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University of Massachusetts-Lowell - November 16, 2011

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Summary

This week, Alex Case gave a presentation called Electric Guitar: Get it Right! Alex discussed the spectral content of the guitar beyond its range of fundamental frequencies, that we should acknowledge its presence, and consider what can and should be done with that content. We listened to examples of clean and distorted guitars playing several different riffs, then listened to those same examples with hi pass and lo pass filters to hear the spectral content that exists beyond the guitars fundamental range (both above and below).

This content is induced by information at the beginning and end of notes, as well as harmonics and distortion caused by the cab and the amplifier. He presented analyses of frequency content, showing how mic placement in distance and angle affects timbre. These graphs were generated by playing a (sweeping a sine wave) signal through the amp and recording the signal with an SM 57 at various angles from the center of the cone, and distances from the center. When changing the angle of the microphone, the graphs displayed a slight decrease in amplitude across the frequency spectrum. When moving the microphone from the center of the cone outward, more sporadic and complicated attenuation of narrow frequencies occurred at high frequency.

We also discussed the importance of knowing the timbre of the instruments you are recording. In real world situations, clients will want their piano to sound like a Yamaha or a Steinway and you will have to decipher what they are looking for in terms of spectral content versus what you have captured.

Thank you to Alex for making the time to speak with us in the midst of a very busy research and guest lecturing schedule that has been taking him across the globe.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society