Kim Lajoie's blog

Click tracks

by Kim Lajoie on September 1, 2014

The debate about click tracks has always raised passionate responses. Are they killing music? Do only really overproduced artists use them? Or are they just like vegetables – really useful, healthy and important but totally bland? If you’re new to this, a click track is an electronic metronome helping artists to keep time while recording […]

Why I don’t worry about bleed

by Kim Lajoie on August 18, 2014

It’s a fact of recording studio life – bleed happens. ‘Bleed’ is the residual sound picked up by microphones placed around the studio to capture multiple instruments. For example, it happens when a microphone placed next to an acoustic guitar also records sounds from vocalists and other instruments being played close by. Many producers and […]

How loudness is measured

by Kim Lajoie on August 11, 2014

The meters on your DAW channels or your mic preamps aren’t telling you the whole story. When sounds are recorded, the microphone captures the continuous vibrations in the air and creates a continuously varying electrical signal that mimics the vibrations. Louder sounds have wider/stronger vibrations. When you have level meters on your gear, it usually […]

Headroom (and the difference between what we hear and what the equipment hears)

by Kim Lajoie on February 10, 2014

Headroom is not a property of sound – it is a property of the equipment that processes sound. Headroom is a measurement of how loud the peaks of a sound can go above the 0dB reference point before the equipment starts to distort. In digital systems, the headroom is usually exactly 0dB (unless you adjust […]

The most powerful tool

by Kim Lajoie on January 13, 2014

Gain (volume) is the most important and powerful tool available to the mix engineer. Each audio track is processed through a mixer channel and there are generally two points at the mixer channel where the gain can be adjusted: Input gain – before any effects or other processing is applied. Usually this is controlled using […]

Audio perception and ABX testing

by Kim Lajoie on June 26, 2012

Rob Schlette: [I]t’s not uncommon for people to be asking the question, “can you really hear the difference?” This is very good news for music and music lovers. Rob then goes on to describe a particularly thorough method for conducting audio tests. But it doesn’t matter. If you have to squint to hear the difference, […]

Phase vs polarity

by Kim Lajoie on April 29, 2012

Randy Coppinger: You’ll see a button on some mic preamps and other audio gear labeled Phase, Phase Reverse, Phase Invert, etc. This is really Polarity. I can’t believe how often people get this wrong. Mix engineers without an *actual engineering* background I can excuse – they simply don’t know any better. What surprises and disappoints […]

More things you can’t hear

by Kim Lajoie on March 7, 2012

Justin Colletti: Compared to the much of the animal kingdom, human beings have pretty terrible hearing. We have poor powers of echolocation, especially for sounds that come from behind us, we can only hear a relatively narrow bandwith of 20Hz-20kHz, and we’re easily fooled by illusions. [...] As the votes came in, the crowd was […]

Bouncing to audio

by Kim Lajoie on July 26, 2010

‘Bouncing’ to audio is a process of rendering realtime generated audio to audio files. Typically, ‘realtime generated audio’ is software synthesisers, samplers, hardware sound generators, or even audio files being processed by plugins or hardware effects processors. After bouncing, these audio sources are turned into audio files on your hard drive. The audio files are […]

Dynamic range and headroom

by Kim Lajoie on September 3, 2009

Noise floor The noise floor of a system is the level at which the background noise occurs. In analogue systems, this will be the hiss and/or hum. In digital systems, this will be the point at which audio has less than one bit to represent it (audio at this level sounds like a crunchy mess). […]