“Can you hear me up the back”
How often do you hear a piece of audio that just isn’t bright enough? Or you think to yourself, I thought that voice over guy had a Boomy voice? It’s important to make sure that voice and in particular dialogue, can be heard clearly.
I remember when I was first mixing sound on a Theatre Restaurant Tour of Australia, straight after school. I used to try and get all the vocals to be warm and fuzzy just like the CD’s I loved so much. But I quickly learned, that all of the funny gags in the dialogue would be completely missed in a crowd of drunkards if there wasn’t enough cut (that is to say treble) and curiously I learned that the more people in the room, the more treble required. It wasn’t just about noise, but the punters really soaked up the sound and gave it plenty of bass that made it sound all… ‘Wooley’. (Now you know why I choose that image)
What is EQ, where does the word Equalisation come from? Well it dates back to the early days of the telephone, when it described the process of correcting for — or ‘equalising’ — tonal changes caused by losses in the long telephone lines. Wow nice history lesson. However, today the term is more generally used to cover all types of audio ‘tone’ controls. Basically we’re talking about a frequency–selective filter that’s able to cut or boost the level of specified parts of the audio spectrum.
Quick one for the ‘Tech Head’ A simple equaliser consists of a capacitor and a resistor. With the resistor in series and the capacitor linking the output to ground, you get a high–cut filter that’s just like the tone control you find on an electric guitar — that is to say, one that filters out the higher frequencies. Putting the capacitor in series and the resistor to ground, that cuts out lower frequencies.
How many times on the freeway have you missed the critical set up of a story arc, the long awaited punch to a lengthy sketch. Make the voices heard!
So if it’s radio, TV or making the School Musical come alive, make sure you have someone who really understands where your audio is going to be played and how the audience will be hearing it, in the car, in a shop or in the park. Someone who cares passionately about taking themselves to that spot and then mixes with those ears. It’s makes a difference.
Dan King is Sound Designer for FOX8 & Arena at Foxtel and former Imaging Producer for Nova Entertainment, SCA, ARN and Authentic Entertainment. Also voice over, composer and musician at www.dankingproductions.com.au