September 2, 2018

2018 AES INT CONFERENCE W-01 「Consideration of Height ch miking along with music style」


「Consideration of Height ch miking along with music style」

 Mick Sawaguchi  FM of AES. C.E.O UNAMAS Label

In this workshop, we will present a real world of Immersive Surround Production Practices by music album. Mick Sawaguchi will describe a relationship between height ch miking and Music style. We will be in charge of 75 minutes workshop with slides and playback that make it useful for participants.

From Mick Sawaguchi 4 time award wining producer engineer, his UNAMAS Label has been doing immersive sound productions from 2014 on 9.1 ch to 11.1 ch classical music production at Ohga Hall Karuizawa.
He introduce this recording concept by ART - TECHNOLOGY and ENGINEERING that show you immersive surround miking and various heights miking to optimized music style and delivered format.

I will introduce the relationship between the height miking and style of music on a Immersive Surround (9.1CH or 11.1 CH) productions.  The UNAMAS Label has been released 7 albums, which based on Ohga Hall from 2014 to the present.

Since it is divided into four types of height / miking roughly, I introduce each concept and production examples and demonstration playback. This time it is not the purpose to listen to music itself, so I will do the demonstration in about 6 minutes each.

1 Concept of height channel miking

1-1 Immersive Surround is effective in beautiful halls, churches and historical buildings, and this is a goal to reproduction of a natural spherical sound field to the listeners.
In the recording studio, which originally designed to the dead, the creative type Immersive Surround approach will be effective. To utilizes the sound but assembles the instrument sound source in a hemisphere is effective. For this purpose, it is key to create a musical composition, which expresses a definite completed form at the stage of composition from the scratch.

1-2 Miking of the height channel is flexible from miking depending on what music are produced and there is no need to always stick to fixed array · miking.
However, Miking adopts a certain principle and an arrangement that considers phase and delay.

1-3 the directivity of the microphone used for height

● Omni
● Wide cardioid
● Cardioid

Selections of these are by the difference between the sound field and music style. There are studies that super directivity is effective among the various Height · Miking research in Europe, but this is simply a way of thinking that gives priority to separating from the main channel, the sound quality of the microphone used Hemispherical surfaces do not hold as music unless their characteristics are examined.

2 Basic recording systems

The classic recording system at Ohga Hall has evolved since the beginning of 2014. The current basic recording system will be introduced below.
It consists of 7.1ch+4ch as total.
The 7.1ch divides 3 element that are 5ch main, 2ch SL-SR and LFE spot microphone.

3 Miking of base channel "UNAMAS flow subjective surround"

Surround expressions in music so far .It has been roughly divided into 3 sound designs.
● Realistic surround  ex: hall recording. Live concert
 Creative Independent Surround ex: pops contemporary music  Electric music
 All around Wall Surround

Each has advantages and disadvantages. The realistic surround is mainly adopted in classical and live concerts, the main sound field is on the front 3 CH, and the rear CH sounds only in the ambience sound. The creative surround is an approach to reconstruct the sound field by sorting each instrument that has recorded multitrack in the studio etc. mix by surround. The two disadvantages are said to be as follows.

● Because there is no real sound on the rear, the realistic surround sounds like a response from a listener saying   
     "It is not much different from stereo."
● In creative surround, "When you hear a tight sound all the way around, you get tired from listening for a long 

Subjective Surround
So UNAMAS examined how to combine the merit of the two, and there are real sounds on all channels, but using the bleedings each other and not feel tight real sound. I challenged a design called a subjective sound field (an artist surrounding the listener) only possible at art of recording. The hint of this idea is UNAHQ 1009 "After Glow" album that I made at Onkyo House Music Studio in April 2013. It was designed, which arranged the string quartet around the solo piano, was also convincing as surround music, so we decided to proceed further.

Miking of the current main channel (called Bets etc.) is based on 7.1 CH as shown below. It is Miking of the 4CH height channel as described below to handle this upper part, and it becomes 11 · 1 CH as a whole.

4 4 types of height -channel miking and musical expression

In the Immersive Surround, UNAMAS is working on an approach to realize the beauty of Hall's reverb with music, so to speak, a natural acoustic in a hemisphere. Here, we will introduce the relationship between Height · Mi king and style of music set at various points in the Ohga Hall.
In the future, I would like to work on a creative type of Immersive Surround where a real sound exists in the height channel by teaming with a talented composer. 

4-1 UNAHQ 2007 J.S.Bach The Art of Fugue 2015 May

A: In February 2014, I started producing clasical albums at Ohga Hall, and when recording "Four Seasons" which became my first work, it is important to verify what the sound of the hall's height channel is like in the string quartet. We set a 4-meter height miking for the ceiling, this will be an idea carried out at After Glow. When I playback it at a later at My studio, I can find that a very well-balanced sound is in the vicinity of the ceiling and plan to introduce it in the next recording of The Art of Fugue Project. 

B: Why target the ceiling reflected sound on the stage with [The Art of Fugue]?
The form of Fugue is called a "monophonic", a form like a puzzle of sound that each instrument is played independently according to a certain rule, unlike the "polyphonic" form, which emits a beautiful harmony from the ensemble to the space.
There are three large reflection plates at the upper part of the stage of the Ohga Hall, and it has a structure that makes it easy for people to hear their performances to the artists by reflection from the ceiling. Fugue's main body is the sound of single instruments so it is better to capture this early reflection and reinforce the music rather than capturing the rich ensemble sound that reverb in the halls. As a result of examining how it might be, as a result of such a ceiling oriented height miking, it was made.

At this time, I tried to arrange the height channel with MID - Layer and TOP - Layer as in two layers configuration. "This is because that the expression of the hemispherical surface would appear more dense." However, when playing back with 3 layers (base-ch, mid layer and top layer), the sound image floated upward and it failed. If you adopt such a three-layer composition, it may be possible to capture the sound field well if a distance between the layers is wide at a large recording venue.

4-2UNAHQ 2009 F. Schubert Death and The Maiden 2015 December


A: Height. Miking aiming at hall audience seats from the end of the stage
When I heard the string quartet "Death and Maiden" written by Schubert in his last years, I was impressed with the dynamics and huge momentum. How can we capture this momentum and ensemble with a height microphone? While listening to the sound at the stage while making a solo piano album [Dimensions], I noticed that the trajectory where the sound fly toward the audience seating. Even if I asked the hall’s staff, "It is a story that we have a feeling that sounds will fly when we are sound checks from the stage with rehearsals etc." So in this work, I decided to use the sound that the ensemble of "death and maiden" flies to the audience for the height. (I think that there is a question that it cannot be called a height microphone!) If you can see the figure, the four microphones placed at the stage end in the linear arrangement, the two extreme ends are placed in TOP - Ls / Rs, and the middle two are placed in TOP - FL / FR. This is miking, which I applied to the Ohga Hall a method to record 4-channel coastal wave when doing field surround recording.

4-3 UNAHQ 2012 P.I. Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence 2016 December

A: Height channel from the second floor balcony seat

How capture the sound of Ohga Hall? It is one of the attractions of album production while thinking about various things. This work is well organized and I thought that sufficient sounds would diffuse into the hall, and I set up the height microphone that placed it in the chorus balcony seat at the 2nd floor. If it is here, it will be a distance difference of about 20 m from the stage and a relationship that can be said to be a height-microphone is completed. The microphone used is a one point X - Y mic called Sanken CUW - 180. The one-point L-CH / RCH microphone capsule is expanded at 120 degrees in the direction of the stage and audience seats, respectively, and the localization is set to TOP: FL-Ls and the other to the TOP: FR-Rs.
Although I played the album on 9.1 CH, I got the comment from the person who listens to the concert frequently at Ohga Hall “This is the sound of Ohga Hall ". It was one work that got a feeling that sufficient sound can be captured even if taking a long distance, as the musicians grows bigger. At the next opportunity, we definitely wanted to record at the center of the second floor seat with a height microphone installed next project.

4-4 UNAHQ 2014 G. Bottesini Grand Duo 2017 December

A: Height microphone at the center of the second floor seat

With Bottesini's Grand Duo with Cb and Vl's solo part taken in.
Finally we were able to do a combination at the center of the second floor of the Ohga Hall. Cb and Vl solo 2 people and 5 people supporting it, Cb is also added to the back, so I thought that the sound in the hall can be captured well S / N, the sound of the hall audience side that enable to hall ambience more.
This is also used miking as a pair of Sanken CUW - 180 one - point X - Y As well as the previous recording of the orientation. The direction is directed towards the stage side and the audience side at 120 degrees. It is interesting to see how the difference that compared to the 2nd floor balcony seat comes out to the sound. The sound of mixing is well enveloped Ohga Hall.

It was an introduction and demonstration of the various musical compositions of classical recordings at Ohga Hall by the idea of a suitable height miking that UNAMAS approach. Here, even though it is the same recording venue. On the other hand, it is a normal miking that capture the best sound of the hall regardless of the style of the music and making it a height, and the production of such an approach may be fixed.

Personally, from the middle of 1980, I first made 3-1 surround by analog matrix, and after the 5.1 surround from 1990 to 2014, recently, Immersive Surround, which can constitute such a hemisphere surface field, I've been working on with long carrier and experience. I believe that accumulating experience and achievements obtained at each stage is also a very valuable asset and that it is the role of professionals to share it with many people through these activities. 

Author's Bio

Mick Sawaguchi
UNAMAS- Label C.E.O Fellow member AES and ips

Mick (Masaki) Sawaguchi graduated in 1971 in electronics from the Chiba Institute of Technology and joined the Broadcasting Engineering Department of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) as an engineer. 
At 80’s, era, He was already a highly respected figure, both within NHK and in the Audio Engineering Society, having been an officer in the Japanese section since 1989. He has been taken a practical surround production workshop on his own [SURROUND TERAKOYA] since 2002.Now it has 100rdwork shop. (

He retired NHK2005 as MD of Program production Dep. After that 
He established his own Music Label, which is [UNAMAS]. It was an early Boutique music label in JAPAN by HD (Hi Resolution recording and production with surround). and UNAMAS4K at YouTube

Currently, He is president of Mick Sound Lab.  
Received "Dawn" (UNAHQ - 2003) Excellence Award at the 20th Japan Professional Music Recording Award 2013 by High Resolution 2 ch. 
In 2015, "The Art of Fugue" (UNAHQ - 2007) received the professional music recording prize surround category, "Death and the Maiden" (UNAHQ - 2009) in 2016 and 2017, awarded Best of High Resolution Surround category and Best Studio Award. Currently working on Immersive Surround music production since 2015. 

Many published regarding surround sound productions as Japan, China and Korea. He often takes a time to have surround production workshop or seminar in ASIA. They give a nickname of him as [SURROUND SHOGUN].

Mick has contributed to many AES Conferences, presenting several papers on surround sound mixing and microphone techniques since 1991.
 In recent work "Sound Design · Bible" Kenrokan Publishing

July 13, 2018

MQA Music production workflow for professional [ Technical seminar report ]

by Bob Stuart and Mick Sawaguchi

This is a seminar report in which held at InterBEE in 2017 November. On the consumer side, MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) technology has attracted attention for several years but since there was not much opportunity to introduce it systematically to the domestic production side, we had a session at the professional exhibition called InterBEE this time has been held.
The session was held on the afternoon of November 15th, when Bob Stuart, MQA developer and C. E. O, came to Japan on MQA's basic technology and MQA-CD production applying it. I also focused on MQA's technology, continuously released albums in MQA format from UNAMAS-Label, and released the world's first MQA-CD [A. Piazzolla a Strings and Oboe] from OTTAVA-Records So I will introduce the overview as I participated in the lecture.

1 Purpose of MQA coding and trend of music

Bob: Thank you for coming all the MQA sessions. Today, I am very pleased that we have the opportunity to systematically introduce MQA to the professional people on the production side and what kind of application it is.

First, let's see the relationship between quality and convenience in music software for the past 50 years.

Analog ·open reel tape can say that quality is equivalent to master, but it is not easy to handle. The quality of the cassette tape is not good, but it can be handled easily. Although DVD-A and SA-CD are high quality, this also requires a special player. Internet stream delivery is extremely convenient, but the quality is not good.

So what is the goal that MQA aims for? As the goal is to have high quality and convenience as shown on the right side of the figure MQA has developed three goals for this purpose. I will introduce MQA approaches in the following order.
2 Studio Master for quality:
MQA-De-Blur technology that emphasizes time axis information rather than frequency domain

Music production by high bit / high sampling exceeding CD quality has been done and sound source has been spreading in the form of downloading. The figure shows the result of subjective evaluation of the relationship between various formats and the quality obtained by our top mastering engineers in Europe and America.

From this result, we can see that no significant improvement in quality has been seen for the amount of data at 96 KHz sampling or later. In general, I thought that recording high-bit and high sampling improves frequency characteristics and improves quality. What we focused on is the result of a recent brain hearing study. That is, "accurate reproduction of time axis characteristics is an important factor to quality" beyond the expansion of the frequency domain. It is said that high bit / high sampling is being performed because it records this time axis information accurately as it makes high bit / high sampling.

The time axis is accurate means that the precision with which the sound source can be perceived correctly improves, and in the case of music it means that the sound quality, localization, depth, distance feeling can be accurately reproduced. Human auditory detection limit is said to be 5 μsec - 8 μsec. This means that you can detect sound sources up to distances of 1 m - 2 m, centered on yourself.

This figure shows the accuracy of the time axis characteristics at Fs: 48 KHz and 192 KHz.

MQA developed with the goal of reducing the fluctuation of the time axis fluctuated in the workflow from recording to playback to the extreme limit and delivering it to the end user.
We call this "De-Blur" [De-Smear].

That is, it is a technology to reproduce the time axis of the digital signal A / D converted in the recording to the same time axis information at the D / A conversion at home.

The accuracy of time axis reproduction of MQA is currently up to 10 μsec resolution, and in terms of distance it can detect distances up to 2.5 m.

3 Coding technologies to realize convenience Audio Origami

In the era when LP and CD were mainstream of music software, I was able to enjoy music simply with just one format. When it comes to the age of digital audio, a vast variety of formats ranging from compressed sound sources to Hi-Res sound sources are flooding, and listeners are confused in the playback equipment. We will provide music in a standardized format as much as possible and consider how to do so in order to be of high quality and the result will be the method called Audio-Origami, which will be described later.

The research, which became the basis, gained a hint from the analysis result of many Hi-Res music files. The average frequency of the music signal analyzed so far has a distribution of triangles we call Golden-Triangle.

In case
The high-frequency region in the high-bit-high-sampling large data volume means that there are many margins. The principle of Audio-Origami is that by dividing this music signal area into three areas ABC, it folds the information which each has, while enciphering while reducing the total amount of data, and at the time of decoding it opens the folded data It is the idea of ​​handling master quality with light data.

Sampling frequency Vs In the graph of sound quality, normal high sampling ·
Although the sound quality is gradually improved from 96 KHz if it becomes high bit, it becomes almost constant from 96 KHz in MQA encode ·decode data. The graph of red is a graph when playing with existing playback equipment without decoding MQA data, but also in this case the sound quality is also improved as the blur of the time axis information is eliminated.

The graph on the upper right shows how far the blur on the time axis (Temporal Blur) is distributed. For normal high bit / high sampling etc. SF of about 1536 KHz is required to realize 10 μsec, but in MQA it is almost 10 μsec after the master of 192 KHZ.
The graph on the lower left shows the data transfer rate. In normal digital format, the high sampling rate and high bit will result in a huge transfer rate, which requires time for downloading, but the MQA file is stored at almost 1.4 Mbps. If it is the current network infrastructure, it can be handled as very light data.

How do you embed B and C area signals to a signal level of -140 db or less? And how does De-Blur work? Although I will ask you a question like this, I will spend a lot of time when explaining this principle, so I will skip this time but since I can download MQA's WEB commentary and AES paper freely, I refer to it please. I think that an article translating my paper by Mr. Bike Suzuki to the JAS journal will be helpful.

REF:Stuart, J. R. and Craven, P.G., A Hierarchical Approach to Archiving and Distribution, 9178, 137th AES Convention, (2014).

Oppenheim, J. M., et al., Minimal Bounds on Nonlinearity in Auditory Processingq-bio.NC (Jan 2013). arXiv:1301.0513 

Lewicki, M.S. Efficient Coding of natural sounds, Nature Neurosci. 5, 356363 (2002). 
Jackson, H. M., Capp, M. D. and Stuart, J. R., The audibility of typical digital audio filters in a high-fidelity playback system, 9174, 137th AES Convention, (2014).

Stuart, J.R., Sound Board: High-Resolution Audio, JAES 63 No 10 pp. 831-832; (October 2015)
4 Compatibility with existing media MQA-CD

MQA data is characterized by compatibility with existing formats. Here we introduce the workflow and various tools for encoding to MQA file. MICK SAWAGUCHI will introduce the workflow of MQA-CD production after this.

5 Practice of MQA-CD production workflow

From here, Mr. Mick Sawaguchi of UNAMAS-Label will introduce MQA-CD production practice and points of note. In UNAMAS-Label, the sound source (192-24 WAV format) of distribution downloading is also released at MQA, but in June 2016, the world's first MQA-CD was released from OTTAVA RECORDS, after that the CD of OTTAVA RECORDS, Since it is released as MQA-CD, here we introduce the workflow of MQA-CD.

So, we prepared the actual sound source, so we added the same sound source for you.

1 192-24 WAV Master
2 MQA-CD-MQA decode reproduction (decoded and played from 44.1 - 16 to 176.4 - 24)
3 Normal playbacks without MQA-CD-MQA decoding (played as normal 44.1 - 16)
4 Sound sources produced in normal CD format

Please listen with the type of. Even if you do not decode MQA-CD, since blurring of sound is improved by De-Blur, I think that you can hear that it is superior in localization and sound field reproduction.

Bob: Everyone, thank you very much. I also thank Bike Suzuki of MQA-JAPAN who interpreted my academic story.