Training Audio Engineers
Things were a bit chaotic yesterday. My day started early in the morning in Zürich and ended in Paris around midnight with the majority of the day in Mainz at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz Hochshule Für Musik. The mere fact that I made it to my first presentation/workshop was almost a miracle. Despite careful planning and pre-purchased tickets from the Zürich main train station to Frankfurt through Basel, I managed to miss the connecting train and was delayed by an hour getting to Frankfurt. And without my cell phone or WiFi, I wasn’t sure how I was going to let Michael Demmer, the gentleman that was so helpful in arranging my sessions, know I wasn’t going to be at the airport on time.
It’s not hard to find WiFi in large public places like the train stations and airports. It’s possible to get connected via WiFi on the train IF you have a functioning cell phone. The system here involves entering your phone number in order to receive a code, which you enter into your browser. It’s a great system if you have a functioning cell phone but without one, you’re out of luck.
I finally managed to connect with Michel using some Skype credits on the train and we met on the escalator of the train station. We arrived at the university about an hour late. I hate being late and apologized for my tardiness. The director of the studio and the students seemed to understand.
The session was broken into two separate sections. The first was held in a very crowded control room equipped with a studio grade 5.1 playback setup (which unfortunately had the left and right surround speakers placed about 140-150 degrees off the center line…20-30 degrees too far back). Moritz, the head of the audio recording program and my host, purchased a new Blu-ray player and hooked the analog outputs to his monitor system and stretched an HDMI cable to the flat panel TV at the front.
I started by introducing myself and explaining a little bit about the world of high-resolution audio. My first question to this group of 10-15 audio engineering students was what they knew about high-resolution audio. There was a long pause. I thought for a few moments that perhaps my audience didn’t understand my question or were struggling with English. Nope. They were completely unaware of the term. These audio students had no idea what I was talking about. So I spent the first hour explaining the basics of digital audio, sample rates, word lengths, and the Nyquist Theorem.
The first student question asked, “What’s the Nyquist Theorem?” It was time to reset again. So went the rest of the demonstration and presentation. In retrospect, I should have tried to gauge the experience and knowledge level of the students before launching into my discussion. They were very interested and particularly impressed once I stopped talking and started playing some examples of high-resolution music.
I switched from stereo to both of the 5.1 surround mixes available on my demonstration sampler and encouraged the students to take turns listening from the sweet spot. They seemed to enjoy the surround mixes more than the stereo.
About 2:30 pm, we took a lunch break and prepared for the afternoon recording session. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.