Abstract: This research on Toward Improving Sound Quality Production Through Proper Setup And Configuration In A Digital Studio explains and highlight the science behind the transmission, reproduction and recording of a sound in a recording studio using different technological apparatus peculiar to its time. Configuration of a digital recording studio is one of the fastest growing trend in the area of music technology with diverse methods and technicalities in setting up a most effective and reliable digital recording sound platform to enhance or produce outstanding and standardize sound quality.
Recording of sound and the outcome of the recorded sound has experienced a drastic change since on inception far back as 1752. It is pertinent to know that this change and appealing state of sound is traced down to the different recording eras with its distinctive and progressive features and technology. Good sound quality does always depend on standard or quality of the devices, but on proper installation and setup.
Toward Improving Sound Quality Production Through Proper Setup And Configuration In A Digital Studio
1.1 Background of the Study
According to the Groove Dictionary, sound recording is the conversion of mechanical sound to electrical energy, the encoded of sound on disc tape and film, the transmission of sound by radio broadcasting and lastly the reproduction of sound through amplifiers. Before the advent of a digital studio, sounds have been recorded through many numerous ways at different times and seasons. Using different technological apparatus and means peculiar to its time for the sole purpose of retrieving an earlier produced or played musical sound.
During the early recording and notating devices, the earliest attempts to obtain a permanent record of extempore performance were in the form of “notating devices’ normally attached to the action of a keyboard instrument. Apparently the first such machine was proposed in England by J. Creed. A similar invention called the malograph was conceived by Leonhard Euler (1707-83) and built by Johann Hohlfeld in about 1752, consisting of two revolving cylinders with a band of paper passing over them. Note positions and duration were marked onto the paper by pencils connected to the piano action. (The concept of the melograph was revived in the 1950s in an electronic instrument used in musicological research for the continuous graphic representation of melody.
Acoustical Recording Era (1877-1925). This was another further developed period in recording. During the mid 1920, sound recording and production were recorded live directly to a recording medium by an entirely mechanical process called acoustical recording. In this time, instrumentalists, singers, speakers, performed in front of a flared metal horn which gathered and channeled sound waves toward a thin diaphragm at the small end of the horn. The sound waves energy caused the diaphragm to vibrate. The vibrating diaphragm caused an attached stylus to etch the sound waves onto a blank wax notating cylinder or disc. This technology was devoid of electric tone controls, all adjustments to the sound were made by altering the performers position in relative to the horn.
This gave rise to the Electrical Recording Era. In 1925, electricity first made it possible for sound amplification patterns to any degree with the help of amplification, recording was possible by recording tiny sounds, and at any convenient distance, without shouting like it was during the acoustical era. It was possible to use sensitive microphones to capture the sound and improve the audio quality. From 1925 to 1930 Victor Orthophonic Victrola, an acoustic phonograph that used wave guide engineering and a folded horn to provide a reasonably flat frequency response was invented. The Victor Orthophonic Victrola was the first consumer phonograph designed specifically to play “electrically” recorded disc.
The combination was recognized instantly as a major step forward in sound reproduction. Electrical recording was developed by western electric, although a primitive electrical process was developed by Orlando R. Marsh, owner and founders of Autograph Records. Still in 1930s Electrically recording increased the flexibility of the process, but the performance was still cut directly to the recording medium, so if mistake was made, the whole became spoilt. Disc to disc editing was made possible by using a multiple turntable to play parts of different “taked” and recording them to a new master disc. This recording also introduced the idea of overdubbing, enabled studios to create recorded “performances” that feature one or more artist each singing multiple parts and that therefore could not be duplicated by the same artist or artist performing live. However overdubbing was of limited use until the advent of audio tape and was powered by Les Paul in the 1940s.
The Magnetic Recording Era covers from around 1945 to 1975. This method of recording refers to audio recording by magnetism of a very thin or stainless steel wire. The concept o magnetic recording and playback was first published in 1888 and demonstrated in early 1898 by Valdemar Poulsem in his telegraphone magnetic recording and its successor magnetic tape recording involve the use of magnetized medium which moves with constant speed past a recording head. Early magnetic storage device were designed to record analogue audio signal.
Audio recording, an underline element of digital, studio work has continuously evolve from the era of early recording and notating devices to the Era of Digital studio recording, which covers the period of 1975 – present. Originally, musical information existed only as sound waves in the air. All sound recording since the beginning had produced an analogue pattern in a physical medium. Digital recording, organically called “pulse code modulation” (PCM), reduced the wave from to digital code. This called for more complex electronic circuitry, both to encode the signals and to decode them on replay, but produced a dramatic improvement in the quality of reproduction. Ultimately, with the rise of computers, “digital audio” because the dominant format for music recording because it allowed songs to be easily copied and transported for free. The first LP transferred from a digital master was a collection of Teleman fantasies for the flute issued in 1972. Denon built up the first catalogue of digital recording sin cooperation with Eterna (DDR) and supraphon.
By 1980 most firms were using digital recorders and transferring the sound to LP; these disces were identified as digitally mastered. Even greater benefits could be obtained by keeping the music signals in digital form all the way to the listener’s home. This was accomplished in 1982 when agreed standard for a digital record led to the launch of the compact disc, developed by Sony and Philip. The CD is 120mm in diameter and 1c2mm thick, yet it easily surpasses LP sound quality in terms of frequency coverage and dynamic range. Also, the Mini Disc (MD) a new even smaller digital record format was launched more and more newer version of the CD based on Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) appeared in 1997 with formats capable of storing information that made it applicable to the video and computer markets.
The essence of this research is to highlight the proper set up and configuration of digital studio that will enhance a better sound quality production. This is mostly often obtained through transfer of technology; knowledge developed in one place or for one purposes applied and exploited in another place for same or some other purposes. According to the new groove dictionary of music “The transfer of technology from disparate branches of knowledge has had a far reaching impact on the design and construction of musical instruments. In some cases instrument makers have merely borrowed and adapted an existing technology developed for other purpose; in others they have conceived musical applications for a seemingly unrelated but nevertheless analogous device or technology? Music technology is the usage of electronic devices and computer software in playback, recording, composition performance and construction of musical instrument.
According to Mike Collins (2002) “The breakthrough has not come without a “price” though. Producers, engineers, composers and musicians used to working with conventional recording equipment do face a very real learning curve when it comes to making the transition to pro tools or any similar system”. The sound engineer should be well versed with knowledge of the working principles and function of the individual studio gadgets and its relativity to each other. Getting to use new ways of configuring a digital studio is always a problem for any sound engineer working at full face on a busy schedule of projects.
The recording engineer has to get used to the reality that the sound produced by overloads is virtually never going to be subjectively pleasing-unlike the case with analogue recording technologies, where overloads can produce subjectively pleasing distortions which are often actually used to enhance the recorded sound of instruments such as rock guitars and drums. The amount of readjustment required to cope with this change is no where near that required when learning to work with desktop computers as opposed to conventional mixing consoles and recording machines.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Projection of a standardize sound quality in audio/video production has become a recurring problem in Akwa Ibom State recording studio, as most recording engineers and technician in this area have bluntly neglected this essential and intrinsic aspect of knowledge in production. Therefore, continual production of poor and substandard audio/video production becomes inevitable. At most times, this adverse effect of production is traced down to the improper installation and configuration of the different studio gadgets and peripherals puts together. It is pertinent to be aware of the fact that, if the purpose of a thing is not known, then abuse is inevitable.
Nevertheless, the primary essence of the individual and collective recording studio devices should be properly known and harnessed. To that end, the researcher has projected this medium in orienting and educating the minds of studio technician, engineers, and the amateur ones in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria at large, by highlight the proper setup and configuration in a digital studio to improve sound quality production.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The primary aim of this research (toward improving sound quality production through proper setup and configuration in a digital studio) is to advance this medium towards orienting the studio engineers and the world at large, the need of standardized quality projection of sound/video production through proper set up and installation of the different peripherals of a recording studio. This research seeks to outline the different stages in sound recording to also dispose the students to an in-depth knowledge of sound engineering. This research is bent on elucidating the major recording studio gadgets with their individual and collective functions in relation to the whole system.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This research creates the avenue towards eradicating the undesirable element in audio/video production. The researcher consider this platform as a pathway to job opportunities for Africans/Nigerians who may be willingly to learn the needed skills on audio/video production. To also contribute immensely towards developing and sharpening the audio/video production of the musical production industries of our time and also a bedrock for the generation yet unborn.
1.5 Scope of the Study
Research time is challenging and expensive, as a sequel to that, the researcher’s ability is limited to few local government area in Akwa Ibom State as sample areas, such as Uyo, Uruan and Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. Materials mainly obtained for this research are basically electronic devices example; computer, mixing console, cord or cable, headphone condenser microphone, dynamic microphone, digital audio workstation equalizer, amplifier, keyboard etc. This research is limited to Toward Improving Sound Quality Production Through Proper Setup and Configuration in a Digital Studio.
Toward Improving Sound Quality Production Through Proper Setup And Configuration In A Digital Studio
1.6 Definition of Terms
Amplifier: This is an electronic device that receives an analog signal and increases the strength of the magnitude of an audio signal passing through it.
Equalizer: An electronic device used to adjust response to audio frequencies.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): Digital audio workstation or DAW is a digital system or software designed for recording and editing digital audio wish a high quality sound. It can also replace outboard effect and mixer.
Condenser Microphone: This is a high efficiency microphone that uses a capacitor (used be called a condenser) to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy. This type of microphone uses electrical power to drive it element. It audio signal is stronger than that of dynamic microphone.
Dynamic Microphone: It refers to that type of microphone that uses a wire coil and magnet to create the audio signal. The diaphragm is attached to the coil. When sound ware passes through the diaphragm, the coil moves backwards and forwards past the magnet and create an electrical signal which can be amplified and can also be recorded.
Bus: Bus refers to how separate audio channels are routed through a mixing console and can also be sent to an effect device. The signal can be sent back to the mixing console for recording.
Volume: This refers to the degree of loudness.
Channel: A channel is a signal path where by a guitar, microphone or any other musical instrument’s signal can pass for amplification.
Analog: Analog is the opposite of digital. Analog is represented by continuously variable physical quantity that has nothing to do with binary number. For example, a turntable is an analog device, while a CD player is digital. This is because a turntable reads bumps and grooves from a record a s continuous signal, while a CD player only reads a series of ones and zeros.
Bounce Tracks: This is often refers to wires wish mini-phone plugs at both ends for transferring analog signal from a computer or musical instrument to either a mixing console or a set of speakers.
Headphone: A pair of head mounted speakers that are positioned over the ears. They are electro acoustic transducers, which convert an electrical signal to corresponding sound in the user’s ear. The recommended type for studio use is the close back style.
Mixing Console or Mixer: Mixing console is an electronic device for combining (“mixing”), routing, or changing the level, tone, and dynamics of audio signals, such as drums, microphones, etc.
Monitor: Monitors refer go a professional speakers used for monitoring sound in a recording studios, television studios, radio studios etc.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI): Is a digital signal controller designed for recording and playing back music on digital synthesizers usually connected to computer sound cord. It is used on keyboards, drums machines and mixers.
Keyboard: This is a component of many instruments including the piano, organ or music synthesizer. It consists of usually black and white keys that cause different tones to be produced when struck. It can also said to be a standard computer keyboard for data entry on a computer.