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Capturing audio

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: Capturing audio

Sound lives out in space, and it's in the air around us. But we want to grab it, and record it, and mess around with it. So how do we do this? What's the trick? We need to figure out the way to kind of capture it, to capture sound. That requires converting changes in the air pressure, these acoustic sounds into electrical voltages. So in order to do this we need something that's sensitive to these little patterns of vibrations out in the air around us. For humans, we use our ears. But we need a device to get this into a form that we can really work with it.

Capturing audio

Sound lives out in space, and it's in the air around us. But we want to grab it, and record it, and mess around with it. So how do we do this? What's the trick? We need to figure out the way to kind of capture it, to capture sound. That requires converting changes in the air pressure, these acoustic sounds into electrical voltages. So in order to do this we need something that's sensitive to these little patterns of vibrations out in the air around us. For humans, we use our ears. But we need a device to get this into a form that we can really work with it.

So we need a transducer. We need a microphone. A transducer can take one form of energy, and convert it into a different form of energy. A microphone is sensitive to the sound waves. It's able to convert those into electrical voltages. Once the microphone has converted those sound waves, the electrical voltages that we get can be thought of as analog. Let's take a look at the three different states of sound. There is the Acoustic, the Analog, and the Digital. Now acoustic are the sound waves, that's the sound out around us. Analog are electrical voltages.

These are what run through your guitar cable or hookup your home stereo. Then finally, there is the Digital state, where information is represented by numerical values or ones and zeros. It's binary data or the language of computers. So if these are the three states of sound, what we want to do is be able to get sounds from the first two, from Acoustic and Analog into the Digital world so that we can work with digital audio. So there is taking sounds and getting them to the land of digital and then there is taking those digital sounds and getting them back out into the air around us.

This whole process is referred to A-to-D Conversion, or Analog-to-Digital Conversion, and Digital-to-Analog Conversion. Here we can see we want to take the sound out around us, the sound of a snare drum. Pick it up with a microphone, which converts it into Electrical Voltages. Then convert it via our Analog-to-Digital converters into Numerical Values that our computer can work with. Once it's in that digital stage, we can do things like edit it on our computer, add effects. Everything you do when you're working with audio on your computer, we have that sound in that state in Digital.

Then when we're done making our piece of music, or podcast, or whatever, we want to get it back out so other people can hear it. So we go the other way to get it back to a speaker of some variety. So we go from Digital to Analog, which runs it through the speaker cables out to a speaker. Then that speaker generates new Acoustic sound, and sends our music or our podcast out into the air around us. We're actually making something that goes out and changes the molecules in the room around us. It's pretty cool actually if you think about it. If you think about these three stages, and how we're kind of creating this cycle of taking acoustic sound and physical energy, converting it a few times, playing with it, toying with it, changing it around, or creating it from scratch in the digital world, and then pushing it back out into space, into the air around us.

It's pretty amazing. Even right now while I'm speaking, this process is taking place. I'm talking into a microphone. It's going to a computer, and then being worked on, and then sent back out as a final product, and something that you can actually listen to. So you're sitting somewhere, and you can hear me. We've gone through the stage of Capture & Reproduce. Pretty cool! You're at the end of the chain, don't feel bad about that, because now you'll know how to make it, and be at the beginning of the chain. So there are a lot of changes that go on with capturing and reproducing sound.

The one I want to focus on next is the one between the electrical voltage, and going to the digital world or those numerical values, which is Analog-to-Digital Conversion. So in the next movie we'll look at that, and we'll look at some of the things that go into making that possible.

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This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 26904 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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