Teaching Wwise Game Audio Course at Berklee Online

Teaching Wwise Game Audio Course at Berklee Online

Berklee Online - Game Audio Production with Wwise - Taught by Aaron Brown Sound

Learn Game Audio Production with Wwise – Berklee Online

Feeling overwhelmed at the idea of learning Game Audio? You are not alone! Game Audio encompasses all audio disciplines that individually can take a lifetime to master.

Have no fear! I am here to guide you on your quest for Wwise and Game audio knowledge in the Game Audio Production course at Berklee Online.

This course treats the project as if it was a real world assignment. It covers setting up your system, pre-production, making a mock-up, creating ambience, sound design,  foley, adaptive music using Wwise, working with dialogue, mixing, and getting a gig! These are the same steps I’ve gone through on almost every project over the last 10 years so you can be assured the skills apply to future jobs.

The course enables you to dive into the Unity game Angry Bots and award winning hit Limbo to create your own immersive sonic experiences!

Guidance is provided through the whole experience there are chats and discussions. This prevents roadblocks on your path to success which is critical when learning a tech heavy skill such as Game Audio.

Still not sold on the course? I’ll let these student reviews do the talking for me:

REVIEWS:

Aaron is the greatest tutor I have ever had! Great feedback, plus touches on topics that are helpful for people working the industry. Can’t say enough about him!

Aaron was great – he’s very insightful and practical. He put some complicated concepts into simple terms for us, even adding a good deal of additional info and links for us to check out on the forum. His feedback in particular was always really spot on and helpful, never making us feel like we were out of our depth. You could tell he was very invested in our success!

I am a freelance video game composer/sound designer so this class was excellent for adding to my skill sets.

The embeded videos with specific walkthroughs were great for seeing how things worked in Wwise, but the class discussions and webchats were extremely helpful and in-depth, giving us a lot of context for the reality of game audio. Being able to plug our sounds into pre-made games and seeing existing Wwise sessions in action was fantastic.

 –Tutor feedback was beyond great Tutor answer every question we had, and better yet went further and gave us video examples. Required reading was great. Course content was great

Aaron has a clear passion not only for game audio, but also for helping people understand how it works. His feedback on my assignments was very thorough and helpful for improving the quality of my work. Never did I feel like he was giving my assignment a very casual and cursory listen since each time he was able to identify specific parts that needed improvements even if they were just minor ones. In the class chats he presented a healthy mix of industry information as well as demonstrations of techniques to record, edit, effect and mix audio for games. He ensured everyone’s questions were answered and even offered a dedicated, private chat session for people who needed additional help troubleshooting technical issues.Easily one of the most dedicated instructors I have had at Berklee Online or really any other educational institution I’ve attended.

There’s no substitute for actually putting into practice the things you’ve been taught in the videos and reading. Each once kept the focus of that week’s assignment in mind and challenged me to demonstrate what I had learned. When each assignment was complete, it was satisfying to hear my newly created game audio in the game as if it belonged there all along.

 

 

As you can see from the reviews, if you want to work in the industry and create compelling sound in Game Audio for a living, this course will give you a huge leap forward in getting there!

If you have any questions about the course, or game audio in general, leave a comment and I’ll reply ASAP.

 

Learn Game Audio Production with Wwise – Berklee Online

SYLLABUS:

Lesson 1: Setting up your Game Audio Production Environment

  • Game Production Roles
  • Game Development Software
  • Audio Middleware
  • File Organization and Data Backup
  • File Management Tips

Lesson 2: Pre-Production

  • Defining Your Sound
  • Audio Design Goals
  • Imitate or Innovate
  • Spotting
  • Planning It Out: Organizing Your Time and Effort
  • Creating a Schedule
  • Designing a Mockup

Lesson 3: Ambience

  • Telling a Story with Background Sound
  • Creating Ambience
  • Defining the Boundaries
  • Slicing Up the Loop
  • Dynamic Elements in Ambient Sound Design
  • Creating Sounds to Blend with Ambience

Lesson 4: Sound Design

  • Capture your Sounds
  • Foley
  • A Noisy Library
  • Searching for Sounds
  • Software Plugins
  • Interactive Sounds

Lesson 5: Adaptive Music

  • Using Temp Scores to Explore the Effect of Music on Games
  • Temp Music
  • What Makes Music “Adaptive”?
  • Parameters and Switches
  • Adaptive Composition Strategies
  • Temp to Real Score
  • Low Health Music
  • Adding a Vertical Layer
  • Extending Your Music

Lesson 6: Composing a Musical Maze

  • Horizontal Approach
  • Adding a Horizontal Layer
  • Codecs
  • Creating a Conversion Settings Share Set
  • Playlists
  • Musical QA
  • Checking Your Transitions
  • Trade-Offs

Lesson 7: Stingers, Transitions, and Custom Cues

  • Mind the Gap: Understanding and Working with Transitions
  • Transition Examples
  • Musical Glue: Creating Your Own Transition
  • Musical Explanation Points: Working with Stingers
  • Identifying Stingers
  • Getting Crafty with Custom Cues
  • Composing a Stinger

Lesson 8: Dialog

  • The Voice of the Game: An Overview of Dialog Needs in a Game
  • Spotting for Dialog
  • Preparing for a Recording Session
  • Script and Studio Prep
  • Working with Actors
  • Preparing Dialog for the Game
  • Editing and Processing

Lesson 9: Horror Ambience and Music

  • Setting Up Limbo
  • Foley Performance
  • Visceral Sound
  • Designing Fear
  • Implementing Fear
  • Sound Design and Music

Lesson 10: Interactive Music

  • Video Game Genre Aesthetics
  • Plugins and Synthesizers for Horror Music
  • The Power of RTPCs
  • Integrating Music into Wwise that Responds to the Tension Parameter
  • Composing Stingers for Horror

Lesson 11: Mixing

  • Traditional Mixing vs. In-Game Mixing
  • Runtime Effects
  • Assigning Individual Events to Groups
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) Mixing Systems and Surround Sound
  • Memory Management, Voices, Platforms, and Localization

Lesson 12: Getting a Gig

  • Capturing Game Footage to Make a Demo
  • Comparing an Original Audio Mockup to the Final Audio Demo
  • Showcasing Your Skills and Personality on Your Website
  • Audio Demo Reels
  • Networking

 

Build Your Own Acoustic Treatment Panels For Under $30

Build Your Own Acoustic Treatment Panels For Under $30

DIY Acoustic Panels – How to build your own room treatment and Vocal Booth!

DIY Acoustic Panels around $30 each!

One thing that has always bothered me is my untreated home studio. Every professional studio I’ve worked at or visited has had rooms with proper acoustic treatment. Last week I decided to have my home studio join the ranks of these treated rooms! This post covers the many hours of research, planning and building that went into making my very own acoustic panels for treatment and a vocal booth.

The first thing I did was visit the numerous websites that talk about room acoustics and panels. This alone took me about 40+ hours of research. Room acoustics and panels are a very complex science that takes YEARS to master. What I learned is that, despite the daunting amount of intricacies involved with acoustics, it IS possible to make your own acoustic panels for a small amount of money.

Luckily, I ran into a professional acoustician, Doug Greenlee from soundkinetics.com, at a studio get together. He provided me with a great starting point. If you ever plan on building a professional set up there is no substitute for hiring someone like Doug!

I found a TON of people who have built their own panels providing me with the motivation and knowledge to make my own. I’m going to keep the rest of this post as straight to the point as possible from here on out. If you want to learn more about acoustics or see other people’s plans I added a handy bibliography at the bottom for all your researching needs!

 

THE PLAN:

Make 8 versatile acoustic panels in one day that can be used as wall panels, baffling and a portable vocal booth for UNDER $250.

THE PARTS FOR 8 ACOUSTIC PANELS:

Total Cost = ~$220

  1. Rigid Fiberglass Panels (Owens Corning 703, Knauff 3lb. density, or Johns Manville 3lb. Density are all suitable panels)
    1. Finding this material can be tricky. After calling 8 local insulation suppliers I FINALLY found it at a place called Internation Technifab.
    2. Cost:$104 for 8 Knauff 3 lb. density fiberglass panels.

      Bill for 8 Knauff 3 lb. density rigid fiberglass panels
  1. Fabric (Breathable fabric)
    1. Buy this at Joann Fabrics which has weekly 50% off sales! CALL THEM FIRST TO BE SURE THEY HAVE ENOUGH FABRIC!
    2. Options: Jet Set, Black Felt, Speaker Grill. I chose Jet Set for its sleek look and cheap cost. Be careful though because stretchy fabrics can be very difficult to fit on the panel without folds!
    3. Cost: $43 for 16 yards of Jet Set Black.
      Jet Set Black Fabric
  1. Wood for frame:
    1. Home Depot 1X3-8 furring strip. (Pick the straightest wood possible with the least amount of imperfections)
    2. Cost: $32 for 19 pieces(This leaves a bit extra for mistakes. It’s easier to return it than go back)
      1X3-8 Furring Strip from Home Depot

 

  1. Other parts from Home Depot:
    1. Rubber screw bumpers $16(To hold the panel an extra bit off the wall. This prevents tearing of fabric, marking of the wall and achieves more bass absorption.

    2. Picture Hangers $9(Pack of 50 to hang the panels securely to walls)

    3. Screw Eye Zinc Plated 212 $4(Used to attach picture wire to)

  1. Parts from Ace Hardware:
    1. Picture Wire $10(25 feet of 30 lb. rated wire) AVOID any thin cheap 28 gaugewire!

    2. Electrical Tape $4 (Used to cover up imperfections in the wood and cover the picture wire.
  2. Tools:
    1. Staple Gun with a full pack of 3/8 inch 10mm staples. If you can find black staples it would look nicer
      Electric staple guns work just fine.

      If possible, buy staples that match the fabric color!
    2. Miter Saw to cut the wood.
    3. Hammer and nails (50 nails should be about enough)
    4. Plyers (Used to screw in the Screw Eyes)
    5. Wire Cutter (Used to cut the picture wire)
    6. Table to set your panels on as you work (At least 62”X62” recommended)
    7. Power screwdriver (Used to attach the bumpers)
    8. Marking Pencil (Used to mark the wood for cutting)
  3. Other important accessories:
    1. Gloves, protective glasses and a dust mask. Handling fiberglass can be hazardous and it isn’t too precautious to wear the gloves and mask while working with it.
    2. Packing tape or duct tape. This holds the fabric in place as you work. This is ESSENTIAL if you are using a stretchy fabric like Jet Set.
    3. Black Sharpie (Used to cover staples)
    4. Optional, but HIGHLY recommended: Microphone stands and Mic Clips with screws (Used to hang the panels up for baffling or vocal booths)

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

My awesome helpful father Cutting wood and marking using a template piece
  1. Build your frames
    1. Start by laying down a piece of the fiberglass. Then put the boards around it and measure how long they need to be.
    2. Cut the pieces for one frame (each piece of wood gives you 1 24” piece and 1 49 ¾” piece.)
    3. Evaluate your wood pieces to decide which side should be the front and the back. Cover up any imperfections with the electrical tape.
    4. If these pieces work out properly then use them as templates to mark the other pieces of wood. This saves you time in measuring them out.
    5. Once they are all cut nail them together with two nails at each intersection. Then lay the fiberglass down inside the frame.
    6. Secure the fiberglass to the frame with a nail on each side of the frame. This keeps it a bit more stable.
  2. Fabric
    1. Get out your fabric and cut it into 60” pieces. After cutting your pieces will be 58” X 60”.
    2. The lacy side of the Jet Set Fabric (The 58” side) goes on the top and bottom of the panels.
    3. Set the fabric on the table so one side is just barely hanging off the edge and the other side is hanging off quite a bit.
  3. Making the panel
    1. IF YOU ARE USING A STRETCHY FABRIC you will need to use tape to secure it tightly as you attach the fabric!
    2. Put your Framed panel on top of the fabric.
    3. Fold the fabric doubled up over the frame and staple it across the edge.
    4. Crease the fabric and bring it down the panel. Tape it down as it starts to take form. Staple it only after it is pulled very tight and looks clean.
    5. Now flip the fabric over the top of the panel.
    6. Pull the fabric as TIGHT AS POSSIBLE in the very middle and tape it down. This allows you to get tight seams and a professional look!
    7. TRICKY STEP: Fold the fabric under itself then pull it out so the fabric is as TIGHT AS POSSIBLE on each corner. If you don’t do this it will bunch up and look cheap.
    8. Again, once you have it very tight and no bunches use tape to hold it all in place. Then go and staple the top and bottom down.
    9. Now go to your final edge and pull it tight. Use tape liberally to hold it securely as you work. Did I mention this is the only way to make it look clean 😉
    10. SUCCESS! At this point you are VERY close to having a finished panel. If you are confused see the photos for clarity or leave a comment!
  4. Attaching Picture wire and bumpers
    1. Get out the bumpers. Attach four bumpers to four of the panels 5” from the top and bottom. Then attach four bumpers to the other four panels 6” from the top and bottom. This allows the panels to stack better when alternated.
    2. Attach two screw holes 13 ¼” from the top of each panel. This measurement is very important so panels stay aligned on your walls so be careful!
    3. Get out the picture wire. Pull it through one side, pull it under, put it back through, then twist it around itself at least 6 times for a secure knot. Then use your plyers to crimp the wire together nice and tight.
    4. Pull it out to the other side and cut it at 29”.
    5. Attach this wire the same way. When it’s through be sure to use your plyers to pull it as TIGHT as possible. This will ensure the wires are all the same length and look level when hanging on your wall.
    6. Once it’s pulled tight use your plyers to crimp the wire together tightly.
  5. Finishing touches
    1. If you’ve made it this far you must be EXCITED! Almost there!
    2. Use your black electrical tape to cover the frayed picture wire. This makes it look professional and prevents snags.
    3. Use a black sharpie to color the staples. While not necessary, it does make it look more polished.

THE RESULTS:

Finished DIY Acoustic Panels as a vocal booth attach to microphone stands

Vocal booth and a wall panel in the background

I am amazed at the results of these panels. Not only do they work INFINITELY better than Auralex treatment, they look professional and really make a difference in my room. They also work great as a vocal booth or light baffles. I wish I would have made these YEARS ago.

The 3 lb. density panels absorb enough bass and reflect just enough sound to make the room treated, but not ENTIRELY dead. Make sure you make the frames for your panels. It makes them solid and professional looking and the small amount of reflective space added is well worth the extra stability! It wouldn’t take a lot of tweaking with this design to build a thicker baffle or add lots more Owen’s Corning to make them into a bass trap. See the links below for details on this.

Do yourself a favor and get this done early on in your career. Why would you buy something like one SD Electronics Reflexion for $300 when you can get 8 full sized panels for $70 less??? For less than $250 it’s a no brainer to build these. If you have more money it’s probably a better bet to go with a professional company to save you the time and offer their expertise. However, anyone with some free time that wants to stretch their budget should ABSOLUTELY build their own panels.

I’d like to thank my very supportive dad for taking the time to help me build these things. It made building them way more efficient and fun. I recommend you build these with a friend for the same reasons.

I hope this motivates you to build your own panels. Please share your thoughts, questions and anything else here. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

*UPDATE* – NEW POST – Build your own Foley Pit:  I just wrote steps about building your own Foley Pit! If you love this post, then you’ll really enjoy learning how to make your very own wooden foley box for your home studio!

http://www.playdotsound.com/portfolio-item/build-your-own-foley-pit/

 

LINKS:

Doug Greenlee – Acoustician Professional

http://www.soundkinetics.com/

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ACOUSTICS AND ACOUSTIC PANELS:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/515220-so-say-im-going-start-treating-my-room.html

http://www.readyacoustics.com/education.html

http://gikacoustics.com/education.html

http://www.ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/bass-traps-acoustic-panels-foam-etc/518685-one-more-diy-acoustic-panels-thread.html

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1312693

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=255432

http://www.atsacoustics.com/

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec07/articles/acoustics.htm

 

 

UPDATE

A friend of a friend named Hwbilly Schleifer decided to use these plans to build his own studio treatment! I’m glad people are finding these plans useful. I thought I’d show the photos here so you can see what they look like in different settings!

 

Thanks for visiting the Aaron Brown Sound blog! Come back soon for more posts about video game audio, audio engineering, sound design, composing and all other things relating to being an audio professional 🙂

Linked In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronbrownsound

Demo Reels: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/resume-awards-demo-reel/

About: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/about/

 

 

How to break into the professional audio industry – Find and keep your first video game jobs and recording studio jobs.

If you are reading this then you likely aware of how difficult it can be to get your start as a professional audio engineer. Whether you want to work in recording studios or the games industry, breaking in takes more than just talent and dreams. In this post I’ll give you a lot of tips on how to get your big break and stay employed once you do.

Sampling Spaces (Make your own impulses for convolution reverbs) – Part 2

 

How To Sample Reverb Units In Your DAW
Tutorial: How to sample your Reverb Units to use them in Convolution Reverbs.

Before you haul all of your gear out into the world and attempt to sample real spaces, it is worthwhile to make a few Impulses of reverbs you have in your studio.  I’m aware that convolution reverbs take WAY more CPU than your average reverb unit, but I do think it’s important to follow this guide to really get the process down.  By doing this you can demystify convolution reverb sampling and have a better understanding of how it all works before wasting a lot of time sampling real spaces.  To do this you only need a few things.  Really, it is a pretty simple thing to do.  Let’s get down to business!

List of gear you need to sample a Reverb unit.

  1. DAW and Convolution Reverb unit (Obviously)
    1. I”ll be using REVerence which comes free with Cubase 5.
  2. Hardware or Software Reverb unit.
  3. DeConvolver to decode the recorded signal.
    1. Voxengo DeConvolver – This program is free to try and awesome.  It can generate your sine sweep impulses and DeConvolve sampled spaces so you can put the IRs into your Convolution Reverb Unit.

Once you have the necessary components you can follow these steps to sample a reverb unit.

  • Run Voxengo DeConvolver.  Click the button at the bottom that says Test Tone Gen.
DeConvolver Test Tone Generator
DeConvolver Test Tone Generator
  • Now load the SineSweep into your DAW of choice.  Put the reverb unit you want to sample into the first Plug-in Insert.  I used a Hall Church setting that is in RoomVerb from Cubase 5.  Any reverb unit will work.
    • Set the reverb unit to 100% wet so it will be entirely outputting a reverb signal.  I also recommend turning the volume down to about -8 to allow headroom.
  • Bounce the signal going through your reverb unit.  Be sure to set the bounce region to be long enough to keep the reverb tail.  I left about 2 seconds for the church hall.
  • Take the bounced signal and import it into Voxengo DeConvolver to DeConvolve the signal.  First load your original Sine Sweep test tone file at the top, then load the bounced signal into the program.  See the screenshot below for my settings.
    • Click process to generate your very own Impulse Response file!

CONGRATULATIONS!  You have just taken the steps to make your very own Impulse Responses for convolution reverbs.  That wasn’t so bad was it??

  • Now make a new track in your DAW with a convolution reverb.  Import the IR into your Convolution Reverb and you are ready to hear your sampled room at work.  After comparison you can hear that they are almost exactly alike.
Sampling Reverb Units in Cubase 5
Screenshot of Sampling Reverb Units in Cubase 5

This process isn’t limited to reverb units!

That’s right!  You can sample EQs, your favorite filter settings, or really anything you can put as an insert.  This is where you can start to get creative.  I hope this has demystified the process of sampling reverbs for you all.  I also hope you all start to get creative with this process.  If you do please take the time to comment and let me know what you’ve come up with.

Now that you know how to sample gear, you can use similar steps to sample real world spaces.  Stay tuned to the blog for Part 3 where I’ll show details on how to sample an acoustic space using a variety of gear.  This is where it will start to get REALLY useful.

-Aaron B

 

Thanks for visiting the Aaron Brown Sound blog! Come back soon for more posts about video game audio, audio engineering, sound design, composing and all other things relating to being an audio professional 🙂

Linked In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronbrownsound

Demo Reels: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/resume-awards-demo-reel/

About: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/about/

Sampling Spaces (Make your own impulses for convolution reverbs) – Part 1

iPhone microphone - FFT Analysis
iPhone microphone – FFT Analysis

Places with interesting acoustic properties have always been interesting to people around the globe: Cavernous canyons have mystical qualities, old churches can produce heavenly reverbs, and large man made halls can all create larger than life sounds. All of these spaces can be useful to audio engineers, but until fairly recently it was extremely hard to reproduce the exact properties of a particular acoustic space. Can you imagine how useful it would be to “sample” a room’s properties and recreate it anywhere and at anytime? Now, with so many convolution reverbs available to audio engineers, it has never been easier to do! You only need a few things to start creating your own impulse responses! Ahhh, what a great time to be an audio engineer.

I’ve recently decided to start sampling spaces. As a sound designer and musician these will be useful in many ways. For example, I can sample a world class recording studio to give samples a more realistic room sound. Outdoor canyons can give an extra touch of realism to a space. I can also sample a trash can to see what texture that can add to my mixes.  Another use is to sample locations you have recorded in so you can simulate them later for overdubbing or post.  There are a multitude of creative applications for convolution reverbs.  So why is it that none of the audio engineers I know take the time to record their own impulse responses for convolution reverbs?

Over the years i have come to realize that if things aren’t simple and easily accessible they don’t get done. Now re-read that last sentence and really internalize it. To demonstrate this try putting your instrument out in the open for a week and see how often it gets played. Now take the same instrument, put it in it’s case and keep track of how often you play it. I guarantee you play it more when it is readily available.

It is for this reason that I’m making a simple tutorial on how to sample your own acoustic spaces. I will attempt to sample a variety of spaces using a variety of gear; iPhone, portable PA (crate taxi), Microtrack, MBox, Rode NT4 and Studio Projects C4 microphones. These results should tell you what results you can get from these devices. They should also give you all the information you need to make your very own impulse responses!

I will create the steps over a series of posts since otherwise this would be one giant post.  Stay tuned for more soon!

-Aaron

 

Thanks for visiting the Aaron Brown Sound blog! Come back soon for more posts about video game audio, audio engineering, sound design, composing and all other things relating to being an audio professional 🙂

Linked In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronbrownsound

Demo Reels: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/resume-awards-demo-reel/

About: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/about/

Banshee Talk Box – Part 1

Ever since I heard Daft Punk’s “Around The World” I have wanted to recreate that sound.   Now I can finally make this sound and you can too!  Last week I broke down and bought a used Rocktron Banshee talk box!   Since it was used I had to buy a replacement tube at Home Depot. I just received the power supply i bought online (It takes a 2000 ma 9V adapter).  Now it is as good as new and I’m ready to rock!!!  Behold, the Rocktron Banshee in all is glory!

 

Rocktron Banshee Talk Box
Rocktron Banshee Talk Box

For those of you who don’t know the difference between Talkboxes, Autotuning and Vocoders I’ll quickly explain what kind of sounds they make.   I will attempt to simplify this as much as possible.  There are plenty of resources online to get more detailed info about their history and how they actually work.  Videos of the Talk Box in use coming soon!

  • Vocoders: These are processors that make voices sound robotic and synthetic.  To oversimplify a very complex effect, vocoders essentially take a voice, modulate it with another sound source that has been divided into frequency bands,  add some noise and let you control the levels of each sound.   Most of today’s vocoders allow you to control the pitch of the signal and even play combinations of notes.
    • Example: Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
    • Vocoders available to buy: Waves Morphoder (plug in), Native Instuments Vokator (plug in), Prosoniq Orange Vocoder (plug in), Nord Modular (hardware), Electro Harmonix Voice Box (Stomp Box).
  • Autotune: Autotune is an effect that has become used in most recordings these days.  These work by taking a signal, defining a set of notes that the sound can use, and only allowing the signal to use those notes.  Many autotune devices can also be used with a keyboard to retune the vocal live, or in a sequencer, based on the notes being triggered while the signal is playing.  Their sound ranges from subtle pitch correction to inhuman-like  pitch accuracy and vibrato.   It sounds less robotic than vocoders has a high intelligibility.
  • Talk Boxes: This is the sound I’ve wanted for so long.  Talk boxes take an amplified signal, put it through a tube that goes to your mouth, and let you use your mouth as a filter.   Microphones are only used to record the signal or send it to a PA.  The sounds you can make with them range from simple formant filter (A, E, O, etc) to forming words while you play an instrument.  It is most typically used with distorted guitars or synthesizers.  It is important to note that TalkBoxes can only exist in hardware unlike Vocoders and Autotune devices.  Since your mouth is the filter it has to be a signal sent to your mouth to form that signal into words or formants.  It is for this reason that Talk Boxes tend to sound like talking instruments more than processed voice.  I guess it could be a virtual plug in if someone with years of free time could synthesize the human voice, create a digital representation of the mouth cavity, create words in real time, and side chain in a signal….  That’s a lot of work for something so simple.  I recommend we quit trying to make everything a VST and accept that some things make more sense to exist as hardware.
    • Examples: 2 Pac “California Love”
    • Talk Box devices available to buy: Rocktron Banshee, Heil Talk Box, Dan Electro Free Speech, Custom Built.
      • Personally, I like the banshee option the most for it’s blend of simplicity and tone.  Heil seems to have better tone, but there is more set up hassle involved.  Dan Electro is commonly reviewed as the cheaper lesser option.  There are a few tutorials online to build your own for cheap.  If you do this I’d love to hear your results.

Come back soon to hear a demo of the Rocktron Banshee in a video demo!  Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

Thanks for visiting the Aaron Brown Sound blog! Come back soon for more posts about video game audio, audio engineering, sound design, composing and all other things relating to being an audio professional 🙂

Linked In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronbrownsound

Demo Reels: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/resume-awards-demo-reel/

About: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/about/

Intonation – Fix your pitch

Intonation Matters!
Intonation Matters!  Do you want the notes on your killer solo to be this out of tune?

Have you ever picked up an stringed instrument that seems in tune, but as you play some chords up the neck it begins to sound out of tune?  Perhaps you started to play a great lick only to find it just sounds kind of flat.  I know I have and I used to blame cheap instruments and poor craftsmanship. As it turns out this could just mean the instrument isn’t set up properly.  If you try to record an instrument that isn’t set up you will quickly find that tuning becomes a big issue.  Playing with other people is also difficult because your tuning changes while theirs may be constantly in tune.  The good news is that this can be very easy to fix!

Intonation is one of the most important things to understand with many stringed instruments. Electric guitars, bass guitars, and even instruments like banjos all have adjustable intonation. Instruments like acoustic guitars make it much more difficult to adjust the intonation and will require help from a luthier. This is because the bridge on acoustics isn’t easily adjustable like those on electric guitars.

How to adjust intonation:

You can test your instruments intonation by tuning the first open string correctly then playing the 12th fret on that string to see if it is still in tune. If the 12th fret note is sharp then your string length needs to be longer. If the 12th fret note is flat then the string needs to be shorter.  Adjust the bridge of your instrument appropriately. Now re-tune the string and test again. Once it is in tune on the open fret and 12th fret you can move on to the next one. Do this for all of the strings on your instrument and **BAM** you’ll have a properly tuned instrument ready to rock!

Note that none of this covers the action of the guitar .  That is a different issue that is also very important.  I may make a post on this later.

A smart man once said a picture is worth a thousand words.  Below you will find a few pictures to show you exactly what I mean 🙂

Examples:

Here is a diagram of how to adjust the intonation on a banjo.

Bridge of a banjo
Bridge of a banjo

Electric instruments usually just need a regular or small screwdriver to adjust their intonation.  Follow the same steps as above and do each string one at a time.  You’ll have a properly tuned  instrument in no time!  One thing worth mentioning is that you don’t want to press too hard on the 12th fret while making these adjustments.  If you press too hard it will bend the string and produce a sharper pitch than you normally do while playing the guitar.  Just try to press the 12th fret as hard as you would playing normally.

Fender Fat Strat - Bridge properly intonated
Fender Fat Strat Bridge – This is what mine looks like with good intonation. 
Bass Guitar Bridge - Ibanez GSR200
Bass Guitar Bridge – Properly intonated Ibanez GSR200.

It should be just as in tune on an open string as it is on the same strings 12th fret of your instrument.  I know it’s not perfect in these screenshots, but it’s really hard to get a screenshot while it’s perfectly in tune.
Here are snapshots I took of what the tuning should look like on a tuner using GuitarToolkit on my iPhone.   It’s a great tool!  Buy it if you have an iPhone.  You won’t regret it 🙂

6th string in tune on the guitar
Tuning 6th String
6th string 12th fret in tune on the guitar
12th fret of the 6th string also in tune on the guitar.  This proves that the 6th string is properly intonated.

Video demonstration coming soon!

I’d like to thank the good people at Exploring Music for showing me how to properly set up my banjo. They have very helpful employees and cheap lessons. I took a few violin lessons there and I plan on returning!

-Aaron B.

 

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