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Synthtopia features Twinthesis

Twinthesis has been featured on Synthtopia, take a look here: http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2011/03/15/twinthesis/

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Posted in Press & Media

Twinthesis : Twitter Powered Synthesis

Twinthesis is a MaxMSP patch I designed to explore the ‘sound’ of twitter, in an attempt to sonify the human randomness being generated on the service. This post is a quick overview of the synthesis engine, as well as a quick video outlining the features and concepts behind the patch. You can then download the synthesiser as a Mac application.

 

The aims of this project, are to create a synthesiser capable of both additive and granular synthesis using live tweets to generate and manipulate the sound. The synthesiser currently calls twitter once every 30 seconds, so a new tweet is used to generate the sound every 30 seconds. The synthesis engine, has an element of performance to it, and can be used to create experimental music. An example of experimental music created by the synthesis engine is here:

Twinthesis by TheHarmonizer

A full scientific paper and report can be downloaded about twinthesis, detailing aspects of how the patch works, and certain constraints of the project in it’s current state. Please note, this synthesiser is still in development and can be considered an experimental BETA version as released below. On a Mac the sound defaults to the ‘core-audio built in output’ at the moment.

Download – Scientific Paper / Report

Download - Twinthesis Application (Mac OS X Only)

As always, I appreciate all your interest in this project and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have, either in the comments below or via the contact page. I am also willing to share the MaxMSP patches upon request.

Many Thanks once again for reading!

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Posted in Portfolio

Klang Ultrasonic Speaker

Klang Ultrasonic Speaker

These new speakers are currently being prototyped by Bang & Olufsen, dubbed the ‘Klang’ speakers they offer the ability to listen to music as loud as you want without disturbing anyone else. Sounds interesting, so how do they claim to work?

Essentially, they use a 30kHz frequency to beam an ‘audible wave’ to a single point. As we know, humans can only hear within a frequency range from 20Hz – 20kHz. The 30kHz wave produced here is above our audible threshold, hence ‘ultrasonic’. But these speakers work by exploiting the ultrasonic wave and splitting into three parts. This effectively produces an audible wave encapsulated by two inaudible waves. The sound will only be heard when it hits an obstruction (your ear for instance) and the encapsulation is broken.

This technology could potentially change the way we are able to use and interact with sound. For example, a sound wave could be directly transmitted to the ear, without being affected by any room modes. Thus potentially enabling us to hear sound, without it being ‘coloured’ by an acoustic environment. One of the other possibilities of course is a much more vivid stereo listening experience, akin to that of headphones, which in turn would enable binaural recordings to be heard properly through a set of speakers.

An interesting development in the industry, and one to keep an eye on in the future!

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Posted in Informative

RMS Amplitude Investigation: Professional vs Amateur recordings.

This report is an initial investigation into the differences in RMS amplitude between professional and amateur recordings. It was an investigation I conducted in my second year of studies at Bournemouth University. It had been mentioned to me by many industry professionals that the use of compression to boost a tracks volume was becoming more and more apparent in modern day studio recordings. I wanted to find some proof of this, and so i undertook the study comparing professional and amateur recordings. The investigation is available to view and download below.

PDF Format - RMS Amplitude Investigation

Please feel free to use the investigation and reference to it if applicable, but do bear in mind that this was produced as part of a university assessment and certain constraints were applied, these are detailed fully within the document. Finally, this report should be viewed as a preliminary investigation only, due to the small sample sizes used for analysis.

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Posted in Portfolio

What is Sound?

This post will cover the very basic rules of sound. One of the most important things to realise is that if you do not know the basic definition of sound and how it works, you’re career as a sound engineer will be very limited! So without further ado, What exactly is sound?

A sound is generated by vibration. Any moving object can cause sound to be created, and this sound is transferred by the vibration of air particles around a given object. Think of it as the ripple effect you get if you drop a pebble into some water. The same thing happens with the air around the source of a sound. The image below should help to visualise this.

So these ripples, are actually more commonly referred to as sound waves. To understand how sound waves are plotted on a graph we must first look at how the air particles are affected by the source of the sound. If you look at the image above, you can see the ripples clearly, and you can see the spaces in-between the ripples. If we think back to the water example, the ripples actually contain more water than the spaces in-between them, creating the visual affect you see above. The same is true of the air particles affected by the source of a sound, except of course there is no visual effect.

It is at this point important to note that sound waves, and ripples in water are technically different. Ripples within water are known as transverse waves, where as sound waves are actually longitudinal waves. The difference being that in a transverse wave (water) the particle displacement is perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation, whereas in a longitudinal wave the particle displacement is parallel to the direction of wave propagation.

So, air particles will bunch together at the height of the wave, and move further apart between the peaks of the wave creating alternating high and low pressure. This is known as compression (bunching together to create high pressure) and rarefaction (moving apart to create low pressure). This is the fundamental reason that we are able to hear sound.

The diagram above shows the compressed (or condensed) air as the darker, more dense specs that correspond with the peaks of the sound wave. The rarefaction can be seen as the more sparse lighter specs corresponding with the troughs of the sound wave. These specs represent the number of air particles, but it is important to note that it is NOT the air particles that are moving, it is the disturbance. The individual air particles are simply oscillating back and forth from their original position (known as their equilibrium).

So, these waves of alternating high and low pressure are what travel through the air, at a speed of ~340 meters per second, towards your ear. We will talk about exactly how these sounds are captured in more depth in a later post, both by your ear and by a microphone. But for the sake of completeness, your ear has a drum with a very fragile membrane stretched across which moves in and out according to the alternating air pressure. Your brain then receives this signal as an audible sound. Again, this is an incredibly simplistic explanation of a very intricate and complex process, so more information on this will be coming soon.

I think this post sums up the very basics of what sound is, so I shall leave it there. You must remember that sound is a very complex thing so I will try to cover things one small step at a time. Next post I will go into more detail about sound waves, and the various properties and elements that eventually translate into a pitch that you can hear.

For now, thank you very much for reading. If you see any mistakes or have any feedback, I cannot encourage you enough to let me know in the comments below or to my twitter account @sammio2

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