"Explain Like I'm 5": Why Is Pro Audio Gear So Expensive? February 27, 2015 17:17

Sticker shock is a common malady in the recording world. It takes a lot of money to outfit and maintain a studio. But why?

What are the factors that drive the price of professional recording gear?

Why does gear cost so much more than the sum of its components?

Are the prices justified, or is someone getting ripped off?

In this month's podcast, Peterson and Chris discuss what goes into the cost of a piece of gear, and how you can short-circuit some of these costs by doing it yourself.

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"Explain Like I'm 5": Filters January 29, 2015 14:32 3 Comments

How do filters work?

As audio engineers, we use filters every day. We're all intimately familiar with high-pass, low-pass, band-pass, shelf, etc. filters. But how do they actually work in analog gear?

The basic operating principles of analog filters are actually very simple. In this quick (10 minute) podcast, Peterson and Chris explain the very basics of high-pass and low-pass filters so that any 5-year-old could understand.

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View the circuits we discussed in the podcast on Upverter:

“Explain Like I’m 5″: Audio Levels December 11, 2014 20:22 8 Comments

What's the difference between "pro" and "consumer" line levels?

Is it ok to plug an instrument into a line level input?

What's the difference between peak and RMS levels?

In the long-awaited return of our "Explain Like I'm 5" podcast series, Peterson and new DIYRE team member, Chris, explain the basics of audio levels.

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Topics discussed:
  • Can you damage equipment by plugging the wrong thing in?
  • In analog audio Volume = Voltage
  • The difference between peak and RMS volume
  • RMS is a way of measuring AC as if it were DC
  • The most common levels you'll encounter in the studio:
    • +4dBu, pro line level (1.22V)
    • -10dBV, consumer line level (.316V)
    • Mic level
    • Instrument level
  • Tangent: why are microphone output levels so low?
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"Explain Like I'm 5": Impedance July 18, 2013 16:20 10 Comments

When I sent out the newsletter announcing the last "Explain Like I'm 5 Podcast," I asked which audio topics you wanted to hear explained to a 5-year-old. As as result I now have a list of over 25 topics for future shows! But the response I got the most was "impedance."

One reader even taunted me: "Haha, explain impedance like I'm five..good luck with that ;)" Challenge accepted, buddy!

Impedance is one of those audio concepts that comes up at almost every recording session or live sound gig, even if you're not aware of it. Grasping the basics of input and output impedance can make you aware of potential problems before they happen, and help you problem solve more quickly and confidently. And the truth is that the fundamentals of impedance are simple enough that you can learn them from a 15-minute podcast.

In today's ELI5 podcast, I begin with a discussion of acoustics before moving to electronics to show you that you already know more about impedance than you probably think. I go on to cover exactly what input/output impedance specs mean, illustrate the concept of impedance with examples from the studio, and explain what impedance mis-matches can do to your sound.

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Do you understand impedance now? How easy was the podcast to understand? Is there any other topic you'd like to hear explained as if to a 5-year-old? I welcome your feedback in the comments.

"Explain Like I'm 5": Balanced vs. Unbalanced Connections July 11, 2013 12:30 8 Comments

This podcast marks the first of a new series in which I attempt to explain complex audio subjects so that a 5-year-old could understand them.

In this first "Explain Like I'm 5" podcast, I tackle the important subject of balancing. What is the difference between balanced and unbalanced connections? How does balancing work? Why do we need balanced connections?

In less than 15 minutes, I answer these questions the way I wish someone had for me: assuming no electronics knowledge, sticking to the basics, and using only terminology that a musician would understand.

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In order, I discuss:

  • What are balanced and unbalanced connections?
  • How can I identify the difference?
  • Why are there these two types of connections in the studio?
  • How does balancing reduce noise?
  • What is Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR)?
  • If balanced connections are so great, why isn't everything balanced?