resonance: a ambient sound mixer and binaural tone generator

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The program contains over fifty natural sounds and music. You are able to play and mix these sounds together as well as add effects to them such as reverb, pitch-shift, and echo – all in a straightforward, non-technical way. It is also possible to import your own sounds.

Interactive Frequency Chart

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Reference Document

20Hz and lower: these frequencies are generally responsible for warmth in a recording. Too much and the recording will sound muddy.

120Hz – 600Hz: these frequencies give depth to a recording, giving vocals and other instruments a strong sense of presence without being clinical. On the other hand, these frequencies are where you’re most likely to experience problems with vocal resonance. Too much in this area can be particularly fatiguing.

600Hz – 3kHz: these frequencies also give presence but of a generally harder nature. High output in this region is fairly common in rock music as it gives it a hard edge that suites the genre.

3kHz- 7kHz: is the area where vocal sibilance resides. 3kHz-5kHz is a very common peaking area in rock music because human hearing is pretty sensitive here and extra output here makes it sound louder. It also adds a harshness that is particularly fatiguing so don’t over do it. Because of the high sensitivity in this region you can add warmth without loss of clarity by attenuating this region a bit.

7kHz -: Cymbals etc, and all the other components that add the sense of quality and accuracy. Above 10kHz too much output may make your recordings sound like they are lacking some definition.

If your tracks lack warmth and have too much sibilance you either have too little output below 500Hz or too much above 3kHz. A generally good balance will be pretty flat from around 60Hz up to 1-2kHz and then rolling off to be around 10-20 dB down at 10kHz. How much tapering at the spectrum ends you’ll need will depend on the nature of the music.

If there are some sharp peaks in the peak spectrum (yellow trace) that stand out above the rest then they may need to be attenuated a bit. Again, don’t try to eliminate the peak but just reduce and control it a bit. A good rule of thumb would be to reduce the peak so that it is about as high as the other undulations on the spectrum.

Finally, strong output in the region of 3-5kHz can make recordings sound fatiguing and clinical. If you have strong output in this region reduce it by approximately 3dB.

The Worlds First Synthesizer (Late 19th Century)

Worlds First Synthesizer

Worlds First Synth Closeup

Helmholtz Synth Drawing

This ingenious device, designed by Herman von Helmholtz XR (1821-1894), was the very first sound synthesizer: a tool for studying and artificially recreating musical tones and the sounds of human speech.

Background

Suppose I sing the word ‘car’ and then on the same note sing ‘we’. The two vowel sounds will be similar in so far as they have the same pitch G , yet they have a clearly distinct sound quality, or timbre G . What is it that accounts for this difference, and the timbres G of musical sounds in general? Helmholtz set out to answer this very question in the mid nineteenth century, building on the work of the Dutch scientist Franz Donders (1818-1889).
Complex tones

Helmholtz showed that the timbre G of musical notes, and vowel sounds, is a result of their complexity: just as seemingly-pure white light actually contains all the colors of the rainbow, clearly defined musical notes are composed of many different tones. If you play the A above middle C on an organ, for example, the sound you hear has a clearly defined “fundamental” pitch G of 440Hz G . But the sound does not only contain a simple “fundamental” vibration at 440Hz G , but also a “harmonic series” of whole number multiples of this frequency G called “overtones” (e.g., 880Hz G , 1320Hz, 1760Hz, etc.). Helmholtz proved, using his synthesizer, that it is this combination of overtones at varying levels of intensity that give musical tones, and vowel sounds, their particular sound quality, or timbre G .
How the synthesizer works

Helmholtz’s apparatus uses tuning forks, renowned for their very pure tone, to generate a fundamental frequency G and the first six overtones which may then be combined in varying proportions. The tuning forks are made to vibrate using electromagnets and the sound of each fork may be amplified by means of a Helmholtz resonator with adjustable shutter operated mechanically by a keyboard.

By varying the relative intensities of the overtones, Helmholtz was able to simulate sounds of various timbres G and, in particular, recreate and understand the nature of the vowel sounds of human speech and singing. Vowel sounds are created by the resonances G of the vocal tract, with each vowel defined by two or three resonant frequencies G known as formants. When we say or sing ‘a’ (as in ‘had’), for instance, the vocal tract amplifies frequencies G close to 800Hz G , 1800Hz and 2400Hz amongst others. When we require a different vowel sound, the muscles of the throat and mouth change the shape of the vocal tract, producing a different set of resonances G .

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