All about producing and mastering audio for disc, the web and beyond

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The relevance of science

Teaching mastering is one of the more interesting things I have taken on in the past few years at the physical campus at Berklee and I also authored a course for the online school. There are a number of things that make this challenging, particularly since any creative endeavor usually requires years of practice to 'get good' at it. Teaching the principals involved and some of the protocols is not so difficult it turns out.

The on aspect of the subject that seems to consistently elude students is when it comes to teaching the underlying science, either as it relates to digital audio or to the equipment brought to bear in each task. Sometimes the understanding of even the most essential things like sample rate and bit depth seem so, well, dry and seemingly irrelevant. Yet in my mind that understanding that is one of the items that separates the mastering engineers from wannabees. Why? Because good audio hygiene, when practiced properly, will yield louder, clearer and arguably more compelling results, and to my mind you can't really keep your eyes on your audio hygiene without looking under the hood so you understand not only what you are doing but WHY you are doing it.

So I torture students with details about the what and the why. Sometimes I see the light bulbs go on. That's gratifying and so I persist....

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