There's little difference between today's recording musician with
a song to mix, and a chef preparing a gourmet meal. Each is trying to create a masterpiece out of his or her sonic/culinary ingredients - a rack of effects; a rack of spices, a little more
salt; a few more dB at 600Hz...
You've got to feel sorry for the chef who doesn't know how to bring
the whole thing together, or how to salvage a dish that lacks flavor or style, especially when the ingredients are great... Well, it's the same for the recording
musician, especially now that the gear we use - ADATs, Hard Disk Recorders, etc. - is really capable of showing off and revealing all the recording and musical skills we
may have. So, it's worth the effort to learn more about the use of reverb, delays and the frequencies we use in equalization, while we are tracking, overdubbing, mixing and mastering.
Golden Ears is an AUDIO eartraining course - not perfect pitch or piano lessons- that
sets out to teach your ears to hear the frequencies, the signal processing, the compression, the stereo, the distortion and the amplitudes used in your recorded
material. It comes to you on (up to) eight audio CDs (depending on which volumes you buy), and you use it on your regular CD player with good speakers or headphones
. Created by Dave Moulton, Grammy-nominated recording engineer, educator, musician and acoustician, the lessons it contains represent thirty years of his
extensive studio and teaching experience. As you work your way through the hundreds of exercises, you'll find yourself hearing recordings (and not just your own)
in a completely new light. The purpose of the course is to help you "hear into" your recordings, to understand and be able to describe the elements that those recordings
contain, their spectrum, dynamics, reverb and other audio qualities.
Once you get a feel for these ingredients, you can take better control of your
recording gear, and approach the process of tracking, mixing and engineering with A LOT more confidence and awareness.
So how does the course work?
There are four volumes, with two CDs per volume, each covering different components of the recording process.
Take Volume 2, for instance: after you've followed instructions for optimizing your
listening set-up, you'll go through a series of A/B drills using excerpts of recorded music. The first recording (A) is the reference piece and the second (B) is a clone of
the first with an applied amount of anonymous signal processing, frequency boost or some other audio alteration. Your task - with the support of answer sheets - is to
learn to identify the difference between the two recordings. To assist you, we have limited the number of options, and grouped them into six families of effects: amplitude
change, distortion, compression, equalization, stereophony and time-delay/reverberation.
Itís similar with the other volumes. There are setup instructions and introductory
demo materials, followed by drills that lead you through the problem at hand: octave band equalization, reverb time, etc. The drills are usually progressively more difficult,
but after youíve completed them and gotten good at them, you can do the drills in random order (itís set up so you canít identify any drill until itís over), just to keep
your ears in tune forever. Nice, eh?. Dave is still using them for himself, thirty years later!
Golden Ears will teach you:
to recognize the effect of compression on a variety of different signals
to identify fast and slow compressor release times
to hear musically relevant equalization problems
to recognize when loudness is the only difference between two signals
to distinguish ranges of 1 - 10% and 10 - 30% Total Harmonic Distortion in musical examples
to recognize anomalies in the stereo image (reverse image, mono summation, polarity reversal, pseudo-stereo etc.)
to identify channel-to-channel time differences over the 1 - 50ms range
to recognize gated and ungated reverb and
much, much more, including 1/3 octave changes and double octave cuts and boosts