One way to begin to comprehend and interpret sounds and their frequency range is by selecting sounds in your everyday life.
Select the sound in your everyday life and interpret the sound and determine whether it’s in the Sub-woofer territory Below 80hz for example.
Does it have more of a thump around 100-300hz. More of a thump and rattle to it around 300-2khz, Etc.
One day I will go outside and I will hear so many sounds just walking down a busy street. There are people chattering. Trucks and cars are honking and whizzing by. The wind blows and there is a lot of construction. Let’s select a muffler sound.
What kind of frequencies can we discover from a muffler? They are very low you can feel it vibrating different infrastructures and rattling about depending on the size. You should be able to pinpoint the approximate value in Hertz.
I do this as a mental exercise. It’s not something that I consciously thought of doing but it’s a fun way to learn.
You can grab a sound and use a frequency spectrum analyzer like SPAN and realize where the sound comes from, to see how right you are in your interpretation of sound.
You can learn a lot about different instruments and where their pitches differ.
This differentiation and understanding of where the instruments come from can come in handy when you are mixing and you want to balance the levels of different instruments.
Here is an excellent example of a Piano graph that displays the frequency, it displays the keyboard and it shows where certain pitches of the instruments are.
There are many ways to look at sound and measure frequencies visually. You can interpret music and sound with a spectral graph, you can visualize notes on a traditional musical staff and finally you can measure with a tool such as an analyzer too to provide you with a detailed number in hertz found on a graph.
I’ve always found that using a graph analyzer was very helpful for me, specifically for really low frequency spectrum, that really require a lot of precision.
It is typically the frequency area that requires the most amount of attention.
There are a lot of different things that can change the way the sound is interpreted. A lof of mixologists believe you should have a very dry signal. You want to have your speakers directed to your ears.
Interpreting the sound will all change dynamics by the positioning of the sound and the position of the listener.
Walls affect the way sounds enter your ear. If there are more reflections, it may let you hear something that is no longer there or never was there to begin with. A dry, direct signal is exact and should help the quality of your mix.
Ear Fatigue: Ear fatigue is very real. If you keep hearing the same sound your ears are going to burn out. Symptoms of ear fatigue are: Ringing, Distorted Frequencies and phantom frequencies.
I strongly believe one shouldn’t abuse one’s hearing to simply fulfill the day’s worth of a project. You want to take a break if you believe sounds are feeling vague and your labour is reaping minuses. You can always continue with your project another time.
If you are having trouble with understanding the frequency spectrum, make sure you check out this video tutorial.
This tutorial is tremendous for a novice, intermediate and advanced. It is a good refresher course, that has a fun and interesting background gags and jokes.
There are little jokes that make the video feel like it’s being done in jest, the director must have been some kind of hippie.
It goes through finding sounds within a space and finding frequencies within that space.
Furthermore, it goes through a variety of effects, their usage and how they work together in the space with other frequencies. I wish I had such resources when I started. Enjoy!