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Side-chain equalization through

selective unmasking by phase


vocoder analysis and synthesis
Zhiguang Eric Zhang
Equalization (EQ) within
mixing
• Make sonic elements fit
within the mix

• Address problematic or
clashing frequencies
(masking)

• Emphasize or deemphasize
certain frequencies for
creative purposes

http://vintageking.com/api-560
Modern EQ
• Dynamic / Active EQ

• Side-chain EQ

• New features

• spectrum grab
www.wavesfactory.com/images/gui.png

• natural phase

• match EQ

• New filter shapes

http://www.eiosis.com/10-thickbox_default/aireq.jpg
Time domain vs frequency
domain EQs
• Fast Fourier transform (FFT) frequency domain
filters are not widely accepted for EQ purposes

• Pre-echo, ripple, ringing, smearing, resonance?

• Time domain filters always have phase distortion -


frequency domain filters are zero-phase - no
phase shift or distortion!

• FFT incurs latency - digital audio workstations


generally compensate for latency
Primary aims

• To attempt to implement a frequency domain


FFT equalizer

• Objectively measure unmasking, clarity, and


cohesiveness

• Introduce the concept of a vector to frequency-


domain processing
Automatic mixing
• Automate tedium associated with audio engineering / mixing /
mastering

• Gain / level balancing, EQ, compression, panning

• Cross-adaptive (multi-track), auto-adaptive (single track or stem),


external-adaptive (side-chain)

• Should incorporate audio engineering best practices and domain


knowledge
• Pestana, Pedro D.; Reiss, Joshua D. Intelligent Audio Production Strategies Informed by Best
Practices. Presented at the 53rd AES International Conference, January 27–29, London, UK, 2014.

• Pestana, Pedro D. Automatic Mixing Systems Using Adaptive Audio Effects. Ph.D. dissertation,
Catholic University of Portugal, 2013.
Masking
• Complete masking is defined as a
dominant sound rendering a quieter
(-15 to 20 dB) sound unheard

• Partial masking - reducing the


audibility of a simultaneously
occurring sound

• Partial loudness - the loudness of a


sound in the presence of another
sound

• Central to the goals of EQ


Bosi, Marina; Goldberg, Richard E. Introduction to Digital Audio Coding and Standards.
Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. Print.

• is also addressed by gain and


panning
Prior work
• Pestana, Pedro D.; Reiss, Joshua D. A Cross-Adaptive Dynamic Spectral
Panning Technique. Proc. of the 17th Int. Conference on Digital Audio
Effects (DAFx-14), September 1-5, Erlangen, Germany, 2014.

• Dynamically panning FFT bins based on musical heuristics and unmasking


• Unmasking is subjectively competitive with a human audio engineer
• Subjective “excitement” and “other-worldliness”

• Hafezi, Sina; Reiss, Joshua D. Autonomous Multi-track Equalization Based


on Masking Reduction. J. Audio Eng. Soc., Vol. 63, No. 5, May, 2015.

• Cross-adaptive unmasking based on essential and non-essential


frequencies
• Uses psychoacoustic model to detect masking and time-domain filters to
EQ
• Subjectively competitive with a human audio engineer
Phase vocoder

• Frequency domain FFT


transformation followed by
time-frequency processing

• Traditionally used for pitch


shifting, time stretching,
and other effects

Quackenbush, Schuyler. L06_Transforms_1.pptx.pd


Zolzer, Udo. DAFX - Digital Audio Effects,
1st ed. New York City, USA: New York University
Second Edition. West Sussex: Wiley, 2011. Print.
Steinhardt, Music Technology, 2014.
FFT bins are vectors

• The FFT is a linear


transformation when taking
into account magnitude and
phase angle

• Signal addition can be done in


the frequency domain through
vector algebra


Signal contribution to a sum
is its scalar projection

• Signals are often added with


similar frequency content

• One track contributes to the


mix at a specific frequency
through its scalar projection
Subtractive EQ or attenuation
via scalar projection
Phase response
Input

phase response = zero-phase

Output
Dynamic FFT EQ
• Time constants (attack, release) smooth the
action of the effect and prevent artifacts

• Add features of a compressor to the effect:


threshold & ratio
Equal-loudness scaling

• Humans perceive relative


loudness of frequencies
differently, resulting in equal-
loudness curves

• Scale attenuation based on


how we actually hear
frequencies