Saturday, September 8, 2007

What Is The Different Between 16-Bit and 24-Bit Digital Audio Workstation System?

The first issue is 24-bit use more storage capacity than the 16-bit system, it means that the quality of the recording is better in the 24-bit system because more numbers are used to represent the original analog sound. As you know the recording process in Digital Audio world begin with the conversion from analog signal (the sound from mic or your instrument musical) to digital number (0 and 1), because computer only recognize and process numbers (sample). This process is called A/D Conversion (Analog to Digital).

When you have 200 and 400 pieces of small playing blocks or lego for examples and you are asked to form a dinosaur from this blocks, which one will be more looks like a dinosaur, ofcourse the latest will be. 400 Block will give you better result because it will give you more chance to add details in the dinosaur shape, for example if you only use 200 blocks maybe you have run out of blocks when you want to add a little detail in the nose of the dinosaur. The above example is only a metaphor to give you simplified version of the theory. So in this first issue 24-bit system will let you capture more dynamics in your recording than 16-bit system. I use Sound Forge with M Audio Sound Card for capturing vocal in my recording studio and with 24-bit recording session, it sound very crispy.

The second issue is every process in the Digital Audio Workstation world result in more numbers, for instance equalization, compression or the reverb delay (predelay) of a digital audio signal will result in more numbers used. As an mixing engineer we shoud notice this. The calculation is determined by the audio plugins you used for example FL Studio / Fruity Loop plugins, computed by the your computer’s CPU (or a DSP chip) and the output is stored in the hard disk.

We will use a simple math to show this. Divide 96 by 23 the result is 4.1739130434782608695652173913043 (32 digits numbers), now you are asked to fill the result of the calculation to this 16 column of table, you will omit the rest 16 digit and only can use the first 16 digit. The case will be different if you are given 24 column to fill, you only need to ommit 8 digit, and maybe these 8 digits is not as important as the previous 8 digits. In the recording world the first 8 digits (after the 16 digits), for example can refer to your reverb processing data. So if you omit this it may result in muffled reverb sound. So in this second issue 24-bit will give you more transparent sound than 16-bit system.

The conclusion is whenever possible, use 24-bit system, it will have better result but use more storage. But please note that the quality of A/D converter itself will also affect the quality of the result. A professional 16-bit A/D converter (for example from Digidesign or a Roland VS system) will beat average consumer 24-bit A/D converter sound card (may be only suitable for gaming or other home activities).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where to find good Tin Whistles samples? I want to add a Celtic flavors to my song!

Category: Soundpatch analysis / Link to other useful websites
I surf the web for a long time and finally came to this page, called Raw Acoustic Waves (enter these keyword in Google). You have to submit your email first and finally get an access to the website, where you can find many useful ethnic / world music samples in gigasampler and kontakt format. So if you use another sampler, you have to convert it first using software like Chickensys Translator or Cdextract.

One of the samples is Tin Whistle in Bb. Although the samples were recorded on Bb, but you still can use it in other keys, however the samples may sound slightly out of tune caused by improper interpolation of the sampler you use. The cons likely give the samples more real instrument sounding for me.

I blend it with the solo violin samples from Synful Orchestra, playing the same notes and get an instant melodic Celtic music we usually hear.Other free sound samples that you will find on that sites are for example: Breton Bombarde, Peruvian Tarka Flute, Indian Whistle, Thai Mouth Organ, Indonesian Suling and many other.

How to add a pseudo stereo effect to your mono drum loops?

Category: Mixing/Sample Manipulation
For example, you have a mono loop ripped from your old vinyl recording and want to use it in your song, here are a way to make it sound more interesting. All you have to do is duplicate the mono drum loops track and pan them hard left and hard right. Now slide the second audio track a bit to the right and play them, voila now you hear them in stereo. Usually a 1/64 notes setting is enough to make the pseudo stereo effect. It means you slide your second audio tracks 1/64 note to the right (use grid mode in your sequencer to make it easier).

My definition about what a great song is.

Category: Thought and Ideas
According to my opinion a great song is a song that make me feel something. I’m sorry, I don’t want to sound dogmatic here, but this is the one thing that I can describe about what a great song is. Please give your comment or ideas on this subject because I am still surveying and researching on this topic :).

I came into this conclusion because many times I heard music and don’t feel anything, just a plain feeling. But many times also I heard another songs that me feel as if I want to cry, or just a warm feeling in my heart, and even sometimes I can feel anger in a song. I describe the latest as a great song.

I believe that there are many factors that build a great song, such as the lyric, the instrument choice, the arrangement and other factors, but it still make me curious to investigate what is the actual reason that can separate great song from the ordinary ones. Or should I meet the entire requirement above first, in order to make my song sounds great. In many occasions I heard a technically perfect song, but still feel the plain feeling, what I mean with technically perfect are the chord are correct, the notes are struck right, the mixing and mastering sound good and balance. It even makes me more curious.

I hope that if we have found the formula, we can always recreate it in our future songs and that ability become our habit as a songwriter, arranger or band member. Please give us your comment! Thanks a lot.

Don’t let your lead solo loose their interest!

Category: Performance
I used to make a common mistake when I make a solo lead melody using my synthesizer. The common mistake is playing the melody without pause. When I finished with an arpeggio (for example), I follow it with another melodic run, which I think will add interest to my solo lead.

But after analyzing it for a while, I feel that it would better if I pause the solo sometimes, as if I am speaking to my audience with my solo lead. Trust me! it will make your solo more interesting to your listener.
Don’t also think that a quick melodic run will always impress your listener, so you bomb them with massive “quick chick corea melodic run” every times in your solo lead, since sometimes a simple melodic phrase but played using carefully chosen notes will add greater impact to what your listener will feel about your song.

Don’t let your drum tracks loose their punch!

Category: Mixing
This is what to do when your drum tracks seem lack of punch. Copy your drum track into another new blank track (simply duplicate it) and add compressor plugins to the new track. Apply a heavy compression on the second track (for example: ratio 9:1) and set a lower threshold (for example –25 db). You can also add eq plugins after the compressor to brighten the track someway. And now set the second track volume fader to minimal and move it up gradually until you hear the punch added to your first track. This trick works also for other audio signal such as vocal. What happened is the second (heavily compressed) track modify the transient of the first (uncompressed) track in someway that make the drum track sound punchier.