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Author Topic: Wavelengths  (Read 2223 times)

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Offline Glenn

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Wavelengths
« on: December 09, 2013, 11:41:00 PM »
I was talking with a friend today about mics, frequencies and wavelengths in audio, and it got me to thinking more on the subject.
 
I just thought I'd expand on this topic and share it here:
 
just a little preface, about mic selection / sound treatment and sound 'proofing' .. it all relates to wave lengths too so...
 
One of the reasons for choosing a large diaphram on a mic is because a larger diaphram picks up more bass frequencies, for a warmer, richer, full bodied sound.
 
of course, if you are recording an instrument that doesn't have or need low frequencies, then a large diaphram is of little consequence, unless there is 'rumble' present, as in a nearby train, or traffic, ambient noise etc.
 
If you are trying to capture the warmth and low end frequency of an instrument, then a larger diaphram mic capsule will help to faithfully represent that signal.
 
Some home recordists like to use sound treatment on walls or make 'tents' to record in, thinking that it will stop LOW end rumble etc from entering the mic, which in most cases is not the case.  Room treatment only dampens 'standing' waves inside the room and don't do much at all for 'stopping' sound from going out of the room nor from coming in.   
  A 'tent' (unless it's made of lead lined walls, will only help dampen some of the sound, but it does little to stop air born rumble from entering a mic, but it might help in attenuating the high end energy somewhat. 
 
That's the main difference in 'sound treatment' and 'sound proofing' - one treats the space inside the room, the other helps to 'stop' sound from entering or exiting the room, and very different materials are used to accomplish both tasks.  Sound proofing should generally come before sound treatment.. 
 
OK,  on to wave lengths.
sound waves are made up of 'circular' waves, like ripples that come from a stone on the water, except sound waves are 'omni' directional ... or 3 dimensional in nature. they go outward in all directions, up down front back and sides, as they come from the source, unless something is 'blocking' the sound from passing (that's where that sound proofing and treatment comes into play.)
 
Bass frequencies from a bass guitar or kick drum, or a trains engine, thunder etc are comprised of very large waves.
 
20Hz = 55 feet  - this is extreme low end bass, heard as rumble, (the sound waves are 55 feet wide and 55 feet tall)
 
40Hz = 27 feet - this is the sound of a bass sub-woofer, very deep low end bass.
 
80 Hz = 13.75 feet - bass guitar, kick drum low end frequency lives here.
 
128 Hz ( a key bass frequency) = 9 feet  - Main Bass and kick drum sound.
 
440 Hz ( Concert pitch "A" note ) = 2.5 feet  low end on a male speaking voice.
 
880 Hz = 1.25 feet
 
2 KHz = 6.6 inches   - where human speech is 'centred' and most easily distinguished.
 
4 KHz = 3.30 inches  - provide 'presence', high end energy lives here. (bird calls .. lol)
 
8 KHz = 1.65 inches (cymbals, 's' sounds, etc ) brilliance, sheen, sizzle
 
==================
 
from the chart above, you can see that a bass guitar or kick drum can create wave lengths of 6 - 30 feet or so... that's why you can hear the thud of a stereo playing down the block inside of someone's basement.  The bass waves act as if the walls are not even present because they can  be larger than the rooms they come from.
 
==========
 
this is where sound proofing comes in, if you want to impede the sound from escaping ... and from entering your recording space.   
Treating the walls with a specially built 'bass trap' can improve the sound within the recording space by controlling 'rogue' frequencies, or 'standing waves', which are frequencies that can combine and continue to 'ring' around the room as the sound fades, or falls away.  By controlling or taming these low frequencies, you can create tighter sounding recordings if you're recording with a mic in a room.
 
Mid and high frequencies, while posing much the same issues and effects as the bass waves above, are much more easily tamed with sound proofing insulating materials, gypsum firewall board, brick, etc as a 'sound proofer' , while curtains with lots of ruffles in them, carpets, sonex, etc will tame the mid and highs from bouncing around the room.
 
==============
 
The chart above explains why an 8 inch dish on a parabola mic will pick up bird calls so well, - a bird call 'tweet tweet' can be in the 2KHz - 8KHz range....  so most of, if not the entire range of that call, measured in wave lengths, would only be about 6 inches to 1 inch in size.   8) 
 
cool huh?
 
I hope this helps.
 8)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 11:51:11 PM by Glenn »
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline neilmac

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 01:14:37 AM »
Very interesting.....
For a minute I was back in Physics class remembering all the stuff I'd forgotten over the last 25 years or so lol


Nice reminder :)

Offline Glenn

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 05:13:08 AM »
Very interesting.....
For a minute I was back in Physics class remembering all the stuff I'd forgotten over the last 25 years or so lol


Nice reminder :)

lol...
 8) 
 
I know.. I'm an audio nerd!
 
 :P
 
 
 
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline Old Goat

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 01:04:10 PM »
Most treatment is not for soundproofing, which is wicked expensive, but to tame reflections while recording and mixing. So you hear what is coming from the monitors, not what's bouncing off the wall.

Glenn is right, bass is the hardest. The big bass trap at the back of my room has 2 inches of rockwool, 4 inches of fiberglass, and six inches of airspace. The corner traps are two by two and filled with fiberglass.

There are a few pics here. http://s253.photobucket.com/user/enull/library/studio?sort=3&page=1

My strategy is to turn off the furnace/AC while recording, and hope my belly don't growl. :P
Better a crust in peace than a feast in a house of contention.

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Offline neilmac

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 01:21:28 PM »
Most treatment is not for soundproofing, which is wicked expensive, but to tame reflections while recording and mixing. So you hear what is coming from the monitors, not what's bouncing off the wall.

Glenn is right, bass is the hardest. The big bass trap at the back of my room has 2 inches of rockwool, 4 inches of fiberglass, and six inches of airspace. The corner traps are two by two and filled with fiberglass.

There are a few pics here. http://s253.photobucket.com/user/enull/library/studio?sort=3&page=1

My strategy is to turn off the furnace/AC while recording, and hope my belly don't growl. :P


That's a great set up!
Nice OG :)

Offline Old Goat

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2013, 01:43:44 PM »

That's a great set up!
Nice OG :)

Thanks. I built it while Rosie was out of town and was inspired. I doubt I have more than $500 in all the treatments. I couldn't have done it without my electric stapler--which Rosie got me the previous Xmas. Arthritis sucks!

It really isn't rocket surgery, very simple construction and fairly cheap materials. I think I got a whole case of Rockwool for under $300 delivered, and it's great stuff.
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Offline Glenn

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 05:20:30 AM »
I was just thinking ......
 
It's amazing when you think about how animals can hear different ranges of the spectrum... dogs can hear very high pitch, while elephants can hear very low pitch sounds.  the size of the ear must be one of the factors.
 
looking at the chart above, it explains why we humans can hear the 2 KHz  to 4 KHz region quite well.. the size of our ear pretty much matches the size of the frequency ...
 
to throw a curve ball into the works.. pigeons apparently only hear very low sound as well, and can't even pick up human speech.. to them we are just moving our mouths and nothing is coming out of them.
 
  8)
 
 
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 05:22:05 AM by Glenn »
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline Old Goat

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 10:34:59 AM »
to throw a curve ball into the works.. pigeons apparently only hear very low sound as well, and can't even pick up human speech.. to them we are just moving our mouths and nothing is coming out of them. 
  8)

My kids are the same way... :P
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Offline Glenn

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 03:04:41 PM »
My kids are the same way... :P

lmao  :P   :P   :P
 
I knew that when I wrote that line I was writing a perfect setup for a 'comeback' ....
 
 
there it is!
 
 :P
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline Old Goat

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 04:11:48 PM »
Tough to find a good "straight man" these days. Everybody wants the punch line. :P
Better a crust in peace than a feast in a house of contention.

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Offline Gazebo

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 04:18:44 PM »
Boom boom!


Interesting thread.  I am just an idiot when it comes to using EQ.  Can't ever remember which way round High Pass and Low Shelf work and really have trouble creating "space" in my mixes.  In fact that is what is currently delaying me releasing my new album.  I just can't get the EQ right, and when I mastered it sounded great until the vocals came in and then all the mix delivered was major sibilance.


Currently going back to the dry mixes and trying to make them work, but it's a labour of love, and I am really feeling in the dark.


This thread gives some good ideas, so will report back when I think I am getting somewhere!!!

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Offline Old Goat

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2013, 07:44:08 PM »
There's really nothing better than a decent parametric eq for this kind of problem, because you can just dial in a narrow Q and crank the freq back and forth until you find what gets your boxers in a wad. Then you go in and do some surgical work and make it smile-worthy. 8)
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Offline Glenn

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Re: Wavelengths
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 08:59:13 PM »
Boom boom!


Interesting thread.  I am just an idiot when it comes to using EQ.  Can't ever remember which way round High Pass and Low Shelf work and really have trouble creating "space" in my mixes.  In fact that is what is currently delaying me releasing my new album.  I just can't get the EQ right, and when I mastered it sounded great until the vocals came in and then all the mix delivered was major sibilance.


Currently going back to the dry mixes and trying to make them work, but it's a labour of love, and I am really feeling in the dark.


This thread gives some good ideas, so will report back when I think I am getting somewhere!!!

Well Sir, you know I'm only a PM away, if'n ya need any help or feedback, or another set of ears.
 
 High Pass EQ - I used to get that all confused to ... but I just remember it does what it says.. allows High end to Pass by but blocks low end.
 
also, to help you with your EQ situation on your "Mastering" job for your CD...
 
may I suggest this topic:   It has to do with EQing, using Linear Phase and Minimum Phase EQing etc .. great info.
 
http://www.gmhcafe.ca/gforums/index.php?topic=995.msg5749#msg5749
 
I hope this helps.
 8)
 
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)