Hearing Inside

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Hearing Inside

Using only words, one of the more difficult concepts to explain is the idea of hearing into the music.

It is easy to hear but hard to convey.

When in Octave’s studio I can stand in front of the drum kit and hear every last nuance of detail in the cymbals as the musician strokes its metal with brushes. If I close my eyes I notice even more inner details.

I set the microphone at the same point I am sitting and go back into the control room to listen. If I’ve used the right microphone setup remarkably I hear even more detail in those brushed cymbals though now it is without feeling as if I am in the room. (to remedy that I must then add in a touch of the far away room microphones but that’s a different discussion).

Still, I can hear inside those brush strokes. If I then record what I am hearing through those microphones and play it back through the same monitoring system, there are no discernable differences as long as the recording medium is DSD256. If, instead, I set the system up to record in 192kHz PCM something is lost on playback.

That something is inner detail: the individual brushes hitting the cymbal. Live or as recorded with DSD there is no difference. Switching to PCM capture and all the sharp details remain but no longer can I hear into those brush strokes. I want to write that the information is blurred but that would be incorrect. Blurred is softened and the sound is definitely not softened.

Perhaps a better word is muddled or Chaotic as in trying to hear into a conversation in a crowded room where there is no loss of focus. Instead, there’s a loss of intelligibility.

It’s a hard one to describe.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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