Monday, 7 May 2012

There's more than one way to pan a source.....

One of the ways I want to engage people with the engineering that happens in recording studios is to provide free audio processing software that offers insight into commonly used tools that we might take for granted. For those who have any experience with recording, the pan control (short for 'panoramic potentiometer', believe it or not) seems a pretty much 'bread and butter' tool - it performs a basic, yet essential task for anyone not working in mono (i.e. the vast majority of us). It's one of those things that we don't usually think much about, but there is more than one way in which they can work and this has an effect on the quality of the 'spatialisation' that we do.

I've just finished a free VST plug-in (Windows only at present I'm afraid) which offers combined level and time based panning  (most, although not all, panners only offer level based control of source position). It's ready for use as a studio tool but also intended to be used for educational/experimental investigations into how panning actually works and the psychoacoustics behind it. In the accompanying documentation for the plugin there's some of the scientific background to the (apparently simple, you might have thought) task of moving a sound between two loudspeakers, along with some ideas for experiments and tests. You can download it from here.

Please give it try and let others know about it - whether they are teaching, learning or doing sound engineering. Feedback, as always, is welcome.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Things I'm learning

Last Friday I visited LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) to run a focus group with 3rd year Sound and Music Technology students. It was a fascinating session with lots of insights and ideas that haven't cropped up before. I learned a lot from these guys - which is the whole point of these sessions, so I'm really grateful to them and to LIPA for giving me the opportunity to chat to them.

This week I'm in Bristol for a four day course run by the Science Communication Unit at UWE, hopefully the embodiment of the adage that you're never too old to learn new things. Communicating via new media tools and podcasting techniques are amongst the things on the menu.