HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips


TYPE- Special Topics




BUMPER MUSIC- "Upon The Happenstance of a Dam Bursting" (Area 47)

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe


If you love to play music, you probably love the idea of recording. Once you plug in, or approach the microphone, you may find some of these effects to be a great help. With dynamics, such as compression, limiting and gate, you can tame your volume levels. With equalization (EQ), you can add or subtract frequencies to better shape your sounds. And with reverb, to can add depth and dimension to an otherwise sterile sound by adding the reflections that would otherwise occur in large spaces.


TRANSDUCER- Any thing that converts on form of energy to another. A microphone converts sound waves into electrical signals.


DECIBEL (db)- The decibel is a measurement of sound levels. A decibel is 1/10 of a "bel", named after Alexander Graham Bell. The lower the decibel level, the quieter the sound.


FREQUENCY- The number of vibrations per second. Frequencies are measured in hertz (Hz). For example, the note A 440Hz vibrates at a frequency of 440 time per second.


HERTZ (Hz)- The unit of measurement that is determined by the amount of times a moving body vibrates per second.


FUNDAMENTAL- This is the most prominent tone that rings out. The tone that rings as the fundamental is often the note that is played. For example, if you play the A note above middle C, than that note (A 440 Hz) is considered the fundamental. This is usually the most audible tone.



COMPRESSION- The ultimate result of this process is to make the overall volume more even. To do so, we must bring up the quieter parts and tame the louder parts. The operation occurs with the manipulation of certain controls.

THRESHOLD- This is the decibel level that acts as the point at which you want this “effect” to kick in.

RATIO- Once you set the threshold, the ratio determines how powerful the effect is. At a 2:1 ratio, when the volume level passes the threshold by 2db, it reduces the level by 1db. This is considered a fairly "light" compression. "Heavier" compressions, like 10:1, can make the quieter sounds and overtones to really shine through. But take precaution! This can also result in a distorted sound...unless that's what you're going for.

ATTACK TIME- This time frame, usually set by milliseconds, determines when the compression effect occurs. With the proper attack time settings, you can still allow for the natural sound of a pick hitting a string, but tame the strong set of waves that follow.

RELEASE TIME- Once the volume level has dipped below the threshold, the release time determines when the compression effect terminates, or drops off.

KNEE- This is a less common parameter. A "hard" knee is basically what we've already discussed. A "soft" knee makes the compression effect occur, on a gradual level, milliseconds before the volume level reaches the threshold.


EQUALIZATION (EQ)- This is the act of shaping the sound by adding, or subtracting, frequencies. Adding low frequencies can give more body, or thickness, to a sound. Adding high frequencies can give more brightness, or presence, to a sound.


ROLL OFF- Sometimes it is advantageous to lower a group of frequencies from the lower end of the frequency range (LOW CUT a.k.a. HIGH PASS FILTER) or from the high end (HI CUT a.k.a LOW PASS FILTER).


REVERB (REVERBERATION)- Add the sound of a larger room to an other wise "dry" (unaffected) signal. When this effect is applied, it results in an "wet" echoing effect.


ROOM REVERB- Was initially accomplished by sending a dry signal into a speaker in a room. A microphone on the other end of the room would pick up that signal along with the room reflections that came with it. This "wet" signal could then be mixed with the original "dry" signal to complete the reverb effect. Other types of room reverb include: hall, chamber and church. They often offer options, such as: small, medium and large.


PLATE REVERB- Was initially achieved by suspending a large metal plate in a larger wooden frame.The signal would be played into a transducer in the middle of the plate. The vibrations would carry outward and be picked up by a transducer at the end of the plate. You could damper the plate to lessen the effect. This was a mono signal. But in the 60’s the added another transducer the the opposite end of the plate for a stereo reverb effect, which added more space and dimension.


SPRING REVERB- Was initially achieved when the signal was sent to transducer, which converted it into magnetic fields. This energy moved magnets that were connected the a tightly wound, high tension spring, setting the spring into motion. On the other end of the spring, another out going transducer converted the signal back into sound that could be mixed with the original dry signal. This adds a very unique “bouncy” sound.


CONVOLUTION REVERB- This software can analyze the sound reflections, previously recorded, in any room and apply the effect to your signal. So you can use this to emulate the reverb patterns of remote locations.


DEVERB- This is a software that attempts to remove echoing reflections from a recording. The end effect is to actually turn a "wet" sound to a "dry one".