Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fundamentals

I've been having a conversation with a client for some new subwoofers.  He's been in the big league pro game for a very long time.  It's been very interesting and enlightening.  His philosophy really dovetails with what I do and believe, but he articulates it better than I have.  Here are his words, about current day setups:


It just seems that contemporary systems introduce so many layers of additional problems which then have to be addressed with layers of additional equipment, power, and processing. They are less of a technological advancement than they are a marketing breakthrough.
Contemporary practitioners have lost touch with basic sound system physics in favor of psuedo-science buzzwords, although at every level they are still subject to them.

Apologies to the author for not quoting the source, I'm protecting his anonymity. 

The fundamentals.  The core of everything you do.  Doesn't matter what your chosen profession, hobby or passion is.  If the fundamentals aren't second nature, you're destined to flail, flounder and be either very frustrated or a failure.   Before you buy that new whiz bang processor, or add the latest and greatest plugin to your desk, take a look at your system.  What are you trying to achieve?  Where are the faults that you're trying to fix?  Understand the limitations of your gear.  Understand the fundamentals of sound. Cancellations, cabin gain, dispersion, inverse distance law.  They're not hard, but can be counter intuitive. Sound is not like water, nor light, our most common frames of reference.  
Lots of problems can be cured with placement, optimization of existing gear, and an informed hand on the eq and gain.  All the fancy techno whiz bangs we have available should be used to tweak that last little bit that's possible, after the fundamentals have been addressed.  They won't fix problems caused by the basic physics of sound.  Only you can do that, with knowledge.  

As with anything today, the amount of knowledge out there is vast.  But, the basics are the basics.  Most of them were covered in the 20's, 30's and 40's at RCA labs.  If you haven't scrolled through the educational links on Bill's forum you should.  It's pretty much all in there.  Some of the papers get very technical.  But many of them are fundamental primers on sound.  

I will admit to owning a dsp.  A DEQ2496.  It's an amazing piece of gear.  But the more I used it, the less I used it's features.  Now, I use the PEQ, the delay, and GEQ.  That's it.  DSP gives each of those more power than their analog counterparts, and I find it more than enough.  

Use your ears, use your head.  It's the best processor you have.  The rest is just icing on the cake. 

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