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Blackbird Academy Foundation Series Tutorial

Electrical Levels in Audio Production

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8 Videos | Length: 11min 50sec
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    Electrical Levels in Audio Production

    This course lays out the types of electrical signals that flow from, into, or through microphones, instruments, processors, consoles, and speakers.

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    What Is a Decibel?

    In audio production, the decibel is used to measure the operating level, the intensity of sound or electrical output produced by a piece of gear.

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    Consumer vs. Pro Audio Gear

    Audio gear falls into two categories, professional and consumer. What differentiates the two in the broad sense is the intended use.

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    Mic Level

    The electrical output level of a microphone is very low, so weak in fact that its output is measured in millivolts noted by the symbol mV.

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    Line Level

    Once any audio signal is boosted to professional line level, it can be freely routed to other pro audio gear such as compressors, EQs, converters, consoles, and the inputs of powered speakers.

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    Instrument Level

    Instruments such as guitars, basses, guitar pedals, and electronic keyboards are consumer audio devices with high impedance, unbalanced outputs referenced at -10dBV.

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    Speaker Level

    Once the signal has been recorded and its time to hear your work, it must be sent through another transducer—a speaker or a set of headphones—to send the signal through the air once again on the way to our ears.

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    Electrical Level Recap

    A recap of the Electrical Levels in Audio Production course.

Product Overview


To achieve great results when recording, processing, and mixing audio, it’s important to know the levels at which various pieces of musical and studio gear operate. This course digs deeper into the operational qualities of studio gear in the signal chain.


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Audios
Submitted 3 years ago

Truly dismal and occasionally wrong, so sayeth an electrical engineer

Sorry, this one's an absolute loser. For instance, the second video is the most confusing mess I've ever seen of an explanation about measuring levels in dB. To start, there's no mention of where the basic dB measure comes from (i.e. ten times the base-10 log of the ratio of two values, whether the values represent voltage, power, or something else), which is essential in understanding all the variants (dBu, dBv, etc.) I can appreciate the producers wanted to avoid math but, sorry, you can't and it's not that difficult to explain the concept. Another problem: There is no explanation of why signal level measurements in dB are increased by ADDing numbers to the measures when the change in level is a multiplicative process. For instance, if you double (x2) a voltage, its dB measure has 6 added to it--so how does that come about? The video should explain these things. And why would you add 3 dB to a measure of power if the level was doubled but 6 to a measure of doubled voltage? You won't find the answer here. Another biggie: impedance is defined in one of the videos as something like the resistance to signal flow. Yes, resistance hampers signal flow but what about the capacitance and inductance effects? You can have lots of capacitive or inductive impedance with essentially zero resistance in capacitors and inductors! The impedance of a wire (or air or speakers or human bodies or anything else) is defined as the combination of these three effects and their differences should be explained, which should be pretty easy to do with animations. I could go on but I think I've made my point. I'm never sure how to rate videos, especially the second pair of stars after the written review--are they meant to apply to Groove3 videos in general or somehow refer to this particular series? I'll assume the former and give 4 and 5 start ratings since, in general, I really like Groove3 videos. Most are very high quality. This one, however, is one of the worst I've seen.

I am a: Hobbyist

Response from Customer Service:

Thank you for your review! We really appreciate it.
I can help explain why certain aspects of electrical engineering were not covered or explained in detail. This course was put together by The Blackbird Academy to give people the most basic understanding of these concepts. They will be well below anyone with an engineering degree or who practices electrical engineering as a craft. They chose not to show the math or graphs for these concepts as it would be above the scope of this introduction.
So anyone interested in the finer details of electrical engineering should find a course that covers those concepts on a more advanced level but those who want the most basic understanding so they can move on with their projects with an entry level of knowledge on the subject will find this course very helpful.

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Audios
Submitted 3 years ago

Truly dismal and occasionally wrong, so sayeth an electrical engineer

Sorry, this one's an absolute loser. For instance, the second video is the most confusing mess I've ever seen of an explanation about measuring levels in dB. To start, there's no mention of where the basic dB measure comes from (i.e. ten times the base-10 log of the ratio of two values, whether the values represent voltage, power, or something else), which is essential in understanding all the variants (dBu, dBv, etc.) I can appreciate the producers wanted to avoid math but, sorry, you can't and it's not that difficult to explain the concept. Another problem: There is no explanation of why signal level measurements in dB are increased by ADDing numbers to the measures when the change in level is a multiplicative process. For instance, if you double (x2) a voltage, its dB measure has 6 added to it--so how does that come about? The video should explain these things. And why would you add 3 dB to a measure of power if the level was doubled but 6 to a measure of doubled voltage? You won't find the answer here. Another biggie: impedance is defined in one of the videos as something like the resistance to signal flow. Yes, resistance hampers signal flow but what about the capacitance and inductance effects? You can have lots of capacitive or inductive impedance with essentially zero resistance in capacitors and inductors! The impedance of a wire (or air or speakers or human bodies or anything else) is defined as the combination of these three effects and their differences should be explained, which should be pretty easy to do with animations. I could go on but I think I've made my point. I'm never sure how to rate videos, especially the second pair of stars after the written review--are they meant to apply to Groove3 videos in general or somehow refer to this particular series? I'll assume the former and give 4 and 5 start ratings since, in general, I really like Groove3 videos. Most are very high quality. This one, however, is one of the worst I've seen.

I am a: Hobbyist

Response from Customer Service:

Thank you for your review! We really appreciate it.
I can help explain why certain aspects of electrical engineering were not covered or explained in detail. This course was put together by The Blackbird Academy to give people the most basic understanding of these concepts. They will be well below anyone with an engineering degree or who practices electrical engineering as a craft. They chose not to show the math or graphs for these concepts as it would be above the scope of this introduction.
So anyone interested in the finer details of electrical engineering should find a course that covers those concepts on a more advanced level but those who want the most basic understanding so they can move on with their projects with an entry level of knowledge on the subject will find this course very helpful.
Ease of Use
 
 
 
 
 
Quality of Videos
 
 
 
 
 
Value of Training
 
 
 
 
 
Access to Videos
 
 
 
 
 

Kevin Becka has been a recording engineer for over twenty-five years, working with the top names in music including Kenny G., Quincy Jones, Michael Bolton, George Benson, George Lynch, and more. An experienced educator, Kevin is currently the co-director and instructor at the Blackbird Academy in Nashville. He has also taught advanced recording at Belmont University, taught surround recording and lectured at the Danish Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was director of education and instructor at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences for ten years. Kevin is also an audio journalist who has worked as the editor of Pro Audio Review and Audio Media USA magazines. Since 2003, Kevin has been the technical editor of the industry-leading Mix magazine where he writes features, product reviews, and a monthly column. Kevin is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the Country Music Association (CMA), and is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Products by Kevin

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    Analog & Digital Processing

    EQs, compressors, pitch shifters, transient shapers, reverbs, and delays are just a few of the powerful tools an engineer may use while recording and mixing. Knowing how to use these powerful analog and digital processors is key to achieving great results when recording and mixing.

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    Cables & Connectors

    Cables and connectors provide the pathways for audio signals to flow throughout the studio. Great connections can have a positive impact on not only the sound but also a creative difference in the recording process by maintaining the quality of the source and inspiring the performer.

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    DAWs & Converters

    The digital audio workstation, or DAW, is an essential building block of the modern studio. Knowing the components, features, and tools found in this “studio in a box” is essential knowledge for all audio engineers, both old and new.

  • image description
    tutorial video

    Electrical Levels in Audio Production

    To achieve great results when recording, processing, and mixing audio, it’s important to know the levels at which various pieces of musical and studio gear operate. This course digs deeper into the operational qualities of studio gear in the signal chain.

  • image description
    tutorial video

    Managing Gain & Distortion

    Recording engineers and music producers encounter many ways to adjust gain along the recording and mixing signal path. Knowing the best practices for setting levels in your DAW, processors, and other gain stages will allow you to avoid distortion and noise in your productions.

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Electrical Levels in Audio Production is rated 1.5 out of 5 by 1 .
Rated 0.5 out of 5 by from Truly dismal and occasionally wrong, so sayeth an electrical engineer Sorry, this one's an absolute loser. For instance, the second video is the most confusing mess I've ever seen of an explanation about measuring levels in dB. To start, there's no mention of where the basic dB measure comes from (i.e. ten times the base-10 log of the ratio of two values, whether the values represent voltage, power, or something else), which is essential in understanding all the variants (dBu, dBv, etc.) I can appreciate the producers wanted to avoid math but, sorry, you can't and it's not that difficult to explain the concept. Another problem: There is no explanation of why signal level measurements in dB are increased by ADDing numbers to the measures when the change in level is a multiplicative process. For instance, if you double (x2) a voltage, its dB measure has 6 added to it--so how does that come about? The video should explain these things. And why would you add 3 dB to a measure of power if the level was doubled but 6 to a measure of doubled voltage? You won't find the answer here. Another biggie: impedance is defined in one of the videos as something like the resistance to signal flow. Yes, resistance hampers signal flow but what about the capacitance and inductance effects? You can have lots of capacitive or inductive impedance with essentially zero resistance in capacitors and inductors! The impedance of a wire (or air or speakers or human bodies or anything else) is defined as the combination of these three effects and their differences should be explained, which should be pretty easy to do with animations. I could go on but I think I've made my point. I'm never sure how to rate videos, especially the second pair of stars after the written review--are they meant to apply to Groove3 videos in general or somehow refer to this particular series? I'll assume the former and give 4 and 5 start ratings since, in general, I really like Groove3 videos. Most are very high quality. This one, however, is one of the worst I've seen.
Date published: 1969-12-31
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