Music Technology Posts from August, 2007

RIAA Stamps Out Facebook Audio

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Much like a giant squid with a harpoon through its belly, the RIAA continues to thrash about in an attempt to crush anything within tentacle range that seems a threat to the safety of ‘the industry’. The lastest entity to feel its wrath is Facebook; more specifically, an Audio sharing application developed for the social networking platform that allowed users to upload and share mp3 files…

Going Mobile Means More Static

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports how audio engineers are lamenting the proliferation of low-quality mp3 files as the primary format for consuming music. Although even a Compact Disc may contain far less ‘data’ than the original master recordings, mp3 represents a further loss – much information is discarded in the encoding process. The principles of psychoacoustics are used to determine what data can be removed without being easily detected by the ear, but as the bitrate decreases, the sound will inevitably suffer…

Random Noise Or Dynamic Range?

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I have just completed an extended mixing and mastering project on the latest Canabrism album, entitled ‘Random‘. The tracks are mostly electronic with quite a lot of energetic percussion, heavy samples and no vocals; precisely the sort of music that lends itself to strong compression, as is common in other examples of the genre. However, an initial mastering that brought the average track RMS levels to about -10dB proved to be effectively unlistenable (and this is nowhere near the loudest recordings out there)…

How To Write A Rock Song

Friday, August 10th, 2007

One of life’s great mercies is the fact that, for many songs, the music diverts a lot of attention away from the lyrics. Writing lyrics is difficult, but not nearly as difficult as writing poetry – in fact, most lyrics are little more than a rhyming-coupletised vehicle for the singer’s voice, and the actual semantics of the words may well be irrelevant. But what is the secret of writing a classic rock song?

Cassettes Triumph In Blind Tests

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

As our data storage devices grow ever larger (in capacity) and smaller (in size), it may come as a surprise to some people that the humble analog cassette tape is still trundling along in the background. Although sales of music cassettes were down to 700,000 last year, from a high of 442 million in 1990 (RIAA), it is estimated that North America will continue to manufacture 22 million blank cassettes per year over the next several years… (more…)

Music Gadget Projects

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

I recently discovered a very interesting (but entirely unnecessary) laser projector which can be used to provide a full size QWERTY keyboard for any bluetooth enabled device. The unit projects a keyboard onto any opaque flat surface, and uses an invisible infra-red layer to detect keystrokes…

Keeping Track Of Music Technology

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

The number of quality music technology resources readily available on the Web remains remarkably low; for example, a search for ‘music technology’ on Technorati usually reveals no pertinent results on the first page of posts. Switching over to the ‘blogs’ tab for this search, many of the results are ‘splogs’ (spam blogs) of considerable sophistication (in spam terms) but absolutely no value

How The Brain Processes Music

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have published results of a survey designed to analyse the brain’s circuitry for event segmentation. To do this, they asked subjects to listen to several symphonies by William Boyce. These works were chosen because they are relatively short, and feature well-defined movements…

Backup To The Future

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

The vinyl revival is now in full swing, and the legacy format is being embraced by electronics manufacturers on a remarkable scale. There are several new USB turntables on the market now, helping to bring those dusty old 45’s into the digital era, but Ion Audio are now gunning for another former great – the cassette tape…

Technology Steps Towards A Smaller Future

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

As battery technology struggles to keep pace with the rapid development of portable electronic devices, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Erlangen are working on a possible solution – using our own body heat to power our mobile gadgets…