did these tests. You know, aside from any crazy circumstances, this this is the result we’re going to get. Sure. I love it. I love it.
So so let’s say a couple of things about why we’re here in D.C. and then maybe we’ll come back and record in a week and talk about what really happened.
So let’s just talk about the system, because I think that’s the most important thing. Yeah, yeah. And a lot of new stuff for us because I think we can say stuff about numbers and how software and hardware works, but most people are going to forget all that stuff. Probably the most helpful stuff we can say is how you and I learn things. So we’ve kind of found out at the last minute that we would both be using console and communications and speakers and maybe in my case, even microphones we’ve never used before.
So now for me, after having worked in pro audio for 17 years, that’s still happens all the time.
I know. Yeah, probably more so for me, because I only work one or two shows a month.
And so I’m not getting my hands on gear all the time, especially new stuff, but I’m not afraid of it like now. It’s fun and really scary, but now it’s fun. And so maybe let’s just talk about like how we approach that a little bit. And so let me just kick it off. Like you found out that you were going to be using the LV one for the first time. And so what was sort of some of the first things you did to prepare so that if you just had to walk up to it and, like, start using it, you would be a little bit more familiar?
Sure. I think YouTube is a gold mine, also a black hole. But just being able to see, like, OK, who is intelligent? I mean, obviously ways the makers of it, we found out today that there’s actually a whole course on it. I don’t know about that course, but there was just a 30 minute walk through when the product was announced. But that sweet water did of like the waves guy who just like walked through it and was thirty minutes of like, here’s how to poke around.
Here’s what I can do. And just little things you drop. He’s like, oh yeah, since it’s late or too blah blah blah blah blah blah. It’s like, oh layer two networking tells me a lot about it versus like OK, I’m not having to think about IP addresses, all that stuff. It kind of plug and play. It’s Mac address. So like those little nuggets of people talking about it, it feels off handed to them.
But that’s just really useful information is kind of in between each of their points. And so listening for those, there were several offhanded things he said and just that little thirty minute YouTube video, I was like, oh, that’s helpful. So just watching what’s already out there. So you went to YouTube and and what’s surprising me, I’m realizing now, is that I this is one of the first times that I didn’t read the user’s manual. I think I always go to that first.
But this time since Waze has their own online course where there’s like thirty videos, I was just like, I’ll just go through those and like today we have an off day. And so I was like I went through a bunch of them before and then we had a meeting with the the system provider and he answered a bunch of our questions and now I’m like light years ahead of where I was having never touched it.
Yes. Yes. Yeah. So I don’t know if I have much else to say about that. I did go through. So also using the galaxy in real life before I use Galileo’s in real life. But I’ve only ever used galaxies, virtual galaxies in MAPP three dB and MAPP XT. Sure. And compass. So I did. I watched a few of their videos and it’s it’s just so nice. Now, a year ago we didn’t have these.
But now since everybody’s been doing more videos because of quarantine, now there are several videos about Galileo and Compass and Galaxy on YouTube. So that was great. I went through those and then Levine explained all the things I need to know and was the man his name.
But we ended up not using that, but we didn’t get the visa. So, yeah, I guess I also went to YouTube to train for that. But I did look at the user’s manual for that. And then I don’t know what else do you want to say? I looked at some stuff about AV, but I wasn’t even really sure how much I would need to know. Did you try to learn anything about dB before we got here? Not AV be specifically since I knew that was.
Can be like the primary protocols and sound grid. It’s going to be handling more of that. But to me, I had never done many shows that used a lot of fiber. So I didn’t know, like, do I need to think about fiber differently than regular old 300 foot Ethernet or whatever? So that’s where as far as a very specific niche research I did was on that there a single mode, fiber, multimode fiber and see what it is and all that.
So that was a little overwhelming for me. And did you just do that research like on product pages? He just looked up switches and then read about how they connect with fiber.
So I did find later in the middle of our conversations, like I actually first time when I was designing their original rig, there was kind of a transfer of power in the middle of this. When I was designing, I had suspected DONTAE system and as a bunch of real racks, all connected with fiber specking. It never used it, but I needed I needed to go longer than three to twenty eight feet. And so it needed to be fiber.
So I knew that. But you referred me over to Chris Leonard, who was super, super nice. I just asked him since I know he works with that all the time. Leonard IEMs Technology Services.
Yes. Yeah, he was awesome in and he was like, yeah, it’s just it’s a different connection type and it’s glass so don’t step on it. But but otherwise you can treat it just like other cable. Sometimes knowing the nitty gritty of stuff is really helpful, just like with system design. But in that specific case, learning something new, working with a new technology, you just have something. Yeah. You know Dontae, right? Yeah.
OK, well we as others, Gary, just kind of cool. So that was helpful. I guess the last thing I’ll say is that, you know, I always want to know how the crossover line is going to be done. And that’s been an interest of mine for the last couple of years. And I have learned that if I prepare for that ahead of time and find out what the pre alignment delay values, I want to get into the field.
Everything’s going to be easier. It’s just more research. You know, the more you know, the easier things will go in the field. So I also looked at how llena and nine hundred LFC go together because initially we thought we were going to have to align those. And I also looked at how maybe X forty and nine hundred LC would go together because from my sound and luckily I already had some of those pairs in, in some aligner my little webapp.
Yeah. I was just able to look those up and do some quick research. But then I also verified it in MAPP three dB just to make sure and I never use the C twenty before. So I went through and read those operating instructions. Yeah. So I guess let’s, let’s do another short recording in a couple of weeks about how this all turned. Yeah. That would be fun to talk to.
Yeah, so let’s start this thing, so. Michael, welcome back. Glad to be here. So in for people listening with us who are here with us, that happened in no time. But you and I talked and then we worked on a show for four or five days and now we’re both back home. Yep.
And I was just making fun of you because you run a professional mastering so called professional master. I can’t see my air quotes. And you do that all with a 60 dollar app.
Yeah. And I’m sure you have some other paid plugins and stuff. But what is it about Rieper that attracts you? And I’m asking for myself because I’ve seen other people using it in education and I was looking for just kind of a plug in host for doing some like educational videos so I can, like, run my signal generator out of Smart and then get it back internally, loop back and you’re like, hey, you should run the I’m like, what are you talking about?
So I guess I’ll finally have to look at it. So sorry. Back to making fun of you. Great.
What’s so great about Rieper Rieper from a utilitarian standpoint, you can host vist Ts as well as audio units. So logic, you’re just stuck with all units in Cubase, you’re just stuck with Vashti’s. Ableton can do both. Pro Tools is just a X and there’s a couple of plug ins that are just álex, which you can’t do in there, but you can work with video in it. And so I use reason for like making fat beats in my basement and or like professional soundtrack work.
And I can’t I use rewire and I rewire it into rebirth so I can see a video of and composing that into it so it accepts rewire. It’s a really small software size. It doesn’t take up a lot of disk space and it runs really efficiently. The only thing that ever crashes it or other plug ins that don’t work. I’ve never had it with a really stable plug in selection or by itself crash on me. It can run on Linux, Windows or Apple.
They’re doing some beta test with the new and one chip so it can be supported there soon as a really, really powerful. This is probably my favorite feature is the region render matrix. Yes.
So talk more about this, because you told me that you actually use this on this this show that we we just got done working on the processionals for the inauguration of Joe Biden. And you had to work on a bunch of voiceover clips, right? Yes.
So the guy who’s been announcing it since Truman, who’s an assistant. Yes. Crazies 96 was an assisted living situation because it covered the recording professionally. So the Senate, a little kit. He’s spoken to this cheap microphone, got it back. And they turned up bunch clips. And I got them and they said, here, here they all are. There they had like a lettering system. At this point in the play is like play clip, a one play before whatever.
They would line up with a specific part of the parade announcing what was happening. So there was about 20 these clips. And I’m sitting here with the show collar and they want to listen back to him and they’re saying, hey, some of these are really long. We need to trim them up. And so if I were to load this up on another door, it maybe put all 20 clips. I could put them on different tracks, but I would then have to figure out how to name each individual track by the filename, which that there could be a macro for that other softwares.
But I could easily do that in Rieper with the pre-built action. But I took them one step further instead of just naming the track. But each one have to bounce out each individual track because I also had to do some processing on them to kind of remove some of the room sound level, lost some of the discrepancy in the levels between takes all that.
Yeah, I should interrupt you and say these did not sound good. No. Soon as you started playing them, everyone in the trailer was like, what? Yes. Like No one.
This guy sounds very old. And number two, so it was all is mostly for historical reasons, right? I guess. Yes. And No. Two, yeah. The quality was pretty bad. So. So you had your work cut out for you.
Yes. So, yeah. Five audio engineer standing over my shoulder, as I was saying.
Yeah, we’re all like, how’s Michael going to handle this. Yeah. Yeah, it was pretty great. But I have to say perfect job. I don’t know whoever I don’t know if you got put on that job because people know that you work as a mastering engineer. But also, I should point out you did not have a glasses friendly mask with you. And so I was so happy that you ended up spending some time in the trailer. You can actually see things.
No joke. Yeah. Outside it got so fucked, I could see anything. OK, so yeah.
So I was able to take them and I found this action and you can do things called actions. We press one button and it’s basically like a macro just runs a bunch of different things and you can program them yourself, you can borrow actions from other people.
But I had every clip so 20 of them all lined up on twenty separate clips all the beginning of the timeline. So if you hit play, you hear all of them at the same time. And so I just have a clip. You just click click on track one and hit run. On this macro would select the length of the item here to make a region basically like a little marker that went across the entire length of it, name it the item, name up the region and then push the other one over to the end of it.
So they’re all right in a row. And I just click that button 20 times in less than twenty seconds. They’re all named. They have the region selected and and they all are at a different point in the timeline. So I could just hit play and go through all of them. And then that way I just put my since it was just all the clips were the same level, the same room, the same guy. I just did all my processing on the master bus and then went to render I just selected the region, render matrix and everything.
Every single item was processed through my master bus and then inherited all the qualities of the region with the original filename. And in each iteration I’ll just do like underscore V one, underscore V two, and then just select the ones that needed to render out. And so all this manual work, I think really excels of removing the stuff that just boring and just like an administrative assistant type stuff and mix that with a click of a button. Easy to do.
So that’s so. But originally you and I wanted to talk today about some of the things that we learned. Yeah. Working on the show. So let’s just take turns. So I’m learning that you can use Rieber to do the stuff quickly as you’re talking. I’m also imagining how I would do it in logic because that’s what I’m more familiar with. So, yeah, I learned some stuff about Rieper. Another major thing I learned is just some things related to the cold.
So three things related to the cold. No. One, I’m so glad I brought contacts. We were just talking about how we did not have masks that worked well as glasses, but we saw lots of people having that problem. Yeah. Anyone with glasses, even like our boss was like trying to walk around, see stuff and he couldn’t see stuff. Right. And it was like glasses, mask. So tough. No. Two with cold clothes.
I was so cold the entire time and I was embarrassed about that because I live in Minneapolis, very cold, but I realized I never just stand outside. Yeah. So I don’t really know how to dress for standing still. And there were these times when we were just sort of standing by. I was just standing in front of the AV one like waiting for someone to tell me to do something. And after like an hour or two hours of that, like shit, you get real cold in the number three.
The stylist’s so glad I just happened to have a stylist because otherwise there’s no way I would have survived working outside on a touch screen for that long. My hands would have frozen off and I would have died most definitely.
And even just the responsiveness of the touch screen in the cold, even with your hands, became less. Oh, sure. And so just and that’s another thing that one of the other ones, the other Nathan Lively in the trailer with me was saying is that he on other shows, when they’re outside of the LV one, the particular touch screens they had on their Lenovo screens, I’m not sure if this is true across all touch screens, but he had a tap a couple of times and was called to get stuff even if his hands were warm.
I don’t know if you seen these, but just to make you and other people aware of them, next time what I’m going to bring my wife has this nice stylus that she gave me that has tips, different size tips that you can change.
So, yeah, so so that would have been good because that the tip I had was actually kind of fat. So, yeah, that’s a good thing to have for next time. All right. Do you want to go next?
Sure. I hadn’t worked with much audio over IP stuff that was layer two and so sound grid was cool to know that way. It just all it does is look at the Mac address. In a way you go and I’m so used to a DONTAE world, I guess that’s the audio over IP protocol I use the most. And so you have to work to address this, which is cool and like, you know, it’s power and flexible to do that.
But I like that simplicity. Have just.
Yeah. That that was going to be one of my learnings as well. You know, before arriving on site, I was kind of nervous, like, am I going to be able to get my computer on the network so I can use that as a source and a receiver so I can run smart and in case I need to run Kulab or anything? Sure. Because I didn’t bring my audio interface with me. I don’t have a small mobile audio interface.
I mean, I have one that’s pretty small, but it’s still not small enough to fit in the back with everything else let get comfortable. But yeah, we we showed up, we plugged it in and it just worked.
Yeah, it is. Because we both had LV one demos installed on our machines. Yeah. And then yeah they showed up as sources in the LV one almost immediately. Sure. It was, it was fun to have to learn a new console again. I haven’t been in a show situation especially I live in a smaller region and the stuff that travel for, it’s usually with the same company. And so I know the gear, it’s going to be something Yamaha or something X thirty two or thirty two.
And so I cut out my own go. You sign up to learn the outline and stuff or whatever. You know, the D live just for fun because that might be going in at a venue soon in the area about like hey you’re going to be on this console and you need to learn it.
And so I will just further. Minded that the fundamentals of audio are always going to be the fundamentals, like it’s routing and gain structures, 80 percent of the job. And so just really leaning on to really leaning into like, how does that function just in this new environment? Help me navigate it. Even when I was kind of confused. Like, where is that menu or where’s the other stuff? Yeah, I agree.
And and another thing I learned when it comes to routing and just how it works in this environment is the way we handle the backups. So, yeah, I talk about that.
I haven’t worked on enough, sort of like multi source, multi front of house networks to say what’s normal and how other people do this. But how we handled it on this site is that we had kind of three front of house locations and we wanted they wanted us to set up a layer so that each one of house location was a backup for another one. So my zone, one front of our location was the backup for Zone two, so that if not, if they lost power, because then we would lose our network connection.
But if their computer crashed or something, that actually. So I’m trying to think of what would go wrong so that and I don’t know. I can’t come up with a situation because I don’t know the LV one enough. But something something went wrong and there LV one went down. Yeah.
So here’s the here’s the situation. Maybe this like if their computer crashed and they could no longer or for a short amount of time like monitor and have control over their mixer, I would still have access to its input. So I set up a custom layer and I got all the mikes from Zonta and I was just ready with those in case I needed to all of a sudden start controlling the feed to their outputs or to their press feed and stuff like that.
And so did you have those input? You source those inputs to a custom layer and did you just have them fed to like a separate matrix that that Fed patch directly to their Io’s LB’s?
So the only thing I didn’t do was patch anything at the very end. OK, got it. And I don’t know a better way to do this, but yeah, that’s that, that was actually the question I asked them as OK, so where, where do I patches. And they said don’t patch anything yet because then you’ll take over. OK, I’ll put Patch.
So for me to use the exact same physical output I had to wait. So if they went down then I could patch it and I would take over, you know, and then they would have to take over from me again later.
OK, so. So it’s just a couple of taps with your handy dandy stylus.
And it would I mean we would have a loss of audio for sure. It would take me a few seconds to get that together. Yeah. I mean, being up and running in two seconds is a lot better, especially if it’s like in between vose like no one would know, you know. Yeah, hopefully.
And my understanding is that if you’re Elvie, one computer stops working, the whole thing keeps passing audio. And the last time you left it until you get it back up and running. So, yeah, maybe, maybe there would be no loss of our no notice.
Sure. That’s backup’s do you have another one? I was getting to see work with a more, even though we didn’t really take full advantage of it. We had the galaxy, which was cool and most shows I’ve been a part of when using a DSP, it’s usually just sent left, right fill, front filled and sub, and then it goes to that system and maybe some delays. But since this was more distributed system and just seeing how the Gallileo once the Matrix stuff out, just how flexible that was, that was pretty cool.
One thing I wanted to ask about was three. The specific one chose to route things was to and I’m not trying to turn one of the biased, which is there’s probably some intentionality to this, but it was just a single output feeding the Gallileo. And then the Gallileo took care of mutes and gained shading for all of these five different zones he was responsible for. So speakers on to the east side of the road of the press stand to the west side in three different floors of press and, you know, knowing that they were going to be people listening and most likely asking for changes, I was like, oh, that’s really cool that the Galileo can handle all that and just have five different outputs and shading.
But if that’s not if Compass isn’t right up next to you and you’re not able to control that from you as that operator on the fly, I’d rather it felt like maybe if you had the real estate, should you use your one of eight stereo matrices on the desk to control that rather than the Gallileo? So because we weren’t able to be super responsive when those requests did come up, inevitably I was like, oh, hey, they’re walking past this part.
The press on the top floor MAPP because it’s too loud or there’s this section where the family is sitting and they want to hear it louder. It wasn’t such a snappy response as just go to that page or custom layer and bring it up. It was like, OK, we have to go. The other computers running encompass drag the mouse, OK? And it was actually a separate person how to do that because in case there was another operator having to do something on the fly.
So yeah, that’s an interesting question for the system planning. Do you break out those outputs, the console, you break them out on your output processing and then how fast are you going to be able to get to those and make changes? Yeah. So again, there may be some other intentionality for for how it was set up. And again, just knowing how powerful the Gallileo is to be able to handle all that. If I was taught in real estate on a console was really cool because I was my first experience with the Galileo.
One thing related to the Galileo that I had a big misunderstanding about is that I don’t know why, but I thought the LV one system used AV internally for its communication. And so I thought that that’s why we are using the Galileo, that everything was running on AV and everything was on the network.
And so then when I saw the ports on the back, I was like, hey, wait, why are you going to have to do an extra day to dB? And it’s like, oh no. That LV one uses its own protocol called digit grid that runs on the network. But then so I don’t know. I thought that. But that was using Jimmi. So sure. Another another proprietary communication protocol.
Have you heard of the abscessed multi burner? That sounds like a word you just made up. Yeah, I just did. I state Holiday Inn Express last night. Solarte Vater. The multiverse exists in the multiverse. It me which one. So the multiverse. It’s my company called Abscessed. I think they’re out of Germany. Austria, one of those companies. Anyway, it’s been around for a little while but it’s an eight by eight or so. You can take either a fifty maty over Kovács, Maty over fiber Dontae and a few others and they have inputs for all of them and then translate them in banks of eight to any other of those protocols.
Uh, so for some reason the House screwed up and shipped you a bunch of mattio and you got to see all five or four and a house you like. OK, no problem.
Or if you have your own personal gear I guess. Exactly. And that’s what I was thinking about within context. I’ll be one. So after the show I immediately went, I knew about the multi verdure just from like a DONTAE to a fifty or Dantewada Mattey context was why interested in it. And it’s not cheap. It’s like three grand, but one hour you. So it’s nice, which is cool.
But they like their development roadmap. They had public on their website. They’re like, hey, we’re going to make a sound grid breakout box, OK, which is cool because like sound grid seems awesome and simple.
They are too. And like the LP one is super compact and like great for fly gigs, that kind of thing. But I was like, yeah but there’s not a lot of sound great.
I l well I’m a little bit confused.
I thought the protocol was called Digit Grid and Sound Grid is the app that runs on your machine. No, that’s multi rec.
OK, what’s the difference between digit grid and sound grit or did I just make up the word. Did you.
There is I think they’re synonymous. I guess what when I look on Wade’s website and apps, this is website, we’re like, we are making a sound great converter.
OK, so I don’t really know the difference between digital and sound or if that’s the thing.
Sound systems are software and. Hardware solutions designed to bring real time processing and networking in the power of waves tools to any system. So it’s the sound grid is the system.
OK. Did you grid is the product of a collaboration between Waze, the world’s leading developer of audio, and the world. OK, OK. I don’t know if we’re going to figure out this here and the recording.
Sure, they did a grid and sound grid. So if you’re listening to this right now and you know the difference between digit grid and sound grid or what is the communication protocol that Wavves uses, comment on this or send me an email. Sure. The last one I have is noise. So this is a small one. But, you know, there was that moment when just for fun, I did get a smart measurement up and I took a look, my audio analyzer, and it looked like there is no low frequency driver on that X 40.
And you said, oh, maybe it’s the noise. And I said, what are you talking about? So then I opened up the spectrum view and I could see that, yes, there was much more noise in the low end. And then once I just turned up the signal generator higher, then all of a sudden I had more data. The more data.
Yeah, it’s good to be reminded to check that. Do you have anything else?
It was in watching you do that measurement even and not ideal conditions. Looking at the magnitude response of the X 40 we had, I was like, oh yeah, you were blown away.
You were like, I’ve never seen a speaker that flat. I’m like, yeah, that’s pretty cool. Yeah. Yeah. I mean it is way cool. Yeah. Yeah. Not, not a liar sound speaker in that kind of context. That flat and again I know you on your graph. You do plus or minus twenty four right. Yes. OK, AV plus minus eighteen. So I don’t know if that might had to do that. Just kind of glancing.
But even still it was like oh I like all the way up to sixteen and so. Yeah.
And even some of those things that you don’t see all the time in real life like you do, even if you, if you do a prediction in MAPP or maybe any other modeling environment, it might not look as impressive as when you measure a real speaker in real life. And not only is it is it very flat or whatever the shape is, that might be interesting. Not only does it make an interesting shape, but there’s the face. There’s no face wrap.
Were you expecting to be one? Yeah. So pretty cool product and just an interesting thing to measure. So for people who weren’t there, like I was only measuring from maybe ten or fifteen feet away.
So not a lot for it to go wrong, but still a pretty cool shape. Yeah. I’ll get on an analyzer.
Yeah. I was like holy. That is a ice rink like that is flat so which was. Yeah. Again super cool. I get a minus the stuff we had in the low end because we had motorcycles and construction yards around us.
But one note about the the zoom on the Y axis of the magnitude graph is that for a long time I had at the default negative eighteen to positive eighteen. And then seeing other people like Merrilyn and Marysia, Bob McCarthy, they would set their graphs to minus 30 plus thirty. Yeah. Because it looks more like the old SIM machines and also zooming out helps you to sort of avoid micromanagement and too much IQ and stuff like that. And so I just realized that I can probably change it on my monitor.
But I felt like I feel like the why Zoom is actually a function of how big your screen is in your screen resolution. So I felt like my screen was smaller and it and it actually if I made mine twenty four to twenty four, it looked more like other people’s thirty to thirty. So I feel like that’s my compromise is I don’t go, I don’t zoom all the way into eighteen, I don’t go all the way out to thirty but right in the middle.
And you’re such a peacemaker. So, yeah, it’s cool, it’s not it’s one of those things that, like you do, you don’t have to use the same numbers as everyone else. You can just zoom in and out. And and I think it really has to do with how big your monitor is and the screen resolution, because, like, imagine if you’re like, I don’t know, on a tiny like on a mobile device or some like you can.
Now, machines, software like that live has had a remote client for a long time. You can log into that on your phone. And in that case, you probably want to adjust the zoom on the Y axis and and maybe you’re using, like a little netbook to log in as a client for smart. I don’t know how that works.
I haven’t done that yet, but. Yeah. So the screen could be too small. Sure. I don’t think I have anything else. I have two more things. Oh go ahead.
In talking about the noise, I have never thought about, I guess noise reduction processing in real time in a live environment who either talk about that.
And so having the AV one system and I’m not aware of this being in any other platform unless you run away is, you know, sound system like into your desk with cards or whatever. But that just I kind of blew my mind when they’re like, oh yeah. You know, Figg, who was our engineer on this? Yeah, yeah. Just throw on this noise reduction, plug in and it’ll be great.
And I was like, well what did we use wpm. That was that I had something like have like three different ones and it’s one w forty three and the one we actually use which I forget and it worked great.
Yeah. I also can’t remember exactly which one we use, but yeah you could choose the band. So what was cool is that while we were just sitting there with kind of just your average noise floor without any of the marching bands coming by, then you could set that threshold to sort of take we it was already surprisingly good with just that wind suppressor on the wind sock on there.
But to remove some more of the low rumble from the wind, we were we were scooping some of that out. And then we would set the threshold when the marching band actually came by so that their drums would cut through. And, you know, the the noise suppression would turn off just long enough for the drum to come through a little bit.
And I thought that that was helpful.
Yeah, you really have that nailed it. It sounded great. Do you want to talk about how we had some time to play with the mics? I did a recording on a rehearsal day and then you helped me dial in the next a little bit. And so you connect to your computer, to the network, and you set up a couple of plug ins, talk about how you set that up or that’s how we set it up, I guess.
Talk about how we used it.
Yeah. Yeah. So we decided as a crew that we had a specific loudness target for press and that was going to be negative. Twenty four polygraphs. And so that was a goal is to make sure that OK, is it, does a recording sound good and obey the laws of digital audio in all things before it. And then so yeah, I wanted to make sure we delivered audio to the press at the right loudness target and also avoided any peeking or clipping and then just fine tune it to make it the recording just sound a little bit more polished and so thig or engineer multitracked everything the day before.
And we also tracked locally one of our machines. So then through sound grid we were able to pipe it back into the console and make tweaks was what we heard the day before. And so it was mainly fine tuning the high pass filter replacement get rid of like ultralow. We didn’t need there was like this one fifty kind of woofy stuff that we worked on and that and then that’s when also you fine tune the noise suppression stuff to really make sure the actual impact of the drums came through and it was just crushed.
But big thing at the end was basically saying, OK, the band at its loudest part, I don’t want to go above more than two loudness units above that neg. Twenty four. And so I used a L three ways limiter to push the input volume to get it up to a program level and then drop the output by two dB. So I had to dB of head room, you know, and you may still get some inner sample peak clipping, but by and large you still got to dB to play with.
So you won’t make anybody cool that we all these plug ins are available on the LV one, but I think neither of us are very familiar with them. So we kind of used the plug ins that you are already familiar with on your machine to teach us the new plug ins. So we were looking at the plug ins on your machine and like setting use, setting the limiter. And I guess at the same time, I don’t know if there’s a way to do this.
I guess there is, because we had multiple screens, but it was nice to just have multiple screens so we could, like, look at the loudness meter on your screen and adjust the limiter on the other screen. Yeah. And so then we did insert a loudness meter as the last plug in in the chain before the output to press. On the Elvie one, but since, yes, you and I, it’s not super complicated, but it was just helpful to have a look at something first that we were familiar with before going to that.
Because, you know, structure so we can get right. Pretty looking at the way when you’re meters on the way. But lowness, after all your processing, your management is really hard to do on the fly. You know, even with that meter and again with the marching band, just kind of it came and went. It’s not like you get the whole first song or like a warm up or whatever to do it.
It’s like, OK, you don’t want 18 people on a press riser saying you blew out their camera, they can’t hear anything. And so so. Yes, thank you for mentioning that. Yes, we had the loudness meter on my machine and also a fancy RTA called the Control.
So they had like a target built in. And then it would just it would show you a comparison of what you’re an average of what your mix was over time compared to the target.
So you could use that to make some decisions. Yeah, that was super helpful. What else?
Yes, the widgets. OK, I think I already asked this, but did we get to the bottom of this? Is this a word they made up or was this what they really I think they they had made these these were custom made or. No, I don’t know, because they kept saying no, we still don’t know. The mystery is that been solved. Sherlock Holmes is still on the case.
It is like Debrett’s 4chan. All right.
So Rad Sound has these four channel cat five snakes. That’s just analog audio over Cat five. And then there are breakouts that get you back into in or out of Zella. And I’ve seen other people that have those in their kits. But what’s interesting about this AV provider is that they almost exclusively rely on those. So they have lots of axler, but for most of their runs they just use Cat five. So I remember you and I were a little bit confused when we were looking initially at the first patch listings and the cable runs would say, you know, net 250, net one hundred.
And that’s where we I thought, oh, we’re running AV everywhere.
But no, it’s analog audio over these network cables. Yeah.
So that was kind of cool to see how they implemented that. And even the patch panels on the back of all their IO most, they had some analog passive Xolair passive split’s, but most of it was all just a bunch of Arjay five. Yeah that was Kriegel.
So you kind of reduce I guess a little bit more work to build those patch panels to get that working. But then you are cutting your patching time by four every time because you just connect one thing and then you run out with it and it goes where it needs to go.
So I guess the last thing about that is that we I think you mentioned that we had three floors with speakers, so we handle that was to run one network cable all the way to the top floor and then break out into Axler and then run to each floor below, which was nice because otherwise, I guess if we didn’t have another snake solution or multiple solution, we would have had to run three separate Xolair cables all the way over there.
Yeah. So just the overall experience of running a new console, a new patching system, a new DSP, just how is cool to be in someone else’s world for a bit and see how they do it. And and here the why and their whole team is very knowledgeable and equipment which which was great, or at least the ones who were supposed to be, you know, from hands are like kind of shop people, whatever. But the people who implemented the rig knew they were doing, knew how to troubleshoot it.
And that was cool because sometimes you show up with the rig that is new and you’re the only person who’s expected to figure out.
A lot of times people own things, but they’re not the experts at it. So you are still kind of expected to be or it just comes off of a truck and it’s just for you and there’s nobody else there.
Yeah. So anyway, so, yeah, that was just a real cool thing.
So let’s say that we were going to go back and do this again. What’s one thing that you would want to do differently? I’ll give you a second to think about it, because I already know mine is like more clothes, a better stylus and, you know, like a mask that works better with glasses. Yes. Those things I would say, how come I was deployed? That’s something that we talked about. Yeah. But, you know, this show ebbed and flowed so much in the weeks prior to it, even on site kind of who’s doing what.
And my position on the show was the actual show caller was on the 50 yard line of the the media stand it as the different parts of the parade walk by. He would tell me over the plant, I guess IP based come a fire. Q A one which was a specific video and a go of the system and everyone would hear it, but I, I’m the one hitting spacebar and Kulab. But there are three other audio stations who were on the client call and they were just on radios as the audio crew.
And so if there was a specific call show, be like, hey, the zone over by the family needs to come up. I would say, copy that. I’d have to take off one of your my comm look at my eight one who was on radio, who was trying to listen what was going on. I’d be like, hey, this zone. Oh, that’s at that other computer that I’m not at. Right. Now, he’d have to tell someone else to go the Compass computer and do it, and there was a point where we need they wanted me to count down specifically to a video time instead of the show color doing it.
So now I was counting down. I was kind of like a sub caller of the show halfway through, but not able to talk directly with all of my crew because I wasn’t on radio, too. That that was a perfect storm.
I could have just been on those kind of com or not deployed on our rehearsal day and we didn’t have the voiceovers and the rehearsal day. So all of this stuff only came together on Tuesday. So, yeah.
So, you know, hindsight is 20/20 like, oh, it would have been nice to have the videos, but, you know, we couldn’t and we stepped through on rehearsal day of like can audio capture good sound, record it and be able to troubleshoot and do all that. So like the audio department in and of itself was ready, but dealing with all these external forces of like how are things going to come through and how things are fine, how we’re going to talk or deal.
That wasn’t something that that we got to, unfortunately. So thinking about Audio’s role within the overall show a little bit more is something that we should be able to hear the show.
Caller, I can’t think of a position I’ve ever been in where the show caller calls and then someone else heads of department then realize that call. That’s difficult.
Yeah, I was I used to work at Starbucks in a former life. And the person the drive thru taking the order is a similar role, like you’re having to hear, like, welcome to Starbucks. So I got to get started for you. And you’re like, oh, like a tall nonfat vanilla mug or whatever. And like, the person making drinks is already like starting to drink. But then they have to like, oh no, actually I want that ice.
It’s like crap. Hopefully they heard that we had to do it if they didn’t have to go tell them, no, it’s ice, not hot. And so I really had that moment, like, I’m making money because right now it’s OK.
Slightly related. Have you heard this story that the state of Seattle is going to request the Starbucks in their state to help deploy the covid vaccine? Because, no, I’m not contrary to what you have just said, because of their great reputation for handling complex logistics and customer service from a customer service standpoint, I totally get that because I remember even getting paid eight bucks an hour.
I was able to say to any customer whether it was like a long way or whatever and be like, yeah, this one’s free. I’m sorry we screwed up. We’ll see you later. Well, you know, and that was cool to be able to say I can I can immediately diffuse any situation because they’ve told me I can say, like, here’s your drink for free. We’ll see you later, you know, so it keeps taking advantage of you.
You can whatever. But most of the time people are like, I’m already running late. I’m going to be mad at you no matter what, because you’re standing between me in my appointment and you are also making my Moka five minutes late. I’m ultra mad at you. And so I get that we don’t want to talk about this.
More of you don’t want. But I’m just I’ve heard a lot of good things about the way Starbucks employees are trained. And I have heard that they have this training program that they spent about one hundred now that they spent a million dollars on creating that. Everyone has to go through that basically. Yeah, it makes you kind of bulletproof in terms of not blowing up on customers. So if people are yelling you and stuff like you, just, you know how to handle it, because I have heard that part of the training is that you have to go through these scenarios of all the worst things that a customer might do and how you can basically stay level headed.
Sure. I mean, I guess I worked there and twenty fourteen point fifty. So I so I don’t remember like a complete like robust from management, like here is this program helps you do that. But they did definitely had that as part of a module and like the onboarding. So they probably just expanded it into this.
But yeah, I just it was being able just to say I’m sorry, I own it. So we screwed up. Here’s your coffee. Have a nice day. Was usually enough to make people be like, OK, cool. And it’s still come back if they were a regular. And the fact that people who were regulars, we almost always knew their name. And I remember there was a woman named Karen, nicest lady in the world. She would come in every day.
She went a venti iced coffee, no classic and useless information. I still remember. But the thing is, if there is a line to the door and we saw Karen walk in and start waiting at the back of the line, somebody was already making her drink because it was Karen, because she’s nice. She talks to us even though I’m being trained to pour hot things as fast as humanly possible for profit. It’s still that relationship aspect was cool.
And so knowing that at our best we could foster some of that. But, you know, at a customer’s worst at least, being able to diffuse it made sure that no one else’s day was getting made worse, because I’m not wasting ten minutes on the drive thru line arguing with the customer when I could just spend making more drinks. Yeah.
Do you feel like that helped you at all as a sound engineer? Like I’m sure there are ton or maybe it’s just been unconscious, but I’m sure there’s plenty of times on shows or even working in post-production when a customer has either become really upset with you or, you know, tensions are high.
Yeah. Live production did some of that training at Starbucks, you feel like I helped you for those situations, both in like my family setting and just from my nature, I’m not sure if you’re an Enneagram person or not, but I’m a nine, the peacemaker by nature. And so that’s just kind of hardwired in me to be any and we’re not going to dove down super deep down the rabbit hole here. But Nine’s in their strengths move towards the three, which is the achiever.
And so they are really good and broader social settings and a good at being the glue.
And so that’s where I just kind of default is like, how can I not be deceitful, not be dishonest, not be a doormat for anybody, but how can I function to basically kind of be this Michelin man around that kind of helps cushion what’s coming out like that? Yeah. And so sometimes that requires you being assertive of saying, like, OK, no one’s taking leadership here. Here’s what needs to happen. So some people just want some level of certainty that’s going to be OK.
Right. So that means I need to be a leader right now and say, here’s the plan, let’s go do it. That’s sometimes what people want. Some people want to be the leader and just want to be heard and know that you’re going to go do it.
So then sometimes you assume that position because most most of the like a customer being unhappy. I had expectation at this other Starbucks down the street, I ordered something and it tasted like this. And I come to yours and it does not.
And some people say, like, well, our espresso machine is out or it’s not calibrated.
Like people want to hear that they don’t they do not care. They don’t want the reason why. It’s like, oh, that’s why it tasted different. They just want a better result. And same things with audio. There’s a great talk by Andrew Scheps, mixing engineer who has but he has a bunch of plug ins and used to mix in a giant need for a and now he mixes and I listen to a little bit of that.
Yeah, he created the Omni channel. I haven’t heard the whole story yet, but yeah, he used to didn’t used to own a bunch of stuff and now basically owns nothing in terms of gear.
Yes. Yeah. I mean he mixed on a giant Neve Das got a ton of outboard gear. It was like Mr. Analog. And then he just when he was crunched for time, had to do a couple mixes just completely in the box and didn’t tell the client that he did. And they said this sounds phenomenal.
And he said, OK, great, it’s sold most of it.
And I get there’s that tactile nature. It’s fun working on analog gear.
But if what he was after was making the best stuff for his clients and doing it efficiently and staying a sane human being, and I have to stay up all night because that was one of the as you’re talking, I remember one of the not a whole story, but one of the parts of a story that he shared was just how many times he would have a mix up, all ready to go in on a big analog console and be waiting for the client, waiting, waiting.
And they would never come or whatever. And then, you know, he’s got to do the next session, the next day or the next week or whatever. So he’s got to take it down and then they come down, get it like figure out how to put it all back together.
Yeah. Which yeah. I mean, if you had to do that over and over again, I would become very disenfranchized with this, you know, one hundred fifty thousand dollar door doorway now in front of you of whatever. But the, the talking I’m referring to, it’s called what comes out of the speakers. It’s something you gave at Oxford. He was invited to go do.
The gist of it is is especially if you found some random band on Spotify in Space Bar and you listen to the intro, you’re immediately going to make a judgment about it based on what it sounds like. Do you like that song or whatever? There is not space bar and a 30 second clip. That’s an ad like the top of the podcast. This is. Hi, I’m Michael Curtis. I mix this. I was on a really tight budget and my audio interface give out, so I actually had to go my buddy’s place, who is only has a pair of intestines I’m used to mixing on my head type of sevens.
So if you could just really take it easy, I’d be awesome. Okay, thanks. And go straight. Like, there’s never that. And especially in live production, there’s it’s what comes out of the speakers is what matters. And so knowing that’s what people are looking for to have that connection. And again, that’s only one thing. Does it sound good? It’s just one of the thousand things your client could be looking for. Good in and of itself.
Is it timely? Do I like the brand of speakers are being hung? If I see that it’s GBL instead of acoustics, I’m I’m going to assume that three KS could rip my head off even though I was in a twelve rig and out of our tech, you know.
Anyway, rant over this thing. You make me want to go watch that video. Even though I’ve heard a tiny bit the story already, you know, I’d like to hear more of that. Yeah. The experience of audio is so complex and you know, we should probably do another podcast episode where we do kind of a roundtable with some other engineers and and dove into some of these complexities, because at the end of the day, we just want to make our clients happy, customers happy.
We want to be satisfied with our own work. And it turns out there’s a lot of ways to get there. And so I definitely, as I’ve moved along in my own audio career over the years, I’ve kind of started to let go of this idea of right and wrong, even when it comes to physics and stuff, because. I find that people No one people just get annoyed by that if you come in with an attitude that I’m right, that’s annoying, but also that there just are so many ways to get to the same solution.
And so it’s really short sighted just to say that there’s this one way. OK, so, yeah, I love this topic and we’ll we’ll probably have to talk more about it.
Another another future date. Yeah. Yeah. I have one more quick thought on how I feel like Kanye West. I’ll let you finish. But one of the ways I kind of helped gauge if I’m working with a new engineer, how they’re going to approach what they define as success is you probably saw me did this. You know, I had that little audio MAPP survival spreadsheet of a bunch of numbers of physics as like, hey, this is just a cool audio tool you use, I use.
And I say, hey, can I send that to you? And oftentimes this is just a length. I’ll pull it up and look at it and I’ll just see, like, what’s the reaction to that? And if their eyes just glaze over and they just like I just mix man that I know like, oh, they’re not going to care about and fira versus a gradient. Right. Like that’s not their bag. They just want be like I got my cool analog sounding plug for ways.
I like to mix, mix, mix, mix and you take care of the system or if they’re like oh well formally you should abelow. This is actually an array planner and I’m working on that now then I know like oh this is how I can relate to this new engineer and work with them. Not that’s just this giant dichotomy. Like you, you’re a creative artsy fartsy mixer or super technical person, but it’s just how can I give this person this kind of a one way to establish the first meet someone?
I don’t know what it’s like. Like what does it happen when two plumbers meet each other? What’s that like when two electricians meet each other? What’s that like? I feel like it must be different because Prado’s largely unregulated. And so, yeah, when two sound engineers meet each other, you initially have to, like, meet on some level of communication. And so, yeah, I don’t I don’t know what might go to Franza, but there’s usually some things you can throw out there like, I don’t know, acoustic crossover summation, I don’t know things like that, that if the person the way the person responds knows that, you know, you need to adjust a little bit and it’s not good or bad.
It’s just like we’re all trying to, like, get the communication thing done.
Yes. Yes. And like you said, knowing that there’s multiple ways to get there, you know, you may say like I can get a system sounding good because I know it sounds good because this math proves it’s right and I can validate with my ears. But if people just want to validate with the ears only, it’s like, OK, you can just release the math for a little bit and know, like, OK, that’s just a to.
And so you just meet him at that level and you say, hey, is this good for you.
Great. Yeah, it’s going to be great. Well, my God, I don’t think we even need to really like wrap this up with a bow. Wow. It’s probably like cut it somewhere and fade it back into the other part of the interview. So.
Sure. Michael, do you want to talk about anything that’s in your work bag? I think you brought your bag with you. Are there any, like, unique or interesting pieces you want to share? I’ll mention two things. There’s some other tools. I might do this better by carrying a little Barrenger one. It’s a double, it’s a in your pack. That’s either ball operated or you can run out of a wall or whatever. But what I like about it is stereo and you have to do all of it.
And so I just use it as a signal verifier. And so if I’m going someplace, I’m running along Xolair like I just realized I have one of those to a really old one. And I could be using that for all these press molds that we have. Exactly. Because someone said like, well, I can’t hear stuff while you plug it in. The press will throw that. You don’t do any conversion. Just take a regular old Xolani, put it on mono mode on the pack, run into the left channel and boom, you hear exactly what they’re hearing.
Yeah. So that’s been huge. And then I built or assembled from DIY recording equipment, dotcom, a little box. You can take a line level signal and step it down and make it unbalanced as well for like a quarter inch like thing. So if you want to send something out of your interface in Victoria. But how I’ve been using it is since people are live streaming everything in the world now, live people, these mom and pop like the adult stuff that doesn’t have professional gear, they’ll get these little like multimedia IREX and that’s just a quarter.
It’s meant for guitars and just a quarter inch input, but needs to be guitar unbalanced level. And the box gets my signal out of the console. I step it down, make it on balance, run into the Irig so they can stream from their iPhone.
That’s funny. Yeah. OK, that’s those two things have been really handy. What about books.
What is one book that helpful to you.
Oh man, I read a lot. So this is hard as it is. The most recent one that’s had the biggest impact on me is called The Practice by Seth Godin. It’s I’ve been reading him for a long time and he’s actually been saying for a long time on his blog and other places that people should be blogging daily if no one reads it because it clarifies your thinking, get stuff out in the world if it’s public, even better. So people look at it and I’ve heard him say this in other places, but it wasn’t until this book called The Practice of like it’s the art of showing up and shipping your work and being unattached to outcomes.
It just was really, really great. My personality is the type that usually has a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning, has lots of ideas, idealistic, and I start when actually boots are on the ground. I fizzle out really quickly, too quickly. And so having something that’s over a long haul, if it’s not made a daily part of my life, it can lose momentum very quickly. And so the idea of a daily blog is like a blog because it’s Wednesday and it’s Thursday, not because you want to or whatever was really helpful for me.
So now I’m finished with this morning a number of sixty eight, I think. So I’ve I missed one day I was really mad. I just literally forgot I was like dadgum it. But it was otherwise sixty days in a row. Since reading that book I just about audio stuff and everything from studio stuff, like some stuff like you know how I play bass or whatever. And so it’s just random audio things of just a bunch of nuggets and thoughts and just kind of compiling in one place.
So yeah. So that book, the practice, the practice where stuff going I. Yeah. And you listen to any podcasts. Yes. I want to know like one or two that you have to listen to every time they come out. To answer your specific question, there are very few that every episode I listen to but me too. Yeah. Yeah. But so many I’ve probably listened to about 40 of yours.
Oh yeah. I’ve listened to a lot in and from like specifically an audio world. You only have one hundred more to go.
I love it but hopefully you you something that’s a lot. I mean that’s cool. I like that one. Seth Jones podcast again because I’m a giant fanboy fanboy call it akimbo. I listen to a lot of good. It’s good. Yeah I like it lot. I thought about doing like a question section at the end like he does. Yeah.
It’s great to know if that would work, but I already have a PDF call. One hundred one sound. That’s true. That’s true. But yeah, I like the way he has that set up. Anyway, go ahead and count reports he here’s a podcast. He does deep, deep questions with Port. You listen to him talking like you’re definitely a computer scientist. Yeah, he’s pretty dry. Like I had my there was a particular episode of really one of my wife to listen to and she got about four minutes and it was like, I can’t listen to oh my God, I love the I’ve read every book of his, but almost all of them.
But anyway, so his his is really, really good. Michael, where’s the best place for people to follow your work? My blog is that produced by MKC, dot WordPress, dot com and otherwise I’m a digital ghost.
No Instagram, no Facebook. They’re not that I know. I was looking you up.
I was like, let me get his title on Instagram.
On LinkedIn. No LinkedIn. Nothing that nothing. That’s a whole other fun conversation you have. I’m not scared the government can confide in me or something like that at. But anyway, so I guess me being a county fanboy might also be telling.
And so as to why I’m doing that, it should be.
And let’s just say I think you’re a great example for people who want to have a career and think that having career means that they have to be on all the social media. And that’s not you.
Yeah, you’re not the first person to raise eyebrows at me for that and be like, wait, how do you get work? I still get work.
And that question would be, what do you do with all your extra time on the face of it? I have a two and half year old son and a four month old daughter. So that takes a good. I love being available for them. Is good trying to have. I like skating when my hobbies, friends and hopefully learning more audio stuff, making music, making records. Well, Michael Curtis, thank you so much for joining me on Sound Design Live.
Absolutely. Thanks for having me, man.