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Digital Audio Principles
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Frequency response and the proximity effect


From:

Digital Audio Principles

with Dave Schroeder

Video: Frequency response and the proximity effect

Frequency response refers to how sensitive a person or an animal or a microphone is to different frequencies, how sensitive it is at different levels. When you purchase microphones like the polar pattern graph and other spec sheet you'll get is the frequency response chart, which is what we're looking at here. Now ideally, everyone kind of is shooting for, in their microphone design initially, to create a flat frequency response or one that picks up all the frequencies from 20 to 20k evenly, in a flat sense equally.
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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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Digital Audio Principles
7h 57m Appropriate for all Mar 02, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.

Subjects:
Audio + Music Audio Foundations Acoustics Microphones
Author:
Dave Schroeder

Frequency response and the proximity effect

Frequency response refers to how sensitive a person or an animal or a microphone is to different frequencies, how sensitive it is at different levels. When you purchase microphones like the polar pattern graph and other spec sheet you'll get is the frequency response chart, which is what we're looking at here. Now ideally, everyone kind of is shooting for, in their microphone design initially, to create a flat frequency response or one that picks up all the frequencies from 20 to 20k evenly, in a flat sense equally.

It picks up the bass as much as it picks up the high end stuff, and it doesn't drop out the mids or whatever. But that's always the goal of devices. It's a really hard thing to accomplish. There's definitely devices that do it, some of them are expensive, some of them are cheap. But generally speaking, microphone manufacturers aim for that goal, but then they also make certain adjustments to the frequency response so that it works differently in different applications. So, this chart, it basically shows the footprint of the different frequencies and how peaks here appears as little bump around 5K.

Different microphones are going to have different bumps and dips, sort of, based on one, the technical limitation of the microphone, but also based on the manufacturer's designs in terms of what frequencies they think it's good for picking up. So, if they're making a microphone for vocals, specifically, or they want it to function very well for vocals, there are certain frequencies that they know that the vocal range works in, that they want to highlight. They want to pick up a little bit more or little less. There are also certain frequencies they know that might make your voice sound like you're singing in a boxcar, so they'll dip those little bit less.

So, based on the intent of the microphone and the application that the manufacturers want it to be used for, you're going to see different frequency response charts. Another example is they make a lot of microphones just for kick drums or for bass drums in low end, which do a really good job of faithfully reproducing the low frequencies and don't sweat it so much on the high stuff. As a manufacturer, if you're trying to build that perfect microphone, you have to focus on a certain aspect of it that's going to work really well and function really well. Then there are certain things where, A: it doesn't benefit from being flat, or B: we don't have the time and money to make this thing flat, and make it as durable as it needs to be.

That's the other limitation when you're dealing with a different element like a dynamic element or a condenser element. There's different manufacturing consideration in terms of the sensitivity and the durability of the microphone. So, it's good to get to know the frequency response charts and just scope them out when you buy microphones or when you're even thinking about buying a microphone. Go out and kind of, think about if you want a mic a guitar amp. Try and find some plots of frequencies that happen on guitars, and which ones they favor, which ones they don't. Most manufacturers will come right out and say in their paperwork, hey, this microphone is designed to record guitars or it works great on amps, or works on this, works on that. There is tons of specialty mics more or less.

The trick is as if somebody is just trying to sell you a million dollar microphone, and you look at the frequency response chart, and it's not very good, it's not very flat or close to flat, then maybe you don't want to get that one. But not too many people have perfectly flat microphones or use them. That's okay. The other thing I want to talk about is the proximity effect. What this is basically effect of when a sound source moves closer to a microphone, the microphone tends to be more sensitive to low frequencies. This only works on directional microphones. But as you get closer, you get boomier, you get bassier.

It's kind of the Barry White effect. I'll try and give you an example of it. So, right now, I'm talking at a fairly normal voice, but I'm getting closer to the microphone, and you can tell that I'm getting louder, but I'm also getting bassier. Here, here, here, Proximity Effect, cool! Now if you want to do, the Barry White thing, that works great. If you're trying to pick up certain instruments where you want a pickup more of the low-end, that works great. In other circumstances, where you don't want that to happen, especially if you're dealing with like a vocalist, working in a sound booth like me right now, and you don't want that all over the place where the bass is going up and around.

Then there's a thing called a bass roll-off switch, which you'll find on a lot of microphones, which I'll show you what that looks like in one of the movies coming up. So, sometimes you can use the Proximity Effect to your advantage, and if you want a pickup more at low-end, you can play that. You can put the microphone real close to something and get it. If you're a singer, and you're crooning, you can get, kind of, that deeper tone. But a lot of times, it's a problem if you're trying to record a voice-over, or if you're trying to record a vocal, and you want it to be more even, then you want to set it up so that someone can still move around freely, but not have the Proximity Effect take place.

So, to counter this problem, a lot of microphones will have what's called the bass roll-off switch, which enables you to lower the sensitivity to lower frequencies, or kind of cut the sensitivity down. Another workaround is you can use an Omni-directional microphone. I'll show you what a bass roll-off switch looks like on an actual microphone in this next movie. After that we'll take a look at placing microphones. I'll try and show you how moving around a microphone can generate the different Proximity Effects.

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