Sound Design – Initial Feedback

Last Thursday (02/05), we had the opportunity to listen to each others work in progress as a group (very near to completion for most) and give some feedback to each other. I was quite happy with the feedback I received. I was a little disappointed that when I played my mix in the studio, even though I had mixed it on 3 sets of studio monitors, the bass was totally overwhelming and smothered the rest of the sounds to a point where you could not hear them anymore. This was not the intention as I wanted the other higher frequency sounds to shine through. The sub-woofer in NUA’s recording studio is the size of a small fridge, and low frequencies that do not play back on other systems, play back clearly through these speakers. To listen to this in this enclosed space was quite difficult to bare as the sound was overwhelming.

The feedback was as follows:

  • Josh – The pulsation of the bass was very effective, especially with the changes in speed (LFO) of the waveform. There was organic detail within the sounds and the structure was good.
  • Me – Bass wipes out the detail – all sounds were recorded in my home apart from one.
  • Iain – “Base” from which the rest emerges, which was painful in a confined space. It worked well with the different waves of sound and throbbing. A bit tired in the middle part with the ice-cube sounds which went on for too long.
  • Tracey – Impressive but an endurance test. Could subtly tweak some sounds and reduce the bass levels.
  • Suzie – An experience. Good structure and it has created a very organic feel. Some changes to structure so the piece opens out more near the end, representing the expansion of the universe. Also reduce the bass, it may be breaching health and safety and the piece may be damaging to people’s health.

All in all, some very positive feedback, which raised some good points about the final piece. I was told that it would be a pass at this stage, but I wanted the feedback to make any final tweaks before submission to the final piece.

I am glad to have gone through this process as it gave me an opportunity to listen on yet another set of speakers, for which I got a different mix to what I was expecting. I will be making some adjustments to the piece based on this session. First of all, I shall be reducing the bass, so it doesn’t have as low an end to the frequencies which overwhelms the rest of the mix. Secondly I am going to change the structure slightly so as the sounds start off incredibly intense as they are now, but open the sounds out more to represent the opening out of space in the universe. Other than that, a few tweaks will be made to the mix.

As far as the bass is concerened, although I have reduced it in the mix for this recording in particular, this qoute sums up the reality of the research:

As the universe cooled and expanded, it stretched the wavelengths to create “more of a bass instrument,” Cramer said. The sound gets lower as the wavelengths are stretched farther, and at first it gets louder but then gradually fades. The sound was, in fact, so “bass” that he had to boost the frequency 100 septillion times (that’s a 100 followed by 24 more zeroes) just to get the recordings into a range where they can be heard by humans. (Cramer, 2013)

I’m very happy with the initial response I received as the comments were mostly positive. I want this sound piece to be an experience and utilise some new recording techniques I have never tried before – to that extent I feel I have achieved what I set out to do and am very happy. The piece was never going to be easy listening!

Listening to the sound of the Big Bang –

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