Thrillseeker XTC – behind the scenes

The basic idea to build a VoS style Enhancer/Exciter was already there way earlier but to that time it simply wasn’t doable until my ‘stateful saturation’ approach emerged. Later on and when I asked “how a modern exciter/enhancer should look like“, several concepts were laid out on the drawing board and I knew that with this exciting (sic!) new approach they all would be accomplishable w/o any compromises. Finally, one of them made it into a prototype which led to ThrillseekerXTC.

Old or modern approach?

So, is the audio Enhancer/Exciter just an ancient relict from the days of dull tape recordings or still a valid concept today? In the digital age, technology and production techniques completely changed and of course the production aesthetics did also. Opposed to the old approaches of audio excitation which mostly were focusing on high frequency loss restoration, the demand shifted towards other tasks as well. Presence and definition in the (upper) mid range is the name of the game and getting the low-end right is the key in a modern production. Instrument separation in a busy mix is a tough challenge, also.

What the heck is Mojo?

In some other cases (mostly digital productions) – definition, presence and transparency is all there but at the cost of a rather thin or sterile sounding production. Even worse, the HF department might be exaggerated too much during the processing chain and taming and sweetening is a challenge then. Some of the artifacts that we’ve found in certain analog devices might add tonal qualities described as thick, fat and round by ‘pleasingly degrading’ a sound source. This is what Mojo is all about. Whether that’s some circuit crosstalk, tape flutter or transformer distortion stuff alike. [Read more…]

how a modern exciter/enhancer should look like

Well, that’s exactly what I would like to know from you! Is it just an ancient relict from the days of dull tape recordings or still a valid concept? Opposed to the old approaches of audio excitation: What should such a device offer for todays modern audio production? And what would separate it from the common tools like compressors, transient designers and equalizers? Is it needed for any specific production stage? Which one? What exactly needs to be “enhanced”? Does all the different distribution formats and listening environments play a role? Psycho Acoustics? Question upon question ….

what Psychoacoustics is about

If you once listened to MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3 (aka mp3) compressed audio files you’ve already heard some encoding algorithms which are highly based on psychoacoustic principles. But what is that voodoo stuff all about in general? The science of psychoacoustics basically investigates the impact of a physical audio signals property on to the subjective perceived signal (hearing) and whats going on under the hood of that hearing, meanwhile. So it can basically be seen as an input/output model where a certain acoustic stimuli comes in and some sort of perception comes out. On top of that, hearing has not just been seen as a black box but a lot of modelling has already been done to get a better understanding on how hearing is actually performed in our bio-mechanical apparatus and our brain as well. [Read more…]

from phasing to phase alignment

In the recent article about audio signal coloration I’ve already talked about the importance of the signals phase response in respect to the perceived tonal spectrum and today I’m going straight ahead towards phase alignment and how a signal delay relates to the phase response. But first let’s have a look at some nice youtube stuff showing Jonathan Little on demonstrating his Little Labs IBP phase alignment tool.

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about audio signal coloration

In this comprehensive article some deeper explorations and explanations on this topic are given and at the end a brief but handy definition about audio signal coloration is proposed.  Some tips on mixing can be obtained here as well and – by the way – some myth about equalizing audio in the digital domain gets busted.

Digital image spectrum

Digital imaging spectrum

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