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Competences for Audio Processing
listening competence
Everyone does it more or less conscious: The perception of sonic events is fundamental for human communication. But how can sonic events be rated? There are acoustic criteria such as functionality and psychoacoustic percipiency of the human hearing, and there are physical criteria such as dynamics, frequency or loudness. Conscious listening means more than recording exactly what is occurring acoustically at the moment – it means assessment with regard to complex criteria such as musicality, balance, and quality of reproduction.
sound competence
Sounds are occurrences that we sometime will notice acoustically. There may be pure acoustic sounds reaching our ears directly or transmitted and/or recorded electronically, and there may be sounds altered or even generated by electronic circuits. Basic knowledge in the theory of oscillations can be beneficial in order to estimate and edit audio signals properly.
acoustics competence
Sonic occurrences must be transformed into electric signals so as to be able to record and edit them. Microphones are used to accomplish this – but which microphone is suitable for a situation? What must be observed in the choice of positioning? Is it sensible to record either monophonically or stereophonically? Shall the acoustic impression of the room be maintained, or will spatiality be generated during the mixing process? When these questions are answered, technical requirements are to comply with: the selection of a suitable stand and suspension, microphone supply and preamplification if necessary, wireless or wired transmission, and precautions to avoid noise induced by wind or blowing.
audio competence
Using storage media, audio signals are being recorded. Then they will be amplified and processed regarding dynamics and frequency distribution, by means of adequate equipment, freed from unwanted noise, to be reproduced eventually. Whenever the objective is a high-class end product, it is wise to master the basic procedural methods as they have remained unchanged, even when processing is done using digital techniques nowadays.
mixing competence
A finished end product rarely consists of discrete sound events. In almost any case it will be a mixture of several different audio signals. In music there are various instruments, in a radio drama there is dialogue embedded in environmental noise, in the audio track of a documentary film there is accompanying text with original sound and background music. All of these require mixing according to criteria of aesthetics and technology. It depends on the mixing engineer if listening to the end product will be pleasant or painful – it won’t work without him.
mastering competence
Mastering is the final processing step before a completely dubbed audio track is transferred to the master storage medium. The main consideration here must be: Under which listening conditions will the sound recording be reproduced? The performance in a movie theater usually will allow for a greater dynamic range than reproduction in a living room or in a car. Loudspeakers offer a different stereo base width as headphones do. In a music album the loudness impression shall be well-balanced, and as well the sequence and transitions of the individual tracks will have to be matched carefully. Proper mastering considerably decides on the value of an audio production.
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