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Innovation v Hype

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jan 23, 2020 3:52 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Yup, it's harsh. The blunt truth often is! There are dozens of ways to capture and create sound, but the MI industry sticks to four types of microphone and one type of speaker.

I get the point you're making, but the reality is that there are several other kinds of mic technology* which are already used in other industries. MI hasn't embraced them all (yet) because they don't offer any practical advantages over the current tech... but the advances in DSP is already changing that with things like HOA and phased-array systems.

And there is definitely more than one type of speaker technology.... :think:

If you want genuine innovation, look at what is being achieved in film and video.

Sure... there is some very impressive stuff coming through... and it's because there's been seriously big money floating around in the Film/TV industries for decades now. Audio is and always has been the very poor cousin... but even so advances in DSP and AI will be trickling through. It won't be long before a single mic system, will be able to identify, capture, and isolate individual sound sources performing in the same space at the same time. We already have amazing good voice-morphing... More will come in the not-too-distant future.

Digital speaker and room correction has raised the quality of speaker tech considerably in recent years, but it would be very nice if someone came up with an altogether better technology platform.

But I wouldn't describe the MI industry as being entirely stagnant... :D



*Beyond the familiar ribbon, moving coil, electret, DC-bias capacitor and RF-bias capacitor (oh wait... that's five not four!) we should probably ignore the prehistoric and low-quality Carbon Button and Water microphones... But piezo mics are still a valid option in many applications, and the MEMS capsule already dominates the smart-tech market. There are also several variations on optical mic technology, and the Microflown (thermal) mic system -- which are already used in other industries. And then we have Ambionics and Higher-Order Ambisonics (HOA), and multi-capsule DSP-based phased-array microphones which have only become practical and cost-effective with the advance in DSP tech...
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:41 am

Of course there are many types of speaker and there are more than four or five microphone technologies - that's my point! The MI market does not WANT any real innovation!

"What? Six speakers! Eight speakers and now you want to put four more in the ceiling? No thank you! We just want stereo and nothing else!"

The audio community and the listener at home just want a lot of pretty toys.

Just listen to the inane drivel that comes out of the bedrooms of all your readers! Goofballs noodling with synths and sequencers and calling that 'music'!

You may remember (a few months back) that I complained about live music Blu-Ray disks and streams not being in real surround, but just being in stereo and having crowd noises added to the surround channels. Well, it just so happens that after I wrote that, I discovered that a close relative has become a leading mastering engineer for BR and DVD disks and has done umpteen of these things - so I asked him why he did that.
The consumer does not understand that to have a 5.1 sound, you must have a 5.1 system. If he puts a real 5.1 option in the set-up menu, loads of consumers would either not find it or would not understand that a bog-standard TV set cannot reproduce 5.1.
If we put it in real surround, loads of disks get returned as defective!

This willful stupidity permeates the audio community as well. They don't want any real innovation. They think stereo is 'pure' somehow - despite all the imaging problems that not having a centre speaker creates.

When Fairlight and others created sampling, I thought that it would change the face of music and we would have a similar revolution as we did when guitars went electric and we got amplification. After a few brave efforts, all we got was the sound of idiots noodling in their bedrooms.

The MI industry is not in the business of throwing pearls to swine, so they give the customer what they want - noodling machines.

Some of the noodling machines have got strings on them and some have got keys and buttons, others are cheap, mass-produced plywood hoops with plastic stretched over them - but they are all just noodling machines for the masses.
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:46 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Just listen to the inane drivel that comes out of the bedrooms of all your readers! Goofballs noodling with synths and sequencers and calling that 'music'!

Careful, you'll get that broad brush stuck in a doorframe one of these days!

The Red Bladder wrote:Some of the noodling machines have got strings on them and some have got keys and buttons, others are cheap, mass-produced plywood hoops with plastic stretched over them - but they are all just noodling machines for the masses.

I'm sure a lot of people who buy music tech noodle on it aimlessly (and nowt wrong with that if it floats their boat), but many use them for performing and serious or semi-serious recording as well. I've heard a lot of great music created by people in their bedrooms from sources like Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

The challenge for the industry is to provide equipment that suits as many people as possible. People have to eat :-)
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:02 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:The MI market does not WANT any real innovation!

Nah... I don't think that's true... I think they want innovation, but only when it is genuinely beneficial, genuinely practical, and not just a fashionable gimmick.

If we put it in real surround, loads of disks get returned as defective!

:-D Ah... the great unwashed, unknowing public... :lol:

I was talking with a friend who records audio for mostly classical and operatic DVDs and Blurays. He had a similar problem with dynamic range. The technology obviously allows real-life dynamics to be captured, and so the production people wanted real-life dynamics on the finished discs. Sounded great in the viewing theatres... but almost all the discs were returned as defective because people at home either couldn't hear the quieter bits, or got blasted out with the louder bits.

Obvious really and my friend, being ex-BBC, was fully aware of the need to manage the dynamic range in the recording for domestic consumption (it would have been different if it was for a Cinema broadcast type event, of course)... but his advice was initially ignored.

They think stereo is 'pure' somehow - despite all the imaging problems that not having a centre speaker creates.

It's simple, practical, domestically acceptable, a lot better than mono, only slightly less enjoyable than surround, and very affordable... added to which a straight ITU standard 5.1 speaker setup is entirely crap for imaging anyway... :silent:

...they are all just noodling machines for the masses.

If it makes them happy, what's the problem? ;)

Personally, I'd far rather listen to someone's bedroom synth noodles than watch any of the billions of Instagram, YouTube, and FaceBook home-made videos.... Not sure the amazingly advanced video industry has actually improved mankind's lot in that respect... :round1:
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:09 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Just listen to the inane drivel that comes out of the bedrooms of all your readers! Goofballs noodling with synths and sequencers and calling that 'music'!
I think there might be some kids on your lawn...
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:56 pm

blinddrew wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:Just listen to the inane drivel that comes out of the bedrooms of all your readers! Goofballs noodling with synths and sequencers and calling that 'music'!
I think there might be some kids on your lawn...

It wouldn't be so bad if they were playing football, but they're playing synthesizers :o

;)
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:15 pm

So if we suspend judgement on the resulting "music" for a moment, how can anything innovative succeed without major hype for mass acceptance? And by definition doesn’t mass acceptance infer a dumbing down so innovative is lost?
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:34 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So if we suspend judgement on the resulting "music" for a moment, how can anything innovative succeed without major hype for mass acceptance? And by definition doesn’t mass acceptance infer a dumbing down so innovative is lost?

Hm, something truly innovative is simply so big that doesn't need hype.

Nobody hyped digital recording, for example - heck, there's still loads of people who are against it purely because of the word "digital" - but it had totally revolutionized recording because it allows you enormous quality an incredible little cost - something it simply wasn't possible before.

Same with digital camera - no hype at all (and it took a lot of time for them to become the mainstream), but also things such as the incredible tolerances which we can now reach in metal manufacturing due to both materials science and hyper-precise computer controlled tools... which silently and quietly - with no hype at all - has made car engines able to increase the power/size ratio to an incredible extent.

Stuff like that is game-changing, but often moves from being under the radar to being simply "normal".
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Matt Houghton » Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:58 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:The last time anybody produced a genuine innovation in audio technology that I am currently aware of, it was Melodyne.

FTFY ;)
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:13 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So if we suspend judgement on the resulting "music" for a moment, how can anything innovative succeed without major hype for mass acceptance? And by definition doesn’t mass acceptance infer a dumbing down so innovative is lost?

I don't think 'dumbing down' loses innovation, though perhaps it masks some of the detail and configurability. Some things don't need even that ... consider the transition from CRT monitors to the flatscreens of today, or the ongoing take-up of SSD storage in preference to HDD etc.

These are great innovations that are pretty much 'plug, play, enjoy the benefit'.

With music tech it's usually not quite so simple due to the more involved nature of the process of music creation, but I'd still say we're benefitting from innovation all the time in ways we don't even think about, such as better digital clocks leading to better quality interfaces, the ongoing increases in performance and reductions in size and cost of components etc.

The exact definition of 'innovation' in this context is open to interpretation of course ... the threshold between 'improvement' and 'innovation' may be somewhat subjective.
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Wonks » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:19 pm

Matt Houghton wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:The last time anybody produced a genuine innovation in audio technology that I am currently aware of, it was Melodyne.

FTFY ;)

And that came out after Autotune.

So monophonic pitch correction is one innovation, then polyphonic pitch correction is another. Gross misuse of both is another, albeit retrograde, innovation.
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Folderol » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:31 pm

Apart from anything else (and I can't remember where I heard it, but it was in a music context) somebody once said that no adult can ever realise the full potential of a new idea. You have to grow up with it.

I doubt that's quite correct, but presumably it has the be someone who is totally uninhibited when approaching something new - and has the time for uncontrolled experimentation!
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:41 pm

As the lovely Lord John Birt explained to me when making swathes of BBC staff redundant, it needs people who are "untarnished by experience"... :lolno:

So the young are inherently uninhibited and not burdened by the experience and expectations associated with older devices and applications... and are therefore more likely to discover ways of using innovative devices in truly innovative ways.
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:55 pm

Q -
ManFromGlass wrote:how can anything innovative succeed without major hype for mass acceptance?
A -
CS70 wrote:something truly innovative is simply so big that doesn't need hype.
Simples!

When something is truly innovative, users may tend to hype it up. Yes, innovative companies also advertise their latest gizmo, but a true innovation will get that advertising amplified by users telling other users about it.

In the film industry, excited 'vloggers' are telling their subscribers all about the latest LF cameras from Arri and one-by-one, directors are beginning to realise that digital is not just faster and more convenient, but actually better for both colour and resolution. In TV and theatre, it didn't take long for LEDs to replace tungsten lighting.
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Re: Innovation v Hype

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:57 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:As the lovely Lord John Birt explained to me when making swathes of BBC staff redundant, it needs people who are "untarnished by experience"... :lolno:

So the young are inherently uninhibited and not burdened by the experience, and expectations associated with older devices and applications... and are therefore more likely to discover ways of using innovative devices in truly innovative ways.

How very, errr... 'innovative'.

I wonder if that approach would work well with, say, power tools, cars, aeroplanes, software development, building, civil engineering, plumbing, healthcare and international diplomacy too!

-sigh-
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