Do You Know How Many Different CD Formats Are Available Today? It's Impressive the Number!

By John Cooper

Let's write a short summary about this great technology (CD) that changed the technological world in first years of 1980.

First we talk about CD-Text, an extension of the Red Book specification for audio CD that allows for storage of additional text information on a standards-compliant audio CD. The information is stored either in the lead-in area of the CD, where there is roughly five kilobytes of space available, or in the subcode channels R to W on the disc, which can store about 31 megabytes.

Then there is the CD + Graphics, a special audio Compact Disc that contains graphics data in addition to the audio data on the disc. The disc can be played on a regular audio CD player, but when played on a special CD+G player, can output a graphics signal.

These graphics are almost exclusively used to display lyrics on a television set for karaoke performers to sing along with. The CD+G format takes advantage of the channels R through W.

The CD + Extended Graphics is an improved variant of the Compact Disc + Graphics (CD+G) format. Like CD+G, CD+EG utilizes basic CD-ROM features to display text and video information in addition to the music being played. This extra data is stored in subcode channels R-W. Very few, if any, CD+EG discs have been published.

The Super Audio CD is a high-resolution read-only optical audio disc format that provides much higher fidelity digital audio reproduction than the Red Book. Introduced in 1999, it was developed by Sony and Philips, the same companies that created the Red Book. SACD was in a format war with DVD-Audio, but neither has replaced audio CDs.

In contrast to DVD-Audio, the SACD format has the feature of being able to produce hybrid discs; these discs contain the SACD audio stream as well as a standard audio CD layer which is playable in standard CD players, thus making them backward compatible. - 32518

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Digital Technology In Audio Mastering, Still A Good Solution?

By John Cooper

In the 1990s, electro-mechanical processes were largely superseded by digital technology, with digital recordings transferred to digital masters by an optical etching process that employs laser technology.

The digital audio workstation (DAW) became common in many mastering facilities, allowing the off-line manipulation of recorded audio via a graphical user interface (GUI). Although many digital processing tools are common during mastering, it is also very common to use analog media and processing equipment for the mastering stage.

Just as in other areas of audio, the benefits and drawbacks of digital technology compared to analog technology is still a matter of debate. However, in the field of audio mastering, the debate is usually over the use of digital versus analog signal processing rather than the use of digital technology for storage of audio.

There are mastering engineers who feel that digital technology, has not progressed enough in quality to supersede analog technology entirely. Many top mastering studios still embrace analog signal processing (such as analog equalization) within the mastering process. Additionally, the latest advances in analog mastering technology include 120V signal rails for previously unavailable headroom of 150dB as well as frequency response ranging from 3 Hz to 300 kHz.

In order to duplicate this frequency response in digital domain, a sampling rate of at least 600 kHz would be required. However, it is pertinent that the extremes in these frequency ranges (3 Hz to 19 Hz and 21 kHz to 300 kHz) are effectively inaudible and only existing outside the range of both the human ear and most professional microphones.

Considering this, we can say that while analog is the best solution for "absolute" quality, digital is the best solution for "practical" quality, and that DAWs will be the future of any kind of Studio, small or big and for any kind of project. - 32518

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High Audio Class Using The Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone Bundle

By Rich Rowland

The Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone Bundle offers great balance between aesthetics and functions, perfect for aspiring musicians and podcasters. Its USB input makes sure that you are up and running in no time - thanks to its plug and play function. And with different bundles that may come together with the microphone, you are sure to get one that fits your needs.

Blue microphones have always been known for excellent audio quality without compromising the design. The Snowball perhaps is one of the most popular ones because of its USB input. It has that retro feel to it, perfectly combining its sphere shape with a complementary color palette.

Depending on where you'd buy, there are various bundles that are available with the Snowball. The podcasting bundles typically contains some wind screens, pop filters and even tripods. This allows podcasters and even musicians to record their voices clearly and brilliantly, without the pops and the clicks. In addition, it also makes it easy to adjust the height and the position of the Snowball to be in perfect level with you.

For the musicians and the songwriters, using the Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone Bundle can also be great. The cute sphere design on top of the tripod allows you to turn it around easily, let it focus on one source or place it anywhere. You may choose from three recording modes available, depending on your preferences and usage: omni-directional, cardioid 10dB cut and cardioid.

The omni-directional setting picks up sounds from all directions, allowing your Blue Snowball to capture the audio all around it. This is helpful for those who need to acquire that particular need, like a live band. It can also simulate a surround sound feel, allowing sounds to be captured from all possible directions and with the feeling of 'being there.'

For all recordings of voices, the cardioid mode is the best one. Your voice overs, song vocals and even your pod casts are sure to be on their highest fidelity possible with this mode as it only picks up audio signals from the front. You can easily focus the sound from one source so it doesn't sound surrounded. Blue's promise of giving you brilliant quality would always be there when you sing or speak.

For loud instruments, put your Snowball on the cardioid mode with a 10dB cut. This removes or lessens the sound distortion which may happen for loud sources, letting you have high audio fidelity without compromising quality. Record loud instruments easily while keeping them at their highest possible fidelity, and never sounding distorted.

The unique design of the Blue snowball makes it a favorite for audio enthusiasts. It is very functional, and yet quite stylish at the same time. It is also available in 3 colors: textured white, gloss black and brushed aluminum so you have choices upon buying. And with different things that may come with it, the Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone Bundle can surely be your best friend in recording and pod casting. - 32518

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Multi-Track Mixer Basics.

By Thomas Goldman

Here you will read about choosing the most suitable multi-track mixer for your needs as well as what multi-track mixers do and how to buy and use one.

Multi-track mixers are designed for two main purposes. The most common purpose is to record and mix a recording in a "recording studio" environment. The second purpose is to mix multiple signals to send to the PA system for live use on stage. A powered mixer includes power amps for live use. Different types of audio mixer are designed for these two different purposes although there is not a huge difference. A DJ mixer is a lot more different and not very suitable for either recording or live use.

A multi-track mixer is an audio mixer designed to mix sound from a multi-track recorder, i.e. an audio recording device designed to record more than just a mono or stereo signal . . . a signal which has at least 3 separate tracks simultaneously. So the mixer will have more than three separate channels.

To choose the most suitable one for your needs, first look at what audio recording device you have. If you don't have one of those yet, look at how many audio channels you might want to record simultaneously. For example, if you will be using it to record a band, think how many instruments play simultaneously in that band. Keep in mind that to record a drum set (drum kit) well you will need a separate microphone for each drum. Also keyboards typically have a stereo signal (so that's 2 channels). The mixer you choose should have at least as many channels as that of your audio recorder.

If you need to record all the instruments simultaneously, then your mixer also needs as many outputs as you're the number of instruments. These outputs are usually provided as "groups" although for recording, each aux send can also be used as an output (unless it is used for effects while recording, such as providing some reverb on a vocal). If the groups are stereo, the pan setting will determine which side of the group output the signal goes to i.e. one stereo group can be used as 2 mono outputs or one stereo output. - 32518

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Report on WMA vs. MP3

By Zeeman Haus

The biggest question when formatting newly recorded audio is the WMA/MP3 question. As a musician and former home recorder, this question always bothered me a little bit. So the biggest question really is what are the advantages and disadvantages of both? The second biggest question is what software is available out there for both? We'll answer both for you.

The WMA attractiveness comes from Microsoft's claim that this format is the most accurate audio format available to date. The Windows Media Audio (WMA) format is definitely bulky enough to back up this claim. Recordings of the same clip in WMA format will nearly always be larger than those of MP3s. Microsoft has tried to make up for this my having the WMA format play at a higher bitrate than MP3s. That is- make it go faster. A lot of people still aren't convinced.

MP3, MPEG3 or Moving Pictures Experts Group-Layer 3 all describe the audio format we all use in our MP3 players. The biggest advantage that MP3 has over WMA at this point has got to be in the file size. MP3 formatting of a recorded piece involves the elimination of the bits that the human ear cannot hear anyway. This can greatly reduce the file size, though Microsoft claims this degrades the quality.

At the same bitrate WMAs will sound better than MP3s, but some of this depends on source as well. For example, if you have something you ripped form a CD you own and- for personal use, have uploaded it onto your music player (legal disclaimer). If it was a bad rip, it's going to be more noticeable in MP3 format than in WMA. But overall you'd have a pretty special ear to tell the difference.

MP3 files are smaller by an average of 1/3 and that is an advantage to the format. On the smaller hard drives that came with the original digital music players, MP3 files were preferred because you could store more of them on a device. Now, this wouldn't seem like as big of a deal, but consumers have grown used to MP3s and they have become the portable music standard. WMAs are used on computers and in a lot of games for Windows where hard drive space and processing speed are not really issues.

Most "MP3 players" will play WMAs as well, that's not a huge issue there. The biggest issue is whether or not you want to deal with slightly less space by having WMAs over MP3s. Considering, like we said, the quality difference on a player is so small, it really doesn't matter. The main thing is being able to keep track of one format. Picking one and sticking with it is best.

If you have some WMAs and want to do a WMA to MP3 conversion, then feel free. There are all kinds of software packages that will enable you to do that. And you can even convert MP3s to WMAs, but I don't know why you'd want to. Just remember, like everything else in life, when you make a copy of a copy, it's never as good as the previous copy.

On the whole when you compare WMA to MP3 format, MP3 serves a much bigger audience and fulfills their needs just fine. While WMA format is in a lot of ways more flexible for the home record maker, the difference in playback between the two in nominal. It was a 4 to 5 split decision but when we went to the cards, MP3 won. - 32518

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Audio Mastering Ebook, Audio Mastering Hints And Professional Audio Tips

By John Cooper

Talented artist Manuel Marino has released a PDF document about Audio Mastering, a Mastering Guide that he wrote after receiving hundreds requests from his musicians friends.

You can find many books on the net and at your preferred bookstore. But what new musicians really need are few tips, to understand the basics, not huge documents with infinite technical data.

So he had this idea to write a "very simple" Mastering Guide, and, I must say, it is really simple, anyone can begin mastering with some success after reading it. He gives also a couple of "tricks" so you can begin really soon to obtain a professional quality master. Of course this will not make you a mastering wizard, but you can be sure your music tracks will be much better after reading it.

The price of this Mastering Guide is 5 dollars only, this is why the main purpose of writing it was helping his friends and of course helping you, the new musicians with their first audio tools.

There are artists, talented pianists and guitarists that consider Digital Audio Workstations like hard machines. They had only an academical education and it is difficult to explain them how dynamics works. Now with this PDF they'll finally grab the basics about compressors and dynamics.

"Manuel Marino is an old artist who decided to be in the mainstream on his own after's copyright event in 2000. His studio, Marino Sounds, provides audio tracks for videogame, television and multimedia projects at as low a rate as possible in order to actively encourage business from the indie scene. Projects such as Derek Smart Universal Combat and the X-com inspired UFO: Alien Invasion gave Marino a worldwide praise, and his current work on the Morrowind ITP (Italian Translation Project) comprises a further step towards the mainstream. "Being 'indie' is like being in family. I feel that other independent artists and designers are my fellows, and that they deserve my help," he told me. He's enjoyed the videogame experience so much that he's planning to establish a full-time developers team." (Paul Taylor, Music4Games) - 32518

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Learn From The Pros - Getting A Mastering Guide

By John Cooper

You might be able to use this article to inform you of the importance of using informative items such as an audio mastering guide in order to help you become the best sound engineer that you can in the recording studio.

If you are new to the industry of making music, than you might not be aware that there is much more to making a successful album than just recording all of the tracks onto your computer. In fact, there is a whole lot more than this.

One of the most unrealized and unappreciated aspects of the industry is the person who has to master the music after it is recorded. This process often takes longer than the recording process itself, because it is so detailed and precise. That is why it is important that you learn how to do it right if you choose to attempt it for yourself.

You see, mastering consists of taking the recorded music and, moment by moment, making it ideal for the listener's ears. That means a slow process for even the most experienced of engineers. But what do you do if you don't know what you're doing? Well, as much as you can aid music by mastering, you can damage its quality as well. You have to do some research to learn technique and "secrets" to the trade.

This might come through the purchase of a mastering guide. You see, with a guide from someone that knows what they are doing, you can step by step learn the trade. This is something that is often overlooked and for no good reason. You can feel your way around and learn for yourself, but it will be a long road littered with mistakes. Why not save yourself the trouble and take a look at specific material created to show you the ropes?

You shouldn't even think twice about nabbing one of these guides if you are the least bit doubtful in your ability. You don't even have to spend a lot of money for one of these guides either. I have found them as cheap as $5, which is quite a deal if you were to ask me. - 32518

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