VI was just reading this thread about MP3 bit rates and something occurred to me…
I remember hearing a a song I had mixed placed on a site that streamed mp3s at 92kb/s (don’t ask), and it sounded woeful. Pretty much mono, and all the cymbals sounded like they had been low passed at 4K and been put through a distorted flanger…
The interesting thing is that experience really clued me in to what kind of things happen to audio as you reduce the bit rate via data compression. As a consequence, I was able to discern more subtle differences between higher bit rates.
That got me thinking about the subtleties of hearing in the audio world. Hearing things like “bad” frequencies, saturation, reverb character, and the big daddy of them all - compression - is often very difficult for beginners in audio…even for some of us who are not beginners! It often takes years to train yourself to hear this stuff…
That led me to thinking about a commonality with all my learning experiences in this regard… Call it “Descrimination through Exaggeration”…
The extreme MP3 bit rate reduction is one example I mentioned above involves exaggerating the effect to discern the sublteties
The “Sweep and Destroy” method of finding and reducing problem frequencies via parametric eq works on a similar principle.
Gain staging subtle analogue modelling saturation effects is easy to fall foul of and overdo. But exaggerating the effect by pushing it way too far will clue you to the negative impacts and the “sound” that results.
Compression - probably the single most difficult thing to “hear”. But exaggerating the compression on a source by pulling the threshold way down is a great way to learn how the attack, release and other compressor controls interact.
There are probably many other applications for this “Discrimation through Exaggeration” method you might be able to think of… Eg Aliasing distortion etc.