Archive: February, 2013

This Picture Will Make Your Mixes Sound Better


To experience the magic for yourself, first set up this image to be your computer’s screen saver1, with either a hot corner or keyboard shortcut to trigger it. Then, whenever you need to get a fresh perspective on a mix, fire up the darkness.2

I’ll give you five bucks if your mix doesn’t instantly reveal itself (for better or for worse). Just as we “eat with our eyes,” this little trick makes it quite obvious that we hear with them as well. There’s something almost magical that happens when the pixelated waveforms disappear, as if the sound suddenly starts coming not from your DAW, but from directly from the speakers. The best part: Years after I’ve started using this brain hack, it still works.

  1. Of course, this assumes you’re mixing in front of a computer—an increasingly safe bet these days.
  2. Yes, you could just turn off your monitor, but I, like many, prefer to work fast and from the gut when I’m mixing—so the four second lag it takes to power on my Dell display to tweak that guitar EQ is a first world bummer I can do without. Also: iMacs and laptops would otherwise be outta luck.

Sibelius Outcasts Up The Ante

Didn’t see this twist coming:

Our mission is simple: to create a next-generation application that meets the needs of today’s composers, arrangers, engravers, copyists, publishers, teachers and students. We know we have a big mountain to climb: we’re starting work on a new professional-level application for Windows and Mac (and hopefully mobile devices later on) and looking to bring it into a crowded market that already has two very capable and mature competitors, not to mention an explosion of new products that exploit mobile devices and the web.

(Via Peter Kirn.)

ABX Whiskey Testing

Marvel Bar’s Pip Hanson is obsessed and skeptical, and that’s a wonderful thing if you’re fond of whiskey:

Since then they’ve been quietly growing their whiskey collection, which now exceeds 150. As they’ve done with all of their spirits, they’ve only added a whiskey to their list based on its performance in blind tastings. “As it turns out, some of the stuff we like is very obscure and some of it is very mainstream,” says Hanson.

The list is currently heavy on bourbon and scotch, with a dozen ryes and a few Japanese single malts in the mix. The trick for Hanson became how to present them all with the same thoughtful and detailed manner they use for mixed drinks. So he undertook an excruciating quest to catalog all of his whiskeys’ manufacturing details.

It has resulted in one of the most data-rich spirit lists we’ve seen anywhere in town. Marvel now chronicles each whiskey along with details including how long it was aged, the grains in the mashbill, the toast level on its barrels, its proof, and who distills it. They’re attempting to strike at the heart of connoisseurship: to give people enough information to help them figure out what they like and what they don’t.

“It’s hard to understand whiskey if you don’t know how it’s made,” says Hanson. “We wanted to cut through the marketing stories where they aren’t relevant, instead focusing on what goes in to them and how that affects them… mashbill information, sherry finishes or peat levels, or if it’s chill-filtered. That’s the info that helps us wrap our heads around these whiskeys, not a label note that says it tastes like honeysuckle.”

Neil Young, Meet Harry Nyquist

Christopher “Monty” Montgomery on why 192 kHz is the opposite of a good idea:

Why push back against 24/192? Because it’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, a business model based on willful ignorance and scamming people. The more that pseudoscience goes unchecked in the world at large, the harder it is for truth to overcome truthiness…even if this is a small and relatively insignificant example.

Analog vs. Digital? You’re Missing the Point

A thoughtful and novel take from PBS on the never-ending audio format debate. (In fact, this whole series looks pretty promising.)