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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: About Timbre and Audio.
Post Subject: About Timbre and Audio.Posted by Romy the Cat on: 5/3/2011

In thins thee I will be talking a bit about the things that unfortunately seldom spoken in audio - about Timbres. It will be an installment of a few posts most likely and I will  be uploading them as I have time and mood.

In my teens I was a creative photographer.  I had later engendering degree but I did not care about it too much and all that I remember from that time that with my exposing to adult life I was switching from participation in creative expositions to doing more banal commercial assignments.  I had photography as armature hobby and in 13 I begun occasionally to make money on photography. At my 20s I was making full-rime living by photography. At that time I lost my interest to express my artistic objectives by photography and become hard core pro.  I was involved in a number of projects, was myself a fine custom printer, own custom printing lab and owned a wedding business operation.  In the very summit of my wedding business, in September of 1990 my “studio” shut 28 full weeding in one day, not bad for 22-year-old, self-staring kid. The fist couple years as I arrived to US I was working in advertising and commercial photography, then I switched the field but the experience of around 1100 wedding that I personally shut over the years was too heavy luggage to waste and over the last 20 years I did occasionally shoot some weddings, not as much for money but rather as habit... During the pre-digital of photography and pre-computerized film reading the manual-printing labs that printed my film were pleased as my weddings required much less color/density correction than the film by other photographers.  The point was that being a fine custom printer myself I knew how to read color and density of the space and how this color and density will be transported to the color, density and contract of a given film and the given development process.  I was not a great custom printer, I knew people who were much better than myself but having strong chemistry and dark-room background let me to look the whole photographic processes from higher altitude and select the appropriate ways to deal with multiple circumstances in order to deliver stable and guaranteed results.

It is interesting that I begin my talk about Timbre and Audio with the story about my photographic past.  It is not accident however.  Sitting in lab and having in disposal only 33 yellow, magenta and cyan filters it is all that a printer needs to get any color. However, color is not all that mater and any good custom printer has MANY other ways to get what he needs. What is interesting is that in photography we did opposite of what we do in audio. In photography we have huge variety of wild colors, contrasts and etc and all that we were trying to do it to convert everything to a same standard acceptable result. In audio however we strive to do very opposite. The Pitch of the source is a constant. Pitch is fundamental of the sound – we do not fuck with it in audio. Loudness is also more or less fixed element.  Loudness is a measure of intensity of the fundamental – no matter what we do in audio it will be distorted if we like or not but we do not intentionally do anything with it. There is of cause also the timbre. Timbre is a harmonic content of the signal but the paradox is that harmonic content does not describe timbre.

In photography new had speed of film, or a sensitivity of a film to react to light. If you have color film that 3 color layers – red, blue and green and each layer has OWN sensitively to light.  You expose film to light and each layer took own does of light. Now, how green will be your image? It will be as green as the sensitivity of green layer of film was (in fact it is in reverse but it is not important). In audio we have paradoxically the same situation. The signal is whatever it is, and then our mechanical and electronic devises reacting to the signal enrich it with harmonic colorations that eventually become Total Timbre. The Total Timbre is the derivative of Original Timbre + Acquire Timbre.  There is nothing new in what I say but… In audio people unfortunately only look to maximize the Original Timbre and to minimize the Acquire Timbre. In contrary to this I always look to have maximum amplitude of Acquire Timbre in order to increase the Timbreral Dynamic range or to make min change of Original Timbre to lead to maximal amplitude of Total Timbre.  So, proclaim maximum Timbreral sensitivity of each Timbre-sensitive layer of photographic film. In photography it would be that if you have a minor blush then you face must be 200% red. In audio we will not have even near this result but the more Timbreral sensitivity we have then more expressive tools we get what we put everything all together.

Now, what would like to have that 200% red face? Well, I am a custom printer and I need colors to get neutral Sound. Neutral Sound is a face with skin tone and reflection coefficiency of 0.65 BUT it also a poison-red flower, and burning-green grass and deep-blue sky. How poison-red, how burning-green and how deep-blue the subject need to be? That is all depends from your artistic intention but you shall not be worry too much as in audio we have Timbreral Dynamic range in my estimation of 30%  average of what we have in live sound. The best playback I feel might push to 60%-70%, but in most case the recording processes itself eats over 50%-70% of timbres.

To be continued....

Romy The Cat

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