Tag Archives: Audio

Unlocking the Mystery of the Greatest Loudspeaker in History: the Yamaha NS10

“Ever wonder why the small Yamaha NS10 monitor is poised so confidently behind the mixing consoles of every major recording studio around the world? I have. When you explore this little loudspeaker’s list of credits, you’ll discover that no other single loudspeaker has played a greater role in your musical library than the Yamaha NS10—period!

The famous YAMAHA NS 10 studio monitors:

But the equation is more complex than you might think. We’ve got the most famous loudspeaker in history—a Grammy Awarded loudspeaker. And we have the world’s best sound engineers using them. But we have other engineers openly cursing these speakers: so, what gives??

Every major recording studio in the world uses these speakers and yet, if you asked someone to explain why the speakers are so valuable, no one would be able to tell you the real answer. Sound experts grapple with a real explanation of what these speakers actually do on a technological level that makes them so needed. It’s an industry mystery, and it is one that has intrigued me for years.

The NS10 was originally released simply as a domestic hi-fi loudspeaker in 1978; but it did not sound good, and it was poorly received. Then, somehow, by fluke or by miracle, recording engineers began implementing them as a reference benchmark for a bad sounding speaker. Imagine: what is now the world’s most influential loudspeaker was once regarded as the worst sounding equipment on the market. However, professionals soon began to realize the NS10 had the uncanny ability to reveal shortcomings in recordings, and the rest is history.

A short list of Grammy Awarded engineers known for using the Yamaha NS10 is Andy Wallace, Brendan O’Brien, Tom & Chris Lord-Alge, Charles Dye, and Dave Pensado. With these big names on board, it makes sense to say that the Yamaha NS10 is invaluable to the recording industry. Literally thousands of albums have been produced using the Yamaha NS10 or one of its production variants. We’re talking many Gold and Platinum production numbers here. Pick your top ten all-time favorite songs and albums from the last thirty years and you’ll discover the NS10 was likely used at some point in their production process. And, if you expand that top ten list of yours to movie and television recordings, you’ll soon realize that the NS10’s influence upon how and what we hear is near endless.

With a pedigree like this you’d think that every engineer worth his salt would have a pair of these black and white boxes and be using them every day—but they don’t. The ultimate irony here is Yamaha literally walked away from NS10 production in 2001. They completely abandoned all production! Yamaha soon moved into the realm of wider bandwidth, more linear, and larger-sized models; a mistake in my professional opinion.

In my career in the music industry, I have designed over fifty-five commercially available loudspeaker designs, but I had never been able to crack the secret of what makes the NS10 so valuable. Over the years I’ve been asked to build near-field monitors, or speakers that are used in recording studios, for audio engineers. To date, we’ve built them for some of the biggest names and artists in the industry. Intuitively, when I was first asked to produce a near-field monitor, I figured I needed to start with some homework, and the first thing I did was research the Yamaha NS10. When it came time to evaluate the NS10 frequency response, I saw something very intriguing. This loudspeaker, so highly revered by everyone, had the strangest frequency response I had ever seen. Then it hit me . . . the frequency response looked strangely familiar . . . but where . . . ? Then, the correlation was almost instant. I went straight to the ISO 226 equal-loudness contours curves and the Fletcher Munson curves—research that shows how the human ear hears sound at different frequencies. I copied a page from one of the tables, flipped it over upside down, and held the page up to my window. Through the light, I saw what looked to be the Yamaha NS10 frequency response now for the second time and located in a place where no one expected to find it. It now made perfect sense – mystery solved! My respect for Bob Clearmountain, the first sound engineer to regularly use the NS10 in a recording studio, now goes through the stratosphere! His intuitiveness, creativity, and most importantly, his ability to discern how music should sound in recordings places him in the realm of Picasso and Michelangelo.

The Fletcher Munson and Equal-Loudness Contours :

The Yamaha NS10 was an accidental inverse of the ISO 226 equal-loudness contours curves and the Fletcher Munson curves. The Yamaha NS10 becomes a successful near-field ‘mixing monitor’ when it is placed sideways with the tweeters opposed and on the outside; and placed in the near-field referenced to a level between 80-100dB. Mixing with a loudspeaker like this causes revealing midrange (harmonics and subtle details) and invites the engineer to emphasize the lower frequencies proportionally; reduce the midrange dominance, and emphasize and adjust high frequencies accordingly. Proper editing and playback on reference grade loudspeakers at levels between 80-100dB will reveal a quality end result. I’m oversimplifying all of this a bit here because this is not only pure science… it’s also art.

Based on the unraveling of this mystery, I have filed for patent protection for what I term a new type of ‘conversion monitor’ for ‘mixing sound’. I am pleased to announce new loudspeakers for near-field mixing and monitoring. These will be high quality scientific electro-acoustical instruments and powerful tools in a sound engineer’s toolbox. Pre-orders are now being accepted – please email me directly. I will also make licensing available to individuals, companies, and manufacturers. I also plan to offer a Yamaha NS10 crossover modification that will hug the equal-loudness contour inversion even closer. We are excited to add to the legacy that the NS10 has already brought to the recording industry, and are proud to offer you a new industry-changing product.

Eric Jay Alexander


Tekton Design LLC”

Yamaha NS10 Frequency Response:

Further enforcing the theory: Bob Clearmountain placed tissue paper over the tweeter to further attenuate it. This too, was no accident and it takes the NS10 much closer to the 80-100dB ISO equal-loudness contour.

The Fletcher Munson and Equal-Loudness Contours inverted:

Read more about the YAMAHA NS 10 studio monitors : How A Hi-fi Speaker Conquered The Studio World


Source: http://bit.ly/1GLVLfp


Hearing Tarantino

From the delicate intricacies used to display the fastidiousness of a character, to the overzealous noises paying tribute to a genre.

Here is a quick video I created to showcase the many unique and effective sounds used in the films of Quentin Tarantino.

Films used:
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Death Proof (2007)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Django Unchained (2012)

Original Source: 

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

Nowadays, when people want to add a sound effect to a movie, they mostly just pull up a digital archive, choose a sound, and drag and drop. But in the pre-digital age, people created sounds using whatever objects were close to hand. Here are the 10 most unusual sources for your favorite sound effects.

1) Lightsabers

The sound designer for Star Wars was Ben Burtt, whose name is synonymous with creative and practical sound design. The entire Star Wars movie catalog is full of outside-the-box sound effects — including the most unmistakable sound of all.

The lightsaber’s familiar and distinctive hum, which we all have imitated while wielding a cardboard gift wrap tube, was created by a TV and a 35mm projector. Explains Burtt:

The lightsaber was, in fact, the very first sound I created for A New Hope. Inspired by the McQuarrie concept paintings, I remembered a sound of an interlock motor on the old film projectors at the USC Cinema Department (I had been a projectionist there). The motors made a musical “hum” which I felt immediately would complement the image in the painting. I recorded that motor, and a few days later I had a broken microphone cable that caused my recorder to accidentally pick up the buzz from the back of my TV picture tube. I recorded that buzz, and mixed it with the hum of the projector motor. Together these sounds became the basis for all the lightsabers.”

You can watch the video above to find out more.

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

2) The Green Death Ray from The War of the Worlds

The 1953 version of H.G. Wells’ classic tale of alien invasion had an arresting sound effect when the aliens unleashed their green wing-tip death ray. And this chilling sound was created by hitting a high-tension wire (like on an antenna tower) with a hammer. This same technique is used to create the iconic “pew pew pew” sound of the blasters in Star Wars. And many sources claim the same technique — hitting a wire with a hammer — was used for the photon torpedoes in Star Trek.

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

3) Phasers in Star Trek: The Original Series

The Death Ray wasn’t the only innovative sound effect in the 1953 War of the Worlds — the Martian “heat ray” also had a surprising source. According to a 1953 article by producer George Pal, The War of the Worlds’ Martian heat-ray sound was produced when sound designers played three electric guitars backwards and added some harp. And according to Ben Burtt (who also worked on Star Trek Into Darkness) the sound designers who worked on the original Star Trek were huge fans of the 1953 War of the Worlds adaptation, because whenever a phaser is fired in Star Trek, you’re hearing the same backwards guitar and harp sound.

4) The Martian Scream

Back to War of the Worlds — in that same article, Pal talks about how the Martian scream sound was produced:

How would a Martian scream sound? The boys thought a long time on that one. Finally they arrived at the unusual conclusion of scraping dry ice across a contact microphone and combining it with a woman’s high scream recorded backwards. It was the weirdest sound anyone has yet come up with for one of my pictures.

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

5) The Predator’s Heartbeat

Despite the Predator’s lack of empathy, sound designers spent a lot of time giving him a heart:

[The sound when the viewers are in “Predator Vision” mode] is the Predator heartbeat. I found an old glass flower vase with a very wide mouth. I put some water and a natural sponge inside it. John P. and I talked about how Predator should have a human-like heartbeat, but with something strange and alien in the rhythm. We decided maybe he had more ventricles than humans, or something.

Ezra Dweck helped me record the sponges squishing in odd rhythms. We gave that tape to John P. to play with. He processed and tweaked, and he would have had to edit my terrible sense of rhythm. So those “Predator heartbeat” tracks went into the library.

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

6) Indiana Jones’ Boulder Dash

The famous boulder chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as enthralling and grandiose as it is, was actually just the sound editor’s Honda Civic rolling down the driveway.

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

7) The T-1000’s Jail Escape

That scene where the T-1000 walks through the bars of a jail cell? According to Oscar winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom, this effect was achieved with simply the sound of dog food being slowly sucked out of the can.

8) A Terminator’s Skull Crush

And there was actually more food inspired sound effects involved in this movie. In the scene where the viewers survey the damage done by a nuclear attack in the year 2029, the camera slowly pans to a close up of a skull. A robotic Terminator foot promptly smashes it. That smash you hear is a pistachio nut being destroyed by metal plating. Check out the video above for more great stuff, including how the effects were made for the classic scene where the T-1000 freezes, melts, and reforms.

9) The Jet Motorcycles in THX 1138

This movie featured both a jet car and a jet motorcycle. Unsurprisingly enough the jet car sound effects come from, well, a jet. Sound designer Walter Murch, however, wanted the motorcycles to have a different pitch so that the audience could differentiate between the two vehicles. What the audience hears as the bikes scream passed is, well, people screaming. He recorded 4 women screaming in a bathroom to achieve this sound.

10 Weirdest Origins Of Classic Science Fiction Sound Effects

10) The Marshmen in Doctor Who

Classic Doctor Who is full of innovative sound design — most fans of the show already know that the dematerialization sound of the Doctor’s time machine, the TARDIS, was created when sound designer Brian Hodgson rubbed his house keys back and forth on the strings of a broken piano. But the BBC Radiophonic Workshop had lots of tricks up its sleeve. When sound designer Dick Mills needed the cries of the Marshmen in the episode “Full Circle,” he went to a pig farm and recorded the cries of the pigs, slowed down to sound unearthly. Also, the sound of the Rutan monster in “Horror of Fang Rock” is “Dick’s fist churning in a tub of Swarfega.”

Source: http://io9.com/

Link to original article: http://bit.ly/1F0b7Mw

Hooray #Survey Time!

Hello there!

I am writing a report on Post Production in which I am studying several sound effect purposes and sound design elements. I am researching the background of sound design in film, and I am doing a comparison of two movies: King Kong 1933 and King Kong 2005. The report is performing an analysis on the sound design elements of the movies and is comparing techniques and technologies used in both films. This way, a clear demonstration of the progress of audio manipulation in the industry through time will be achieved.

With this survey, which I urge you to take, I can collect the data I need for my report. It only takes 5 minutes, and I promise you it’s really fun if you are into movies! Enjoy!

Hit the survey Icon to begin!


EDIT: This survey has been now closed. A great thank you for all of you who took part.

How speakers make sound

An A M A Z I N G representation of how speakers emit sound. Usually “audio people” are aware of  the functionality of loudspeakers but the rest of the world doesn’t care as long it works. The truth is, very few manage to have a look inside a speaker, and as most are non transparent, they are just a box that plays music.

Speakers (also called loudspeakers) push and pull surrounding air molecules in waves that the human ear interprets as sound. You could even say that hearing is movement detection. So what makes a speaker travel back and forth at just the right rate and distance, and how does that make sound?

View the full animation on: http://animagraffs.com/loudspeaker/

Creation by: Jacob O’Neal


Dark Horse Vs Burn

For the second artefact I have combined two songs and merge then in to one. This created a new song by using their music and lyrics. I consulted Youtube‘s Most Popular Pop Videos for the choice since I am targeting for the spreadability of the music artefact. Many very well known songs are on that list but I eded up in two. By picking songs by the current music-song trends in the industry will help my music piece to spread more and faster. The first song is by Katy Perry ft Juicy J and the second by Ellie Goulding. Katy’s Dark Horse has as by today 704.198.971 views and Ellie’s Burn 384.068.674 making them both extremely popular.

I also consulted a song key finder software to help me identify the key of the songs so that I could check if they are harmonically compatible. This helped me in refining my options and thus ending with those two songs instead of others. Both songs are from the same key: Bbm.

The main issue was the Bpm incompatibility, were Burn has much faster tempo. I edited them using Pro Tools although I think Audacity would be a much better choice in the end, I also used elastic audio to time stretch Burn in order to match the Dark Horse Bpm, but unfortunately that had decremental effects on Ellie’s already extremely processed vocals.

I included tags in Youtube such as: Mash-up, Music, Remix, Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, Dark Horse, Burn etc.

Do not confuse a mash-up for a remix.

A mashup (also mesh, mash up, mash-up, blend etc.) is a song or composition created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another.

Source: Wikipedia. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_%28music%29


Stats for 2nd Artefact: 

Posted on Youtube.

Like, Don’t Like, Comments, Shares,


And search: More than half views we attracted from Facebook

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 01.09.18

109 Views, 161 views according to the minutes being watched and 1 Follower. Visitors heard the song more than once. Either they hate it or enjoy it!

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 01.09.06

Posted on Facebook:

220 people were reached by my post. I uploaded it in a music group I have FBR Radio. Its the webpage of my radio station. Not active at the moment unfortunately. I got 13 likes as well!

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 01.08.04

A friend really likes it he posted it him self on his page and tagged me!

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 01.07.30

Summary: I hoped the second artefact would do better than the first. I used really popular songs, I posted It, tweeted about it as well, tagged it properly. I posted it on Youtube on wednesday afternoon round 20:00 pm hoping that I will get attention from UK and US. You can read more about my strategy here: https://toniavl.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/its-all-about-the-spread-project/   

I realised people are really unpredictable in what they choose to view and share. Had I posted it another week would probably give me totally different results.