Practical audio theory – Introduction

You have 2 speakers in front of you. So you can place the sound to the left, or to the right. Moving the sound to the front or back is not possible.

But with the right techniques you can fool the ear so it thinks something sounds closer to you or farther away from you. And that’s what I always call ‘3D mixing’. One of the most important ingredients for a good mix. If you mix in ‘3D’, you can be sure you mix will translate much better. Whether it is played back on an iPhone or your home cinema set. So I will talk about this ‘3D’ mixing more often on this website. Maybe even more than you’d like. 🙂

But in order to be able to mix in 3D and understand what you have to do, you have to know something about sound. When I was studying to become an audio engineer 20 years ago, I had to learn a lot about audio theory. For example, I had to learn how to calculate the output of a pre-amp when 20dB of gain was applied and the microphone input was 0.17 volts.

In practice I wouldn’t use a calculation for that. It’s easy: if it’s too loud, you have to turn it down. So you won’t come across calculations like that here. Actually, you won’t find any calculations in this module. We are going to look at the theory that you will actually use when mixing.