IoSR Blog : 07 January 2015
12 days of Tonmeister Christmas
12 days of things related to Tonmeister students and graduates, and research in the Institute of Sound Recording, with a numerical theme for each day. The numbers may well be tenuous (sorry!).
1 Celebrity appearance: visiting Professor and Tonmeister graduate Michael Price appears on a festive special of University Challenge featuring noted Surrey Alumni.
Michael is better known for his composing work for BBC's Sherlock and ITV's Lightfields, among many others. However, we're informed that he also appeared on ITV's Blockbusters quiz show in his youth.
You can watch again here: Surrey on the Christmas Special of University Challenge
2 Gramophone awards: Tonmeisters recorded 2 of the Gramophone award-winning albums in 2014.
The Best Baroque Instrumental album was Mahan Esfahani's ‘Württemberg’ Sonatas, engineered by Tonmeister graduate David Hinitt.
The Best Choral album was Dunedin Consort's Mozart Requiem, engineered and produced by Tonmeister graduate Philip Hobbs, with the assistance of Tonmeister graduate Rob Cammidge.
You can see the full list of Gramophone awards.
3 Grammy nominations: Coldplay's Ghost Stories was nominated for 3 Grammys. Tracks from the album were recorded by Tonmeister Graduate Olga Fitzroy, with assistance from Tonmeister graduates Fiona Cruickshank and Roxy Pope.
The album has been nominated in the following categories:
- Best pop group performance - A Sky Full of Stars: Coldplay
- Best pop vocal album - Ghost Stories: Coldplay
- Best music film - Ghost Stories: Coldplay
The full list of Grammy nominations.
4 papers presented in Berlin: IoSR researchers presented four papers at the Audio Engineering Society Conventions in Berlin this year. The papers covered a range of topics from auditory adaptation to localisation of sounds at different elevations.
- Ashby, T., Mason, R., and Brookes, T. 2014: 'Elevation localisation response accuracy on vertical planes of differing azimuth', Audio Engineering Society Preprint, 136th Convention, preprint no. 9046.
- Abstract:Head movement has been shown to significantly improve localization response accuracy in elevation. It is unclear from previous research whether this is due to static cues created once the head has reached a new stationary position or dynamic cues created through the act of moving the head. In this experiment listeners were asked to report the location of loudspeakers placed on vertical planes at four different azimuth angles (0°, 36°, 72°, 108°) with no head movement. Static elevation response accuracy was significantly more accurate for sources away from the median plane. This finding, combined with the statement that listeners orient to face the source when localizing, suggests that dynamic cues are the cause of improved localization through head movement.
- Baykaner, K., Hummersone, C., Mason, R., and Bech, S. 2014: 'The acceptability of speech with interfering radio programme material', Audio Engineering Society Preprint, 136th Convention, preprint no. 9020.
- Abstract:A listening test was conducted to investigate the acceptability of audio-on-audio interference for radio programs featuring speech as the target. Twenty-one subjects, including naïve and expert listeners, were presented with 200 randomly assigned pairs of stimuli and asked to report, for each trial, whether the listening scenario was acceptable or unacceptable. Stimuli pairs were set to randomly selected SNRs ranging from 0 to 45 dB. Results showed no significant difference between subjects according to listening experience. A logistic regression to acceptability was carried out based on SNR. The model had accuracy R2 = 0.87, RMSE = 14%, and RMSE* = 7%. By accounting for the presence of background audio in the target program, 90% of the variance could be explained.
- Francombe, J., Mason, R., Dewhirst, M., and Bech, S. 2014: 'Investigation of a random radio sampling method for selecting ecologically valid music programme material', Audio Engineering Society Preprint, 136th Convention, preprint no. 9029.
- Abstract:When performing subjective tests of an audio system, it is necessary to use appropriately selected program material to excite that system. Program material is often required to be wide-ranging and representative of commonly consumed audio, while having minimal selection bias. A random radio sampling procedure was investigated for its ability to produce such a stimulus set. Nine popular stations were sampled at six different times of day over a number of days to produce a 200-item pool. Musical and signal-based characteristics were examined; the items were found to span a wide range of genres and years, and physical similarities were found between items in the same genre. The proposed method is beneficial for collecting a wide and representative stimulus set.
- Pike, C., Mason, R., and Brookes, T. 2014: 'The effect of auditory memory on the perception of timbre', Audio Engineering Society Preprint, 136th Convention, preprint no. 9028.
- Abstract:Listeners are more sensitive to timbral differences when comparing stimuli side-by-side than temporally-separated. The contributions of auditory memory and spectral compensation to this effect are unclear. A listening test examined the role of auditory memory in timbral discrimination, across retention intervals (RIs) of up to 40 s. For timbrally complex music stimuli discrimination accuracy was good across all RIs, but there was increased sensitivity to onset spectrum, which decreased with increasing RI. Noise stimuli showed no onset sensitivity but discrimination performance declined with RIs of 40 s. The difference between program types may suggest different onset sensitivity and memory encoding (categorical vs non-categorical). The onset bias suggests that memory effects should be measured prior to future investigation of spectral compensation.
Five of Classic FM's Top 10 albums of 2014 had Tonmeisters involved in their creation. This included all of the top 3 from their list. The albums include those by internationally renowned artists such as Nicola Benedetti, and even from Surrey jazz tutor Will Todd.
Looking further down the list, there were eight albums in total in the full Top 20 list with Tonmeisters credited. The full list of Tonmeister credits is below:
- 1) Benjamin Grosvenor: Dances
- Executive Producer: Alex Van Ingen
- Editor: Dave Rowell
- 2) Joshua Bell: Bach
- Assistant engineer: Lawrence Anslow
- 3) Will Todd: Lux et Veritas
- Engineer: Mike Hatch
- 7) Alisa Weilerstein: Dvorak
- Executive Producer, Recording Producer: Alex Van Ingen
- 8) Nicola Benedetti: Homecoming
- Executive Producer, Recording Producer, Session Photographer: Alex Van Ingen
- 11) John Eliot Gardiner: Beethoven Symphonies No. 2 & 8
- Engineer: Mike Hatch
- Assistant Engineer: Robin Hawkins
- 15) Patrick Hawes: Angel
- Recording: Mike Hatch
- Recording: Andrew Mellor
- Recording: Dave Rowell
- 20) Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber: Vivaldi Concertos for Two Cellos
- Engineer: Mike Hatch
You can see the full list on ClassicFM's website here.
Six episodes of Silent Witness broadcast on BBC1 in the new year with music composed by Tonmeister graduate Sheridan Tongue. Sheridan has scored televison & film music for a wide range of leading television programmes including DCI Banks, Wonders of the Solar System, Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, Sea of Souls and Wonders of the Universe. He also composed the music for a series of Spooks, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA.
You can catch up with the body count here.
Seven microphones short of a hundred were used in an experimental recording session in the summer (sorry, but I did warn that some of the numbers were a bit tenuous!).
These recordings were part of the EPSRC-funded S3A project, for an experiment to compare recording and rendering of a range of spatial audio formats from mono to 22.2. It took around three days to set up, plug in, and calibrate all of the microphones, followed by a few days of recording with a range of ensembles.
During one day of the recording session we made a short video introducing the IoSR contribution to the S3A project and exhibiting some of the work done on the recording session. You can watch this below.
We're now using these recordings for experiments, and we hope to be able to report on them soon.
Last term the second and final year Tonmeisters got to hear 8 talks from leading industry practitioners from a host of backgrounds from equipment design, via recording and production, to mastering.
These industry seminars are an important part of the Tonmeister programme, giving staff and students direct contact with leading professionals, hearing about current industry practice, introducing students to a wide range of potential careers, and often hearing what our graduates are up to.
Here's the list of last term's speakers, in alphabetical order. For a list of presenters in recent years, click here.
- Graham Boswell
- Electronics and software engineer
- Director of Prism Sound
- Ross Chisholm
- John Emmett
- Equipment designer and broadcast engineer
- Technical director at Broadcast Project Research
- Olga Fitzroy
- Nathan Hilton
- Label manager and music producer for West One Music
- Tonmeister graduate
- Rob Marshall
- Owner of No Stairway Media
- Mandy Parnell
- Mastering engineer at Black Saloon
- Kath Pollard
- Re-recording mixer for film and TV
- Tonmeister graduate
Sorry, we couldn't come up with anything with 9 as the theme. So, just in case January's starting to wear you down, cheer yourself up by listening again to the Christmas single from the final year Tonmeisters.
10s of sound-activated LEDs were used by Tonmeister graduates Alan Martyn and Laurence Greed and colleagues to create an audio-visual artwork at the Roundhouse this year. This was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and was shown off in a series of concerts in the summer.
In total, 200 sound sensitive LED units – spaced every 1 meter – were configured in a lattice. Each light source was controlled by a separate microphone, with the brightness controlled by the sound level. It was installed in The Hub at the Roundhouse in Camden.
There were a number of musical performances in the space over a few days. The video below is from a performance by another Tonmeister graduate, Tommy Ashby, of one of his original songs, and is shows how the lights react to both music and ambient sound.
In 2014, our 3 studios were booked for a total of nearly 11,000 hours. Or, on average, nearly 3,666 hours per studio. Consider that most University teaching rooms are used for 40 hours a week at most for teaching, over the 30 weeks that students are here that only makes up 1200 hours per year. Even if you add on time booked in the evenings and weekend by Union societies, it's still far less than the use our studios get.
Considering the amount of time our studios are used, it's amazing that they're in such good condition. Partly it's due to our students repaying the trust we put in them by being careful with the rooms and the many hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment. And partly it's due to our amazing technicians who look after the place so expertly.
12 months in the life of Tonmeister. In 2013 a Tonmeister student decided to film 1 second of his life each day. He kindly supplied us with an edited version containing just the parts that he considered to represent the Tonmeister programme. It's a great overview of the kind of thing our students get up to.
by Russell Mason