The sonic Spectrum

I’m currently working tirelessly in the studio, and on other digital work stations, polishing off the sound design for an animation. As this is my first audio post production task, without a band in sight, I’ve been somewhat surprised at the transferable sonic components used. As a general rule, the basics to watch out for in both live band recording and audio post production are time keeping, acoustic environments, blend, volume, and balance as a whole. But the entity that has exasperated my week has been EQing and making good use of the sonic spectrum. Although equalising has never been my strongest attribute in the audio world, I’d like to say I’m pretty confident balancing out a standard live recording, however, present me with ADR, foley, FX, atmospheric sounds and music, within a 5.1 mix-down; I start to panic. But never underestimate a woman on a mission; I have decided to break down the sonic spectrum, for those who are new to the audio game and those who need want to develop a good contrast between sounds.

Below is the audio spectrum; humans can hear between 20 to 20 KHz, which slightly decreases with age. Although pitch detection isn’t liner we can recognises octave changes with frequencies that are doubled or halved, this still leaves us with a large scope, but it also means recording in different, but close frequency bands can easily masked or sound messy:

audio spectrum

Once we understand the concept of the spectrum, instrument and vocal ranges can then be incorporated:

instrument 2

Taken from: http://djfrobot.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/eq-frequency-chart-for-instruments.html

Once you have a reasonably good idea of where you’re sounds are on the spectrum, the hard part is over, and you can cut and boost to adjust. With multiple frequencies in multiple tracks, for example post production, things can be slightly trickier, nevertheless, there are lots of other effects spectrum’s that have been created to help:

Taken from: http://vashivisuals.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/audio-for-video-2.jpg

effects spectrum

Using the sonic spectrum not only familiarises you with the frequencies you are using but enables creativity; you never know what a difference a cut or boost can make. In addition you should be mindful of boosting in reference of over compensating, which I will talk about another time.

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