Theory and practice
Apr 1, 1999 12:00 PM, Jared Blankenship
In the realm of audio, we often rely on our perception to guide ourequipment specification decisions, thereby introducing a degree ofsubjectivity. Through hearing alone, we can determine that one mic may lendclarity, warmth and depth to a female vocalist's singing while throughanother, her voice may sound as though she were singing through a tin canconnected to the mixing board by twine. Likewise, our ears tell us that onemodel of loudspeaker closely reproduces a cello's rich, mellow tone whileanother deprives the listener of the sonic intricacies inherent in thatinstrument's character. Behind this subjectivity, however, there resides ahigh degree of objective quantification. From specification sheets, curvesand other measurements, we obtain the data that will tell us why aparticular mic or loudspeaker works beautifully for a given application yetfails miserably in another. The key lies in knowing both what certainpieces of data are needed and how to decipher them. It then follows that todevelop this numerical acuity, you will also need to acquaint yourself withthe transducer-the very device that converts sound propagating through airinto electrical energy and back again, the very device at the heart of micsand loudspeakers.
A good familiarity with transducer theory starts here, in the followingpages. Knowledge of the theory breeds sound practice, a practice that willassuredly manifest itself in the quality of your next installation-fromdesign to installation and testing. This quality will, in turn, instillloyalty in the ultimate benefactor of your labor-your client, who will notonly keep you at the top of his list, but will also recommend to othersthat they do likewise.