By Karl Winkler • July 24, 2019 Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann / Pixabay.com Let the countdown begin… 10. Musicians feel most comfortable and play best when they hear what they need to hear on the stage. Of course, the experienced monitor guys and recording guys already know this. But it’s something for those less experienced to think about. No, it’s not about how much power you have or what kind of monitor wedges. It’s about psychology. And I think it’s true that if you become good at monitors and understand how to please musicians, you are 90 percent there towards becoming a good mix engineer. Sure, the last 10 percent might be the “magic” but you can’t make magic without the basics. 9. Sound travels at 1,130 feet per second, at sea level, at 68 degrees F and 4 percent relative humidity. This is important because if you understand how sound propagates, you’ll automatically know more about microphone placement, setting delay towers, and things like delaying the mains to the backline. And you should also know that the speed changes with temperature, humidity, and altitude. (If you don’t, it’s a good idea to look it up.) 8. The Inverse Square Law. The Inverse Square Law, illustrated. You know, the thing about a doubling of the distance from the source means that the acoustic power is cut by 1/4, right? This applies all over the place, from mic technique to loudspeaker arrays. It relates to how much power you will need from the power amplifiers. For instance, if you normally cover an audience at 20 to 60 feet from your stacks, but for the next gig, the audience will be 40 to 100 feet away, how much more power will you need to maintain about the same acoustic power? About four times as much! Maybe think about delay stacks (see #9). 7. The equal loudness contours of the human hearing system. Back in the 1930s, Harvey Fletcher and his team at Bell Labs did some tests resulting in this graph. “What it means is that the human ear is most sensitive in the upper mid-range frequencies, and least at very low and very high frequencies. Fletcher and Munson were pretty cool for being complete audio geeks. In other words, to hear a tone at 100 Hz equally as “loud” as one at 3.5 kHz, it must be 15 dB louder! (This is assuming the 3.5 kHz tone was at 85 dB SPL), The implications are that to provide a really good, full mix, you need a combination of lots of power, a carefully designed subwoofer system, and a brain capable of realizing that it’s easy to overpower peoples’ ears in the mid range. Not to mention that distortion, especially in the mids, is really obnoxious. Which brings me to… 6. Distortion really sucks, unless part of the “sound.” I’m often amazed how seemingly intelligent people who otherwise know what they’re doing don’t seem to notice fairly high levels of unintentional distortion. The first step in eliminating it is to learn about the causes, from gain structure to faulty connections to cold solder joints to aging tubes. Second, and perhaps even more important, is to learn how to hear and identify distortion. Is it harmonic distortion? Gross overload of one of the channels? Intermittent? And then third, please do something about it! Read the rest of this post 1 2 About Karl Karl Winkler Vice President of Sales at Lectrosonics Karl serves as vice president of sales/service at Lectrosonics and has worked in professional audio for more than 25 years. Comments Have something to say about this PSW content? Leave a comment! Cancel reply Scroll past the ”Post Comment” button below to view any existing comments. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Frank Gonzales says Fantastic article Karl! I read it not knowing it was you. I was pleasantly surprised. Mitchell A Wheeler says Awesome post. In very simple terms, you’ve provided some nuggets of foundational audio knowledge. Thanks for your simplicity and plain, simple explanations. Jerry DeClercq says Great stuff, in simple terms. Must be lots saying "Thank you" Tagged with: Audio Basics Engineer Karl Winkler Live Sound International Mixing Sound Reinforcement Technician Techniques Training · all topics Subscribe to Live Sound International Subscribe to Live Sound International magazine. Stay up-to-date, get the latest pro audio news, products and resources each month with Live Sound. Subscribe Today!