Underscoring his lifelong philosophy -“The Music Always Comes First!” - Ron Streicher has created a series of audio production seminars. These tutorials offer you the opportunity to share the knowledge, experience, and unique solutions he has garnered during more than four decades providing audio services for many of the world’s greatest musical artists and organizations.
Seminar titles include:
• Microphone Technology
• Microphone Pragmatics
• Microphones As Divas
• Microphones: The Physics, Metaphysics, and Philosophy
• A Practical Guide to Ribbon Microphones
• Stereophonic Techniques
• Early Stereo — A Retrospective
• Critical Listening: Perception and the Audio Environment
• A Critical Listening Experiment: A-X-B Comparison
• Live “Hands-on” Recording Workshops
• Electrical Hook-up of Computer and A/V Systems
• Interfacing Your Computer With Your Home Entertainment System
• How to Prepare a Presentation
Ron has presented seminars to Recording Studies programs at colleges and universities, meetings of the Audio Engineering Society, and other technical organizations throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. He is also a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Los Angeles Opera League Community Educators Program.
“I would be happy to visit your facilities and spend some time with you. I invite you to call me to discuss how I can help you and your program.”
Microphone Technology How do microphones work? What differentiates one operating type of transducer from another? How and why do they sound different? What are polar patterns, and how do they affect the way a microphone responds to sound? What is “proximity effect” and why do some mics exhibit more of it than others? What’s the truth about capsule size — does it really matter? These are just a few of the topics covered in this in-depth seminar on Microphone Technology.
Microphone Pragmatics This seminar won’t tell you where to put a microphone in front of a performer or ensemble, but it will tell you how to put it there effectively and efficiently. The world of microphone hardware can be very confusing, but it is important to know what is the best to mount your precious microphone safely and get it where you want it. Among the topics covered in this hands-on workshop are shockmounts, stereo bars and similar devices, mounting hardware, popscreens and windscreens, and special mic-stand configurations. Various techniques for rigging microphones also will be shown. To top it off, the proper way to coil a microphone cable will be demonstrated — with audience participation. Learn all the practical aspects of using microphones that they don’t tell you at school or in the text books.
Microphones as Divas Microphones are the “paintbrushes” recording engineers use to create their sonic illusions. Each has its own particular characteristic sonic qualities. The art of the engineer involves understanding these and choosing the right microphone for any given situation. In both social and educational gatherings among engineers, the conversation frequently leads to a discussion comparing various microphones and trying to define what gives each its unique “personality.” Describing a microphone’s sonic characteristics in simple terms is not an easy task, yet there are many ways that people try: some cite specifications or technical data; some use subjective or descriptive terminology; still others employ emotionally charged words. This presentation focuses on several classic and iconic microphones and using recorded examples, the sonic character of each is compared to the unmistakable vocal quality of a diva from the world of opera, the musical theatre, or popular music.
Microphones: The Physics, Metaphysics, and Philosophy Before you can place the first microphone in the studio, you need to develop a clear understanding of the sound that you want to emanate from the loudspeakers when the project is finished. To do this, you need to determine what are the elements that are essential for creating the “sonic illusion,” and then decide how to balance the often conflicting elements and competing demands of technology vs. art. Microphone techniques — although critical — are only a part of this process. Equally important are the criteria for monitoring and evaluating the results. Using recorded examples and practical demonstrations, the various aspects of this creative process are developed and brought into focus.
A Practical Guide to Ribbon Microphones Although they were among the first studio-quality microphones and remained favorites of recording artists and engineers until the mid-1960s, ribbon microphones fell into the shadow of the European condensers for the latter part of the 20th Century. In the last few years, refurbished originals and new recreations of the classics from RCA as well as models from new manufacturers have generated a renaissance of ribbon technology and popularity. This lecture discusses how these microphones work and why their unique properties have made them so highly desirable.
Stereophonic Techniques What is stereo? Why and how do we hear with spatial acuity? How can we realistically capture and reproduce the stereo soundfield with just two microphones and two loudspeakers? These are but a few of the questions discussed in this in-depth seminar. The session begins with a discussion and demonstration of how the human ear-brain hearing system works. This is followed by a historical overview of the development stereophonic recording. The main body of the session presents a comprehensive analysis of the various common stereophonic microphone configurations, and concludes with numerous recorded examples for evaluation and comparison of the techniques discussed.
Early Stereo — A Retrospective The first documented experiments in “stereo” were conducted in 1881. Why, then, was it not until the mid 1950s that stereo entered the commercial consumer marketplace? What were the two very different approaches to stereo that were being developed simultaneously and independently on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean? The work of the three most significant pioneers in the development of stereophonic sound (Clement Ader, Alan Blumlein, and Harvey Fletcher) will be presented, complete with recorded examples originating in the early 1930s. A surprise guest, critical to the commercial realization of stereophonic sound, also will make a recorded appearance.
Critical Listening: Perception and the Audio Environment This seminar is a day-long analysis of the listening process, focusing on the relationships between the physical elements of sound propagation — frequency, intensity, and spectrum — and their perceptual counterparts — pitch, loudness, and timbre.
The analysis and discussion of the human hearing system includes demonstrations of many of the physiological and psychoacoustic phenomena which cause us to perceive sounds in a manner not simply related to their physical stimulus.
Considerable attention is given to the important characteristics of sound propagation and the hearing system that affect the perception and enjoyment of music. Special emphasis also is given to the factors that can result in hearing damage or loss.
The lecture employs numerous visual and sonic demonstrations, and includes excerpts from materials prepared by the Acoustical Society of America, Dr. Diana Deutsch, F. Alton Everest, and others.
A Critical Listening Experiment: A-X-B Comparison Audio engineers and laymen alike often have to undergo comparison listening sessions — whether purchasing a new pair of loudspeakers or headphones, deciding what microphone to put in front of the singer, or evaluating which recording technique sounds best in any given situation. The most exhausting and stressful of these experiences, however, can be the “comparison listening test” often imposed by audio sales people (or others with a commercial interest to promote) to get you to select one piece of equipment over another. Come and learn how to listen critically and fairly.
Live “Hands-on” Recording Workshops Whenever a musical ensemble and appropriate performance and recording facilities are available, I also can conduct a “hands-on” recording session workshop using the given equipment and facilities.
Preferably, the ensemble should be acoustical instruments and music (classical, opera, jazz, folk, or ethnic) and sufficiently rehearsed that they can perform well together without need for additional rehearsal time in the “studio.”
This session will involve the participants in all aspects of the recording process: determining the manner of the recording; selection of microphones and other equipment; setup of the recording venue; microphone rigging and placement; cable management; signal flow and the recording process; proper logsheets and other documentation; striking the session; etc.
An appropriate amount of time should be allocated for these sessions, and this will depend on the scale of the project and the desires of the participants. At least a half-day should be considered as a minimum.
Appropriate recording facilities must be available: a studio or appropriate performance space for the musicians; a control room (or appropriate space) for the recording equipment; an adequate selection of microphones; microphone stands, mounting and rigging hardware (if/as needed), and cables; and an appropriate complement of recording equipment — mixing console, recording devices, monitors, communications, etc.
Electrical Hook-up of Computer and A/V Systems Computer systems (or any complex audio/video system) are comprised of a number of components, all of which require AC mains power to operate. Connecting all of these components together often can be a rather daunting experience — particularly when an electrical fault could mean not only the loss of a piece of equipment but also, and more seriously, the loss of that project you have been working on for the past six months. The worst case, of course, is the risk of fire or personal injury. Proper electrical hook-up, grounding, and safety are just some of the concerns covered in this session. Devices for protection against interference and noise in the AC power line, brown-outs, and black-outs also will be discussed. The session concludes with a brief discussion of electrical products and techniques for international travel.
Interfacing Your Computer With Your Home Entertainment System As Internet Service Providers offer increased programming content, personal computers, portables, and even iPods are rapidly becoming an important conduit for bringing entertainment into the home. For some people, these even are replacing the more conventional sources such as radio or broadcast, satellite, and cable television. The traditional small screens and loudspeakers common to computers no longer need to limit your enjoyment of this entertainment, however, because there are several ways to interface your computer into your home entertainment system. Nonetheless, difficulties can arise when trying to cope with the variety of standards and formats for audio and video and, of course, proper electrical connections for all of the equipment.
This presentation begins by discussing the potential problems and providing solutions for the safe connection of all of the equipment to your electrical system. Next, all of the various audio and video connectors and signal formats will be explained so that you will understand what is the best way to interface your computer into your A/V system. Finally, potential hum and noise problems resulting from "ground loops" or other sources of interference will discussed, with recommendations for eliminating or minimizing them.
How to Prepare a Presentation Whether a student or professional, whatever your field of interest, at some time you may be called-upon to give a presentation —it may be about your work, your hobbies, your travels, or whatever. When that time comes, knowing how to prepare and deliver an effective presentation will save you the embarrassment of standing in front of your audience and fumbling with your script, the slides, or even the simple basics of organizing your materials effectively.
This seminar will not tell you how to organize your thoughts, but it will help you to understand how to put them together into a meaningful and carefully crafted computer-aided slide show. Although this presentation specifically focuses on the tools found in the KEYNOTE application by Apple, similar principles and techniques are applicable to Microsoft’s Powerpoint.
Many of the various aspects of creating a good presentation are covered: proper use of fonts, slide builds and transitions, special effects, drawing tools, creating and importing graphics, and using audio tracks.
Special attention also is given to the practical aspects of presenting the lecture: what equipment and are accessories needed, setup and testing of all facilities, effective layout of the room, etc.
Facilities Requirements for My Lectures
This is a System Diagram of my equipment setup and requirements.
The following items shown in black on the diagram are to be provided on-site by the venue. If you have any questions regarding the availability or suitability of any of this equipment, please do not hesitate to contact me.
1. One AKG C-414 – or an equivalent multi-pattern condenser microphone, such as a Neumann TLM-170, capable of providing omnidirectional, sub-cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, and bidirectional patterns (no stand needed)
2. One pair of Shure SM57 or SM58 or similar moving-coil hand-held microphones – with standard mic mounting clips
3. Two conventional microphone stands with boom-arms
4. Four standard microphone cables, tested and working – minimum ten-feet in length
5. One two-meter by one-meter table for my equipment setup – positioned to the audience-left of the projection screen if possible without blocking the loudspeaker (#7)
6. One stool (preferred) - or chair
7. One pair of powered studio monitors (or loudspeakers with power amplifiers) suitable for high-quality playback with good coverage in the presentation room
8. Speaker/amplifier input cables as shown in black on the above diagram (¼” -TRS plugs at the mixer end) – long enough to reach each speaker from the equipment table without causing a hazard on the floor
9. One computer projector (VGA or DVI/D input) adequate for the room – with projector stand – with power cable long enough to reach to the equipment table without causing a hazard on the floor
10. DVI/D or VGA cable long enough to reach from the computer to the projector without causing a hazard on the floor
11. One projection screen, large enough for adequate visibility throughout the room
12. One AC MAINS power outlet at the table
13. Tape to secure cables to the floor if/where they might cause a hazard
14. OPTIONAL (not shown on diagram) one dual-trace XY oscilloscope with a large enough display to be seen by the audience; check with me first if you intend to provide this to ascertain whether it will be helpful to the presentation
I will provide the following items, shown in red on the above diagram:
1. MacBook Pro portable computer system - with DVI/D to VGA adaptor
2. D-to-A computer audio output interface
3. Custom-built Presentation Demo Controller with internal Mid/Side matrix
4. Custom-built A-X-B Comparison Demo Controller (only if needed for Critical Listening Comparison lecture)
5. Spirit “Notepad” mixer (4 mic inputs and 2 stereo line inputs; balanced stereo line-level output from ¼” -TRS jacks)
6. Appropriate audio interconnect cables as shown in red for my equipment
7. Two Countryman E-6 head-worn mics (one for translator if needed)
8. One Shure A55HM shockmount; other mounting and rigging accessories for demo include: string, rope, shoelace
9. One stereo audio isolation transformer (if needed)
10. AC MAINS power distribution system (110-240VAC) for my equipment
I anticipate normal setup time to be around 30 - 40 minutes. However, I prefer to have a minimum of one hour available for setup and testing of the system before the audience arrives.
After the presentation, I expect it to take about 20 minutes to pack-up and load-out my equipment.
Please be sure that the venue has been booked for sufficient time before and after the scheduled presentation.
All presentations have planned opportunities for Q&A. For longer presentations (more than two hours) I usually provide time for a break mid-way through. It is better if refreshments are not provided, as they tend to lengthen the break. If refreshments are provided, these should precede or follow the presentation.
To answer your question before you ask it: For preservation of copyright, I do not provide copies of any of the audio or video materials used during my presentations. I do provide references, where appropriate, at the end of the presentations.