Meeting Topic: In the Kitchen with Alex Oana of ATK
Moderator Name: CRAS AES Faculty Advisor - David Kohr
Speaker Name: Alex Oana - Founder of Audio Test Kitchen
Meeting Location: Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, Gilbert Az via Zoom
Tonight for our weekly Thursday night event at CRAS AES, we were very fortunate to be joined by Alex Oana, creator, developer, and engineer of Audio Test Kitchen (ATK). ATK is a new resource that is available online at www.audiotestkitchen.com and allows you to compare various microphones from over 65 different manufacturers with varying sound sources. The following describes the details of our meeting and the insight that Alex had provided us about his magnificent venture, and the amount of work and research it had taken to conduct such a thorough examination of the differences between microphones.
Alex had begun by explaining what Audio Test Kitchen was, and how it functioned. He then talked about what it took to test all of these microphones from over 65 different manufacturers (ATK features about 300 different microphone choices) and ensure the accuracy and consistency of what they were recording in a scientific manner. He mentioned how their research team had implemented robotics to do things like strike a drum the exact same way every time, strike cymbals in the exact same way, and in the exact same places, to produce the exact same sound sources and capture those same sources with all of the various microphones that they had acquired from these manufacturers for this research. But what about the positioning? Alex and his team used lasers to pinpoint the exact same positions of the microphones and to ensure with pin point accuracy where the sound sources would enter the microphones to ensure the consistency and accuracy of these test. They had spent somewhere between five and six weeks in an anechoic chamber with all of these microphones comparing them up to the same sound sources to gather all of these recordings for this project.
Alex then went on to describe how it was to work with these manufacturers, and all of the amazing engineers he was able to work with in the process of creating ATK, two of which on his team were actually CRAS graduates.
The meeting moved to a Q&A from our students and faculty members, and everybody was very impressed with the research and interface that Alex and his team were able to produce. One of our veteran teachers, Jeff Harris, explained how it took engineers years and years of experience to be able to compare and contrast so many different microphones and get a true taste for their sound and application, where now it is available at our fingertips! You are able to choose a sound source that you would like to hear and which microphones you would like to hear those sources interpreted by. The user-friendly interface displays the different frequency responses of each microphone on one graph and how similar or different they may be to one another.
Alex Oana then went on to explain how one of his goals with this project was to empower the consumer, give them information and the ability to "try it before you buy it" and making that experience accessible to anybody before they spend potentially thousands of dollars on a microphone that may not be very different from microphones at a fraction of the price. Along these same lines, our event coordinator and student faculty advisor, David Kohr, had mentioned how great of a tool this can be for educators and students of audio and recording. The ability to familiarize ourselves with the different ways that microphones can be applied and the sounds produced by them virtually without actually owning these microphones is something that would have been impossible prior to ATK, something that is making this a tool that is revolutionizing the audio industry from an educational, professional, and consumer perspectives alike.
Alex had closed the meeting by saying how he is planning to continue to expand Audio Test Kitchen and going forward to make it an even more of an invaluable tool for engineers and the industry as a whole. He gave us a very warm salutations and was very grateful to be able to connect with the CRAS AES section, as were we for having him.
Audio Test Kitchen can be found at www.audiotestkitchen.com
Written By: CRAS AES Vice Secretary - Gregory Robert Truitt II