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Music Cognition and Psychoacoustic Research: An Interview with Dr. Susan Rogers

Posted by on May 26, 2016 | 2 comments

For this month’s theme of “Research”, Dr. Susan Rogers was kind enough to answer our questions about her work and research in music cognition and psychoacoustics. Susan Rogers holds a doctorate in cognitive psychology from McGill University (2010). Prior to her science career, Susan was a multiplatinum-earning record producer, recording engineer, mixer and audio technician. She is currently an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music, Boston, teaching music cognition, psychoacoustics, and record production. She is the director of the Berklee Music Perception & Cognition Laboratory where she studies auditory processing in musicians.

Dr. Susan Rogers

Dr. Susan Rogers – credit Jandro Cisneros









Designing Sound: What drew you towards the subject of psychoacoustics and music cognition?

Dr. Susan Rogers: I have an engineer’s mind. I like understanding mechanisms and processes. I also have a scientist’s mind because I am curious about natural phenomena. Auditory science and brain science attract similar kinds of thinkers — those who are ok with imagining the mechanism and process. We typically don’t view air pressure variations, electrons or nerve spikes in action; we must often infer the process from the resulting behavior or event. Short answer is that it’s just fun.


News: The AudioVR Network

Posted by on May 24, 2016 | 1 comment

The name AudioVR sits next to a pair of headphones wrapped around a virtual reality device. Article by Adriane Kuzminski.

Photo: AudioVR


Co-founders Jesse Holt, Chris Hegstrom, and Jacob Pernell would like to invite you to join their new network, AudioVR. Virtual reality is in its infancy, ready to be molded and defined by passionate and talented communities, and AudioVR aims to be the hub where sound pros can translate their past roles and redefine audio for the future of VR development.

Currently, they have a VR audio news blog, an upcoming podcast and newsletter, a growing Slack group and Facebook group where you can meet other audio pros and nerd out about the newest updates and games, and local Meetup groups for those who’d like to talk shop over a pint. Currently, meetup groups only exist in the US and the UK, but if you are interested in starting an AudioVR meetup in your area, contact them and let them know!

So if VR makes you excited – as a musician, producer, engineer, audio designer or audio programmer – check out the AudioVR community and help them discuss, collaborate, educate and define the future of VR audio.


New SFX Libraries: April Recap

Posted by on May 23, 2016 | 0 comments

Three boom mics sit on a rocky beach facing a choppy sea underneath a blanket of dark clouds. Article by Adriane Kuzminski.

Photo: Tim Prebble

If you are releasing a new SFX library and you would like it to be included in our recap, send us the details with our SFX Independence Submission Form. Please only notify us of libraries that were released within the last month or substantially updated.

Last month, our community produced 15 new sound effects libraries with locations ranging from deep ravines secluded from humanity to places most people would like to avoid — the courthouse. You’ll find forest winds, ambiences from Berlin and the Mediterranean, energy weapons, battle horns, transit sounds, feedback and signal interference, elevator functions, FM and granular synthesis, electronics toys from the 80s, canyon reverb, cinematic impacts, and courthouse ambiences. Two libraries on this list are completely free, and at the end of the recap you can read about a site full of free SFX that raises money for Deaf Child Worldwide. Can’t ask for more than that!


MPLS Light-Rail by Undertone Sound Library
For their most recent sound library, native Minneapolitans Undertone Sound Library captured the sounds of their beloved local transit system, the MPLS Light-Rail. This library features 30 tracks between one and a half and five and a half minutes in length with interior sounds such as door functions, announcements, stops, walla, bells, horns, and the train car traveling at different speeds. It also contains exterior recordings of the subway’s bells and horns as well as fast and slow passbys. If you’re looking for metro sounds for your film or game, check this library out.
(30 WAV files, 24-bit/96kHz)

Sunday Sound Thought 21 – Visibility Problem…Still

Posted by on May 22, 2016 | 1 comment

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

I’m trying to remember on which podcast I heard it this week [ed. I’ve been searching, but to no avail], but there was a news story about Emeka Ogboh and his reconstruction of Lagos soundscapes as art installations in which, I believe it was a curator somewhere, talked about him as if he was the only artist in the world working exclusively with sound…”without some sort of visual component.” Please understand, this is in no way a critique of Ogboh or his work. I’m happy that his art is out there and getting the attention it deserves. It was just a reminder of how overlooked sound is within the arts community. If you want a more visible example, just look at the Tony Awards brouhaha from 2014, which is still being felt today.

I can quickly pull up examples on Google from prominent news sources. I could event point to Audium in San Francisco; which, despite its success, is still a rather underground art experience. Why do I define it as successful? Well it hosts two performances a week (many of which sell out), and does so from it’s own permanent installation on Bush St. near the border of Nob Hill and The Tenderloin…a space which it has occupied since 1965!

That curator pissed me off. Yes it’s her job to find the next big thing and promote it as a way to bring patrons into galleries and museums, but it’s also her job to put that work into the context of the broader art community. This comment is demeaning in two ways. She belittled the work of all those other sound artists out there, of whom she is apparently ignorant. She also belittled the work of Ogboh by not explaining why his work is important within that broader field of sound art.

It’s easy to be important when no one else is doing it, and far more impressive when a work has genuine value in a wider community. Sound work still has a visibility issue, so Ogboh needs to be celebrated for his success and thanked for the attention it brings to our craft. Well done, sir!

News: The Audio Commons Initiative Survey

Posted by on May 20, 2016 | 0 comments

The words Audio Commons sits above and below three sound waves. The ends of the middle waveform circle around it much like the recycling symbol. Article by Adriane Kuzminski.

Photo: Audio Commons


Audio Commons, an initiative to promote the reuse of Creative Commons audio content through a user ecosystem, is seeking participants for their Audio Commons Initiative Survey on Creative Interaction with Audio Content. The goal of the survey is to gain insight into how audio content is used, such as samples, loops, sound effects and songs, as well as define strategies and technologies to improve workflow for all those involved.

The survey takes about 5-10 minutes to complete and your answers will remain anonymous, though the statistical data may be used in academic publications. If you have any questions, their contact information is found on the bottom of the opening page of the survey. If you would like to receive updates about their work or take part in future surveys, Audio Commons would also like to invite you to join their audiocommons-friends mailing list. Here’s to share and share alike!

News: “Telling Story Through Sound” – A Two-Day Intensive Course

Posted by on May 19, 2016 | 0 comments

Students engage in a discussion at a Cinema Jam course at the National Film and Television School.

Photo: Cinema Jam.


On 28 and 29 May, BAFTA-winning sound editor Eddy Joseph is giving a two-day intensive course called “Telling the Story Through Sound: From Batman to Bond“. The seminar is presented in partnership with ShortCourses@NTFS, and it will run from 10:00 to 18:00 at the Cinema Jam HQ, located in the Collective Temperance Hospital on 110 Hampstead Road in London.

Expect lively discussions with Eddy as he shares experiences from his 40-year career, having worked on culturally significant films such Evita, Casino, BatmanHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Interview with a Vampire, and Pink Floyd – The Wall. Eddy will discuss practical solutions he learned on the job as well as how students can apply these lessons to their own work. The course will also include the guest lecture “Subjective Sound in We Need To Talk About Kevin and ’71” by sound designer Paul Davies.

For an extra perk, light refreshments will be provided during the day as well as a complimentary drink in one of the local pubs at night. So if you live nearby London and are a sound professional, director, producer, editor or someone interested in cinematic storytelling, don’t miss your chance to register and learn from a blockbuster veteran.

Plugin Research and Development at iZotope: An Interview with Matthew Hines

Posted by on May 18, 2016 | 0 comments

Matthew Hines is an audio technologist specializing in post production and audio mastering by day, and a keyboardist by night. Hailing from England, where he cut his teeth editing MIDEM award-winning classical recordings, dialogue and audio restoration for Nimbus Records, he’s called USA home for the last eight years. Freelancing as a sound designer and dialogue editor for independent film soon led him to a role as Audio/Multi­media Producer and Product Manager with iZotope, working with a dedicated team over the last five years to deliver key innovations such the RX Post Production Suite and most recently, VocalSynth, which released today.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 7.41.18 PM


Designing Sound: iZotope excels at creating both creative and utilitarian plugins. How does the makeup of the company influence the kinds of products you develop and how do you ensure consistency? (more…)

Sunday Sound Thought 20 – Pulling Focus

Posted by on May 15, 2016 | 0 comments

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

A few weeks ago, I talked about the idea of a sonic version of the “visual zoom.” This past week, I had the realization that there’s a sonic analogue to another camera trick…pulling focus. Quite simply, it’s pulling a fuzzy picture into focus using the lens (or maybe taking it out of focus). Depending on the budget, the camera department on some projects will have a single person dedicated to “pulling focus.”

I can think of two key ways we can emulate this in sound, though there arguably are probably more.

The first is with reverb. Think of the a wide open and very reverberant space, with a single speaker blasting out a spoken announcement. Depending on you location in that space, the reflections may make it impossible to actually interpret what is being said. If you move closer to the source…giving yourself a more distinct time separation between the source and reflections…you’re likely going to have an easier time comprehending what’s being said. The sound is more in focus.

The second way is by applying atypical recording techniques with your microphones, especially with those that have a less-than-flat frequency response as you move off axis. The shift from off-axis to on can increase the clarity of the sound you’re recording. Additionally, you may be adjusting its position to the source in a way that alters the timing of the sound’s arrival at the capsule…adding doppler shift to that change spectrum! Don’t think that’s an interesting sound design technique? Someone people might disagree with you. Watch one application demonstrated here.


News: Annual GameSoundCon Survey

Posted by on May 10, 2016 | 1 comment

GameSoundCon - The Art, Technology and Business of Game Audio - September 27-28, 2016, Los Angeles, CA. Article by Adriane Kuzminski.

Photo: GameSoundCon

It’s that time of year again, and the folks at GameSoundCon are conducting their annual Game Audio Industry Survey. The survey will be conducted until 31 May, and it is aimed to reflect current trends in the industry relating to compensation and budget, work and environment, use of live musicians and middleware, education, job finding, and contract terms. If you are an employee who receives a regular paycheck from a company, or a freelancer who is paid by the project, GameSoundCon would love to hear from you. Your answers are anonymous, and they will only be used for statistical purposes.

It’s also not a bad time to mention early bird registration is now open for GameSoundCon, which will take place at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on 27-28 September. Everyone is invited to attend, whether you are a composer or producer transitioning into games, an audio pro interested in understanding more about the technology and business side, a game music researcher, or someone looking to network or learn how to get into the industry. The conference is also accepting speaker submissions, particularly those about audio for VR, game music post-mortems, and peer-reviewed game audio research. To learn more, check out their ‘Who Should Attend?’ Page as well as the descriptions of their 2015 Sessions.


Media Sound Hamburg – Including Master Class with Randy Thom

Posted by on May 9, 2016 | 0 comments

From July 8th through July 17th, Internationale Film Fernseh und Musik Akademie will be hosting Media Sound Hamburg; its 6th International summer school for film music, game music and sound design. The event will be taking place at Elsa-Braendstroem-Haus in Hamburg-Blankenese, Germany. Additionally, Randy Thom will be presenting a separate Master Class July 8th through 10th focusing on sound design.

A flat-rate ticket for the full event (excluding Mr. Thom’s master class) are 1.800 €, the “Forums” only ticket is 150 €, and tickets for Randy Thom’s master class are 4.000 €.

For more information, visit the Media Sound Hamburg website.