Steve Bullock
+ Your AuthorsArchive @GuitarMoog New Album, One Thousand Days, out now exclusively through @EUCitizensChamp (link below). 100% of proceeds fo to @the3million. Sep. 02, 2019 2 min read

Sound Engineering & Brexit thread.

The sound of the protesters seemed pretty quiet during Johnson's speech, didn't it?

The job of the audio engineers on the scene and in TV studios is to make the speaker intelligible, not to reflect how it sounded.

So, the mics are very directional and close to Johnson (looks like about 50cm away) so that they pick up the minimum of unwanted ambient sound and the most of what is wanted - the speaker's voice.

News channels may have ambient mics up, or be using the mics on their cameras as well, but this would be blended in only to give just a sense of the background sounds, and no broadcast engineer worth their salt would let that overwhelm the speaker's voice if they could avoid.

The main speech mics will also be treated with compressors to enhance the intelligibility, clarity and perceived loudness of the voice, while the same compressors will be used in the opposite way to limit the background noise.

Background noise reduction plugins such as Izotope's RX suite may also have been used on the main mics, and they will have also, I'd imagine, have been equalised to cut unwanted frequencies.

This is the job of the audio engineers BTW. sound quality is not a political but a technical issue.

It does mean though that you don't get a realistic sense of what it may have been like if you were actually there though.

But, using similar processes of compression, limiting, and EQ, we can reverse engineer the audio to give a possibly more realistic sense of how it may have sounded on the spot.

Like this.

As this is necessarily a best-guess, I'm very happy to hear from anyone who was actually there whether this is indeed a more realistic version of the experience as it happened or if I've overdone it (as it's so easy to do with audio processing).

Always remember that anywhere mics are involved, relative volumes of different sounds become a moving target.

Mics and audio processing are designed for a specific, efficient purpose, not to give a realistic sense of what it really sounded like to human ears.

PS, as this thread is getting a lot more attention than I expected, just want to say again that I'm not accusing any network or engineers of skulduggery or anything. That it was so intelligible means they did their job very well indeed.

You can follow @GuitarMoog.


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