Have you ever done ear training? If you studied music theory in college, you probably did.

I remember my Theory II class with Dr. Linton. He would sit at the piano and play an interval, and we would have to accurately guess. He started slow, but that didn’t last long.

Bum…BUM. “Major fourth!!” BUM…bum. “Minor third!!”

He would also play chord progressions, and we had to guess the chord AND the inversion. Pling…pling. “Four. First inversion!” Pling… “Five. Second inversion!”

A lot of folks hated it. I loved it. (Don’t even get me started on fixed-do solfege exams. Whew.)

Ear Training for Engineers

So if music majors in college are so focused on ear training, shouldn’t we as audio engineers focus on ear training just as much…if not more?

Probably so.

I can’t tell you how many time I’ll adjust an EQ because the settings look right on the screen. That’s so lame. I might as well turn off the studio monitors and take off the headphones. What good does it do to make audio decisions with anything other than your ears?

So I’ve got some ear training for you today. I may post more stuff like this down the road. We’ll see.

Listen Up

I’ve got two clips of a full drum kit. It’s the same exact performance; it’s just been mixed differently.

Rather than tell you what to listen for (which inevitably manipulates your mind into hearing things that may or may not be there), I’m simply posting these files for you to listen to.

Listen to them first, then make your guesses in the comments section as to what you think is different between the two.

The only rule I have is that you don’t read the comments below until you’ve listened and made your guess.

Here are the files. They’re 320 kbps mp3’s, so they sound pretty good.

  • Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I’ll post the answer tomorrow.

[Photo by fauxto_digit]

  • I’m listenin’ from a cheap speaker of an old PC of a friend: I think the 2nd drums was parallel compressed 🙂

    ciao,
    Simo 🙂

  • The second one is louder, punchier more bottom, and compressed some way, judging by more room sounds also, and cymbals more present.

  • The second one is louder, punchier more bottom, and compressed some way, judging by more room sounds also, and cymbals more present.

  • 2nd one has punchier kick and snare, wider stereo panorama, more higher frequencies (exciter), more room/overheads – cymbals are louder and have longer sustains (over-compression with short attack and long release and maybe reverb/delay).

  • hellsgate

    I think the second file has been mixed louder and has some reverb on it, especially the toms

  • Neil

    It definitely sounds like compression to me, but in a reverb-ish way (the tails seem much higher). Maybe a higher ratio bringing out more of the overheads? Or the attack is long, but with autogain turned up?

    Anyway, great idea Joe! I hope you do more of these!

  • fingerworkout

    I'll just say what I hear and not pretend to know exactly how it was achieved (although I assume compression because most seem to agree). In Track 2 the kick is much more pronounced, it punches through – dare i say “Transients”? – I think that's the proper term.

    At any rate the kick drum pops and it's more out front in Track 2… In track 1 it is dull and lifeless.
    – Matt

  • Kevin Blaine

    I agree. Compression on 2 for sure. I especially notice it on the toms. I feel like there may be an EQ cut somewhere between 300Hz and 500Hz, but not sure.

  • Just listening on my PC speakers, I can tell that track 2 has more compression applied.

    • But more specifically? 🙂

      • I’ll have to listen at home to get more specific. 😉

  • Anonymous

    #2 sounds like parallel compression and parallel reverb on snare, toms and kick. Not sure about EQ, my ears can’t hear that sort of thing. Im assuming you probably cut some kick and tom, perhaps around 400-500? But, that’s purely a guess based off your videos and Prod. Club.

  • JP

    2nd does have more compression but it’s probably parallel compression ’cause I can hear more breathing/room on the kit.

    • That’s my vote as well….these sound great.

  • Anonymous

    The second sample sounds more compressed than the first one. They are also from treading water.