Kim Lajoie's blog

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). […]

Masking

by Kim Lajoie on August 17, 2009

Masking is a little-understood concept that is important to composers and mix engineers. Essentially, masking is what happens when one sound makes it difficult to hear another sound. An obvious example of this is two instruments playing the same note, with one instrument sounding much louder than the other. This can happen with notes or […]

Gain Staging

by Kim Lajoie on July 8, 2009

A “gain stage” is any point in the signal path where gain is applied – where volume can be changed. Gain can be positive (makes the sound louder), negative (makes the sound quieter), or unity (doesn’t change the volume – but it’s still a gain stage!). “Gain staging” is the awareness that there are all […]