Hearing dangers during sound desing

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RobC
Posts: 676
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

21 May 2018

It's great that our brain adapts to sound, but it's not very beneficial during sound design. You can get so used to the sound, that you end up filtering out a lot of highs for example and it will sound excellent to you ~ as long as you don't start comparing to other sounds, or rest a bit, then come back to check again.

Kind of like the restroom effect. You get used to things while minding your own business. If you leave for a few minutes and have to go back again, you will notice what you got used to earlier.

So yeah, in the end, the sound might be quite off. So we definitely need a bit of hearing-flushing. But what would be the ideal sound for that in case of electronic music? Listening to some noise, sine wave sweeps, that go up and down between 20 Hz and 20 kHz? We're talking synthesized sounds here, so the "normal" sounding reference would make sense to be synthesizer-generated. So it's not like "listen to an ideal recording of somebody saying 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."" Maybe for a vocal check it would work, but synthesized sounds rather seem like a whole different universe. Sure, there is no right or wrong, but I don't want it to be overly unusual either. Something rather natural.

jimmyklane
Posts: 540
Joined: 16 Apr 2018

21 May 2018

RobC wrote:
21 May 2018
It's great that our brain adapts to sound, but it's not very beneficial during sound design. You can get so used to the sound, that you end up filtering out a lot of highs for example and it will sound excellent to you ~ as long as you don't start comparing to other sounds, or rest a bit, then come back to check again.

Kind of like the restroom effect. You get used to things while minding your own business. If you leave for a few minutes and have to go back again, you will notice what you got used to earlier.

So yeah, in the end, the sound might be quite off. So we definitely need a bit of hearing-flushing. But what would be the ideal sound for that in case of electronic music? Listening to some noise, sine wave sweeps, that go up and down between 20 Hz and 20 kHz? We're talking synthesized sounds here, so the "normal" sounding reference would make sense to be synthesizer-generated. So it's not like "listen to an ideal recording of somebody saying 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."" Maybe for a vocal check it would work, but synthesized sounds rather seem like a whole different universe. Sure, there is no right or wrong, but I don't want it to be overly unusual either. Something rather natural.
If you’re talking about ear-fatigue, time is the only cure.
If you’re speaking of what reference you should use to compare your music/sound design to, I would suggest that you pick a favorite artist, composer, or sound designer and dissect what you love about their sound.

Movies, video games, ambient music....all are deep with sound design.

I’ve yet to find that I “overcook” a sound-design patch. I’ve done this with a mix plenty of times...EQ and compression get more and more extreme as your ears get tired, however since you’re pretty much constantly changing things when designing sounds (and I’d ask for what purpose are you engaging in sound design?) even complimentary sounds tend to come out OK.

A suggestion: try becoming intimately familiar with ONE synth...you’ll then know what it’s capable of. Exhaust every trick before turning to EQ, compression, or even effects. Once you have the basic idea created in the synthesizer, then sweeten the sound using processing.
DAW: Reason 10,

SAMPLERS: Akai MPC 2000, E-mu SP1200, E-Mu e5000Ultra, Ensoniq EPS 16+, Akai S950, Maschine

SYNTHS: Mostly classic Polysynths and more modern Monosynths. All are mostly food for my samplers!

www.soundcloud.com/jimmyklane

User avatar
normen
Posts: 3251
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

21 May 2018

Don't listen too loud, don't listen too long and definitely check back what you did a day later. When the Aphex Aural Exciter came out there was a LOT of albums where they didn't do that - bit by bit they turned that darn thing up so much during the mixing session that it hurts ;)

RobC
Posts: 676
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

21 May 2018

jimmyklane wrote:
21 May 2018
RobC wrote:
21 May 2018
It's great that our brain adapts to sound, but it's not very beneficial during sound design. You can get so used to the sound, that you end up filtering out a lot of highs for example and it will sound excellent to you ~ as long as you don't start comparing to other sounds, or rest a bit, then come back to check again.

Kind of like the restroom effect. You get used to things while minding your own business. If you leave for a few minutes and have to go back again, you will notice what you got used to earlier.

So yeah, in the end, the sound might be quite off. So we definitely need a bit of hearing-flushing. But what would be the ideal sound for that in case of electronic music? Listening to some noise, sine wave sweeps, that go up and down between 20 Hz and 20 kHz? We're talking synthesized sounds here, so the "normal" sounding reference would make sense to be synthesizer-generated. So it's not like "listen to an ideal recording of somebody saying 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."" Maybe for a vocal check it would work, but synthesized sounds rather seem like a whole different universe. Sure, there is no right or wrong, but I don't want it to be overly unusual either. Something rather natural.
If you’re talking about ear-fatigue, time is the only cure.
If you’re speaking of what reference you should use to compare your music/sound design to, I would suggest that you pick a favorite artist, composer, or sound designer and dissect what you love about their sound.

Movies, video games, ambient music....all are deep with sound design.

I’ve yet to find that I “overcook” a sound-design patch. I’ve done this with a mix plenty of times...EQ and compression get more and more extreme as your ears get tired, however since you’re pretty much constantly changing things when designing sounds (and I’d ask for what purpose are you engaging in sound design?) even complimentary sounds tend to come out OK.

A suggestion: try becoming intimately familiar with ONE synth...you’ll then know what it’s capable of. Exhaust every trick before turning to EQ, compression, or even effects. Once you have the basic idea created in the synthesizer, then sweeten the sound using processing.
Well, reference as in something that refreshes my hearing, for a reality check, because in the past it happened that I got so used to the sound, especially melodic leads, that in the end, there wasn't much going on in the highs. But can happen with other frequencies, too. I mostly create sounds from scratch, so there's everything from drums, SFX, melodic synths.
Is 11 years with subtractor intimate enough? : )
Of course, I may sound like a noob like this, but thing is, my knowledge is like a tree, full of fruits and leaves, but yeah, a few roots are missing - though sometimes I'm looking for things that are either impossible, or don't exist.

RobC
Posts: 676
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

21 May 2018

normen wrote:
21 May 2018
Don't listen too loud, don't listen too long and definitely check back what you did a day later. When the Aphex Aural Exciter came out there was a LOT of albums where they didn't do that - bit by bit they turned that darn thing up so much during the mixing session that it hurts ;)
I hear nothing beats Metallica's Death Magnetic when it comes to poor sound. xD

I try, but sadly problems still can happen, so I was looking for if there maybe is some commonly used sound ~ I heard some listen to pink noise, but meh... it just sounds, 'off'. Sweeping a sinewave sounds too raw - though I must admit, if you create a generic sine-wave organ, with one sine wave for each octave, it certainly sounds nice and full.

Eh, I guess there is no easy way out. It's just that I don't like comparing to other people's works, because like that suggested headphone from the other day showed, people's hearings can be drastically different, and to some degree will always leave a mark on what they work on.

jimmyklane
Posts: 540
Joined: 16 Apr 2018

21 May 2018

RobC wrote:
21 May 2018
Well, reference as in something that refreshes my hearing, for a reality check, because in the past it happened that I got so used to the sound, especially melodic leads, that in the end, there wasn't much going on in the highs. But can happen with other frequencies, too. I mostly create sounds from scratch, so there's everything from drums, SFX, melodic synths.
Is 11 years with subtractor intimate enough? : )
Of course, I may sound like a noob like this, but thing is, my knowledge is like a tree, full of fruits and leaves, but yeah, a few roots are missing - though sometimes I'm looking for things that are either impossible, or don't exist.
Ok, I see. I’d recommend artists that you find inspiring, keeping in mind that you’re listening to a mixed and mastered album....and yes, I’d guess that you know Subtractor well enough :-) (did you like my video on it???)

You’re talking about a FORM of ear fatigue. This happens to mix engineers all the time and is a myopic concentration on the minutiae of a mix or sound. For example, thinking that anybody but you will notice that extra .25dB of 16k on the HH!!! Perhaps you could save patches in sections like I do:

Melodic lead-1
Melodic lead-2
Melodic lead-3
Etc.
DAW: Reason 10,

SAMPLERS: Akai MPC 2000, E-mu SP1200, E-Mu e5000Ultra, Ensoniq EPS 16+, Akai S950, Maschine

SYNTHS: Mostly classic Polysynths and more modern Monosynths. All are mostly food for my samplers!

www.soundcloud.com/jimmyklane

RobC
Posts: 676
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

22 May 2018

jimmyklane wrote:
21 May 2018
RobC wrote:
21 May 2018
Well, reference as in something that refreshes my hearing, for a reality check, because in the past it happened that I got so used to the sound, especially melodic leads, that in the end, there wasn't much going on in the highs. But can happen with other frequencies, too. I mostly create sounds from scratch, so there's everything from drums, SFX, melodic synths.
Is 11 years with subtractor intimate enough? : )
Of course, I may sound like a noob like this, but thing is, my knowledge is like a tree, full of fruits and leaves, but yeah, a few roots are missing - though sometimes I'm looking for things that are either impossible, or don't exist.
Ok, I see. I’d recommend artists that you find inspiring, keeping in mind that you’re listening to a mixed and mastered album....and yes, I’d guess that you know Subtractor well enough :-) (did you like my video on it???)

You’re talking about a FORM of ear fatigue. This happens to mix engineers all the time and is a myopic concentration on the minutiae of a mix or sound. For example, thinking that anybody but you will notice that extra .25dB of 16k on the HH!!! Perhaps you could save patches in sections like I do:

Melodic lead-1
Melodic lead-2
Melodic lead-3
Etc.
Where's the ease of access? Idiots can't watch your video without an easily findable link! xD
I do understand, but I wanted to create my own sound ~ I kind of feel like I would copy engineers that way.
Interesting; I might have mixed hats either loud or quiet in the past due to such effect, though I don't remember anymore.

Honestly, after a while, I used Subtractor to generate a rich, static sound (almost like a wavetable), then load that into NN-XT for further work.

Such as this (might be very loud!)



Here's a simple end result (aside the Delay, it uses zero effects - except my own) ~ might be very quiet...


User avatar
selig
Moderator
Posts: 6634
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

22 May 2018

Just take breaks, know your monitors, know your synths. Yea, it's tough when you're asked to produce 100 patches for a synth in a few weeks, but that's the job! Those who do it better get more work.

If you're getting THAT far off, you definitely need to take more breaks. Try working more quickly on each patch, moving on to the next before the first is finished, then coming back around to make final adjustments.

Once again, I don't know that there are any shortcuts to this process, there no magic sound to clear your ears - the best suggestions here are to listen to NO sound once you loose perspective. Listening to white noise or similar just continues to fatigue your ears and potentially cloud your judgement IMO.

Using references only works up to the point you get tired/fatigued. Taking a break works wonders for me for both sound design and mixing.
:)
Selig Audio, LLC

RobC
Posts: 676
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

22 May 2018

selig wrote:
22 May 2018
Just take breaks, know your monitors, know your synths. Yea, it's tough when you're asked to produce 100 patches for a synth in a few weeks, but that's the job! Those who do it better get more work.

If you're getting THAT far off, you definitely need to take more breaks. Try working more quickly on each patch, moving on to the next before the first is finished, then coming back around to make final adjustments.

Once again, I don't know that there are any shortcuts to this process, there no magic sound to clear your ears - the best suggestions here are to listen to NO sound once you loose perspective. Listening to white noise or similar just continues to fatigue your ears and potentially cloud your judgement IMO.

Using references only works up to the point you get tired/fatigued. Taking a break works wonders for me for both sound design and mixing.
:)
Oh, you already know I suck at finding any audio related work, anyway ~ so I don't even get as far as such job to apply for.

Hold on a minute, the 'knock' sound is part of that synth - you don't expect high frequencies when you knock on a door, right? This was just an example how I started off with subtractor, then finished in NN-XT with a raw, unprocessed loop. Plus this was the first part of a verse, where it was rather calm, under filter linked with the mod wheel, where it just subtly rose and touched the air. Also, made in 2015. - Not that it matters how I explain - shitty music and sound didn't gain much interest anyway. xD

Silence it is, then. ~ The reason I was thinking of the sine wave sweep, because generally that's what sounds normal for the synthesized realm with its purest sound.

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