How sound engineers at live concerts keep the band sounding great?
How some guitar players seem to have a simply incredible sound?
The answer is: frequency hearing, which means being able to dissect a sound into its component parts.
Musicians with this skill are said to have Golden Ears. Their ability to craft the perfect sound is unrivalled.
What are “Golden Ears”?
Using frequency ear training lets you hear music in a different kind of way. As well as hearing the notes and chords you’re used to, you begin to hear the overall sound in different “frequency bands”, knowing how strong each band is and which ones contain each instrument in the mix.
Hearing these frequency bands is the key to understanding why one mix of music tracks sounds great, and another sounds terrible. Or why a really excellent band can get up on stage and somehow the sound the audience hears just seems like a mess.
Those people who have dedicated themselves to frequency ear training develop a kind of hearing that acts as a beautiful and powerful complement to regular musical hearing. Those who truly master it are called “Golden Ears” out of admiration and respect for their skill.
With golden ears you never need to wonder which dial on the mixing desk to tweak to fix the mix. Or how to adjust that guitar which is producing a distorted buzz. You hear clearly how the different instruments in a song fit together and what you could change to make it sound even better.
In the past this kind of “frequency hearing” was something which only audio professionals needed: mixing engineers, studio recording engineers, DJs, and producers at the big labels. These days though, with almost every musician recording their own music at some stage, developing frequency hearing has become a core part of modern ear training.
After all, what’s the point of knowing which notes and chords to play, and spending hours mastering your instrument – if the final result sounds like a murky mess to the listener?
How to get Golden Ears
Traditionally audio engineers have used expensive courses or attended college classes to develop their frequency hearing. We think this is a skill that should be accessible and affordable to every musician, so this week we released a new audio-enhanced eBook:
The Frequency Fundamentals Handbook has been written by a studio pro with decades of experience and deep insight into how to get your golden ears.
Like our other ear training eBooks it includes dozens of music clips for you to listen to as you read it, so the material comes to life and you begin training your ears immediately. In fact, with this one we’ve packed it with so many audio examples and demonstrations it’s like a book and training course combined into one.
Do You Really Need Golden Ears?
Because this type of ear training has traditionally been the exclusive secret of the audio engineers world you might well wonder whether you actually need it. After all, there’s ear training for intervals, chords, scales, rhythm and more to worry about… do you really need another topic?
- Have you ever bought a new piece of music equipment and not known which dials control what – and been frustrated that you can’t seem to figure it out by trial and error?
- Have you ever been to a concert where the acoustics sucked – and you felt frustrated that you couldn’t hear the band as clearly as you wanted to?
- Have you done a recording session and been really pleased with your performance – only to find that the final mix sounded really disappointing by comparison?
If any of these experiences are ringing true then you’ve already encountered the kinds of situation where frequency ear training and having “Golden Ears” could make a world of difference to your musical life.
Not to mention: it’s just fun!
This type of ear training is so complementary to the normal kinds of ear training which musicians do, you can see really interesting results really quickly – and it applies whenever you hear music. That means even when you’re just listening to songs you know and love for the enjoyment of it, your new frequency ear training skills will reveal new depths and beauty in the sound.
That’s why I personally love this kind of ear training. It opens up your ears to a whole new “dimension” of hearing. It’s magical to hear songs you know in a whole new richer way.
I remember the first time I listened to one of my favourites, “Emily” by Joanna Newsom after doing some audio ear training… it blew me away. Every music-lover deserves this experience, so I’d encourage you to give it a try!
You can learn more and preview the book here:
If you’ve ever wished you could hear the rich detail in sound (and know how to improve it and fix any problems) the way that the world’s most skilful audio engineers do, pick up a copy of the Frequency Fundamentals Handbook and start developing your own Golden Ears!
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